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The CRU hack: Context

Filed under: — gavin @ 23 November 2009

This is a continuation of the last thread which is getting a little unwieldy. The emails cover a 13 year period in which many things happened, and very few people are up to speed on some of the long-buried issues. So to save some time, I’ve pulled a few bits out of the comment thread that shed some light on some of the context which is missing in some of the discussion of various emails.

  • Trenberth: You need to read his recent paper on quantifying the current changes in the Earth’s energy budget to realise why he is concerned about our inability currently to track small year-to-year variations in the radiative fluxes.
  • Wigley: The concern with sea surface temperatures in the 1940s stems from the paper by Thompson et al (2007) which identified a spurious discontinuity in ocean temperatures. The impact of this has not yet been fully corrected for in the HadSST data set, but people still want to assess what impact it might have on any work that used the original data.
  • Climate Research and peer-review: You should read about the issues from the editors (Claire Goodess, Hans von Storch) who resigned because of a breakdown of the peer review process at that journal, that came to light with the particularly egregious (and well-publicised) paper by Soon and Baliunas (2003). The publisher’s assessment is here.

Update: Pulling out some of the common points being raised in the comments.

  • HARRY_read_me.txt. This is a 4 year-long work log of Ian (Harry) Harris who was working to upgrade the documentation, metadata and databases associated with the legacy CRU TS 2.1 product, which is not the same as the HadCRUT data (see Mitchell and Jones, 2003 for details). The CSU TS 3.0 is available now (via ClimateExplorer for instance), and so presumably the database problems got fixed. Anyone who has ever worked on constructing a database from dozens of individual, sometimes contradictory and inconsistently formatted datasets will share his evident frustration with how tedious that can be.
  • “Redefine the peer-reviewed literature!” . Nobody actually gets to do that, and both papers discussed in that comment – McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003) were both cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of 3 the IPCC AR4 report. As an aside, neither has stood the test of time.
  • “Declines” in the MXD record. This decline was hidden written up in Nature in 1998 where the authors suggested not using the post 1960 data. Their actual programs (in IDL script), unsurprisingly warn against using post 1960 data. Added: Note that the ‘hide the decline’ comment was made in 1999 – 10 years ago, and has no connection whatsoever to more recent instrumental records.
  • CRU data accessibility. From the date of the first FOI request to CRU (in 2007), it has been made abundantly clear that the main impediment to releasing the whole CRU archive is the small % of it that was given to CRU on the understanding it wouldn’t be passed on to third parties. Those restrictions are in place because of the originating organisations (the various National Met. Services) around the world and are not CRU’s to break. As of Nov 13, the response to the umpteenth FOI request for the same data met with exactly the same response. This is an unfortunate situation, and pressure should be brought to bear on the National Met Services to release CRU from that obligation. It is not however the fault of CRU. The vast majority of the data in the HadCRU records is publicly available from GHCN (v2.mean.Z).
  • Suggestions that FOI-related material be deleted … are ill-advised even if not carried out. What is and is not responsive and deliverable to an FOI request is however a subject that it is very appropriate to discuss.
  • Fudge factors (update) IDL code in the some of the attached files calculates and applies an artificial ‘fudge factor’ to the MXD proxies to artificially eliminate the ‘divergence pattern’. This was done for a set of experiments reported in this submitted 2004 draft by Osborn and colleagues but which was never published. Section 4.3 explains the rationale very clearly which was to test the sensitivity of the calibration of the MXD proxies should the divergence end up being anthropogenic. It has nothing to do with any temperature record, has not been used in any published reconstruction and is not the source of any hockey stick blade anywhere.

Further update: This comment from Halldór Björnsson of the Icelandic Met. Service goes right to the heart of the accessibility issue:

Re: CRU data accessibility.

National Meteorological Services (NMSs) have different rules on data exchange. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organizes the exchange of “basic data”, i.e. data that are needed for weather forecasts. For details on these see WMO resolution number 40 (see

This document acknowledges that WMO member states can place restrictions on the dissemination of data to third parties “for reasons such as national laws or costs of production”. These restrictions are only supposed to apply to commercial use, the research and education community is supposed to have free access to all the data.

Now, for researchers this sounds open and fine. In practice it hasn’t proved to be so.

Most NMSs also can distribute all sorts of data that are classified as “additional data and products”. Restrictions can be placed on these. These special data and products (which can range from regular weather data from a specific station to maps of rain intensity based on satellite and radar data). Many nations do place restrictions on such data (see link for additional data on above WMO-40 webpage for details).

The reasons for restricting access is often commercial, NMSs are often required by law to have substantial income from commercial sources, in other cases it can be for national security reasons, but in many cases (in my experience) the reasons simply seem to be “because we can”.

What has this got to do with CRU? The data that CRU needs for their data base comes from entities that restrict access to much of their data. And even better, since the UK has submitted an exception for additional data, some nations that otherwise would provide data without question will not provide data to the UK. I know this from experience, since my nation (Iceland) did send in such conditions and for years I had problem getting certain data from the US.

The ideal, that all data should be free and open is unfortunately not adhered to by a large portion of the meteorological community. Probably only a small portion of the CRU data is “locked” but the end effect is that all their data becomes closed. It is not their fault, and I am sure that they dislike them as much as any other researcher who has tried to get access to all data from stations in region X in country Y.

These restrictions end up by wasting resources and hurting everyone. The research community (CRU included) and the public are the victims. If you don’t like it, write to you NMSs and urge them to open all their data.

I can update (further) this if there is demand. Please let me know in the comments, which, as always, should be substantive, non-insulting and on topic.

Comments continue here.

