August 23, 2011

Climate-Change Researcher Cleared Of Altering Studies


The Arlington, Virginia-based National Science Foundation (NSF) closed its inquiry into Michael Mann, a Pennsylvania researcher who´s been a target of climate-change skeptics. Mann was cleared of wrongdoing by investigators for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the flap surrounding e-mails hacked from a UK university.

Pennsylvania State University, where Mann is a professor of meteorology, exonerated him in February of suppressing or falsifying data, deleting e-mails and misusing privileged information, Bloomberg is reporting.

“It was a pretty definitive finding” that the charges “swirling around for over a year” were baseless, Mann said in an interview with the news agency. “I was very pleased.”

Climate-change skeptics pointed to the stolen UK e-mails as proof that researchers conspired to quash studies questioning the link between human activity and warming. Last week, Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican nomination for President, renewed the assertion that scientists have “manipulated” data on climate change.

Professor Mann was lead author in the 1998 findings of the first reconstruction of northern-hemisphere warming going back 1,000 years showing recent temperatures increasing sharply. The findings have been confirmed by several studies, Mann explained.

“The way you get ahead in science is by proving the other guys wrong,” Professor Mann said. “There is literally no study in the peer-reviewed scientific literature that contradicts our original conclusion.”

The inquiries focused on the University of East Anglia´s climate-research unit, which stored the poached e-mails on its computer server. E-mails to and from Professor Mann were included in the pilfered cache. One message by another scientist discussing Professor Mann´s work spoke of a “trick” used in presenting data to smooth out year-to-year anomalies in climate-change information.

The NOAA report, released in February, was requested by US Senator James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican who called the theory of man-made climate change a hoax. The report found no evidence of “manipulation of data”.

“To say that the scientists have been vindicated is oversimplifying the situation,” Matt Dempsey, a spokesman for Inhofe told Bloomberg reporter Jim Efstathiou Jr. “What was revealed as part of the Climategate scandal was deeply troubling and certainly a setback for climate science.”

A report on the dispute commissioned by the University of East Anglia found that, while the honesty and rigor of Britain scientists were not in doubt, they may have deleted e-mails to avoid having to make them public. “There has been a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness,” the panel said in July 2010.


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