THE Met Office was last night facing accusations it cherry-picked climate change figures in a bid to increase evidence of global warming.
UK climatologists “probably tampered with Russian-climate data” to produce a report submitted to world leaders at this week’s Copenhagen summit, it is claimed.
The Met Office’s study, which says the first decade of this century has been the warmest on record for 160 years, is being used to trumpet claims that man is causing global warming.
But experts at the Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis say the British dossier used statistics from weather stations that fit its theory of global warming, while ignoring those that do not.
They accuse the Met Office’s Hadley Centre of relying on just 25 per cent of Russia’s weather stations and over-estimating warming in the country by more than half a degree Celsius.
Last night, leading global warming sceptic Dr Fred Singer, of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, said: “I have long suspected that this selective fiddle took place but have not assembled all the evidence.
“We know, and have published, that between 1975 and 2000 the number of weather stations was reduced from nearly 7,000 to only 3,000 with many of them in the former Soviet Union.
“The effect of this would be to produce an artificial temperature trend which we don’t see in the satellite data. So the warming of the past 30 years is likely to be an illusion.”
Professor Patrick Michaels, an environmentalist from the Cato Institute in Washington, said: “There is a significant lack of data coming from Russia in the last decade and a half.
“There will be many questions in the future about any reports that use what data there is. We want to know more about the Hadley Centre’s report but they won’t show us the raw data.”
The IEA’s report claims the Hadley Centre used incomplete findings from Russian meteorological stations “far more often than those providing complete observations” in order to build up a picture of overall warming.
It said the Hadley data overestimated warming in Russia by up to 0.64C between the 1870s and 1990s.
“Analysing the temperature trends received from Met stations, it is hard to get rid of the impression that they do not show any noticeable trend to warming in second half of the 20th and beginning of 21st centuries,” the IEA said.
It also said that since Russia was the world’s biggest country, any global theories drawn from its incomplete weather statistics would be invalid.
Russia’s semi-official RIA Novosti news agency said the Hadley Centre “probably tampered with Russian- climate data” by using statistics from only a quarter of available weather stations.
But last night a spokesman for the Hadley Centre said its scientists did not choose which weather stations to collect its data from.
He said: “The World Meteorological Organisation chooses a set of stations evenly distributed across the globe and provides a fair representation of changes in mean temperature on a global scale over land. We don’t pick them so we can’t be accused of fixing the data. We are confident in the accuracy of our report.”
Critics of the Russian report also point out the huge vested interests of the Russian state, which is rich in oil, coal and gas, to avoid action needed to fight man-made climate change.
The IEA was founded by Andrey Illarionov, a former aide to premier Vladimir Putin who has a track record of opposing the climate change lobby.
The Met Office data follows the row over hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia, seized upon by global warming sceptics as evidence that academics were massaging the figures.
On Monday the Daily Express revealed a dossier by the respected European Foundation think-tank detailing 100 reasons why global warming is a natural cyclical event.
And in a recent poll of readers 98 per cent said they believed they were being conned over global warming.