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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Paper claiming hottest 60-year-span in 1,000 years put on hold after being published online

with 38 comments

The authors of a study of Australasian temperatures over the past millennium have put the print publication of an online-first study on hold after errors were identified in the records they used.

Here’s how RealClimate.org summarized the findings of the original paper, which was published in mid-May:

The conclusion reached is that summer temperatures in the post-1950 period were warmer than anything else in the last 1000 years at high confidence, and in the last ~400 years at very high confidence.

The page at the American Metereological Society site where the paper used to be now reads:

The requested article is not currently available on this site.

The study was apparently first questioned by Steve McIntyre on the climate change skeptic site Climate Audit on May 31 (second half of post). On Friday, June 8, McIntyre reported that the study had been put “on hold” and published this email from co-author David Karoly:

Dear Stephen,

I am contacting you on behalf of all the authors of the Gergis et al (2012) study ‘Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium’

An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, which may affect the results. While the paper states that “both proxy climate and instrumental data were linearly detrended over the 1921–1990 period”, we discovered on Tuesday 5 June that the records used in the final analysis were not detrended for proxy selection, making this statement incorrect. Although this is an unfortunate data processing issue, it is likely to have implications for the results reported in the study. The journal has been contacted and the publication of the study has been put on hold.

This is a normal part of science. The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens the conclusions. In this study, an issue has been identified and the results are being re-checked.

We would be grateful if you would post the notice below on your ClimateAudit web site.

We would like to thank you and the participants at the ClimateAudit blog for your scrutiny of our study, which also identified this data processing issue.

Thanks, David Karoly

Print publication of scientific study put on hold

An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Stephen Phipps, Ailie Gallant and David Karoly, accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate.

We are currently reviewing the data and results.

The “on hold” news has also been picked up by the Watts Up With That and Bishop Hill blogs, both run by climate change skeptics, and noted in comments on RealClimate, run by climate scientists.

The original study was the subject of a university press release, and garnered coverage in a number of outlets, including the Sydney Morning Herald and the Guardian.

We contacted Karoly to find out how long the team expects the review to take, and whether this analysis has been used to inform other work before it was published. We’ll update with anything we hear back.

Post-publication peer review is indeed a “normal part of science,” as Karoly notes, and one that we’ve championed. While we’ll have to wait for the final outcome in this case, the authors should be commended for acting swiftly to try to correct the record. We’d only remind them, and the journal, that a publication is a publication, whether it’s online or in print, so if this paper turns out to be fatally flawed, it would need to be retracted and not simply disappear.

Despite the often contentious debates that erupt over climate change science, we’ve seen only one other retraction in the field since we launched in August 2010, when Edward Wegman was forced to retract a paper for plagiarism.

Update, 5 p.m. Eastern, 6/12/12: Karoly wrote us to confirm the that the the status of the paper is what Journal of Climate editor TK Broccoli told Steve McIntyre below: “…removed from a preprint server for accepted manuscripts that have not yet been published.” Karoly wrote:

The paper has been put on hold, while an issue with the data processing and methods that we have identified is checked. The paper has not been withdrawn nor has it been retracted.

We are reprocessing the data and double-checking everything. This will take some time. We expect to re-submit the revised manuscript to the Journal of Climate by the end of July and this will then be sent out for peer review again.

Hat tips: Warrick Nelson, Andre van Delft, Skiphil

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Written by Ivan Oransky

June 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

38 Responses

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  1. Ivan – remember the Wagner affair too, with a non-withdrawn paper and a mysterious resignation by the Editor.

    Climate change science is actually full of such strangeness, including a miraculously spotless publication record (Wegman’s problem being minimal), authors announcing on June 7 they had discovered on June 5 problems reported online by others on June 6, “climate scientists blogs” uncritically accepting flawed results, amateurs finding problems that had escaped the peer-review process, etc etc.