1,074 Responses to “The CRU hack: Context”

  1. 251
    S. Molnar says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments on these threads (and I’m impressed by gavin’s cast-iron stomach that allows him to read not only all of the published comments, but those that don’t get through moderation), but in those I have read only one, by Russell Seitz, comes close to reflecting my view that (to put it in an old-fashioned way) a gentleman does not read other people’s mail. Unlike Seitz, I exempt gavin from the dictum on the grounds that he is merely responding to the bad manners of others to protect the innocent, but, really, I think anyone who would make a case based on the unauthorized reading of the correspondence of others is beneath contempt.

  2. 252
    Biff Larkin says:

    There has been much back and forth about whether or not the associated principals of RealClimate are willing or unwilling to share some of their data with the public.

    Gavin has written numerous comments assuring us that no one is hiding anything, and that the only data unavailable for public inspection is certain unimportant data, that can be constructed from other available data, within the public domain. The reason Gavin gives for not making all data available, is that certain legal agreements exist, precluding the supply of the data in question.

    Well, this assertion could easily be true. As soon as I see a notarized affadavit from a legally knowedgable party to such an alleged agreement, attesting to same, I am willing to believe it.

    Until then, I am not.

    P.S. If this post doesn’t appear on Realclimate, it will appear within multiple venues within 24 hours.

    [Response: Well, heaven forbid someone should cross post a comment. But in lieu of signed affadavits try the FOI officer himself:


    Pursuant to Mr. Palmer’s letter of 21 September 2009 to you regarding the handling of your appeal of 24 July to our response of the same date in regards your FOI request of 26 June 2009, I have undertaken a review of the contents of our file and have spoken with Mr. Palmer and other relevant staff involved in this matter. I apologise for the delay informing you of my decision but we were awaiting the ‘further particulars’ in relation to this matter that you mentioned in your email of 2 September. Having not received such particulars, I have decided to proceed, given the passage of time, with my decision in their absence.

    As a result of this investigation, I am satisfied that our overall decision to not disclosethe requested information is correct.

    In response to your first point in your email of 24 July regarding the non transmission of data to non-academics, I have concluded that the reference to non-academics was in error and that the status of yourself, or any other requester, is irrelevant to the factors to consider regarding disclosure of the requested information.

    Turning to the points you raised in your email of 2 September, you note that other earlier versions of this data are available on the US Department of Energy website and that Dr. Jones had sent an earlier version of the data to you and had mounted it on FTP server.

    In regards the information provided to the US Department of Energy, my investigation has revealed that this was done in the early 1990s prior to the imposition of the restrictions now pertaining to the data pursuant to a contractual obligation at the time. Therefore, the analogy you are drawing does not apply to the data that is the subject of this request.

    In regards your second point regarding the provision of the data to yourself, and the fact that the information was mounted & left on our FTP site & also provided to Georgia Tech without securing consent of the institutions that provided it, we would, upon reflection, consider this an action that we not choose to take again. However, having made errors in past does not, in our eyes, justify making the same errors again.

    I note that in your email of 2 September, you state that your request was ‘for the current version of the data set’ but in your original request, you asked for the subset of data that was sent to Georgia Tech University. I would advise that the many of the same restrictions apply to the full CRUTEM dataset as apply to the subset sent to Georgia Tech, but this analysis and answer is based on your original request.

    In regards the substance of the exception claimed under Reg. 12(5)(f), I would maintain the position taken to date. There are restrictions on the release of at least some of the data cited, and our opinion is that any release would be contrary to the agreements, and release would have an adverse effect on those organisations. DEFRA guidance notes that the Aarhus Convention, which contains the origins of the Directive on which the EIRs are based, protects information volunteered by a third party and requires their consent to disclose it. The purpose of the exception is to encourage the free flow of information from private persons or institutions in order to protect the environment where making it available to the public could inhibit that process. To provide information that has a restriction on further transmission on it would not only damage CRU’s ability to secure such information in future, but would also harm the interests of the organisations providing the information, who clearly have an interest in restricting transmission of the information due to the very existence of the restrictions.

    Regulation 12(11) requires that we provide as much requested information as is possible outside the coverage of any applicable exception. After consultation with Phil Jones and other relevant staff in regards the nature and composition of the requested dataset, I have concluded that the data is organised in such a way as to make it extremely difficult and time-consuming to segregate the data in the manner that you suggest and would indeed, in our view, amount to an unreasonable diversion of resources from the provision of services for which we, as an institution, are mandated. Further, we would maintain that where no such segregation has, or will occur, we should not release any of the data for fear of breaching such restrictions as do exist.

    I would note that we are, however, proceeding with efforts with the international community to secure consent from national meteorological institutions for the release of the information that they provide us with, and it is fully our intention to publish such data where, and when, we have secured such consent. This is in line with guidance from DEFRA that suppliers of volunteered information should be encouraged to consent to release where appropriate, and where it is lacking, such consent can be sought later in response to a particular request or in order to proactively disseminate the information.

    In regards our obligation to assess the public interest in applying these exceptions, I am of the opinion that the public interest balance is in favour of non-disclosure of the requested information. As noted above, the public interest in maintaining the flow of information from institutions to CRU, and maintaining good working relations with international organisations, outweighs, in this case, the interest in the release of the data.

    We have contacted the Information Commissioners Office in regards this matter and their advice is that if you are still dissatisfied with this response, you should, at this time, exercise your right of appeal to the Information Commissioner.

    Yours sincerely
    Jonathan Colam-French

    – gavin]

  3. 253
    Just Another EE says:

    I’ve read that we can expect a certain rise in temperature for every doubling of CO2.

    If that is true, why is the CO2 concentration change not plotted on a log scale when it is being compared with modern temperature, instead of being plotted linearly?

    [Response: You are right. And it’s even more accurate to plot the forcings themselves (which are logarithmic in CO2, but go like square root for methane, and linearly for CFCs) so that you can see everything on an equal basis. – gavin]

  4. 254
    Carmen S says:

    dhogaza said

    Meanwhile, whether you believe it or not …

    1. Burning fossil fuels adds CO2 to the atmosphere
    2. CO2 absorbs IR

    Ah! If only it was that simple;)

  5. 255
    Dirk says:

    A good scientist says “could be” until getting enough data to disprove a hypothesis.

