Post Carbon

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Adapted from The Post's climate change blog.

Penn State investigation of 'Climate-gate' clears professor

A Pennsylvania State University investigative committee has cleared a climate scientist of ethical misconduct in connection with an exchange of e-mails about global warming known as "Climate-gate."

Michael Mann, a meteorology professor at Penn State, came under fire after hackers broke into the server of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit in Britain and published thousands of e-mails and documents the center's staff had sent to other climate researchers.

Mann is best known as the author of the "hockey-stick" graph, which shows a rapid, recent rise in the Earth's temperature. His work has long been under attack by global-warming skeptics. But the criticism became more heated after an e-mail between scientists referring to a statistical "trick" used in Mann's research surfaced among the leaked correspondence. Both Mann and the author of the e-mail said that the e-mail was taken out of context and that the research data are solid.

The Penn State panel, which launched its probe Nov. 30, dismissed three of the allegations as not credible but continued to examine whether Mann "seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research or other scholarly activities." On Thursday it concluded that he had not.

While the panel called Mann's decision to share "unpublished manuscripts with third parties, without first having received express consent from the authors of such manuscripts . . . careless and inappropriate," it unanimously concluded "that there is no substance to the allegation" that Mann engaged in academic misconduct.

Mann's professional conduct is also being questioned in Virginia, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) has said he is investigating whether Mann committed fraud when he sought and spent five public grants for his research while working at the University of Virginia. Cuccinelli is seeking to subpoena the university for information on those grants. The university is challenging the request, arguing that the attorney general is intruding on Mann's academic freedom.

-- Juliet Eilperin

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