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The CRU hack

Filed under: — group @ 20 November 2009

As many of you will be aware, a large number of emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia webmail server were hacked recently (Despite some confusion generated by Anthony Watts, this has absolutely nothing to do with the Hadley Centre which is a completely separate institution). As people are also no doubt aware the breaking into of computers and releasing private information is illegal, and regardless of how they were obtained, posting private correspondence without permission is unethical. We therefore aren’t going to post any of the emails here. We were made aware of the existence of this archive last Tuesday morning when the hackers attempted to upload it to RealClimate, and we notified CRU of their possible security breach later that day.

Nonetheless, these emails (a presumably careful selection of (possibly edited?) correspondence dating back to 1996 and as recently as Nov 12) are being widely circulated, and therefore require some comment. Some of them involve people here (and the archive includes the first RealClimate email we ever sent out to colleagues) and include discussions we’ve had with the CRU folk on topics related to the surface temperature record and some paleo-related issues, mainly to ensure that posting were accurate.

Since emails are normally intended to be private, people writing them are, shall we say, somewhat freer in expressing themselves than they would in a public statement. For instance, we are sure it comes as no shock to know that many scientists do not hold Steve McIntyre in high regard. Nor that a large group of them thought that the Soon and Baliunas (2003), Douglass et al (2008) or McClean et al (2009) papers were not very good (to say the least) and should not have been published. These sentiments have been made abundantly clear in the literature (though possibly less bluntly).

More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy, no mention of George Soros nefariously funding climate research, no grand plan to ‘get rid of the MWP’, no admission that global warming is a hoax, no evidence of the falsifying of data, and no ‘marching orders’ from our socialist/communist/vegetarian overlords. The truly paranoid will put this down to the hackers also being in on the plot though.

Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined. People working constructively to improve joint publications; scientists who are friendly and agree on many of the big picture issues, disagreeing at times about details and engaging in ‘robust’ discussions; Scientists expressing frustration at the misrepresentation of their work in politicized arenas and complaining when media reports get it wrong; Scientists resenting the time they have to take out of their research to deal with over-hyped nonsense. None of this should be shocking.

It’s obvious that the noise-generating components of the blogosphere will generate a lot of noise about this. but it’s important to remember that science doesn’t work because people are polite at all times. Gravity isn’t a useful theory because Newton was a nice person. QED isn’t powerful because Feynman was respectful of other people around him. Science works because different groups go about trying to find the best approximations of the truth, and are generally very competitive about that. That the same scientists can still all agree on the wording of an IPCC chapter for instance is thus even more remarkable.

No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “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) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

The timing of this particular episode is probably not coincidental. But if cherry-picked out-of-context phrases from stolen personal emails is the only response to the weight of the scientific evidence for the human influence on climate change, then there probably isn’t much to it.

There are of course lessons to be learned. Clearly no-one would have gone to this trouble if the academic object of study was the mating habits of European butterflies. That community’s internal discussions are probably safe from the public eye. But it is important to remember that emails do seem to exist forever, and that there is always a chance that they will be inadvertently released. Most people do not act as if this is true, but they probably should.

It is tempting to point fingers and declare that people should not have been so open with their thoughts, but who amongst us would really be happy to have all of their email made public?

Let he who is without PIN cast the the first stone.

Update: The official UEA statement is as follows:

“We are aware that information from a server used for research information
in one area of the university has been made available on public websites,”
the spokesman stated.

“Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm
that all of this material is genuine.”

“This information has been obtained and published without our permission
and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from

“We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved
the police in this enquiry.”

Update II: Please comment on the next thread.

1,092 Responses to “The CRU hack”

  1. 901
    dhogaza says:

    Here’s an idea…settle this once and for all and release the data and codes for all work. How about it, Gavin? Just release all your data and codes. If you have done so, great.

    Nice how people who don’t even know that NASA GISS has long made their model sources available demand they do so in a somewhat accusatory tone. At least this person admits they don’t know if it’s already available or not but … having said that, why the hell is the demand made?

    Now get your colleagues to do the same.

    Gavin already took this one down, but I sort of like how silly it looks in isolation.

  2. 902
    dhogaza says:

    So everything rests on the GISStemp dataset as ,from what I am reading,there is no likelihood of getting the HADCRUT original raw data. Hence there is no verifiable 2nd dataset on which to base the serious forthcoming regulatory decisions.

    Look up at the sky some evening. There are satellites up there. Amazing, ain’t it?

    But of course it’s cooling, that’s why glaciers are melting, right?

