Renowden on the reanalysis

Gareth Renowden posted comment on the new paper in what seems to be his customary style: unpleasant, vexing, offensive, loathsome and short on fact. Still, along the way he did venture some factoids which I shall rebut while ignoring the vexatious.

First, his article was headlined: NZ cranks finally publish an NZ temperature series – but their paper’s stuffed with errors. To the first phrase, I note that publishing a temperature series is clearly beyond him and, to the second, I say we’ll see about that.

Renowden spends his first 300 words pouring malicious invective on the authors of the paper—and on me, but so what to any of it? In stooping so low, he reveals more of himself than of us.

I won’t answer the vitriol, just the errors; and I won’t do it all at once, but in pieces. He’s too poisonous to stay with for long. He would be eminently more readable were he to return to his journalistic roots, I’m sure, this activist role he’s chosen ill befits him. (He refers to the paper as dFDB 2014—good enough.) The first substantive thing he says is:

dFDB 2014 repeats the old canard that NIWA’s Seven Station Series (7SS) before the 2010 review was based on the adjustments made in Jim Salinger’s 1981 thesis. This was a key claim in the NZ Climate Science Education Trust‘s evidence to the High Court and so transparently at odds with written reports and papers from 1992 onwards that it was easy for NIWA to refute. As one close observer of the case told me:

Judges may not understand maths, but they are pretty good at English, and take a dim view of litigants who wilfully and perversely misrepresent simple English sentences.

Gareth, which sentences did we perversely misrepresent? You forgot to mention them.

I included the ‘close observer’ quotation simply because Renowden doesn’t even begin to attempt to pretend to justify it, so it’s a fantasy. Justice Venning, for all his errors, never made an allegation remotely like that. I don’t know why he calls it a ‘key claim’ in our suit. Our suit sought four things:

A. A declaration that the New Zealand Temperature Record is not a full and accurate record of changes in the average surface temperatures recorded in New Zealand since 1900;
B. An order setting aside NIWA’s 2010 decision to rely upon the Seven-station Series and the Eleven-station Series as the basis for the New Zealand Temperature Record;
C. An order preventing NIWA from using the NZTR (or information originally derived from the NZTR) for the purposes of advice to any governmental authority or to the public, pending its redetermination and independent peer review.
D. An order requiring the defendant to produce a full and accurate climate record of changes in the average surface temperatures recorded in New Zealand since 1900.

In paragraph 12 of our amended statement of claim of 1 July 2011, we stated in our introductory remarks:

The 7SS temperature data is sourced from the National Climate Database, but is subject to a number of adjustments (the Adjustments) taken from a student thesis submitted in 1981 by Dr James Salinger, a former NIWA employee.

This wasn’t even part of our claim, never mind a ‘key claim’. This was a simple reiteration of what NIWA had been telling us and the country for a long time. It’s what we thought was true, simple as that. Renowden is trying to pull the wool over our eyes and I will prove it. On 10 October 2010, I posted The Curious Case of the Missing Thesis. It includes:

When the NZ Climate Science Coalition made an OIA request for the NIWA amendments which shaped the whole NZ temperature record, it was told the amendments came from a doctoral thesis submitted in 1981 by James Salinger.

NIWA’s General Counsel officially advised (on two occasions) that “the methodology is documented” in the thesis, but “the original worksheets and/or computer records used for the calculations in Dr Salinger’s thesis work are the property of Dr Salinger, who no longer works for NIWA.”

When NIWA belatedly published its Schedule of Adjustments on 9 February 2010, it explained that relocations of weather stations required before-and-after comparisons against an independent station. The document notes that “Salinger (1981) provides the results of these three-site inter-comparisons for the 7-station series, up to about 1975.”

There is more corroboration that NIWA persistently and publicly claimed that the thesis was the source of the adjustments (I can’t believe I’m having to go through this just to counter lies). Again, from my October 2010 post:

The Minister responsible for NIWA, the Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, told Parliament on 18 February 2010 that the adjustments to the 7-station series were taken from the Salinger thesis. In a follow-up written answer (PQ1320) he explained more fully that “the adjustments used in the present “seven-station” series are consistent with those in the Salinger thesis. Some changes to the original adjustments have been necessary in the thirty years since the thesis was published.”

In answer to PQ1193, Dr Mapp advised that the source material for NIWA’s Schedule of Adjustments were: “a list of the more than 30 sites used to develop the ‘seven-station’ series; raw unadjusted data for these individual sites from NIWA’s National Climate Database; the time series of adjusted monthly mean temperatures at the seven locations; and Appendix C from Dr Jim Salinger’s 1981 Ph.D. thesis.”

Finally, to refute NIWA’s original claim that the worksheets were with Salinger, “who no longer works for NIWA” we learn the real reason NIWA couldn’t produce them (we had asked for them repeatedly).

