Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?

No, not the stuff in the stolen emails — although the University of East Anglia and its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) have yet another statement out I’ll excerpt below.  It notes “Over 95% of the CRU climate data set concerning land surface temperatures has been accessible to climate researchers, sceptics and the public for several years.”

No, the vital climate data that the Hadley Center and CRU are withholding from the public is the warming taking place in the Arctic (see “What exactly is polar amplification and why does it matter?“).  And that missing data is why NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies data are  almost certainly superior to CRU’s data “developed in conjunction with Hadley Centre of the UK Met Office.”

Remember, “there are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest,” as New Scientist explained (see here and here). “The UK’s Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” Thus it is almost certainly the case that the planet has warmed up more this decade than NASA says, and especially more than the UK’s Hadley Center says.

Mean temperature difference between the periods  2004-2008 and 1999-2003 RealClimate has an excellent post on this very subject “” “the ‘hole in the Arctic’ in the Hadley data, just where recent warming has been greatest” “” with this great figure (and caption):

Figure. The animated graph shows the temperature difference between the two 5-year periods 1999-2003 and 2004-2008. The largest warming has occurred over the Arctic in the past decade and is missing in the Hadley data.

See also “Human-caused Arctic warming overtakes 2,000 years of natural cooling, “seminal” study finds.”

Thus contrary to what the global warming disinformers say about the recent temperature record, it is almost certainly the case that the planet has warmed up more this decade than NASA says, and especially more than the UK’s Hadley Center says.

So that’s why the NASA temperature record should be seen as more accurate, which puts 2005 as the warmest year on record, with 2007 just edging out 1998 for second warmest.  This is “the hottest decade the planet has experienced in many thousands of years,” as climatologist Ken Caldeira puts it.  NASA has reported June to October were the hottest on record.* And next year may well be the warmest on record.

So, no, there hasn’t been any recent “global cooling” even for the surface temperature record. And when you look at where 90% of the human-caused warming was expected to go — the oceans — you find steady warming over the past several years:

And yes, I’m going to use that graph until the status quo media starts getting this warming story right (see “Skeptical Science explains how we know global warming is happening: It’s the oceans, stupid!“).  And I’ll repeat that a new NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” (subs. req’d, release here) concluded:

[S]ince 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.

So the Hadley-CRU data is missing the place on the surface where the most warming has occurred — and like all surface temperature data, it doesn’t track the part of the planet where most of the warming goes.

As for CRU’s actual data, here is what they have to say in their November 28 news release on the subject:

CRU climate data already ‘over 95%’ available

Over 95% of the CRU climate data set concerning land surface temperatures has been accessible to climate researchers, sceptics and the public for several years the University of East Anglia has confirmed.

“It is well known within the scientific community and particularly those who are sceptical of climate change that over 95% of the raw station data has been accessible through the Global Historical Climatology Network for several years.  We are quite clearly not hiding information which seems to be the speculation on some blogs and by some media commentators,” commented the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Research Enterprise and Engagement Professor Trevor Davies.

The University will make all the data accessible as soon as they are released from a range of non-publication agreements.  Publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre.

The procedure for releasing these data, which are mainly owned by National Meteorological Services (NMSs) around the globe, is by direct contact between the permanent representatives of NMSs (in the UK the Met Office).

“We are grateful for the necessary support of the Met Office in requesting the permissions for releasing the information but understand that responses may take several months and that some countries may refuse permission due to the economic value of the data,” continued Professor Davies.

The remaining data, to be published when permissions are given, generally cover areas of the world where there are fewer data collection stations.

“CRU’s full data will be published in the interests of research transparency when we have the necessary agreements. It is worth reiterating that our conclusions correlate well to those of other scientists based on the separate data sets held by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS),” concluded Professor Davies.

You can, of course, find all the data you could possibly want here.  It’s certainly worth reanalyzing over and over and over again because Lord knows scientists don’t know how to do that sort of thing.

