Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Climate Research Unit (CRU) Assessment Panel Announced

"It is certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use change lead to a warming of climate, and it is very likely that these green house gases are the dominant cause of the global warming that has been taking place over the last 50 years."--The Royal Society, the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth

Today the University of East Anglia made this announcement about its Climate Research Unit (CRU):

CRU Scientific Assessment Panel announced

Lord Oxburgh FRS, a former chair of the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to chair an independent Scientific Assessment Panel to examine important elements of the published science of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.

His appointment has been made on the recommendation of the Royal Society, which has also been consulted on the choice of the six distinguished scientists who have been invited to be members of the panel.

The panel will have access to any publications or materials it requests, and all information considered will be listed in the Report. The University, in consultation with the Royal Society, has suggested that the panel looks in particular at key publications, from the body of CRU’s research referred to in the UEA submission to the Parliamentary Science and Technology Committee.

Announcing the appointment, Prof Trevor Davies, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, said: "CRU’s scientific papers have been examined by scientists from other institutions through the peer review process before being accepted for publication by international journals. We have no reason to question the effectiveness of this process. Nevertheless, given the concerns about climate research expressed by some in the media, we decided to augment the Muir Russell review with an independent assessment of CRU’s key publications in the areas which have been most subject to comment.

"We are delighted that a renowned scientist of the standing of Lord Oxburgh has agreed to chair this very strong independent panel and await its findings with great interest. Colleagues in CRU have committed themselves to providing any support required by the panel."

The panel members are: Prof Huw Davies, Professor of Physics at the Institute for Atmospheric & Climate Science at ETH Zürich; Prof Kerry Emanuel, Professor of Meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Prof Lisa Graumlich, Director of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at The University of Arizona; Prof David Hand, Professor of Statistics in the Department of Mathematics at Imperial College; Prof Herbert Huppert, Professor of Theoretical Geophysics at the University of Cambridge; and Prof Michael Kelly, Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge.

“The shadow hanging over climate change and science more generally at present makes it a matter of urgency that we get on with this assessment. We will undertake this work and report as soon as possible,” said Lord Oxburgh.

The panel will meet in Norwich in April and will have the opportunity to see original data and speak to those who did the work. It comprises of scientists who use techniques similar to those used in CRU but who largely apply them to other areas of research, as well as those with experience in climate or related research.

Prof Davies said: “Our concern has been to bring together a distinguished group of independent scientists who understand the difference between assertion and evidence, and are familiar with using the latter to judge the validity of conclusions arising from science research. The panel members have the right mix of skills to understand the complex nature of climate research and the discipline-based expertise to scrutinise CRU’s research. How they do this will be entirely down to the panel.

“The choice of scientists is sure to be the subject of discussion, and experience would suggest that it is impossible to find a group of eminent scientists to look at this issue who are acceptable to every interest group which has expressed a view in the last few months. Similarly it is unlikely that a group of people who have the necessary experience to assess the science, but have formed no view of their own on global warming, could be found.

“We are grateful to the Royal Society for helping us to identify such a strong panel and to the members for dedicating their time to this important matter.”

Their report will be submitted to the Vice-Chancellor. His response, and the report itself, together with the list of publications assessed, will be published in full.

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