20 November 2009

CRU-Gate: Climate Conspiracy or Much Ado About Nothing?

UPDATE: Real Climate explains that it is in fact much ado about nothing.

So by now everyone is aware of the emails leaked/hacked/TBD from CRU. While the significnace of these emails has yet to be determined, it seems that they are indeed real, based on these comments from Phil Jones of UEA, who is involved in many of the emails. Here is an interview just published by TGIF (PDF):
The internet is on fire this morning with confirmation computers at one of the world’s leading climate research centres were hacked, and the information released on the internet. A 62 megabyte zip file, containing around 160 megabytes of emails, pdfs and other documents, has been confirmed as genuine by the head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, Dr Phil Jones.

In an exclusive interview with Investigate magazine’s TGIF Edition, Jones confirms his organization has been hacked, and the data flying all over the internet appears to have come from his organisation. “It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails.”

“Have you alerted police?”

“Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken.”

Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate.
“Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.” The files were first released from a Russian fileserver site by an anonymous tipster calling him or herself “FOIA”, in an apparent reference to the US Freedom of Information Act. The zip file contains more than a thousand documents sitting in a “FOIA” directory, and it prompted speculation that the information may have been in the process of being compiled for consideration of an information act request.

Jones, however, says the files were not contained in a “FOIA” directory at the Climate Research Unit. “No. Whoever is responsible has done that themselves.” “I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I’ll have to talk to other people here. In fact, we were changing all our passwords overnight and I can’t get to my email, as I’ve just changed my password. I’ve gone into the Climate Audit website because I can’t get into my own email. “It’s completely illegal for somebody to hack into our system.”
While the significance of the emails has yet to be determined, there are some questions already being asked:
In one email dating back to 1999, Jones appears to talk of fudging scientific data on climate change to “hide the decline”:
From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,mann@[snipped], mhughes@[snipped]
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Cc: k.briffa@[snipped],t.osborn@[snipped]

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. 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 [sic] from1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.

Thanks for the comments, Ray.

Cheers, Phil
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit
TGIF asked Jones about the controversial email discussing hiding “the decline”, and Jones explained he was not trying to mislead. “No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.”

Jones told TGIF he had no idea what me meant by using the words “hide the decline”. “That was an email from ten years ago. Can you remember the exact context of what you wrote ten years ago?”

The other emails are described by skeptic commentators as “explosive”, one talks of stacking the peer-review process to prevent qualified skeptical scientists from getting their research papers considered.
Surely lots more to come on this.