Oliver Krüger and Frederik Schenk: The Long Run
Just recently, klimazwiebel released an interview with Reiner Grundmann , in which he reports about his struggles with publishing a somewhat controversial paper. The story we are about to tell and the previous interview fit neatly together.
2 The Story
Half a year ago, we planned to write a comment to Donat et al. (2011) in the Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). Because GRL changed its policies regarding comments to already published manuscripts, we prepared a small paper. In the following peer review process we realized that getting published would eventually become difficult. We received two rounds of reviews with GRL, which finally rejected our manuscript.
Later on we revised the manuscript and submitted to the Environmental Research Letters (ERL), where the manuscript was rejected after one round of reviews. After that incidence, we submitted to one open discussion journal, namely Climate of the Past (CP). CP rejected the manuscript immediately at the initial review stage. The initial review, done by one of the editors, is supposed to be a low standard to enter the open discussion, but we failed nevertheless.
In total we received seven reviews that lead to the rejection in three journals in a row. These seven reviews varied in their opinions significantly. They varied from minor comments to major comments. They were either positively or negatively minded. We also received "interesting" comments. For instance, one reviewer suggested that the average of +1 and -1 is 0.
The editor who did the initial review for CP was more open to questions regarding his rejection. He stated that our results would be plausible, but not convincing (even though he believed our results).
After these episodes, we decided to change our publication strategy. We put the manuscript on arXiv.org to make it publicly available. At the same, we submitted to Journal of Climate, from which we are expecting news whether they are willing to start the review process or not.
3 The Manuscript
The manuscript we are talking about is called "Inconsistencies between long-term trends in storminess derived from the 20CR reanalysis and observations" by Krueger, Schenk, Feser, and Weisse.
In the letter to the editor we wrote: “In the manuscript we analyze storminess derived through a pressure-based proxy (extreme percentiles of geostrophic wind speed) in the 20th Century Reanalysis dataset 20CR over the Northeast Atlantic and compare our findings with results obtained from pressure observations.”
The method strictly follows Alexandersson et al. (1998, 2000) (their results made it into the last IPCC WG1 report as Fig. 3.41, online at http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/figure-3-41.html).
And continuing: “Our findings are based on a relatively simple, yet robust method for analyzing storminess over the large and well studied area of the Northeast Atlantic. The results point to a marked inconsistency between storminess in the reanalysis dataset and storminess derived from observations, which casts doubt on the use of 20CR to describe long term trends, at least in terms of storminess. We believe that changes in the number of stations assimilated into 20CR are a plausible explanation for the discrepancies.
The 20th Century Reanalysis dataset 20CR is a new climate dataset that reaches back to 1871. Because it is nearly 140 years long, scientists hope to use it for long-term trend analyses. With our work, we are assessing how realistically 20CR describes such long-term trends in terms of storminess. We chose to restrict our analyses to the Northeast Atlantic region as this region has been in the focus of several studies in the past that deal with storminess. Ideally, results obtained through 20CR and observations would agree with other, also because the pressure observations analyzed in those past studies have been very likely assimilated into 20CR. Unfortunately, as aforementioned, storminess in 20CR and observed storminess differs significantly.”
The manuscript is available online at http://arxiv.org/abs/1205.5295
Despite from being rejected by several journals, we are continuing our struggles, because we believe it is worth to do so. We do not know yet how many approaches it will take us. Even though our manuscript seems quite controversial, we are willing to initiate a discussion about the topic if somebody lets us.
Alexandersson, H., T. Schmith, K. Iden, and H. Tuomenvirta, 1998: Long-term variations of the storm climate over NW Europe. The Global Atmosphere and Ocean System, 6 (2), 97–120.
Alexandersson, H., H. Tuomenvirta, T. Schmith, and K. Iden, 2000: Trends of storms in NW Europe derived from an updated pressure data set. Climate Research, 14 (1), 71–73.
Donat, M., D. Renggli, S. Wild, L. Alexander, G. Leckebusch, and U. Ulbrich, 2011: Reanalysis suggests long-term upward trends in european storminess since 1871. Geophysical Research Letters, 38 (14), L14 703.