Police probe UEA climate scientist over Climategate

Ice berg

A University of East Anglia scientist with links to climate sceptics has posted his account of an interview with police investigating Climategate

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 15:00 ON Fri 5 Feb 2010

A scientist at the University of East Anglia has been questioned by police over the leaked emails at the centre of the 'Climategate' row.

According to the Guardian, Paul Dennis, a senior climate scientist at UEA, was interviewed and gave a statement after police established links between him and the climate sceptic US bloggers who first broke the scandal.

The row blew up when emails belonging to members of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit were leaked on the eve of the Copenhagen summit. They suggested that data which did not support theories of global warming was being deliberately withheld.

Dennis, who researches temperature fluctuations by studying ice cores, does not subscribe to the more extreme theory of runaway global warming. He is the Head of Stable Isotope and Noble Gas Geochemistry Laboratories, a department of UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, which also includes the CRU. Dennis is much less antagonistic towards climate change sceptics than some of his colleagues over at the CRU. When the scandal broke he refused to sign a petition in support of them, reportedly saying, "science isn't done by consensus".

It is also claimed he contacted Professor Jacquie Burgess, head of the environmental risk department at the University of East Anglia, urging her to comply with freedom of information requests from climate change sceptics.

It has now emerged that Dennis was in contact with a number of climate change sceptic bloggers who were among the first to link to the leaked emails. They include Stephen McIntyre of the Climate Audit blog in Toronto, Patrick Condon of the Air Vent blog, based in Illinois, and Anthony Watts, a weatherman on a radio station in California who writes for a blog called Watts Up with That. All three posted links to the leaked data on November 17.

Staff at the UEA have been told not to speak to the media, but Dennis posted an account of his interview with the police on a site run by a British climate change sceptic. He revealed on Andrew Montford's Bishop Hill blog that his contact with Condon and McIntyre had prompted the police to talk to him.

"Clearly they've trawled through the UEA mail server and checked for key words," he said. "The police left me very much with the impression that they were working on the theory that this was an outside hack and was done deliberately to disrupt Copenhagen."

Dennis has denied that he was responsible for leaking the material.

The Climategate row has prompted many to question the validity of much of the science behind climate change and led to a widespread debate over the extent of global warming. Earlier this year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was forced to withdraw its claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. · 

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