Hacker reveals climatic research fraud

This is interesting. Apparently a hacker posted some private correspondence from The University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit online.

The homepage of the Finnish Pirate Party listed some excerpts. They are saying someone is trying to hide a decline in average temperatures or something.

From Phil Jones:
I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

From Kevin Trenberth:
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. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

I found this article too: Inthenews.co.uk

Hopefully some more news sites will pick this up. I don’t really know what to believe yet.

Climatic, though I’m sure they do very exciting work.

Damn it! I can’t believe I actually changed it to climactic. That makes no sense whatsoever in hindsight.

Even if I do think the data is possible, I personally wouldn’t believe jack posted second hand from a hacker. This sounds more like a movie script for a conspiracy movie. Now we just have to wait while the main protagonist tries to warn everyone but it’s going to be too late. Roll the scene of the tidal wave over New York.

Hard to tell from out of context messages, but this doesn’t sound at all like fraud. It sounds like climate modelers doing the things they do to try and improve their models, which includes running past data repeatedly through differently tweaked versions of their models to see which can best account for subsequent observations.

Well, according to the Inthenews article, some of the people involved have confirmed that the e-mails are genuine.

Yeah, the second article says that they’ve stated “some of” the data posted is genuine. No particular reason to know what’s real here and what isn’t. Context is hugely important too.

I’d be perfectly happy to hear authoritatively that the warming trend has stopped or slowed, but this isn’t exactly a move towards that.

“Some” are genuine. Be precise here.

I agree that the headlines may have been sensationalistic. Nevertheless it will be interesting to see if they find something incriminating.

From Phil Jones:
The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here! … The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick. Leave it to you to delete as appropriate! Cheers Phil
PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !


“Some” are genuine. Be precise here.

Yes. Bad wording on my part. Some of the e-mails from some people are genuine.

awesum if true. Don’t let the facts get in the way of the Cause.!111

Not quite the vast conspiracy some were hoping for.

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.


Nate Silver responds.

There’s not going to be a sensational smoking gun the way television drama has conditioned us to expect over the past several decades.

However, I do suspect that incidents like this are going to lead to climateaudit “apologizing” for sloppy methodology and questionable modeling choices for the next few years.

Hey, look at that. Context. How refreshing.

While, with so many scientists now making a good living based on global warming, I don’t doubt there is data manipulation going on, I find it really hard to believe the wording of those emails.

It does sound like really bad TV show writing. “Mr. President, we have captured the inquiries to the authorities for your birth certificate!” “Thank goodness! Those people are so relentless in their search for the truth, far more than we ever anticipated when we dreamed up this diabolical plot!” “Yes, Mr. President, but thankfully your brilliant timing on Afghanistan has them confused on which front to attack you!” (Together) - “BWahhhaaahhhaaaaa!”

Pretty good Joe Romm review.

Something about the way he presented the information in that Blog for me made it a bit confusing.

Yeah, he’s not the best information organizer or writer. Fantastic ability to hoover up content though, he’s pretty much my top-to-bottom round up of what’s going on in the field.

Why is that? You find it hard to believe that people with a political agenda and careers built upon a certain theory might express their real views via email?

I have very little doubt that those emails are pretty much all genuine. I hope this leads to climate scientists actually sharing their real data. Although that seems like it may be difficult, what with CRU deleting original files.

What this shows is that people who are too stupid to understand climate science are also too stupid to understand the e-mails of client scientists. I guess in retrospect this shouldn’t be too surprising.