    While it may seem obvious to reject “the world is flat” out of hand, somehow NASA was convinced to put resources into WMAP, and we now know within a 2% probability that the universe is, indeed, flat.

    BTW, what is the reason for rejecting out of hand the Soon 2004 graphic that seems to clearly tie climate to the sun, and not to C02?

    [Response: It is a very clear cherry-pick. First off it’s just the Arctic – not ‘climate’. Secondly, the correlation crumbles if you just include a few more stations slightly to the south. Thirdly, the solar proxy he used is hopelessly out-of -date (solar people no longer think the underlying assumptions are valid). Want more? – gavin]

  6. 256
    Kazinski says:

    One of the more disturbing emails is from Michael Mann:

    thanks Phil,
    Perhaps we’ll do a simple update to the Yamal post, e.g. linking Keith/s new page–Gavin t?
    As to the issues of robustness, particularly w.r.t. inclusion of the Yamal series, we actually emphasized that (including the Osborn and Briffa ’06 sensitivity test) in our original post! As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations,

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting but that seems like an admission that RC is being used to spread disinformation, not to explain the science.

    [Response: Not in the least. The post was ‘Hey Ya!(mal)’ which was in response to insinuations and accusations regarding a single tree ring record that Keith Briffa had worked on. ‘Keith’s page’ was Briffa’s exploration of the real science in the face of multiple smears. – gavin]

    I’d also like to hear your thoughts about George Monbiots call for Jones to step down.


  7. 257
    Steve Fish says:

    I belive — 23 November 2009 @ 10:12 AM:

    I agree with your sentiment, but disagree with your solution. Please explain what forum would provide an unbiased evaluation of the e-mails, but would also not be denigrated by the deniers if they didn’t like the decision?

    The minds of the deniers have been captured by an irrational mind set, relative to the real world, but is maintained by focusing on an internally consistent set of ideas. It is a new sort of religion that is dependent on absolutes, and avoids real world complexity and external verification.


  8. 258
    ccpo says:

    Here’s a theory, the world is…
    I’m proud to be skeptical based on the above.

    [Response: Well you should be skeptical of the above. Where is the evidence for any of it? Note. global land use effects result in a cooling because the biggest issue is the chopping down of forest (dark) to make cropland (bright) – gavin ]

    Comment by edward — 23 November 2009 @ 11:15 AM,

    Argumentation by assertion. Brilliant. As Gavin said, where’s the beef?

  9. 259
    MG says:

    Bottom line on CRU emails:

    NOVEMBER 24, 2009
    Lawmakers Probe Climate Emails

    But Dr. von Storch, now at the University of Hamburg’s Meteorological Institute, said Monday that the behavior outlined in the hacked emails went too far.

    East Anglia researchers “violated a fundamental principle of science,” he said, by refusing to share data with other researchers. “They built a group to do gatekeeping, which is also totally unacceptable,” he added. “They play science as a power game.”

  10. 260
    Dirk says:


    Thank you for the response to my question regarding the Soon graphic, I will follow up just as I have to the McIntyre explanations for why other certain graphics are errant, and hopefully arrive at a point where I can agree with everyone on this important issue.

  11. 261
    dhogaza says:


    going back 150 years or so is long

    Wrong, not long.

  12. 262
    Phil. Felton says:

    Kazinski says:
    23 November 2009 at 11:52 PM
    One of the more disturbing emails is from Michael Mann:

    “thanks Phil,
    Perhaps we’ll do a simple update to the Yamal post, e.g. linking Keith/s new page–Gavin t?
    As to the issues of robustness, particularly w.r.t. inclusion of the Yamal series, we actually emphasized that (including the Osborn and Briffa ‘06 sensitivity test) in our original post! As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations,

    Maybe I’m misinterpreting but that seems like an admission that RC is being used to spread disinformation, not to explain the science.

    Seems to me that it’s a statement that SMcI uses CA to make ‘plausibly deniable accusations’, where do you get the ‘disinformation’ from?

  13. 263
    ccpo says:

    one, bizarrely (or perhaps not) saying that not only is AGW all a hoax, but so was the evidence for tobacco causing harm, and all of that nonsense about anti-smoking campaigns should be stopped. We are in fantasy world once again.

    Comment by David Horton — 23 November 2009 @ 5:55 PM

    Given the historical reality that many of the same players in the nicotine denial machine created the climate denial machine, isn’t this expected?

  14. 264 says:

    Gavin I commend your ability to field all these comments–it is truly, truly amazing. Though unfortunately the deniers may eventually win the public opinion–humans have a knack of not doing the right thing the first time, this problem is too subtle for most of them to understand, and too antagonistic with a selfish view of liberty–I have the utmost confidence that you and your colleagues have a disinterested, expert grasp on this science in a way the deniers never will. Take comfort that you are doing the right thing, no matter how unpopular some make it out to be.

  15. 265
    dhogaza says:

    Well, this assertion could easily be true. As soon as I see a notarized affadavit from a legally knowedgable party to such an alleged agreement, attesting to same, I am willing to believe it.

    Well, Biffy, as soon as I see a notarized affadavit (sic) from a legally knowledgable (sic) party that these accusations are accurate, I’ll be willing to believe it.

    Got it, Biffy? Or are notarized affidavits (not sic, because I can spell) only needed for things you don’t like?

  16. 266
    Just Another EE says:

    Wait a second, I asked about how to plot data in the most appropriate way. OK, you agreed. Thre is no such thing as perfect data, but at least it is measured.
    But in the very next sentence, you were jumped onto (?modelled?) ‘forcings’, and linked to a plot where the units of many mysterious quantities where ploted on a common axis of w/m**2. What is the labelling convention in ‘real’ climatology to differentiate measured data vs. modeled parameters?
    Do not the modeled parameters rely on some unstated, simplified physical assumptions?