In answer to other Parliamentary Questions, Dr Mapp described how the detailed calculations for the Salinger thesis had been recorded on the VUW mainframe, and were lost when the University changed its system in 1983.

Renowden said that ‘our’ claim that the 7SS was based on the thesis was “so transparently at odds with written reports and papers from 1992 onwards that it was easy for NIWA to refute.”

If it was ‘at odds with reports and papers from 1992,’ why did they tell us to look in the thesis? He’s also forgotten to cite NIWA’s ‘refutation’. Where was it, Gareth, and exactly what did they say?

You want to have another go, Gareth? That was rubbish.


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18 Thoughts on “Renowden on the reanalysis

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 10:01 am said:

    Going through deFDB14 word-for-word now. First up in Background:

    “Extant 1868 archives record the national normal mean surface temperature at 13.1 °C (when converted from degrees Fahrenheit) being the average of 10+years read at six representative weather stations.”

    2010, 13.1
    2011, 12.8
    2012, 12.5
    2013, 13.4

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 11:03 am said:

      Clear from the Australian archives too that that the mid to late 1800s were a similar regime to what is being experienced in the present day in both countries. The title of the paper then, ‘Reanalysis of Long-Term Air Temperature Trends in New Zealand’, and the application of a linear trend from 1909 to 2009 (0.28 °C
      per century) is both misnomer and misleading.

      Of necessity the term is reduced-term rather than long-term. Unfortunate, but a fact of life. Except the climate change regime 1800s to 1900s to 2000s has simply been – warm => cool => warm.

  2. Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 11:28 am said:

    >’To the first phrase, I note that publishing a temperature series is clearly beyond him”

    [Gareth complains] – “The paper as published contains no workings or supplemental material that would allow reproduction of their results”

    de Freitas et al (2014)

    Page 3 pdf: 3 The New Zealand Temperature Record

    Page 4 pdf: 4 Rhoades and Salinger—RS93

    Page 5 pdf: 5 Method 5.1 Description

    Page 6 pdf: 5.2 Gradual Inhomogeneities

    Raw data:

    Now replicate.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 11:44 am said:

      Given Gareth’s apparent confusion over the sum 2 + 2 and in light of 5.1 Description, it’s probably better that he doesn’t attempt a reproduction.

    • BobD on 01/11/2014 at 12:04 pm said:

      Yes, I chuckled at that. it’s the first thing NIWA did in the court case. When they realised we hadn’t made any mistakes, they were forced to start trying to claim that we used RS93 ‘too rigorously’, and we should have used longer periods, in the hope that a greater number of adjustments would pass the statistical tests.

  3. All_on_Red on 01/11/2014 at 2:12 pm said:

    Awhile ago all the warmists at Hot Topic were saying , ” do your own analysis if you disagree with NIWA “. Well now they have! Poor Gareth. Everyday he just looks more stupid.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 2:52 pm said:

    >”He’s also forgotten to cite NIWA’s ‘refutation’. Where was it, Gareth, and exactly what did they say?”

    #1 [Gareth in comments] – “The CSET seemed to want to make it about the methodology of series construction, and submitted their “audit” as evidence. NIWA had no choice but to prepare and submit a detailed rebuttal to that”

    #2 [Gareth in post] – “As such it [the ‘Statistical Audit’] contains mistakes that were pointed out in NIWA’s evidence to the High Court — evidence which was extensive, thorough and damning, but is not (yet) available in the public domain.”

    #3 [Gareth in post] – “Silly mistakes in the application of their version of RS93 appeared in the “audit”, were pointed out in NIWA’s evidence to the High Court,……”

    The “extensive, thorough and damning” evidence in #’s 1, 2, and 3 not forthcoming, nevertheless:

    #4 [Gareth in post following #3] – “…….but appear to be uncorrected in dFDB 2014.”

    Because there were no mistakes to correct.

    [de Freitas et al (2014)] – “The aim here is to apply the method set out by
    [17] (i.e. Rhoades and Salinger, 1993) exactly as they describe,
    without adjusting it in any way. In our analysis, we supply the
    missing schedule of adjustments, recalculated to reflect the improved
    technique. We also correct for the contamination of raw
    data identified in the refereed literature [10].

    [Jim Salinger] – “In July 2011 the Trust produced a document [‘Statistical Audit’] that attempted to reproduce the Meteorological Service adjustments, but failed to, instead making lots of errors.”

    “extensive, thorough and damning” errors apparently, but top secret (see #2).

    [Jim Salinger] – “On September 7 2012, High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning delivered a 49-page ruling [hotlinlk below], finding that the NZCSET had not succeeded in any of its challenges against NIWA”

    “Statistical Audit” returns no results.

