Embattled UK climate scientist steps down

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:53 PM GMT on December 03, 2009

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The embattled director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU), Dr. Phil Jones, announced that he will be temporarily standing aside as director. An independent review of his conduct in light of the emails illegally hacked from his computers last month is in progress. In a press release, Professor Jones said: "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support".

The University and the police are investigating the break-in, and it is currently unknown if this was the act of an insider or an external break-in. I think it is highly unlikely this was the work of an insider in a whistle-blower type of action, since a computer at realclimate.org was hacked into the same week (via a computer in Turkey), and the criminal attempted to upload the emails stolen from CRU to the realclimate.org server. This is not the sort of action a whistleblower would do. Dr. Gavin Schmidt of realclimate.org said in a comment yesterday that the CRU break-in appeared to have been done from the outside, into a backup mail server. It is unlikely the hacker acted alone, since hackers aren't typically intimately familiar with the details of the climate change science debate. The emails and code stolen were selectively culled by someone who appeared to have considerable expertise in climate science.

What did Dr. Jones do wrong?
So, what did Dr. Jones do wrong? For starters, he should have confronted the allegations raised by his critics immediately and talked candidly to the press about some of the specific accusations being made. For example, one of the emails contained the statement that he would like to "redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is" to exclude two questionable papers from the IPCC report. Well, that's not something a good scientist should seriously advocate, and is an impossibility, in any case. No one can redefine the peer-reviewed literature, since the rules for this are well-established an not subject to change. When I read the comment in the context it was made, it reads as a joke. There is no discussion in the hacked emails about how to go about redefining the peer-reviewed literature. In the end, the two papers Jones was referring to with this comment, McKitrick and Michaels (2004) and Kalnay and Cai (2003), ended up being cited and discussed in Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR4 report. Those intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming are spinning the comment differently, creating a controversy about something that is impossible to do, and was not being seriously suggested. Jones should have immediately spoken up to quash the hype on this comment.

The "trick" to "hide the decline"
Another area of concern is over a graph Dr. Jones helped construct in 1999 showing the "hockey stick" of Earth's surface temperature going back 1,000 years. This graph combined instrumental measurements made since the 1800s with older paleoclimate data (including data from tree rings) to show a continuous 1,000 year record of Earth's temperatures. The paleoclimate data after 1960 show a bogus decline in Earth's temperatures that does not agree with what modern thermometers have been measuring, due to a well-known variation in tree ring thickness as a function of time, referred to as "the decline". Thus, Jones elected to toss out the bogus paleoclimate data (using a "trick" to "hide the decline") rather than present it in the graph. The graph was not properly labeled to show this was done, so viewers of the graph would have had needed to be familiar with a 1998 paper published in Nature or the 1999 paper referenced in the caption on the graph, which explained this well-known data issue. The graph that Jones used his "trick" on was put into a 1999 report called the "WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate". The report was given to policy makers, but was never published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. No reputable climate scientist believes that the paleoclimate data since 1960 is of higher quality than the instrumental record (this is discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of the 2007 IPCC report). In order to make the "hokey stick" graph less confusing, removing "the decline" from the tree ring data is a reasonable thing to do--provided one labels the graph properly. The graph was not properly labeled. Does Jones' "trick" and failure to properly label the graph constitute data falsification, or was it merely sloppy science? The hacked emails contain no suggestions that the "trick" was done to intentionally fool people, and the "trick" never appeared in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, including the IPCC reports. In Dr. Jones' words, "This is well-known and is called the "decline" or "divergence". The use of the term "hiding the decline" was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure".




Figure 1. The WMO 1999 "hockey stick" figure (top) with climate reconstructions and instrumental temperatures merged, and a version (bottom) with the climate reconstructions (coloured) and instrumental temperatures (annual & summer in black) shown separately. Note "the decline" in the temperature obtained from tree ring data (green curve) in the bottom curve. Image credit: University of East Anglia.