    [Response: Sorry, I thought I was being responsive! The change in CO2 producing a forcing on the climate (i.e. the change would produce a change in the radiation balance at the top the of the atmosphere). This forcing, which is logarithmic in the concentration is measured in W/m2 i.e. F_CO2 = 5.35*log(CO2/CO2_orig). To first order, the global mean temperatures are a linear function of the forcings (with a lag), so this is the appropriate thing to plot against temperature. However, it is not just CO2 that is changing, and the planet will respond to the net effect of all the changes. The figure I showed was a compilation of all the 20th C changes. The estimates of the the forcing come from here –, while the temperature record is available here: along with all the data. There are papers decribing each set of data you can read for more details. Feel free to plot them up together. The scale on the y axis should be something like 0.7 W/m2 per degree C. – gavin]

  17. 267
    AJ says:

    Most likely will get sensored but nice to give it a try so much for being objective!!!!

    From: “Michael E. Mann”
    To: Tim Osborn, Keith Briffa
    Subject: update
    Date: Thu, 09 Feb 2006 16:51:53 -0500
    Cc: Gavin Schmidt

    guys, I see that Science has already gone online w/ the new issue, so we put up the RC post. By now, you’ve probably read that nasty McIntyre thing. Apparently, he violated the embargo on his website (I don’t go there personally, but so I’m informed).

    Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold
    comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

    You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics dont’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone…

  18. 268

    I’ve found a searchable version of the emails at — I don’t know how long that will last but it provides an opportunity to see how denialist cherry picking works. Search for “travesty that we” and sure enough the first email that pops up contains Kevin Trenberth’s quoted comment: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” But it also finds follow-ups that answer it well. Part of the denialist’s world is to stop examining the evidence when you find something to agree with.

    Could we perhaps persuade Senate Inhofe to make all his personal emails accessible for scrutiny (#241)? That would make for interesting reading. Or is it the Senator’s view that private communications are only in the public domain if they are stolen?

  19. 269
    Bob says:

    Gavin, perhaps you might go on the record and clear a lot of suspicion that many have at the moment.
    Have you, or have you ever directly or indirectly, ever participated in any discussion of any nature about ways of altering, recalculating, dismissing or discussing anything about ameliorating the MWP problem.


    [Response: Very strange question. The temperatures in medieval times were what they were and no amount of discussion will change that. However, there are many different estimates of medieval temperatures from different parts of the world and combining them into a global or hemispheric mean is difficult. I don’t work in paleo-reconstructions so I have no input into the methods people use to do that. Of course, I have discussed these estimates, their interpretation and the implication for climate sensitivity or natural variability, but the uncertainty in both the forcing and the reconstructions make it difficult to constrain very much. The ‘problem’ of the MWP is not what you think it is. There is plenty of discussion on this topic elsewhere on the site. – gavin]

  20. 270
    GJ says:

    How does anyone know hackers are responsible? It could have been an insider. In response to an earlier comment, if the emails are accurate, they are very damning to the “science” since they suggest that data was manipulated. May I suggest complete transparency: Publish the real emails and compare them to what has been published. Then the public can judge whether the currently published emails are authentic. At the very minimum, be more transparent and share your data. Don’t tell interested parties “the data is lost” or the dog ate it. Excuses are a sign of weakness.


    [Response: It is still hacking even if the emails you steal are on your own institution’s server. You want data? Go to NOAA. – gavin]

  21. 271
    zakelwe says:

    The minimum damage you can say about this is that it has caused Gavin an awful lot of work firefighting! Some explanations from Gavin to put in context are appreciated and give a better framework, but it has to be said that some of these do not, or cannot be made to look good and do rather leave a bad taste in the mouth.

    Science is supposed to be about truth and beauty and that it stands by itself in the logn run, it shouldn’t need all this propping up and Machiavellian type actions to promote it, that does not give confidence to the general observer in it as a theory.

    As a neutral rather disappointed to be honest.


  22. 272
    DchuckB says:

    They have some good posts on this issue.

  23. 273
    Martin Vermeer says:

    RE CB #250: Tom Fuller’s “theory” lacks credibility as the RC server was hacked.

  24. 274
    ccpo says:

    Time for a little reality.

    1. These e-mails give no evidence that would put into question even one study that supports the evidence of anthropogenic forcings in the warming since 1850. I think Gavin, et al., have demonstrated that well.

    2. By contrast, whereas there are literally thousands of papers that do support the evidence for anthropogenically forced warming since 1850, there are none do not. No denialist has ever been able to provide any paper that can survive a quality review. Their acceptance of poor, clearly biased “science” is driven by ideology. It is a well-established fact that human beings make their decisions far more often based on beliefs than on facts. Denialists are an excellent example of that.

    2B. Indeed, contrary to the crap sputtered about these e-mails, which do nothing to undermine the AGW science, we know for a fact that a majority of anti-AGW “science” has, in fact, been paid for by interested parties. That is a clear conflict of interest, one which, again, is not generally found in AGW supportive research. The science appears to be paid for by… scientific institutions.

    3. In fact, we know from the NYT that the GCC misled the public about the science even after knowing their own scientists accepted the reality of AGW. (This was no suprise, of course.)

    Yet, not one of the people trying to make hay out of this issue ever seems to say a word about industry-financed, highly flawed research. Nor do they say a word about the lies. Of all the times I have retorted to claims of bias and influence in AGW-supporting research, not one denialist has ever responded to the NYT-published memo, to the fact that the papers they claim disprove AGW have, themselves, been shown to be wrong, or to the contradiction and hypcorisy of constantly crying, “Conspiracy!” when they, themselves, are the progeny of a massive fraud – if not the progenitors.

