ClimateGate’s Michael Mann Being Investigated By Penn State

Posted on Sun 11/29/2009 by

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By Noel Sheppard

As a result of the growing ClimateGate scandal, Penn State University is investigating Michael Mann, its high-profile professor on the sending and receiving end of controversial e-mail messages recently obtained from a British Climate Research Unit.

Mann, as one of the originators of the infamous Hockey Stick graph, is the climatologist at the very heart of the global warming myth.

As the creator of “Mike’s Nature trick,” a particularly damning phrase used in one of the e-mail messages in question, Mann is also a key figure in ClimateGate.

Given his importance to the climate movement and all those involved including Nobel Laureate Al Gore, President Obama, and Congressional Democrats desperately trying to enact cap and trade legislation, it will be very interesting to see how this press release from Penn State gets reported in the coming days (h/t Anthony Watts via Marc Morano):

Professor Michael Mann is a highly regarded member of the Penn State faculty conducting research on climate change. Professor Mann’s research papers have been published in well respected peer-reviewed scientific journals. In November 2005, Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene a panel of independent experts to investigate Professor Mann’s seminal 1999 reconstruction of the global surface temperature over the past 1,000 years. The resulting 2006 report of the NAS panel (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676) concluded that Mann’s results were sound and has been subsequently supported by an array of evidence that includes additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions.

In recent days a lengthy file of emails has been made public. Some of the questions raised through those emails may have been addressed already by the NAS investigation but others may not have been considered. The University is looking into this matter further, following a well defined policy used in such cases. No public discussion of the matter will occur while the University is reviewing the concerns that have been raised.

Here are a couple of key e-mail messages involving Mann:

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

Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,

Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or
first thing tomorrow.

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.

Cheers
Phil

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) xxxxx
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) xxxx
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email p.jones@xxxx.xxx
NR4 7TJ
UK

And (via Tom Nelson, emphasis his):

From: “Michael E. Mann” ,,,Subject: RE: IPCC revisions Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 12:35:24 -0400

Walked into this hornet’s nest this morning! Keith and Phil have both raised some very good points. And I should point out that Chris, through no fault of his own, but probably through ME not conveying my thoughts very clearly to the others, definitely overstates any singular confidence I have in my own (Mann et al) series.
…I had been using the entire 20th century, but in the case of Keith’s, we need to align the first half of the 20th century w/ the corresponding mean values of the other series, due to the late 20th century decline.

So if Chris and Tom (?) are ok with this, I would be happy to add Keith’s series. That having been said, it does raise a conundrum: We demonstrate (through comparining an exatropical averaging of our nothern hemisphere patterns with Phil’s more extratropical series) that the major discrepancies between Phil’s and our series can be explained in terms of spatial sampling/latitudinal emphasis (seasonality seems to be secondary here, but probably explains much of the residual differences). But that explanation certainly can’t rectify why Keith’s series, which has similar seasonality *and* latitudinal emphasis to Phil’s series, differs in large part in exactly the opposite direction that Phil’s does from ours. This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably concensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series.

So, if we show Keith’s series in this plot, we have to comment that “something else” is responsible for the discrepancies in this case. Perhaps Keith can help us out a bit by explaining the processing that went into the series and the potential factors that might lead to it being “warmer” than the Jones et al and Mann et al series?? We would need to put in a few words in this regard. Otherwise, the skeptics have an field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith in the paleoestimates. I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder!

How will media report this?

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of NewsBusters

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