Sunday, December 25, 2011

1998 ClimateGate email: Briffa fears a "backlash" as modellers "undertake simple assessments of the palaeo-series and conclude that they are all of very little use"

1998 ClimateGate email

My first comment is that I agree with all of your general remarks and with your implied rebuke to Phil that we should be very wary of seeming to dam certain proxies and over hype others when we all know that there are real strengths and weaknesses associted with them all. The truth is that all of this group are well aware of this and of the associated fact that even within each of these sub-disciplines e.g. Dendro, coral etc. there is a large range of value , or concern with the external usage of our data. However, my own and Phil's concerns are motivated ,like yourself, by the outside world's inability to appreciate these points and the danger that we will all be seen as uncritical or niave about the real value of proxy data. The rationale for the recent Jones et al paper, and some things that I have written in the past is to inform would be users , particularly the modellers, that there are critical questions to be addressed about how the palaeo-data are best used in a 'detection' or 'model validation' context. Many in the palaeo-community understand these issues , but perhaps there has been some reluctance to air them in sufficient depth or in the right situations where they will be heard/seen by those people who now seek to use the data . I believe that many of the modellers , having been blissfully unaware for years of the need to work with the palaeo-community, are now expecting too much . This carries the danger of a backlash as they undertake simple assessments of the palaeo-series and conclude that they are all of very little use. The problem is that as we try to inform them we may get the balance between valueable self criticism and scientific flagellation wrong. The more so when the whip is seemingly aimed at others!

... I hate cold feet and I don't ski so I vote for [a meeting] anywhere away from snow. [Keith Briffa]

No comments: