E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Of Surface Temperature Trends

E-mail Documentation Of The Successful Attempt By Thomas Karl Director Of the U.S. National Climate Data Center To Suppress Biases and Uncertainties In the Assessment Of Surface Temperature Trends

The release of the e-mails from Phil Jones further confirmed the attempts to suppress viewpoints of climate change issues, which conflict with the IPCC viewpoint.

In the example I present below, the issue is the robustness of the surface temperature trend record.  The three main groups that compile and analyze this information are NCDC (directed by Tom Karl), GISS (directed by Jim Hansen) and CRU (directed by Phil Jones).

In 2005, as I document in

Pielke Sr., Roger A., 2005: Public Comment on CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. 88 pp including appendices,

strong arm tactics of the Editor of this report (Tom Karl, Director of the US National Data Climate Center) were used to remove information in the CCSP report which raised questions about the robustness of his (and Jim Hansen’s GISS and Phil Jones’s CRU)  surface temperature data. Phil Jones was a  National Research Council panel member in a review of an interim draft of the CCSP report. In my Public Comment, I provided e-mail documentation of how these questions were excluded. At the time, my Public Comment did not receive much attention.

However, in light of the exposure of the inappropriate attempts to prevent the presentation of alternative viewpoints of climate science as seen in the Phil Jones e-mails,  I am posting below text from  several relevant e-mails (the complete emails are in the Public Comment).  Since Tom Karl was evaluating his own group’s surface temperature analysis, his conflict of interest is very clear.


Subject: Chapter 6: an alternative? [email not for the faint hearted?]

Resent-From: CCSPTempTrendAuthors.NCDC@noaa.gov

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 13:22:32 +0100

From: Thorne, Peter <peter.thorne@metoffice.gov.uk>

To: CCSPTempTrendAuthors.NCDC@noaa.gov

Dear all,

Health warning: This mail does not hold its punches as the youngest member of this panel I suppose that I have the most to lose through Chapter 6 in its current form in terms of future research career. I also suspect that I am the most likely to run around making a pain in the proverbial of myself. My apologies for that! I’ve tried over the past few weeks to help others in the Chapter 6 redrafting, but I really think that the structure we had just will not work. Therefore I took the liberty of spending 3 hours this morning developing an alternative, which I attach. I will caveat that David has looked at this, but the rationale and most of the text is my responsibility, not his (in other words the buck stops here).

This is punchier, almost devoid of references (actually not bothered with a reference list yet – there are limits!), more tightly linked to the chapters, and contains fewer recommendations that are more focussed. I believe unless I am seriously mistaken that these are all points

others have made over the recent past in relation to this chapter. They also directly assess the NRC review comments.

 very time we have put a redraft back in the past few weeks the same pet subjects have been re-inserted, lengthening the draft and destroying the flow. I’m sorry, but I for one am now utterly bored of this. You will note in the attached there are comments where I suspect this insertion of pet subjects may happen, but, in my opinion, is not justified. I have, however, been scrupulously fair in targeting surface and upper-air records in all sections in line with the balance of the rest

of this report and with Roger’s concerns. I would be particularly interested in thoughts from the editorial team and other CLAs as to whether they think this is an improvement. My sincere apologies if this causes offence to Roger or anyone else. My sole interest is in seeing us get an excellent report out. I will now don my flame proof jacket, but please can everyone take the time to calmly consider this mail and the attachment first.


My suspicion is that Tom Karl encouraged or asked Peter Thorne to write this e-mail [for  a more recent comment on the poor professional ethics of Peter Thorne; see]. Thorne only required 3 hours to write his version, as he wrote in his e-mail, while we had spent several months writing ours.

Tom Karl quickly followed up Thorne’s e-mail with

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 08:53:44 -0400

From: Thomas R Karl <Thomas.R.Karl@noaa.gov>

To: Roger Pielke <pielke@atmos.colostate.edu>

Subject: [Fwd: Chapter 6: an alternative? [email not for the faint


Roger — let me know what you think


However,  I had not even seen what Tom Karl was talking about, which implies that this was discussed between Tom Karl and Peter Thorne beforehand.  I replied to Karl’s e-mail with

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 06:55:54 -0600 (MDT)

From: Roger Pielke <pielke@atmos.colostate.edu>

To: _NESDIS NCDC CCSP Temp Trends Lead Authors


Subject: Re: Chapter 6: an alternative? [email not for the faint hearted?]

