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

Memorandum submitted by John F Kelly (CRU 51)


  1.1  The Peer Review of Scientific Publications is the bedrock of scientific integrity and any corruption of the process does untold damage to science. The revelations of the CRU and other "e" mails identify that the manipulation of Peer Reviews can take many forms and have a corrosive effect on the particular profession as a whole. The perpetuation of such practises by senior scientists within an academic institution, and so called leaders in their particular field, is a doubly damaging example to students and newly qualified professionals. Unfortunately, the practice is not new and the academic institutions have appeared to have had no appetite to grasp this long running problem.

  1.2  What is particularly alarming is that this is not the first time that this charge has been levelled at UEA/CRU staff with regard to Climate Science. When the Wegman Committee reported in 2006 on the charges brought against Dr M Mann (Penn State), regarding wrongly manipulated data, relevant to the infamous "Hockey Stick" air temperature presentation, which incidentally was almost a logo for the IPCC and Mr Al Gore, a very strong conclusion was that a classical social network existed, resulting in well defined cliques, one of which included Dr M Mann (Penn State), Professor P Jones (UEA/CRU), Professor K R Briffa (UEA/CRU) and Dr T Osbourne (UEA/CRU).

  1.3  The effect of these "cliques" can be readily seen in published papers by Mann, Jones and Briffa and suggests that the "independent reconstructions" of air temperature profiles for example are not as independent as one might conclude. Wegman reported that in twelve major air temperature reconstruction papers the same proxy data was used. It is therefore not surprising that the papers would obtain similar results and cannot really claim to be independent verifications. This then leads on to the highly undesirable practice of authors of policy related documents, like the IPCC report, being the same people that constructed the academic papers referred to.

  1.4  It is quite obvious from the disclosed "e" mails that a high proportion of the contentions regarding the "fudging" of results, and the "cherry picking" of proxy data, is centred on analytical manipulation of the raw paleoclimatological data, particularly where very low signal to noise ratios are dealt with. The Wegman Committee, with regard to their investigation involving Dr M Mann, concluded that ... "As Statisticians, we were struck by the isolation of the paleoclimate community that rely heavily on statistical methods, yet do not seem to be reacting with the mainstream statistical community. The public policy implications of this debate are financially staggering and yet apparently no independent statistical expertise is ever sought".

  1.5  The politicization of academic endeavour, particularly in areas where very substantial amounts of public funding, and risk to human lives is at stake, necessitates the utmost level of scrutiny for formal publications. The majority of paleoclimate academic publications involve a high degree of complex statistical analysis, and it is suggested therefore that the Peer Review process should always include a Professional Statistician.

  1.6  It appears to be common practice for associate editors of academic journals to select referees from the list of references in the submitted paper. If authors are in a tightly coupled group, errors can continue to be propagated or in fact reinforced.

February 2010

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