Le jeudi 19 novembre des plaisantins se sont amusés a mettre sur le net les courriels privés de la CRU - Climatic Research Unit.

George Monbiot dans un article intitulé "The Knights Carbonic" publié par the Guardian identifie quelques courriels dont deux (1 2) montrant les efforts spécifiques des membres de la CRU pour ne pas avoir a rendre disponible au public les données et code source sous tendant leurs études.

La communauté étudiant le climat terrestre est en effet depuis quelques années sur la défensive sur la mise a disposition du public de ces données brutes et codes sources, surtout après les efforts de Stephen McIntyre et de quelques autres.

On peut retrouver un historique d'une de ces démarches pour que le public puisse avoir accès aux données et codes, historique éclairé par les courriels rendus publics dans cet article.

Ne pas rendre ces données et codes publics n'est déja pas très "scientifique" car la science est basée sur la reproduction critique des résultats et avec l'internet tel qu'on le connait maintenant le cout de mise a disposition a tous est nul. Mais en plus vu que cette communauté demande sur la base de données et de code qu'elle garde totalement secrete un changement de politique majeur, douloureux et mondial on nage dans le ridicule total.

Heureusement, certains membres de la communauté du climat commencent a critiquer de l'intérieur cette obscurité tenace et déplacée par exemple Judith Curry :

What has been noticeably absent so far in the ClimateGate discussion is a public reaffirmation by climate researchers of our basic research values: the rigors of the scientific method (including reproducibility), research integrity and ethics, open minds, and critical thinking. Under no circumstances should we ever sacrifice any of these values; the CRU emails, however, appear to violate them [...]

If climate science is to uphold core research values and be credible to public, we need to respond to any critique of data or methodology that emerges from analysis by other scientists. Ignoring skeptics coming from outside the field is inappropriate; Einstein did not start his research career at Princeton, but rather at a post office. I’m not implying that climate researchers need to keep defending against the same arguments over and over again. Scientists claim that they would never get any research done if they had to continuously respond to skeptics. The counter to that argument is to make all of your data, metadata, and code openly available. Doing this will minimize the time spent responding to skeptics; try it! If anyone identifies an actual error in your data or methodology, acknowledge it and fix the problem. Doing this would keep molehills from growing into mountains that involve congressional hearings, lawyers, etc. [...]

Lire aussi son message a Climate Audit (quand le serveur sera revenu en ligne) :

Transparency. Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. The HADCRU surface climate dataset and the paleoclimate dataset that has gone into the various “hockeystick” analyses stand out as lacking such transparency. Much of the paleoclimate data and metadata has become available only because of continued public pressure from Steve McIntyre. Datasets that were processed and developed decades ago and that are now regarded as essential elements of the climate data record often contain elements whose raw data or metadata were not preserved (this appears to be the case with HADCRUT). The HADCRU surface climate dataset needs public documentation that details the time period and location of individual station measurements used in the data set, statistical adjustments to the data, how the data were analyzed to produce the climatology, and what measurements were omitted and why. If these data and metadata are unavailable, I would argue that the data set needs to be reprocessed (presumably the original raw data is available from the original sources). Climate data sets should be regularly reprocessed as new data becomes available and analysis methods improve. There are a number of aspects of the surface climate record that need to be understood better. For example, the surface temperature bump ca. 1940 needs to be sorted out, and I am personally lacking confidence in how this period is being treated in the HADCRUT analysis.

In summary, given the growing policy relevance of climate data, increasingly higher standards must be applied to the transparency and availability of climate data and metadata. These standards should be clarified, applied and enforced by the relevant national funding agencies and professional societies that publish scientific journals.

Un peu de bon sens donc. Et au vu des caractériels qui sévissent dans la communauté, beaucoup de courage pour mettre sa carrière dans la balance.

Le sujet de la mise a disposition au public des données prends forme dans beacoups de domaines.

Liens utiles :

PS : je n'ai rien vu sur le café des sciences, je suis preneur de liens sur la blogosphère scientifique française.

Ajout 20091128 1202 : quelques liens (merci aux commentateurs)

Ajout 20091130 0954 : le bon sens semble se répandre :

Leading British scientists at the University of East Anglia, who were accused of manipulating climate change data - dubbed Climategate - have agreed to publish their figures in full. The U-turn by the university follows a week of controversy after the emergence of hundreds of leaked emails, "stolen" by hackers and published online, triggered claims that the academics had massaged statistics.

In a statement welcomed by climate change sceptics, the university said it would make all the data accessible as soon as possible, once its Climatic Research Unit (CRU) had negotiated its release from a range of non-publication agreements.

The publication will be carried out in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre. The full data, when disclosed, is certain to be scrutinised by both sides in the fierce debate.

A grandfather with a training in electrical engineering dating back more than 40 years emerged from the leaked emails as a leading climate sceptic trying to bring down the scientific establishment on global warming.

David Holland, who describes himself as a David taking on the Goliath that is the prevailing scientific consensus, is seeking prosecutions against some of Britain's most eminent academics for allegedly holding back information in breach of disclosure laws.

Mr Holland, of Northampton, complained to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) last week after the leaked emails included several Freedom of Information requests he had submitted to the CRU, and scientists' private responses to them.

Within hours, a senior complaints officer in the ICO wrote back by email: "I have started to examine the issues that you have raised in your letter and I am currently liaising with colleagues in our Enforcement and Data Protection teams as to what steps to take next." [...]

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

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.

The UEA’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was forced to reveal the loss following requests for the data under Freedom of Information legislation.

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. [...]