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HadleyCru data hacked

  1. Nov 20, 2009 #1


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    Partial quote from above link:

    “The University of East Anglia's Hadley Climatic Research Centre appears to have suffered a security breach earlier today, when an unknown hacker apparently downloaded 1079 e-mails and 72 documents of various types and published them to an anonymous FTP server. These files appear to contain highly sensitive information that, if genuine, could prove extremely embarrassing to the authors …”

    The download consists of a huge number of data files, e-mails, and documents. I consider ‘globing warming’ to be a hoax and scanned the files to find items supporting my viewpoint. I was quickly rewarded!

    Most files are of, or refer to legitimate research I think. The quantity of data, documents, and e-mails make the hack unlikely to be a hoax

    The file can be downloaded from

    http://www.megaupload.com/?d=XD050VKY [Broken]

    Prior to opening the file, I scanned it with AVG (freeware virus scanner) and AdAware (freeware malware scanner). The file is ~62MB zipped, ~170MB unzipped , and seems to be free of nasty stuff.

    The file of interest is

    Filename: FOI2009.zip
    File description: climate audit whistleblower FOIA wuwt FOI2009.zip
    File size: 61.93 MB

    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2009 #2


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    With respect, that is a very serious accusation! I've seen some of the reports, and I have the file myself to double check.

    The biggest problem IMO is that the emails are mostly shorn of valid context, and as far as I can see a lot of people have rushed to hasty judgment without any apparent attempt to check the context or to hear from the people whose emails were stolen.

    This whole area gets really heated, which is unfortunate. I will try not to escalate the bad feeling. But you may be able to see the other side of the coin in this; the criticism of global warming seems to be pretty suspect in this instance; certainly hasty!

    It's hard to see what you could even mean by "global warming" being a hoax. Do you mean that mean global temperatures have NOT been rising significantly? But that is a detail...

    I agree with you that the file itself seems not to be a hoax; but there are some curious aspects nevertheless. Why so few emails? It looks a lot; but they span about ten years, and go to a whole pile of different people. So there's some selection here of some kind, either before or after or during the theft; whether deliberate or co-incidental. How were they selected? Is the lack of context in some exchanges deliberate, or an unintended consequence of way the theft occurred? I don't know.

    I've seen in particular the file 0942777075.txt which has been widely repeated online; and I am pretty sure I know what it is about. (I've not heard from any of the parties involved; but to commit myself in advance: I know something about the data and the related research, and I think D'Arrigo 2007 is a recent paper on the matter.) But there's very little context for someone to tell just from the email alone. It looks damning if you have no idea of the background; was it selected because the thief had no idea himself? I honestly don't know.

    I try to keep discussions in this subforum focused on the actual merits of the science, case by case by case, as different topics show up where I have a bit of background to say something that may be useful.

    Unfortunately, this precipitate flooding of stolen emails all over the internet has brought about a situation where that substantive focus is going to be difficult. However, we can try. There will no doubt be some response at some point.

    There's one comical irony in this.... one of the emails, sent about two months ago, starts out with the following sentence:
    D et al - Please write all emails as though they will be made public.

    Good advice! as it turns out.o:)

    Obviously people can't put the cat back in the bag. So if you have any genuine reason to think there's a real hoax here, it will come out. I think the only people who are going to be convinced of that, in the end, are people who have decided for hoax even before this compilation was available. I don't see anything particularly useful to come out of this other than distraction from more substantive discussions of the actual open questions or published discoveries that are being discussed and examined closely all over the world.

    Cheers -- sylas
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2009
  4. Nov 20, 2009 #3
    Sorry too busy now to give a weighted judgdement. But I think global warming is not a hoax. The debates are getting hotter and hotter globally :smile:
  5. Nov 20, 2009 #4


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    :rofl: Kudos Andre; like it. -- sylas
  6. Nov 20, 2009 #5


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    For some of the discussions, saying we are short of context sounds like a weak excuse. Check this one out:

    Code (Text):
    From: Phil Jones
    To: ray bradley ,mann@xxxxx.xxx, mhughes@xxxx.xxx
    Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
    Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
    Cc: k.briffa@xxx.xx.xx,t.osborn@xxxx.xxx

    I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps
    to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from
    1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual
    land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land
    N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999
    for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with
    data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
    Thanks for the comments, Ray.
    Code (Text):
    From: Jonathan Overpeck
    To: “Michael E. Mann”
    Subject: letter to Senate
    Date: Tue, 22 Jul 2003 16:49:31 -0700
    Cc: Caspar M Ammann , Raymond Bradley , Keith Briffa , Tom Crowley...

