In some of our discussions of data archiving, the principal rationalization of a researcher’s not archiving data at recognized permanent archives (such as WDCP) has been the argument that they should be able to maintain confidentiality for a period of exclusive use.
I’ve noticed that some researchers have established password-protected private archives, to which some but not all interested researchers can have access. This seems like a strange sort of confidentiality to me. As an analogy, legal advice to a client is privileged, but the client would waive the privilege if he showed the advice to a bunch of his friends. I realize that the analogy isn’t perfect, but I think that there is an issue here.
I can somewhat understand the argument for data being private for a limited period (although I would be pretty tough on enforcing the terms of the contract), but I’m having trouble understanding the rationale for password protected sites with access limited to the initiate. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get access to the European data at SO&P, managed by Briffa and Osborn. We can only hope that Briffa’s concept of a reasonable period of exclusive use will be less than 22 years.
The SO&P website here states:
SO&Pis a research project funded by the European Union and led by Tim Osborn and Keith Briffa at UEA’s Climatic Research Unit. The project will simulate the climate of the last 500 years, will develop improved reconstructions of the real climate over this period, and will compare the two to provide an important test of the climate models and an improved estimate of natural climate variability. This work will then be used to better quantify the uncertainty in future climate projections, and to re-assess the detection of unusual climate change in the observations.
An important data set of early temperatures back to 1781, published in 2003, is password protected on this website, which states:
Phil Jones has created an earlier version of his global gridded temperature data set, using only stations that have data back before 1851. Coverage is almost completely limited to Europe, and this data set goes back to 1781. It can be merged with his standard post-1851 land temperature data set (CRUTEM2 — see above). The reference for this early gridded data set is: Jones PD, Moberg A, Osborn TJ and Briffa KR (2003) Surface climate responses to explosive volcanic eruptions seen in long European temperature records and mid-to-high latitude tree-ring density around the Northern Hemisphere. In Volcanism and the Earth’s atmosphere (ed. Robock A and Oppenheimer C), American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC (in press). Access to these data, via this SO&P website, is currently limited to members of the SO&P project. The data are password-protected.
The tree ring chronologies using Briffa’s ABD method for the 387 sites used in the Hockey Team multiproxy study Briffa et al.  is also hosted here and is also password protected. The measurements are not archived here; I think that the measurements are among a larger set, archived by Schweingruber at WDCP a few years ago. However, Briffa has never identified the 387 sites and has refused to respond to a simple request asking for the identity of the 387 sites.
The website says:
The "Schweingruber" network consists of 387 chronologies from across the northern hemisphere, from locations selected to have greatest sensitivity of tree-growth to growing-season temperature. The data files available here are tree-ring width and maximum latewood density. See Briffa et al. (2001, 2002a, 2002b) for analysis of this network. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Harris IC, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG, Vaganov EA (2001) Low-frequency temperature variations from a norther tree ring density network. Journal of Geophysical Research 106, 2929-2941. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG and Vaganov EA (2002a) Tree-ring width and density data around the Northern Hemisphere: part 1, local and regional climate signals. The Holocene 12, 737-757. Briffa KR, Osborn TJ, Schweingruber FH, Jones PD, Shiyatov SG and Vaganov EA (2002b) Tree-ring width and density data around the Northern Hemisphere: part 2, spatio-temporal variability and associated climate patterns. The Holocene 12, 759-789. The individual raw measurements, from some 10,000 tree cores, are not available from this website. All tree cores from each site and species have been cross-dated, standardised to remove the age-related component of tree growth, and combined into 387 site/species chronologies. The standardisation used a detrending-type method, as explained in Briffa et al. (2002a, 2002b), that also removes multi-century climate variations. These data should, therefore, be used mainly for inter-annual and inter-decadal time scale studies. The "age-band decomposition" method of Briffa et al. (2001) has not been applied at the individual chronology level, so chronologies without loss of multi-century time scale climate variations are not available. Access to these data, via this SO&P website, is currently limited to members of the SO&P project. The data are password-protected.
Another dataset from France is likewise password protected. The website ironically says that the "data base is freely accessible, though access is limited to the data description".
As part of the work funded by SO&P, partner CNRS/UDESAM at the CEREGE laboratory, Antoine Nicault, Simon Brewer and Joel Guiot have created a tree-ring data base from earlier work on the FORMAT data base. This new data base, DENDRODB, has been filled with data from more than 600 tree-ring sites from Euroasia. 256 sites have tree-ring width chronologies of 300 years or longer, and 90 sites have tree-ring density chronologies of 300 years or longer. (Note that there is a partial overlap with the chronologies in the Schweingruber network, especially for the density chronologies, but many more ring-width series are available here.) The DENDRODB data base is freely accessible, though access is currently limited to the data description. SO&P project staff can, at present, contact Antoine Nicault (firstname.lastname@example.org) for access to the data themselves.
Data from two models, HADCM3 and ECHO-G, is password protected, although both have been published. The website says of HadCM3:
Identifier: HadCM3 (please always use this when referring to the model, to ensure consistent terminology). Reference to the model: Gordon C, Cooper C, Senior CA, Banks H, Gregory JM, Johns TC, Mitchell JFB and Wood RA (2000) The simulation of SST, sea ice extents and ocean heat transports in a version of the Hadley Centre coupled model without flux adjustments. Climate Dynamics 16, 147-168. Global and hemispheric time series, monthly fields and seasonal fields are now available for some variables. Click here for access. These data are password-protected.
For ECHO-G, the website says:
ECHO-G version 4, T30 resolution (please always use this when referring to the model, to ensure consistent terminology). Reference to the model: Legutke S and Voss R (1999) ECHO-G, the Hamburg atmosphere-ocean coupled circulation model. DKRZ technical report 18, DKRZ, Hamburg. (PDF reprint) Model Data Global and hemispheric time series and monthly fields are now available for some variables. Click here for access. These data are password-protected.
From the sublime to the antipodal, we find more password protected data sets here: Amery data (needs username and password). Miscellaneous files (needs username and password). TASMARC files (needs username and password).
Here is a picture of the guardian of the passwords in front of a magic rock. The magic rock is said to show rising sea levels. If you are one of the initiate, you will be able to see that the mark has already been submerged by rising sea levels. It is feared that utterance of the password by an uninitiate will enrage the gods, and cause sea levels to rise up and engulf the magic rock. It is also believed that utterance of the SO&P password by one of the uninitiate will cause drought, pestilence, scorching heat and Ice Ages.