You can read previously released statements from CRU, Prof Trevor Davies, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, and Prof Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit, there, too.

I must say that Jones seems to be following the Tiger Woods approach to dealing with the media, and I think it is a mistake.  No doubt that is what the lawyers have told them to do, but, I agree with George Marshall’s analysis in the UK’s Guardian that “There was no evidence of conspiracy among climate scientists in the leaked emails – so why was the University of East Anglia’s response so pathetic?” and that “Jones should speak to every journalist who calls, go on the offensive and defend his science” (see Reuters: “ANALYSIS-Hacked climate e-mails awkward, not game changer”).

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17 Responses to Why are Hadley and CRU withholding vital climate data from the public?

  1. MarkB says:

    My take on Phil Jones is that he, like many of his colleagues, prefers to do scientific research rather than deal with politically-motivated garbage – thus, his frustration (not surprising 10-15 years of emails might show a few that reveal that) with persistent frivolous FOI requests that distract from his work and with dealing with the media assault on this issue.

  2. ken levenson says:

    Joe, Do you know if NASA or Hadley have full accounting of the Antarctic surface temperatures?
    Given ice mass loss there, seems it is warming – yet it’s my take that we’ve not heard much about surface temps there.

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    If the climate scientists said some impolitic things in “private” e-mail, can anyone here imagine what the deniers say in their “private” conversations about people like Hansen, McKibben, Gore, our host Joe, and basically anyone else from the Reality Enhanced Community? As I’ve said before, set a Google alert for these names, “global warming”, and a few other similarly related items, and you will have a daily delivery of steaming, wet garbage to your in-box, thanks to the rabid deniers.

    As for this post in particular, I’m glad Joe mentioned the Arctic data hole. It’s a topic that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, especially given the real-world changes we’re already seeing at the top of the world.

  4. DavidCOG says:

    > “Jones should speak to every journalist who calls, go on the offensive and defend his science”

    And have his words picked over *again* to produce a result that they want? He’s a scientist, not a marketing consultant. That’s what the press do with no the most mundane scientific issues. Do you think they’re all going to represent his words accurately given free access, a volley of questions and a microphone?

    Clear, calm statements have been issued and the vast majority (all?) of the credible press have assessed that there has been no fraud, no data manipulation and the science remains unchanged.

    This whole episode must have the Deniers snorting and grunting in satisfaction. Monbiot called for Jones resignation. Curry talks about the “ivory tower … circling wagons”. And meanwhile the science is no less certain and no evidence of wrong-doing has been found.

    It’s a cliché: conservatives lie and smear, liberals panic and start bickering.

    Get a grip.

    [JR: I don’t agree with Monbiot or Curry, but by pulling a Tiger Woods, Jones is helping no one. The science is rock solid, and he knows it as well as anyone. He should relish the opportunity to explain that recent warming is unequivocal, humans are the primary cause, this is the hottest decade on record and on our current path of unrestricted emissions, we face multiple catastrophes.]

  5. Douglas says:

    Nice post, but I’m little confused what the spinning globe is showing. Is this the NASA-GISS data that “assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations”?

    Or is this NCEP data a third type (satellite?) that is better than both NASA and Hadley? Thanks.

    [JR: NCEP would be NOAA’s data, which I believe uses different sea surface temperature data than NASA.]

  6. David B. Benson says:

    ken levenson (2) — The current crop of AOGCMs don’t do ice change. Despite the rather alarming rate of ice loss from GIS in the north and WAIS in the south, this makes essentially no difference (yet) to model calculations.

    Fifth try to post this comment, now leaving out html.

  7. Marion Delgado says:

    very clever title. surprised drudge didn’t link to this.

  8. From Peru says:

    Why the hole is not filled?
    There are the data,so there is the nice graph above.


  9. From Peru says:

    Nasa GISTEMP is skewed by the ground stations , because differences between coast and open water are huge:

    The “NOAA map room” shows near zero temperature anomalies in Arctic summer, then in Fall-Winter there appear huge red spots, that indicate anomalies up to 20ºC!

