Another Try on the Wall

CA readers are well aware that Phil Jones of CRU has jealously refused to provide the surface temperature data set used in the prominent HadCRU temperature index, going so far as to repudiate Freedom of Information requests. Efforts to obtain this data have been chronicled here from time to time. As a result of the previous round of FOI inquiries, we managed to get a (mostly) complete list of station names (but not data) – even the names being refused in the first round of polite requests and subsequent FOI inquiries.

There seems to be a gradual movement away from CRU to the Hadley Center in the ongoing management of this data set, with the Hadley Center seemingly having a much more professional approach to data management, recognizing obligations to the public as well as to their pals. I noticed an interesting statement at a Hadley Center readme today

Q. Where can I get the raw observations?

A. The raw sea-surface temperature observations used to create HadSST2 are taken from ICOADS (International Comprehensive Ocean Atmosphere Data Set). These can be found at To obtain the archive of raw land surface temperature observations used to create CRUTEM3, you will need to contact Phil Jones at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia. Recently archived station reports used to update CRUTEM3 and HadCRUT3 are available from the CRUTEM3 data download page.

Given the above statement is meant to indicate that Jones gives the archive to some people, then his refusal to give the archive to others becomes hard to justify even in “community” terms. If Jones has consistently refused to provide the archive to anyone, this seems to be a circular paper chase.

In any event, I wrote to Dr Kennedy, the maintainer of the webpage, referring to this paragraph and asking him for a copy of the archive in the form that the Hadley Center possessed it. I did not cite the Freedom of Information Act, but will initiate a new round of requests if required.


  1. Ron Cram
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

    Steve, good luck on this effort. I admire your persistence.

  2. Posted May 11, 2009 at 8:32 AM | Permalink

    The Hadley quote clearly indicates that they realize that Jones is acting unresponsively (“you will have to contact him”, poor boy). Well, their approach is also a compromise between the service to the public and science on one side – and the service to the “pals” they are going to supersede, such as data dinosaur Jones.

  3. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    The last sentence in the quote is interesting. It does link to a real page with real data acquired since 2000 on their watch.

  4. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    John Kennedy responded as follows:

    Most of the station data was given to us by Phil Jones under conditions that don’t allow us to redistribute it. If you want the full archive, you will have to contact him.

    This sort of runaround is so pathetic. Hadley Center are the ones that should be demanding that Jones make the data available.

    In any event, I just sent a FOI request to Hadley Center for the archive in the form that they possess it. Once Jones delivered a copy of the data to Hadley Center, I’m not sure that he can thereafter prevent the Hadley Center from complying with a FOI request. We’ll see. There are always interesting legal issues arising from Team stonewalling.

  5. Posted May 11, 2009 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Data Wars IV, A new hope.

    Stevie Wan in search of the missing tapes, travels to the ends of the galaxy in the hope of uncovering the data used to power the ultimate political weapon – warm water.

    The Imperials in a burst of brilliant strategy, employ the time proven strategy of the shell game cleverly moving the political power source to another encampment.

    Unfazed, master Wan follows the trail.

    Steve, The NSIDC sent notice this morning that the 2008 gridded sea ice data was updated.

  6. Andrew
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    Hey! Steve, leave them kids alone! They don’t need no data-cation! 😉

    More seriously, good luck. I hope that you can finally get that data released.

  7. Posted May 11, 2009 at 10:54 AM | Permalink

    The police have the thin blue line. Apparently Team has the (data) thin warm line.

  8. Kazinski
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    Why would anybody give any credence to their data if it’s all compiled by one person without any transparency at all? Despite all the problems with GISS over the years at least they have become more open about where the data comes from and what they do with it once they get it. Critics may not agree with some of the data manipulation, but at least we know what they are doing for the most part. GISS is a model of openness compared to HadCRU.

  9. Mike Lorrey
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

    What is the process for filing an official complaint for noncompliance with FOI? What possible legal sanctions can this fellow suffer for his refusals?

    I would suggest that this guy needs to be made an example of.