    4. A number of research projects/investigative reports support all of the above.

    4A. Oreskes’ 2004 literature review. 1000 papers, all supported or were agnostic as to AGW. None supported anti-AGW claptrap. To my knowledge, this has not changed.

    4B. Union of Concerned Scientists’ Smoke and Mirrors.

    4C. Oreskes’ The American Denial of Global Warming.

    4D. NYT’s Industry Ignored Its Scientists on Climate
    ***I cannot stress enough that this article literally included a smoking gun proving that the anti-AGW stance was not supported by the science, yet, this massive fraud is ignored by hypocritical denialists.***

    There are more, but it comes down to this: The only answer any denialist deserves is, “Show us the science, for there is none supporting your stance. Every paper you cite has been shown to be seriously flawed.”

    And if they persist, they should be reminded of the PROOF of their conspiracy vs, the mere unsupported accusations they make.

    As for Congress, if they would investigate e-mails that in no way undermine AGW climate science while ignoring the known collusion and lies of the anti-AGW, very real, conspiracy, then their hypocrisy and obvious bias is proven beyond doubt.

    Those conspiring to spin good science as lies, bad science as legitimate, good scientists as liars and hucksters, bad scientists as saints… they have taken off gloves – hell, actually dropped the knife for a flamethrower – and it is well past time to allow them to dangerously delay action on these matters.

    No more false equivalencies.

  25. 275
    Thoughtful Tom says:

    I’m sure others have thought of this, but here is one way to put the current tempest back in its teapot:
    Notice that rational thought and critical analysis reduces all your denier claims to nothing. And remember to search your trove of emails for the one that lowers the oceans. Or brings back the arctic ice. Or reduces the acidification of the oceans.
    The facts do not change – regardless of what stunts the deniers pull.

  26. 276
    HR says:

    My opinion based on reading clares piece and some of the leaked emails around the time.

    It’s interesting to read Clare’s view of the situation. It seems what motivated her to take action was not the publication of the paper per se but the level of “unsolicited complaints and critiques”.

    reading the leaked e-mails around that time (march-august 2003) it appears this collaborating group where certainly mentioning this paper alot and spending some time reacting to it. they also appear to have been at least some part of the complaints process. There is even evidence that they were corresponding with Clare

    “De Freitas will not say to Hans von Storch or to Clare Goodess who the 4 reviewers were.” …….
    “Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:29:22 +0100
    To: c.goodess@uea,phil Jones
    From: Mike Hulme
    Subject: Fwd: Re: Climate Research
    Clare, Phil,
    Since Clare and CRU are named in it, you may be interested in Chris de Freitas’ reply to the publisher re. my letter to Otto Kinne. I am not responding to this, but await a reply from Kinne himself”
    (1057944829 Jul 11th)

    Hulme in this e-mail is also sharing a response from de Fritas with some of the gang as well as clare, not the most professional thing to do.

    It may well be that Clare and Hans acted independantly in their desisions to resign. But it is still quite clear that this group were very keen to intervene in the peer review process of this journal.

    I see evidence of

    1) Intention to complain to the journal
    2) Complaints to the publisher
    3) Correspondance with at least one editor (who went on to resign)
    4) Wish/Intention to destroy the name of the journal amoung the wider community
    5) Responding in an alternative journal with an expediated editorial process

    The lack of completeness to the leaked e-mails stops us knowing just how far all these processes go.

    As a scientist the intervention in the peer review process is one of the more disturbing aspects of all this

    [Response: Read the actual statements of the editors (linked in the head post). The disturbing element was the abuse of the peer review process by a single editor with a number of papers in order to get truly bad papers into the journal. As a scientist, doesn’t that bother you in the slightest? If it does, what would you do to restore the integrity of the review process at that journal? – gavin]

  27. 277
  28. 278
    Leonard Herchen says:

    Gavin and Mike:
    Thank you again for your response in 2 and Mike’s further response in 1081:

    Sometimes these debate seem to decline into the lacunae of definitions and word usage, but the question has to be asked:

    What’s the difference between “grafting” instrumental record onto the proxy data and using the mean of the instrumental record to manage the boundary conditions?

    Secondly and probably more importantly, as you know that readers throughout the world will use this data and how they are presented for important policy decisions. Doesn’t that knowledge, in and of itself, behoove you to make all the mathematical and statistical workings behind the presentations so that those who advise those policy makers can make fully informed advice to those policy makers. Your work isn’t about the pollination of Colombian orchids or capture cross section of thermal neutrons, you know it has major public policy impact. Doesn’t that fact, in an of itself, create a duty to be more open about methods, data, and source code than regular “science”?

    Additionally, I think openness beyond the normal call of duty creates allies when “science” has broad public policy implications. Just as if a professional engineer designs a dam, his drawings are released for public comment, not just a detailed description with his professional stamp.

    If the Minister of environment in country X gets a letter saying that your work is not to be relied upon for reason x, if your work is easily reproducible then you can have a lot of allies in refuting such attacks. For example, if the accusation is that the graph is manipulated by splicing data, then anyone with the source code and data, can simply say well, this is the result with different boundary conditions, and everything is unchanged. Now, as I see it, they have to wait for the peer review process to grind slowly on. You can’t possibly respond to all criticism, whether solidly based or not. If your work can be easily reproduced (and errors corrected), it gains allies founded on independent analysis, not just allies based on faith in peer review? I suspect that the public policy implications of your work is important to you, and you lose allies when those who, for whatever reason, are uncomfortable with simple faith in peer review. I know that if I were a government minister, and someone came to me with a serious problem based on scientific analysis, I think I would have a duty to find independent verification.

    For example, If that 10 year old graph could have been easily reproduced by any mathematics or statistics professor at any university or research group, then all the issues about unclarity, or small mistakes would have been managed in the moment, instead of lingering for 10 years.

    Your comments and answers are much appreciated.