  3. 903
    Timothy Chase says:

    Scott stated in 138:

    To me, the most damning comment I’ve read is Kevin Trenberth saying that it was a “travesty” that they “can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment”. He makes the candid admission that his observation model is “inadequate” — because the CERES data on 2008 shows that more warming should’ve happened, but obviously didn’t.

    Inline, Gavin responded:

    Trenberth is talking about our inability to be able to measure the net radiation balance at the top of the atmosphere to the requisite precision to be able to say on short time scales what the energy budget is doing. The observations are inadequate for that – not sure who is saying otherwise.

    Ray responds in 775:

    Here’s one person: http:/ …

    The only passage in what you link to which mentions “radiation” is the following, so I assume this is what you are speaking of:

    Dr. Trenberth’s rebuttal to Dr. Gray’s response:

    …. The pattern of observed warming is unlike any natural variation and the rates of change are faster. Hence we can prove that the observed warming is not natural and we can point to the cause: observed increases in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that trap infrared radiation from escaping to space.

    http://fortcollinsteaparty .com/index.php/2009/10/10/dr-william-gray-and-dr-kevin-trenberth-the-global-warming-debate-continues/

    Now note: Trenberth states “pattern,” and there are a number signature patterns of enhanced global warming.

    For example, the night warms more quickly than day. The increased opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation results in a decrease in the rate at which thermal energy is able to escape the lower troposphere. All other causes of a warming trend that anyone has been able to suggest would be strongest during the day, e.g., an increase in solar radiation or drop in aerosols and consequent global brightening. For similar reasons an enhanced greenhouse effect will be strongest during the winter rather than the summer.

    Likewise, if for example warming were due to an increase in solar radiation then as the lower troposphere warms so would the upper stratosphere. But the temperature trend of the upper stratosphere has been one of cooling rather than warming even as the surface warmed. This has been due to a reduction in the rate at which thermal radiation has been able to escape the lower troposphere. All other causes that have been suggest for the warming of the lower troposphere would simultaneously warm the upper stratosphere.
    We know that carbon dioxide — which has been rising — results in the increased opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation. For example, the dark redder patches in the following satellite image are where there are higher levels of carbon dioxide at 8 km and a consequent reduction in the radiation escaping the earth’s atmosphere in its signature wavelength at 15 μm:

    Measuring Carbon Dioxide from Space with the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder

    We’ve known that it would result in the increased opacity of the atmosphere to thermal radiation since the late 1800s.

    And as you can see, the levels of carbon dioxide are highest where the winds would carry the gas away from more heavily populated areas (e.g., the east and west coasts of the United States) prior to dispersing it throughout the atmosphere.

  4. 904
    Lazar says:

    #715 David Harper says:

    “Gavin… there is talk over at Climate Audit that you are about to throw Jones et al “under the bus”. I’m sure that’s not true”

    Why would CA, a political PR site dedicated to discrediting science, make that claim in public, is it because
    a) they really care about Jones
    b) they would rather see scientists give an impression of ‘defending their own’, to associate them with the allegations against Jones…

    [Response: I imagine that it’s because they see this as a blood sport. Kind of like spectators at a F1 race only being interested if there is a crash. It’s kind of juvenile. – gavin]

  5. 905
    Rina Groeneveld says:

    I agree that the hacking was illegal and unethical, but I read some of the emails anyway, having been told that they were quite spectacular. However, your response does bring pots and kettles to mind….

  6. 906
    Bill says:

    From #380 and subsequently #391, its become clearer for me at least. Its likely that the GISS Temp dataset has not been validated to 2009 data management regulatory standards and criteria. This should be done as a matter of urgency in view of the upcoming Copenhagen meeting. We should demand nothing less is available to support whatever decisions are forthcoming.

  7. 907
    mike roddy says:

    The main thing to come out of the rather noneventful emails has been the pouncing by deniers, and piling on by MSM. Instead of apologizing for choice of language and bitchiness etc. I think climate scientists should use this latest spying/character assassination as a reason to comprehensively attack the denier communities once and for all.

    The spur should be that you are willing to say it to their faces, too. After all, most skeptics with any credentials at all are being paid by CEI, API, etc. Why grant them equal status? As far as I’m concerned, they are barely human.

    This stance should be preceded by a summary of the evidence, something RC does very well.

  8. 908
    dhogaza says:

    Its likely that the GISS Temp dataset has not been validated to 2009 data management regulatory standards and criteria.

    Oh, good. In your next post, I’m sure you’ll provide a reference to “2009 [federal agency] data management regulatory standards and criteria”, and specific evidence that the GISS Temp dataset hasn’t been validated to whatever [imagined] regulatory standards that exist, apply.

