On March 5 the Stockholm Initiative, a swedish climate sceptic campaign group sent a press-release accusing the leading climate researcher professor Phil Jones of lying about the swedish meterological institute SMHI:s policy of not allowing others to disclose their climate data.
SMHI and some other meterological organisations have been allowing scientists to use data free of charge for research, but the researchers have not been allowed to release the data to the public. This concers only a small part of the data used in climate research, but the fact that the researchers are not allowed to release all of their data have been used by people who wish to discredit the findings.
I have written before in Aftonbladet about why the SMHI should release their climate data to the public so I found this pressrelease very strange and decided to fact-check it.
Climate scientist delivers false statement in parliament enquiry
It has come to our attention, that last Monday (March 1), Dr. Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU), in a hearing with the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee made a statement in regards to the alleged non-availability for disclosure of Swedish climate data.
Dr. Jones asserted that the weather services of several countries, including Sweden, Canada and Poland, had refused to allow their data to be released, to explain his reluctance to comply with Freedom of Information requests.
This statement is false and misleading in regards to the Swedish data.
All Swedish climate data are available in the public domain. As is demonstrated in the attached correspondence between SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute), the UK Met Office and Dr. Jones (the last correspondence dated yesterday March 4), this has been clearly explained to Dr. Jones. What is also clear is that SMHI is reluctant to be connected to data that has undergone “processing” by the East Anglia research unit.
Göran Ahlgren, secretary general
The correspondence can be found here.
This press-release have gained considerable attention on climate denier blogs but contains many factual errors. To begin with swedish data is not in the public domain. SMHI have recently made some data available on the internet for non commercial use, but under the explicit condition that the recipient is not allowed to disclose the data.
The license agreement is very easy to find, and if you are able to read swedish the license agreement can be read here. (Edit: The link is dead now in the year 2021.) Paragraphs §3.2 and 4.1 are the relevant ones and here’s a rough translation of §4.1
4.1 The Licensee does not own the right på disclose, send on, link to or in any other way spread the contents of the data and/or products that has been recieved in accordance with this agreement to a third part.
This is not public domain.
But it is however standard policy for SMHI, and for most of the european weather organisations. There are even some sort of common guidelines for this sort of thing. The SMHI and others are allowing scientists free access to their data, but they are not allowed to re-publish the data.
When I researched my article I asked the helpful and informative SMHI staff why this is so, and apart from the fact that the others are also doing it, they said they want to keep the responsibility for their own data to be correct. This policy is not unreasonable from a bureucratic perspective, but I do think it should be changed.
Anyway, the reluctance to let others re-publish their data is a matter of policy.
Another strange thing in the press-release is that the Stockholm Initiative is complaing about Phil Jones on March 1 not having read a letter from SMHI that wasn’t even sent until three days later on March 4. I do believe that is a bit much to ask.
In that letter, which the SMHI sent after the hearings, they decided to make an exception and give the CRU permission to publish the data-set.
So in summary: The Stockholm Initiative accused Phil Jones of lying about the policy of SMHI, but the statement was actually true. And three days later the SMHI changed their minds for the better.
But the icing on this cake can be found in the transcript of the hearing in the british parliament. It turns out the statement that the climate sceptis accused of being a lie was not even made by Phil Jones but by professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia. It is still true, of course.
The Stockholm Initiative really need to start doing their homework.