Worst Science Paper Essay

I’ve an important announcement to make. I have just spent the past few days looking of what may well be the worst climate paper yet produced. You heard that right – the absolute worst. This paper is so poor it makes Khilyuk and Chilingar (2006) look like Einstein’s special theory of relativity in comparison.

So anyway, I decided to go all Climate Audit on this paper partly to get a handle on the solar influence on climate that denialists are always on about (there is actually some decent literature on solar forcing, though obviously this paper isn’t part of that), and partly because it is so shockingly bad it’s humorous in the way troma movies are. Firstly, some background. In a rather silly post from NZ denialist Vincent Grey over at Jen Marohasy, a fellow by the name of David Archibald popped up, spouted the usual shill crap, and the directed readers to his relatively recently published paper in Energy & Environment.

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You asked for solar – climate papers. Look no further than my own effort: http://www. lavoisier. com. au/papers/articles/Archibald. pdf Now, Lavoisier is a crazed denialist group based in Australia so the fact that the article was reprinted there didn’t bode well. Archibald goes on to claim his paper is peer-reviewed. Ian Castles informs me that E&E really does have a peer-review process and he has, in fact, reviewed papers for them himself. But in this case, I’m not so sure.

Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. So, what is so wrong with Archibald, D. C. (2006) Solar cycles 24 and 25 and predicted climate response? To begin with, there are some, ahh, editorial and grammatical errors. Pick what is wrong with these two paragraphs at the top of page 31. Badalyan, Obridko and Sykora’s projection of solar cycle 24 maximum of approximately 50 is shown in figure 1 with solar cycle activity back to the end of the Maunder Minimum. Solar cycle 25 is also expected to be weak.

The rise in amplitudes prior to the Dalton Minimum mimics the rise in amplitudes from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. Badalyan, Obridko and Sykora’s projection of a solar cycle 24 maximum of approximately 50 is shown in Figure 1 with solar cycle activity back to the end of the Maunder Minimum. Solar cycle 25 is also expected to be weak. The rise in amplitudes prior to the Dalton Minimum mimics the rise in amplitude from the late nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century.

Yes, Archibald has written the same paragraph twice. It doesn’t appear to be a printing error either as each of the paragraphs are slightly different (i. e. projection of solar cycle 24 maximum verses projection of a solar cycle 24 maximum). The Dalton Minimum is spelt Delton below. There’s a space missing in ….. experienced a2. 0C decline. Quibbles maybe, but basic errors such as these indicate little effort was put into the writing and no effort was put into the review. E&E editorial staff clearly don’t read the papers they publish.

In the introduction Archibald gives a backgrounder on some of the literature linking solar cycles to climate. Mentioned are the correlations between the solar cycle amplitude and temperature, solar cycle length and temperature etc. It’s fairly shoddy and ignores the literature which refutes the idea that these correlations indicate that solar changes are the main driving force behind recent climate change. I don’t intend to look at the introduction in depth here. What I do intend to cover is the ‘original work’ part of the paper.

To determine a temperature baseline for predicting response to solar cycles 24 and 25 (we’re currently in 23), Archibald takes a startling approach. Instead of using world-wide temperature data, only data from the US mainland is used. Additionally, Archibald decided that only data from rural meteorological stations should be used to avoid the urban heat island effect. Fair enough, you may say. But the catch is, he chose just 5 stations out of the hundreds and hundreds available!

Not only did he only choose 5, all 5 were within several hundred miles of each other in South Eastern USA! The possibility of these stations being representative of anything other than the small local region they covered is non-existent. There must be something special about the chosen five. And there sure is – they show lower temperatures in the latter half of the 20th century compared to the first half. This actually forms one of the major conclusions of the paper!

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