By Fiona Macrae-ENGLAND-One of the world’s leading climate change research centres has been accused of manipulating data on global warming after thousands of private emails and documents were leaked.
Hackers targeted the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit and published the files, including some personal messages, on the internet.
Among the most damaging is one which appears to suggest using a ‘trick’ to massage years of temperature data to ‘hide the decline’.
The CRU, which plays a leading role in compiling UN reports and tracks long-term
changes in temperature, has repeatedly refused to provide detailed information about the data underlying the temperature records.
It is thought that this could have triggered the theft. Climate change sceptics claim that some of the leaked messages discuss ways of manipulating data that fails to comply
with the establishment view that climate change is real and is being driven by man.
The email suggesting ‘hiding the decline’ is purported to be from Phil Jones, the unit’s
He denied trying to mislead, telling the TGIF digital newspaper he had no idea what he
meant by the phrase.
‘That was an email from ten years ago,’ he said. ‘Can you remember the exact context of an email you wrote ten years ago?’
Another message has been interpreted as an attempt to control the publication of
research carried out by skeptical scientists.
One way of doing this would be by loading the panel of researchers who review papers ahead of publication with experts who are ‘on-message’.
Talk of a figure being ‘shoehorned’ into a report from the UN’s International Panel of
Climate Change appears in another of the documents.
Although the data was stored on the university’s computer system, the email exchanges also involve experts from other institutions around the world.
A spokesman for the University of East Anglia said: ‘We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites.
‘Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all of
this material is genuine.
‘This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation.
‘We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and we have involved the
police in this inquiry.’
The Met Office collaborates with the East Anglia unit on a variety of research projects,
including global temperature records.
Spokesman Dave Britton said the two organizations had to turn down numerous Freedom of Information requests because they did not hold the copyright to the data.
‘There is a feeling we are hiding something,’ he said. ‘But we are not, we just can’t
release the data.’
He said that is was unclear whether some of the documents had been tampered
with, adding: ‘We are not concerned about the robustness of the science we are pushing but we are worried about it being interpreted out of context.’