Global warming contrarians are spinning the "trick" as reason to discredit the "hockey stick", claiming that the data was falsified to hide the fact that tree rings were telling the real story. Since the hockey stick was falsified, some claim, the entire science behind human-caused global warming needs to be questioned. This is plain ludicrous. The graph was never published in a scientific journal. Several updated versions of the "hockey stick" graph have been published in the ten years since the disputed graph was produced, and the "hockey stick" can be reproduced in essentially the same form excluding the controversial tree rings, using other paleoclimate data such as boreholes (See Mann et al., 2008, Figure 2). Furthermore, the peer-reviewed science supporting human-caused global warming is not based solely upon the "hockey stick" and the CRU data used for the last 150 years of the hockey stick graph. There are three separate data sets of global temperatures maintained by NASA, the CRU, and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, that all show essentially the same global warming. We also have evidence from nature herself in the form of plants and animals expanding their ranges poleward, the record loss of Arctic sea ice in 2007 and record loss of multi-year Arctic sea ice this year, the shrinking of mountain glaciers, reductions in the length of freeze season in many Northern Hemisphere lakes and rivers, the shifting of spring blooms earlier in most regions of the world, and on and on and on. Again, Jones should have spoken up immediately to kill the ridiculous hype being pushed by global warming contrarians about the importance of a 10-year old graph that is now scientifically irrelevant, and was never published.


Figure 2. The "hockey stick" of global temperature anomalies since 300 A.D., as published in a 2008 paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Mann et al.. Even if one excludes tree rings (blue curve), the hockey stick looks the same.

Resistance to releasing data to other researchers
The hacked emails also show that Dr. Jones resisted releasing his data to contrarians and urged others to delete emails regarding Freedom Of Information (FOI) related requests. Many countries protect their weather data under an international agreement called World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40, which prohibits the data from being made public (this is why wunderground can't give out the UKMET model forecasts on our web site, for example). About 5% of the CRU data fell in that category, making release illegal. However, deleting emails related to FOI requests is inadvisable and implies one has something to hide. The investigation should certainly pursue the issue of whether Dr. Jones properly handled the requests to turn over his data to outside researchers. Ideally, weather data documenting Earth's climate history should be free to everyone on the planet (I am not a big fan of WMO Resolution 40). However, another aspect to this issue is the time it takes for the scientists involved to prepare the data for release. Large, complicated data sets require extensive documentation and access to related computer codes in order to process them, and making the data available to every amateur investigator interested in the data puts an unfair burden on the scientists who maintain the data sets. In particular, an amateur climate science investigator named Stephen McIntyre, who runs the web site Climate Audit, has created such an issue. McIntyre, a retired mining executive and an investor, is not a professional scientist, but has been successful identifying several technical errors made in the published literature. He has also generated a huge amount of misleading and incorrect information over the years, and has done a tremendous amount of damage to the understanding of climate science. McIntyre is intent on discrediting the science of human-caused global warming--presumably for ideological reasons, since he has no obvious ties to the fossil fuel industry--and has generated a large number of Freedom of Information requests to further his cause. One of the hacked emails, from Dr. Ben Santer, complained that McIntyre's FOI requests were intrusive and unreasonable with no scientific justification or explanation given, and appeared to be a calculated strategy to divert Santer's attention and focus away from research. It's worth reading Santer's reaction to the hacked email affair to learn more. Given such tactics by McIntyre, Dr. Jones' resistance to FOI requests from McIntyre is understandable, but appears to have been poorly handled.

The science of human-caused global warming remains unaffected
None of the hacked emails reveal any conspiracy to publish falsified or "fudged" material in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The science of human-caused global warming will require no revision as a result of this affair. Baseless accusations of fraud, data manipulation, and conspiracy against climate change scientists stemming from the hacked emails are being massively hyped by the Manufactured Doubt industry in an effort to discredit climate scientists, since no flaw with the science can be found. Most of the public is in no position to distinguish good science from bad, so if you can create doubt, uncertainty, and confusion, you can win--or at least buy time, lots of it. The hacked email affair is all about politics, not science. Dr. Jones is an excellent scientist, but unfortunately was over-matched as a politician. It was hardly a fair fight--one scientist against the political might of the mightiest PR campaign against science ever waged, armed with some selectively culled stolen emails taken out of context.

Other posts in this series
The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy
Is more CO2 beneficial for Earth's ecosystems?

Next post
I'm working on a post called, "Don't shoot the messenger", and plan to run this Sunday or Monday.

Our Climate Change expert, Dr. Ricky Rood, will be in Copenhagen for Monday's start to the crucial COP15 climate change treaty negotiations. Be sure to tune into his blog for updates on the talks. Wunderground has provided financial support for several University of Michigan students to attend the talks, and I may be featuring portions of their blogs over the coming weeks.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting StormChaser81:


22.6 degrees in Montana


is that a random tidbit or do you live in Montana?
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I'm embarrassed and ashamed since it appears I missed a racist post and didn't flag it(?) :(
On the other hand -- Maybe I should be proud it wasn't in my vocabulary?
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Howdy, all!

Yikes, more stress & strife in the blog...may have to amble over to my own blog and start a snowball fight to ease the tension. In the meantime, I posted a brief Floodman update and funny video for anyone who needs a break from the debate.

