Just over a month after Climategate started, we have breaking news from Climate Audit
Steve McIntyre writes:
The UK Met Office has released a large tranche of station data, together with code.
Only last summer, the Met Office had turned down my FOI request for station data, saying that the provision of station data to me would threaten the course of UK international relations. Apparently, these excuses have somehow ceased to apply.
Last summer the Met Office stated:
The Met Office received the data information from Professor Jones at the University of East Anglia on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released. If any of this information were released, scientists could be reluctant to share information and participate in scientific projects with the public sector organisations based in the UK in future. It would also damage the trust that scientists have in those scientists who happen to be employed in the public sector and could show the Met Office ignored the confidentiality in which the data information was provided.
However, the effective conduct of international relations depends upon maintaining trust and confidence between states and international organisations. This relationship of trust allows for the free and frank exchange of information on the understanding that it will be treated in confidence. If the United Kingdom does not respect such confidences, its ability to protect and promote United Kingdom interests through international relations may be hampered…
The Met Office are not party to information which would allow us to determine which countries and stations data can or cannot be released as records were not kept, or given to the Met Office, therefore we cannot release data where we have no authority to do so…
Some of the information was provided to Professor Jones on the strict understanding by the data providers that this station data must not be publicly released and it cannot be determined which countries or stations data were given in confidence as records were not kept. The Met Office received the data from Professor Jones on the proviso that it would not be released to any other source and to release it without authority would seriously affect the relationship between the United Kingdom and other Countries and Institutions.
The Met Office announced the release of “station records were produced by the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, in collaboration with the Met Office Hadley Centre.”
The station data zipfile here is described as a “subset of the full HadCRUT3 record of global temperatures” consisting of:
a network of individual land stations that has been designated by the World Meteorological Organization for use in climate monitoring. The data show monthly average temperature values for over 1,500 land stations…
The stations that we have released are those in the CRUTEM3 database that are also either in the WMO Regional Basic Climatological Network (RBCN) and so freely available without restrictions on re-use; or those for which we have received permission from the national met. service which owns the underlying station data.
I haven’t parsed the data set yet to see what countries are not included in the subset and/or what stations are not included in the subset.
We’ve reported on a previous incident where the Met Office had made untrue statements in order to thwart an FOI request. Is this change of heart an admission of error in at their FOI refusal last summer or has there been a relevant change in their legal situation (as distinct from bad publicity)?