10th February - Today's News: Eastern USA Hit by New Snowstorm

The Guardian has been doing a special investigation into 'Climategate' and have now published a series of articles online. What seems clear to me is that, whatever else, the CRU was subjected to a co-ordinated and vexatious campaign of FOI requests - despite the Act specifically stating such requests need not be answered. According to Olive Heffernen "between 24 and 29 July, CRU received 58 FoI requests from McIntyre and people affiliated with Climate Audit … " This is supported by the comments on Climateaudit. One wonders whether those involved knew full well that such requests would be refused? Was that the intent all along? Or were they just stupid? The UEA has also made available a list of all such requests made over the past 2 years (unfortaunte the actual data of each request is not shown) and this too makes for interesting reading.

Although no-one is raising the point, IMO much of the requested data is in any case clearly exempt from the FOI because it is avaliable from other sources and was given to the CRU under licence (and subject to confidentiality agreements).

Lesson: before using the FOIA to your advantage, read it!

If you want the raw data, ask for it from the those who produced it and hold it - though of course in some cases it may be necessary to pay for it and not all governments might freely provide it to just anyone. Of course, that's hard work - and doesn't cause vexation for the scientists whom you want to be wrong.

There's a nice analogy posted by 'Cthulhu' on Eli Rabett's blog (at 1.32pm)

Anyway, on to the weather. After trying to snow much of Monday afternoon we had a 20 minute light snow shower at 5pm. That's been it so far - but all eyes on the radar today as a few more showers try and make there way this far in off the North Sea. eIn North America though it's been a tad snowier. Again. With eastern USA hit by new snowstorm

In Afghanistan, avalanches kill 64 and injure dozens near Salang tunnel - though such events are by no means unusual around one of the world's highest, longest and most dangerous road tunnels.

Unseasonably hot weather blankets Nigeria. Elsewhere in Africa, the flood situation in Lusaka is complex says Zambia's vice president.

Haiti earthquake only moved half the fault

Thirty-eight percent of world's surface in danger of desertification - which of course is what happened during th last Glacial when, with the world colder and drier there was generally less rainfall. During the warmer, wetter, Holocene Climatic Optimum deserts shrunk - Arabia and the Sahara were green - but changes in Earth's orbit have since resulted in the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone shifting back south, although many deserts to return - aided, it must be said, by human activity especially the grazing of livestock. The problem is that once a region is denuded of vegetation, it's difficult for it to rturn. This latest study seems to suggest that further desterification due to similar human activity may occur. Nice to see it's not blamed on global warming (which may in fact reduce the risk in some areas due to increased precipitation - though the ffects of deforestation and other factors in precipitation pattern change need taking into account as well - a warmer world will not mean a return to the condition of 8,000 years ago simple because so much else has changed.

Bird from dinosaur theory of evolution challenged - was it the other way round? Nah, those sparrows in my garden are definitel'y baby T-Rexs!

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