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).
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”.
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
(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
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
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
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
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.