    Continues below.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 3:37 pm said:


      J Venning ignored the ‘Statistical Audit’ (evidence) because……

      [54] I accept Mr Smith’s criticism of Mr Dedekind’s evidence to the extent that Mr Dedekind is not an expert in the application of statistical techniques in the field of climate science. Mr Dedekind’s general expertise in basic statistical techniques does not extend to any particular specialised experience or qualifications in the specific field of applying statistical techniques in the field of climate science. To that extent, where Mr Dedekind purports to comment or give opinions as to NIWA’s application of statistical techniques in those fields, his evidence is of little assistance to the Court.

      Never mind that it was reviewed by professional statisticians. Except earlier J Venning opines…..

      [44] The last feature is particularly relevant where, as in this context, the Trust’s challenge is based on what it defines in its pleadings as “recognised scientific opinion”. A less intensive review is particularly apposite where the Court is not in a position to definitively adjudicate on scientific opinions. The Trust defines “recognised scientific opinion” as established scientific opinions and methods described in internationally recognised research journals. NIWA does not accept there is any such obligation, a matter to which I return shortly.21

      21 See [79], below

      [45] I consider this Court should be cautious about interfering with decisions made and conclusions drawn by a specialist body, such as NIWA, acting within its own sphere of expertise. In such circumstances a less intensive or, to put it another way, a more tolerant review is appropriate.

      Gee Judge, that’s very generous. It also makes your job that much easier doesn’t it?

      [48] I consider that unless the Trust can point to some defect in NIWA’s decision-making process or show that the decision was clearly wrong in principle or in law, this Court will not intervene. This Court should not seek to determine or resolve scientific questions demanding the evaluation of contentious expert opinion.

      The Trust did show that “the decision was clearly wrong in principle”. It would have been helpful at this point to mention the ‘Statistical Audit’ but no, that “evidence is of little assistance to the Court”.

      Now [79] from [44] but first [78].

      [78] As noted, the Trust contends that, rather than apply the best recognised scientific opinion to produce the 7SS, NIWA applied the thesis. NIWA’s position however, is that the methodology relied on to produce the 7SS was in fact derived from the same methodology found in RS93. There is a stark conflict between the parties on this point. It is essentially a factual dispute which does not require the Court to decide which of two tenable scientific opinions should be preferred.

      Derived yes, arbitrarily. Made clear in the ‘Statistical Audit’ but oh, that “evidence is of little assistance to the Court”.

      [79] A further preliminary point arises. The Trust’s argument on this point depends on this Court finding that NIWA departed from “best recognised scientific opinion”. It defines “recognised scientific opinion” as relevant established scientific opinions and methods described in internationally recognised research journals. In Dr Carter’s opinion, RS93 is the definitive paper for statistical adjustments to offset the effects of site changes in New Zealand conditions. It is implicit in his evidence that failure to apply that is a failure to comply with recognised scientific opinion.

      [80] NIWA does not accept that there is such a concept as an “officially recognised scientific opinion”. Dr Wratt accepts that the science community has well developed processes for addressing debates about scientific methods and interpretation through scientific conferences, and publications in the scientific literature. Dr Wratt does not consider however that there is one absolutely standard global methodology for calculating adjustments in temperature series to account for site shifts that is immutable……….

      Then why “derive” RS93 in particular?

      [82] NIWA accepts it must take into account the current state of knowledge but in this particular area considers there is no one definitive standard that is applicable.

      Then why “derive” RS93 in particular?

      [83] In any event, in relation to 7SS, the point is essentially a factual dispute. NIWA says it has effectively applied the RS93 methodology in compiling the 7SS. The Trust denies that.

      The Trust denies that with evidence but that “evidence is of little assistance to the Court” apparently.

      # # #

      At no point, contrary to Renowden (and Nick in comments) and Salinger, was the ‘Statistical Audit’ (evidence) addressed by the Court and neither was any detailed rebuttal of it identified in the JUDGMENT OF VENNING J

  5. Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 8:25 pm said:

    From: Phil Jones
    To: “Michael E. Mann”
    Date: Thu Jul 8 16:30:16 2004

    Only have it in the pdf form. FYI ONLY – don’t pass on. Relevant paras are the last
    2 in section 4 on p13. As I said it is worded carefully due to Adrian knowing Eugenia
    for years. He knows the’re wrong, but he succumbed to her almost pleading with him
    to tone it down as it might affect her proposals in the future !
    I didn’t say any of this, so be careful how you use it – if at all. Keep quiet also
    that you have the pdf.
    The attachment is a very good paper – I’ve been pushing Adrian over the last weeks
    to get it submitted to JGR or J. Climate. The main results are great for CRU and also
    for ERA-40. The basic message is clear – you have to put enough surface and sonde
    obs into a model to produce Reanalyses. The jumps when the data input change stand
    out so clearly. NCEP does many odd things also around sea ice and over snow and ice.
    The other paper by MM is just garbage – as you knew. De Freitas again. Pielke is also
    losing all credibility as well by replying to the mad Finn as well – frequently as I see
    I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep
    out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !

