IPCC admits error on Himalayan glacier melt fiasco

But…there’s that word again, “robust” used in the context of error admission. Now all we need is an apology from Chairman Dr. Rajenda Pachauri for statements that claims that this error existed were “arrogant” and “voodoo science“. Will he give one? His track record suggests it is doubtful.

UPDATE: It seems Dr. Pachauri is getting a bit miffed over all the attention he’s getting over his ties to TERI and questions raised by Richard North and Christopher Booker in the UK telegraph. He’s threatening a lawsuit:

Angry Pachauri threatens to sue UK daily

This is the best thing that could happen, as it will mean independent discovery.

IPCC statement on the melting of Himalayan glaciers1

The Synthesis Report, the concluding document of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (page 49) stated: “Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e.g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.”

This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment.

It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment2 refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly.

The Chair, Vice-Chairs, and Co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance. This episode demonstrates that the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards, including thorough review of “the quality and validity of each source before incorporating results from the source into an IPCC Report” 3. We reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring this level of performance.

===============================================

1 This statement is from the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the IPCC, and the Co-Chairs of the IPCC Working Groups.

2 The text in question is the second paragraph in section 10.6.2 of the Working Group II contribution and a repeat of part of the paragraph in Box TS.6. of the Working Group II Technical Summary of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

3 This is verbatim text from Annex 2 of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work.

PDF of the announcement is here

h/t to WUWT reader Nigel Brereton

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rabidfox

I don’t think that ‘robust’ means what they think it means.

Harry

Anyone who refers to ‘skeptics’ and ‘deniers’ is going to make ‘group think’ mistakes.
In the ‘real world’ one has their work checked by a ‘skeptic’. I am a computer analyst by trade. The last person to check my work should be anyone on my ‘team’. Our team never spots it’s own mistakes.
Until the clowns at IPCC start viewing ‘skeptics’ as essential to quality control, they will continue to make outrageous mistakes.

Henry chance

Joe Romm on Climate progress is using robust talking points to smear legislatures that don’t promote “green slush funds”
Meltdown Mann is getting Robust funding to validate the efects of the phenomena formerly known as global warming/climate change on disease.
Now Algore…Talk about robust!!!

Ro-Busted!

David P

I note that the text does not retract the “melt by 2035” claim, or even acknowledge that it is erroneous. Only that it is “poorly substantiated”. I don’t suppose that was an oversight.

DirkH

“In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly” – wait, what could these procedures be?
– Have it reviewed by a RealClimate guy
– Use spell checker
– Check facts using the wikipedia

Rick

An apology without a sorry. They won’t admit to being wrong.

John F. Hultquist

and entirely consistent with the underlying science
… and entirely consistent with the false assumption of CO2 forcing …
There. Fixed.

Veronica

And the peer reviewed data turns out to be a dodgy meme, misheard on a bad phone line by the exaggeration-prone author of “The Last Generation” and overstated like “Nepalese whispers” by a chain of overenthusiastic warmists. Repeat until true.
What I find fascinating is how they love to be frightened and are indignant if some of us don’t buy their horror stories.
How many more of these glitches are there in the pro-AGW “dataset”?

Daniel H

“This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment.”
You know, considering that most of the IPCC’s “assessment” is based entirely on computer projections that are calibrated against tree ring data, the relative veracity of the Himalayan glacial meltdown prediction (as blurted out in an arbitrary phone conversation and reported in a non-peer-reviewed WWF article) does seem perversely robust by comparison. At least we can say that it’s entirely consistent with the overall quality that we’ve come to expect from the IPCC.
Thus is the sorry state of consensus-based climate science.

Roger Knights

changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges …

Someone on an earlier WUWT thread on this topic argued that the effect of this changing meltwater pattern in the eastern Himalayas would actually be positive for the downstream populations. Does anyone remember what he said?

P Walker

“… the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards…” , which have proven to be pretty low .

Glenn

I suspect that the “high confidence” placed on this blunder will be what profoundly affects the public trust in the IPCC.

