CRU update 1

Mon, 23 Nov 2009

It is a matter of concern that data, including personal information about individuals, appears to have been illegally taken from the university and elements published selectively on a number of websites.

The volume of material published and its piecemeal nature makes it impossible to confirm what proportion is genuine. We took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation and have involved the police in what we consider to be a criminal investigation.

The material published relates to the work of our globally-respected Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and other scientists around the world. CRU's published research is, and has always been, fully peer-reviewed by the relevant journals, and is one strand of research underpinning the strong consensus that human activity is affecting the world's climate in ways that are potentially dangerous.

CRU is one of a number of independent centres working in this important area and reaching similar conclusions. It will continue to engage fully in reasoned debate on its findings with individuals and groups that are willing to have their research and theories subjected to scrutiny by the international scientific community. The selective publication of some stolen emails and other papers taken out of context is mischievous and cannot be considered a genuine attempt to engage with this issue in a responsible way.

The raw climate data which has been requested belongs to meteorological services around the globe and restrictions are in place which means that we are not in a position to release them. We are asking each service for their consent for their data to be published in future.

In addition to supporting the police in their enquiries, we will ourselves be conducting a review, with external support, into the circumstances surrounding the theft and publication of this information and any issues emerging from it.
 

Comment from Professor Phil Jones, Director of the Climatic Research Unit:

The following email, which I can confirm is genuine, has caused a great deal of ill-informed comment, but has been taken completely out of context and I want to put the record straight.

"I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline. Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct +is 0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998."
The first thing to point out is that this refers to one diagram - not a scientific paper - which was used in the World Meteorological Organisation's statement on the status of the global climate in 1999 (WMO-no.913).

The diagram consisted of three curves showing 50-year average temperature variations for the last 1000 years. Each curve referred to a scientific paper and a key gives their details.

Climate records consist of actual temperature records from the mid-19th century and proxy data (tree rings, coral, ice cores, etc) which go back much further. The green curve on the diagram included proxy data up to 1960 but only actual temperatures from 1961 onwards. This is what is being discussed in the email.

The word 'trick' was used here colloquially as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward.


CRU update 2

Tue, 24 Nov 2009

The University of East Anglia has released the following press release and statements from Prof Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, Prof Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit, and from CRU.

CRU climate data already ‘over 95%’ available


Over 95% of the CRU climate data set concerning land surface temperatures has been accessible to climate researchers, sceptics and the public for several years the University of East Anglia has confirmed.

“It is well known within the scientific community and particularly those who are sceptical of climate change that over 95% of the raw station data has been accessible through the Global Historical Climatology Network for several years.  We are quite clearly not hiding information which seems to be the speculation on some blogs and by some media commentators,” commented the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement Professor Trevor Davies.

The University will make all the data accessible as soon as they are released from a range of non-publication agreements.  Publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre.

The procedure for releasing these data, which are mainly owned by National Meteorological Services (NMSs) around the globe, is by direct contact between the permanent representatives of NMSs (in the UK the Met Office).

“We are grateful for the necessary support of the Met Office in requesting the permissions for releasing the information but understand that responses may take several months and that some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data,” continued Professor Davies.

The remaining data, to be published when permissions are given, generally cover areas of the world where there are fewer data collection stations.

“CRU’s full data will be published in the interests of research transparency when we have the necessary agreements. It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS),” concluded Professor Davies.

Statement from Professor Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research


The publication of a selection of the emails and data stolen from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) has led to some questioning of the climate science research published by CRU and others. There is nothing in the stolen material which indicates that peer-reviewed publications by CRU, and others, on the nature of global warming and related climate change are not of the highest-quality of scientific investigation and interpretation. CRU’s peer-reviewed publications are consistent with, and have contributed to, the overwhelming scientific consensus that the climate is being strongly influenced by human activity. The interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land, and ice mean that the strongly-increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere do not produce a uniform year-on-year increase in global temperature. On time-scales of 5-10 years, however, there is a broad scientific consensus that the Earth will continue to warm, with attendant changes in the climate, for the foreseeable future. It is important, for all countries, that this warming is slowed down, through substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to reduce the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Respected international research groups, using other data sets, have come to the same conclusion.

