the scientist at the centre of the "Climategate" controversy last night denied claims that he covered up flawed data about rising world temperaturs.
Professor Phil Jones, the former head of the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, said the 20-year-old study questioned by sceptics "stood up to scrutiny" and was corroborated by more recent work. The UEA's research centre has been under fire from climate sceptics since 13 years of emails were stolen from its servers and posted online in November in the run-up to the UN climate talks in Copenhagen.
One newspaper claimed that Professor Jones deliberately withheld information from Douglas Keenan, a *independent student of climate change, who used a freedom of information request to query data from Chinese weather stations used in the 1990 study on global warming.
Professor Jones said he was certain that the study, which drew on 42 urban and 42 rural sites, was correct because it was validated by the new data. "I am confident.... the site movements that might have taken place at some of the sites were not that important to affect the average of the 42 sites," he said.
The disputed paper was one of several referred to by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its 2007 assessment of global warming, which suggested urbanisation had only a small effect on rising temperatures.
Mr Keenan raised concerns with the professor about the lack of detailed locations for the weather stations, arguing that some had "moved" during the course of the research and had subsequently rendered the data doubtful. He also accused Wei-Chyung Wang, of the University of Albany in the US, who supplied Prof Jones with the data, of scientific fraud – a charge the university cleared him of following an inquiry.
Yesterday, Professor Jones said the UEA responded Mr Keenan's request for information and supplied the temperature data and locations of weather stations. He said the study had also used climate records from Australia and what was then the USSR – about which no questions had ever been raised. Some of the Chinese sites might have moved to warmer or cooler places, and it was the large-scale average that was the key issue, he said.
Mr Jones said he was concerned that the latest allegations would undermine some aspects of climate science. "I feel tremendously pressurised by all this but I'm trying to continue my work in the science.
"I think it's very important and it's potentially very serious for the future of mankind in decades to come."
Insisting that he "wholeheartedly" stood by the part of the IPCC's report to which he contributed, the academic added: "The work we do at the UEA is only a small part of climate science, Thousands of climate scientists around the world support our results."
No regrets: UN climate change chief refuses to apologise over false claim
The chief of the UN's climate change body has refused to apologise over a mistake in a landmark 2007 report on global warming which incorrectly claimed that the Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri, left, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it would be hypocritical to apologise for the false claim that was made two years ago, as he was not personally responsible for that part of the report.
In an interview with 'The Guardian', Dr Pachauri said a personal apology would be a "populist" step adding that it was an isolated mistake, down to human error and "totally out of character" for the panel.
Refusing to resign, he added that the claim did not change a "basic truth" that human activity is causing temperatures to rise.
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