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

Memorandum submitted by Peter Taylor (CRU 50)

  I would like to contribute to the issue concerning the "integrity of science" and the question of independence of the two data sets, as outlined in the Committees' questions:

    What are the implications of the disclosures for the integrity of scientific research?

    How independent are the other two international data sets?


Involvement as a scientist on climate issues

  1. I work in a small capacity as a professional ecological advisor on land use issues but I have a long history (since 1978) of involvement in science and environmental policy, particularly on global pollution issues. Currently, I sit on an advisory panel for a National Trust and Forestry Commission project in the Lake District. Between 2000-03, I sat on the joint Countryside Agency/DTI national advisory group on the Community Renewables Initiative and also produced under contract the first visual and landscape impact studies of renewable energy strategies (see During this work I have come to have an appreciation both of the potential impacts of climate change and of the remedies proposed to deal with it. I have a professional interest in identifying the strength, speed and future direction of such changes.

  2. In order to answer some key questions in my own mind about global warming—as presented by computer simulations, I undertook an in-house three years in-depth study of the background science as represented in the peer-reviewed literature of the IPCC. I wrote a publicly available report (with many thousands of free downloads from my website) and eventually, in response to a publisher's request, "Chill: a reassessment of global warming theory" in June 2009.

  3. My qualifications for undertaking the review of computer-led climate science are drawn from over 20 years experience analysing and critiquing atmospheric and oceanic dispersion models as used in the development of toxic and nuclear waste disposal practices, as well as accidental discharge scenarios. My work has been sponsored my national governments (including HMG), the EU and the UN—and at times, Greenpeace. I have experience of the whole process from science to policy that is exemplified by the IPCC process (CV and peer-reviewed publications are available).

  4. I hope that my past work demonstrates a commitment to the environment and to the due and correct processes of science. My reasons for writing to you are twofold:

    (i) Having read virtually all of the emails and annotated computer coding, and given my background knowledge of the science issues, I am appalled at the disrespect for the rules of science that are evident in those exchanges.

    (ii) These attitudes most certainly affect the science—indeed, they explain why the science has become so heavily criticised. The science has never been "sound" nor "settled". This is the spin of IPCC and those scientists closely connected to that process. What has happened is that legitimate criticism of the modelling process (simulation of earth systems) has been suppressed, the peer-review process subverted, data with-held from critics and in some very important respects, data has been manipulated to conform with expectations and prior commitment.

    (Please note that my book devotes several chapters to the peer-reviewed science that the IPCC either ignores or marginalises, and I would be happy to support this conclusion with a detailed presentation that the lay-person can follow.)

  5. Unfortunately, the time schedule and deadline of the Committee has clashed with a research trip to the US—(away from 28 January to 10 February) for conversations with some of America's leading climate scientists on natural cycles and modelling, and this has delayed my submission.

  6. If I can be of direct assistance, please mail me and I would be happy to come before you in a session. I would naturally urge you to read my book—which I understand was delivered to various Select Committee libraries some months ago.


"Removing the Blip"

  7.  In the exchange with Drs Trenberth and Jones, there is a collusion to "remove" an unexplainable (apparently) "blip" in the global temperature rise.

8. Global average temperature record

  9. The blip relates to the period 1920-40, when global temperature rise accelerated beyond the steady rate observed since the mid 19th century (and when carbon dioxide levels were much lower) and then dropped (when carbon dioxide levels were rising quickly). The steepness of the first rise is comparable to the later rise from 1980-2000 (essentially the main "global warming" period without which there would have been no alarm). After 1940, temperatures fell into a trough and did not regain that level until 1980.

  10.  Many climate scientists regard the longer-term rise from about 1850 as part of a cycle and hence natural "recovery" from the trough of the Little Ice Age of the 15th -18th century, and from the peal of the 12th-13th century when the Viking settlements were active in Greenland. This is the view, for example, of Professor Syuin-Ichi Akasofu, the recently retiring director of the International Arctic Research Centre. As a leading geophysicist and head of the inter-disciplinary institute, Akasofu is in an excellent position to judge the science. Furthermore, it is generally agreed that "global warming" is most pronounced in the Arctic.

11.   Temperatures in the Arctic:

  If we look at the Arctic, we find the "blip" is amplified. In the figure below the two peaks of the cycle can clearly be seen (there was a slightly higher spike in 2007-08 but temperatures now appear to be falling). This graph was taken from NOAA's 2006 Arctic report card and is Fig 18, p 137 in "Chill".

  12. This "double hump" pattern is most marked in the northern hemisphere (in the USA, the land temperature record for the 20th century was in 1934). It would not be possible to conclude from this that air temperatures were responsible for the recent Arctic "melt-down"—which is due to incursions of warm ocean water from further south—see "Chill".