:)
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Quoting JFLORIDA:



What? if one is in agreement because it references climatic data and one is in agreement because it is a Lobbying origanization?

Your criticism of Dr M isnt valid IMHO.

Beside you suggest climate funding would just disappear without GW. That wouldn't happen either. As a matter of fact they probably lose more funding with controversy. At least under the previous administration.


Man chill out, Your getting worse than JFV. These are peoples opinions, hold on lets say that again slowly O P I N I O N S, these will not hurt you. The bigger man would have just left it alone and P451 is the bigger man. =)

22.6 degrees in Montana
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Quoting JFLORIDA:


...showing us the spots they DON'T include in the "global" readings...
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A RICO case?!?!?!? ROFLMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting Gatorxgrrrl:
Stop buying crapp made in China.


Amen! not any easy thing to do but we can all try.

When I look around at the junk we buy, especially at Christmas, it is gross and at the expense of American jobs and at the same time enriching China!

Easier said than done.

I work in the maritime shipping industry, and based on what I handle for imports from China, it will be very hard to completely avoid Chinese products. Computer monitors, computer parts (CPUs, hard drives, video cards, motherboards, etc.), blenders, grills, cleaning products, humidifiers, cameras... all are from China.
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let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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155. hey, don't talk about me like that! LOL

j/k :)
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154. IKE
12Z CMC has come in line w/a GOM low. Posted frame is at 48 hours....

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Stop buying crapp made in China.


Amen! not any easy thing to do but we can all try.

When I look around at the junk we buy, especially at Christmas, it is gross and at the expense of American jobs and at the same time enriching China!
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LMAO...
:)
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While Dr Masters fusses about the Manufactured Doubt Industry, he is being rather hypocritical
since he is part of the GW Advocacy Industry.

The GW advocates have much too lose...which is why Dr Master's is spending the time and effort to defend these fraudsters.

I think there may be a RICO case here for an enterprising prosecutor.

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Seems to me like GW is happening. The average low for Spring, Texas is 43 for yesterday and our high was 48 and the average high was in the 60's plus we have a freeze warning for tomorrow with a 50% chance of snow

Statement as of 7:43 AM CST on December 03, 2009


... Freeze warning in effect from noon Friday to 9 am CST
Saturday...

The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston has issued a
freeze warning... which is in effect from noon Friday to 9 am CST
Saturday. This will be the first widespread freeze of the season.

An Arctic air mass is expected to plunge into the region Friday.
Temperatures are expected to drop to near or below freezing over
the northern portions of the area by mid afternoon. Temperatures
over the central and inland coastal locations should fall to at
or just below freezing during the late afternoon and early evening
hours.

Latest projections are that the northern portions of the area
could experience from 10 to 12 hours of below freezing
temperatures. For other locations... the approximate hours of below
freezing temperatures are as follows: western locations 6 to 8
hours... central locations including the Houston Metro 3 to 5
hours... near coastal area with 1 to 3 hours. Freezing
temperatures are not expected along the immediate coast and beaches.

Temperatures will warm above freezing soon after sunrise where
snow does not cover the ground.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures are imminent or
highly likely. These conditions will kill crops and other
sensitive vegetation.
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147. A sincere, courteous letter.

I wish to amend my earlier post about simple, economical things we all can do, easily, to help keep the planet from becoming a "cesspool", as one or two of you so aptly put it.

Stop buying crapp made in China. Now, I know for a fact this is a little harder and a little more expensive that some of my other suggestions. Have you TRIED to find an umbrella that wasn't made in China? I HAVE. And it wasn't easy, and maybe it wasn't much better...Thailand, I think.

BTW, there are some really decent items made in Canada in the Dollar stores, in the health and beauty area. I am a pragmatist and a realist, and pretty darn good at operating on a tight budget.
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Hello Dr. Masters-

I have enjoyed reading your opinions on this matter very much. Since you are in a position to dissect data and really understand it, I have been very interested in reading your blogs about the hacked emails.

The main thing I have against the GW crowd in America is that unless India and China cooperate fully, we (US citizens) could all buy Hybrids, become vegans, buy special TV's (Cal) and still not make a dent in the problem.

The notion that humans have ANY control over nature is just not one I am willingly ready to invest in. With the economy they way it is, unless other countries are going to spend the money I think the US is spinning it's wheels.

Moreover, I believe there are credible scientist on both sides and having politicians and Hollywood stars as spokespeople actually hurt the GW cause. Let science speak for itself. If I have a cold, I don't go to a rock concert or to a fundraiser, I go to a doctor. Let the experts do their jobs and keep the amatuers out of it.

thanks for all you do Dr. Masters.
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146. IKE
Quoting presslord:
IKE...I wish he'd charge for his blog...that'd keep a LOT of the riff raff out...