  29. 279
    debreuil says:

    Hi Gavin,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my code questions, much appreciated. You mentioned that the two sets of data (one for history, one for recent) only happened in the Biffa98 code, however I’ve noticed it actually happens in pretty much all the code that is there:

    (stop in 1940 to avoid the decline
    (stop in 1940 to avoid the decline
    Remove missing data from start & end (end in 1960 due to decline)
    *BUT* don’t do special PCR for the modern period (post-1976),
    since they won’t be used due to the decline/correction problem.
    …1920 or 1930 or whenever the decline
    was corrected onwards from.
    (uses refperiod=[1701,1940])
    This directory is for chronologies and regional timeseries
    normalised over 1901-40, not 1901-70.

    Apparently these tree studies are also used as proxy data in other multi proxy studies, so that would mean at least in some part they do the same. I went over some of the graphs at realclimate and other places again, and I must say I’m surprised at how they are made to look like a single data source. I know I’m out of my depth in climate science, but with any data I can think of I would be really really hesitant to combine two sets into one contiguous chart like that (especially knowing that the overlaps did not match!) It strikes me as a bit manipulative to be frank.

    Maybe I’m just lucky enough to deal with things that are more concrete in my day to day life. I do understand the need for scientifically educated guesses in all this, but I guess between the graft and the data it self (and all the liberties Harry needed to take with it) I wonder about where this extremely high level of confidence is coming from. Even with compilers I’ve written that have hundreds of regression tests (and which are **much** simpler pure logic), there always remains a lot of doubt. Would you consider this tree data to be a very good proxy, or maybe I could look into some different types of proxies that have a more solid foundation?

    Thanks again for your time (and patience!)

    [Response: All this is related to a single kind of proxy – maximum latewood density (MXD) whose problems have been discussed in the literature since 1998. If you want more variety in proxies, go to the NOAA Paleoclimate pages and start playing around. They have just set up a homogenous set of proxies that anyone can use to do reconstrucitons in any way they like. Knock yourself out. – gavin]

  30. 280
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Re 107 Hank Roberts, Point taken Hank. All I want these skeptics to do is look at things objectively and the mounting accumulation of changing climatic conditions. Once again as you are quite aware of..we cant wait around until the scientific communtity says..’Yes we are 100% that what we see all around us is ACC’. Science deals with varying degrees of probablity. There will still be thousands of sceptics who will say in their opinion the truth lies outide the 95% certainty mark. What I want these guys to not to stick their heads in the sand and say..what we see isn’t acutally happening..and to use unbiased commen sense (Ok! not very scientific..but no amount of scientific reasoning will sway these idiots anyway). What we need is a coherent and urgent message by the majority of world leaders that they understand the science or believe their scientific advisors at least and accept the reality of ACC and AGW with an emphasis on Anthropogenic!. I’m not a climate scientist Hank but I am an electronics engineer and later on a medical student and thus my interest and passion in of the sciences so my apologies for the rather loose collectoin of statements.

  31. 281
    jamesglendinning says:

    Gavin- Do you write your own code? If not, who does?

    [Response: Mostly me. The GCM is a collective long-term effort though and so many people have contributed code. -gavin]

  32. 282
    Sloop says:

    For the lurking laypersons-

    Lack of transparency on how datasets constructed and maintained and what they mean? Lack of metadata? Sounds pretty troubling to the layperson, and especially troubling to scientists practicing in other fields.

    If you’re so troubled, have a look at the data web pages from the UEA CRU website, (off emergency server). Note the detail, the clarity, the comprehensiveness of the data offered, explanations of its sources, its precisions, its significance. Note the literature references. Spend the time it takes to understand the richness and importance of the data and its analysis.

    No transparency? Sure about that?

    The CA scenario is that “SteveM” has been denied access to raw data etc because doing so would reveal scientific fraud or at least stupidity. In doing so, he is portrayed a scientific hero cutting through disinformation and lies being spread by a cabal of pinko science frauds, all the while doing so in a most gentlemanly, honorable manner despite being vilified at every turn. So noble and insightful he deserves a Nobel!

    Please, please, please don’t jump to such a conclusion just because he sounds articulate, technically sophisticated, and compassionate when you read through his blog.

    Is it possible there might be an alternative scenario to what has been happening for the past decades between SteveM, his cohorts, and mainstream climatologists? Do you think it’s possible that he’s been shut out of this science community because he is a pseudo scientist? How would you test that scenario for validity? Well, you could actually read the science. Doing so is hard and time-consuming. It takes a lot study to really have insight and confidence in your understanding of what is being discussed. But it’s possible and in important ways your responsibility to do so. Perhaps you’re reading this blog because you realize that.

    You could also look in more detail as to whether legitimate scientists have been prevented from accessing the data? Why would they be any less likely to expose the supposed fraud than SteveM? Because he’s the only credible statistician around?

    With the massively increased universal access to the workings of science, thanks to internet based technologies that have emerged in the last twenty years, comes a massively increased responsibility on the part of those doing the accessing to understand fully and analyze accurately what they are reading, who wrote it and their motivations.

    I work in water resources management in New England. My colleagues in management and science see the physical, chemical, and biological impacts of climate change everywhere, and changes seem to be accelerating. Reading the denialists trumpeting the emails hacked out of CRU is a sad, infuriating, and angering experience.

    Somebody wrote here a couple of days ago that this incident will inspire a massive outpouring of effort and explanation from the scientific community regarding CC. Judging from my own evolving reactions, that person may have been prophetic

    Nevertheless, the Truth shall prevail. How soon will determine our collective future.

  33. 283
    Elias says:

    I wonder how long it will take for those e-mails to be altered and/or all sorts of “revelations” appear as taken out of those e-mails. Seeing how conspiracy theorists work on all subjects they offer their expert views, I can safely predict all sorts of insanities attributed to those e-mails…

  34. 284
    Stephen Gloor (Ender) says:


    Thanks for your efforts to clarify this mess however isn’t it just futile? Honestly after being subjected to in gross invasion of privacy maybe you should respond by on-mass giving up the IPCC work. Let the skeptics write the next one seeings as they know more about climate science than you do.

