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August 23, 2011

Climate Researcher Exonerated

Investigation: NSF probe clears researcher Michael Mann of misconduct allegations

Cheryl Hogue and Steve Ritter

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Investigators at the National Science Foundation have exonerated climate scientist Michael C. Mann of allegations of research misconduct, Mann's employer, Pennsylvania State University, said in an Aug. 23 statement.

Mann, director of Penn State's Earth System Science Center, has been a target of climate change skeptics. The developer of the once-contested "hockey stick" graph of temperature fluctuations over the past millennium, Mann is one of the scientists whose controversial e-mails were hacked from the University of East Anglia in the U.K., and made public in late 2009. Critics cite these emails as evidence that Mann manipulated data.

"No direct evidence has been presented that indicates the Subject [Mann] fabricated the raw data he used for his research or falsified his results," reads the NSF Inspector General's report, which is available on the agency's website.

Controversy continues over Mann's statistical methods, the report says, but this scientific debate doesn't constitute evidence of research misconduct.

"I'm very pleased that the NSF office of the inspector general has confirmed what every other of the more than half-dozen investigations in the U.S. and Europe has established: that the various smears that have been manufactured by climate change deniers about me and other climate scientists have no basis in reality," Mann tells C&EN.

The NSF probe followed a Penn State investigation that cleared Mann of misconduct last year.

The NSF report "clearly exonerates Professor Mann from any professional improprieties in his research, and adds credibility to the university's own process of inquiry," says Henry C. Foley, Penn State vice president for research.

The National Research Council, in a 2006 report, upheld Mann's basic conclusions that warming in the Northern Hemisphere in the late 20th century was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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