British university orders climate science review

LONDON Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:23pm GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - The British university embroiled in an email row ordered a review Thursday of its climate researchers' work after accusations they distorted or hid evidence to support the case for man-made global warming.

The University of East Anglia said external investigators will check papers published by its Climatic Research Unit, one of the world's leading sources of data on changing temperatures.

The center, which has contributed to U.N. climate reports, is already under investigation after hackers broke into its computer network and stole emails that critics cite as evidence that scientists manipulated, suppressed and hyped climate data.

More than 1,000 leaked emails were put on the internet last November, leading to a police investigation into who stole them and doubts about climate science's accuracy and reliability.

Britain's most senior climate scientists say the row has dented public confidence in the evidence that underpins man's role in raising global temperatures to dangerous levels.

"It is in the interests of all concerned that there should be an additional assessment considering the science itself," Professor Trevor Davies, the university's pro-vice chancellor for research, said in a statement.

The Royal Society, Britain's national academy of science, said it will help find external reviewers to work on the case.

"It is important that people have the utmost confidence in the science of climate change," the society's president Martin Rees said in a statement.

Another team of scientists, funded by the university, will investigate the research centre's working practices, handling of data and its response to requests made under Britain's freedom of information laws.

Chairman Sir Muir Russell, a former government bureaucrat, said his team must decide which of "tens of thousands" of emails they will have to check in a review due to report in the Spring.

In one email, reprinted in newspapers, Kevin Trenberth, a climatologist at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't."

The U.N.'s last climate change report helped to underpin a global climate response which included pressure for deep carbon emissions cuts in the United States, China and elsewhere.

Climate skeptics are unconvinced by evidence suggesting a link between man-made carbon emissions and rising temperatures.

However, scientists say there is overwhelming scientific data from scores of sources which support their argument.

(Editing by Tim Castle)

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