The disclosure of climate data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Memorandum submitted by David Holland (CRU 24)


  1.  In the space available I shall only deal fully with the first of the three questions posed by the Committee regarding the implications of the release of the UEA emails. However, on the second, in regard to UEA's own enquiry, I would hope it would review the many breaches of the DPA and call for written and oral evidence from those named. On the third, regarding temperature datasets, if those using land based stations are being referred to, my answer would be, not sufficiently, and I am sure others will explain why.

  2.  The emails show that a group of influential climate scientists colluded to subvert the peer-review process of the IPCC and science journals, and thereby delay or prevent the publication and assessment of research by scientists who disagreed with the group's conclusions about global warming. They manufactured pre-determined conclusions through the corruption of the IPCC process and deleted procedural and other information hoping to avoid its disclosure under freedom-of-information requests.

  3.  The Committee should note that, despite the longstanding instruction from world governments in the Principles Governing IPCC Work[6] that its work should be open and transparent, only on the most recent AR4 IPCC Reports do we have any information on the assessment process and then only well after its publication. Only because of freedom of information requests by Canadian Stephen McIntyre, do we now have online the draft text that was sent out to Government and Expert Reviewers together with most of their comments and the Lead Authors' responses.

  4.  In 2007 I published a paper "Bias and Concealment in the IPCC Process"[7] in which I described the then known facts about scandals similar to, but far more important than that of the Himalayan glaciers. A reprint of this paper and one I presented at the October 2009 University of York Climate Week accompanies this submission, together with a folder of the UEA/CRU emails that I will refer to by number and an Appendix with other documents. With my submission these provide conclusive evidence of the wrongdoing I first described in 2007.


  5.  The emails cover the period from March 1996 just after the IPCC Second Assessment Report to November 2009. They chart the efforts by a small group to establish as a scientific certainty that the slight warming, which had then only been apparent for just over 15 years, was exceptional compared with pre-industrial times.

  6.  The IPCC's First Assessment Report had concluded that, because it had undoubtedly been warmer in earlier epochs with lower concentrations of carbon dioxide, it was not possible to say what part increased concentrations were playing in current warming. The suggestion that all might not be well came only from the emerging climate models run on computers.

  7.  The 1995 IPCC Second Assessment Report (SAR) said only that Palaeoclimate "work in progress" suggested that warming might be exceptional, but the scientists were even more confident of the alarming predictions of their models. Several Expert Reviewers strongly disagreed and insisted upon strong cautions in the text.

  8.  However, allegedly[8] under instructions from Sir John Houghton, who in turn was responding to a letter from the US State Department, UEA's illustrious alumnus Ben Santer deleted the cautions and precipitated a major dispute. This led to some dissenting scientists shunning the process. It also resulted in the addition of "Review Editors" to the IPCC assessment process.

  9.  However, as the recent Himalayan matter shows, this was ineffectual as Appendix A[9] to the IPCC Principles states that the lead authors have the final say over the text and the Review Editors are only required to submit a "written report" to the working group, who just filed them, or the Panel, who never ask for them.


  10.  After the SAR, the hunt was on for proof that the Mediaeval Warm Period did not exist on a global basis. In email 0926010576, on 6 May 1999 Mann tells Jones that, despite some differences he is "on board" and that they are "all working towards a common goal". However, in September 1999 in email 0938018124 Briffa is not so sure and stated:

    "I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards 'apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the proxy data' but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. We don't have a lot of proxies that come right up to date and those that do (at least a significant number of tree proxies ) some unexpected changes in response that do not match the recent warming. I do not think it wise that this issue be ignored in the chapter."

    "I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate."

  11.  Despite his misgivings Briffa was persuaded to stay on board and learnt to "hide the decline" in email 0942777075. The 1998-99 Mann et al.[10] "hockey stick" was shown in the 2001 IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR) as proof that it had never been warmer and was used mercilessly to suggest that it was caused by human activity.


  12.  The "hockey stick" was comprehensively discredited by a succession of peer-reviewed papers from McIntyre and McKitrick. As a consequence of Mann's refusal to disclose his methodology, in 2006 two Committees of the US House of Representatives investigated his work and commissioned studies from the National Research Council[11] of the USA and Wegman et al.[12] Both reports vindicated McIntyre and McKitrick, despite "team" efforts in email 1142469228 to get the NRC to water down their conclusions, particularly on the divergence problem now popularised as "hide the decline".

