Global Temperature Data Released by "Climategate" Researchers

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TEMPERATURE data from more than 5,000 weather stations used to compile a key global record of surface temperatures has been released to the public.

The raw data, sent from weather agencies across the world to the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England, was released after an order from the UK’s Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham.

CRU scientists were at the centre of the so-called “climategate” affair when hundreds of emails and some data were hacked and released on the internet.

The release follows a successful freedom-of-information challenge from academics Professor Jonathan Jones, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, and Dr Don Keiller, a biochemist at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. Professor Jones has decribed himself as a “climate agnostic”.

The data from the CRUTEM3 database is used by the UK Met Office and CRU to compile HadCRUT3 – a global record of surface temperatures going back to January 1850.

The original request for the data was made in August 2009. Professor Jones told the BBC

It was very much a matter of principle. This dataset wasn’t particularly interesting, but we thought the data in general should be available, and we thought people shouldn’t have to make FoI requests for it.

Professor Trevor Davies, UEA Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, repeated concerns expressed in the long-running case before the Information Commissioner, that the release of data could damage future research efforts.

We remain concerned, however, that the forced release of material from a source which has explicitly refused to give permission for release could have some damaging consequences for the UK in international research collaborations.

Speaking to NewScientist, Thomas Peterson, chief scientist at the US National Climatic Data Center, echoed Professor Davies’ concerns.

If countries come to expect that sharing of any data with anyone will eventually lead to strong pressure for them to fully release those data, will they be less willing to collaborate in the future?

Dr Gavin Schimdt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, added:

One can hope this might put an end to the interminable discussion of the CRU temperatures, but the experience of GISTEMP – another database that’s been available for years – is that the criticisms will continue because there are some people who are never going to be satisfied.

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