  13. This pattern is known as the Arctic Oscillation and caused by reversing cyclonic/anti-cyclonic patterns that also affect the North Atlantic and North Pacific. The phase of the AO changed around 2007, and high pressure systems that were responsible for the post-1940's cooling are now repeating, bringing cold winters again to Britain.

  14. This dip and the "blip" phenomenon is so powerful that it registers in the global average record and requires explanation—particularly since the cooling phase coincided with the main upward swing of CO2 levels.

  15. As an historical note: at first, the computer simulations that were made to essentially replicate this pattern, assumed the cooling was due to the release of counter-acting sulphur particles from the rapid post-war industrial expansion. However, that assumption was shown to be false in 2005 when data from satellite surveys from 1979 onwards were analysed (and published in the peer-reviewed journal Science). This revision was published in ample time for the IPCC report in 2007. IPCC acknowledged the change and the natural origin of the phenomenon, but did not highlight the implications—ie that the models were incorrect and could not be relied upon.

  16. Despite the views of Kevin Trenberth at NCAR in the USA, the "blip" is completely understandable in terms of oceanography and rather well-known oscillations of warm and cold periods in several key ocean basins—mostly in the northern hemisphere. In my critique of the IPCC, I found their understanding and review of this area of science very limited and not at all representative of the literature. Furthermore, in discussions at NCAR on 3 February, one of their leading scientists had "no idea" the previous understanding of the "trough" had recently been revised.

  17. During the 1920-40 "blip" the three northern oceanic basins—Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic were all "in phase" and "warm", and then they all turned cool. In the 1980-2007 period, all cycles turned "positive" and warm thus in part driving the "global warming" signal (in my view the satellite data supports 80:20 natural vs man-made).

  18. When the global temperature took off after 1980, that rise was assumed by physicists and computer programmers with a limited understanding of the real earth to be the power of carbon dioxide breaking through the natural patterns of variability. The models had programmed such variability as a "random" phenomenon and assumed the "dip" was anthropogenic (sulphur) and hence did not heed the warnings of it being a cyclic natural event.

  19. You can understand therefore that conversations between two leading modellers about how to "remove the blip" take on a powerful meaning. One of the pair talks of being able to modify the sea-water temperature record (which is very patchy and therefore subject to somewhat variable "homogenisation" techniques), but then that "still leaves the land surface record"—which in the northern hemisphere, is rather more substantial. (You can also refer to the exchanges between Trenberth and Prof Karten in Sweden, as the latter makes the point that the record for Fenno-Scandinavia does not reflect the graph used by Trenberth as input to the IPCC process. The record in Scandinavia shows a very strong "blip" over the 1920-40 period, thus producing the double hump rather than the expected "hockey stick"shape).

  20.  I think the pair of co-workers then give up—bemoaning that they do not understand why the blip is there in the first place. I have come to expect this lack of cross-disciplinary understanding as it was a feature of past failures at a UN level (and I have written about this in the peer-reviewed ocean pollution literature).

  21. This lack of understanding results as much from the compartmentalisation of the computer-led climate science community. But it is also further compounded by defensive attitudes in relation to an obvious prior commitment and an awareness of how the policy community require simple and certain directions.


  22. This section of the email correspondence—with which I am sure you will become familiar from the input of others, refers to the choice of station data (instrumental) to replace what was perceived as faulty tree ring data. The tree ring data did not match the model expectation (ie the "hockey stick" pattern of a sudden rise at the end of the period). Rather than admit this, the team-workers discuss using Michael Mann's "trick" of replacing the offending tree-ring data and using instrumental data in its place in a spliced graph.

  23. This is, indeed, "tricky" territory. The correct scientific approach would be to:

    (i) admit the tree ring data did not follow the expected pattern and thus show both graphs and fully explain the splice and the differences; and

    (ii) engage in an open discourse with the scientific community about the problem.

  24. The problem, however, is that the scientists concerned felt under some pressure from policy experts to minimise uncertainties in the data. To admit there was a problem at this level of the science would compromise that aim—and hence we see the kernel of the problem itself—these scientists are not acting purely as scientists—they are on an inter-governmental mission, with a great deal of prior commitment.

  25. The reliability of tree-ring data and its interpretation underlies a great deal of the past reconstruction of global temperatures and the issue of whether cycles are real. If they are real, then the "global warming" signal as computed by simulators and physicists based on unproven equations[85] disappears.


  26. Dr Trenberth, when referring to "hiding the decline" and feeling under pressure from critics in relation to the lack of more recent warming, uses the term—"we can't explain (the cooling ... and it is a travesty that we can't".

  27. He has amplified his meaning recently in the open literature (Trenberth, K E, 2009: An imperative for climate change planning: tracking Earth's global energy. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1, 19-27, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2009.06.001).—explaining that it is obvious the accumulated warming has gone somewhere—either to the deep ocean or into space, but the scientific monitoring network is not adequate to say where. He calls for more funding for modelling.

