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Douglas J. Keenan: Reviews into the Climatic Research Unit's E-mails at the University of East Anglia
Thursday, December 9th 2010, 7:15 AM EST
Co2sceptic (Site Admin)
From: D.J. Keenan
To: Science and Technology Committee (UK Commons)
Sent: 1 December 2010 16:34
Subject: Reviews into the Climatic Research Unit's E-mails at the University of East Anglia

Pursuant to the reviews of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, oral evidence was heard from Lord Oxburgh, on 8 September 2010, and from Sir Muir Russell, Vice Chancellor Edward Acton, and Pro Vice Chancellor Trevor Davies, on 27 October 2010. Each hearing considered the fraud allegation against CRU Professor Phil Jones. The allegation was made by me. The following describes some issues that pertain to the allegation, and proposes a means of resolution.

The 1990 study

In 1990, the following study was published in the leading scientific journal Nature (note that Jones is the first author).
Jones P.D., Groisman P.Y., Coughlan M., Plummer N., Wang W.-C., Karl T.R.,

“Assessment of urbanization effects in time series of surface air temperature over land”, Nature, 347: 169–172 (1990).

Updated below by John O'Sullivan
This study concerns an issue with measurements of global temperature. As a simple example of the issue, consider a thermometer in the middle of a large field. Suppose that there was a city nearby, and over time, the city expanded to replace the field with asphalt and buildings. Then the temperatures recorded by the thermometer would tend to be higher, because asphalt, buildings, cars, etc. give off extra heat.

Many thermometers used by weather stations are in areas that have undergone urbanization. Thus, such thermometers might show temperatures going up, even if the global climate was unchanging. It is widely accepted that some of the increase in measured temperatures during the past century is due to many weather stations being located in areas where urbanization has occurred. A critical issue is this: how much of perceived global warming is due to such urbanization effects?

The latest (2007) assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers this issue The IPCC does not do original research itself; rather, it assesses research previously published in scientific journals. The IPCC assessment of the urbanization effects concluded that such effects are insignificant overall. One of the main studies cited by the IPCC to justify that conclusion is the 1990 study of Jones et al. The study of Jones et al. looked at urbanization effects in eastern China (as well as eastern Australia and western Russia). It found that urbanization effects there were insignificant. Eastern China has had much urbanization; so if the temperature measurements from there were essentially unaffected by urbanization, then that would suggest the temperatures records from other countries around the world were also little affected, in general. Hence urbanization effects are probably insignificant globally.

The study of Jones et al. is not the sole study relied upon by the IPCC report for its conclusion about the global insignificance of the urbanization effects. Hence even if the study were wholly invalidated, that would not imply that the conclusion was unsupported. On the other hand, arguments made in some of the other main studies have been strongly criticized (both in the peer-reviewed literature and on scholarly blogs). The Russell report rightly states that the study of Jones et al. “is important”.

Fraudulent claims

A problem with analyzing temperature measurements from weather stations is that the stations sometimes move, and that can affect the measurements. For example, one of the stations used in the 1990 study was originally located upwind of a city and later moved, 25 km, to be downwind of the city; such a move would be expected to increase the measured temperatures, because a city generates heat. It is obvious that when a station moves, the temperature measurements from before the move are not, in general, directly comparable with the measurements from after the move.

The 1990 study of Jones et al. claims that the weather stations that were studied “were selected on the basis of station history: we chose those with few, if any, changes in instrumentation, location or observation times”. That claim is essential for the study.

Jones et al. asserted that they obtained the Chinese data from a report that was jointly published by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The DOE/CAS report states that its purpose is to present “the most comprehensive, long-term instrumental Chinese climate data presently available”. The report also states, though, that for a majority of the stations studied by Jones et al., “station histories are not currently available” and “details regarding instrumentation, collection methods, changes in station location or observing times … are not known”. For a minority of the stations, histories are available: over half of those had substantial moves. Thus, there is strong evidence that the claim of Jones et al. to have selected stations on the basis of their histories is fraudulent.

Potential problems with the claim of Jones et al. were first raised on the Climate Audit blog of Steve McIntyre. I subsequently investigated. It became clear that fraud had occurred, but that Phil Jones was innocent: the evidence strongly indicates that, for the Chinese data, Jones trusted and relied upon one of his co-authors, Wei-Chyung Wang.