    omnologos

    June 11, 2012 at 11:05 am

    • “Wegman’s problem being minimal”??
      I don’t think his “problem” could be described as anything less than politically inspired incompetence. Minimal doesn’t even begin to describe his plagiarism; he lifted entire paragraphs from his sources and then changed critical adjectives to make them look confused and inconclusive. Then, he padded his bibliography with irrelevant articles that he never actually cited in his paper. Etc. He even plagiarized Wikipedia!
      He took the intelligent but naive Yasmin Said and ruined her career (assuming that she wanted one.)
      He was commissioned by a Republican, Joe Barton, to write a hit piece on the IPCC, after Barton refused to have the National Academy of Sciences do an independent review of the “hockey stick”…
      Who would do a better job of reviewing a bit of research on climatology–the National Academy of Sciences or a statistician from George Mason University? Be serious now.
      That has nothing to do with the paper in question, but you can be sure that those who are paid to deny climate science’s conclusions are making hay over this retraction as long as the sun will shine.

      puzzled monkey

      June 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      • anybody vaguely familiar with this blog knows already that plagiarism, however ethically deplorable, ain’t exactly what undermines a scientific field.

        omnologos

        June 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      • Like those with a vested interest in claiming imminent disaster from global warming/climate change/climate disruption jumped on the ‘high confidence’ band wagon without bothering to see if the paper held up to even moderate scrutiny?

        Who, exactly, is ‘paying’ Steve McIntyre? Last I checked, shooting down an invalid conclusion is a service to science, not denial.

        Stephen John

        June 11, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      • If Joe Barton would have not like you state “Refuse”. what kind of Independent review would it had been? At the time Steven Schneider(now deceased) was a member and Michael E. Mann(the Hockey Stick) is still member of the National Academy of science expert panel. So Mann would have review his Own ” Hockey Stick”… puzzled money?

        wilbert

        June 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

      • Wilbert, you might want to read this report:
        http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11676
        Look at the names, and please point out to me where Mike Mann or Stephen Schneider are mentioned as being involved. Also, please explain why having Stephen Schneider as a member of NAS would be a problem for independent review.
        Final request: could you please provide a link to Mann being a member of “the NAS expert panel”?

        Marco

        June 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

  2. Yes, good to see Karoly et al have accepted there are problems their paper, well done JeanS and others at Climate Audit. Given Ryan O’Donnell’s dissection of Steig et al 2009, it is a wonder that the Aussie hockeystick paper is still the only climate science which has had to be withdrawn. http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/2/8/steigs-method-massacred.html

    lapogus

    June 12, 2012 at 3:03 am

    • lapogus, I don’t see much of a problem with the Steig/O’Donnell Antarctic temperature analyses. Cutting through all the blogospheric nonsense, both papers provide useful information about Antarctic warming during the last 50 years. From the point of view of policymakers (to the very limited extent to which this impacts policy!) and other science that this work impacts, each paper indicates that Antarctic warming during the last half century has not been confined to the Antarctic peninsula but has also impacted the West Antarctic (WA) Ice sheet.

      Time will tell whether the spatial extent and trends are closer to those found by Steig et al or by O’Donnell. The actual WA Byrd station temperature record and a couple of recent borehole analyses (one in East Antarctica) tend to be more in agreement with Steig et al. [Muto et al, 2011 Geophys Res Lett 2011; Orsi et al, Geophys Res Lett, 2012].

      chris

      June 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      • Have you also cut through all the blogospheric sense? Try, for example, the posts over all four pages here http://climateaudit.org/category/steig-at-al-2009/. It’s not a question of “time will tell”. By chance, faulty inferential practice may lead to accurate predictions, but that doesn’t stop it being faulty.

        duncan

        June 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

      • Steig etal didn’t find a trend, they created one, as O’Donnell’s paper quite clearly showed. Their methods took a peninsular warming trend and without any physical justification smeared it all over the Antarctic in contradiction of local instrumental data, such as there was. But because they are on your side of the argument, Chris, you back them. Bad science is bad science, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not.

        David S

        June 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      • David, I think the problem is your assumption that this is about “sides”, when at least from my point of view it’s about the evidence! Taken overall (Steig/O’Donnell, borehole data; satellite evidence for spatial covariance of temperature, etc.) I would say that the evidence supports the conclusion that warming in Antarctica over the last 50 years extends beyond the Antarctic peninsula and at least into West Antarctica (offset by some seasonal cooling from East Antarctica seemingly).

