Climate scandal: new evidence of dubious research

Photo by Sergey Fudinenko
Russia is becoming a focal point in the battle of ideas over climate change. Russian weather data appears to have been tinkered with by UK climate researchers to overstate the scale of global warming.

After leaked data from the University of East Anglia’s climate change unit were posted on a server in Tomsk, conspiracy theorists pointed to Russian hackers.

Yet how would a hacker have known the University of East Anglia had manipulated climate data? Or about the climate researchers’ decade-long history of using the peer review system to silence those who disagreed with the global warming hypothesis? And where to get the emails to prove it? It was an inside job.

Now Russia is back in the spotlight. Research released through Moscow’s Institute of Economic Analysis suggests the Hadley Climate Research Unit Temperature UK was selective and forgetful with data from Russian weather stations, and exaggerated the scale of global warming in Russia.

The allegation is supported by one of the leaked UAE emails, dated March 2004, from its former boss Phil Jones to Michael Mann, to wit:

"Recently rejected two papers (one for JGR and for GRL) from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia. Went to town in both (peer) reviews, hopefully successfully. If either appears I will be very surprised, but you never know with GRL. Cheers, Phil."

Copenhagen doubts

It is well-timed to weaken the resolve of global leaders at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. Russia would make more money from selling its pollution credits than any other country, so you'd be wrong to conclude that Russia is simply motivated by its oil and gas reserves.

Russia stands to benefit by tens of billions of dollars from carbon trading. And big oil will do very well out of the lucrative climate change business.

Russia is the world's biggest country and has got lots of climate data. Its researchers are simply puzzled as to how the Hadley climate unit managed to ignore so much of it.

The Russian research looks at the data from 121 monitoring sites that HadCRUT used and the at least 355 were not used. It plots the data, and finds the 121 sites tending to warmer weather reports than the 355 unused sites. The document in Russian and graphs are here.

The principal findings are that researchers cherry-picked results based on the stations that supported the hypothesis of global warming.

Supporters of global warming have already dismissed the IEA report as “the same old argument” that meteorological sites next to cities show warmer records than those in the wild.

But the IEA has discovered much, much more.

Weather centers with records going back into the 19th Century were ignored, in some cases, in favor of monitoring stations with less data, but which pointed to warming.

"Weather station Uchur has a long and almost continuous series of meteorological observations from 1940; the station Toko – an intermittent series of observations from 1946 and continuous only since 1957; however, the trend towards warming in the 20th Century was more pronounced according to the station Toko. In the calculations of global temperature, HadCRUT predictably uses the data solely from the station Toko."

Hadley "reduced" data series

Another excerpt from the Russian report:

"It turns out that the data not included in the HadCRUT sample, and not used to calculate the global temperature, is systematically much more extensive. Only one tenth of meteorological sites with complete temperature series are used. Sites with incomplete data series account for two-thirds of the HadCRUT sample.

"Moreover, in the processing of data of the Russian specialists HadCRUT sometimes exhibits an unexplained loss. For example, the Hadley Center reduced the temperature data series for the station Sortavala, provided by Roshydromet," the report found.

The Russian research concludes that HadCRUT's pre-selection of weather monitoring sites in Russia affected the scale of warming that it claimed to find.

The Russians tried to reproduce HadCRUT's conclusions.

They do indeed identify a warming trend, but it is 1.4 degrees C over the 130 years from 1870-2000, compared with the 2 degree estimate HadCRUT exhibited.

The new research suggests HadCRUT actively chose to use weather reports that backed its hypothesis of global warming:

  • Using incomplete records and ignoring longer, unbroken series from other monitoring sites in the same region.
  • Manipulating data or "losing temperature" from the sites they used
  • Choosing sites close to large, warmer, urban areas
  • Selecting sites concentrated in the north and east of Russia, even though Russia has significantly more sites in the warmer west and south. HadCRUT thus ignores 40% of the largest country on earth – not because it doesn't have the data (the data is publicly available) but for some other, unstated reason.
  • HadCRUT constructs a grid of Russia, some cells containing only one weather monitoring station, others as many as 8. In the case of the cells where weather stations are ignored, the weather stations tended not to support the hypothesis of global warming.

The IEA concedes that temperatures may have increased, but much less than 2 degrees Celsius. It asks: if global warming is overstated in Russia, what errors are hiding in the data on other countries?

Mark Gay, RT