The director of the prestigious British research center named in the "Climategate" controversy has stepped down pending an investigation.
The University of East Anglia said Tuesday that Phil Jones, whose e-mails were among the thousands of documents leaked to the Internet weeks ago that prompted claims that he and others suppressed data about climate change, would relinquish his position as director of Climatic Research Unit until the completion of an independent investigation.
Specific terms of the review will be announced later in the week, the university said.
Skeptics of man-made climate change say Jones and his colleagues manipulated data to support their research. In one leaked e-mail, Jones wrote that he had used a "trick" to "hide the decline" in a chart on recent global temperatures.
Jones denied the claims, insisting that his comment -- meant to mean a "clever" action -- was misinterpreted.
In the wake of the leaked correspondence, peer-reviewed publications by the unit are under fire for potentially shoddy methodology and practices.
Skeptics say the e-mails reveal holes in the validity of man-made climate change. Supporters say the science holds strong.
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican and vocal skeptic of global warming, urged Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and chair of the environment committee, for Senate hearings on the e-mails.
The reason: Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency are both actively trying to curb global warming based on a report that uses data produced by the climate scientists in question.
A House committee hearing on the topic is scheduled for today. Two prominent scientists -- White House science adviser John Holdren and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco -- are expected to answer questions about the e-mails.
The hearing comes at a tense time. World leaders are preparing for the upcoming Copenhagen conference, scheduled to begin next week and expected to outline a new climate change agreement among nations.
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