    Hi all – I’m not too comfortable with this, and would rather not sign – at least not
    without some real time to think it through and debate the issue. It is unprecedented and
    political, and that worries me.

    My vote would be that we don’t do this without a careful discussion first.
    Realclimate says something about the word "hiding" was used out of context and they go on to prove that whatever he was talking about was not hidden in the study. I'm sure their conclusions are good but I haven't checked them.

    The Climatic Research Unit claims that some of the material is forged. But rarely do I have enough time to generate 61 MB (compressed) of climate data and emails that serve my political purposes. The sheer size of this is evidence against the claim that it is all made up, but it is of course possible someone could have added interesting things in.

    Some of these you just couldn't make up:
    On the death of Jon Daly in 2004:
    According to a http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,576009,00.html, here is another dirty quote from the emails:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  7. Nov 21, 2009 #6
    I don't see what the fuss is about. These are normal conversations between scientists.
  8. Nov 21, 2009 #7
    Without respect, if you think that you have no awareness of the science of global warming.

    Also, distributing stolen data is illegal in many parts of the world with access to this board, and unethical everywhere else.
  9. Nov 21, 2009 #8
    There's no hint of fraud there.

    Daly spread misinformation to the public. That was his Raison d'être in his later years. In this era where public education of science is increasingly valued some scientists didn't respect him. (Ironically, considering that Carl Sagan was not respected by some scientists for the opposite reason; but I think that there is a general acceptance these days that Carl was doing a valuable and honourable job.)

    People in private conversations might say so even after someone's death.

    Not everything that I said about the Greenhouse-global warming and smoking-cancer denier Seitz would have been correct to say at his funeral, despite his contributions to solid state physics.

    A journal stands on its reputation. It is not only perfectly valid but an essential part of the scientific process to discuss what journals are losing credibility.

    So I would say that this is orders of magnitude less dirty than posting personal emails to a public forum.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  10. Nov 22, 2009 #9


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    That is the same one I mentioned last time. As I said previously: I've seen in particular the file 0942777075.txt which has been widely repeated online; and I am pretty sure I know what it is about..

    Mk -- it is not an "excuse" to say you lack context. This is a straight description of what is and is not in the stolen files. There's no context; and that means you don't have a good basis for even knowing what the email is about. If it was what everyone seems to be insinuating -- deliberate distortions of data or concealing information, this would not be excusable at all. But if you actually know what it is about, there's nothing at all underhanded involved.* The insinuation of any malfeasance here is based on nothing but flawed presumptions and lack of knowledge of what they are talking about.

    Since this particular email has received so much attention, it may be worth going into the background, for this one case.

    There is actually enough in the email to figure out what is being discussed, if you have any familiarity with the subject. I found all of this myself, by the way, just by starting out from the subject field of the email and working from there; before there was any comment available on the context from anywhere else.

    The email refers to "Diagram for WMO Statement". WMO is the World Meteorological Organization; well known in this whole area. So I googled "WMO statement", and the first thing that comes up are the annual statements on the status of global climate.

    The email is dated 1999, so I pulled up the 1999 statement. Here it is: http://www.wmo.ch/pages/prog/wcp/wcdmp/statemnt/wmo913.pdf [Broken]. And sure enough, it starts out with this diagram:
    So now we know the papers to check for the data. They are:
    This corresponds precisely to the data mentioned in the email. The email also refers to "Mike's Nature trick". Now the paper above by Mann et al (1999) is well known as a followup to
    • Mann, M.E., R. S. Bradley, and M. K. Hughes (1998) http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/33859 [Broken], Nature, 392, pp779-787.
    This is obviously Mike's Nature paper, and that paper calibrates the multiple independent paleoclimate proxies, using a gridded instrument record of real temperatures available for the twentieth century. The method is clearly described in Mann et al (1998), along with explicit recognition of the assumptions involved and limitations; it is a feature of the paper to describe how this is done. It is a technique for getting an objective calibration of paleo data from a limited geographic region with the direct modern measurements of global anomalies.