  13.  The Lead Authors of WGI Chapter 6 of the most recent 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) realised that unless they could disprove the work of McIntyre and McKitrick they could not claim recent warming to be exceptional. Caspar Ammann and Eugene Wahl were entrusted with writing two papers to this end.

  14.  However the Wahl and Ammann paper, which the Lead Authors intended to use, did not meet the published deadline in the timetable[13] for the assessment, by which papers had to be "in press" with final preprints available. By the WGI guidelines,[14] of the time, all references to it had to be removed. The paper was not published until after the IPCC Report itself.

  15.  As in the case of the Himalayan glaciers, Expert Reviewers and the Government for the United States of America challenged the Wahl and Ammann paper. Inexplicably, the Lead Authors contradicted their comments stating, without explanation, that the paper did meet the guidelines. The public however, as with the Himalayan matter, could not know this until too late.

  16.  A further problem with the Wahl and Ammann paper was that it relied, for its most important claim, upon a second paper by the same authors that was not even accepted for publication until after the IPCC Report itself was published. Its methodology was not published until August 2008. The reliance on this paper was also disputed in the comments. The response to these comments was to make assertions on statistical tests unsupported by reference to any peer-reviewed study.

  17.  At the time of writing my 2007 paper the "in-press" deadline issue was a mystery and I made Freedom of Information requests, first to Defra for the Review Editor's report of John Mitchell, the Met Office Chief Scientist. Defra, which was the IPCC "focal point" and also paid Mitchell's expenses, had no copies of any reports. In December 2007 Mitchell claimed not have a copy of his own report and emailed to suggest that I wrote to the TSU, for which he also claimed not to have an email address, which was soon to prove untrue.

  18.  Forwarding the copy of Mitchell's email secured the scanning and release to me, one by one all of the WGI reports and the email correspondence leaves no doubt that no government ever asked for or saw any of them

  19.  Mitchell's report raised more questions than it answered and on 22 February 2008 I asked further detailed questions of Mitchell. I also wrote to a second British Review Editor, Sir Brian Hoskins at Reading on 8 March. Though I did not learn of it until much later, Mitchell quickly found the email address for the TSU and sent my email to Susan Solomon, the WGI Co-Chair, and asked for "the IPCC" to answer. On 14 March, Solomon emailed back[15] telling Mitchell to answer himself but not to divulge anything not already in the public domain.

  20.  Solomon sent copies of her email to all 22 WGI Review Editors, including Hoskins and Miles Allen at Oxford, who I did not write to until 5 May. She also copied Keith Briffa and Renate Christ, the IPCC Secretary. Thus, before I had made any request to UEA/CRU they were put on notice not to make any disclosures.

  21.  I went on to make requests of the five public authorities involved in the IPCC assessment process: Defra was the IPCC "focal point" but professed total ignorance; the Met Office and the Universities of Reading and Oxford supplied Review Editors to supervise the assessment; the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (UEA/CRU) provided Lead and Contributing Authors.

  22.  Email 1219239172 makes it clear that resisting my request and those of others became a preoccupation of the Met Office, UEA/CRU and Reading.[16] Oxford simply did what Susan Solomon directed.[17]

  23.  On 9 May in email 1210367056, Jones sends my formal information request to "team" members Mann, Hughes and Ammann. He writes:

    You can delete this attachment if you want. Keep this quiet also, but this is the person who is putting in FOI requests for all emails Keith and Tim have written and received re Ch 6 of AR4. We think we've found a way around this.

  24.  On 24 May,[18] McIntyre explained, at, matters that were not previously known to most people. In particular that Briffa's response to one particular Expert Reviewer's comment could only have been cribbed from the unpublished paper of Ammann and Wahl which had not been cited or reviewed in WGI assessment and was not at the time accepted anywhere for publication.

  25.  On 25 May 2008,[19] McIntyre also explained that to circumvent the rules, which should have prevented the paper of Wahl and Ammann from being cited, WGI which was under Susan Solomon's direct control, retrospectively revised the deadline for papers to be in press from 16 December 2005, which was before the start of the Government and Expert Review period on the second draft, to 24 July 2006, which was almost two months after the review period. One important stipulation however was that the papers had to be published in 2006.