    Or will you be satisifed with an essentially zero-content drive-by allegation made without any evidence given to support your speculation?

  9. 909
    Bill says:

    re#396 response. When I see reference to ‘handwritten records from national weather stations’, I get very worried about data accuracy ………

    [Response: Of course. This is one of the main problems in doing quality control of older station data. Try reading the daily observations at the Observatoire de Paris in the 18th Century for instance. Doing that however is the job of the National Met Services, not the people doing the collations. – gavin]

  10. 910
    Martin Vermeer says:

    pjclarke #820: to your point #5, I seem to remember (but fail to come up in google; someone have a link?) that the AR4-related correspondence was about comments submitted on the AR4 report and reviewers’ remarks on these comments.
    Just like reviews of journal articles, these reviewers were supposed to remain anonymous. They we given a promise of anonymity, accepted the job on those terms, and rightly expected that the promise would be kept. The FoI requests threatened that. Rather than unethical, protecting reviewers’ anonymity is the ethical thing to do.
    Also remember that destroying information before it becomes the subject of an FoI request or subpoena — on the mere realization that such a thing may be in your future — is perfectly legal… not long ago, many companies had, and perhaps still have, a strict policy that emails older than three months be deleted…

  11. 911
    ubrew12 says:

    I have a question that relates to the recent observed ‘no-warming’ period (last decade), and am wondering if someone could respond with an answer: Its a simple artifact of physics, easily reproducible, that if you heat up a cup of ice water the cup warms with time. Then, its stops warming, and then at some later time, it starts warming again. During the period of no warming, the ice was melting. Earth is like a cup of ice-water, so why would we expect Earth to warm evenly in response to even heating? Shouldn’t there be pauses in the warming trend, and during these pauses large-scale melting observed instead?

    Are the climate-scientists talking in this direction at all?

  12. 912
    Timothy Chase says:

    Bill states:

    From #380 and subsequently #391, its become clearer for me at least. Its likely that the GISS Temp dataset has not been validated to 2009 data management regulatory standards and criteria. This should be done as a matter of urgency in view of the upcoming Copenhagen meeting. We should demand nothing less is available to support whatever decisions are forthcoming.

    380 by Risto Linturi states:

    Surprisingly little was found that is of any essence. We are all human and our expressions are easily misunderstood, especially when one benefits from the misunderstanding. Most of us also express ourselves badly in private occasions and experiment on thoughts that are not really intended or ready. Always we also see things from our own viewpoint and this should be clearly understood. This did not harm my confidence in the climate science or public awareness raising you guys are doing, and I fully expect all fair and balanced people react likewise. Mudslinging is a part of all politics and huge sums of money and power are at stake. Please keep up the important work.

    … while I agree with Risto, his point seems entirely irrelevant to yours. Likewise with 391.

    Perhaps you had some other comments in mind? Some aspect of the NASA GISS temperature record which you find particularly problematic? A particular passage of the “2009 data management regulatory standards and criteria” that you find especially pertinent and are able to both quote and cite?

  13. 913
    The Raven says:

    “The case was defended on the squarest, most idealistic, and most foolish level imaginable, and on the other side the dirt was so filthy that the defense refused to believe it existed, or, as in my case and probably in others, actually believed it.”–Kenneth Rexroth, An Autobiographical Novel, p. 199. The events described apparently took place, if at all, in 1924.


  14. 914
    Hank Roberts says:

    > 2009 data management regulatory standards and criteria

    There aren’t any, are there? Citation needed.

    Your next line is probably:

    “No one should do anything with the data until standards and criteria are established and applied retroactively to all data.”

    Tell it to your stockbroker.

  15. 915
    Alexander Harvey says:

    Gaivin, Your:

    “But to answer your question, GISTEMP only uses publicly available data and correlates to 0.97 (or so) with the CRU global mean data.”

    I believe that part of that public data is HadISST data. Which I believe is “value added” and hence subject to processing. I think that the HadCRUT3 is derived from a similar dataset HADSST2. It is not clear to me as to how independent GIS and CRU really are and hence whether the correlation can be taken at face value. I believe that a new version of HadISST is planned and I presume that it will effect GIS (if it accepts the upgraded data). It is not clear to me whether HadSST2 will be updated at the same time so it will be interesting to see if HadSST2, GIS and HadCRUT3 all jump together.


  16. 916
    Hank Roberts says:

    Martin, I don’t know where that came from offhand, but if you just search on the phrase, you get hits to a passel of septic websites on the first page:

  17. 917
    Bob says:

    Gavin, I am not at all satisfied with your responses that the “debate is over” that you responded to. While I agree that it would be a waste of time to request funding to test whether carbon can have more than four bonds (tested millions of time), your work involves statistical sampling and by definition you project future probabilities. On the geo scale of your work, projecting such certainty to the Al Gores of the world, is not good science and may be one of the reasons such acrimony exits on the subject. A liitle more scientific humility would be refreshing.

