Do The CRU E-Mails Provide Further Documentation Of A Conflict Of Interest In The Preparation Of A CCSP Climate Assessment Report?

The AP has completed an analysis of the e-mails released from CRU in an article titled “IMPACT: Science not faked, but not pretty”.  My son posted on this news release last week (see).

One aspect of these e-mails that was not discussed in the AP report is an apparent  conflict of interest between Tom Wigley and Phil Jones with respect to the 2005 CCSP Report

Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences. Thomas R. Karl, Susan J. Hassol, Christopher D. Miller, and William L. Murray, editors, 2006. A Report by the Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, Washington, DC.

The question is whether the e-mails from Tom Wigley and Phil Jones, that are reproduced below, document an apparent conflict of interest and inappropriate contacts between an author of the report and a reviewer of that report.

Tom Wigley was a member of the committee and  the lead author of  the Executive Summary of this CCSP report, while Phil Jones was invited (and agreed) to serve on a National Research Council Report to review a draft of the CCSP report [The time line of the CCSP report is summarized in slide 4 in Phil Jones was part of the NRC committee that received the draft CCSP report in January 2005. The e-mail below from Phil Jones is dated January 21 2005. 

I have already documented by e-mails the inappropriate tactics of Tom Karl with respect to the CCSP report in my post

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 Surface Temperature Trends

The e-mails involving Tom Wigley and Phil Jones that presents information on this conflict of interest is dated January 21 2005 and reads [I have highlighted the relevant text with respect to the conflict of interest]

From: Phil Jones <>
To: Tom Wigley
Subject: Re: FOIA
Date: Fri Jan 21 15:20:06 2005
Cc: Ben Santer <>

I’ll look at what you’ve said over the weekend re CCSP. I don’t know the other panel members. I’ve not heard any more about it since agreeing a week ago. As for FOIA Sarah isn’t technically employed by UEA and she will likely be paid by Manchester Metropolitan University. I wouldn’t worry about the code. If FOIA does ever get used by anyone, there is also IPR to consider as well. Data is covered by all the agreements we sign with people, so I will be hiding behind them. I’ll be passing any requests onto the person at UEA who has been given a post to deal with them.

At 14:35 21/01/2005, Tom Wigley wrote:

Thanks for the quick reply. The leaflet appeared so general, but it was prepared by UEA so they may have simplified things. From their wording, computer code would be covered by the FOIA. My concern was if Sarah is/was still employed by UEA. I guess she could claim that she had only written one tenth of the code and release every tenth line.
Sorry I won’t see you, but I will not come up to Norwich until Monday.

Let me fill you in a bit (confidentially). You probably know the panel members. We were concerned that the chair would be a strong person. It is Jerry Mahlman — about the best possible choice. Richard Smith is the statistician — also excellent. Dave Randall, too — very good. As token skeptic there is Dick Lindzen — but at least he is a smart guy and he does listen. He may raise his paper with Gianitsis that purports to show low climate sensitivity from volcanoes. I will attach our paper that proves otherwise, in press in JGR. Preparing the report has been a good and bad experience. I think I had the worst task with the Exec. Summ. — it tied up most of my time for the past 3 months. The good has been the positive interactions between most of the people — a really excellent bunch. I have been very impressed by Carl Mears and John Lanzante. At meetings, John Christy has been quite good — and there were good and positive interactions between John and Roy and the RSS gang that helped clarify a lot. Outside the meeting, in the email world, he has been more of a pain. He has made a lot of useful suggestions for the ExSumm — but he keeps accusing the AOGCMers of faking their models (not quite as bluntly as this). In the emails there are some very useful exchanges from Jerry Meehl, Ramaswamy and Ben detailing the AOGCM development process. We will be writing a BAMS article on this in the summer — much of what happens in model development is unknown to the rest of the community. The ‘faking’ idea prompted me to write a tongue in cheek note — also attached. As far as I know, John will not raise this particular issue in his dissentin[g] views. To accommodate dissenting views, the report will have a “dissenters’ appendix”, with responses. You will get this at some stage — the deadline for dissenters to produce is Jan 31, and we will not finish our rebuttals until mid Feb. The dissenters are John C, and (far worse) Roger Pielke Sr. All of the rest of us disagree with these persons’ dissenting views. Roger has been extremely difficult — but the details are too complex to put in an email. On the other hand he has made a number of useful contributions to the ExSumm and other chapters. Suffice to say that he has some strange ideas (often to do with the effects of landuse change) that are interesting but still, in my view, speculative — but testable. We have yet to see the dissents — and it would not be ethical for me to say any more than I have already. 

 [Note from R.Pielke Sr. Dec 14 2009: my dissenting view is available; see]

Best wishes,

Phil Jones wrote:

I hope the VTT panel doesn’t prove a meeting too many at this time. It is currently scheduled for Feb 23-25
 and I only get back from an 8 day workshop in Pune on Feb 20. The IPCC Chapter with Kevin is now with WGI in Boulder. We did put you down as one of our potential reviewers. Don’t know whether you’ll have time or whether WGI will select you – regional balance etc. Next week I’ll be in Reading and Exeter, so won’be be in CRU. Have to be at an RMS Awards meeting then something on Reanalysis, then I have to collect some data from the archives in Exeter for a small project we have. It is
easier for me to get this than explain to someone how to do it. So I’ll miss you – not back till Thursday night. On the FOI Act there is a little leaflet we have all been sent. It doesn’t really clarify what we might have to do re programs or data. Like all things in Britain we will only find out when the first person or organization asks. I wouldn’t tell anybody about the FOI
Act in Britain. I don’t think UEA really knows what’s involved. As you’re no longer an employee I would use this argument if anything comes along. I think it is supposed to mainly apply to issues of personal information – references for
jobs etc. Sorry I’ll miss you next week. If you’re in on Sunday perhaps you could come round to our new house in Wicklewood. Phone number is still the same as 01953 605643. Keith and Sarah know where it is even if they did get lost the
first time they came.
At 02:59 21/01/2005, you wrote:

Tom Karl told me you will be on the VTT review panel. This is very good news. Unfortunately I will not be at the meeting on the 23rd — I will be in midair half way across the Pacific to spend a couple of weeks in Adelaide. I got a brochure on the FOI Act from UEA. Does this mean that, if someone asks for a computer program we have to give it out?? Can you check this for me (and Sarah). I will be at CRU next Mon, Tue, Wed in case Sarah did not tell you.

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone XXXXXXXX School of Environmental Sciences XXXXXXXUniversity of East Anglia
Norwich Email

It seems that the only answer to the question “Do the CRU e-mails provide further documentation of a conflict of interest in the preparation of a CCSP climate assessment report?” is YES.

 It appears Tom Wigley was seeking to prejudice Phil Jones before he actually even reviewed the draft report. This likely would not have changed his views (based on the other leaked e-mails) but it provides a clear documentation of what seems to be an inappropriate interaction with respect to a review of an assessment report that is likely widespread among the leadership of the climate assessment community.

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