John McLean still manipulating data

Still waiting for John McLean and Bob Carter to comment on the Foster et al response published in JGR outlining exactly how they manipulated their dataset to give a false conclusion. According to McLean’s website, although the authors were well aware of the Foster response before it was published:

The informal nature of the Foster et al critique makes it inappropriate for me to respond in detail.

Right. Apparently the long delay between the original McLean et al publication and the Foster et al critique was in part due to the fact that the McClean et al were invited to respond to the critique prior to it being published in JGR, but ultimately declined.

So, while we wait for a formal response, here’s another lie from McLean’s own homepage: sea surface temperatures (SST’s) along the Great Barrier Reef are not increasing. In recent times, climate scientists have been blasted for using ultra-secret ‘tricks‘ to manipulate their data. It seems that McLean has gone one up on this in his analysis of SST’s, using statistical averaging to hide the any possible trends:

The data is in form of values for grid cells of 1 degree latitude by 1 degree longitude.  From it I extracted the data applying to the GBR Marine Park and calculated the average across the park for each month.

The GBR covers over 200,000km2, from 11’S to 24’S. By averaging surface temperatures across the entire region, McLean effectively destroys any warming trend, and presents the data as an average, with no indication of error or confidence intervals. In fact, here’s how spatially variable SST across the entire GBR Marine Park really can be (from Lough 1994):

Here it is again, this time using SST’s over the past 105 yrs (De’ath et al 2009):

Considering the seemingly obvious with latitudinal temperature gradients, why did McLean ignore spatial variability in SST’s and reach the conclusion that sea surface temperature isn’t increasing on the GBR?

These graphs make it abundantly clear that the sea surface temperature along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are not increasing at an alarming rate. The people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims. These sea temperatures might rise in future but the historical evidence suggests that this will most likely be due to the natural forces of El Nino events.

In case you missed it, here it is again: “The people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims“. Really? Instead of relying on website science*, let’s go to the published literature. Using mean annual sea surface temperature (SST) records were obtained from the HadISST1 for 1° grid cells, between 1900 to 2006, De’ath et al (2009) found clear temporal trends across 2° latitudinal bands:

We’ve tried replicating the results from McLean’s website results, but the methodology is (deliberately?) vague. Considering John McLean is an employee of “Applied Science Consultants” in Victoria, Australia, we can’t bombard him with FOI requests to show us his methods and data, so it seems only fair to ask McLean to be a little more transparent in his analysis. Otherwise, the conclusion that “.. people who say otherwise have no evidence whatsoever to support their claims” seems particularly disingenuous. Should we expect a retraction on McLean’s behalf? As David Horton pointed out the other day: “This was never a scientific debate, always an ideological one, or, rather, it was always science versus ideology.”

8 thoughts on “John McLean still manipulating data

  1. This Grant Foster guy blogs as Tamino in a website called “open mind”.

    He’s an angry loner hell bent on proving anybody who challenges AGW orthodoxy wrong. He’s been proven wrong more than a few times by other people who have pointed out serious flaws in his analyses.

    Foster doesn’t acknowledge those critiques, even when pointed out to him.

    I don’t blame McLean and Carter for ignoring him.

  2. This continue to highlight the huge double standards … the IPCC makes one of the two errors in 3000 pages of text and given tremendous grief – yet Carter and McLean who appear to make errors in almost everything they’ve produced (and then to hide it with misrepresentations of the actual situation) but barely given any profile in the media at all. And these are the two individuals who have provided the misleading information to gullible coalition members Barnaby Joyce and Nick Minchin. This type of deliberate BS ultimately led to the downfall of Malcolm Turnbull.

    If Carter and Maclean were really honest about their science, then they would explain why the Foster et al paper is wrong – and would have done so when requested by the Journal of Geophysical Research.

    I am afraid, as we suspected, the two individual either very poor scientists or they are complicit in a deliberate misrepresentation of the seriousness of global climate change in order to support special-interest.

  3. Veto: McLean et al applied a filtering process that removes a long term trend. They justified this action by saying it removed ‘noise’, when comparative analyse of the original data and the filtered data shows that it amplified the noise whilst removing longer-term changes.

    The lack of response to Foster et alis pretty damning. As someone on Skeptical Science put it: “A scientist caught manipulating data to achieve a pre-determined result”.

  4. Funny, still nothing from The Australian or Andrew Bolt on two high profile aussie climate scientists getting busted fudging their data! A sign of a lack of balance?! What could be going on?

  5. Marc H, we appreciate your input and comments, but be fair and honest here. At the time of this posting, the link you have above was not up and frankly had it been, how the hell would we have known about it? Mclean and Carter are not responding to emails and queries from reporters about this and this is nothing on their home pages. McLean’s web site page still says:

    Comment in response to Foster et al’s reaction to
    our paper on the influence of ENSO on temperatures

    A response to our ENSO paper by Foster, Annan, Jones, Mann, Renwick, Salinger, Schmidt and Trenberth has been posted on the website of Kevin Trenberth. Although the response is formatted as if for the Journal of Geophysical Research, to our knowledge it has not yet been published in that or any other refereed journal.

    The informal nature of the Foster et al critique makes it inappropriate for me to respond in detail to it here, but should the criticisms be published in the normal manner we authors will respond as appropriate.

    Our paper – McLean, J.D., C. R. de Freitas and R.M. Carter (2009), Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D1404, doi:10.1029/2008JD011637.

    Commentary paper – no reference possible. Paper not published (as at 11 Sep 2009).

  6. Talk about misrepresenting facts… What the hell is a “right of reply?” Journals traditionally offer authors the courtesy of publishing responses to criticism of their work, but it still has to pass the normal standards of scrutiny. The editor’s initial contact with McLean et al, as quoted in their rant, made quite clear that (emphasis added) “Your reply will be reviewed and, if acceptable, will be published…” It’s fairly common for replies to be denied publication for a variety of reasons, so for the authors to act as if it’s “unprecedented” is disingenuous at the very least. Every author has the right to reply to published criticism, which McLean et al clearly exercised, but no author ever has a right to have anything published in any journal.

    By the authors’ own admission, the response by McLean et al “almost entirely restates material that was included in the original paper.” That alone would merit rejection as its publication adds nothing new to the discussion. Their submitted reply does not address the very real and very major errors in the original work other than to re-argue that their math does something that it demonstrably does not do. In their abstract they make the direct claim “should any such trend exist, it follows from our analysis that in most part it would
    be a response to the natural climate mechanisms that underlie the Southern Oscillation.” The whole Foster et al paper was a demonstration of how that inference does NOT follow from the analysis done.

    Also, in their presentation of reviewer comments McLean et al quote reviewer 3 as saying “But as it is written, the current paper almost stoops to the level of ‘blog diatribe’. The current paper does not read like a peer-reviewed journal article. The tone is sometimes dramatic and sometimes accusatory. It is inconsistent with the language one normally encounters in the objectively-based, peer-reviewed literature.” to suggest that the reviewer was dissatisfied with Foster et al’s comment when in fact the same reviewer’s comment begins- “The real mystery here, of course, is how the McLean et al. paper ever made it into JGR. How that happened, I have no idea. I can’t see it ever getting published through J Climate. The analyses in McLean et al. are among the worst I have seen in the climate literature. The paper is also a poorly guised attack on the integrity of the climate community, and I guess that is why Foster et al. have taken the energy to contradict its findings. So the current paper (Foster et al.) should certainly be accepted.”

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