    ‘Climategate 2 – Salinger puts the boot into De Freitas’

    [Gareth] – “An earlier version of dFDB 2014 was submitted to a much more relevant journal, Theoretical and Applied Climatology, but was sent back to the authors for substantial revision at least twice before being rejected”

    Not sure why it is “much more relevant”. And a cynic, upon reading the Climategate emails, might ask – only the one rejection? However, the journal rejection rate is 45.6% of 103 submissions:

    Another to have a paper rejected from Theoretical and Applied Climatology is Ross McKitrick (see “MM” in the email):

    ‘Bias in the Peer Review Process: A Cautionary and Personal Account’


    […] The outlet to which I sent my paper next was the Journal of the
    American Statistical Association. I was exasperated with the Theoretical
    and Applied Climatology referee’s lack of understanding of basic statistics,
    and I decided to see what a real stats journal would say. My
    submission was sent to JASA in April 2009 and its response came
    in August. As you saw earlier, the people who knew what they
    were talking about liked the paper and agreed that the results were
    solid. Rather than finding the methods confusing and hard to follow,
    they found them too simple and mundane to merit appearing in
    JASA. […]

    Back to JASA

    It was now clear to me that this paper was never going to be
    published in a climatology journal. True, I had not tried every possible
    journal, but at a certain point the pattern becomes pretty clear.
    So I wrote to the editor of JASA, described what had happened at
    other journals, and asked whether the paper might be reconsidered
    if I added some more complicated statistics (albeit at the risk of
    overkill), or whether he could suggest an applied statistics journal.
    He discussed the first option with another editor, but they decided
    the outcome would not likely change given the straightforward
    nature of the analysis required. However, he pointed to a new journal
    that he and some colleagues had recently founded, called Statistics,
    Politics, and Policy, which is dedicated to bringing to bear rigorous
    statistical analysis on important issues with policy implications. He
    said the paper would be a good fit and encouraged me to submit
    it. I did, and in due course the journal accepted my paper. It appeared
    in the inaugural issue in the summer of 2010.

    The paper I have discussed makes the case that the IPCC used
    false evidence to conceal an important problem with the surface
    temperature data on which most of its conclusions rest. In principle,
    one might argue that my analysis was wrong (though most reviewers
    didn’t), but it would be implausible to say that the issue is unimportant
    or irrelevant. Altogether I sent the paper to seven journals before
    it went to Statistics, Politics, and Policy. From those seven journals
    I received seven reviews, of which six accepted the findings and
    supported publication.

    The one that rejected my findings [Theoretical and Applied Climatology]
    contained some basic technical errors, but the journal editor
    would not respond to my letter pointing them out.
    Nature, Science, and Geophysical Research Letters would not
    even review the paper, while the Bulletin of the American Meteorologi-
    cal Society said it never received the presubmission inquiry or the
    two follow-up queries. Global and Planetary Change received one
    review recommending publication, blocked another reviewer before
    he could submit a report, and then rejected the paper.

    # # #

    So there you have it. There’s much more by McKitrick re Theoretical and Applied Climatology including “gory details” of his attempt to educate, viz., ‘Answering the Technicalities: A Little Math Should You Want It!’. But I think the general picture emerges, or, as Ross McKitrick puts it – “the pattern becomes pretty clear”.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 01/11/2014 at 10:31 pm said:

      One wonders how Gareth became privileged to receive the details of the Theoretical and Applied Climatology submission and review process wrt de Freitas et al (2014).

      PLOS ONE is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access, online publication. PLOS ONE welcomes reports on primary research from any scientific discipline.

      PLOS ONE Guidelines for Reviewers

      6. Confidentiality
      The review process is strictly confidential and should be treated as such by reviewers. As the author may have chosen to exclude some people from this process, no one who is not directly involved with the manuscript (including colleagues and other experts in the field) should be consulted by the reviewer unless such consultations have first been discussed with the Academic Editor. Reviewers must not take any confidential information they have gained in the review process and use it before the paper is published. Even after publication, unless they have the permission of the authors to use other information, reviewers may only use publicly published data (i.e. the contents of the published article) and not information from any earlier drafts.

      Not so much at Theoretical and Applied Climatology apparently.

  6. Andy on 04/11/2014 at 2:52 pm said:

    O/T but Bryan Leyland was on TV Breakfast this morning, “spouting denialist drivel” (channeling my warmist friends here) in response to the IPCC Synthesis Report

    It has caused predicable outrage from the usual quarters and lots of “Angry of Purley” letters to TVNZ

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