Another batch of UEA's 'climategate' emails released

  • 22 Nov 2011, 15:36
  • Christian Hunt

An alternative selection of emails taken from the batch taken from UEA server that provided the basis for the 2009 'climategate' episode has emerged.

Early this morning, someone calling themselves 'Foia' posted this link on the comments pages of various climate skeptic blogposts. Recipients included US bloggers Wattsupwiththat and Climate Audit, and the Canadian blog Air Vent. 'Foia' seems not to have posted the link directly onto any UK blogs that we know about. The manner in which the files have been introduced mirrors the release of the first batch of emails in 2009.

The link leads to a Russian server holding a document cache containing around 6000 emails and 23 documents. The file seems to contain another selection from the emails and documents taken in the 2009 'Climategate' hacking incident, which included emails sent and received over a 13-year period by employees at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The emails which were originally released in 2009 appear to be included in the data-dump.

A commenter who has been going through the emails reports on skeptic blog Climate Audit that the latest email he can find is from 13th November, 2008, so it would appear that the emails are not the result of some new hacking incident at the University of East Anglia, but have rather been released strategically, presumably to coincide with preparations for the UN Climate Change Conference 2011 which will run from 28th November to 9th December.

Whoever released the emails suggests that an accompanying encrypted archive file contains the whole stolen email archive. In a document accompanying the emails and files, 'Foia' states "The rest, some 220.000, are encrypted for various reasons.  We are not planning to publicly release the passphrase."

'Foia' offers selected quotes from these new emails, re-posted here. The documents include drafts of papers and chapters, a budget spreadsheet and IPCC technical papers.

The BBC's Richard Black has written a brief article outlining what has happened. He notes (rightly) that reviews of the previous set of emails in the UK, and US, as well as a review of the IPCC, have cleared scientists involved of fraud and malpractice.

We will see if any clear evidence that undermines the science of climate change or casts these conclusions into doubt emerges from the emails. I'm doubtful - if there was juicier material yet to come out, it would have presumably been released in 2009 in what now looks even more clearly like a strike against the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

This also brings attention onto how these sets of emails are being selected. 'Foia' talks about a 'keyword search'. A very quick scan shows that 1381 of the 5292 emails - a quarter - contains the word 'problem', perhaps an indication of the kind of things the editors of the set were looking for.

Climate skeptics are enthusiastically promoting the news, with James Delingpole writing:

they show the "scientists" at the heart of the Man-Made Global Warming industry in a most unflattering light. Michael Mann, Phil Jones, Ben Santer, Tom Wigley, Kevin Trenberth, Keith Briffa - all your favourite Climategate characters are here, once again caught red-handed in a series of emails exaggerating the extent of Anthropogenic Global Warming

This will make a story, and offers a significant new cache of scientists' emails for people to dig through. Doubtless specific phrases and emails will be pored over in the days to come. We'll wait and see what the wider fallout is.

UK Polling site Noise of the Crowd have a useful discussion of the effect the first batch of emails had on public opinion in the UK -

And the Guardian have covered the story here. Dr Michael Mann, whose emails are featured, said:

"Well, they look like mine but I hardly see anything that appears damning at all, despite them having been taken out of context. I guess they had very little left to work with, having culled in the first round the emails that could most easily be taken out of context to try to make me look bad."

UPDATE 22nd November, 17:10: UEA have released a  statement confirming that there is no evidence that their computer systems have been breached recently, and that:

"If genuine...These emails have the appearance of having been held back after the theft of data and emails in 2009 to be released at a time designed to cause maximum disruption to the imminent international climate talks."

"...As in 2009, extracts from emails have been taken completely out of context. Following the previous release of emails scientists highlighted by the controversy have been vindicated by independent review, and claims that their science cannot or should not be trusted are entirely unsupported. They, the University and the wider research community have stood by the science throughout, and continue to do so."


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