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Week from hell for climate science

Week from hell for climate science
It broke last weekend and has run all week - the "climategate" saga that has seen the private emails of prominent climate scientists leaked onto the web and picked over by climate change sceptics who accuse them of manipulating data to show the world's climate is warming.

New Zealand scientist Dr Jim Salinger and Dr Kevin Trenberth, an ex-pat Kiwi heading up the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colarado were among the victims of the email leak.

Prominent Guardian columnist George Monbiot added fuel to the fire on Wednesday when he called for the resignation of Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit and the most heavily quoted of the scientists caught up in the leak. The UK Science Media Centre rounded-up comment from scientists on the impact of the email scandal.

The blogosphere erupted with the tone of discussion of climategate reversing depending on whether the blog was that of a climate change sceptic or someone who accepts the overwhelmingly convincing science.

Sceptics try to capitalise on CRU hack

A Crown Research Institute went on the front foot this week, taking the unusual step of issuing a press release yesterday to answer separate allegations from the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition that it has manipulated temperature readings to show an upward trend in local temperature over the past 100 years.

NIWA chief scientist Dr David Wratt has fronted to the media and Hot Topic's Gareth Renowden has written a thorough analysis debunking the coalition's claims, his article today being picked up by US-based Scienceblogs and the Drudge Report.

As New Scientist suggests, it is a time when climate scientists need to meet climate change sceptics head-on: "Researchers being paid from the public purse should not treat their detractors as enemies but make reasonable attempts to engage with them honestly, no matter how unpalatable their views."

If there's anything to be salvaged from climategate it is that two weeks out from the Copenhagen conference, the science underpinning the discussions that will take place is in the spotlight. It's perhaps good timing that one of the best, up-to-date summaries of the science of climate change landed this week amidst the firestorm of climategate.

ENDS

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