Tom G(ologist)

Harry:
I agree. I always want the most skeptical person I can find shoot holes in my work before I go to trial with it (I am an expert witness on many matters). Once I send the work out, it is subject to some REALLY hostile criticism from my opponents. Judging by their reaction to some innocent interrogatories, if these guys at IPCC were subject to a good cross examination from a hostile attorney, or from a REAL peer’s scrutiny at a scientific conference where you are presenting something contradictory, they would not be able to take it.
Peer review with this crowd is rather as it was in old England when a Lord could only be tried by his PEERS (other Lords); e.g., an action was brought against Lord Cardigan (the idiot responsible for the Charge of the light Brigade) who insisted that his right was to be tried by a jury of his peers. So a jury of other Lords was convened and promptly acquited him of all charges, even though he was patently guilty of those charges.

Herman L.

Harry,
You wrote: “Until the clowns at IPCC start viewing ’skeptics’ as essential to quality control, they will continue to make outrageous mistakes.”
First, I don’t know where you come off calling the scientists who participate in the IPCC effort “clowns.” On what basis do you make that assessment? It seems a rather rude interpretation of people who devote their life’s work to the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
Secondly, and more importantly, there are plenty of skeptics in the IPCC. They may not be skeptical of everything in every instance. They may be only skeptical at the level of how accurately a particular number wa calculated. You see that throughout the IPCC report where specific items are rated regarding the level of scientific knowledge, or or where a probability range is assigned to a value.
I have read other sources which discuss this matter of the Himalayan glaciers and they point out that there were a number of comments submitted over the Working Group II information on glaciers — this matter in particular — that were skeptical of what the report said. The quality control was there; the comments are all publicly available for all to see. The problem was that in this one case the quality control failed to catch an error.
Like you, I am a computer analyst by trade. I happen to work in a shop with an advanced CMMI rating. And despite our best efforts at peer review, at quality control, and at testing, errors happen and make it into production. Rather than point to an error and call that team clowns, we sit down as a group and try to figure out how tp prevent errors like that from happening again. I hope your group works the same way. That is exactly what I read in the last paragraph of the IPCC’s statement.

IPCC
Crap they caught us on that one, the response
“a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment2 refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.”
Translation:
but it was only on rivet holding the wings on the plane, but not to worry there are 937 more inspected and testede by the same people who missed that one

nigel jones

Harry (12:19:54) :
“In the ‘real world’ one has their work checked by a ’skeptic’. I am a computer analyst by trade. The last person to check my work should be anyone on my ‘team’. Our team never spots it’s own mistakes.”
An IT team might see the value in having a fresh pair of eyes cast over their work. A PR department certainly wouldn’t want their ‘forward looking statements’ critically analysed and be made to justify what they said.
It’s clear that the role of the IPCC isn’t to produce a dispassionate review of the science of AGW, for and against, it’s to select scientific (and not so scientific) pronouncements to construct a scaremongering, pro-AGW narrative, with the apparent authority of science, to justify political initiatives.
When one pillar crumbles, they put another pillar in place and try to forget quietly the one which failed. Hockey Stick anyone? Problem is, they have a few pillars crumbling right now and people aren’t forgetting the ones which failed. More people are looking at the pillars they have and asking questions as to how sound they are.

Ok the weirdest thing happened in my previous post the (e) for the word “one” attached itself to the word “tested”…. wandering e’s could prove a problem in future posts….
Redo…
IPCC
Crap they caught us on that one, the response
“a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment2 refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.”
Translation:
but it was only one rivet holding the wings on the plane, but not to worry there are 937 more inspected and tested by the same people who missed that one

kadaka

From James Delingpole, quoting Richard North’s work:
Dr Hasnain’s claim that the glaciers would disappear within forty years was picked up by the WWF, whose concerns expressed in a report enabled our friend Dr Pachauri’s TERI to approach the wealthy Carnegie Corporation of New York for grant funding to support further research into this most important issue.

In November 2008, they were successful, being awarded a $500.000 grant for “research, analysis and training on water-related security and humanitarian challenges to South Asia posed by melting Himalaya glaciers.” This helped Dr Pachauri set up the TERI Glaciology team, putting at its head now professor Syed Iqbal Hasnain.


