Feeds

Keenan on CRU, open data and the Royal Society

UEA fired at feet - Royal Society replicated the experiment

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Doug Keenan, the statistician whose work highlighted severe flaws in the work of the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia, has welcomed the Sunshine order to open up the station records.

Scientists need the raw data to replicate temperature records, but CRU refused to release the data requested - a subset of weather station records from around the world - to a top UK Oxford physicist, despite having already shared the data with Georgia Tech in the United States.

The ICO comprehensively demolished the reasons CRU offered - including intellectual property and fear of jeopardising international relations. In doing so, it's raised the standard for academics working across all UK sciences.

"The ICO's Decision Notice is an extremely well-reasoned work, with rigorous logic," Keenan said. "They did similarly with the Decision Notice for my FoI request for the Belfast tree-ring data.

"Of course I am glad about the decisions that the ICO reaches, but more than that, the logicality of the arguments is strongly impressive."

It's a surprisingly aggressive ruling, in that it acknowledges the IP rights of owner of a database - but says that there is a greater public duty to disclose the data.

"Some of UEA's claims are absurd, for example, that the requested data was publicly available," Keenan told us. "It is clear, then, that UEA is trying to find some excuse to prevent disclosure of the data.

"What, then, is their real reason for not wanting disclosure?  If UEA is truly interested in advancing scientific understanding, why do they not want to make their data available to others?"

Reader comments on the story have produced some fascinating responses: lifelong anti-copyright zealots can be found explaining the benefits of copyright, and veteran "open data" crusaders advocating data be kept under wraps. Climate debates can do strange things, with cherished principles being jettisoned - the means apparently justifying the ends.

Keenan says he wasn't impressed by the support for the CRU academics from the new warmist president of the Royal Society, Paul Nurse. At a recent meeting, Keenan took issue with Paul Nurse's claim that CRU academics felt "bombarded" with FoI requests.

"I stated that the claim was false, and gave a summary history of what had actually happened. Nurse replied that if scientists felt that they were being bombarded, then the scientists were being bombarded.

"Nurse is plainly being illogical. He seems to believe that scientists always have honorable motivations - including when refusing to disclose data. The ICO Decision Notice provides further evidence that such a belief is unrealistic."

It's not the finest hour for the Royal Society which advanced the scientific method from its foundation in 1660.

On a more positive note, Keenan welcomes the BEST Project in Berkeley, California, an exercise to produce a reliable temperature record with more complete data than the world's largest data set, the GHCN (Global Historical Climatology Network) record maintained by the US National Climatic Data Center.

A large number of station records outside the United States were removed between 1988 and 1992, resulting in more interpolation. Critics say this cooled the 20th Century temperature record.

GHCN ejected quite a few station records…

... the BEST Project at Berkeley is restoring them

BEST is documenting its methodology, and the algorithms it uses. So hopefully, no FOIA requests will be needed to replicate their work. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.