    [Response: Maybe you have me confused with someone else. Try reading something I wrote instead of imagining things I might have said. Start here perhaps. – gavin]

  18. 918
    Lazar says:

    A question for scientists; is nullifying a public’s *potential* legal right to certain information, through destroying the information beforehand, ethical or not? — particularly as an action by scientists, particularly when the issue has overwhelming public implications? It matters, for public confidence in science, that scientists give a public answer in a timely manner, without prevarication or half-hearted responses (e.g., Gavin’s “This was ill-advised” does not go far enough). I worry that some scientists are not aware of how bad this whole thing appears, and how worse it appears with half-hearted defenses or half-hearted condemnation. If the answer is that the practice is unethical, then it must stop. Whatever the answer, a precedent needs to be set, and the reasoning behind whatever answer given in a manner which convinces the public.

  19. 919
    Bill says:

    re#909 : Actually Gavin,I believe its the responsibility of anyone who is going to use this data to make major regulatory decisions and statements. As I understand things, billions ( or is it trillions) of dollars could change hands depending on what the various outcomes are post copenhagen.

    [Response: None of which depends on the provenance of a dozen trees in Siberia or the difference between the CRU or GISTEMP records. -gavin]

  20. 920
    Timothy Chase says:

    PS where I respond to Bill in my comment 912 I am responding to his comment 906 — that refers to comment 380 and 391 which seem entirely irrelevant to the quite vague concerns he expresses regarding NASA GISS data.

  21. 921
    Lazar says:


    “I imagine that it’s because they see this as a blood sport”

    That’s possible.

    This is a very saddening afair. Thanks maintaining and moderating an open debate, and for your responses.

  22. 922
    Steve Fish says:

    Jeff Id — 21 November 2009 @ 7:15 PM:

    You may have missed the upthread discussion of the tree data problem. It was only removed from a figure, not the text. It is of concern and an active area of research with several papers devoted to it. It is called the “divergence problem” and you can use this term for searching the literature. So, nothing was hidden and the worst one can complain about is that they wanted to make their figure look better, and it is obvious that they were agonizing over it. It is this kind of puzzle in science that eventually leads to more understanding.


  23. 923
    Hans Scundal says:

    “More interesting is what is not contained in the emails. There is no evidence of any worldwide conspiracy….”

    Personally, I continue to believe that global warming is real, but, contrary to your statements, the emails do reveal the strong influence of politics on the science. As you stay there is little or no evidence of manufactured data or an intentional hoax — thank God. But, there is abundant evidence of suppression of criticism (trying to influence journals, suppressing publications), an unscientific desire to avoid publishing supportive data (fear of the “Freedom of Information” law), and a focus on spin over science.

    “Instead, there is a peek into how scientists actually interact and the conflicts show that the community is a far cry from the monolith that is sometimes imagined.”

    This is not how scientists work! No other science, other than perhaps biology/evolution, has to face the level of politics involved in the global warming debate and it is apparent that many of the scientists authoring the emails have compromised their scientific integrity in order to fight a political battle. This is rather understandable because the stakes could not be higher, but we must stop these compromises.

    Data must be published.

    Rational criticism must be ENCOURAGED, not suppressed or ridiculed.

    Readers should take a look at the biased summary of disturbing issues in the emails posted in Bishop Hill’s blog. Some of the comments there are exaggerations, so readers should click on a link to the original emails which are disturbing enough.

  24. 924
    Jim Bouldin says:

    Gavin, taking 3–and counting–days out of your life to deal with this horseshit nonsense will not soon be forgotten by a number of us.

  25. 925
    Xyrus says:

    “So what is the issue? At core, it is the behavior of key scientists in response to requests to release data. The emails show a pattern of deliberate efforts to undermine the existing legal process for freeing information.”

    Bull. If anything the emails show the exasperation of scientists when having to deal with multiple ridiculous requests when:

    1. The data is already available.
    2. The request is asking for something that’s not reasonable (private code, confidential emails, etc.) or data they are not free to distribute due to contractual/licensing agreements.

    Steve et. al., despite receiving professional responses (see MannHouseReply.pdf for example), appeared never to be satisfied. As more requests came in the scientists involved grew increasingly frustrated with the waste of time and resources, to the point where they were discussing adding a fee for handling the requests. Fortunately, after a review by FOI representives, they agreed that the FOI requests were unreasonable.

