As CA readers, CRU, the Met Office and a couple of other UK institutions had more or less stonewalled David Holland’s FOI requests.
One of Holland’s particular interests is one that is perhaps a little appropriate/inappropriate for Easter Sunday – Caspar and the resurrected Jesus paper. Holland had tried for some years to determine exactly how IPCC had determined that Wahl and Ammann
2004 2005 2006 2007 met IPCC deadlines.
In a letter to Keith Briffa of April 1, 2008 (circulated by Briffa to various IPCC cadres), Holland had asked:
6. Why is their no mention of the fact that Mann et al. fails R2 verification in the important 15th century step? Who made the decision to reject comment 6-750 on the SOD by the reviewer for the Government of the United States of America who objected to the unpublished paper of Wahl and Ammann because as reviewed it did not include the table of verification data required for it be finally accepted for publication and which actually corroborated the criticism of McIntyre and McKitrick?
To which Briffa had answered (May 15, 2008):
6. Your question conflates a number of complex issues and makes statements with which I do not necessarily concur. However, in answer to the question of who made the decision to “reject comment 6-750 on the SOD”, this decision, as with all decisions related to specific reviewers’ comments, was made by multiple Chapter 6 authors and sanctioned by all of them.
More on this later. SOD Review Comment 6-750 had stated:
6-750 A 29:41 :42 The use of Wahl and Ammann (accepted) does not comply with WG1’s deadlines and all text based on this reference should be deleted. WG1’s rules require that all references be “published or in print” by December 16, 2005. Wahl and Ammann was “provisionally accepted” on that date, and not fully accepted until February 28, 2006, at which time no final preprint was available. Substantial changes were made in the paper between December 16, 2005 and February 28, 2006, including insertion of tables showing that the MBH98 reconstruction failed verification with r-squared statsistics, as had been reported by McIntyre and McKitrick in 2003. These tables were not available in the draft considered by WG1 when developing the second-order draft. [Govt. of United States of America (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 2023-415)]
To which Briffa as IPCC Author had answered:
See response to comment 6-1158.
SOD Comment 6-1158 had made a similar point to Comment 6-750:
6-1158 B 29:41 29:41 Wahl and Ammann 2006 did not meet several publication deadlines. Is it fair to use this study when other studies also not meeting publication deadlines were not used? It was not accepted by December 13-15. TSU did not have a preprint by late February. The version available for review was not the same as the accepted verion – in particular, the version made available omitted critical information that MBH98 failed cross-validation r2 and CE statistics. [Stephen McIntyre (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 309-119)]
To which Briffa as IPCC Author stated:
Rejected- the citation is allowed under current rules.
The Bergen Lead Authors’ meeting in late June 2006 appears to have prompted a decision by WG1 to change their deadlines. On July 3, 2006, the WG1 TSU sent an email to Lead Authors and Reviewers, notifying them that they could propose “additional” articles that met certain criteria as follows ( I received this email):
Following the Government and Expert review of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the attached guidelines are being provided to clarify how recent scientific literature related to review comments may be included in the final draft. Please feel free to distribute this information among your colleagues.
Thank you for your interest in the work of the IPCC.
The guidelines stated as follows;
Guidelines for inclusion of recent scientific literature in the Working Group I Fourth Assessment Report.
We are very grateful to the many reviewers of the second draft of the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report for suggestions received on issues of balance and citation of additional scientific literature. To ensure clarity and transparency in determining how such material might be included in the final Working Group I report, the following guidelines will be used by Lead Authors in considering such suggestions.
In preparing the final draft of the IPCC Working Group I report, Lead Authors may include scientific papers published in 2006 where, in their judgment, doing so would advance the goal of achieving a balance of scientific views in addressing reviewer comments. However, new issues beyond those covered in the second order draft will not be introduced at this stage in the preparation of the report.
Reviewers are invited to submit copies of additional papers that are either in-press or published in 2006, along with the chapter and section number1 to which this material could pertain, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, not later than July 24, 2006. In the case of in-press papers a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal is requested for our records. All submissions must be received by the TSU not later than July 24, 2006 and incomplete submissions can not be accepted.
1 see report outline at http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/doc/wg1_outline.pdf
I submitted two documents in response to this notice: the Wegman Report and the NAS Report. My submission was acknowledged by the WG1 TSU.
Holland has been trying for a couple of years to verify Briffa’s statement that Wahl and Ammann
2004 2005 2006 2007 had met these revised rules – had “a copy of the final acceptance letter from the journal” been obtained for WG1 TSU records, for example – particularly given the explicit statement by WG1 TSU that “incomplete submissions can not be accepted”.
On November 28, almost immediately after Climategate, Holland re-visited this outstanding question. He had noticed that a July 26 email from WG1 TSU to Coordinating Lead Authors and a July 28 email from Overpeck to Briffa (both in 725. 1154353922.txt) referred to a spreadsheet containing a list of additional articles relevant to chapter 6, submitted under the new rules.
