Friday, December 04, 2009

Independent Review Of Hacked Emails To Be Complete Spring 2010

Dec 3: The University of East Anglia (UEA) announced that Sir Muir Russell KCB FRSE will head the Independent Review into allegations made against the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) [See WIMS 11/24/09]. The Independent Review will investigate the key allegations that arose from a series of hacked e-mails from CRU. On November 20 it was reported that hundreds of emails were illegally obtained by hacking the server at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at UEA in England. The emails have been posted on the Internet and many climate change opponents are claiming they reveal conspiracy in the scientific community regarding the science behind climate change. According to a release from UEA, The review will:

1. Examine the hacked e-mail exchanges, other relevant e-mail exchanges and any other information held at CRU to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice and may therefore call into question any of the research outcomes.

2. Review CRU’s policies and practices for acquiring, assembling, subjecting to peer review and disseminating data and research findings, and their compliance or otherwise with best scientific practice.

3. Review CRU’s compliance or otherwise with the University’s policies and practices regarding requests under the Freedom of Information Act (‘the FOIA’) and the Environmental Information Regulations (‘the EIR’) for the release of data.

4. Review and make recommendations as to the appropriate management, governance and security structures for CRU and the security, integrity and release of the data it holds.

Sir Muir will have the discretion to amend or add to the terms of reference if he feels necessary, devise his own methods of working, and call on appropriate expertise in order to investigate the allegations fully. The University has asked for the Review to be completed by Spring 2010 and this will be made public along with UEA’s response.

Announcing the Independent Review, Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor said, “The reputation and integrity of UEA is of the upmost importance to us all. We want these allegations about CRU to be examined fully and independently. That is why I am delighted that Sir Muir has agreed to lead the Independent Review and he will have my and the rest of University’s full support.”

Sir Muir Russell, Head of the Independent Review said, “I agreed very willingly to Professor Acton’s request to undertake this Independent Review. Given the nature of the allegations it is right that someone who has no links to either the University or the Climate Science community looks at the evidence and makes recommendations based on what they find. My first task is to scope the project, gather the information I need and source the additional expertise that will be required in order to investigate fully the allegations that have been made. Once this has happened I will be in a position to confirm timescales for publishing the review.”

In a related matter, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued a statement and references to two of its reports. The statement said, "Past controversies over historical temperature trends and access to research data have resurfaced amid a stir over old e-mail exchanges among climate scientists that were stolen from a university in the U.K. Two National Research Council reports in particular address these issues. Guiding principles for maintaining the integrity and accessibility of research data were recommended in a report released earlier this year, and a 2006 report examined how much confidence could be placed in historical surface temperature reconstructions."

NAS referenced its report, Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age, which recommends that researchers -- both publicly and privately funded -- make the data and methods underlying their reported results public in a timely manner, except in unusual cases where there is a compelling reason not to do so.

NAS also referenced its report, Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Past 2,000 Years, examined what tree rings, boreholes, retreating glaciers, and other "proxies" can tell us about the planet's temperature record, and in particular how much confidence could be placed in a graph that became known as the "hockey stick," which depicted a steep rise in temperatures after a 1,000-year period in the last few decades of the 20th century. NAS said, "The committee that wrote the report found sufficient evidence to say with a high level of confidence that the last decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years. It said less confidence could be placed in reconstructions of temperatures prior to 1600, although proxy data does indicate that many locations are warmer now than they were between A.D. 900 and 1600. Proxy data for periods prior to A.D. 900 are sparse."

Access the release from UEA (click here). Access links to all of the emails (click here). Access the statement from NAS and links to the two referenced reports (click here).