Please note before we start that this story has not yet been validated. The information could be true, some of it could be true and it could be a complete fabrication.
However, Steve McIntyre has confirmed that his emails are genuine and untouched. There is also a goldmine of data and programming code in the file that will allow skeptical researchers to identify what methods the IPCC have used to justify man-made global warming.
So, purely on the strength of the raw data and programs released, this is interesting.
And if the emails prove to be true, the repercussions of this could even exceed the expenses scandal.
Update: Jones (one of the scientists caught with his trousers down) says it's real, but I think he's just saying the base of it is real - someone could have still amended the contents of individual emails and data, so don't start brandishing those pitchforks yet! He's just saying it's not a complete fabrication.
Update 2: Someone has pointed out that it's unlikely Jones would have 'fessed up without a press officer handling the press. I'm not sure that a media whore "scientist" would necessarily handle the press without supervision, but there are little chips that are keeping me open-minded on this one. It really does seem to be too good to be true.
Update 3: Full writeup of the interview with Jones:
By Ian Wishart
The internet is on fire this morning with confirmation computers at one of the world’s leading climate research centres were hacked, and the information released on the internet.
A 62 megabyte zip file, containing around 160 megabytes of emails, pdfs and other documents, has been confirmed as genuine by the head of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit, Dr Phil Jones.
In an exclusive interview with Investigate magazine’s TGIF Edition, Jones confirms his organization has been hacked, and the data flying all over the internet appears to have come from his organisation.
“It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails.”
“Have you alerted police?”
“Not yet. We were not aware of what had been taken.”
Jones says he was first tipped off to the security breach by colleagues at the website RealClimate.
“Real Climate were given information, but took it down off their site and told me they would send it across to me. They didn’t do that. I only found out it had been released five minutes ago.”
The files were first released from a Russian fileserver site by an anonymous tipster calling him or herself “FOIA”, in an apparent reference to the US Freedom of Information Act. The zip file contains more than a thousand documents sitting in a “FOIA” directory, and it prompted speculation that the information may have been in the process of being compiled for consideration of an information act request.
Jones, however, says the files were not contained in a “FOIA” directory at the Climate Research Unit.
“No. Whoever is responsible has done that themselves.”
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do. I’ll have to talk to other people here. In fact, we were changing all our passwords overnight and I can’t get to my email, as I’ve just changed my password. I’ve gone into the Climate Audit website because I can’t get into my own email.
“It’s completely illegal for somebody to hack into our system.”
In one email dating back to 1999, Jones appears to talk of fudging scientific data on climate change to “hide the decline”:
From: Phil Jones
To: ray bradley ,mann@[snipped], mhughes@[snipped]
Subject: Diagram for WMO Statement
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 13:31:15 +0000
Dear Ray, Mike and Malcolm,
Once Tim’s got a diagram here we’ll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [sic] from1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline. Mike’s series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-Sept for NH land N of 20N. The latter two are real for 1999, while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is +0.44C wrt 61-90. The Global estimate for 1999 with data through Oct is +0.35C cf. 0.57 for 1998.
Thanks for the comments, Ray.
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit
TGIF asked Jones about the controversial email discussing hiding “the decline”, and Jones explained he was not trying to mislead.
“No, that’s completely wrong. In the sense that they’re talking about two different things here. They’re talking about the instrumental data which is unaltered – but they’re talking about proxy data going further back in time, a thousand years, and it’s just about how you add on the last few years, because when you get proxy data you sample things like tree rings and ice cores, and they don’t always have the last few years. So one way is to add on the instrumental data for the last few years.”
Jones told TGIF he had no idea what me meant by using the words “hide the decline”.
“That was an email from ten years ago. Can you remember the exact context of what you wrote ten years ago?”
The other emails are described by skeptic commentators as “explosive”, one talks of stacking the peer-review process to prevent qualified skeptical scientists from getting their research papers considered.
Update 4: A very nice précis of the contents identified so far, by Bishop Hill.