    • James S
      Posted May 11, 2009 at 4:13 PM | Permalink

      Re: Mike Lorrey (#9),

      Under UK Freedom of Information Act they have up to 20 working days to respond to your request. Your request should be as specific as possible to avoid the authority from having to come back to “clarify” your request (in which case the 20 days starts again). You can also make a request for how you would like the data to be formatted which should be complied with provided it is reasonable.

      The 20 day time limit can, however, be extended if they need to consider if they believe it is against the public interest. But this data should be classed as environmental information – which means that there is no public interest extension allowed.

      If the authority does not respond then you can make a complaint to the information officer at the authority and ask for an internal review.

      If they refuse to provide with the information then they must tell you why they have refused – you can then seek an internal review into this decision.

      All internal reviews should take about 20 working days but you should be told if they are going to take longer and should not take more than 40 working days in total. You should also be told their findings.

      If you still think that they should release the information then your final resport is to complain to the Information Commissioner. Most Information Commissioner conmplaints come down on the side of the requestor; however there is a big backlog of complaints at the moment so it can take years to go down this route!

  10. Posted May 11, 2009 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    On the Hadley station data update page it says

    This is not all the station data used in CRUTEM3. Most of the station data was given to us under conditions that don’t allow us to redistribute it; but the CLIMAT reports have no such restriction.

    So there is partial data for the last 9 years.

    It might be useful to summarise what info is available and where?
    The above partial data is at
    There is also the list of stations “used at some time” at
    It seems that the station ID’s in these two lists don’t always match up very well.
    Perhaps this is because “Some WMO IDs have been updated in the 2000s.”
    But never mind. It’s only the data set on which the IPCC report is based.

    • Mike Lorrey
      Posted May 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

      Re: PaulM (#11),
      Maybe I’m ignorant, but shouldn’t ANY journal with standards of peer review automatically reject any paper based on data that is not permitted to be redistributed? This seems to me like basic ethics and defense of basic scientific principles.

  11. Dave Dardinger
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Permalink


    Perhaps you could make use of Jeff ID’s idea and accuse HadCru of torture since the have failed to post these temperatures on a board somewhere. If Jeff is correct that warm water is the ultimate weapon, they’ve clearly been engaging in waterboarding. Of course the current slow drip, drip, drip of data release is already a form of the old “Chinese water torture”.

  12. stan
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    I predict that Phil Jones vs. the scientific method is a bout that will go many rounds. I don’t think it will end until there’s a knockout. Even then, if Jones loses, I expect him to make a number of attempts at a comeback. I also expect the hockey team members to leap into the ring to help him battle. If Jones is forced to do science, others may have to follow.

  13. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

    Just imagine if the FDA was removing all antibiotics from the market but got the data from an individual who said they couldn’t release it.
    There is a problem with “THE” data because the exact list of stations fed into the computation depends on which ones have been updated and which ones have gaps in reporting (or lags). Every time they compute a global temperature trend, I bet the inputs differ.

  14. Mark_T
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 2:19 PM | Permalink

    When I read and hear stuff like this (refusing data), I get a tad suspicious…

  15. henry
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    I can’t understand how simply knowing which stations were used can fall into a “Most of the station data was given to us under conditions that don’t allow us to redistribute it” phrase.

    If we knew which stations were used we could ask the station managers directly, instead of going through a third-party (one who has his own interests at heart).

  16. David Holland
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 2:57 PM | Permalink


    I also wish you the best. At the moment I have complaints in with the Information Commissioner (ICO) against the MOD/Met Office, UEA/CRU, Reading and Oxford Universities and Ofcom.

    Only Defra accepted that information on Climate Change and the IPCC assessment is environmental information covered by the British Environmental Information Regulations 2004, but sadly they had none worth bothering with. The key which I commend to all CA readers is the Aarhus Convention which is European Community Law from which the EIR descend and guarantees everyone in the world “Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters”.

    Switzerland is a signatory but has not ratified the Convention. The University of Bern is the AR5 WGI TSU. We should all focus on trying to persuade the WGI TSU and the IPCC to adopt the Aarhus principles, first by those of us in Europe leaning on our governments to honour Aarhus Article 3(5) which is;

    Each Party shall promote the application of the principles of this Convention in international environmental decision-making processes and within the framework of international organizations in matters relating to the environment.