The University of East Anglia and CRU are committed to scientific integrity, open debate and enhancing understanding. This includes a commitment to the international peer-review system upon which progress in science relies. It is this tried and tested system which has underpinned the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is through that process that we can engage in respectful and informed debate with scientists whose analyses appear not to be consistent with the current overwhelming consensus on climate change

The publication of a selection of stolen data is the latest example of a sustained and, in some instances, a vexatious campaign which may have been designed to distract from reasoned debate about the nature of the urgent action which world governments must consider to mitigate, and adapt to, climate change. We are committed to furthering this debate despite being faced with difficult circumstances related to a criminal breach of our security systems and our concern to protect colleagues from the more extreme behaviour of some who have responded in irrational and unpleasant ways to the publication of personal information.

There has been understandable interest in the progress and outcome of the numerous requests under information legislation for large numbers of the data series held by CRU. The University takes its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and the Data Protection Act 1998 very seriously and has, in all cases, handled and responded to requests in accordance with its obligations under each particular piece of legislation. Where appropriate, we have consulted with the Information Commissioners Office and have followed their advice.

In relation to the specific requests at issue here, we have handled and responded to each request in a consistent manner in compliance with the appropriate legislation. No record has been deleted, altered, or otherwise dealt with in any fashion with the intent of preventing the disclosure of all, or any part, of the requested information. Where information has not been disclosed, we have done so in accordance with the provisions of the relevant legislation and have so informed the requester.

The Climatic Research Unit holds many data series, provided to the Unit over a period of several decades, from a number of nationally-funded institutions and other research organisations around the world, with specific agreements made over restrictions in the dissemination of those original data. All of these individual series have been used in CRU’s analyses. It is a time-consuming process to attempt to gain approval from these organisations to release the data. Since some of them were provided decades ago, it has sometimes been necessary to track down the successors of the original organisations. It is clearly in the public interest that these data are released once we have succeeded in gaining the approval of collaborators. Some who have requested the data will have been aware of the scale of the exercise we have had to undertake. Much of these data are already available from the websites of the Global Historical Climate Data Network and the Goddard Institute for Space Science.

Given the degree to which we collaborate with other organisations around the world, there is also an understandable interest in the computer security systems we have in place in CRU and UEA. Although we were confident that our systems were appropriate, experience has shown that determined and skilled people, who are prepared to engage in criminal activity, can sometimes hack into apparently secure systems. Highly-protected government organisations around the world have also learned this to their cost.

We have, therefore, decided to conduct an independent review, which will address the issue of data security, an assessment of how we responded to a deluge of Freedom of Information requests, and any other relevant issues which the independent reviewer advises should be addressed.

Statement from Professor Phil Jones, Head of the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia.

In the frenzy of the past few days, the most vital issue is being overshadowed: we face enormous challenges ahead if we are to continue to live on this planet.

One has to wonder if it is a coincidence that this email correspondence has been stolen and published at this time. This may be a concerted attempt to put a question mark over the science of climate change in the run-up to the Copenhagen talks.

That the world is warming is based on a range of sources: not only temperature records but other indicators such as sea level rise, glacier retreat and less Arctic sea ice.

Our global temperature series tallies with those of other, completely independent, groups of scientists working for NASA and the National Climate Data Center in the United States, among others. Even if you were to ignore our findings, theirs show the same results. The facts speak for themselves; there is no need for anyone to manipulate them.

We have been bombarded by Freedom of Information requests to release the temperature data that are provided to us by meteorological services around the world via a large network of weather stations. This information is not ours to give without the permission of the meteorological services involved. We have responded to these Freedom of Information requests appropriately and with the knowledge and guidance of the Information Commissioner.

