Memorandum submitted by Dr Timothy J Osborn
I have been a full-time member of staff
in the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East
Anglia (UEA) for over 19 years.
CRU is part of the UEA School of Environmental
Sciences; I am currently an Academic Fellow in the School.
I am submitting this in a private
capacity, rather than as a member of UEA staff; this document
is not intended to represent the official view of UEA.
Some of the emails and documents that
were hacked from our computer systems were authored by me.
Unwarranted criticism of my scientific
research and scientific activities has been made on the basis
of these hacked files.
My submission only intends to address
the first of the three questions:
What are the implications of the disclosures
for the integrity of scientific research?
I have chosen to address this via a set
of examples, taken from the hacked files and/or published discussion
of them. The purpose is to demonstrate how it is possible to distort
the public perception of our scientific work by misinterpreting
the content of these documents and emails or by using them out
It is impossible to draw firm
conclusions from the hacked documents and emails. They do not
represent the complete record, and they are not a random selection
from the complete record. They are clearly selected with a purpose
in mind and it is easy for people to fall into the traps set by
those who did the selection.
4. CRU HAS NOT
It has been claimed that CRU has destroyed
the raw temperature data recorded at thousands of weather stations
around the world and that form the basis for the CRU gridded global
land temperature dataset (CRUTEM3). It has further been claimed
that CRU destroyed these data so that CRU's work could not be
verified by others. These claims are untrue. The raw temperature
data were collected or collated by various National Meteorological
Services (NMSs) around the world and/or assembled by earlier initiatives
into multi-country data sets. CRU obtained these data from a range
of such sources, and documented them (US DoE TR017, 1985). CRU
does not have the responsibility to be an official repository
for such datawe are not a "World Data Centre"nor
specific responsibility to archive the data that were obtained
from these sources. These data are available from the original
sources (including the earlier collations), from NMSs, and from
a later initiative in the US that also assembled much of this
raw temperature datathe Global Historical Climatology Network
5. CRU HAS NOT
It has been claimed that CRU unscientifically
manipulated the station temperature data so that it would should
global warming, while the raw temperature data would not have
shown such warming. This is false on two counts.
First, if the raw, unadjusted, station
temperature data are used to construct a gridded global land temperature
dataset, then the resultant dataset shows clear warming with a
very similar magnitude as shown by the CRUTEM3 dataset. I
have done this myself, using the raw, unadjusted, data publicly
available from the GHCN. Anybody with a little computer programming
knowledge and who had spent a small amount of time reading the
peer-reviewed, published articles describing the construction
of CRUTEM3 could have done the same. The reason for this
outcome is that the adjustments applied to the temperature data
tend to cancel outsome increase the warming, some decrease
the warming. The warming itself is not artificially created
by the adjustments.
Second, the adjustments that were applied
were made for scientific reasons and were documented (US DoE TR022 and
TR027, 1986). They were also only necessary for a minority of
stationsthe majority did not exhibit clear "jumps"
and discontinuities when compared with neighbouring station records.
If the small number of adjustments made
have negligible influence on the global temperature record, then
why were they made? The answer is that, although the adjustments
tend to cancel when making global averages, they do not cancel
out in every individual region. If only the global average was
wanted, then perhaps the adjustments would not have been made.
But to construct a data set that allows monitoring and exploration
of regional patterns of temperature changeincluding, eg,
the detection of the particular "fingerprints" of response
to greenhouse gas and sulphate aerosol forcingsrequires
adjustments to be made so that all grid boxes and regions represent
the best evidence for their past temperature change.
6. CRU HAS NOT
Various claims have been made about apparent
manipulation of the peer-review system. Two examples of how the
full context (not available within the deliberately selected emails)
disproves such claims:
(a) It has been claimed that I used my role as a
member of the Editorial Board of the International Journal
of Climatology to give undue favour to an article by Ben Santer
et al. that was published in 2008. Specifically, it is
claimed that this email from me to Santer:
"just heard back from Glenn. He's prepared
to treat it as a new submission rather than a comment on Douglass
provided undue favour to Santer, because Douglass
et al. would not have a right to reply if the Santer article
was treated in this way. This is false. What was not released
in the disclosed emails, however, was my discussion with the journal's
editor, where I note:
"He (Santer) has
done a substantial amount of new work that will be included, hence
it is more than just a comment on Douglass et al."