    Aarhus article 5(1) states

    Each Party shall ensure that:
    (a) Public authorities possess and update environmental information which is relevant to their functions;
    (b) Mandatory systems are established so that there is an adequate flow of information to public authorities about proposed and existing activities which may significantly affect the environment;

    Aarhus article 5(3) states

    Each Party shall ensure that environmental information progressively becomes available in electronic databases which are easily accessible to the public through public telecommunications networks.

    But don’t hold your breath.

  17. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Mostly I’ve gotten stonewalled, so I’m never optimistic. But there are occasional successes – for example, the IPCC AR4 Review Comments are online because of initiatives taken here e.g. FOI requests from myself and CA readers in multiple jurisdictions.

  18. Fred
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Given the lengths they have gone to prevent their data from being looked at by others, you would almost think they know there are issues and they are trying to cover up their errors.

    Or they just don’t like us uppity colonials 🙂

  19. Barclay E. MacDonald
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

    Mike Lorrie, you make way too much sense! You should also understand that Phil Jones is already an example here, as is Lonnie Thompson, Santer and numerous other members of “the team”.

    David Holland makes a good suggestion, but what is needed is an organization, perhaps a group of students of international law, or environmental law to pursue this issue of disclosure. Steve and the odd blogger writing an FOI request is insufficient. We know that from experience.

    Any law students or lawyers out there who believe that data relied or intended to be relied upon by a government and that supports (or refutes) the theory that earth is in imminent danger of anthropogenic global warming should be made fully available to all of us?? You just might be able to make a difference!

  20. Alan Wilkinson
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    Those who take and spend public money are responsible to the public. There may be a battle or two ahead but this war can only end one way.

    Keep the pressure on, Steve. UK readers should also complain to relevant Ministers and Opposition spokespeople.

  21. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 11, 2009 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    CA, May 9, 2007. Extract of email from P Jones to self, March 26, 2006.

    Dear Geoffrey, We no longer have the Australian station date (sic) we were using in the early 1980s

    What hope FOI?

    For interest, from

    Access to Data
    Should you wish to see any personal data relating to you that may have been collected via this website, please obtain a ‘Subject Access Request form from the University’s Information Policy Officer, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ (phone 01603 593523 email , or from University Reception. Please return the completed form to the University Information Policy Officer.

    This might tell you the fate of your earlier FOI requests.

    The University’s web pages contain links to many external web sites which are not affiliated with the University of East Anglia. The University is not responsible for and has no control over these sites, and links to external sites should not be taken as a recommendation or endorsement of the external site’s information, products or services. The University takes no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered as a result of using the linked web sites or as a result of using the information published on any of the pages of the linked web sites…..

    The University welcomes comments and suggestions on its website and would also welcome reports of any inaccuracies in the website – to do so, please e-mail

    Finally, if you do gat to make a FOI request, the name should be right. Is P.D. Jones, commonly shortened to “Phil”, really Phil, or as is sometimes stated “Philip” or “Phillip” or “Phileas” or “Philacre”? The shyness to give a full name is a bit evident on the net. Why, you might even need to fill in the “D.” on official documents before you make progress.

    • James S
      Posted May 12, 2009 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

      Re: Geoff Sherrington (#23),

      The forms are simply to help the Freedom of Information officer. To make a Freedom of Information request in the UK you simply need to ask for the information – you don’t even need to state that you are asking for it under the Freedom of Information Act (although this may help!). In fact, as this data falls under the Environment Information Regulations you don’t even need to put the request into writing – it could be made by telephone for example.

      And with respect to how specific you should be it is the organisation’s responsibility to assist anyone making a request. Where a request is unclear the organisation must seek clarification within 20 working days and assist the requestor in clarifying the request or making it more specific.

      If the request is to be refused then it may only be done so if it is covered by a specific or general exemption and, importantly, is not in the public interest to disclose the information. The Information Commissioner describes public interest as including, “furthering public understanding and debate on a key policy proposal” – which should cover climate change data.