  28. This is only partly true. The oceanographic community as well as the satellite-monitoring groups have been grappling with this issue since 2006, when oceanographers identified from their instruments a major cooling of the global oceans. The oceans appeared to have lost 20% of their heat between 2003-05, but this was revised and by 2009, the overall conclusion was of a slight but steady loss of heat since 2002.

  29. Most oceanographers are looking at cloud patterns to explain the earlier warming and the current "cooling". However, it should be said that just at the point of ocean cooling, NASA satellites picked up a large pulse of heat leaving the planet for space (implying clear skies that had hitherto been cloudy and kept the ocean's heat in). NASA thought this an artefact.

  30. Trenberth does not refer to any of this work—and part of my journey to the USA was to put this question to climate experts in that community. Dr Jerry Meehl answered for NCAR (where Trenberth works): he was not aware of the recent re-analysis published in Science in 2005, nor the IPCC retraction in 2007. This is surprising and disturbing. In one sense, Trenberth is right, and may be misunderstood—he thinks it a travesty because so much money and expertise has been devoted to modelling and still the basic question of heat transfer around the globe is unresolved. But part of this lack of resolution is caused by attitudes, narrow focus and not looking at contradictory data because of a prior commitment.

  31. My conclusion is that global warming science is uncertain at some very fundamental levels and this has been hidden from public view by a constructed and false "consensus" presented by the IPCC. Almost all scientists with major funding are under pressure to accept that consensus and not "rock the boat" at crucial stages of policy formulation. It can clearly be seen in the emails that CRU and NCAR scientists are acutely aware of the need to provide a clear and certain signal to policy makers and avoid giving credibility to critics or highlighting the major uncertainties within the climate models concerning natural cycles.


  32. In summary, I would like to add my voice of concern, and to point to implications for science and for the future work of the IPCC, CRU and Hadley Centre, should you be making recommendations:

    (i) there is a clear attitude of isolation, defensiveness, avoidance of criticism and of not giving the "opposition" any credibility;

    (ii) even well-meaning, polite and scientifically credible interveners, such as Prof Karten are treated to simplistic and impolite brush-offs;

iii) this attitude carries over into outright subversion of the peer-review process by contacting editors and peer-reviewers, as well as with-holding of data and techniques of data sampling and manipulation (including loss or destruction of data such that other workers cannot replicate or even understand the process); and

    (iv) further, this attitude extends to influencing the process of Freedom of Information requests via contact and briefing of the officials against the requests.

  33. If we add this set of attitudes to attempts to bend data to fit the expectation ("removing the blip" and "hiding the decline") and then hide from view the "bending" process, then I conclude that the integrity of science has been compromised and the reliability of that data put in question. I think, in the latter case, this will become more obvious as other researchers are alerted to the process of "homogenisation" of station data. Russian scientists are already questioning the analysis, as are Australians (in addition to Karten in Scandinavia).

  34. Co-operation between independent research teams is normal—as are adjustments such that the two come to more or less the same answer. But here we have collusion between the two data teams in the US and the UK to protect a now politicised prior commitment—clearly, the two data sets are not independent enough and are more or less the same set of station data manipulated and processed in slightly different ways. Eventually, these "two" sets are fed into separate processes at GISS and Hadley where simulations are made and projections attempted. GISS and Hadley weight the regions of data in different ways and arrive at a slightly different index (for example, GISS adds greater weight to the Arctic region and this produces a 2005 figure for the highest annual global temperature, whereas Hadley's global peak is in 1998).

  35. I think that when it is revealed to the wider public that there are even deeper uncertainties with regard to the computer model, the operation of cycles and the role of cloud-feedback, there will be a major reassessment and the reliability of the IPCC will be in question.

  36. Unless Hadley, GISS and NCAR can put up a convincing and open defence, there is a distinct possibility that the global index to 1979, when the satellite era began, will be declared unreliable. That is certainly what I feel from the evidence of this email saga. If "global warming" is indeed as convincing as the modellers believe, then the future satellite record will demonstrate this with a more widely acceptable global index. From a policy perspective, there is time to evaluate a response—and in the meantime a "no-regrets" demand reduction strategy is the best policy. That would be an important issue for the STC to investigate.

February 2010

85   In the atmospheric physics of the model there is an almost threefold uncertainty in the power of carbon dioxide to warm the atmosphere because of poorly known feedback interactions with water vapour and clouds-these are discussed by IPCC but not highlighted as a real lack of consensus in the Summary Report-several scientists think IPCC err considerably toward positive feedback worst-case equations. If the critics are right, a doubling of CO2 levels would not breach natural temperature fluctuations (of plus or minus 1 degree Celsius). I summarise this position in my book by quoting the leading NASA satellite specialist Takmeng Wong, who in 2008, plainly highlighted the two possibilities of global warming; in terms of being driven either mainly by natural cycles or mainly by greenhouse gases. Back

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