More Data Refusal ? Nothing Changes

Source:  Climate Audit

by Steve McIntyre

Jan 6, 2011 ? 8:10 PM

Phil Jones and his coauthors in the recent multiproxy study (Neukom et al 2010, (Climate Dynamics) Multiproxy summer and winter surface air temperature field reconstructions for southern South America covering the past centuries) did not archive proxy data in the Supplementary Information. Many proxy series used in the study are not otherwise publicly archived.

I wrote to lead author Raphael Neukom as follows:

Dear Dr Neukom,
I notice that your recent multiproxy article uses a number of proxies that aren?t publicly archived. Do you plan to provide an archive of the data as used in your study? If not, could you please send me a copy of the data as used. Thanks for your attention.
Regards, Steve McIntyre

I received the following answer refusing the data:

Dear Steve,

Thanks for your interest in our work. Most of the non-publicly available records were provided to us for use within the PAGES LOTRED-SA initiative only and I am not authorized to further distribute them. You would need to directly contact the authors. I am sorry for that.

If you are interested in a particular record, let me know and I can provide the contact details.


Every inquiry into paleoclimate controversies, no matter how much whitewash was applied, concluded that climate scientists should archive data. If Neukom, Jones and their coauthors publish a multiproxy article, that means the multiproxy data, not just the output. If the contributing authors are not willing to archive their data, then it shouldn?t be used in a study in a climate journal. End of story.

Nor is it sufficient for the author to provide the addresses of the various contributors and force an interested reader to obtain data from each of them individually. There?s no guarantee that they will cooperate. The obligation rests with the publishing authors.

Making matters even worse in the present case is that many of the unarchived series were published by named Neukom coauthors. If they aren?t prepared to have their data see the light of day, don?t sign on as a coauthor and don?t allow Neukom to use your data.

While Phil Jones was not lead author of the study, he was a coauthor. As someone with recent adverse experience in data archiving issues, Jones should have insisted that the Neukom coauthors provide an exemplary data archive and, if they were unwilling to do so, Jones should have withdrawn as a coauthor. Similarly, the University of East Anglia should have adopted policies that require its authors to ensure that proper data archiving practices are mandatory in publications in which UEA employees are coauthors. Either UEA has failed to adopt such a policy or, if they have, Jones has ignored it.

PAGES, the organization that has sponsored or acquiesced in this latest secrecy, has the following mission:

PAGES is a core project of IGBP [International Geosphere=Biosphere Program] and is funded by the U.S. and Swiss National Science Foundations and NOAA

Climate scientists, rather than learning anything from Climategate, have, if anything, become more stubborn than ever. That international programs sponsored by funds from the Swiss NSF, US NSF and NOAA should sponsor and/or acquiesce in non-archiving was bad enough before Climategate, but totally unacceptable after Climategate.

The sending of Swiss and/or US federal funds to climate institutions and programs which do not adhere to data archiving policies seems a practical and useful topic for an oversight committee and I hope that one of them takes up the issue. If nothing else will change the archiving practices of climate scientists, maybe the funding agencies can.

And by the way, as I?ve said on many occasions, I don?t believe that new data policies are needed. If policies enunciated in the 1990s were applied to paleoclimate by NSF, I believe that that would deal with 95% of the problem in paleoclimate. However, in my opinion, NSF (paleoclimate) has become a cheerleader for the small paleoclimate industry and abdicated its obligations to ensure compliance with US federal data archiving policies.

I replied to Neukom as follows:

Thank you for your reply, which, unfortunately I do not accept. If you publish a multiproxy article using non-archived proxy data, you should obtain the consent of the contributors for archiving the data when the study is published or otherwise not use this data. It is your responsibility to obtain these consents, not the responsibility of the interested reader to try to obtain the data from potentially uncooperative contributors after the fact.

I?ve posted on this incident at Climate Audit here and if you wish to present your side of the story, please feel free to do so,

Regards, Steve McIntyre

Update: Lucia observes in a comment below:

data management

Future progress in understanding climate history will depend increasingly on the provision of well-documented data. Therefore, in addition to providing a set of useful data links, PAGES has initiated the PAGES Databoard. This service is intended to ensure the compatibility and accessibility of available paleo-databases.

Raphael Neukom is the contact for learning how to contrinbute data to Page.

Lucia asked whether the requested series were there. Many of the requested series appear to be on that list or to be composites constructed in some fashion. Some of the inputs to Neukom et al are identified as ?Clusters? of tree ring data. The clusters appear to be composites of individual tree ring chronologies listed in the PAGES series.

PAGES in effect is using public funds to archive pubicly funded data for private use. It reminds me in a way of the password-protected archive at SO&P (SOAP) which rebuffed all my efforts to get access to their data in 2005. The gatekeeper for the program in that instance was none other than Climategate?s own Keith Briffa.