      It is important to note that, under the environment information regulations, you need to appeal any refusal to provide the data within 40 working days of the date of the refusal letter.

  22. Geckko
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 2:52 AM | Permalink

    Is there not a sympathetic MP who could shake this tree.

    Surely this is an issue of public relevance. I assume this data set was compiled by the CRU and Jones in his capacity at a publicly funded organisation.

    There is leverage that could be applied.

    Maybe Lord Lawson??

  23. stumpy
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 4:43 AM | Permalink

    My understanding is that if a request for data under the FOI act is not responded to within 20 days it becomes a legal matter, unless its a matter of national security. Phill Jones refusal to provide the data is digusting and as a UK tax payer I feel ashamed that tax payer funded research is being horded away in this manner. When people are relucted to share there data I cant help but feel they are hiding something. Good luck!

  24. Ian Rae
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 5:16 AM | Permalink

    Tim Berners-Lee’s recent TED talk was about sharing data. He got the crowd yelling “Raw Data Now!”, and said “you wouldn’t believe the excuses people give” for not releasing data. Indeed.

  25. Aylamp
    Posted May 12, 2009 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

    #24 In the past, with the minimum or bureaucracy, I have walked into Scottish Environmental Protection Agency offices and been given free and unaccompanied access to their environmental correspondence files.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted May 13, 2009 at 4:20 AM | Permalink

      Re: Aylamp (#28),

      If you walked into my office with bagpipes, a dirk and a kilt, I’d give you my environmental files meekly too.

  26. Posted May 13, 2009 at 9:15 PM | Permalink

    Sorry to be dumb, but sort of on this topic, why is it that all the MSU stats I see only go to -70 degrees latitude. What am I missing? They go to 85 degrees in the northern hemisphere but leave out Antartica completely. Maybe I’m looking at the wrong stuff. Given the ice increases there, if this area were included it seems like it would make a difference on the overall totals.

    • tty
      Posted May 14, 2009 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

      Re: pz (#30),

      Most of Antarctica south of 70 degrees is a high ice plateau (c. 10,000 feet) which makes “lower troposphere temperatures” rather meaningless there.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted May 14, 2009 at 6:39 AM | Permalink

      Re: pz (#30), As I understand it, the angle of the satellite precludes good coverage of the poles, and may have some issues with pure ice at ground level. Anyone else?

  27. Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:11 AM | Permalink

    Thank you so much. That was driving me crazy. The region actually physically inhabits the lower troposphere due to its altitude. Unless I’m wrong, which happens ten times a day, at the least, that still demonstrates a break in the MSU logic by not being able to gather data on an area which, if by quick observational standards, appears to be cooling, and could therefore represent a significan shift in the numbers. Still better, I suppose, than official weather stations gathering data from asphalt parking lots right next to air conditioners.

    [snip – I know you’re a new reader. I discourage “piling on” editorializing in comments: Steve]

    Perhaps we can work some compensatory data based on other evidence, though I understand that trying to derive connections between land-based measurements and MSU stats is essentially impossible.

  28. Posted May 14, 2009 at 1:13 AM | Permalink

    By the way, I’m a new reader, so please forgive me if I’m covering ancient history here.

  29. Wondering Aloud
    Posted May 14, 2009 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    If the source data is not open to review and the method of data analysis is not public, this is by definition not science isn’t it? How does something like this survive any peer review process? How can anyone take results from such a process seriously?

  30. Posted May 14, 2009 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Sorry for the piling on editorializing. I’m not sure if that was something you cut out or something that is still there, like the air conditioning statement, but I’ll try to stick to facts and questions from here.

    I would still like to know, or just be directed by link if it is an old topic that doesn’t need to be rehashed, how chopping off 20 degrees of an apparently cooling part of the planet is handled statistically and why it isn’t significant. I have read at NASA’s site that ground-based stations are sparse in Antarctica, too.

    Thanks for your patience and sorry for arriving late at the party. I have searched and just can’t seem to find this answer anywhere.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted May 15, 2009 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

      Re: pz (#36), It surely affects the absolute answer, but the satellite data has more complete coverage than any other data, and thus is useful.

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