We have stated that we hope to gain permission from each of these services to publish their data in the future and we are in the process of doing so.

My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues.

We are, and have always been, scrupulous in ensuring that our science publications are robust and honest.

CRU statement

Recently thousands of files and emails illegally obtained from a research server at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have been posted on various sites on the web. The emails relate to messages received or sent by the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) over the period 1996-2009.

A selection of these emails have been taken out of context and misinterpreted as evidence that CRU has manipulated climate data to present an unrealistic picture of global warming.

This conclusion is entirely unfounded and the evidence from CRU research is entirely consistent with independent evidence assembled by various research groups around the world.

There is excellent agreement on the course of temperature change since 1881 between the data set that we contribute to (HadCRUT3) and two other, independent analyses of worldwide temperature measurements. There are no statistically significant differences between the warming trends in the three series since the start of the 20th century. The three independent global temperature data series have been assembled by:

• CRU and the Met Office Hadley Centre (HadCRUT3) in the UK.
• The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Asheville, NC, USA.
• The Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS), part of the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) in New York.

The warming shown by the HadCRUT3 series between the averages of the two periods (1850-99 and 2001-2005) was 0.760.19C, and this is corroborated by the other two data sets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 4th Assessment Report (AR4) published in 2007 concluded that the warming of the climate system was unequivocal. This conclusion was based not only on the observational temperature record, although this is the key piece of evidence, but on multiple strands of evidence. These factors include: long-term retreat of glaciers in most alpine regions of the world; reductions in the area of the Northern Hemisphere (NH) snow cover during the spring season; reductions in the length of the freeze season in many NH rivers and lakes; reduction in Arctic sea-ice extent in all seasons, but especially in the summer; increases in global average sea level since the 19th century; increases in the heat content of the ocean and warming of temperatures in the lower part of the atmosphere since the late 1950s.

CRU has also been involved in reconstructions of temperature (primarily for the Northern Hemisphere) from proxy data (non-instrumental sources such as tree rings, ice cores, corals and documentary records). Similar temperature reconstructions have been developed by numerous other groups around the world. The level of uncertainty in this indirect evidence for temperature change is much greater than for the picture of temperature change shown by the instrumental data. But different reconstructions of temperature change over a longer period, produced by different researchers using different methods, show essentially the same picture of highly unusual warmth across the NH during the 20th century. The principal conclusion from these studies (summarized in IPCC AR4) is that the second half of the 20th century was very likely (90% probable) warmer than any other 50-year period in the last 500 years and likely (66% probable) the warmest in the past 1300 years.

One particular, illegally obtained, email relates to the preparation of a figure for the WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 1999. This email referred to a “trick” of adding recent instrumental data to the end of temperature reconstructions that were based on proxy data. The requirement for the WMO Statement was for up-to-date evidence showing how temperatures may have changed over the last 1000 years. To produce temperature series that were completely up-to-date (i.e. through to 1999) it was necessary to combine the temperature reconstructions with the instrumental record, because the temperature reconstructions from proxy data ended many years earlier whereas the instrumental record is updated every month. The use of the word “trick” was not intended to imply any deception.

Phil Jones comments further: “One of the three temperature reconstructions was based entirely on a particular set of tree-ring data that shows a strong correlation with temperature from the 19th century through to the mid-20th century, but does not show a realistic trend of temperature after 1960. This is well known and is called the ‘decline’ or ‘divergence’. The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure. It is because of this trend in these tree-ring data that we know does not represent temperature change that I only show this series up to 1960 in the WMO Statement.”

The ‘decline’ in this set of tree-ring data should not be taken to mean that there is any problem with the instrumental temperature data. As for the tree-ring decline, various manifestations of this phenomenon have been discussed by numerous authors, and its implications are clearly signposted in Chapter 6 of the IPCC AR4 report.