Resent-Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 07:04:06 -0600

Resent-From: CCSPTempTrendAuthors.NCDC@noaa.gov


Since I was not even sent a copy of this suggested revision, it would be appreciated if you did so I can comment.


I e-mailed the following to Peter Thorne 


In order for us to track down the problem, please send us the e-mail as it actually bounced, so that we can use the tracking information that always appears on these.


Peter Thorne replied

 Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 09:04:53 +0100

From: “Thorne, Peter” <peter.thorne@metoffice.gov.uk>

To: Roger Pielke <pielke@atmos.colostate.edu>

Cc: Thomas R Karl <Thomas.R.Karl@noaa.gov>

Subject: Email that bounced


I no longer have the bounced mail itself I’m afraid, but I have the

saved DNS error message which is attached below [DNS message is in Appendix C of my Public Comment]: 

Is it possible that your server machine was temporarily down or having a patch applied at this time? That could explain it. For everyone else there was no bounce.



The clear suspicion is that I was deliberately left off. If my e-mail bounced, why did not he resend it to me?

Tom Peterson (who was on the Committee also; and the same Tom Peterson who ridiculed me in the Phil Jones e-mail collection; see) wrote

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005 09:05:52 -0400

From: Thomas C Peterson <Thomas.C.Peterson@noaa.gov>

To: Roger Pielke <pielke@atmos.colostate.edu>

Subject: Re: Chapter 6: an alternative? [email not for the faint hearted?]

Roger, it was attached to Peter’s email that went out to the whole team

earlier today. Did you not get it?

More e-mails followed, which are reproduced in Appendix C my Public Comment.  The question of whether they actually sent me the original e-mail was, of course, not the substantive problem with the process (it just suggests they were communicating about this via e-mail and inadvertently left me off the final e-mail communication that disseminated Peter Thorne’s draft.

The end of the e-mail exchange, which forced me to resign from the Committee, is clear in the text and tone of the e-mail below from Tom Karl 

From the Entire Editorial Staff: Roger, please do not take this request lightly. We politely ask you take Peter’s version, since everyone so far has indicated it is easier to understand, balanced, and does better represent their views and indicate where you would differ (small minorities views ok, but not desirable). This would be your opportunity to highight specific issues or points that are not adequately addressed in the version that Peter has put out on the Table. It seems you are representing yourself, at the expense of all the other authors who have weighed in on this. We do not understand your intransigence on this.

In other words, since I would not acquiesce to the view of Tom Karl, with regards to the robustness of his surface temperature data and other issues, he was pressuring me to  accept the replacement chapter which does not raise the issues with its robustness. There was also no poll of the Commttee with respect to his claim that everyone accepted Peter Thorne’s chapter, as I document in my Public Comment).

I replied


 Lets accept that Peter’s e-mail bounced. As a primary person involved in Chapter 6, as soon as this was found out, efforts should have been made to contact me, as it was clearly recognized by the header of the e-mail that this was going to result in a significant response.

In regards to the more serious issue, it is quite easy for me to document your intransigence on this, rather than you trying to spin the history of this issue so that it is my fault. Peter is invited to contribute to the process in the defined framework as everyone else has, using the existing Chapter draft as the template. It is clear from your published work that you have much to offer scientifically but you also have a conflict of interest, and, in my view, are inappropriately exercising it in your capacity as Editor. By repeatedly stating that I am representing only myself in this debate mischaraterizes the diversity of views of others which exist in our community, and which is reported in the peer-reviewed literature

Using your words, I hope you and the Editorial Staff do not take this controversy lightly. It is documentable that you are seeking to produce a document that is not balanced in its perspective on the issues of surface and tropospheric temperature changes.

I will continue to work on Chapter 6, and look forward to resolving this by encouraging authors to work within the framework of the existing Chapter.