    “The emails are unambiguous as to the efforts of Dr. Jones on this count. Given the title of the file, its content and the timing of its release, in close proximity to a rejection of an appeal by Steve McIntyre for releasing data and other information – the odds have dramatically increased that this was not the action of hackers but of whistleblowers.”

    More bull. The random aggregation of data and emails shows that the person who did this had little in the way knowledge of what to look for and/or what to grab. There are HUGE gaps in the emails, making establishing context for them difficult. And none of the docs show anything remotely nefarious (unless you count a poorly photo-shopped image as being nefarious).

    If this were truly done by a whistelblower, then the files would be more coherent and focused on whatever “scandalous” scenario the whistleblower would want to bring to light. As it is, most of the emails are just standard science discussions.

    This has the look and feel of a smash and grab performed by someone that doesn’t have much of a clue about climate science or research in general.

    “This is very important and significantly changes the import of the content and the likely consequences.”

    Only in your world. The FOI request rejections were done for valid reasons. If Steve’s bruised ego can’t handle the rejection he is free to file an appeal. But he’s going to have provide justification AND whatever he requests is going to have to be reviewed before release so CRU doesn’t get shafted by liability claims.

    “If it is whistleblowers, Dr Jones and the UEA administration have dug themselves a very deep hole as revealed by these emails.”

    Perhaps you’re reading different emails than I am.

    “If the person who released this file was privy to the FOIA discussions and objected to the stonewalling in writing or made contemporaneous notes, then any efforts to pursue them may result in even more damage to the credibility of Dr. Jones et al. It is a genuine Catch-22.”

    They weren’t stonewalling. They didn’t want to waste the time and effort responding to frivolous requests. There is no indication in the emails that they were deliberately trying to hide anything.

    Of course, if you’d like having the scientists respond to every Armchair Climatologists out there instead of doing research, wasting time and taxpayers money, then by all means continue.

    “So, folks should try to keep an eye on the pea here.”

    I’d rather focus on the climate research.

    “The assertions above by advocates for CAGW that skeptics believe that these emails somehow demonstrate a Michael Crichton-like conspiracy is a smokescreen that hides the simpler and more fundamental issue. There is and never has been a real reason for not disclosing the data and the code.”

    They do. A peer-reviewed article must release any information relevant to reproducing the results of the research. Code usually isn’t part of it since the reviewers themselves should be more than capable of reconstructing the methodologies, not just use/assume someone’s coding implementation is correct.

    And there can be reasons for withholding data. If you are contracting with a third party you are BOUND by your obligations. Not all data comes from government agencies and not all data is non-proprietary. If IP or contractual obligations prevent the release of data, then the science group has to abide by it.

    “The rather juvenile, silly and short-sighted efforts to stonewall McIntyre and others has produced the real scandal.”

    Again, they weren’t stonewalling. They were just sick of dealing with him. There is no scandal here.

    “The notion that McIntyre and many others are part of some vast conspiracy to delay action on CO2 emissions, besides being neurotic, vastly underestimates the sheer puzzle value of climate issues to those of us used to doing large scale data analysis in other fields.”

    O RLY? Like the huge left wing global extreme left genocidal climate change conspiracy that skeptics keep falling back on?

    Climate change and the anthropogenic causes are very well documented in peer reviewed literature complete with the data and methods used to draw such conclusions. The science is there. The only scandal here is in the minds of those who want there to be one.

    “Love him or hate him, nobody has any grounds for doubting McIntyre’s (and a growing number of other “amateurs”) abilities to analyze complex data sets and uncover large and small data and analysis errors.”

    McIntyre’s and other skeptics efforts have routinely been eviscerated in peer review. While he and others have found small errors in data sets and such, so far they have not put together a single reproducible experiment to show that all of the current climate research is false. They have no model to account for the observations we are seeing. There are no reproducible papers that discredit current climate science. If they can’t even produce a single paper that can pass peer review based on poor science, why don’t they focus on fixing the flaws that the peer-reviewers point out instead of wasting everyone’s time?

    “The remarkable defensiveness displayed in these emails by many of the scientists has led IMHO to a continuous unwillingness to accept Steve McIntyre at face value.”

    Because at face value, Steve McIntyre’s scientific research on this subject has sucked. When he starts producing something that makes sense the perhaps the community will be more willing to listen. But finding small statistical anomalies among a data-set hardly qualifies as paper material, let alone as a refutation for the current body of climate research.

    “Releasing the data and the code in accord with sound scientific practices now looks like it would have been a smarter choice.”

