Conflict Of Interest Process with Respect To An NRC Review Panel Of A Draft Of The CCSP 1.1 Report

As those of you who have followed my weblog know, I concluded that Tom Karl, the Editor of the CCSP Report “Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences“, abused his position as Chair in preparing that report. I have documented this 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.

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 new set of e-mails [Climategate #2] has provided another glimpse into the inappropriate handling of this CCSP report by Tom Karl.

The relevant e-mails  [from Climategate 2 FOIA 2011 Searchable Database] include where Phil Jones is asked to participate in a review by the National Research Council [part of the US Academy of Sciences] of a draft of the CCSP report and is asked about his conflict of interest. There is, of course, nothing wrong with participating even with a conflict of interest, however, it needs to be honestly reported. Phil Jones did not do that, and Tom Karl and Tom Peterson of NCDC, among others on the Committee, knew that Phil has closely worked with them and with  NCDC.

Examples of their interactions prior to the CCSP report include

1. IPCC Second Assessment Report: Climate Change 1995 (SAR)  where Tom Karl one of Lead Authors Phil Jones a  Contributor.

2. David R. Easterling, Briony Horton, Philip D. Jones, Thomas C. Peterson, Thomas R. Karl, David E. Parker, M. James Salinger, Vyacheslav Razuvayev, Neil Plummer, Paul Jamason and Christopher K. Folland, 1997: Maximum and Minimum Temperature Trends for the Globe Science. 18 July 1997: Vol. 277 no. 5324 pp. 364-367 DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5324.364

3.Thomas C. Peterson, David R. Easterling, Thomas R. Karl, Pavel Groisman, Neville Nicholls, Neil Plummer, Simon Torok, Ingeborg Auer, Reinhard Boehm, Donald Gullett, Lucie Vincent, Raino Heino, Heikki Tuomenvirta, Olivier Mestre, Tamás Szentimrey, James Salinger, Eirik J. Førland, Inger Hanssen-Bauer, Hans Alexandersson, Philip Jones and David Parker: Homogeneity adjustments of in situ atmospheric climate data: a review (pages 1493–1517) Article first published online: 18 DEC 1998 | DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(19981115)18:133.0.CO;2-T

Parikhit Sinha replies [highlight added]

At 15:06 11/02/2005, you wrote

Thanks Phil.

The conflict of interest question relates to the following: whether you have any funding from or appointments with the study sponsor (NOAA) that would be adversely or positively affected by conclusions from the NRC review.

I’m guessing your answer is no, but let me know about this. I’ll also let you know what transpires during the conference call. See you in Chicago. Thanks.


from: Phil Jones <REDACTED>
subject: RE: NRC Temp Trends — CCSP executive summary
to: “Sinha, Parikhit”

The answer is No. As you might guess, I get no money from NOAA. I am on one of their panels (CCDD run by Tom Karl) that meets every year, but we just discuss research directions.

This answer about his conflict of interest indicates a limited interaction with NCDC. This is clearly false as they have even published together which was not disclosed to Parikhit Sinha in Phil Jones’s e-mail.

The e-mail continues

At 18:43 08/02/2005, you wrote:

Dear all,

Please find attached the executive summary, preface, and glossary for the CCSP report on Temperature Trends that you will be reviewing. We recently received these items from the sponsor. Please include them in your briefing book. We would like all of you to bring written comments on the executive summary to the upcoming meeting in Chicago. We will send you the last remaining report item, Appendix A, once we receive it from the sponsor.
<> <> <>
Parikhit Sinha, Ph.D.
Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate
National Academies/National Research Council
REDACTEDFifth Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
web: [2]

From: Phil Jones [[1]REDACTEDREDACTED]
Sent: Friday, FebruaryREDACTED:46 AM
To: Sinha, Parikhit
Subject: Re: NRC Temp Trends — CCSP executive summary
Dear Ricky,
REDACTEDThe parcel has arrived and I also have the Executive Summary, so I’m all set for my trip tomorrow and have lots to read. REDACTEDSend me a summary of any relevant points from your conference call on Feb 15. I don’t think I have any conflicts. I know ben Santer and Tom Wigley very well and most of the other authors as well. Peter Thorne was my PhD student – completed about 3 years ago. REDACTEDSee you on Feb 22 or 23. I will check my email on Feb 20/21 and maybe in India.

Phil writes ” I don’t think I have any conflicts“, yet identifies close connections with at least three of the panel members and has published with them.

In this response, the NRC should have recognized that Phil did have a conflict. Phil was properly disclosing these specific conflicts.

Even more importantly, however, since the focus of the CCSP report was to reconcile surface and tropospheric temperatures, the NRC committee was supposed to examine the robustness of the surface temperature  trends, of which Phil Jones’s group provides one of the global analyses [CRU].  Tom Karl, Director of NCDC is chair of the CCSP committee while Tom Peterson of NCDC was on the Committee. Tom Karl and Tom Peterson lead the NCDC global surface temperature assessment and have worked closely with Phil Jones for years, as illustrated by the joint publications.  In addition, Peter Thorne was one of Phil Jones’s Ph.d. students and is also on the Committee.

In addition, as  I documented in

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

Peter Thorne is the person is who rewrote (supposedly in just a few hours) the chapter that I was lead on. As documented in those e-mails, and in my Public Comment,  Tom Karl was strong arming me to replace the chapter that we had almost completed with Peter Thorne’s version.  Peter claims that he did this independently of  Tom Karl and other members of the CCSP committee. but in light of the cozy relations between Tom Karl, Tom Peterson and Phil Jones, and that Peter was Phil’s student, this claim of independence is suspicious.  In 2010, Peter Thorne was hired by Tom Karl at NCDC.

Returning to the issue of the conflict with respect to the NRC review of the draft CCSP report, the resulting inappropriate manipulation of the NRC report is clearly shown in the e-mail below (Dick Lindzen was also on the NRC panel)

This e-mail is from

10:30:20 2005
from: Phil Jones <REDACTED>
subject: HC
to: Ben Santer <REDACTED>


REDACTEDTom was here yesterday. He said you were going to the CCSP meeting for a day in Chicago, then flying on to the UK for the HC meeting May 18-19 (and 17th evening). Do you still want to come on up to Norwich afterwards?
Glad to hear from Tom you’ve been writing up your CCSP chapter and extending it significantly. He gave me a brief summary. I signed off yesterday on the CCSP report. You should be getting it through Tom Karl later today, or by Monday. As I did Ch 5, if you want to check anything with me feel free to. I wasn’t able to stop some comments being put in by Lindzen, but Tom has a paper as does Myles which are enough to ignore his and the Douglass papers.

Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit TelephoneREDACTED3 592090
School of Environmental Sciences FaxREDACTED3 507784
University of East Anglia

Ben Santer was also on the CCSP committee and clearly briefed Phil Jones on the report. This was clearly inappropriate behavior. Tom here is presumably Tom Wigley, who was also on the CCSP committee.

Thus, these e-mails further document that Phil Jones provided an incomplete statement on his conflict of interest with the CCSP report. Tom Karl, Tom Peterson,  Tom Wigley, Peter Thorne and Ben Santer clearly knew about this conflict. For whatever reason, they sacrificed an opportunity for an independent assessment of the CCSP report.  The NRC did not properly vet the individuals on the NRC committee.

The released e-mails show a behavior that appears to be systemic throughout much of the leadership with respect to climate assessments such as performed by the IPCC.

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