        Since O’Donnell state explicitly that in their analysis “….statistically significant warming extends at least as far as Marie Byrd Land” and Marie Byrd Land defines pretty much the central region of the West Antarctic Ice sheet, I don’t see how you can argue that O’Donnell’s paper isn’t consistent with the other data (including Steig et al 2009) in supporting significant warming in regions outside the Antarctic peninsula. As I said just above, time will tell what the spatial extent and trend(s) of that warming.

        chris

        June 12, 2012 at 6:51 pm

  3. There are other climate science papers that probably should have been retracted. Some of the climategate emails make that clear. There is a lot vested in certain views being right (including this hockey stick reconstruction) in time for them to be included in the next IPCC report, and unfortunately that distorts the science. [Lest I am accused of favoritism, there are other "contrarian" papers that were published in mainstream papers, notably Soon and Baliunas, that had major flaws in the discussion section (claims that were not supported by their own data), which are good candidates for retraction too.]

    The authors are to be commended for retracting this paper, not so much for providing the data and methods in a form that made replication of their results possible, because they didnt’. Climate science is one field that IMO hasn’t caught up with mainstream science in terms of requirements of co-publication of data and programs and in standards for “responsible conduct of research” in general. It would reduce errors, increase the confidence in the results and otherwise strengthen the paper.

    By the way, McIntyre claims to not be a skeptic, that he accepts the mainstream views on climate change, though his site attracts plenty of skeptics. I think he feels (as I obviously do) that we’re dealing with an immature science that needs improvements in how data are analyzed and results presented, especially in the paleoclimate area.

    Carrick

    June 12, 2012 at 3:09 am

    • There’s a whole bunch of papers in “climate science” that should never have been published since they’re methodologically/logically fatally flawed. In many cases it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that many of these papers were knowingly deficient and were published to pursue non-scientific agendas. Some examples that come immediately to mind (of a large set!) are listed at the bottom of the post. This reflects a distasteful modern phenomenon (it happens in other scientific fields too), and because it involves publication in bad faith with the aim to deceive, it’s not always straightforward to pick up in peer review.

      Should these papers be retracted? I expect none of them will be, and maybe they serve a purpose. These papers have all got robust critiques subsequently published in the literature and these serve effectively to stamp on the flawed “work”. From a scientific point of view the publishing of this rubbish doesn’t do much damage (other than as a time waster for those that take the effort to publish critiques), and from the wider POV the published critiques serve also to counter the wider dissemination of flawed ideas designed to misrepresent science…

      I guess it comes down to the imperatives to pursue retractions… It’s obvious from reading this blog, for example, that the vast proportion of retractions arise from identification of objectively identifiable frauds like plagiarism, image manipulation and data fabrication….and maybe there isn’t much call/value in pursuing retractions based on fatally flawed analyses unless these come from the authors themselves…

      - Lindzen and Choi (2009) Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L16705
      - Chylek and Lohmann (2008) Geophys. Res.Lett. 35, L04808
      - McLean et al (2009) J. Geophys. Res. 114, D14104
      - Douglass et al (2009) Int. J. Climatol. 28, 1693-1701.
      - Essenhigh (2009) Energy Fuels 23, 2773-2784.

      chris

      June 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm

  4. The paper is not “on hold”, it has been withdrawn. The paper was, as you say, published online by Journal of Climate on 17 May, and given a fanfare of media publicity. Although McIntyre questioned the paper on May 31, it was on June 5 that a contributor to his blog (Jean S) identified a significant error. The paper was then removed from the journal website, with no explanation provided by the journal for its disappearance, on 8 June. I wrote to the editor of the journal asking why the paper was no longer on the website and whether it had been withdrawn. I received the following bizarre response, suggesting that there was a journal policy forbidding him from explaining why he had removed the paper:

    Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2012 21:14:13 +0100
    Subject: Re: Disappearance of Gergis et al paper

    Dear Dr. Matthews,

    American Meteorological Society policy does not permit me to disclose
    any information about a manuscript to anyone other than reviewers and
    potential reviewers. You may contact the authors directly with any
    questions about their paper.

