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18 Dec, 2009 05:25

Russian weather data cherry picked by UK climatologists – report

As skeptics at the Copenhagen summit are demanding proof that climate change is man-made, a Russian think-tank has accused British researchers of manipulating Russian weather data which does not fit into alarmist theory.

World leaders have launched a last-ditch attempt to reach a consensus on the final day of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen. But with much bickering between rich and poor nations during nearly two weeks of talks, many doubt a new deal will be agreed upon.

The rows have been over the amounts of carbon emission cuts and financial aid to help developing countries also make the cuts.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is attending the conference, has addressed delegates on Friday.

Ahead of the trip to Copenhagen, he signed into law the Russian Climate Doctrine, a document outlining the estimated risks of global warming and Russian government’s planned measures to counter them.

It is planned to raise the energy efficiency of the Russian economy by 40 per cent by 2020. And to cut carbon emissions, Russia is going to raise the industrial efficiency of the economy, develop renewable and alternative energies, implement financial and tax policies to cut greenhouse gases, and sensibly approach the use of wood and the creation of sustainable forests.

Meanwhile, a new climate scandal is gaining momentum. The Moscow-based Institute for Economic Analysis (IEA) has accused the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research of the British Meteorology Office of only using statistics from weather stations in Russia that fitted its theory on global warming, and ignoring those that did not.

The British Met Office’s Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, which was earlier involved in a scandal dubbed “Climategate” by some media, jointly run the climate database.

The Centre has recently made public part of the raw data used by HadCRUT, its joint research team with the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, in order to diffuse the recent row over leaked emails revealing an alleged conspiracy by climatologists and politicians.

In a report this week, the IEA says the HadCRUT’s study of climate change ignored data from three quarters of the weather stations on the territory of Russia. This includes “more than 40% of the area,” which was not included, not due to missing data, but “for some other reasons.”

That means 40% of Russia’s territory is unrepresented in the world’s most important temperature record.

This cherry-picking and misrepresenting data is nothing new, according to those opposed to the summit in Copenhagen.

“There was the famous Hockey Stick diagram, produced by somebody called Mann, which purported to show that for the last thousand years temperature had been fairly steady, before suddenly going up very rapidly,” says climate skeptic Stuart Wheeler. “But it's now been shown that any separate figures could be manipulated in the way Mann's system did to produce a Hockey Stick diagram.”

Moreover, of the data available for the same location, the British researchers chose incomplete sets of temperature with growth trends over complete ones that did not fit into the global warming model. Also, data from stations located in cities – which are always likely to be warmer due to waste heat generated by local industries and homes – were preferred over those in remote areas, the IEA says.

All in all, the institute evaluates the difference between the growth of average temperatures between 1870s and 1990s, based on all data available for Russia and those delivered by HadCRUT, as at least 0.64 degrees Celsius.

The report goes on to say that if similar practices, which the IEA bluntly calls “overstating the scale of the warming by HadCRUT”, were used in the selection of raw data from other regions of the world, global estimates for climate change should be seriously amended.

HadCRUT figures are being used by climatologists at the COP-15 international climate change conference currently underway in Copenhagen – but the new scandal surrounding climate change science does not seem to have distracted the carbon emissions summit. It is careening towards its closing moments, and the only topic under discussion there is whether or not any kind of meaningful deal will be signed.

But it is looking less and less likely, and some Russian skeptics suggest that is a good thing for the country.

“This scare-story kills two birds with one stone. It makes money and limits Russia's presence on the European market,” says Konstantin Simonov, director of Russia’s National Energy Security Foundation. “The logic's simple: global warming is the main threat facing the world, the main reason for global warming is carbon emission, and the main source of carbon emission is fossil fuels – oil and gas. And Russia is the leading exporter of oil and gas in Europe and in the world,” noted Simonov.

And not signing an agreement could also be a good thing for the rest of the world. Even the International Panel on Climate Change admits that a temperature rise of not more than 3% would increase world food production.