It looks like the first of the BEST papers is published (webcite): A New Estimate of the Average Earth Surface Land Temperature Spanning 1753 to 2011 (h/t WUWT) – Richard A. Muller, Robert Rohde, Robert Jacobsen, Elizabeth Muller, Saul Perlmutter, Arthur Rosenfeld, Jonathan Wurtele, Donald Groom and Charlotte Wickham. Note the absence of La Curry (she’s noticed, though. Note absence of comment on journal quality).
AW has thrown Muller under the bus and is cwuel to the paper, which is almost enough to make me kind, but not quite. The audience duly parrots this back to him, with a few exceptions. “oldfossil” reminds AW of his original words I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.
The Watties are criticising the paper for being published in the first issue of a new journal of no known provenance, “Geoinformatics & Geostatistics: An Overview”. And I agree to this extent: BEST would not have published there, had they been able to publish in, say, JGR. Just like no-one publishes in E&E until everyone else has rejected them. But I disagree with the reasoning: the work, I think, is perfectly valid. As I said before. But just as I said before, it isn’t really all that exciting: its really just a new method for constructing a global time series, which agrees with the previous ones. Even if it turns out to be a really good idea, its still only a method, not a scientific result. That is why they’ve had a hard time getting it published. This is a bit of a problem for geophysics-types, and there’s an EGU journal devoted to this problem for GCM code, GMD, featuring several of our usual suspects. That exists because developing GCM code, too, is just a method and not generally publishable in the normal journals.
One possible “new result” is the extension of the temperature record back to 1750. What is striking about the early record is the massive oscillations with a period of about 50 years, that completely disappear from the record after about 1910. Is that plausible? Maybe: they claim to see a volcanic signature in these events. But they have no explanation for the large positive excursion in ~1770 (aside: this may be why they had trouble getting into a “real” journal: they say stuff like Most dramatic are the large swings in the earliest period. These dips can be explained as… but they don’t mention the peaks, which can’t be). Another possibility is that these are an artefact of the poor geographical coverage of the early record. Exactly when to start the record isn’t clear, but other centers use 1850-to-1880.
The other thing they do (inextricably tied up with the above) is fitting volcanoes+CO2 to the temperature record. This gives them a climate sensitivity (f 3.1 ± 0.3°C, since you ask) and although they say this parameterization is based on an extremely simple linear combination, using only CO2 and no other anthropogenic factors and considering only land temperature changes. As such, we don’t believe it can be used as an explicit constraint on climate sensitivity other than to acknowledge that the rate of warming we observe is broadly consistent with the IPCC estimates of 2-4.5°C warming (for land plus oceans) at doubled CO2 this effective endorsement of IPCC does force the Watties to revile BEST from now on. Previously, I called this stuff “absurdly naive” which on reflection I’d tone down to “naive” but I still think they’d have had a hard time getting it through JGR et al..
I wrote this last night, but didn’t save it: While writing this my trawling threw up the odd silence over AW’s own draft paper, ludicrously called “game changing by RP Sr.. Well, in a sense the game has changed: RP Sr is now out of the blogging business.
Update: JA is even less impressed than me: Previously submitted to JGR, it has ended up…as the first article in a newly-created fake vanity press “journal”. That’s a few rungs down from just sticking it on the Arxiv, where (1) it is free (2) at least some people will read it (3) no-one will think you are pretending it’s undergone any meaningful peer review. No wonder Curry has pulled her name from it. The surprise is that the others have not.
Noting that, and some of my commenters, I think I should revise my suggestion that it was hard to publish as a “methodological” paper. Perhaps more plausible is that it was hard to get into JGR as such, and the “attribution” element wasn’t liked. So perhaps Muller lacked patience to try a lower-ranked journal, threw a wobbly and said “just get me this thing published somewhere where the refs won’t be too pesky”. Ter be ‘onest wiv yer guv, its hard to understand.
Steven Mosher is over at Curry’s defending BEST (well, its his post over there, not hers). So we have stuff like:
Kip Hansen> So tell us all please — Why was this paper published in this shockingly obscure, brand-new journal? Was it actually Peer-Reviewed (notice the initial caps please) — was it really sent out in its entirety to at least three world-class respected experts in the necessary fields, let’s say climate and statistics and computer modelling for instance, and thoroughly vetted, revised, etc before publication? Or was it reviewed by a single editor? and if so, whom?
1. Why was it published? The editor and the reviewers thought it was important work and good work.
2. Was it Peer Reviewed. Yes. There were three reviewers. I read the reviews and then checked our final draft to make sure that we addressed the points that we thought needed to be addressed.
3. Was it sent out in it’s entirety? Yes. I prepared the final draft.
4. Was it sent to 3 world class experts in climate and stats? The reviewers identities are not revealed so that I can only infer from their comments. They understood what we were doing and made helpful suggestions. This was in contrast to previous reviewer comments at other journals who seemed to struggle with kriging, so a geostats journal seemed the better fit.
I can assure you from personal first hand knowledge that “Muller didn’t even know about the journal until it was presented as an option.”
So what you’re seeing there is SM not-very-subtly dodging the “Why was this paper published in this shockingly obscure, brand-new journal?” However, when pressed again he finally answers:
1. prestige didn’t matter to guys who have nobel prizes already.
2. history? we enjoyed the idea of setting a standard. being first was an honor.
3. Recognition? only seems to matter to skeptics who argued that peer review wasnt important anyway.
Basically, we liked the idea of being judged on the quality of the science by people not tainted by the kind of nonsense we have seen in other places.
These are not believable answers. There’s a thoughtful comment by Jim D
The failure to get the BEST paper published in a climate science journal goes against the skeptical view that pro-AGW papers always get published because of inside deals. It is not that simple. This speaks well of the filtering process in those journals and against bias.
Although the follow-up pointing out that Muller has pissed off the world is reasonable too.