It turns out that East Anglia University's Climatic Research Unit has disposed of all of their original raw temperature data. To be fair, this happened back in the 1980's, before current director Phil Jones took over, so this is not another mark on his record, but it is a mark on the record of the CRU. Via the Times Online:
In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”
This means that all 'baseline' information other researchers use will have been 'filtered' (read: altered) by CRU. Hardly an unimpeachable source, these days.This is a common practice in the scientific community, but the raw data is generally considered to be a part of the record and is preserved as well.
The data were gathered from weather stations around the world and then adjusted to take account of variables in the way they were collected. The revised figures were kept, but the originals — stored on paper and magnetic tape — were dumped to save space when the CRU moved to a new building.
Why didn't they transfer the data to an electronic format and archive it? This is Science 101, guys.
Scientists often check each other's work and sometimes find things previously overlooked. That is the nature of the much vaunted peer review. But in order to legitimately be able to do that, the data sets must include the original raw data. What if the mistake is made in that crucial first step - the processing of the raw data? What if something is overlooked? The results would be skewed before researchers even started.
It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
What the CRU have done is not just illustrate how unscientific they really are, but also how long they've been that way.
Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records. “The CRU is basically saying, ‘Trust us’. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science,” he said.