    The email refers to applying a similar process with the sequences being used, from different papers. The summary diagram for the WMO statement apparently combines the paleo record and the instrument data to which they are calibrated. The papers themselves, of course, go into a lot more detail of all the data and methods involved. This technique, or trick, allows all sequences to be aligned together as anomalies from a single baseline. Note that you can't simply take a global sequence as the baseline for anomaly calculations; you have to align using an appropriate portion of the larger gridded dataset; and then the values can be related to known modern temperatures.

    Mention is also made of avoiding post 1960 data from Briffa's chronology, to "hide the decline". This "decline" is also no secret at all. There is an extensive literature about the spurious decline in certain proxy temperature measures from some tree ring datasets in the Northern Hemisphere. This is called the "divergence problem", and has been clearly identified and explained now for over a decade. It is certainly explicit in the cited reference of the diragram (Briffa, 2000), and in numerous others of his publications. A modern review paper (to which I alluded in my earlier post) is
    • D'Arrigo R. et. al. (2007) http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloplacha.2007.03.004 [Broken] in Global and Planetary Change 60(3) Feb 2008 pp289-305
    There is an enormous literature on this available. The paleo data for tree rings in this part of the Northern Hemisphere fails to represent temperature accurately in the latter half of the twentieth century; so the correct thing to do is use the data up to the divergence point, to avoid distorting the diagram with a known spurious decline. The same decline does not show up in other proxies; it is caused by factors other than temperature.

    The email is referring to production of a diagram for use in the WMO 1999 statement, putting together recent relevant data, all cited to the literature, and aligned with the real instrument data as anomalies from a modern baseline, as described in the same literature. The accusations of fraud which are flying around at present in relation to this email are baseless. They are obtained by taking the worst possible reading of individual words from a stolen email, with no attempt to find out what it was actually referring to and with no basis in reality.

    There's nothing else I have seen in any of these files indicating anything about hoaxes or falsified research. But you can see a few other things. For example, you CAN see that scientists might in a personal email reveal plainly what they think of folks like Steve McIntyre (for example), even though it would not be appropriate to say that in public. In the same way, I don't think it would be at all appropriate for me to say in public precisely what I think of McIntyre myself. It's not pretty, to be honest; but it would be inappropriate to get into a public discussion of reasons one might have a (very) low opinion of another person. I prefer the public discussions to stick to more substantive matters.

    These are stolen files. There's no returning them to the private domain; and by now anyone really interested can read them and get a bit of an inside look at working scientists interacting. But keep in mind that indications at present suggest you will be reading only a selection of files chosen by the thief.

    There may be more to say about the actual research in this if you like; but not in this thread. You don't need to use the stolen emails; they don't say anything that is not already explicit in the published literature. The email describes some unexceptional details about producing the diagram from that public research, between people who know what all the research is about and don't need to explain lengthy details as if for people new to the subject.

    Sincerely -- sylas

    *Of course, the theft of data itself was underhand, and at this point it also seems that only portions of the stolen files were distributed. That is, the omission of context is quite likely deliberate.

    PS. I am on the road at present with occasional connectivity. Posting this from a friendly motel that let me use their broadband.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  11. Nov 22, 2009 #10
    Good post, Silas. Great bit of research. http://www.vvdrienerlo.nl/smileys/worship.gif [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Nov 22, 2009 #11


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    The UK’s Public Interest Disclosure Act of 1998 protects employees who disclose activities such as “fraud in, on or by the organization”, “misreporting performance data”, and “destruction of relevant material”.

    None of can know the conscience of the individual who revealed the documentation. I presume the person to be a conscientious citizen while Silas presumes the person to be a thief.
  13. Nov 22, 2009 #12
    There's no indication of fraud, which is about misattribution of funds. There is no performance data, it's a university, and, AFAIK, without publicly listed shares, and clearly there has been no relevant material destroyed.

    I presume the he was offered a bounty for cracking a climate research faculty, by someone with a business interest in reducing public support for a strong agreement at Copenhagen.

    Certainly a criminal. Hopefully one that will be caught and prosecuted.
  14. Nov 22, 2009 #13


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    While interesting, aside from Sylas's #9 I don't think this discussion of bad faith (or not) qualifies for Earth forum.
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