Summarizing the Investigations on Climate Science

A series of international investigations into recent climate science controversies are now publishing their findings, and so far, they have cleared climate scientists of manipulating the evidence, and reaffirmed the integrity of the basic science. The investigations arose from two separate incidents that both occurred in late 2009, one involving stolen emails at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU), and the other involving queries regarding the evidence for regional impacts of climate change in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report.

Here is a quick summary of the investigations and their findings to date:

Investigations into the University of East Anglia

The University of East Anglia (UEA) investigations were prompted by the leak of private emails between climate scientists that were stolen from the University’s server and posted publicly. The emails raised concerns that scientific data on climate change had been manipulated. Four independent reviews are now complete, and collectively they have exonerated the scientists in question, leaving their major research findings intact.


The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee review focused on the accuracy, access to, and availability of CRU’s data and programming. The Committee published its findings in March, concluding:

  • The focus on CRU and its Director, Phil Jones, has “largely been misplaced.”
  • CRU’s Director shared data and methodologies are “in line with common practice.”
  • Findings in CRU publications are credible.
  • CRU did not attempt to “subvert the peer review process.”
  • There is no reason to challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and is human-induced.
  • The Review calls for UEA to review its policies towards disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act and suggests that climate scientists make underlying data supporting their work available to avoid the type of problems CRU faced.

The UEA’s Scientific Assessment Panel was established in consultation with the Royal Society and chaired by Lord Oxburgh. The Panel investigated the integrity of CRU’s research and publications and conducted interviews with the scientists. The findings, published in April, conclude:

  • There is “no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice” in any of CRU’s work.
  • Closer collaboration with statisticians would be beneficial, but CRU did not mislead or intentionally exaggerate its findings.
  • The Panel agreed with the CRU that the authority to release raw data to third parties is that of the collectors of the data.
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