  26.  As a consequence, many papers not previously discussed or reviewed by the Government and Expert Reviewers were added the draft after the review period. Since it was not and was never likely to be published in 2006 the Wahl and Ammann Paper failed even this improper breach of the rules, as did several other papers in various chapters of WGI.

  27.  The email and memo[20] were exceptionally cleverly worded to make what the TSU were doing seem perfectly proper, but it utterly destroyed any claim that the WGI Report was Reviewed by Experts and fundamentally invalidated the IPCC assessment process.

  28.  In email 1155402164 dated 12 August 2006, Ammann tells Briffa he can't guarantee publication. The "smoking gun" however, is in email 1189722851. On 12 September 2007 after the paper is finally published Jones confirms that the deadline change to July 2006 was to get the Wahl and Ammann paper into the report. He writes:

    You likely know that McIntyre will check this one to make sure it hasn't changed since the IPCC close-off date July 2006!

  29.  The changed deadlines did however invite Expert Reviewers to also suggest papers to "improve the balance". McIntyre suggested[21] NRC, 2006 and Wegman et al., 2006. His comment was acknowledged by the TSU but has never been published by them, contrary to Appendix A of the IPCC Principles.

  30.  Armed with this new information on how Wahl and Ammann was smuggled into the IPCC Report, on 27 May 2008 I wrote to both UEA and the Met office with a detailed specification of what I was looking for. In particular I wanted all email discussion of the Wahl and Ammann paper and any suggestions of extra papers to be cited as a result of the revised deadline. The same day Tim Osborn in email 1211924186 asked Caspar Ammann if his emails were confidential. Ammann replied that he would look but began:

    Oh MAN! will this crap ever end??

  31.  In email 1212009215 on 28 May, Jones and Osborn discuss with David Palmer the FOI officer and Michael McGarvie, the Senior Faculty Manager, how to deal with my enquiry. There is no "presumption of disclosure", only a discussion of how not to disclose.

  32.  On 29 May 2008 in email 1212063122 Jones asks Mann:

    Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4? Keith will do likewise. Can you also email [Eu]Gene [Wahl] and get him to do the same? I don't have his new email address. We will be getting Caspar [Ammann] to do likewise

  33.  Three days after Jones asked Mann to delete all AR4 emails, the Met Office wrote to me with the third of four false statements they made before finally admitting to holding the data I had requested. On this occasion, whether by coincidence or not, they also claimed the information was deleted.

  34.  The Met Office, UEA/CRU, Reading and Oxford, in my view acting in concert, all refused to accept that any of the Information, which I requested was subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 which include a presumption for disclosure. Instead, and by agreement they misused the confidentiality exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and in the case of the Met office and UEA/CRU used the Ministerial veto of section 36 for good measure.

  35.  The emails released from UEA/CRU do indeed contain much of what I was asking for and prove my assertion that the WGI assessment was corrupted. In email 1147982305 Professor Neil Roberts of Plymouth makes some suggestion for improving the draft text of Chapter 6. Roberts says Briffa had told him it would be simpler if he made direct contact. Coordinating Lead Author Jonathan Overpeck writes back:

    We've been asked to keep everything squeaky clean, and not to get comments informally.

  He tells Roberts that he is getting the TSU to add him as an official Expert Reviewer and to put in his comments. Roberts was indeed added and made his comments.

  36.  The email was copied to Briffa who should have been well aware of the rules anyway but there is abundant evidence in the emails that Mann dealt directly. In email 1153470204 we find Briffa writing to Eugene Wahl, who is not an officially listed Expert Reviewer:

    I am taking the liberty (confidentially) to send you a copy of the reviewers' comments (please keep these to yourself) of the last IPCC draft chapter.

  Not only had Briffa asked Wahl to help him write the section[22] to discredit McIntyre and McKitrick, but also he is sent their comments to Wahl, whose paper they criticised, for him to answer.

  37.  In email 1154353922 is further evidence that the additional comments that I was asking for were indeed sent by the TSU via Overpeck, which should have included one from McIntyre. UEA/CRU recently confirmed that this email was deleted but is held by the police in the backup server. The email also confirms that the grossly improper extension to the review stage was decided at Bergen, when the Lead Authors first considered the Reviewers' comments calling for the removal of all references to the Wahl and Ammann paper.