    Sincerely,
    Tony Broccoli

    On 6/8/2012 1:40 PM, Paul Matthews wrote:
    >
    > Dear Professor Broccoli
    >
    > Please could explain why the Journal of Climate paper
    > “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian
    > temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium”
    > is no longer available on the journal website?
    > Has the paper been withdrawn by the authors?
    > It appears that a significant error in the paper was found
    > at the Climate Audit blog.
    >
    > Yours sincerely
    >
    > Paul Matthews
    >

    Paul Matthews

    June 12, 2012 at 3:45 am

  5. Its interesting that skeptics are labelled as “climate change” skeptics while the real climate lot are labelled as “climate scientists”.

    The reality is that it was these do called “climate change deniers who forced “The Team” to actually do their job a correct the obvious errors that the so called climate scientists has wilfully ignored…and continued to ignore when these errors where brought to their attention by climate change deniers.

    Secondly, perhaps puzzle monkey would like to point out what the actual errors were in Wegmans paper or does his hatred of anyone who dares question the religion on Mann Made Global Warming ™ trump everything else.

    Mailman

    Mailman

    June 12, 2012 at 3:51 am

    • The actual error in Wegman’s paper was that the conclusion did not fit the data. It is not surprising that this error was made, considering the fact that plagiarism is frequently a result of poor understanding of a field or outright intellectual laziness.

      Marco

      June 12, 2012 at 8:16 am

      • And how exactly did they manage to reach that conclusion when the Mashy created drama was around attribution only?

        Mashy et al couldn’t challenge the conclusions, all they could do was complain and wave their hands around about plagiarism.

        So again, exactly which conclusions are you talking about.

        Mailman

        Mailman

        June 12, 2012 at 10:51 am

      • There’s a dismal double standard at display here. Wegman’s paper was retracted because it was full of plagiarism. Astonishingly two other plagiarised papers by Wegman (and Said) in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (Comp Stats or WIREs CS) were allowed to have sections rewritten to cover up the plagiarism – Wegman and Said happen to be two of the chief editors of WIREs CS. Wegman’s retracted paper appears to have been “chaperoned” into Comp Stats and Data Analysis by a complicit editor of that journal

        These may be second rate journals, but this sort of behaviour is regulalry highlighted on RetractionWatch as being pretty disgraceful. Apparently ‘though, in some eyes it’s just dandy since it serves some sort of dreary political agenda…

        Mailman, the conclusion of the Wegman “paper” wasn’t so much a “conclusion” as an insinuation. The paper described an analysis of co-author and collaboration relationships in a scientific field, dressed this up within a “social network analysis” framework and insinuated without evidence that this leads to abuses of peer review. The argument is more of an opinion than a scientific study. The irony is that Wegman’s behaviour (and that of a small group of editors) display’s exactly the sort of rubbish that Wegman was attempting to smear another scientist with…

        chris

        June 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

      • I am talking about the conclusion that there was a network within the paleoclimate community (duh! It can be found in any research area) and that the entrepeneurial (Mann-like) network may well lead to peer review abuse. Dan Vergano asked an SNA expert, Kathleen Carley, and she noted: “No data is provided to support this argument”.

        I could not find any “Mashy”, but I did find a certain John Mashey citing yet another SNA expert at length, Garry Robins; he said in summary “there may or may not be compromised reviewing in various research domains but this network analysis cannot provide sufficient leverage to show it.”

        Marco

        June 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      • In my opinion the AMS are deficient in not giving some information about the status of this “paper” on their website. They might at least say that the paper has been withdrawn by the authors due to an identification of an error in implementation or reporting of data analysis…something like that.

        This is of more general interest. We don’t know what the problem is with this paper. It’s possible it’s minor and of the sort that might be addressed in a correction published subsequently to the published paper (as happens occasionaly when problems that don’t impact the interpretations are found post-publication). In the “old days” when a problem is found between acceptance and print publication, authors were allowed to address the issues and redo that analysis subject to the editors approval (and maybe involving a recheck with the reviewers). In the electronic age with uploaded preprints of accepted articles the paper can essentially “disappear” (like this one)….but does this require/constitute a formal retraction?

        I would have thought it’s acceptable for the authors to address the problems (liaising with the editor and maybe involving re-review), and if the paper is then OK it can rejoin the publication queue. If the flaw is fatal then the paper might be considered never to have existed…. but does it need to be formally retracted?