    The data and, more importantly, the METHODS have been released following all the guidelines of the governing scientific bodies. The code is useless without the algorithms/methods used to obtain the results. A code could do anything the researcher wanted, including faking results and those without programming experience would be none the wiser. However, you can’t fake an algorithm or a method used in producing results. If so, it would be easily detected (as Steve should be familiar with).


  26. 926
    Steve Fish says:

    Jere Krischel — 21 November 2009 @ 7:13 PM:

    You say- “The null-hypothesis does not require a completely opposite theory …” But, you are confusing research with theory. One assumes the null hypothesis in a study, while a theory is made of a large collection of studies in which the null hypothesis has been rejected.

    If one produces a study that goes against the theory, it doesn’t negate the theory because of the large volume of studies that support it. If a large number of studies go against the theory it is weakened, but it probably won’t be thrown out until the aha moment when a new theory explains more of the data than the old one.


  27. 927
    CRS says:

    Dear all, the controversy mirrors the one in the US during the past Presidential campaign, when the personal email account of then Gov. Sarah Palin was similarly hacked and publicly posted.

    As a climate change scientist working on solutions, I understand the banter, publication process and the like of my associates at East Anglia….however, in this challenging economic period, such disclosures are less than helpful to those of us who are attempting to make real progress, both at Copenhagen and in our own countries and universities.

    I cannot tell you how damaging this might be, but since public interest in, and belief in, our science is now flagging, this may in fact be a watershed event. I’m expecting that our cause is thrown back years, if not permanently.

  28. 928
    petek says:


    Yes, e.g.

    Btw: Published by the institution that was hacked.

  29. 929
    Martin Vermeer says:

    ubrew12 #911: the explanation is much simpler. What happened over the last decade globally is about the same as what happened here in Finland recently in November: we had a cold week, with snow even, and then we got a warm week, up to +8C. It’s called natural (internal, unforced) variability. Or “weather”.

    Note this happened at a time when temperatures are supposed to go down as we are approaching winter… obviously those “wintrists” aren’t to be trusted, surely it’s a conspiracy to fake the evidence so the State can increase taxes ‘to buy snowplows’… yeah that’s the ticket :-)

    The problem with your theory, while it sounds superficially sensible, is that all of the ice doesn’t melt together like it would in a cup on a heating plate, where no great temperature differences can exist. Greenland, e.g., has significant vertical extent, temperatures are lower high up, and melting takes place around the edges. Increasing overall global temperature increases the amount of melt per time unit, but at no point would temperature stop increasing until all of Greenland had disappeared…

  30. 930
    Steve Fish says:

    nanny_govt_sucks — 22 November 2009 @ 5:38 AM:

    In addition to what Gavin said regarding scientific consensus. This is not something that scientists get together and vote on, it is what individual scientists, in a field of research, and any objective outside observers see when looking at the field. It is what is, not a formal decision.


  31. 931
    ubu says:

    Re #865 on h-index

    “Mine is somewhere in the 30’s I think. – gavin]”
    Accurate as ever Gavin.
    Scopus has you on 23; which is better than my 20

    Accurate as ever, indeed. ISI has Gavin’s h-index at 30.

  32. 932
    Shirley says:

    #911 – I posted s similar question here in the past, to which Gavin responded in the affirmative. I also noted that fresh water is less dense than salt water, therefore more buoyant, potentially creating lower SSTs. Combine that with prolonged reduced solar activity, changing weather patterns (fight for the system to reach equilibrium) then consistent, upward temperature trends don’t make a lot of sense. Peaks and valleys should be expected, and the overall temperature trend is still very high relative to other times in modern history. Oh and that pesky correlation with CO2 increases. There are probably issues with ocean absorption and atmospheric pressure balances (and its capacity to absorb, and under what temperatures and pressures) that play into all of this that aren’t fully understood yet, either.

    No additional warming at this time is poor “proof” that the climate isn’t changing dramatically, or that human activity is not behind it.

  33. 933
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Dan Hughes #889: likely they rooted a mail server with all accounts on it, and downloaded the lot. If they were Russkies they may not even have realized what they had; perhaps they still don’t. One of their ‘clients’ did though (somehow I have no difficulty seeing thinktanks and the Russian mob doing business). I wonder who then ripped whom off… would’ve been nice to be a fly on the wall ;-)

    As to filtering the material: awk and shell scripting are your friends.

  34. 934
    Roberta Hotinski says:

    Kudos for engaging with the public (as usual) and responding to so many comments in an even-keeled way. I think the unusual devotion of this blog’s contributors to public education should convince anyone of your motives.

    As mentioned above, the FOI issues should be separated from issues of personality and semantics. This could be resolved very quickly if everyone involved identifies and addresses any legitimate legal questions as soon as possible and communicates with the media, rather than “circling the wagons.”