With this proper context, it now becomes clear that
the reason for treating the Santer article as a new submission
was because it deserved to be treated in that wayit reported
many new scientific findings. It is worth also noting that treating
the Santer article as a new submission does not in any way reduce
the opportunity for Douglass et al to respond to Santervia
a comment on Santer et al. or via their own new submission
to this journal or any other.
(b) It has been claimed that an email from Keith
Briffa, in his capacity as an Associate Editor of the journal
The Holocene, to a reviewer:
"I now need a hard and if required extensive
case for rejecting"
was an inappropriate instruction from an editor and
was encouraging rejection of an article that supported the sceptical
view of climate change. This is again false. If an editor considers
that a submitted article is too poor to publish, then they can
reject it without sending it out for reviewso there was
never any need to instruct a review to reject it. The reviewer
had probably already indicated their intention to recommend rejection
of the article, and then it becomes obvious that what Briffa was
asking for were clearly stated reasons for the rejection so that
the author could be well informed of why their paper had been
rejected. This is good academic practice. Further, there is no
evidence that the article in question was authored by "climate
These examples demonstrate the ease with
which a partial record, taken out of context, can be used to erroneously
imply lack of scientific integrity.
7. CRU'S CONTRIBUTION
IPCC ASSESSMENT REPORTS
Much has been made of the comment:
"I can't see either of these papers being
in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehoweven
if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
First, the majority of climate science articles are
not discussed in the IPCC assessment reportsthere simply
is neither space nor need to do so. The focus has to be on those
that are most relevant to the requirements of the report, or that
represent greatest advancement in knowledge. It is quite reasonable
(indeed necessary) for IPCC authors to form and express their
opinion about which papers do or do not meet those requirements.
The remaining body of literature still provides the supporting
framework within which the IPCC reports are based. Second, these
papers were discussed in the IPCC report, demonstrating that the
IPCC writing and reviewing process works well. Third, these papers
have both received considerable criticism since the IPCC report,
perhaps substantiating the initial judgement about the quality
of these papers. Fourth, redefining the meaning of peer-reviewed
literature is not possible for an IPCC author and the final comment
is clearly flippant.
Criticism has also been made regarding
the referencing of Wahl and Ammann (2006) within the Palaeoclimate
chapter of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report. It has been suggested
that inappropriate pressure and/or bending of the IPCC rules occurred
to allow this article, which was not published until 2007, to
be referenced. This article was "in press" only a short
time before the IPCC deadline. Reading the emails between the
various IPCC authors involved in this part of the report, however,
demonstrates that there was no inappropriate pressure, and that
the inclusion of this reference was in accordance with the IPCC
rules. For example, this email:
"Based on your update (which is much appreciated),
I'm not sure we'll be able to cite either
The rule is that
we can't cite any papers not in press by end of Feb."
demonstrates the position wellif a paper is
not in press in the time indicating in the IPCC rules (end of
February 2006) then it will not be cited. There is a clear acceptance
of this rule, even if it would have prevented a relevant article
from being cited.
8. CRU'S COMPUTER
A small sample of my computer programming
code was included in the disclosed files. It has been argued that
comments within the code such as "Fudge factor"
and "shouldn't usually plot past 1960 because these
will be artificially adjusted to look closer to the real temperatures"
demonstrate that data have been manipulated in an inappropriate
and undisclosed manner. My programs that were highlighted on BBC
Newsnight that contained comments such as these were not the basis
for any published article or dataset, and thus are not a valid
indication of inappropriate data manipulation. If we do need to
make adjustments to data that are scientifically justified, then
we state clearly both the justification and the adjustment when
we publish the article or dataset. In relation to the second of
the two highlighted comments, it was simply a note that should
have read "
because these will have been artificially
" to remind myself that I had applied an
adjustment to this particular set of data (for the purposes of
exploring the consequences of recent trends for the calibration
of tree-ring temperature proxies) and that if I did plot them
it would give a false impression of the agreement between tree-rings
and temperature because of the adjustment. Thus, rather than indicating
that an undisclosed adjustment would be made, it was a warning
to avoid using adjusted data without realising it. To re-iterate:
I have made no adjustments to data except those that are scientifically
justified and stated in published papers.
Dr Timothy J Osborn
Climatic Research Unit
University of East Anglia