Polargate investigation questions new witnesses

The Polargate investigation being conducted by the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General “is looking into allegations of scientific misconduct related to a 2006 report by wildlife researchers Charles Monnett and Jeffrey Gleason, who described seeing dead polar bears floating in Arctic waters. The apparently drowned bears raised concerns about the effect of melting ice in the Arctic, and they were mentioned in Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth.”

Now NPR reports that new witnesses are being questioned in this 3 year old investigation:

Earlier this week, the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General interviewed employees of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory in Seattle ….. 

Investigators were apparently interested in archived data from aerial surveys of bowhead whales. It was during one of those routine surveys in 2004 that Monnett and Gleason saw four bear carcasses floating in open water, according to their report in the journal Polar Biology. They stated that, in earlier surveys from 1987-2003, “no dead and floating polar bears were observed.”

In January, special agent Eric May wrote an email to John Bengtson, the director of the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, and listed some questions he wanted to ask about the historical database on the whale surveys: “Specifically, we need to determine if dead polar bears were documented in the BWASP database between 1987-2003?” The email was obtained by PEER through the Freedom of Information Act. ….. The recent inquires by the Office of Inspector General suggest that the investigation remains focused on the scientific integrity of the polar bear paper, after veering into questions about whether Monnett violated laws that govern the management of federal contracts.

In his interview (Polargate – Monnett-IG interview transcript) with the Inspector General’s office, Monnet suggested that the findings in his original paper

Monnett, C., and J. S. Gleason, 2006. Observations of mortality associated with extended open-water swimming by polar bears in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. Polar Biology, 29, 681-687.

may have been blown out of proportion in that the observations from a storm were being taken as being due to global warming. In his interview he states “Um, this paper is very narrow in that it only focuses on the swimming and drowning and what, and what we thought was related to it, in other words, a storm.”

In the meantime the polar bears are apparently oblivious that they are an endangered species and continue to increase.

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