    It is quite possible that the die is now cast, due to these skeptics efforts, and the climate will change no matter what we do. Isn’t the some part of you that just wants to admit to the great global hoax, even though GW is real, just to say I told you so in 20 years time? At least this way you might get some peace because this is only the start. Bouyed by this success and the fact of getting away with criminal activity scott free, the more unhinged of the skeptics will only hack more and more of your datastores for information. You cannot count on morals stopping then as they obviously have none.

    I think the only way to stop such attacks is to prosecute however you have the problem then of creating a martyr – god knows there are enough skeptics with a martyr complex.

  35. 285
    220 says:

    A simple question from an admitted skeptic. We regularly see the various associations between temp and CO2 made. With all kinds of pretty charts and data. And it is true that temps and CO2 do largely seem to generally track each other.

    But I have yet to see a clear, simple explanation that proves which is the cart and which the horse – who leads and who follows?

    In fact the longer term records I’ve seen all appear to show that CO2 follows temps rather than vice versa. In the last interglacial warm peak appx 130,000 years back CO2 continued elevated long after temps peaked and for 15,000 appx years after as temps quickly plummeted.

    By all appearances we are at a similar interglacial warm peak now – the warm period appears to have peaked appx 10,000 years ago and unlike past peaks the tmps have remained near that peak for appx the last 10,000 years rather than plummeting into a glacial cold period. Yet during that time period C02 has continued to increase substantially.

    This link is to a crude paste up of various graphs overlaid on a time line that has helped me as a layperson gain some perspective:

    Today’s warming proponents and scientists seem to focus on the recent very temp record – largely hundreds of years – which as I understand it is really almost meaningless in the scope of “climate” change.

    The simple question I have is what am I missing?

    Where is the link, the data or other evidence, that shows warming is -driven- by CO2 increase – especially when it seems, when looking at longer term temp and CO2 record, that CO2 is re-active to temp change and not leading?

    [Response: No one disputes that temperature changes affect the carbon cycle – how could they not? Thus if temperature changes for an independent reason (say, umm… orbital forcing), then the carbon cycle will react and the CO2 levels will change. No disputes either (hopefully) that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Changes in greenhouse gases change climate – and in fact we get even get close to explaining how cold the ice ages were unless we include that amplifying process. Thus you have chickens and eggs and they feed back on each other. More eggs leads to more chickens leads to more eggs etc. Now the modern situation is different – we have reanimated a huge number of fossil chickens and thrown them into the coop. More eggs are likely to emerge! – gavin]

  36. 286

    Shirley #94,

    best of luck with your application! Good people are always in short supply. You surely already know, but hey, you’re in for a ride… suffice to quote (again) a remark by handle ‘lazar’, over at tamino’s:

    Climate is the most breathtakingly beautiful thing that I have seen and studied. I can’t believe people choose politics over science. What poor taste.

    What more to say?

    Please keep us informed.

  37. 287
    Mike M says:

    I’m not a scientist but i do use computer models and lately have been studying initial conditions problems with any open ended non-linear systems – which i would assume is the basis for any climate modelling.

    Now i feel i have a pretty good understanding of the unpredictability problems inherent in these systems as I’ve been playing with fine tuning to 5 or 6 decimal places and the results are always different.

    So my question is if the accuracy of initial condiitons is vital in achieving accurate predictions, how can anyone possibly claim that our current understanding of initial conditions pertaining to longterm climate change are accurate enough to make catastrophic predictions?

    If climate is based on open ended non-linear dynamics then i just cant see how anyone can be certain either way.

    Even qm has an uncertainty built into it and so do chaotic systems like the weather and climate, so any cliams of certainty appear wishful thinking, and contrary to what we know about the inherent unpredictability of these systems.

    So if someone could explain to me why climate predictions escape the same unpredictable properties found in all similar systems i would be much appreciated.

    PS: I am agnostic on whether humans are responsible and to what extent for climate change.

  38. 288
    Giles says:

    How many jobs around the world depend directly on the assumption that AGW is the threat that Prof Jones et al would have us believe?

    How many careers and reputations of those in government, multi-lateral agencies, corporate social responsibility, journalism, lobbyists etc etc would be ruined if the science became settled to the contrary?

    Everyone can and will draw their own conclusions about the effect of this on people’s motivations – all I want to know is what the raw data is.

  39. 289
    Ted says:

    CCPO @258 – you quoted Gavin as saying “Note. global land use effects result in a cooling because the biggest issue is the chopping down of forest (dark) to make cropland (bright)”

    Well, that’s not actually true. Here’s a press release for a new paper from Georgia Tech, showing how 50% of the warming across the US is due to land use changes.

    Original reference for Gavin’s comment was from Edward’s post @95.


    [Response: A statement in a press release is not a scientific result and the paper referred to does not show this to be true (and in fact I doubt very much that it is true). There are many papers on the global impacts of land cover change – Pondgratz et al is good, and all such papers show that land use at the global scale drives a cooling. – gavin]

  40. 290
    Andrew Goreing says:

    If Kazinski’s ability to understand what he reads (message 23 Nov 11:52 PM) is typical of those who claim to be outraged by these messages then I see no reason to take such people seriously.

    Michael Mann writes “As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, it’s about plausibly deniable accusations”

    To anyone who knows the first thing about the (very recently discussed) context, Mann is obviously referring to McIntyre, claiming that McIntyre isn’t interested in the truth, but only in making veiled accusations (about scientific misconduct) that he can later deny that he meant.

    What is slightly surprising to me is how mild this comment is, considering the things Mann has been subjected to from commenters at CA and elsewhere.

