Gergis findings re-surface – the Hockey Stick lives!

By Tony Thomas

Hello Hockey Stick again, goodbye global Medieval Warming Period.
These are the conclusions of a multi-proxy 1000-year climate reconstruction published today (March 31) in Nature Climate Change, by Dr Raphael Neukom of the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, and Dr Joelle Gergis of the University of Melbourne.
Dr Neukom summed up for a University of Melbourne press release: “The study showed the ‘Medieval Warm Period’, as identified in some European chronicles, was a regional phenomenon.
“During the same period, temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere were only average. Our study revealed it was not a common climate event that many people have previously assumed.”

The paper claims that in 99.7 percent of the results, the warmest decade of the millennium occurred after 1970.
The press release says, “And surprisingly, only twice over the entire past millennium have both hemispheres simultaneously shown extreme temperatures.
One of these occasions was a global cold period in the 17th century; the other was the current warming phase”.”

The paper’s content has had a convoluted history. It appeared on-line at Nature Climate Change about May 17, 2012, with Gergis cited as the lead author. The multiple authors, who included IPCC stalwart Dr David Karoly, withdrew it three weeks later after an altercation with blogger Steve McIntyre, who had spotted that it used invalid statistical techniques, involving the ‘screening fallacy’.
Moreover, Dr Gergis, a la Michael Mann and Phil Jones, was loathe to provide McIntyre with the raw data for checking, citing third-party confidentialities. She told McIntyre to go seek the data from the third parties:
“The compilation of this database represents years of our research effort based on the development of our professional networks. We risk damaging our work relationships by releasing other people’s records against their wishes. Clearly this is something that we are not prepared to do.”
She then added, “This is commonly referred to as ‘research’. We will not be entertaining any further correspondence on the matter.”
The Nature Climate Change paper, as described by the University of Melbourne press release, has Neukom as the lead author, and Gergis as co-author. The release says,

A new international study has published the most comprehensive Southern Hemisphere reconstruction of past climate records, revealing a clearer climate picture of the globe’s temperature history than ever before.
The study revealed that over the past 1000 years temperature variations have differed greatly between the two hemispheres, yet it confirmed they shared the one warm period after the 1970s.
Led by the Oeschger Centre at the University of Bern, the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL and the University of Melbourne, the study Inter-hemispheric temperature variability over the past millennium was published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Co-author Dr Joelle Gergis, ARC Fellow from the University of Melbourne, said the study finally put the Southern Hemisphere on the map in terms of recording past climate variations over the past 1000 years.
“Our findings showed there were considerable decade-to-decade regional temperature variations in the Southern Hemisphere, that were different to the Northern Hemisphere,’’ she said.
“The Southern Hemisphere is a vast oceanic region that is influenced by ocean circulation features such as El Niño. Our study showed that these internal climate cycles may have played a role in influencing regional climate compared to the land-dominated Northern Hemisphere, where external changes in volcanic and solar variations have a more direct influence.
“But despite the two hemispheres behaving differently over the past 1000 years, what is consistent is the recent warming in the last 40 years.
“This study provided an opportunity to refine regional climate model predictions in the Southern Hemisphere for countries like Australia and South America by extending our understanding of natural temperature variations recorded since 1850 back over the past 1000 years,” she said.
The study involved the coordination of an international scientific team with expertise in past climate information from tree-rings, lake sediments, corals, ice cores and climate modelling.
Scientists compiled climate data from hundreds of different locations and used a range of methods to estimate Southern Hemisphere temperatures over the past 1000 years….
The study showed that regional differences such as these were larger than previously thought.

As far as I can establish, pending clarification from the University of Melbourne, Neukom, Gergis et al reworked the maths in their original paper and re-submitted it to the Journal of Climate some time ago, but it has not reappeared there.
Meanwhile, the paper’s underlying data, allegedly certified by an independent team of scientists, was incorporated in a paper by third parties in Nature Geosciences in April 2013. Today’s release is in Nature Climate Change, and bears a strong family resemblance to the original Gergis/Neukom exercise.

Melbourne-based Tony Thomas writes for Quadrant.org.au.

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2 thoughts on “Gergis findings re-surface – the Hockey Stick lives!

  1. Michael Kottek

    Hi Tony,
    Are you now aware of the status of the ‘resubmitted’ paper?
    I was among those that put in an FOI request regarding the paper that ended up on hold: I have deliberately held off following up more recent details until the resubmitted paper was published. If that isn’t going to happen, then there would be no point in putting off an FOI request for the later correspondence between the Journal of Climate and our wise climate scientists who must not be questioned. Some journals require medical trials to be registered before they are carried out, so that people are aware of dud trials that don’t get submitted for publication; perhaps the IPCC could adopt a similar requirement.

    Reply
    1. tonythomas061 Post author

      Hi Michael, I’ve sent you my findings on this issue by email. In a nutshell, the Journal of Climate initially told me the Gergis paper was withdrawn and not re-submitted, then when I passed that on to the University of Melbourne where Gergis works, things hit the fan and I got this re-statement of the situation:
      Dear Mr. Thomas,

      Dr. Joelle Gergis, the lead author of “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium”, requested that I contact you regarding the status of this manuscript.

      I confirm that the above study has been resubmitted to the Journal of Climate, and is currently under review. I am the handling editor for the resubmission.

      Please note that it is the policy of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the publisher of the Journal, to not allow information about a manuscript under consideration to be disclosed to a third party without the express permission of the author(s). We have been given permission by the authors to share only the above information with you.

      Dr. Michael Friedman, the AMS Journal Production Manager, had previously responded to your request for information; that correspondence has been copied below for reference. Dr. Friedman is CC’ed in this email.

      Yours sincerely,
      John Chiang
      Editor, Journal of Climate

      Reply

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