        O course the main thing is to get the science as “right” as possible, so this episode, stripped of the blogosterics, is perfectly admirable.

        chris

        June 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm

  6. J Cliamte editor Broccoli wrote me:
    “The article in question did not “disappear” from the Journal of Climate. It was removed from a preprint server for accepted manuscripts that have not yet been published. AMS maintains this preprint server for the convenience of authors and readers. The manuscripts on this server are labeled as “preliminary” and are not in final form.”

    Steve McIntyre

    June 12, 2012 at 11:26 am

    • Yes, that’s how I interpreted it (see my post at 1.26 pm just above). This seems justifiable to me – it has the potential to add a little more “proofreading”/quality control to scientific publishing….a little like arvix or the journals that operate on “open/public review”…

      chris

      June 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm

      • Broccoli should type “Gergis” into a Google news search to see all the media coverage that the authors generated for their “preprint”. Might be worth him considering a Journal policy to avoid future embarassment.

        ethicallychallenged

        June 12, 2012 at 9:44 pm

  7. 1) Strange Scholarship in the Wegman Report‘s PDF is 250 pages long, studied every page of it and commented on the problems. Only a few were error-free. The scholarship was bad, the science was bad, even the statistics was bad, although I only had part of the latter, known by Sept 2010. There was a 2:1 bibliography pad, including reference to a 1987 article on ozone hole in MAGNETS, a fringe-science journal, by a tabloid-writer famed for fuel-less engines, psychic surgery, and alter the black helicopters. Great reference! Just what Congress needed.

    2) DC;s Replication and due diligence, Wegman-stylein November finished off the statistics problems. Wegman and co (likely Said and/or Rigsby) just reran McIntyre’s code, which not only used wildly-wrong parameters for AR processes, but did a 1:100 cherry-pick to get the most hockey-stick looking runs. (I’ve looked at the R code that DC found.) Wegman hid the code by claiming to Rep. Waxman that it needed Navy release. Either Navy resources were involved (possibly a mis-use of government funds) or this was just a ploy to keep the code secret. He promised to make the code and data available, never did.

    3) Plagiarism, once found is the easiest of the fabrication/falsification/plagiarism FFP problems to explain, as it needs no field knowledge. I later did Strange Falsifications in the Wegman Report, 12 pages, to cover some of the most obvious examples.

    4) Top-notch statisticians with relevant experience, like Grace Wahba, a Member of the National Academy fo Sciences, told Wegman of statistical problems before the report appeared… and were mostly ignored. I quoted her in SSWR, as part of examination of the whole fake peer review process Wegman ran.

    5) Wegman has had more than a year and half to refute SSWR, but about all he’s said is that he and Said have never plagiarized and that Said’s comments about Spencer sending them much material was wrong. He finally got a lawyer (once Ken Cuccinelli’s law partner), who now speaks for him, usually No Comment.

    6) Of course, GMU has Seen No Evil, although there is more to come on that story, I think.

    John Mashey

    June 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm

  8. [Karoly:]

    The paper has not been withdrawn nor has it been retracted.

    We are reprocessing the data and double-checking everything. This will take some time. We expect to re-submit the revised manuscript to the Journal of Climate by the end of July and this will then be sent out for peer review again.

    Maybe the “double-check” this time will make up for the “single-check” they obviously didn’t do the first time. And “peer review” didn’t seem to help much last time around, either. Oh, well, perhaps Broccoli will choose reviewers who are somewhat more diligent next time around.

    Then again, rather than depending on “peer review”, perhaps Karoly would be wiser to ask Steve McIntyre to review their revised paper before they re-submit.

    But I do wonder, is it a “normal part of science” that Press Releases and Press Conferences at which publication date (not to mention citation in AR5) is announced – leaving readership and audience with distinct impression that the paper has been, well, published, when in fact it hasn’t?

    Or is this practice of non-withdrawal, non-retraction of an accepted and call-it-published – but not-really-published paper – merely a “normal part of climate science”?

    Curious minds would like to know.

    hro001

    June 14, 2012 at 10:22 am

    • Why would Steve McIntyre be the right person to review? It wasn’t Steve McIntyre who detected the issue! And he’s got his little pet ideas that he never ever showed to be valid in a peer review paper, so he may want to do that first, before complaining about the procedures used.

