“Climategate” fallout: top climatologist steps down

Famous British climatologist Phil Jones has stood aside as director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, a week after private emails leaked on the Internet cast doubt on his credibility.

The emails were private correspondence between leading climate researchers in UK and the US, which appear to reveal data tinkering in studies supporting anthropogenic global warming, as well as an effort to keep climate change skeptics in the scientific community from publication.

The email exchanges were apparently stolen from University of East Anglia (UEA) servers by an unknown hacker and distributed among climate change critics’ Internet communities.

Some skeptics were quick to claim that the leaked emails were evidence of a conspiracy among climate change proponents to overstate their case, dubbing the scandal “climategate”. Meanwhile the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) called the selection “taken out of context and misinterpreted” and probably altered too.

An independent investigation into the security breach and alleged scientific data manipulation is underway in the UEA. Amid the scandal, CRU director Phil Jones decided to step down from his office.

In a statement published on Tuesday on the UEA’s website, Professor Jones said: “What is most important is that CRU continues its world-leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review.”

The university promised to reveal more detail on the review in a matter of days.