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Steve McIntyre: More NOAA Disinformation and an Appeal to the UK ICO

On March 9, 2011, NOAA scientist Eugene Wahl claimed that the “emails [he] deleted” were “all” “in the public domain” since the Climategate dossier was released. This is more disinformation from NOAA. “All” of the emails are not in the public domain. Attachments to the deleted emails – including Wahl’s changes to AR4 that are in controversy – remain outside the public domain.

Worse, not only are the attachments not in the public domain, but the University of East Anglia has stated (in recent FOI refusals) that their copies of the attachments to the Wahl-Briffa correspondence have also been destroyed. (This contradicts Vice Chancellor Acton’s testimony to the Parliamentary Committee; the Committee observing with visible exasperation that they found it “unsatisfactory that we are left with a verbal reassurance from the Vice-Chancellor that the e-mails still exist”.)

In addition, if the University of East Anglia is to be believed, Wahl has continued to actively opposed the release of attachments to earlier emails that remain in the possession of the University of East Anglia during his employment at NOAA, most recently in connection with my FOI request of April 2010 (EIR 10-03) for eight documents attached to Climategate emails.

Requests for all but two documents were refused by the UEA. In February 2011, the UK Information Commissioner agreed to consider my appeal of the UEA refusal, the outcome of which is pending.

NOAA Scientist Wahl’s 2011 Statement

NOAA scientist Eugene Wahl told Eli Kintisch of Science here that the deleted emails were “all” “in the public domain”:

The emails I deleted while a university employee are the correspondence I had with Dr. Briffa of CRU regarding the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all of which have been in the public domain since the CRU hack in November 2009. This correspondence has been extensively examined and no misconduct found. As a NOAA employee, I follow agency record retention policies and associated guidance from information technology staff.


In the rest of this post, I’ll refute this by reviewing the progress of my FOI request to East Anglia for the attachments to Climategate emails involving Wahl.

My April 2010 FOI Request
Attachments to Climategate emails are indicated by document trailers at the end of the emails. The attachments are not themselves available. Without the attachment to an email (which, in some cases, are the critical element), it is untrue to say that “all” of the email is available.

On April 5, 2010, a few days after the Parliamentary Committee had urged the University of East Anglia to improve its conduct in respect to FOI requests, I requested eight documents from the U of East Anglia (actually an Environmental Information Regulation request, but the differences are not relevant to this post):


Dear Mr Palmer,
Pursuant to the Environmental Impact Regulations, I request copies of the following eight documents (reference is attached to Keith Briffa letter):

Wahl_MBH_Recreation_JClimLett_Nov22.pdf (attachment mentioned in Jan 4, 2005 458. 1104855751.txt)
Wahl-Ammann_3321_Figures.pdf; Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb.doc – attachments mentioned in Feb 21, 2006 647. 1140568004.txt
Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb-Revision1.doc – attachment mentioned in 650. 1140838402.txt Feb 24
AW_Editorial_July15.doc; AR4SOR_BatchAB_Ch06_ERW_comments.doc; Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_12jul06_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 716. 1153470204.txt July 18, 2006
Ch06_SOD_Text_TSU_FINAL_2000_25jul06KRB-FJ-RV_ERW_suggestions.doc – attachments to 733. 1155402164.txt from July 27, 2006

Thank you for your consideration,

Regards, Steve McIntyre

The first document in the list was the Wahl and Ammann version that was used for the AR4 First Draft and which should have been in the library of unpublished articles available to reviewers. It was attached to a Climategate email from Mann to Jones in late 2004. I had previously asked IPCC to provide me with the, but IPCC told me that they had destroyed the archive.

The last four documents in the list were attachments to the surreptitious correspondence between Wahl and Briffa in July and August 2006, that became the target of Jones’ delete request. These documents would specifically show how Wahl changed the IPCC assessment to language more favorable to their article than the language sent to external reviewers and are thus at the heart of the ongoing controversy.

The other three documents pertain to versions just before the March 1, 2006 version that was archived at Ammann’s website in March 2006. They were of less interest, but included for completeness.

On Apr 8, 2010, I received a standard acknowledgement letter. On May 5, 2010, UEA notified me that they were extending the response time. On June 2, 2010, UEA responded (see here) , providing two of the eight documents (Wahl-Ammann_3321_Figures.pdf; Wahl_Ammann_3321_Final_21Feb-Revision1.doc), while refusing the other six documents. The two documents were two of the three February 2006 documents and were both of secondary interest.

They stated that they did not hold the four attachments to the surreptitious Wahl-Briffa correspondence: “Information not held”.

Why did the university continue to hold attachments to the February 2006 emails, but not to the July 2006 emails? A good question that remains unanswered.

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