Maybe, but I'm already paying a membership. Granted it's only $5.00.

Just wish he had 2 separate blogs...one exclusively about weather. I notice he makes no mention about the SE USA snow event happening tomorrow and Saturday.

Have one blog about that and a separate one about......you know what.
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*inserts foot in mouth :P
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Quoting JFLORIDA:


Well since it also was a comment on GW in general I feel it should be resolved here. I think honesty should be maintained above all else.

If there was something valid presented that I ignored wouldn't then become "another case of AGW cheer leaders ignoring facts"?

When in actually facts were not presented.

Thank you for your input.



JFlorida and P451,
It's not going to be resolved today, or tomorrow. Was talkin' to Amy the other day, offline...as much as we'd like to tie up things up in nice neat packages, life is messy.

Time out for now? You're both buds to a lot of us, but this Nana has been kind of cringing.
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IKE...I wish he'd charge for his blog...that'd keep a LOT of the riff raff out...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting StormChaser81:


Of course I am, they count too. =)



haha I was hoping you'd see that :P
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The science of human-caused global warming remains unaffected

Shame on you Jeff Masters for supporting a bunch of garbage! You waste an entire blog talking about the "manufactured doubt industry" but that says NOTHING about AGW....If you want some real info about the manufactured AGW hoax, go read sebastianjer's blog. Or better yet, go research Roy Spencer, Dr Lindzen, John Cristy, etc...
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Quoting tornadodude:


youre not counting the half-million names JFV uses are you? LOL :P


Of course I am, they count too. =)
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138. GW20
When Jon Stwewart of Comedy Central starts making fun of East Anglia's man-made global warming scheme it would seem that the end is near.
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135. for the Pearland area...


Friday Night
Mostly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of snow and rain in the evening...then partly cloudy after midnight. Breezy...colder. Lows around 30 inland...in the mid 30s coast. Inland...north winds 10 to 20 mph. Coast...north winds 25 to 35 mph in the evening decreasing to 20 to 25 mph after midnight.

see, you're chances are pretty good relatively speaking! :)
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:)
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GW..A topic on WU almost 100% guarenteed to start a argument.

The world's climate goes through natural warming and cooling cycles, mostly dependant on the Sun's output. Some say the climate warms, then CO2 increases. Others say the CO2 is increasing, creating the warming. I do not know which scenario is correct.

Dumping pollution into the envirnoment is not "wise stewardship"! I wouldn't put garbage on my dinner plate and eat it with my food. I don't believe anyone would. The technology is here ALREADY availiable to produce cost effective electricity out of wind, tidal, hydro-electric and solar. MAYBE the world should work and develop those technologies, it would be an AMAZING world if we did!

Once upon a time, the USA used to manufacture eveything form A to Z, in the 60's and 70's. Maybe we could put America back to work producing useful things!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
131. IKE
Quoting tornadodude:
JFLORIDA and P451:

would it be so hard to ask you to move your personal debates/attacks to WU-mail? I'm not trying to just single you guys out, but I think your debate has gotten a little personal... and it frustrates me to see this, that is why I am making this request.. obviously you dont have to listen to what I say, but maybe out of respect for our fellow bloggers this could be resolved or moved to personal email? thanks


I said this the other day and I'll say it again. I wish Dr. Masters had 2 separate blogs...one that dealt strictly with weather and the other one with....

I can't even type it......
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Tornadodude- Good point, but don't blame P451.
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119. Hey, that's "pro-choice welfare hippie", dear one, for I am aware that an eagle s*!t's out my check, which some might deem "welfare."

Whoops, clarification: I only get paid when I work, intermittently. I am not currently on the Eagle's dime.
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Quoting jiminnh:
I tend to believe that the earth is warming, but.... might be a bit conceited.

Then you would be wrong. The vast majority of the world's scientific community has proven this to be the case. Not Al Gore, not liberal democrats and not pro abortion welfare hippies. Virtually every major branch of science is in agreement on this.



alrighty (:
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124. oh, my...like a moth to the flame today, i see! LOL
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"pro abortion welfare hippies"

That's great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10492
Quoting btwntx08:
damn i'm so close to the snow still imay get some maybe :/


You may get a PLEASANT SURPISE tomorrow. The "strong El- Nino" is the BEST time for TX to get any real snow, the cold air is in place, and the short-wave will at least bring a rain/snow mix.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.