NEW YORK - The United Nations is to conduct an investigation into emails leaked from a leading British climate science centre which appeared to show some of the world's leading scientists discussing ways to shield data from public scrutiny and suppress others' work.
The University of East Anglia has defended the integrity of the science published by its Climatic Research Unit and its researchers, but said on Thursday that it would also check whether some of the data had been fudged.
Those who argue against the influence of man-made climate change have seized on the correspondence to argue that scientists have been conspiring to hide evidence about global warming.
In an interview with BBC radio, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the issue raised by the emails was serious and said "we will look into it in detail".
Pauchauri said: "We will certainly go into the whole lot and then we will take a position on it ... we certainly don't want to brush anything under the carpet."
Phil Jones, the director of the university's climatic unit, stepped down Tuesday pending the result of the institution's investigation.
East Anglia said its review will examine the emails and other information "to determine whether there is any evidence of the manipulation or suppression of data which is at odds with acceptable scientific practice".
The theft of the emails and their publication online is likely to be a major source of debate at a major UN summit on global warming which begins on Monday in Copenhagen, the Danish capital.
Republicans in the House of Representatives in the United States grilled government scientists about the leaked emails during a hearing on Wednesday in Washington, but the scientists countered that the emails did not change the fact that the they believe the earth is warming.
"The emails do nothing to undermine the very strong scientific consensus ... that tells us the earth is warming, that warming is largely a result of human activity," said Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
She said the emails do not address data from her agency or Nasa, the US space agency, which both keep independent climate records that show dramatic global warming.