With a further response from Tom Karl


 Thank you for your speedy reply. Once again, “We politely ask you take Peter’s version …. to highlight specific issues or points that are not adequately addressed in the version that Peter has put out on the Table.”

 Tom, Bill, Chris and Susan

I then decided that the CCSP report process led by Tom Karl is not interested in assessing the science issue with the surface and tropospheric temperature data. He wanted a rubber stamp of the robustness of his data analysis.   

Here is my resignation e-mail which I then sent

 Date: Sat, 13 Aug 2005 01:14:59 +0000

From: pielke_r@comcast.net

To: james.r.Mahoney@noaa.gov, james.r.Mahoney@noaa.gov

Cc: _NESDIS NCDC CCSP Temp Trends Lead Authors

<CCSPTempTrendAuthors.NCDC@noaa.gov>; richard.moss@pnl.gov,


 Subject: Resignation

 Dear Dr. Mahoney

 I am resigning effective immediately from the CCSP Committee “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere-Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences”. For the reasons briefly summarized in my blog (http://ccc.atmos.colostate.edu/blog/), I have given up seeking to promote a balanced presentation of the issue of assessing recent spatial and temporal surface and tropospheric temperature trends. The NY Times article today was the last straw. This entire exercise has been very disappointing, and, unfortunately is a direct result of having the same people write the assessment report as have completed the studies.

 Their premature representation of aspects of the report to the media and in a Senate Hearing before we finalized the report has made me realize that, despite the claims of some of them to the contrary, only the minimal representation of the perspective that I represent will be begrudgingly included in the report. I also learned earlier this week that a member of the Committee drafted a replacement chapter to the one that I had been responsible for and worked hard toward reaching a consensus, which was almost complete. This sort of politicking has no place in a community assessment. If such committees are put together with no intention of adequately accommodating minority, but scientifically valid perspectives, then it would be best in the future not to invite such participation on CCSP committees I will be submitting a statement as part of the public record when the report appears documenting the specific process and science issues I have with this report. On the science issues, the community at large can made a decision as to whether or not they have merit.


 Roger A. Pielke Sr.

Professor and State Climatologist

Department of Atmospheric Science

Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1371


 As a direct result of my inability to present issues associated with uncertainties and possible systematic biases with the surface temperature record, I invited a number colleagues to co-author a peer reviewed paper which raises these issues. The peer reviewed paper appeared in 2007


Pielke Sr., R.A., C. Davey, D. Niyogi, S. Fall, J. Steinweg-Woods, K. Hubbard, X. Lin, M. Cai, Y.-K. Lim, H. Li, J. Nielsen-Gammon, K. Gallo, R. Hale, R. Mahmood, S. Foster, R.T. McNider, and P. Blanken, 2007: Unresolved issues with the assessment of multi-decadal global land surface temperature trends. J. Geophys. Res., 112, D24S08, doi:10.1029/2006JD008229. 

As of today’s data, 4 years after the completion of the report, Tom Karl and his associates as NCDC continue to ignore these issues.  As Phil Jones wrote to Ben Santer and Tom Wigley in his August  22 2005 e-mail with  respect to my resignation

 “I almost missed the one with Pielke’s resignation in. Is this going to make your CCSP task easier or harder? Presumably now you’ll get all his comments to officially deal with. Maybe
you’ll be able to ignore them?

[from http://www.eastangliaemails.com/emails.php?eid=584&filename=1124742148.txt]

 Phil Jones also wrote in an  e-mail dated January 29 2009, with respect to a Comment/Reply with respect to our 2007 JGR paper

> …He is a prat. He’s just had a response to a comment
> piece that David Parker, Tom Peterson and I wrote on a paper
> they had in 2007. Pielke wouldn’t understand independence if it
> hit him in the face. Both papers in JGR online. Not worth you
> reading them unless interested.
> Cheers
> Phil

Where the Comment he is referring to is our JGR paper and the Comment/Reply that he was involved in. The referees of the  Comment/Reply supported the conclusions of our JGR paper (see). 

The issues of the conflict of interest illustrated by the sample of e-mails from Phil Jones, as well as the above e-mails from Tom Karl, illustrate the extent that this corruption of climate assessements has permeated climate science.

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