February 2, 2010 – Original Source: Guardian, UK
Phil Jones denies claims reported in the Guardian that he covered up flawed data on temperature rises
The scientist at the centre of an ongoing row about climate research has defended his work against allegations published in today’s Guardian that he covered up flawed data on temperature rises.
Professor Phil Jones, the head of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, said a 20-year-old study questioned by sceptics “stands up to scrutiny” and was corroborated by more recent work.
The allegations concern a request from sceptic Douglas Keenan, who queried data from Chinese weather stations used in a 1990 study published in the journal Nature on global warming.
But Keenan raised concerns about the lack of information on the location of the weather stations, and that some had moved, invalidating the data.
Prof Jones today said UEA had responded fully to a freedom of information request from Mr Keenan, and had supplied the temperature data and the locations of the weather stations – although he did not have information about sites which had moved.
A study he published in 2008, using improved data from the China Meteorological Administration from sites used in the 1990 research adjusted to take into account any movements of stations, had almost exactly the same results as the original, he said.
Jones said he was confident the paper, which drew on 42 urban and 42 rural sites, was correct because it was validated by the new data. And he said: “I am confident in my mind the site movements that might have taken place at some of the sites were not that important to affect the average of the 42 sites.” The paper also used records from Australia and what was then the USSR, over which no questions have ever been raised, Jones added.
A later study, published by Jones in 2008, showed an average 0.1C warming per decade due to urbanisation and 0.15C of climate warming each decade between 1951 and 2004.
Much of the warming trend due to urbanisation was likely to be the result of rapid industrialisation in eastern China from the 1980s onwards – after the data used in the 1990 study.
Other research in areas such as London where the level of urbanisation has not changed has shown the warming trend is the same in rural and city areas, Prof Jones said.
He said he was “concerned” that the latest allegations, coming hot on the heels of errors uncovered in the IPCC’s 2007 report, would undermine some aspects of climate science. “It makes me quite worried people are beginning to doubt the climate has warmed up,” Jones said.
“I feel tremendously pressurised by all this but I’m trying to continue my work in the science. I think it’s very important and it’s potentially very serious for the future of mankind in decades to come.” And he said he “wholeheartedly” stood by the part of the IPCC’s report which he contributed to.
He added: “The work we do at the University of East Anglia is only a small part of (climate science), there’s thousands of climate scientists around the world supporting our results.”
Prof Jones, who has stood aside from his position as head of the Climatic Research Unit while independent inquiry is conducted into issues raised by the leaked emails, said the centre’s science stood up to scrutiny.
“We are facing more and more public scrutiny and any future work we do is going to have much greater scrutiny by our peers and by the public.” But he acknowledged: “We do need to make more of the data available, I fully accept that.”
He also said scientists needed to make their assumptions clear and researchers across all controversial scientific fields, including climate change, had to be more open and acknowledge uncertainties in future predictions.