date: Thu May 15 13:55:40 2003
from: Keith Briffa <k.briffaatXYZxyz.ac.uk>
subject: Re: paper/comment request
to: David Appell <appellatXYZxyzw.org>
I would be happy to discuss the background and this paper in general if you care to phone
(see number below) . I will be here all friday
I agree with a lot of what Phil said in his message = but the complications arise because
of the mis use of the results by the greenhouse sceptics - and paranoia of some who believe
in greenhouse warming.
I believe passionately that we have a long way to go to get realistic and accurate
(absolute) measures of Hemispheric temperatures over the last millennium and earlier .
However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the "best evidence" is certainly in
support of unprecedented (truly mean Hemispheric and annual) warming in the 20th century
and recent decades. The modern (instrumental) indications of Hemispheric warmth are
(almost literally) incomparably superior to those based on our high-resolution proxy
records (with their narrow coverage and largely summer seasonal bias) . Even pushing the
few individual records to their maximum warmth limit , the most sensible interpretation of
the data does provide much of a case for equivalent warmth in any "Medeival" period (or on
any timescale). Those who prefer to believe in a globally warmer Medieval period largely
fall back on poorly resolved , even more selective evidence that has real problems e.g.
interpretable signal (temp. versus precip.) ; qualitative measurement ; non-deconvolved
lagged responses, and geographical bias that is at least as poor as our high-resolution
data. The science is not progressed without overcoming these problems. Our own desire to
recognize and address the limitations of our own data in the search for accurate and
absolute climate histories should not be confused with a clear expression that "as we
stand" the evidence against unprecedented recent warming does not carry the day.
At 04:11 PM 5/13/03 -0400, you wrote:
Hi. I was wondering if I could get a copy of your 1998 paper:
Jones, P.D., Briffa, K.R., Barnett, T.P. and Tett, S.F.B., 1998
"High-resolution palaeoclimatic records for the last millennium:
interpretation, integration and comparison with General Circulation
Model control-run temperatures," The Holocene 8(4), 455-471 (1998).
As you may know, this paper has been cited by Soon and Baliunas as
evidence for a worldwide "discernible climatic anomaly during the Little
Ice Age, defined as 1300-1900." [Soon W, Baliunas S, "Proxy climatic and
environmental changes of the past 1000 years," Climate Research,
23:89-110 (2003)] (attached) -- see question 1, p. 90.
I'm wondering whether you agree with Soon and Baliunas classification of
I'd be interested in any thoughts, by this coming Monday, May 19th --
I'm writing a news article for "Scientific American" magazine on these
claims.. As well as any thoughts you have on the Soon & Baliunas paper
(as well as their longer paper,
"Reconstructing Climatic and Environmental Changes of the Past 1000
Years: A Reappraisal," Willie Soon, Sallie Baliunas, Sherwood B. Idso,
Craig Idso and David R. Legates, Energy and Environment, vol. 14, issues
2 & 3, April 11, 2003.
David Appell, freelance science journalist
m: 27 Beach Street Rear, P.O. Box 42, Ogunquit, ME 03907-0042
Professor Keith Briffa,
Climatic Research Unit
University of East Anglia
Norwich, NR4 7TJ, U.K.