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Another 'Climategate' inquiry clears professors

April 14, 2010 | 11:44 am

An independent investigation of the British academics whose e-mails were at the center of the so-called "Climategate" scandal has cleared the researchers, The Guardian reports.

The panel found "absolutely no evidence of impropriety whatsoever," and said the science conducted by the researchers at the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit was sound, according to the newspaper. The investigation noted record-keeping problems and chided the researchers for not using the best possible statistical techniques for some of its analysis.

Stolen e-mails leaked to the public around the time of the Copenhagen climate conference in December have been used by doubters of climate science to suggest that data were manipulated to show a more dramatic rise in global temperatures. One particular e-mail referred to a "trick" to "hide the decline" in global temperatures in a graph that merged data on tree rings with temperatures.

The Guardian, which has followed the case in minute detail, puts the e-mail phrases in context:

I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith [Briffa]'s, to hide the decline."

The decline being referred to was an apparent decline in temperatures shown in analysis of tree rings, which have historically correlated well with changes in temperature. That relationship has broken down in the past half century. The reasons are still debated.

The "trick" was a graphic device used by [Penn State University professor Mike] Mann in a 1998 paper in Nature to merge tree ring data from earlier times with thermometer data for recent decades. He explained it in the paper. Jones was repeating it in another paper. "This is a trick only in the sense of being a good way to deal with a vexing problem," Mann told the Guardian.

A House of Commons inquiry into the allegations also cleared the scientists.

Climate-science critics have leveraged the e-mails to cast doubt on the entirety of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that concluded that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase" in man-made greenhouse-gas concentrations.

-- Geoff Mohan

Related: Review panel clears researchers in 'Climategate' controversy

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