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Carbon Trust and Met Office dragged into fresh Climategate row

24th November 2011
Messages contained within the latest "Climategate" mass email leak expose behind-the-scenes wrangles between the UK Met Office, the Carbon Trust and the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit.
The second batch of more than 5,000 hacked emails and other papers was released on the internet Tuesday, two years after a similar leak triggered the 'ClimateGate' affair and allegations of data fiddling that inquiries later rejected.

Now the UK's Met Office has been dragged into the fresh controversy after emails were discovered that showed the organisation calling for "evidence" to help convince Government policy-makers of extreme weather changes.

And in another exchange, the head of the Met Office's Climate Prediction Programme was scoffed at after disagreeing with the UEA interpretation of climate change data.

Included in the latest batch of leaked emails is one message from the Met Office's former managing scientist, Simon Tett, asking for evidence he could provide disbelieving Government policy-makers to show that an Ice Age was likely to happen within the next 100 years.

However, in September 2009, Dr Geoff Jenkins, head of the Met Office's Climate Prediction Programme challenged research released by the UEA that man-made warning was effecting Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro asking "would you agree that there is no convincing evidence for Kilimanjaro glacier melt being due to recent warming (let alone man-made warming)?"

In his reply, Professor Phil Jones of the UEA's Climatic Research Unit said he couldn't respond as he would be away for six weeks, but added: "I hear you're retiring soon – hope all goes well! I'm sure you'll still be in the field somewhere."

Carbon Trust
And The Carbon Trust have also been found in the email batch exchanging notes with the UEA on organisations that "downplay the significance of the issue of climate change" and exploring ways they can "best use their weights".

Further messages contain details of how 'Climategate' scientists talked of deleting emails to avoid information laws.

In April 2009, Dr. Wei-Chyung Wang, Professor of Applied Sciences at the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center at the State University of New York and Prof Phil Jones, exchanged a series of emails working out ways of avoiding providing information under the US Freedom of Information Act following a request by a "climate sceptic".

In one message, Professor Wang, asks: "Should we do something to stop the continued hustle?" and in a response, Prof Jones, states: "This looks as though it could get out of control."

In another exchange dated September 1999, two academics appear to quarrel over selecting which research will have the best impact to apply for £400,000 in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council.

A separate email thread in September 2008, dismissed Swedish fears that an IPCC report was based on flawed science and inaccurate temperature records but said they were away on holiday and couldn't respond properly.

In July 2005, Professor Phil Jones questions whether the increasing severity of hurricanes "will be enough to convince more Americans" of the reality of climate change.

Other studies, including an article by David Bellamy are attacked as "pretty naive", "rubbish" and "intellectually not credible" and sceptics are labelled as "contrarians". One message even asks if "Fred Singer is now running the UK Met Office?"

Data and evidence of opposing opinions is repeatedly called in to be buried in further analysis and cross-reference and groups are only allowed to be included in research papers if they can prove they can talk "favourably".

In one bizarre email from the University of Massachusetts to the UEA, which describes: "Lets strive for this – choice of language is a non-trivial element", it describes the word "exemplifies" as a disservice to their climate change research, insisting it to be replaced by either "exposes" or "confronts".

However, further in his email the author adds: "Extra-tropical Northern Hemisphere summer temperatures should have been at an absolute peak 4000-6000 ybp, and the 2000 year trend *ought* to at least be heading in that direction. The fact that is doesn't, and that the trend hasn't been verified in the sense discussed above, causes me real concern. It would be misleading to argue we have any reason to believe that NH mean temperatures have done what that series does 2000 years back in time..."

Other messages point out a series of unseen errors, which are later blamed on a series of problems, including "typographic problems" and "copy-editing errors". One Hadley Centre greenhouse gas assessment was excluded because its data was described internally as "sh*t" and another message in September 2007, states: "we're all about PR here, not much about science".

And other emails reveal infighting, back-stabbing and at at times, ridiculous attempts to gain recognition and grab the headlines – with a contact within the BBC featuring prominently.

Other messages clearly show a complicated web of academic establishments calling on each other to submit so-called papers and research to demonstrate evidence for substantial grant applications and others look to swap notes on submitted journal articles for peer-review.

A statement by the University of East Anglia this week, said: "While we have had only a limited opportunity to look at this latest post of 5,000 emails, we have no evidence of a recent breach of our systems.

"If genuine, (the sheer volume of material makes it impossible to confirm at present that they are all genuine) these emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks.

"This appears to be a carefully-timed attempt to reignite controversy over the science behind climate change when that science has been vindicated by three separate independent inquiries and number of studies – including, most recently, the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature group.

"As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so."

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