Included here is a copy of the figure used in the WMO statement, together with an alternative version where the climate reconstructions and the instrumental temperatures are shown separately.





The WMO1999 figure (top) with climate reconstructions and instrumental temperatures merged, and a version (bottom) with the climate reconstructions (coloured) and instrumental temperatures (annual & summer in black) shown separately.

This statement was released on November 24 at 3.30pm


CRU update 3

Tue, 1 Dec 2009

Professor Phil Jones has today announced that he will stand aside as Director of the Climatic Research Unit until the completion of an independent Review resulting from allegations following the hacking and publication of emails from the Unit.

Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible.  After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this.  The Review process will have my full  support." 

Vice-Chancellor Professor Edward Acton said: "I have accepted Professor Jones's offer to stand aside during this period. It is an important step to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally and the independent review can conduct its work into the allegations.

“We will announce details of the Independent Review, including its terms of reference, timescale and the chair, within days. I am delighted that Professor Peter Liss, FRS, CBE, will become acting director.”


Sir Muir Russell to head the Independent Review into the allegations against the Climatic Research Unit (CRU)

Thu, 3 Dec 2009

Today the University of East Anglia (UEA) announced that Sir Muir Russell KCB FRSE will head the Independent Review into allegations made against the Climatic Research Unit (CRU).

The Independent Review will investigate the key allegations that arose from a series of hacked e-mails from CRU. The review will:

1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

2. Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.

3. Review CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the University’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (‘the FOIA’) and the Environmental Information Regulations (‘the EIR’) for the release of data.

4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds.

Sir Muir will have the discretion to amend or add to the terms of reference if he feels necessary, devise his own methods of working, and call on appropriate expertise in order to investigate the allegations fully.

The University has asked for the Review to be completed by Spring 2010 and this will be made public along with UEA’s response.

Announcing the Independent Review, Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor said: “The reputation and integrity of UEA is of the upmost importance to us all. We want these allegations about CRU to be examined fully and independently. That is why I am delighted that Sir Muir has agreed to lead the Independent Review and he will have my and the rest of University’s full support.”

Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Review, said: “I agreed very willingly to Professor Acton’s request to undertake this Independent Review.  Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find. My first task is to scope the project, gather the information I need and source the additional expertise that will be required in order to investigate fully the allegations that have been made. Once this has happened I will be in a position to confirm timescales for publishing the review.”

Ends

Notes to Editors:

1. On Tuesday November 17, a substantial file including over 1000 emails either sent from or sent to members of the Climatic Research Unit (‘CRU’) at the University of East Anglia, was downloaded on the RealClimate website, together with meteorological station data used for research by CRU into the rate of the Earth’s warming, particularly over the past 150 years, and other material.

2. A police investigation is currently underway into the source of the theft.

3. Professor Jones announced on December 1 that he will stand aside as Director until the completion of the Independent Review to ensure that CRU can continue to operate normally and the Independent Review can conduct its work into the allegations. Professor Peter Liss, CBE, FRS is now the Acting Director.

4. The Review will be provided with appropriate administrative support and have access to, and the full collaboration of, university staff.

5. Sir Muir Russell KCB FRSE was Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow from 2003 to 2009. During that period he was Convener of Universities Scotland, a member of the Universities UK Main Board, a Trustee of the Universities Superannuation Scheme, and a member of the UCAS Board.

Sir Muir graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1970 with a First in Natural Philosophy (Physics) and took up a career in the civil service, assigned to the Scottish Office. His civil service career included a period in Whitehall as Head of the Home Affairs Secretariat of the Cabinet Office (1990-92). He was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Office in 1998, following open competition, and was the first Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Executive following the establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

Sir Muir was awarded the KCB in 2001, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2000. He has honorary degrees from the Universities of Strathclyde, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sir Muir currently chairs the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland. He is also a Trustee of the Glasgow School of Art, a Member of the Board of the Moredun Research Institute, and the Chairman of the Dunedin Concert Trust.


Copyright 2009