More BEST (but still not peer reviewed)

The BEST story rumbles on but still no peer reviewed results.

Instead, they’ve made 4 manuscripts available that have been submitted on their methods, the influence of the urban heat island, temperature records and stations quality for the US and global temperature variations (all 4 links go to pdfs).

This seems to be the key figure:

"Comparison of the Berkeley Average to existing land-only averages reported by the three major temperature groups." The differences in the late 20th Century arise from different definitions of "land" used by the four groups - the paper says that global averages match better in this period but I couldn't see that figure in the papers - if it's not there, it'd be nice to add it.

Here are a few interesting quotes from the papers after a very quick read. From the first paper:

This change [in global land mean temperature] is consistent with global land-surface warming results previously reported, but with reduced uncertainty.

I’d read this as GISS, NOAA and HadCRU being pretty much on the money but they’ve found the same thing using more data (the BEST record goes back to 1800, which is nice) and a different method.

From the second paper:

The small size, and its negative sign, [of the urban heat island effect] supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change.

This pretty much confirms the recent work of Menne et al. (2010) and the Watts paper and will hopefully put this issue to bed. Indeed, the third paper, which specifically mentions Watts in the abstract in relation to SurfaceStations, then goes on to show that US station quality makes little impact on the recorded trend.

Paper four looks at the role of ENSO and the AMO in controlling decadal variability in the temperature data. This looks like the most interesting paper to me so I’ll have a closer look at that soon.

Overall, though, there doesn’t quite seem like enough material for 4 papers here. Maybe they’re trying to make it look like they’ve done more than re-re-re-confirm the results of other groups.


4 Responses to “More BEST (but still not peer reviewed)”

  1. omnologos Says:

    The uhi paper is no good at all. It’s like a tobacco study reporting a lifespan increase in users…perhaps counterintuitively true but needs lots more care to be considered even potentially indicative of the real world. Classifying stuff in urban and rural is too coarse, rural isn’t a city of 50,000, etc etc.

    Anyway as you said there’s lots of smoke compared to the available “meat”. Why did they feel compelled to jump the gun now and in such a public manner?

    • andyrussell Says:

      I’ve not looked at the UHI paper in much detail – I guess we’ll see how it fairs with the reviewers!

      Open Mind says that pre-release is pretty standard for physics but I don’t know anything about that.

  2. omnologos Says:

    Prereleases yes, but massive PR strategies have a chequered scientific past (Judah’s Gospel, Missing link, Arsenic life)

  3. diogenes Says:

    what does seem to be emerging is that the BEST data shows a fairly dramatic warming since 1800 – although given the error bars, it is difficult to know how to assess this. In view of the critiques made by statisticians such as Keenan and Briggs, the error range could be under-stated. Perhaps the conclusion is that we really do not know very much worthwhile about global temperatures in the early-mid 19thc.- which is scarcely earth-shattering. The comparison with the various hockey-sticks will be interesting.

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