by Judith Curry
The new surface temperature dataset developed by the Berkeley group is now available, along with four manuscripts that have been submitted for publication.
Information on the new data set can be found on the Resources page at the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature web site.
The group has submitted four papers for publication:
- Berkeley Earth Temperature Averaging Process
- Influence of Urban Heating on the Global Temperature Land Average
- Earth Atmospheric Land Surface Temperature and Station Quality in the United States
- Decadal Variations in the Global Atmospheric Land Temperatures
The fact that my name appears as second author on some of these papers is attributable to my last name starting with the letter “C”. The group has taken a “team” approach to authorship on this set of papers. My contribution to these papers has been in the writing stage and suggesting analyses. I have not had “hands on” the data, one of the reasons being that I do not have funding to do any analysis.
Here are my summary comments on the papers. I think the most significant paper is the Berkeley Earth Temperature Averaging Process, where Rohde et al. have introduced a new method for analyzing the data that appears to me to be a substantial improvement over existing methods. That said, I suspect there is still considerable research still to be done in this area. The Urban Heat Island effect paper is a nice study, and based upon the reporters’ questions, seems to be the primary paper of interest. Is this paper the final word on the UHI issue? Probably not. I will be interested in the reactions to this paper, since UHI is a contentious issue. The decadal variability study is very provocative (this is the paper for which I had the greatest input), but IMO the study needs to be extended back further in time. The Surface Station quality paper shows nothing surprising, but I understand that Anthony Watts is raising a concern over the paper.
In summary, there are no particularly surprising results here. The papers are initial steps in analyzing the data set, and the verdict on these particular papers will be given by others who do subsequent analyses.
The BEST PR strategy
In my relatively minor role in all this, I have had virtually no input into the BEST PR strategy. I have encouraged making the data set available as soon as possible. They were reluctant to do this before papers had been submitted for publication, and cited the problems that Anthony Watts had with releasing his surfacestations.org dataset before papers were accepted for publication. IMO, two of the papers (decadal and surface station quality) should have been extended and further analyzed before submitting (but that very well may be the response of the reviewers/editors.) I agree that it is important to get the papers out there and not be scooped on this by others, especially since Muller and other team members have been giving presentations on this. I have no problem with posting the papers before they are accepted for publication, in fact I encourage people to post their papers before publication.
In terms of how effective the team’s overall PR strategy has been, that is a subject that is certainly open to debate. But my impression is that the group has been honest brokers in all this in terms of trying to improve our understanding of the surface temperature data, while maximizing the impact of the data set and their research.
The press embargo on this lifts today at noon Pacific time. I suspect there will be pretty widespread media coverage on this, with both sides of the debate spinning this to suit their purposes. I have had queries from several journalists, to whom I probably did not provide any usable sound bites. Lets see how it plays out.
Note, the Economist published its article at noon EST, the link is here.
Anthony Watts has a post here.
Given that these two posts are already up and I quote nothing from the press release, I will go ahead and post this now.
Although the results of the analysis aren’t particularly surprising relative to previous analyses, I think the BEST project is very important given the importance of the surface temperature data set and the problems that have been associated with the CRU and NASA data sets, not to mention their disagreement. The BEST group is comprised of some extremely distinguished scientists (including Nobel Prize awardee Saul Perlmutter), and this topic has benefitted greatly from the examination of this problem by physicists and statisticians who were prepared to take a fresh look at this problem.
I am honored to have been invited to participate in this study, which I think was conducted very well.
In concluding, I will remind everyone that the REAL problem with the surface temperature data set lies with the ocean data. I hope that the Berkeley group will be able to extend their efforts to include ocean data.
I will provide updates with MSM and blog articles on this as I spot them.