  35. 935
    JMilan says:

    Well, this story just went big-time — it’s the lead story in the Sunday _Washington Post_ this morning. From a web-forum squabble and back-of-the-news story this is now a bombshell in the national and world news, and once at that level petty excuses and dodges won’t work.

    I have to say that, having read all I can find on this, I am not willing to throw in with those who effectively trash the enterprise of science by claiming this kind of malfeasance is common and tacitly condoned. My experience (astronomy) is that it is not, and I cannot bring myself to defend the kind if deception, manipulation, pressuring, punishment, harmful collusion and downright chicanery evidenced by these emails.

    That’s not to say science is club of nuns. I’ve seen up close the rivalries, etc., particularly within academia, but not like the schemes, lies, and deception on AGW at CRU. I can only hope that for the benefit of all science this is all pursued, prosecuted as appropriate, and pulled out from the roots. I think I’ve had quite enough of the saintly claim that “we’re saving the world” as defense. There is no excuse for deception and dishonesty, and I think it’s time we drag the whole enterprise into the light, examine it with a gimlet eye, see what’s really there, and let the chips fall.

  36. 936
    Bill says:

    Re #914 ex Timothy> My concern re. GISS data.It seems to be the main (?only)dataset which can be validated and is acceptable to the mainstream IPCC in making policy which may affect huge numbers of people and involve trillions of dollars. There is nothing vague about wanting to see data validation before such regulatory decisions are made.As the satellite data doesn’t seem to be seen as very relevant to IPCC for policy makers( although not to me), we had better check to see whether the only existing surface station data and analyses are robust and relatively error free.Suitable for purpose,so to speak.

  37. 937
    cm says:


    A quick comment. It is really private correspondence? Was it done on their home PCs? Or was it done at work on computers owned by the CRU? In the US, when you right an E-mail at work, your work owns the E-mail. If the UK is the same, CRU owns the E-mails.

    As for finding who did it, if it was a hacker who knew what they were doing, you will probably never find them. Your only hope in finding them is if it was an inside job and the person who did made mistakes.

    No need to post this if you do not want it to go through.

  38. 938
    Mike Donald says:

    Lotta posts but I especially like #425, #451 (Gavin’s reply) #562 (Warming pause~) & #597


    Does Doctor Gavin A. Schmidt meet the following criteria?

    made a difference to their community or field of work?

    brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation?

    exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service?

    demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship?

    carried the respect of their peers?

    changed things, with an emphasis on achievement?

    improved the lot of those less able to help themselves?

    displayed moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices?

    If so here’s the website. And I’m not prone to chucking my panties on the stage.

  39. 939
    tharanga says:

    I hope you have a grad student or somebody helping you with this deluge of comments. It’s not as if this is your job.

  40. 940
    CM says:

    The thread on this is the Augean stables and Gavin’s doing the work of Hercules fielding it all. Fantastic.

    To all those who “congratulate” RC on the “new openness” in its comments policy, however, don’t get your hopes up. RC mainly screens out tiresome crap innuendos of scientific fraud. The only difference with this thread is that, for once, tiresome crap innuendos of scientific fraud are on topic.

    [Response: ;) Still screening out the people who find it interesting to wish various nasty diseases upon us, encourage us not to breathe anymore, or whose fantasies regarding prison life reveal a little more information about them than I’d ever want to know. – gavin]

  41. 941
    Tom Scott says:

    Gavin – you’re doing a truly heroic job, dealing so patiently and tirelessly with such a vast flood of ill-informed nonsense.

    Unfortunately, I think you have about as much chance of getting through to most of these ‘sceptics’ (‘credulous, paranoid nitwits’ would be a better description) as you would trying to convince a 9/11 ‘truther’ that the Twin Towers were not in fact destroyed by a US government demolition team. Evidence is only of interest to them to the extent that it can be twisted to support their delusions of a global conspiracy.

  42. 942
    Adder says:

    926 ubu:

    “Re #865 on h-index

    “Mine is somewhere in the 30’s I think. – gavin]”
    Accurate as ever Gavin.
    Scopus has you on 23; which is better than my 20

    Accurate as ever, indeed. ISI has Gavin’s h-index at 30.”

    Ubu, you might want to remove the medicine papers of “schmidt ga” from the set, the result will then be close to the Scopus result.

  43. 943
    Reader says:

    Re #807:
    You showed the response from Phil Jones (whose H-index is 52. it is outstanding, by the way). However, the reply from Michael Mann simply said “I’ll go with 62….”, which is just outrageous after Dr. Jones had explained and said 62 is the wrong number.

