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UN climate body admits 'mistake' on Himalayan glaciers
01-19-2010, 10:53 PM,
UN climate body admits 'mistake' on Himalayan glaciers
Quote:The vice-chairman of the UN's climate science panel admits that it made a mistake in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included the date in its 2007 assessment of climate impacts.

A number of scientists have recently disputed the 2035 figure, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele told BBC News that it was an error and would be reviewed.

But he said it did not change the broad picture of man-made climate change.

The issue, which BBC News first reported on 05 December, has reverberated around climate websites in recent days.

Some commentators maintain that taken together with the contents of e-mails stolen last year from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, it undermines the credibility of climate science.

Dr van Ypersele said this was not the case.

"I don't see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report," he said.

"Some people will attempt to use it to damage the credibility of the IPCC; but if we can uncover it, and explain it and change it, it should strengthen the IPCC's credibility, showing that we are ready to learn from our mistakes."

Grey area

The claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 appears to have originated in a 1999 interview with Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain, published in New Scientist magazine.

The figure then surfaced in a 2005 report by environmental group WWF - a report that is cited in the IPCC's 2007 assessment, known as AR4.

An alternative genesis lies in the misreading of a 1996 study that gave the date as 2350.

AR 4 asserted: "Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world... the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high."

Dr van Ypersele said the episode meant that the panel's reviewing procedures would have to be tightened.

Slow reaction?

The row erupted in India late last year in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit, with opposing factions in the government giving radically different narratives of what was happening to Himalayan ice.

In December, it emerged that four leading glaciologists had prepared a letter for publication in the journal Science arguing that a complete melt by 2035 was physically impossible.

"You just can't accomplish it," Jeffrey Kargel from the University of Arizona told BBC News at the time.

"If you think about the thicknesses of the ice - 200-300m thicknesses, in some cases up to 400m thick - and if you're losing ice at the rate of a metre a year, or let's say double it to two metres a year, you're not going to get rid of 200m of ice in a quarter of a century."

The row continues in India, with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh calling this week for the IPCC to explain "how it reached the 2035 figure, which created such a scare".

Meanwhile, in an interview with the news agency AFP, Georg Kaser from the University of Innsbruck in Austria - who led a different portion of the AR4 process - said he had warned that the 2035 figure was wrong in 2006, before AR4's publication.

"It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing," he told AFP in an interview.

He said that people working on the Asia chapter "did not react".

He suggested that some of the IPCC's working practices should be revised by the time work begins on its next landmark report, due in 2013.
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara

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01-21-2010, 09:30 PM,
RE: UN climate body admits 'mistake' on Himalayan glaciers
Quote:"It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing," he told AFP in an interview.

Here is the discussion (Indian infighting), and an interesting WWF connection, anyways...

Quote:U.N. climate change panel under fire for bogus claims of glacier retreat
January 19, 8:30 AM
By Tony Hake

Just three years ago, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made the stark claim that it was “very likely” that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. In a blow to its credibility, the IPCC was forced to acknowledge this week that the assertion was incorrect despite being oft repeated by its leaders.

The claim was contained in the IPCC’s seminal “AR4” report that was issued in 2007, the same year the panel and Al Gore won Nobel Peace Prizes for their work combating anthropogenic global warming. The document has served as a guide to policymakers in their efforts to force heavy regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.

The passage in question said, “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

Concerns of glacial retreat have been used to provide an exclamation point on the claims that action must be taken immediately to stem man’s purported influence on the climate. According to the IPCC’s methodology, “very likely” is meant to have a 90% or greater chance of occurring. With millions of people in Asia relying on glacial ice for their water supply, the threat was considered to be great.

The claim was said to reference a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a global environmental advocacy group performed in 2005. The WWF’s study in turn cited a 1999 story in New Scientist that contained the claim.

New Scientist had interviewed Dr. Syed Hasnain who was working at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi at the time. No quote is attributed to Hasnain where he mentioned the 2035 date although it appears in the narrative of the story. Earlier this month, Hasnain said that the statement was pure “speculation” and not based in scientific fact.

This image from the IPCC's AR4 report was included with claims of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035. That claim has now been disproven. The image also shows that glacial retreat was occuring long before the industrial age. (IPCC)

Many are now raising a red flag over the inclusion of the claim in the IPCC report and say it calls into question the basis of much of the IPCC’s work. The fact that the organization chose to include data from an activist group like the WWF in what is supposed to be a scientific document has many wondering what other errors lie within.

Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC said yesterday the organization would examine how the bogus claim made its way into the report. Pachauri himself however has come under fire recently as new revelations of his financial dealings and how he benefits from the IPCCs work thus causing a potential conflict of interest.