Wang is a professor at the State University of New York at Albany. In 2007, I filed a formal allegation of research fraud with the University. Details are given in a peer-reviewed article that I published in the journal Energy & Environment (2007), entitled “The fraud allegation against some climatic research of Wei-Chyung Wang”. The University conducted an investigation, which concluded that Wang was not guilty. There were, however, serious procedural irregularities during the investigation. For example, I was not contacted during the investigation: a breach of the University's own policies, U.S. federal regulations, and obvious natural justice. Moreover, when asked to produce the station histories, Wang claimed, in effect, that he had plagiarized the work and that the person from whom he had plagiarized had since lost the information; yet the university ignored the admission of plagiarism. Details are on my web site, at [url=htpp://][/url]

The U.S. Congress' Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has contacted me about the irregularities in the investigation. In November 2010, the Committee informed me that it is considering whether to investigate the matter. Final status of the allegation against Wang thus remains to be decided.

IPCC misrepresentation

Although Jones was innocent in 1990, he was no longer so by 2001, when the following research paper was published (note that Jones is one of the authors).

Yan Z., Yang C., Jones P.,

“Influence of inhomogeneity on the estimation of mean and extreme temperature trends in Beijing and Shanghai”,
Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 18: 309–321 (2001).
The paper of Yan et al. studied two weather stations, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. The Beijing station had five locations spread over 41 km. The Shanghai station had only a single move, but that move caused a doubling of the long-term warming trend there (according to Yan et al.). The station movements imply that the temperature measurements from the stations cannot be directly used in analysis, as discussed above. Yet the measurements had been used in the analysis of Jones et al. (1990). And given that this problem arose for both the stations that were studied by Yan et al., then it must be suspected for at least some of the other stations used in 1990.

Thus, by 2001, Jones must have known that the 1990 study should not be relied upon. As the lead author of the 1990 study, Jones should have then tried to have had the study retracted: it is clear that that is the ethical thing to do. Indeed, the UK Research Integrity Office now has guidelines stating that a retraction may be necessary “when there is clear evidence that the reported findings are unreliable, either as a result of misconduct, such as fabrication of data, or honest error, for example, miscalculation or experimental error”. Jones, however, did not try to have the 1990 study retracted.

In 2007, the IPCC published its most-recent assessment report on climate change. The IPCC reports are widely considered to be the most authoritative assessment of the science of global warming. For the 2007 report, there were two scientists with final responsibility for the chapter in the report on “surface and atmospheric climate change” (here “surface” refers to the surface of the Earth, i.e. where people live). Those two were Phil Jones and an American colleague, Kevin Trenberth.

The chapter of Jones & Trenberth cites the 1990 study for its assessment of the issue of urbanization effects. Thus, in 2007, Jones was responsible for having the IPCC cite the 1990 study even though he knew that the study should not be relied upon. This constitutes fraud—fraud in the writing of the most important reference that there is on global-warming science.

On 19 June 2007, I e-mailed Jones about this, citing Yan et al. and saying “this proves that you knew there were serious problems with Wang's claims back in 2001; yet some of your work since then has continued to rely on those claims, most notably in the latest report from the IPCC”. I politely requested an explanation. I did not receive a reply.

In August 2007, I submitted a draft of my article on these allegations to the journal Energy & Environment. The journal editor then sent the draft to Jones. Jones replied with many comments, but he did not attempt to rebut the allegation against him.

On 2 February 2010, in the wake of Climategate, The Guardian published a front-page story that reported on my allegations. The Guardian is a major advocate for global warming; yet the report was highly positive. The story was re-reported around the world. Later that day, the University of East Anglia issued a press release to clarify some issues. Yet the press release did not attempt to rebut the allegation.

Jones has never publicly attempted to deny the fraud allegation against him.

Note that the allegation against Jones is separate from the allegation against Wang. The allegation against Wang relies on the DOE/CAS report. The allegation against Jones is independent of that and relies on the paper of Yan et al.

The 2008 study

In 2008, Jones and two colleagues (neither of which was Wang) published a study that claimed to verify the conclusion of the 1990 study. Jones, and others, have since cited the 2008 study to argue that issues with the 1990 study are therefore immaterial.

