Ned Nikolov

Ned Nikolov


  • Ph.D. Forest Ecology, Colorado State University (1997). Nikolov lists his PhD as in “Ecological Modeling” on his CV[1], [2]
  • M.S. Forestry, Higher Institute of Forestry, Bulgaria (1986). [2]
  • B.S. Forestry, Higher Institute of Forestry, Bulgaria (1985). [2]


Nedialko (Ned) T. Nikolov works as a physical scientist for the U.S. Forest Service. Nikolov's profile at ResearchGate lists his PhD as in Ecological Modeling. His profile at the United States Department of Agriculture's Forest Service lists his highest education as a Ph.D in Forest Ecology from Colorado State University. [1][3]

Nikolov and his colleague Karl Zeller, who used to work together at the forest service, were the subject of controversy when they were caught trying to published a paper under pseudonyms Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez multiple times from 2014 to 2016. [4]

Nikolov and Zeller have tried to challenge the accepted greenhouse gas theory on climate change, instead suggesting that atmospheric pressure is the cause for warming. Professional climate scientist Scott Denning described their theory as “too simple” and said it ignores elements of thermodynamics. However, the two argue that their papers were unfairly rejected not due to the science, but because of their association with the climate change denial blog network. [5]

“We thought in order to give the reviewers an opportunity to only focus on the content of the paper and not be distracted by anything else, we have to hide our identities,” Nikolov said. “And it worked.” [5]

According to a profile of Nikolov and Zeller at Coloradoan, Nikolov's research on climate change is “done on his own time.” [5]

Stance on Climate Change

September 12, 2016

“I don't think there is a catastrophic climate change happening at all. It's just cyclical. What we have observed now and all the warming we have observed, pretty much ending in the late nineties, so we're now at a plateau, right, in terms of temperature. […] People are looking at natural explanations, that it will be becoming cooler from now on. The climate change that we have been observing, it's ah… in terms of temperature change, it's very, very small compared to what has been happening geologically,” Nikolov told Energy Live News. [6]

September 2016

The Washington Post reported that “Nikolov, a.k.a. Den Volokin, does not consider himself to be a climate skeptic. He does not deny the climate is changing.” However, while he initially believed in the mainstream scientific consensus, the paper reported that he had a change of heart following “climategate,” despite formal investigations finding no scientific wrongdoing. [4]

Key Quotes

August 4, 2017

We’re not deniers, we’re scientists,” Zeller and Nikolov told The Coloradoan. [5]

“We thought in order to give the reviewers an opportunity to only focus on the content of the paper and not be distracted by anything else, we have to hide our identities,” Nikolov said. “And it worked.” [5]

Key Deeds

October 19 – 21, 2017

Nikolov and Zeller attended the “4th World Conference on Climate Change” in Rome. As DeSmog reported, the conference was hijacked by climate change deniers. While the event claimed to have an organizing committee consisting of representatives from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the European Space Agency, and the European Environment Agency (EEA), when DeSmog contacted the organizations they issued statements distancing themselves from the conference. [7]

Roger Tattersall (AKA “Tallbloke”) interviewed Nikolov and Zeller about their experience at the conference:

Two members of the “organizing committee,” Nils-Axel Mörner and Franco Maranzana, are also founding members of the Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG) — a group that, according to another founder Lord Christopher Monckton, was established to investigate climate scientists for fraud. [8]

View the conference program, with notes by DeSmog:

September 8, 2017

Zeller and Nikolov were guests on Connecting the Dots with Dan Happel via the Republic News Network (RNN). The show describes the two as “noteworthy climate scientists” who “both agree that the current greenhouse theory climate models are flawed in their basic assumptions, and lack the requisite scientific testing necessary for credibility.” [9]

According to the program description, “Their research shows that climate change has very little connection with the so-called greenhouse effect, and in fact is almost exclusively controlled by solar, atmospheric pressure, and gravitational factors that are beyond man’s ability to control.” Nikolov said that his interest in climate research, which he conducted on his own time, started with Climategate: [9]

 “As of 2012, ah '11 I would say, I got involved — this was my own, out of curiosity, in the climate research. And the way my interest started was because of Climategate, ah, when those emails came out in 2009, I started reading about the correspondence that was placed on the web. 

