Daniel Cressey; cross-posted from The Great Beyond
Update:The CRU has now reponded to Daniel Cressey’s request for comment on the Sunday Times article discussed below. See the CRU statement below the fold.
The fallout from the hacking of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia continues this week, with huge attention still focused on the controversial content of leaked emails between leading climate scientists.
The university said on Saturday that 95% of the CRU climate data set concerning land surface temperatures has been made available to the public for “several years” and that all data will be released as soon as they are clear of non-publication agreements. A key complaint of climate change sceptics is that the unit has been withholding information and the leaked emails show a conspiracy to keep raw data hidden.
Another twist on this complaint appeared yesterday in the Sunday Times. The paper declared:
Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.
The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
There have been previous claims that CRU destroyed data. At the start of last month – before the emails leaked – the Competitive Enterprise Institute think tank claimed that the unit “destroyed the raw data for its global surface temperature data set because of an alleged lack of storage space”. The Competitive Enterprise Institute describes itself as “dedicated to free enterprise and limited government”. Its funders have included automotive industries and oil companies.
That claim from the CEI was refuted by the CRU. Greenwire reported on this shortly after the CEI press release:
Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, said that the vast majority of the station data was not altered at all, and the small amount that was changed was adjusted for consistency. The research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data from its database because the stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends, Jones said.
Refuting CEI’s claims of data-destruction, Jones said, “We haven’t destroyed anything. The data is still there — you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center.”
We’ve asked the university that hosts the CRU for a response to the Sunday Times article.
In other CRU-news, Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says the unit’s scientists couldn’t have biased the IPCC even if they wanted too.
“The processes in the IPCC are so robust, so inclusive, that even if an author or two has a particular bias it is completely unlikely that bias will find its way into the IPCC report,” he said (Guardian).
“Every single comment that an expert reviewer provides has to be answered either by acceptance of the comment, or if it is not accepted, the reasons have to be clearly specified. So I think it is a very transparent, a very comprehensive process which insures that even if someone wants to leave out a piece of peer reviewed literature there is virtually no possibility of that happening.”
The CRU has now responded to the Sunday Times article with the following statement:
No data has been lost. The collection of land surface air temperature data by the Climatic Research Unit goes back to a time when there was insufficient computing data storage capacity to retain all versions of data records on computer – unlike today when all versions may be kept thanks to greater storage capacity.
Sometimes quality control will have been undertaken in CRU and, in the case of some records that were first assembled during the 1980s, it is the quality controlled data and not the original raw data that have been kept in digitised form. How these figures were arrived at is explained in published scientific papers from which the raw data could be retrieved.
Much of the earlier data exists in World Weather Records volumes (published by the Smithsonian Library) and, of course, original data will still be available from the appropriate national meteorological services.
Around 95% of the data have been in the public domain for several years, through the Global Historical Climatology Network. The Climatic Research Unit and the Met Office Hadley Centre have already made known their intention to publish all data, once permissions have been secured from the appropriate national meteorological services which own them.