  38.  Regrettably, the reputation of a significant number of climate scientists is irreparably damaged both, in the eyes of the general public and other scientists in different fields. Climate science generally but to some extent all science will be tarred with the same brush.

  39.  The recommendations I made in my 2007 paper remain valid and urgent.

  40.  Reproducibility is a more important standard than peer-review for policymakers. An open, transparent and reproducible paper, whether peer-reviewed or not, will be falsified if wrong before it can influence any policy. The faulty peer-reviewing, combined with lack of disclosure of the "hockey stick" and IPCC reports, has shielded them for years from legitimate challenge.

  41.  The British government needs to take responsibility, with others, for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which with them it jointly owns. As in any business failure, the fault lays with the owners not the part time unpaid volunteer workers that get carried away with their idealism and zeal.

  42.  Disgracefully, Defra claimed[23] to have no right to see the IPCC working papers, despite specific provisions in Appendix A to the IPCC Principles. The government should have invited the public to scrutinise drafts, Expert Comments and Lead Authors' Responses online, before accepting the Report. The many and varied eyes would not have let the errors pass.

  43.  At the forthcoming 32nd Session of the IPCC in October, the Government should honour its undertakings to promote the Aarhus Convention principles in that organisation after having conducted a proper public consultation on the matter, as required by the Convention.



The documents in this appendix, numbered 1 to 11 are referred to in the submission document.

1  Working Group One Timetable. Created 20 January 2006

2  Deadlines for literature cited in the Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report. Created 1 June 2005

3  Dr Susan Solomon's email to Prof. John Mitchell and others. Dated 14 March 2008

4  Email sent by Sir Brian Hoskins to the University of Reading Information Officer dated 15 July 2008

5  Letter sent by Registrar of the University of Oxford to David Holland 13 January 2009

6  Email sent by Working Group One Technical Support Unit to all Expert Reviewers on 4 July 2006

7  Attachment to 4 July 2006 Email "Guidelines for inclusion of recent scientific literature in the Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report". Created by Dr Martin Manning 1 July 2006

8  Review comment submitted by Stephen McIntyre dated 24 July 2006 13

9  TSU acknowledgement of McIntyre email dated 25 July 2006 14

10  Note from Stephen McIntyre to Channel 4 News concerning the answer Prof. Briffa gave in response to Channel 4 intended criticism of Briffa's actions in 2006 during the IPCC WGI assessment process.

11  Letter from Defra to David Holland dated 15 May 2008 25




February 2010

Mann, Michael E, Bradley, Raymond S, and Hughes, Malcolm K. (1999) "Northern hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: Inferences, uncertainties, and limitations," Geophysical Research Letters, 26(6), 759-762.

6 Back

7   Holland, David (2007): Bias and Concealment in the IPCC Process: The "Hockey-Stick" Affair and Its Implications, Energy and Environment, 18 (7 & 8).951-983. Back

8 .See also Edwards, P and S Schneider (1997). "The 1995 IPCC Report: Broad Consensus or 'Scientific Cleansing'?". Ecofable/Ecoscience, 1:1 (1997), pp. 3-9. Back

9 Back

10   Mann, M E, R S Bradley and M K Hughes, 1998: Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature, 392, 779-787. Back

11   NRC, 2006: Committee on Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years, (2006) National Research Council, National Academies Press. Back

12   Wegman E, Scott D and Said Y, (2006): "Ad Hoc Committee Report On The 'Hockey Stick' Global Climate Reconstruction", Back

13   See Appendix (1) or Back

14   See Appendix (2) This document has subsequently been deleted from the WGI server. Back

15   See Appendix (3) for Dr Solomon's email. Back

16   See Appendix (4) for an email from Sir Brian Hoskins, which attests to this. Back

17   See Appendix (5) for Oxford's Registrar's Letter Back

18 Back

19 Back

20   See Appendix (6) (7) for email and memo changing "in press" deadline Back

21   See Appendix (8) (9) for Stephen McIntyre's comment to TSU and their reply Back

22   See Appendix (10) for further analysis of this matter by Stephen McIntyre. Back

23   See Appendix (11) for Defra letter. Back

24   Not printed. Back

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