“And what I found… I was a very firm believer in the conventional greenhouse theory and everything as advertised. In fact, I used to argue with some of my colleagues that had some doubts, and they were not scientists but we had some heated arguments, and I would tell them that they are insane to think that thousands of scientists would be wrong and that the IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports would be wrong. And I was a very strong defender of that. 

“And then the Climategate emails came out and I saw that there was an obvious attempt to hide information, they were not forthcoming, and I got curious about the discrepancies that I started to realize that — at that time I didn't know what about those at that time, 2010, but I started researching them because I was curious about the science, the physics. I didn't care so much about the politics because politics is a subjective matter […]. “

“I thought to myself, this theory is not holding up to the evidence, and so therefore there has to be an explanation. Has to be an alternative explanation. So, I started looking for alternative explanation. […]” 

August 4, 2017

The Coloradoan reported that Nikolov and Zeller had been pushing to promote the view that solar radiation and atmospheric pressure are to blame for global warming, not greenhouse gas emissions by humans. [5]

According to the paper, they went as far as to publish under pseudonyms because “they’ve had a hard time getting the scientific world to hear them out, let alone take them seriously.” [5]

Atmospheric scientist Scott Denning of Colorado State University said the model developed by Nikolov and Zeller was “too simple,” did not adequately take into account thermodynamics, and the larger issue of “leaping to the conclusion that there is no greenhouse effect based on the model,” the Coloradoan reported. [5]

Zeller and Nikolov argue that Denning did not properly understand their work, and challenge critics to find an error in their work: [5]

 “After honestly reading the paper and taking the time to understand the terms, the data, the math and the gas physics, please document one significant error in the data, or the math, or the physics and allow us to explain it,” Zeller wrote. [5]

After being rejected, the two changed the spelling of their names. Karl Zeller took on the pseudonym Lark ReLlez while Ned Nikolov became Den Volokin. “We thought in order to give the reviewers an opportunity to only focus on the content of the paper and not be distracted by anything else, we have to hide our identities,” Nikolov said. [5]

Nikolov and Zeller told The Washington Post that their papers had been rejected after their work in 2011 had attracted attention in the climate change denial blogosphere. “Journal editors and reviewers would reject our manuscripts outright after Googling our names and reading the online discussion,” they said in a prepared statement. They had used fake names before, in a paper submitted to the journal SpringerPlus in 2015. [4]

While initially accepted, Nikolov claimed that it was later retracted because of their use of pseudonyms. NASA research Gavin A. Schmidt, who had alerted Retraction Watch to the paper's withdrawal, tweeted: 

February 2017

Nikolov and Zeller publish a paper in a new “open access” journal called “Environment Pollution and Climate Change” launched by an Indian publisher which subsequently faced multiple charges of deception from the Federal Trade Commission relating to the company's claims of peer review and marketing practices. The journal was at the time edited by an advisor to the Heartland Institute, Dr Arthur Viterito.

The paper - The Refutation of the Climate Greenhouse Theory and a Proposal for a Hopeful Alternative - suggested the well-established theory of greenhouse warming was fatally flawed. Professor Steve Sherwood, the director of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Australia, reviewed the paper and told DeSmog

The paper is laughable. It is so riddled with unsupported, fantastic and … or … unintelligible claims, arranged in a disorderly fashion and sprinkled liberally with innuendo.”

Referring to the journal and several papers it had published, Professor Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University and a vocal opponent of climate science denial, told DeSmog: “This isn’t science. It’s politically motivated denialist garbage.”

He added: “Such sham journals make a mockery of the scientific process and must be exposed for what they are. Associating in any way with this pseudo-journal would endanger one’s scientific reputation. Keep your distance from this toxic mess.”

December 2016

Zeller and Nikolov published in the journal SpringerLink an article titled “On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect,” under the names “Den Volokin” and “Lark ReLlez.” [14]

A later erratum included a statement by the authors on their use of pseudonyms, claiming it was “necessary to guarantee a double-blind peer review of our manuscript”: [15]

“Erratum to: SpringerPlus (2014) 3:723 DOI 10.1186/2193-1801-3-723
As authors of this article (Volokin and ReLlez 2014) we would like to clarify that our real names are Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. We created the pseudonyms Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez by spelling our names backward. Ned Nikolov is a physical scientist with the USDA Forest Service; he had been instructed by his employer not to engage in climate research during government work hours, nor to reveal his government affiliation when presenting results from his climate studies. Karl Zeller is a retired USDA Forest Service research scientist with no restrictions. Ned Nikolov worked on this manuscript outside of his assigned official work duty hours. Because of the controversial subject matter and the novel findings previously associated with Nikolov and Zeller, we felt that the use of pseudonyms was necessary to guarantee a double-blind peer review of our manuscript and to assure a fair and unbiased assessment. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused the Editorial Board and the readership of SpringerPlus.”