  44. 944
    Rina Groeneveld says:

    I just read a comment (no. 907), stating:
    “After all, most skeptics with any credentials at all are being paid by CEI, API, etc. Why grant them equal status? As far as I’m concerned, they are barely human.”

    I’ve been pretty much a fence-sitter on this matter,not having the scientific knowhow to judge the matter for myself. But I can see insults and vitriol for what they are. I hope that this kind of attitude is not typical for scientists (on either side of this issue), no matter how frustrated one becomes. I remember reading once that half of what we think we know is wrong. So that means that one lot of you is wrong and those of you who are right are wrong about some other issue. Those of you who are married men can ask your wives – they’ll tell you what you’re wrong about. ;-)

  45. 945
    Martin Vermeer says:

    Scott A. Mandia #900: I think you got me mixed up with Bart Verheggen on your last slide…

  46. 946
    Rafe says:

    Gavin, I want to commend you for your tenacity in replying to so many postings. Next I hope you find the time to comment on my perceptions based on a few emails (and I hope you are not offended by the term “Global Warming Click”):

    – Republicans in Congress = Thugs (politics and science; not a good mix)
    – Any paper disputing the global warming click’s position = poor peer review; based on faulty data; should never have been published
    – Any scientist disputing the click’s position = thickheaded; mediocre; from a not so well established institution of higher learning (just plain old name calling)

    Furthermore, the “click” is so well knitted members do not seem to be able to publish a single article without each other’s review, coordination and concurrence. It is like the group has given-up on any independent thinking for fear of stepping outside their storyline or agreed upon findings and conclusions. If the data is so conclusive, that not a single paper or scientist should be able to deny it without being “ridiculed”, why the “insecurity” if you will?

    Best of luck Sir. I realize the predictions you attempt through modeling and simulations are not simple. I believe your biggest problem was allowing Mr Gore to hijack the work of the group. Perhaps the arrogance a politician brings to the debate (along with the money from special interest groups) has clouded every scientist’s opinion, pro and against this matter.

    V/r, Rafe

  47. 947
    Timothy Chase says:

    CRS wrote in 922:

    I cannot tell you how damaging this might be, but since public interest in, and belief in, our science is now flagging, this may in fact be a watershed event. I’m expecting that our cause is thrown back years, if not permanently.

    I do not think that this particular event sets us back much at all. It plays well with the choir — but beyond the venues that denialists frequent it really hasn’t received much “positive” exposure. Perhaps the most notable exception is the botched piece by Andy Revkin written in his usual style of “lets present both sides” as if they were morally and intellectually equivalent.

    The flagging interest in global warming is I believe largely the result of the world economic turndown. People are more concerned with “immediate priorities,” not long term concerns such as the severe water shortages that will be the result of global warming in Asia for more than a billion roughly mid-century. Not the destruction of US agriculture in the latter part of this century under business as usual scenarios, the mass starvation that will result from widespread drought, or for that matter the possibility that large parts of the globe will be rendered uninhabitable during the summers in the early part of the next century.

    Economic short-term considerations are “more pressing,” and in this context people find it more convenient to doubt the very existence of global warming, its anthropogenic origins and the severity of its eventual effects upon our younger generations. Rather unethical, very short-sighted and quite human.

    No doubt the lack of concern will begin to change as the economy recovers, jobs return and more of the effects of climate change become apparent. But you are right about how the current drop in interest in global warming has set us back. The lack of courage on the part of many of our politicians will result in more long-term investment in infrastructure devoted to the use of fossil fuel. Promising companies devoted alternate energy dry up and blow away due to lack of investment during this economic crisis. And it will take us much longer to reverse the course we call “business as usual.”

  48. 948
    Joseph Hunkins says:

    Gavin – as a key NASA and climate player you are in a position to help change what appear to be very lenient attitudes towards attempts to thwart full and total compliance with every FOIA request. Please do that. Now.

  49. 949
    J. Bob says:

    #893 – Hank

    Here is a more realistic result of the East English data from 1659-2008, using a 40 year convolution filter.

  50. 950
    dhogaza says:

    More or less off topic but I’m curious … last Wednesday hitting led to a generic blog cover page with no content, as though the site were being restored …


    Coming soon: Another fine website hosted by WebFaction.
    Site not configured

    If you are the owner of this site and weren’t expecting to see this message, it could happen for a number of reasons:

    * You recently created a new website record and visited it before it got set up …

    Was this related to the hack attempt the day before, where it was attempted to upload the purloined server content as a post to real climate?

    [Response: Yes. We took the site down completely when we discovered the hack in progress. – gavin]