Pachauri gets it in the IPCC report, from which TERI gets money, and Hasnain gets a position with TERI.
What else wound up in that IPCC report that TERI is using for marketing and fundraising? How objective is Pachauri, a self-described full-time salaried employee of TERI?

Daniel H

@Rick:
“An apology without a sorry. They won’t admit to being wrong.”
The IPCC is understood to be both sorry and wrong by default. This explains why only politicians, naive 17-year-old activists, and Europeans believe the IPCC assessment reports.

Patrick M.

Herman L.,
Do you refer to your quality control people as “arrogant” and accuse them of using “voodoo science” when they find an error in your work? Do you then refuse to correct the error until the error makes it into production and the media picks up the story?

Sydney Sceptic

@ Herman L.
I’d suggest that ‘clown’ is an accurate term for someone who makes you laugh by doing stupid things. You’ll find a lot of examples of clownish behavior by climate scientists in most of the articles on this site. Honestly, it’s better than ‘Days of Our Lives’.
“The problem was that in this one case the quality control failed to catch an error.”
Other than CO2 being the cause of current climate change, perhaps?
“Rather than point to an error and call that team clowns, we sit down as a group and try to figure out how tp prevent errors like that from happening again. I hope your group works the same way. That is exactly what I read in the last paragraph of the IPCC’s statement.”
Simple remedy in this case – actually do what you are telling people you have been doing… Oh, not making statements like this about this issue to the press, when you are the head of the IPCC would be a good start, too:
However, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, told the Guardian: “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.”
Pachauri certainly acted like a clown in this interview.

vigilantfish

Herman L. (12:59:49) :
Harry,
You wrote: “Until the clowns at IPCC start viewing ’skeptics’ as essential to quality control, they will continue to make outrageous mistakes.”
First, I don’t know where you come off calling the scientists who participate in the IPCC effort “clowns.” On what basis do you make that assessment? It seems a rather rude interpretation of people who devote their life’s work to the pursuit of scientific knowledge.
——-
For an example of why calling the IPCC so-called scientists (i.e. the ones who wrote the final report) “clowns” is entirely appropriate can be found in a Roger Pielke Jr.s blog today.
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/01/what-does-pielke-think-about-this.html
The IPCC’s 4th Report completely misrepresented Pielke’s work used in the report by suggesting that the events of 2004-5 would change Pielke’s conclusions that hurricane activity had not been increased. Rather than asking him for his opinion, the authors simply imputed an opinion to him, which was the opposite of that he himself expressed elsewhere at that time, in the published record.

Note that this IPCC “retraction” does not actually say what the claim was that was not properly substantiated, or even whether they now reject that claim.
It merely affirms that their conclusions were right even though their facts were not properly documented in the full report.

GaryPearse

There can be little doubt that such an admission of error from the ipcc would never have come about in the pre-climategate heady days when it was even promoted that fraudulent means justified the noble ends of envirojihadists.

Thanks, Nigel Brereton, for keeping the spotlight of public attention focused on the Climategate iceberg.
Beneath the tip of this iceberg is decades of deceit and data manipulation by those that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the InterNational Academy of Propaganda (INAP) has been funding.
Follow the money and incredibly poor science will be revealed at many of the most prestigious research institutions and research publications.
Today’s WUWT exposed Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Keep up the good work!
Oliver K. Manuel

Steven Hill
GaryPearse

There can be little doubt that such an admission of error from the ipcc would never have come about in the pre-climategate heady days when it was even promoted that exaggeration and half truths were means justified by the noble ends of the agw cause..

I get the impression that whatever Rajendra is smoking is pretty robust.

DirkH

“Sydney Sceptic (13:32:59) :
[…]
However, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, told the Guardian: “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.””
He’s a political stooge and he insulted a politician. His days are numbered.

James Sexton

They were robustly robust because of their robustness. It would be nice, just once, if someone from that camp could just say “Oops, we were wrong.” Because they won’t, they are reduced to the above “apology” and things akin to Somerville’s juvenile retort.