September 2016

Nikolov presented at an obscure climate change denial conference put on by the Independent Committee on Geoethics (ICG). ICG's “Steering Committee” includes many prominent climate change deniers including Christopher MoncktonJoanne NovaRoger TattersallMadhav Kandekar, and others. [10]

Some notable presenters at the ICG's “London Conference” in 2016 included Nils-Axel MörnerRoger TattersallNicola ScafettaPiers CorbynThomas WysmullerMadhav Kandekar, and Monckton.

See video Nikolov's presentation below, as well as the accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

August 18, 2015

Nikolov and Zeller co-published a paper titled “Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres” under pseudonyms “Den Volokin” and “Lark ReLlez”—Nikolov and Zeller's name spelled backwards. The paper was withdrawn. [11]

According to Retraction Watch, the notice doesn't state the precise reason for withdrawal. Elsevier, which publishes Advances in Space Research, confirmed that the paper was withdrawn due to an “authorship issue”— that being, presumably, that the authors had used pseudonyms. [12]

The blog …and Then There's Physics also commented on a following version of the retracted paper, writing that “we can be very confident that Nikolov and Zeller’s argument that planetary surface temperature is set by pressure alone is wrong.” [13]


  • United States Forest ServicePhysical Scientist and Manager of the USFS Rocky Mountain Center for Fire-Weather Intelligence. [1]
  • METI Inc. — Contractor Senior Scientist to the USFS RockyMountain Research Station (un 2006 – July 2010). [1]
  • USGS / Johnson Controls Inc. — Air Quality Specialist (May 2001 — Apr 2002). [1]
  • N & T Services — Environmental Consultant (Mar 2000 – Mar 2001). [1]

Social Media


Nikolov has co-published papers at the US Forest Service with Karl Zeller and others. View a larger list of publications on Nikolov's CV.  [1]

Other notable papers include:


  1. Nedialko T. Nikolov,” United States Department of Agriculture, Forestry Service. Archived February 18, 2018.

  2. NED NIKOLOV, Ph.D.”, retrieved from ScribD.

  3. Ned Nikolov,” ReseachGate. Webcite URL:

  4. Ben Guarino. “Scientists published climate research under fake names. Then they were caught,” The Washington Post, September 19, 2016. URL:

  5. Kevin Duggan.”Fort Collins scientists struggle to air alternative view on climate change,” The Coloradoan, August 4, 2017. Webcite URL

  6. Dr Ned Nikolov says climate change is not happening,” YouTube video uploaded by user “Energy Live News,” September 12, 2016. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

  7. Graham Readfearn. “Exclusive: UN, EU Agencies Reject Ties to Conference Hijacked by Climate Science Deniers,” DeSmog, May 31, 2017.


  9. CHALLENGING THE GREENHOUSE THEORYSCIENTISTS NED NIKOLOV AND KARL ZELLER,” Republic for the United States of America, September 8, 2017. Archived February 18, 2018. Archived .mp3 on file at DeSmog. URL:

  10. Membership,” Independent Committee on Geoethics. Archived July 26, 2016. URL

  11. Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez. “WITHDRAWN: Emergent model for predicting the average surface temperature of rocky planets with diverse atmospheres,” Advances in Space Research, August 18, 2015.

  12. U.S. gov’t researchers withdraw climate paper after using pseudonyms,” Retraction Watch, September 13, 2016. Archived February 16, 2018. URL:

  13. No, pressure alone does not define surface temperatures!…and Then There's Physics, August 8, 2017. Archived February 16, 2018. URL:

  14. Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez. “On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect,” SpringerPlus, 2014 3:723. Archived February 18, 2018.

  15. Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. “Erratum to: On the average temperature of airless spherical bodies and the magnitude of Earth’s atmospheric thermal effect,” SpringerPlus 2016 5:2085. Archived February 18, 2018.

Other Resources