Holland’s new round of requests are online here. Here is the salient portion of his Nov 28, 2009 FOI request:
On 28 July 2006 at 6:32 PM UEA/CRU received an email from Jonathan
Overpeck, to which a spreadsheet was attached “listing: the
submitter, file name of the paper, its acceptance date, and the
chapter and section which the submitter feels is relevant.” These
were expert comments received pursuant to an email sent to
Reviewers on 5 July 2006, soliciting additional reviewers comments.
Please send me an electronic copy of the spreadsheet.
In December 2009, the UEA reverted saying that they would consider the request under EIR (Environmental Information Regulations) – this may be an interesting precedent since the decision between EIR and FOI has been disputed in a number of other cases. Holland’s view is that EIR is applicable; the institutions prefer to respond under FOI which has more exemptions. UEA:
In short, we will consider your request and provide information under EIR, not FOIA.
On January 26, 2010, the UEA refused on the interesting basis that the document was held by the police and they didn’t have a copy:
Your request for information received on 28 November 2009 for a spreadsheet sent as an attachment to an email of 28 July 2006 from Jonathan Overpeck has now been considered, and, upon consideration, it is, unfortunately, not possible to meet your request.
In accordance with Regulation 14 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 this letter acts as a Refusal Notice, and I am not obliged to supply this information and the reasons for exemption are as stated below:
Reg. 12(4)(a) – Information not held
The requested information was not held at the time of the request
Reg. 12(5)(b) – Disclosure would adversely affect a criminal enquiry
Information is held by the police in connection with a current investigation
We believe that Regulation 12(4)(a) applies to your request because the only location that this information was held on was on a backup server as the original information had been ‘deleted’ some years ago. Pursuant to an investigation carried out by the Norfolk Constabulary, the server upon which the requested information resided was taken from the University grounds on 24 November and now resides with the police
forces conducting an investigation into a possible criminal offence. Therefore, at the time of the request, we did not hold the requested information, and we currently have no access to either the server or any of the material on it.
Regulation 12(5)(b) also applies to the data requested because the requested data is part of a larger set of data that is the subject of an ongoing police investigation. Such information is now under an embargo by the investigating forces and any disclosure would adversely affect the ability of that public authority to conduct the criminal enquiry.
Regulation 12(1)(b) mandates that we consider the public interest in any decision to release or refuse information under Regulation 12(4) and Reg. 12(5). In the case of Regulation 12(4)(a), there really is no consideration of the public interest as we simply did not, at the time of the request, nor do not now, have the requested information.
Turning to Regulation 12(5)(b), we feel that there is a strong public
interest in protecting the ability of police forces to investigate criminal offences and that we should abide by established procedures by which evidence is gathered and used.
Overall, we therefore believe that the public interest in non-disclosure of the information outweighs that in favour.
I should note that whilst we believe that it is possible that this material is already in the public domain due to the illegal penetration and use of University computing facilities, this does not relieve us of our obligations to address any request on its merits under the Regulations.
The above comment is interesting in considering claims that people hadn’t “deleted” emails and documents.
A few days ago (March 26, 2010), the UEA notified Holland that they had located the requested information in another location and sent him a copy. UEA FOI officer Palmer;
Further to my letter of 26 January 2010 responding to your request of 28 November 2009 for a spreadsheet sent as an attachment to an email of 28 July 2006 from Jonathan Overpeck, I am writing to advise you of recent developments in this matter.
By my letter of 26 January, you were informed in good faith that the requested information was not held at the time of the request. It was the University’s belief that the only location that this information was held on was on a backup server and that the original information had been ‘deleted’ some years ago. I further advised that, pursuant to an investigation carried out by the Norfolk Constabulary, the server upon
which the requested information is held was taken from the University’s grounds on 24 November 2009 and is being held by the police forces conducting an investigation into a possible criminal offence.
It has come to the University’s attention that the University does hold the spreadsheet in question otherwise than on the backup server. We only made this discovery very recently.
Accordingly, I enclose with this letter a copy of the spreadsheet in fulfilment of your request of 26 January 2010.
No excuses this time that the provision of the spreadsheet would cause the demise of international relations between the UK and the rest of the known universe. The spreadsheet consisted of four articles:
Submitted by Date Received File Name Chapter/Section Journal Date Accepted / Published
Hermann Held 17-Jul-06 SchneiderVonDemling_etal.pdf 184.108.40.206 Geophys. Res. Lett. 07-Jun-06
Gabi Hegerl 20-Jul-06 Hegerl_etal.pdf 6.? J. of Climate 12-Jun-06
Ellen Mosley-Thompson 23-Jul-06 Thompson_etal.pdf 6.5.2 PNAS 11-Jul-06
David Schnieder 24-Jul-06 Schneider_etal.pdf 6.6 Geophys. Res. Lett. 30-Jun-06
The Thompson et al (PNAS 2006) article prompted some discussion in the Climategate letters (indeed, the WG1 TSU letter is a trailer to this discussion.)
Interestingly, neither the NAS report nor the Wegman Report were forwarded from the WG1 TSU to the Chapter 6 Authors, though both had been properly submitted.
Needless to say, Wahl and Ammann
2004 2005 2006 2007 wasn’t on the list.