Ironically, a paper published in November by the Indian government said there was nothing abnormal about the retreat of the glaciers. India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh said the IPCC was being “alarmist” by making claims of severe glacial retreat.

Pachauri fired back at the time saying the paper was “voodoo science.” He went on to defend the IPCCs report on glaciers saying, “We have a very clear idea of what is happening. I don't know why the minister is supporting this unsubstantiated research. It is an extremely arrogant statement.”

Many who are doubtful of the manmade climate change theory are saying the claim of ‘voodoo science’ was directed at the wrong document.

2009 saw a number of setbacks against the global warming movement as the so-called ‘consensus’ on the manmade climate change theory crumbled. Since the Climategate scandal broke in November, climate scientists have found themselves under siege and this latest event will only add fuel to their fire. 2009 saw a number of setbacks

The fact a document reviewed by the world’s top climate scientists and presented by the United Nations contains such poorly reviewed material only causes further doubts about the IPCCs work.

India potentially stands to gain the most from global Carbon Dioxide laws and tax distribution. So there are factions within government that would very much like the IPCC 'science' to be validated.
.. Oh and it turns out that the IPCC knew of this error all along.

Quote:Stranger and Stranger
18 January 2010
Posted by Roger Pielke, Jr. at 1/18/2010 09:19:00 PM

The fallout from the IPCC Himalayan glacier situation gets stranger and stranger. Now an IPCC lead author has stepped forward claiming that the error has been known by the IPCC all along. From Agence France-Presse:

A top scientist said Monday he had warned in 2006 that a prediction of catastrophic loss of Himalayan glaciers, published months later by the UN's Nobel-winning climate panel, was badly wrong.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said in 2007 it was "very likely" that the glaciers, which supply water to more than a billion people across Asia, would vanish by 2035 if global warming trends continued.

"This number is not just a little bit wrong, but far out of any order of magnitude," said Georg Kaser, an expert in tropical glaciology at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

"It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing," he told AFP in an interview.

It gets more interesting:

Kaser suggested the initial error originated from a misreading of a 1996 Russian study or from findings on a handful of glaciers that were mistakenly extended to apply to the whole region.

In either case, he suggested, the fact that it found its way into the report underpinning global climate negotiations signalled the need for a reform of the way the IPCC collects and reviews data.

"The review community has entirely failed" in this instance, he said.

Kaser was a lead author in Working Group I of the IPCC report, which dealt with the physical science of climate change.

Its conclusions -- that climate change is "unequivocal" and poses a major threat -- remain beyond reproach, he said.

The prediction for the Himalayan glaciers was contained in the separately published Working Group II report, which assessed likely impacts of climate change.

More specifically, the chapter focussed on an assessment of Asia, authored by scientists from the region.

"This is a source of a lot of misunderstandings, misconceptions or failures," Kaser said, noting that some regions lacked a broad spectrum of expertise.

"It is a kind of amateurism from the regional chapter lead authors. They may have been good hydrologists or botanists, but they were without any knowledge in glaciology."

Kaser said some of the scientists from other regional groups took heed of suggestions, and made corrections ahead of final publication in April 2007.

But the Asia group did not. "I pointed it out," he said of the implausible prediction on the glaciers.

"For a reason I do not know, they did not react."

But blame did not rest with the regional scientists alone, Kaser added.

"I went back through the comments afterward, and not a single glaciologist had any interest in looking into Working Group II," he said.

And there is more:

The IPCC's Fifth Assessment, scheduled for release in 2013, will probably be adjusted to avoid such problems, said Kaser.

"All the responsible people are aware of this weakness in the Fourth Assessment. All are aware of the mistakes made," he said.

"If it had not been the focus of so much public opinion, we would have said 'we will do better next time.' It is clear now that Working Group II has to be restructured," he said.

The implications of Kaser's comments are not good for the IPCC, however that they are interpreted.

Given Rajendra Pachauri's vigorous defense of the claims made by the IPCC about Himalayan glacier melt, Dr. Kaser's comment that -- "All the responsible people are aware of this weakness in the Fourth Assessment. All are aware of the mistakes made" -- raises an eyebrow. It must be the case that Dr. Pachauri either knew of the error or he did not. Neither state of affairs is good for the IPCC.

Consider a further implication: If indeed "all the responsible people are aware" of the mistakes in the IPCC, then what in the world explains their complete silence over the past few years while headlines like the following were being announced to the world?

Think about this statement:

"If it had not been the focus of so much public opinion, we would have said 'we will do better next time.'"

Is it really the case that IPCC scientists would have continued to sit on a known error with important policy implications in complete silence until their hand was forced by the focus of public opinion? Really?!

I wonder what other known errors are being sat on?
There are no others, there is only us.

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