Climategate II? 'Science-Settling' Study 'Proving' Global Warming Allegedly Shows None

CRITICAL UPDATE AT END OF POST

A week ago (at BizzyBlog; at NewsBusters), I noted how Charleston Daily Mail blogger Don Surber quickly determined through all of a few minutes of Internet research that Berkeley professor Robert Muller, who convinced Washington Post Plumline blogger Brad Plumer that he was a "climate skeptic," has been a believer in human-caused global warming since the early 1980s.

Muller's pretense to have held beliefs differing from his true past may be the least of his problems. A story breaking in the UK contends that results obtained by the prof's BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures) project team, instead of "settling the debate" in favor of warmists, showed that global warming "has stopped." If so, this is potentially as explosive as the "hide the decline" conspiracy uncovered almost two years ago when the Climategate emails surfaced.


The bombshell arrives via David Rose at the UK Daily Mail (HT to Benny Peiser's indispensable daily CCNet email from the Global Warming Policy Foundation [GWPF]; internal BBC link added by me; bolds are mine):

Scientist who said climate change sceptics had been proved wrong accused of hiding truth by colleague

Professor Richard Muller, of Berkeley University in California, and his colleagues from the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) claimed to have shown that the planet has warmed by almost a degree centigrade since 1950 and is warming continually.

Published last week ahead of a major United Nations climate summit in Durban, South Africa, next month, their work was cited around the world as irrefutable evidence that only the most stringent measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions can save civilisation as we know it.

It was cited uncritically by, among others, reporters and commentators from the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, The Economist and numerous media outlets in America.

The Washington Post said the BEST study had ‘settled the climate change debate’ and showed that anyone who remained a sceptic was committing a ‘cynical fraud’.

But today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that a leading member of Prof Muller’s team has accused him of trying to mislead the public by hiding the fact that BEST’s research shows global warming has stopped.

Prof Judith Curry, who chairs the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at America’s prestigious Georgia Institute of Technology, said that Prof Muller’s claim that he has proven global warming sceptics wrong was also a ‘huge mistake’, with no scientific basis.

Prof Curry is a distinguished climate researcher with more than 30 years experience and the second named co-author of the BEST project’s four research papers.

Her comments, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, seem certain to ignite a furious academic row. She said this affair had to be compared to the notorious ‘Climategate’ scandal two years ago.

In fact, Prof Curry said, the project’s research data show there has been no increase in world temperatures since the end of the Nineties – a fact confirmed by a new analysis that The Mail on Sunday has obtained.

David Whitehouse at the GWPF ("BEST Confirms Global Temperature Standstill") elaborates:

Professor Richard Muller, leader of the initiative, said (to the BBC) that the global temperature standstill of the past decade was not present in their data.

“In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of it having slowed down. Now the evidence which shows that it has been stopped is a combination of land and ocean data. The oceans do not heat as much as the land because it absorbs more of the heat and when the data are combined with the land data then the other groups have shown that when it does seem to be leveling off. We have not seen that in the land data.”

My first though would be that it would be remarkable if it was. The global temperature standstill of the past decade is obvious in HadCrut3 data which is a combination of land and sea surface data. Best is only land data from nearly 40,000 weather stations. Professor Muller says they “really get a good coverage of the globe.” The land is expected to have a fast response to the warming of the lower atmosphere caused by greenhouse gas forcing, unlike the oceans with their high thermal capacity and their decadal timescales for heating and cooling, though not forgetting the ENSO and la Nina.

Fig 1 shows the past ten years plotted from the monthly data from Best’s archives. (Click on the graphic to enlarge it in a new tab or window -- Ed.)

BESTtempsData0101to0510

It is a statistically perfect straight line of zero gradient. Indeed, most of the largest variations in it can be attributed to ENSO and la Nina effects. It is impossible to reconcile this with Professor Muller’s statement. Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly?

Indeed Best seems to have worked hard to obscure it.

Read the whole thing.

So what will come first -- Christmas Day or the "numerous media outlets in America" noting that, at a minimum, Muller's work "settles" nothing, and at worst is a fraudulent as the "hide the decline" enterprise known as Climategate?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

***** Editor's update: Curry has responded at her blog denying some of what was relayed in the Daily Mail piece. We await more information from both sides before offering further comment.

 

Tom Blumer's Update: Curry's post appears to have gone up Sunday morning just before I drafted this post. Excerpts --

“Hiding the truth” in the title is definitely misleading, I made it pretty clear that there was uncertainty in the data itself, but the bigger issues are to analyze the data and interpret it. I made it clear that this was not a straightforward and simple thing to do.

I told Rose that I was puzzled my Muller’s statements, particularly about “end of skepticism” and also “We see no evidence of global warming slowing down.”

I did not say that “the affair had to be compared to the notorious Climategate scandal two years ago,” this is indirectly attributed to me. ... There is NO comparison of this situation to Climategate. Muller et al. have been very transparent in their methods and in making their data publicly available, which is highly commendable.

That still leaves Whitehouse's assertion above: "It is impossible to reconcile this (graph of the past decade above) with Professor Muller’s statement ('we see no evidence of it having slowed down')."

No, it's not "hide the decline," but it's definitely "obscure the lack of increase."

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.