      Marco

      June 16, 2012 at 12:26 am

  9. Marco, I’m sorry that you and the inarticulate mashup artist are choosing to attempt to divert the discussion here from the important issues in this matter.

    Notwithstanding your willful blindness regarding who discovered the problems in this far-from-ready-for-prime-time-paper, this thread (and my comment to which you were “responding”) is about the highly questionable practice of “non-withdrawal, non-retraction of an accepted [presumably "peer reviewed"] and call-it-published – but not-really-published – paper” and the extent to which it is prevalent in “climate science” or any more mature and reputable field of academic study.

    hro001

    June 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    • Ah, the insult as a response. Apparently, when Steve McIntyre mentions it was a commenter “JeanS” who detected the problem, *I* am the one who is willfully blind about who discovered this problem. And somehow John Mashey is “inarticulate” and a “mashup artist”.

      And why do you question a whole field based on a single example?

      Marco

      June 17, 2012 at 12:22 am

    • hro001, to answer your question, I don’t know of any other paper in climate science that has been published on line and then been withdrawn (temporarily or otherwise) although at least one has been retracted in the normal fashion. So it’s not “prevalent” in climate science as I’m sure you could have discovered yourself! On the other hand I know of several examples of papers being accepted for publication and then being withdrawn or put on hold pre-publication, pending reassessment of the data (including one of my own papers) in the pre-electronic age, and I expect it still happens. It doesn’t seem that big a deal; the aim is to get stuff into the scientific literature that is as “correct” as possible.

      To my mind it’s satisfactory that publishing practices are sufficiently flexible to accommodate this particular instance. It’s also not surprising that people are attempting to extract political mileage from this episode!

      Notice btw, that re your plea about “…attempt(ing) to divert the discussion here from the important issues in this matter…”, that it was the very first responder on this thread that did the “diverting the discussion”; that’s sadly par for the course when it comes to pretty much any scientific field where there are agendas that benefit from misrepresenting the science.

      I do agree with you re press releases which is one of the minor scourges of modern science (along with the huge expansion of junk journals and the metrification of research effort which tends to encourage dodgy practices amongst the less-than-scrupulous). It would be nice if there was a rule that stated that any significant reappraisal of research trumpeted in a press release should be given an equally prominent showing in the sources it was trumpeted….but I expect we’ll wait in vain for such a happy outcome….

      chris

      June 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

  10. In the newspaper The Australian is the claim that the Climate Audit team have been trying to get the details and content of the datasets that were excluded from the final analysis.

    The suggestion being that the conclusion may partially be the result of cherry-picking. To my best knowledge they have been stone-walled in these requests.

    But others may know more details.

    Grey

    June 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm

  11. Karoly told Retraction Watch on June 12 that “the paper has not been withdrawn nor has it been retracted” However on June 13, coauthor Gergis wrote to Gergis et al coauthors and three Real Climate authors saying that they had decided to “voluntarily withdraw the paper in press”. See http://climateaudit.org/2012/07/24/was-gergis-et-al-withdrawn/

    Steve McIntyre

    July 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  12. Interesting developments with the withdrawn (aka “on hold”) paper Gergis et al 2012, info from FOI requests in Australia:

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/agri/AIMS%20Emails%20J.Gergis%20and%20J.Lough%281.1.10-19.6.12%29.pdf

    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=1688#comments

    Gergis: “we needed to voluntarily withdraw the paper in press with the journal”

    There are several extraordinary, disturbing statements in the email letter to co-authors and data suppliers.

    This letter reads more like a “cover story” trying to get everyone on the same page for journalist inquiries than any candid effort to ensure the science is done right.

    1) Why does she use the word “withdraw” the paper when her senior co-author Karoly pretended the paper was “on hold” (whatever that curious expression means for a paper already published in the journal’s online site)?

    2) Why does she know prior to re-analysis of the data that their conclusions will not change?

    3) It has been asserted on Climate Audit that with the change of data methods she will not have statistically robust data for more than 8 proxies (not the 22 she claims in the letter linked above), so this bears close attention when they resubmit.

    4) Why does she seem to be concerned only to “avoid further negative commentary on the paper” rather than to arrive at scientifically robust results? This does not read to me like the letter of a rigorous credible scientist determined to arrive at the most accurate and statistically robust result, whatever it may be.

