In a recent British news broadcast one University of East Anglia professor went to bat for Phil Jones and his colleagues over at the University’s Climate Research Unit. The topic of conversation was Jones’ controversial ClimateGate correspondence.
In one leaked email, Jones talks about using Penn State professor Michael Mann’s “trick” of manipulating data within his hockey stick diagram. “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 [sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline,” wrote Jones on November 16, 1999. (Mann is currently under investigation).
But Professor Andrew Watson of UEA argued recently that this statement was “taken completely out of context.” He said,
“It does absolutely sound awful. You’re invited to believe that what he’s saying is ‘the world is actually cooling but this trick will try to convince the whole world that it’s actually warming’ and of course it doesn’t mean anything like that. It’s been taken completely out of context. They’re talking about one line in a diagram in a relatively obscure report in which they are looking at temperatures over the last thousand years trying to reconstruct them and they use a particular method with tree rings and it works well up until about 1960 and then it goes wrong for reasons which we…there are lots of papers on, which don’t need to go into.”
Phil Jones said something similar in a November 23 news release at the CRU: “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.”
Far from what Professor Watson calls a “relatively obscure report,” in 2004 the BBC classified Mann’s 1998 Nature article and his 1999 paper for Geophysical Research Letters as “seminal” to the hockey stick temperature graph. “The data led the researchers to the inevitable conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions were the dominant factor influencing climate variability in the 20th Century, a standpoint that remains hotly contested by some scientists,” reported the BBC.
Data from both Jones’ and Mann’s climate research was used on the 1999 “[World Meteorological Organization (WMO)] Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 1999,” which, according the report, summarizes information provided by the Climate Prediction Centre, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and the UK Meteorological, or “Met,” office. Their graph lines are part of the front cover.
As for the CRU’s deleted data, Prof. Watson claimed that none of the raw data was deleted by UEA. He said,
“I am absolutely confident, firstly, that no data—raw data—has been lost and secondly that my colleagues would not have manipulated the fundamental data. They have not done that. They have occasionally ‘tweaked’ a diagram so that in the case of the decline thing they plotted real temperature data from thermometers along with their tree ring data” (emphasis added).
Jonathan Leake reported for the Times Online on November 29 that the CRU had destroyed a series of 1980s temperature raw data. “In a statement on its website, the CRU said: ‘We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data,’” reported Leake.
The issue, then, is not whether the data is missing—as both the CRU and Phil Jones have admitted it is—but whether the deletion of this raw data affects the reliability of climate scientists’ conclusions about anthropogenic, or human-caused, global warming (AGW).
Robin Bravender wrote in October for Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E) that “Climate scientists are refuting claims that raw data used in critical climate change reports has been destroyed, rendering the reports and policies based on those reports unreliable.”
“The research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data from its database because the stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends, Jones said,” writes Bravender, quoting Jones as saying “When you’re looking at climate data, you don’t want stations that are showing urban warming trends…so we’ve taken them out…We rarely removed a station in a data-sparse region of the world.”
Jones did not say never, just “rarely.”
Bravender continues to quote Jones as saying “We haven’t destroyed anything. The data is still there—you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center [sic].” (Actually, NOAA stands for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
The Met Office recently announced that it will be reexamining 160 years of temperature data over the next three years, reported Ben Webster in December 5 Times Online article.
“The Met Office’s published data showing a warming trend draws heavily on CRU analysis,” he writes. “CRU supplied all the land temperature data to the Met Office, which added this to its own analysis of sea temperature data.”
Webster later adds that “The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change admitted yesterday [December 4] that it needed to consider the full implications of the e-mails and whether they cast doubt on any of the evidence for man-made global warming.”
Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), recently said that the panel will be investigating the ClimateGate emails, according to BBC News. “This is a serious issue and we will look into it in detail,” the BBC quotes Dr. Pachauri.
Whether or not Professor Watson wants to take allegations against his colleagues seriously, it is clear that other climate change supporters are.
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.