Conservative media hype misleading report suggesting CRU destroyed raw climate data

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Conservative media have recently suggested that scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia intentionally "threw out" or "destroyed" the raw temperature data "underpinning the man-made-warming theory," in the words of the New York Post, echoing a recent London Times article that said it is "now impossible" to examine how the CRU made its conclusions. In fact, according to the scientists, the raw data is still available at the meteorological services where they obtained it -- director Phil Jones said the CRU simply did not keep copies for "less than 5 percent of its original station data" in its database because those "stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends."

Conservative media suggest CRU destroyed original data on which global warming theory is based

London Times: CRU scientists "admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based." A November 29 London Times article stated, "Scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based. It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years":

The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals -- stored on paper and magnetic tape -- were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.

The admission follows the leaking of a thousand private emails sent and received by Professor Phil Jones, the CRU's director. In them he discusses thwarting climate sceptics seeking access to such data.

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: "We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data."

The CRU is the world's leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

NY Post: "If you can't prove apocalypse is nigh, at least now nobody can prove it isn't." A December 1 New York Post editorial claimed: "It turns out that most of the 'data' underlying claims that the planet is on the verge of global-warming destruction got tossed with the trash." The editorial also asserted that the CRU scientists "now claim that the key data underpinning the man-made-warming theory was ... thrown out: Original climate data stored on magnetic tape and paper were dumped, supposedly when the CRU moved to new quarters."

HotAir's Morrissey: CRU "threw out the raw data on which much of" theory of man-made global warming is based. In a November 29 post on HotAir.com, Ed Morrissey wrote, "When would scientists expecting the world to take them seriously throw out the raw data on which their conclusions are based?" and added that the CRU "now admits they threw out the raw data on which much of their theories on anthropogenic global warming are based."

Brit Hume: "Raw data used to create these models has been destroyed or otherwise disposed of." On the November 30 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, senior political analyst Brit Hume -- while misleadingly asserting that '"[t]here's been no apparent increase in global temperatures over the past 11 years" -- said: "Now it has come out that the original raw data used to create these models has been destroyed or otherwise disposed of. The response of the alarmists to these revelations has been that the emails were taken out of context and that the destruction of all that raw data was done for space reasons. There's a one-word answer to all of that: Please."

Wash. Examiner's Michael Barone: "They destroyed all the original data." On the November 30 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto, The Washington Examiner's Michael Barone said the scientists "destroyed all the original data. Only data that they have now is data that they have manipulated and adjusted, perhaps to fit their hypotheses. And, as a result, we're not being asked to [lower greenhouse gas emissions] on the basis of science." Later, Barone said, "They have non-retrievable data. They say they can't get their original data. They have non-replicable data."

Gateway Pundit: "[S]cientists admitted to throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based." In a November 29 post about the "global warming scam artists" on the conservative blog Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft wrote: "Global Warming scientists admitted to throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based."

In fact, original data is held by meteorological services

CRU scientist: "We haven't destroyed anything. The data is still there." According to an October 14 Greenwire article, Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, said, "We haven't destroyed anything. The data is still there -- you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center." The article said that Jones' statement came after the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) "blasted the research unit for the 'suspicious destruction of its original data.' " The article further noted that Jones "said that the vast majority of the station data was not altered at all" and that "[t]he research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data because the stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends, Jones said."

At issue is raw data from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, including surface temperature averages from weather stations around the world. The data was used in assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, reports that EPA has used in turn to formulate its climate policies.

Citing a statement on the research unit's Web site, CEI blasted the research unit for the "suspicious destruction of its original data." According to CRU's Web site, "Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data."

Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit, said that the vast majority of the station data was not altered at all, and the small amount that was changed was adjusted for consistency.

The research unit has deleted less than 5 percent of its original station data from its database because the stations had several discontinuities or were affected by urbanization trends, Jones said.

"When you're looking at climate data, you don't want stations that are showing urban warming trends," Jones said, "so we've taken them out." Most of the stations for which data was removed are located in areas where there were already dense monitoring networks, he added. "We rarely removed a station in a data-sparse region of the world."

Refuting CEI's claims of data-destruction, Jones said, "We haven't destroyed anything. The data is still there -- you can still get these stations from the [NOAA] National Climatic Data Center."

NASA climate modeler: "The original data is curated at the met services where it originated." In response to a comment on his blog Real Climate asking whether it is true that the CRU lost the data, Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, replied: "No. The original data is curated at the met services where it originated."

Scientists: CRU climate change findings similar to those of other research centers with separate data sets

Scientists note that datasets from other research centers show the same climate trends. The Greenwire article said that Tom Karl, director of NOAA's Climatic Data Center, "noted that the conclusions of the IPCC reports are based on several data sets in addition to the CRU, including data from NOAA, NASA and the United Kingdom Met Office. Each of those data sets basically show identical multi-decadal trends, Karl said." The article also said that Ben Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, "said CRU's major findings were replicated by other groups, including the NOAA climatic data center, the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and also in Russia."

Santer: "[K]ey point here is that other groups ... WERE able to replicate the major findings of the CRU." Responding to charges made by the CEI, Santer wrote:

I am sure that, over 20 years ago, the CRU could not have foreseen that the raw station data might be the subject of legal proceedings by the CEI and Pat Michaels. Raw data were NOT secretly destroyed to avoid efforts by other scientists to replicate the CRU and Hadley Centre-based estimates of global-scale changes in near-surface temperature. In fact, a key point here is that other groups -- primarily at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), but also in Russia -- WERE able to replicate the major findings of the CRU and UK Hadley Centre groups. The NCDC and GISS groups performed this replication completely independently. They made different choices in the complex process of choosing input data, adjusting raw station data for known inhomogeneities (such as urbanization effects, changes in instrumentation, site location, and observation time), and gridding procedures. NCDC and GISS-based estimates of global surface temperature changes are in good accord with the HadCRUT data results.

Conservative media also distort stolen CRU emails

Destroyed data claims follow media's aggressive distortion of stolen CRU emails. Since the reported theft of emails from the CRU, conservative media figures have aggressively claimed that those emails undermine the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change, dubbing the supposed scandal "Climategate." But these critics have largely rested their claims on outlandish distortions and misrepresentations of the contents of the stolen emails, greatly undermining their dubious smears.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.