    Kazinski seems to think that Mann is admitting that his own work (or Briffa’s? Or RC? — it’s not clear) is not about the truth, but about plausibly deniable accusations. Which makes no sense at all — why would he call a defence of the robustness of a dendro reconstruction an “accusation” of any kind?

    Only villains in Hollywood movies make such “admissions”, not normal human beings, as any rational person would know.

  41. 291
    Mike E says:

    Not for posting: It would be handy, please, to have an acronyms index, as there are so many being tossed around (eg CA, FOI, FOIA, WUWT, AGW, etc.). Such a file could be listed in the column at right under, say, Extras, and of course it could be updated as needs be.
    Thanks, and a wonderful site.

  42. 292
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    re: 131 John. I think you put it very succinctly. The big picture here is to create something concrete and meaningful in Copenhagen. Ok! it will still be using IPCC data which is based on stuff Climate scientists understand with 100% certainty which is only the very macro veiw of the mechanics of climate which will exclude much of the effects of a thawing tundra(CH4)release, the ocean’s CO2/carbonic acid saturation threshold beginning to be reached and effects of the flourine compounds at the upper atmosphere to name a few. I fear the projections to be mentioned at Copenhagen will still be way too conservative. Climate scientists are really caught in a catch22 paradox here. All their training to to deal with the facts-facts and then the facts. Problem..we need Copenhagen to be the driver of sweeping and rapid change around the globe and unless the IPCC has the guts to creep out a little futher on the proverbial limb and say ‘we don’t fully understand the workings yet but we are very concerned about the additional and potentially significant climatic effects of these CC forcers such as CH4, Flourines incl. Hydroflourocarbons’ and give some future climatic projections of their cumulative effects. If we compromise at Copenhagen we will lose the fight; the denyalist camp will use the failure there to fuel their cause and we will then be too far behind the 8 ball to having any hope of stabilising the climate before mass extinctions begin. We gotta get Copenhagen right!!!

  43. 293
    Lawrence Coleman says:

    Might like to know that for November ’09 most of Autralia’s population in (NSW, SA and Victoria) has been averaging 6.03C above normal. Many temp records broken or equalled. Adelaide had 8 consequtive days above 35C ( the previous record was 4 days).

  44. 294
    JBowers says:

    Gavin, thanks for posting the response letter to Steve McIntyre’s FOI request. It clearly spells out that Hadley CRU’s continuing access to data from those he already had legal obligations to far outweigh M&M’s needs. Quite rightly so, in my opinion, as a British taxpayer.

    It would be interesting to know at some point if M&M appealed. It’s a simple step to take after all.

    What also intrigues me is, if the data were so vital to their research, why didn’t they just follow the same procedure and acquire the data from the owners in the same manner? Surely having the data itself is more important than the procedure used to acquire it?

    A bit bizarre.


  45. 295


    Coal, oil, and natural gas come from the highly compressed and heated bodies of dead plants and animals, mostly plants, from about 100 to 300 million years ago. The bodies fell into swamp water, the swamps dried up, the material (now dissociate and spread all over) became peat, then soft coal, then hard coal, then oil, then natural gas, depending on the pressures and temperatures it was subjected to.

  46. 296
    Ron says:

    I read the Trenberth paper and far from mitigating his email comments it seems to strengthen them. He is a climate scientist I respect and we quote some of his work on our web site at:

    As you have said elsewhere he fully accepts AGW but he is querying the fact that our climate monitoring systems are inadequate to explain where the heat is going since temperatures are not rising at the projected rate.

    If anything good comes out of this I hope it will be investment in climate monitoring. Asking the world to spend trillions combatting AGW at the moment is like asking a patient to undergo an operation on the basis of a dodgy thermometer and no X-ray.

  47. 297
    CM says:

    Ed (#117) said:

    An easy solution, then, is to release all or most of the email correspondence since the rest will presumably present researchers in a better light.

    That’s a bad solution.

    First, there’s principle. If someone spreads your mail around to smear you, it damn well doesn’t make the rest of your mail anybody else’s business.

    Second, there’s collateral damage: the personal relations and reputations of other people who will be mentioned in these emails, sometimes in less than flattering ways and with sensitive personal information: for whatever reason, however rightly or wrongly, whatever their public profile or lack of it, and whether their work “supports AGW” or is fodder for the “skeptics”. Want examples? I can’t stop you — you’ll find them on ClimateAudit etc., with no attempt to protect identities.

    Third, it would balance nothing. Who is going to read those thousands of boring emails that are so bland that even the deniers can’t distort them into something suspicious? As the people orchestrating this sordid affair know very well, dirt sticks, soap suds slide off.

  48. 298


    BTW, what is the reason for rejecting out of hand the Soon 2004 graphic that seems to clearly tie climate to the sun, and not to C02?

    [Response: It is a very clear cherry-pick. First off it’s just the Arctic – not ‘climate’. Secondly, the correlation crumbles if you just include a few more stations slightly to the south. Thirdly, the solar proxy he used is hopelessly out-of -date (solar people no longer think the underlying assumptions are valid). Want more? – gavin]

    Boy, I wish there were a site/wiki with very specific information like this. There are plenty of sites with generic myth-debunking information, and they are very useful, but a wiki with specific refutations of specific tables, graphs, and statements would be a powerful tool.

  49. 299

    Ben: the conclusion is that they should not be allowed to industrialise their economies

    BPL: Oh, garbage! They can industrialize all they want using non-fossil-fuel sources of power.

  50. 300
    Russell Seitz says:

    re 251 & 146

    S. Molnar should note that my post did not mention Gavin , and that I think he has acted gracefully in a situation disturbing enough for even vocal supporters of Copenhagen like George Monbiot to raise the specter of resignation as a remedy – this matter has already moved beyond climate wars comedy of manners into the realm of parliamentary question time.

    The API seemed a relevant counterpart to the CRU because its internal documents were cited earlier in this thread.