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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
ASTEROID'S SHOCK DINO-KILLING SPREE just bad luck - boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.