Wellington - Jim Salinger, New Zealand's most prominent climate scientist, has been sacked by the state-owned National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) for talking to the media without permission, he said on Friday.
Salinger, who is internationally known as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said he was summarily dismissed this week after working for NIWA for 25 years.
The IPCC, which was established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former US vice-president Al Gore for their work on informing the world about man-made climate change.
The sudden sacking of Salinger, who has been involved for 30 years in leading research on climate in New Zealand and the South Pacific, and its impacts, especially on agriculture, stunned the scientific community.
'I can't understand it. It's not as though I'm doing bad science, it's not as though I'm under-performing, so I'm really astounded,' he told Television New Zealand.
Salinger said he had been accused of serious misconduct after he took part in a TVNZ programme about glaciers and did an interview with Radio New Zealand without prior permission.
Jeanette Fitzsimons, co-leader of the Green Party in parliament, said one of the country's foremost scientists had been 'frog-marched out of his job for what appears to be trivial and petty reasons.'
She said, 'New Zealand is on a slippery slope when trying to provide Kiwis with a greater understanding of our climate is a sackable offence.'
NIWA would only confirm that Salinger was no longer employed.