In a statement posted to its Web site, the University of East Anglia says Phil Jones will relinquish his position until the completion of an independent review into allegations that he worked to alter the way in which global temperature data was presented.
Professor Jones said, "What is most important is that CRU continues its world leading research with as little interruption and diversion as possible. After a good deal of consideration I have decided that the best way to achieve this is by stepping aside from the Director's role during the course of the independent review and am grateful to the University for agreeing to this. The Review process will have my full support."
Details of the independent review will be releasd in the next few days, according to the statement.
Matt Dempsey, spokesman for Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., thinks more is still to come from the scandal coming to be known as Climategate. “It certainly shows that there’s more to the investigation and there’s more to come, and we’re only at the beginning stages of learning about climate-gate," he told FoxNews.com.
Dempsey added that Inhofe plans to request a hearing on the topic formally from Enivornment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer in a letter later today.
Jones's biography page, published on the CRU's servers, notes his research interest "in instrumental climate change, palæoclimatology, detection of climate change and the extension of riverflow records in the UK using long rainfall records. I am principally known for the time series of hemispheric and global surface temperatures, which I update on a monthly basis. I have numerous research papers over the last 20 years and these are available in the CRU Publications List."
The controversy spun from a collection of e-mails stolen from the CRU and leaked onto the Internet. The e-mails were seized upon by some skeptics of man-made climate change as proof that scientists are manipulating the data about its extent. And the trustworthiness of the scientific community's global warming data pool is being called into question as the scandal over doctored data continues to unfold.
The loss of the data prevents other scientists from checking it to determine whether, in fact, there has been a long-term rise in global temperatures during the past century and a half.
"They are making scientific progress more difficult now," says Willie Soon, a physicist, astronomer and climate researcher at the solar and stellar physics division of the Harvard University-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "This is a shameful, dark day for science," he said in an interview with FoxNews.com.