    5) Why does she pretend (is it credible and will she produce evidence) that she or a co-author discovered the data problem on June 5 independently of Climate AUdit’s comment of the same date drawing attention to the problem?
    (Australia of course is one day ahead of North America for a substantial portion of each day, so she may in effect be claiming that they found the problem June 4 in N. American time zones, but where IS the evidence for this claim?)

    Skiphil

    July 26, 2012 at 12:22 am

  13. NOAA site also refers to “withdrawal of Gergis et al 2012″
    What exactly does Karoly’s “on hold” mean again?

    Here is the message on the official data site of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

    NAME OF DATA SET:
    Australasia 1000 Year Ensemble Temperature Reconstructions

    LAST UPDATE: 6/2012 (Removal of reconstruction data due to
    withdrawal of Gergis et al. 2012, Journal of Climate.
    Original receipt by WDC Paleo 5/2012)

    CONTRIBUTORS: Gergis, J., R. Neukom, S.J. Phipps, A.J.E. Gallant,
    D.J. Karoly, and PAGES Aus2K Project Members.
    IGBP PAGES/WDCA CONTRIBUTION SERIES NUMBER: 2012-061

    Skiphil

    July 26, 2012 at 1:01 am

  14. sorry, forgot link to website for NOAA message about “withdrawal” of Gergis et al 2012:

    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/contributions_by_author/gergis2012/gergis2012australasia.txt

    Skiphil

    July 26, 2012 at 1:02 am

  15. For a counterpoint on the Wegman plagiarism affair:

    http://climateaudit.org/2011/05/29/mosher-on-the-provenance-of-said-et-al-2008/

    It appears that the plagiarized introduction/overview/boilerplate was not willful, merely lazy.

    To a disinterested third-party the solution would be to properly attribute the immaterial material thru an addendum.

    The reason for the retraction is puzzling. Being climate science, my guess is politics.

    Oh well, it’s just a matter of time. Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.

    AJ

    July 27, 2012 at 12:13 am

  16. curiouser and curiouser….. whatever is going on with this paper, it appears that Steve McIntyre is correct that it will not be simple corrections …. he said on Climate Audit that Gergis et al. had a serious dilemma between detrending the data or not, because if they changed course in the revised paper only 8 of 27 data proxies would have statistical significance.

    Has Retraction Watch gotten any straight info from the journal or the authors about the genuine status of this paper? Why were they not able to salvage it in 2 months, when they previously announced that they expected to re-submit by the end of July, which was the deadline for being included in the IPCC’s AR5 process? (and which was a stated goal of the Gergis et al. project announced repeatedly with much fanfare)….. this was supposed to be “the” Southern Hemisphere paleoclimate millenial reconstruction for the Australasian region in the next IPCC report (AR5), according to Gergis. Will there not be such data since they have missed the IPCC deadline for submission?

    Aug. 2 announcement on Gergis et al. (2012) on U. Melbourne website

    [emphasis added]

    1000 years of climate data confirms Australia’s warming
    2 Aug 2012, 12.40 PM
    Print publication of scientific study on hold

    An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Stephen Phipps, Ailie Gallant and David Karoly, accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate.

    The authors are performing detailed reanalysis of the data for the above paper and will submit the revised paper to the journal as soon as possible, likely before the end of September.

    Skiphil

    August 5, 2012 at 3:11 am

  17. Update at the website of the Journal of Climate (American Meteorological Society):

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/page/JCLI-D-11-00649

    “Due to errors discovered in this paper during the publication process,

    it was withdrawn by the authors prior to being published in final form.”

    [h/t Jean S. at Climate Audit]

    Skiphil

    October 18, 2012 at 9:03 am

    • At the U. of Melbourne PR site it now says the study has been re-submitted to Journal of Climate for new review. So perhaps they had to formally withdraw the previous version and then re-submit?

      http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/studio/ep-149

      Scientific study resubmitted.

      An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Joelle Gergis, Raphael Neukom, Ailie Gallant, Steven Phipps and David Karoly, accepted for publication in the Journal of Climate.

      The manuscript has been re-submitted to the Journal of Climate and is being reviewed again.

      Skiphil

      October 18, 2012 at 9:08 am


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