The 2008 study, however, relies upon the same station histories as the 1990 study. The histories that are not extant. Indeed, Jones discussed my fraud allegation in an interview with Nature (published on 15 February 2010), and in the interview Jones acknowledged that the histories had been lost long ago. In the same interview, however, Jones reasserted that the 2008 study verified the conclusions of the 1990 study—which is obviously impossible.

Moreover, in 2008, Wang made a submission to the University at Albany during the university's investigation of my allegation against him. His submission (which was leaked as part of Climategate) included a letter from a colleague in China who co-authored the DOE/CAS report. The letter stated that the relevant histories had been lost long ago. Indeed, it is manifest that if the histories were available in 2008, Wang would have produced them to defend himself.

Jones' story about the 2008 study is plainly false. Jones changed that story in a second interview with Nature (published on 15 November 2010). In the second interview, Jones claimed that the histories had not been lost, but “the authorities [in China] have not released the full station-history data”. Jones' change of story seems highly suspicious. Moreover, the changed story has a problem: what reason do the authorities have for not releasing the histories? The histories are not state secrets; their release, if they were extant, would benefit science; and CAS undertook a project with DOE to publish them.

Oxburgh and Russell panels

The Oxburgh panel had, as its remit, to assess the integrity of work done at CRU. The allegation that I made against Jones is the sole explicit allegation of fraud that has been made against anyone at CRU. Yet the report of the Oxburgh panel does not consider the allegation. Indeed, Lord Oxburgh stated, when giving oral evidence to the Committee on 8 September 2010, that he did not recall looking at the allegation.

The Russell panel did consider the allegation: Section 6.6 of their report is devoted to this. Neither that section nor any other section of their report, however, cites Yan et al. In other words, the Russell panel did not consider the evidence for the allegation.

The Russell panel claimed, though, that the 2008 study by Jones et al. “verified the original conclusions for the Chinese data”. As discussed above, this claim is extremely dubious. Additionally, my allegation is that Jones committed fraud. The allegation does not concern the validity, or otherwise, of the 1990 conclusions. If those conclusions were invalid, that might potentially have consequences for global-warming science, but it is of little consequence for the central issue: the integrity of Jones' research.

The panel further claimed that Wang being found not guilty by the University at Albany implied that Jones was not guilty. As discussed above, the allegation against Wang is independent of the allegation against Jones.

It is also notable that the Russell panel had, in its remit, the investigation of e-mails that were released in Climategate and that three of those e-mails included copies of my e-mail to Jones on 19 June 2007, which cited Yan et al. and requested for an explanation for his actions (the e-mails were #1182342470, #1182346299, #1182361058). If every member of the Russell panel read all the Climategate e-mails, as Sir Muir asserted in his oral evidence to the Committee on 27 October 2010, then surely they would have seen the reference to Yan et al. That is particularly so given the publicity that my e-mail to Jones received. For example, the Associated Press had a report on the Climategate e-mails in December 2009. That report highlighted my e-mail to Jones as one of the most significant (though regarding Wang rather than Jones). The report was apparently published in over 1000 newspapers around the world, often of the front page. A Climategate e-mail given that much publicity would be expected to have gotten the attention of a panel investigating the Climategate e-mails.


From this summary account, two main conclusions emerge. First, there is good evidence to support the allegation that Jones committed fraud in some of his research—including research which influenced a chapter of the principal report upon which governments rely for a scientific assessment of global warming. Second, the evidence for the allegation was not considered by either the Oxburgh panel or the Russell panel; indeed, it has not been properly investigated by any competent and authorized body.

It would be much in the public interest if the Committee were to commission an investigation.

If there is to be an investigation, I believe that this should not be undertaken by a scientist or other academic: because scientists generally seem to be reluctant to find one of their own guilty. As evidence, consider that there are tens of thousands of non-medical scientists in the UK; yet in the past quarter century, there do not seem to have been any convictions for fraud. Such a record is not credible: even among much smaller groups of highly respected people—police detectives, Catholic priests, members of parliament—frauds do occur. The evidence against Jones can be understood without scientific training. If there is to be an investigation, then, I suggest that it be undertaken by someone skilled in the rules of evidence, such as a senior judge or barrister.

Douglas J. Keenan

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H/T Nick Mabbs
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