    Same story for Antarctic.That leaves the question: why polar winters are so anomalously warm, even in a solid continent like Antartica?(There is no heat storage in the ocean waters below the ice as in the Arctic)

    So, the data is there, why is not included in GISTEMP or CRU data?

  10. David Harington says:

    As you are still talking about this issue, weeks later, it would seem that it is not going aways as you and others predicted.

    There is more to come of that I am sure.

  11. Observer says:

    Seeking the “raw” data is not so simple as these discussions tend to imply. The chain of confidentiality agreements does not nearly always end with the National Meteorological Services.

    A lot of the data originates at weather stations paid for and operated by third partiers, such as air security administrations, airport operators,marine safety services, independent research institutions, even airlines and shipping companies. Air Forces and Navies do contribute significantly as well.

    Access to these data is by agreement and seldom, if ever, without some recompensation. It is a barter trade, access to data in exchange to some other valuable data or service. Barter is the method used in the field due to a long tradion.

    The third parties all have their own interests, that being the reason why they take the measurements in the first place, competition and many other reasons included. Climate research is not a strong consideration. In many cases it is an application causing additional cost. Reviewing or changing such agreements is a long process.

  12. ken levenson says:

    David Benson – Thank you for reply (and persistence!) but I’m thinking the question is slightly different. I realize the ice melt may be significant in WAIS and GIS but I was actually thinking about the recently reported losses at EAIS. Even if the AOGCM doesn’t account for ice loss, shouldn’t the average surface temp readings include the Arctic and Antarctic. If NASA is including the Arctic, I’m wondering, given the EAIS losses, if the apparent surface warming in the Antarctic is being fully accounted for too? (Does that make sense?)

  13. Luke Silburn says:


    There are no sensors in the arctic ocean because it would be extremely expensive to build, install and manage them. Since virtually nobody goes to the arctic the cost/benefit hasn’t been worthwhile for the meteorological organisations who deploy these platforms.

    Doubtless GISS and CRU would like someone to cough up the cash and put some sensors into the arctic for their research (they don’t have the funds for this themselves ‘cuz it’s not their job to build, deploy and manage sensors).

    Even if someone did step up and they got coverage of the arctic ocean, I shudder to think what kind of post-processing, cross validation and correction factors you’d have to apply on data derived from instruments which are floating in water for part of the year but icebound for the rest; plus the stations would be mobile of course, so there would need to be corrections for that as well.


  14. David B. Benson says:

    ken levenson (12) — The readings for EAIS are too small and too uncertain to take into account (yet).

  15. From Peru says:



    Anyway the authors of the globe animation above have ALREADY filled the hole.

    So, I say again..



    It is only a matter of data transfer…

  16. Observer says:

    Maybe the U.S. Navy should be asked for help?

    Mr. Al Gore pried open some of their vaults while vice-president, but only partially.

    The Navy climate prediction model code would also be most valuable and should be made available for the community. If I remember correctly, it was used to publish the earlies probable year for ice-free Arctic Ocean (2013 or so). Maybe also using their extensive and proprietary data holdings concerning the Arctic area.

    All data and code is desperately needed. FOIA, anyone?

  17. MarkR says:

    Global Warming through CO2 is the kindling which will start the real fire of climate change. Just as flames suddenly spring forth from friction-induced smoke, AGW is going to set off a series of feedback loops which suddenly engulf the planet in heat. We humans are truly playing with fire.
    The Australian Aborigines came to their continent when it was covered largely in open forest. Within one thousand years, the megafauna were extinct. It is unlikely that they did this only by hunting, but rather with man’s fiercest tool, fire. By fire-sticking a dry and fragile landscape, they transformed it into an even more severe environment where they could only survive on the edge of existence.
    With AGW, human beings are “fire-sticking” the entire planet, and what we’ll get for our blindly ambitious efforts is a sere landscape denuded of life-sustaining temperate ecosystems which we need for our very existence as a mammalian species.