Climate scientist Phil Jones, head of the British Climate Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia University, and at the epicenter of "climategate" - so-called after thousands of private emails were stolen and made public late last year - said yesterday that he had "obviously written some very awful emails."
During testimony before a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Jones defended the work of he and his colleagues:
You've only seen a tenth of 1 percent of my e-mails in this group," he told the panel. "I don't think anything in those e-mails supports any view that I'm trying to, or CRU has been trying to, pervert the peer review process in any way."
While many skeptics have seized upon the affair to cast doubt to the underlying science, climate scientists called before the committee rejected such doubt.
I think the general issue that global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activities is also correct," said the UK's chief scientific adviser, John Beddington. "I think this is unchallenged."
Bob Watson, a former IPCC chairman and current chief scientist for the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that despite media characterization of the East Anglia affair as a situation in "crisis," the scientific conclusions are solid.
In my opinion," he said, "there is absolutely no adverse effect on any of the conclusions of the IPCC."
Julia Slingo, chief scientists for the UK Met Office said that the core conclusion of the IPCC - a conclusion independently held by numerous scientific institutions around the globe - remains unchanged despite the email controversy.
It hasn't been challenged by any evidence that has emerged since then," Slingo said. "We know that not just from the land surface [temperature] record but from many other variables that it is unequivocal and that as the IPCC report said, over 90 percent, it's very likely due to human activities."
Where questions arise, says Slingo, is forecasting the trajectory of climate change, which depend on large measure by what we do now to curb emissions, reduce deforestation, and adopt sensible land use policies.
Additionally, an unfortunate term bandied about may be that science - any science - is "settled." Slingo also made clear that better understanding of the "physics of warming and the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth" will lead to an ever clearer picture of our future world.
Two independent investigations
Sir Muir Russell, a former civil servant now charged with leading a an investigation into whether CRU scientists "violated the norms of scientific practice," told the House of Commons panel yesterday he expects his investigation to be completed sometime this spring.
A second investigation is being organized by East Anglia Vice Chancellor Edward Acton, with the help of the UK Royal Society. The purpose of the inquiry is to "reassess the science" done by the Climate Research Unit.
Sir Muir Russell's independent review is not looking at the science, it's looking at allegations of malpractice," Acton said. "As for the science, I haven't seen any evidence of any flaw in the science. ... It is among the most thoroughly endorsed and co-authored science there is."