François GM

Herman L
Re: clowns
It must be great to be so virtuous that you can actually talk down to us lesser individuals. You are so … self-right.
Does your virtue include fact-checking ?
Do you not know of the proven fact (see Climategate letters; McIntyre exchanges) that the so-called peer-review process used by the IPCC heavily favors papers supportive of catastrophic AGW ?
For some reason, your virtue does not extend to the condemnation of the scandalous conduct of the IPCC scientists. As far as I know, only Landsea has had the courage to step down from the IPCC.

Peter of Sydney

Not good enough. There’s ample evidence that the chairman of the IPCC was warned about the falsehoods. He should be charged with fraud.

Bruce Sanson

Should there not be long term albedo re-calculations here from the ipcc?

Vincent

Apparantly, there are still some people who believe the IPCC are a bunch of simple scientists diligently searching for the truth. I wonder how long it will take before the penny drops?

Thor

“We reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring this level of performance.”
I was afraid of that…

Peter of Sydney

Vincent, the penny will drop when the IPCC predicted models become a laughing stock of the world as the disparity between modeled and observed temperatures increases more and more.

James Allison

Examples of IPCC Robustness are Michael Mann’s Hockey stick, manipulated temperature data and peer reviewed science.

TeresaV

The IPCC seems like a good target right now for ‘lets shrink government spending’ in tough economic times. They don’t do any direct science, if all they can do is screw up the compilation of other people’s science it is time to give them the boot.

Fred

Calling members of the IPCC clowns is an insult to all clowns. A true clown is a proferssional who has sharpened his skill by years of hard work before the most demanding of audiences. These guys only talk to themselves. Their idea of peer-review would be better called “peer-review of each other’s work.”

Stefan

Honestly, it is blatant misdirection, like watching a bad magic trick.
It’s like, let’s take this opportunity (of having to admit to a mistake) to tell everyone how authoritative, comprehensive, exacting, and correct we are.

brc

It must have been very painful for Pachauri to issue this statement. Imagine having to eat your very public words and be proven wrong.
Next time I find someone launching a barrage of ad hominem attacks on skeptics I might remind them that if it weren’t for skeptics, errors like this would still be around. It’s not like the IPCC is checking and correcting it’s own work.
This incident will do far more to erode public trust and faith in the IPCC, because unlike climategate, it’s a simple story, easy to tell and easy to understand. A guy makes an unresearched remark in a phone interview. It goes into a magazine as such. The WWF pick it up and print it as fact. The IPCC include that report, mark it as fact and then build a whole story around it. It was false all along and their quality control procedures are faulty. Everyone can understand this, and make the same conclusion : what else in these reports is wrong? Maybe the science isn’t settled after all.
Even if this is the only error in the IPCC report, I don’t think anyone can underestimate the amount of damage it has done and will do in terms of public confidence and trust.

Andrew

Should there not be long term albedo re-calculations here from the ipcc?
Not on the basis of this error. The Himalayan glacier melt citation appeared in Working Group II Report “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” of the IPCC 4AR. That reference was cited nowhere else. Albedo is analyzed in Working Group I Report “The Physical Science Basis,” specifically

Surely a man who flies from the US to India just for cricket practice gets to see an awful lot of the Himalayas.
I trust “Gulfstream” Pachauri on this one.

Jimbo

To ‘help’ the glaciers how about reducing soot in the region. Why must CO2 always be the worst culprit?

“…the new research, by NASA’s William Lau and collaborators, reinforces with detailed numerical analysis what earlier studies suggest: that soot and dust contribute as much (or more) to atmospheric warming in the Himalayas as greenhouse gases.”

http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/himalayan-warming.html
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/15/soot-having-a-big-impact-on-himalyan-temperature-as-much-or-more-than-ghgs/
Holy smokes Himalayan!!
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/12/blue-sky-research-reveals-trends-in-air-pollution-clears-way-for-new-climate-change-studies/

Stefan

@Herman L.
Please don’t confuse science with scientists. One is a principle, like the law. The other is the people, of varying human ability, who work with the matter in real life, like the lawyers. Law & lawyers. Science & scientists. Art & artists.
Yes mistakes happen to the best of people, but the best of people don’t make the worst mistakes most often. If they do then something is wrong, and perhaps, well there could be any reason or a combination; they are misguided, uninformed, acting in bad faith, politicized, following ideology, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.
Most skeptics are basically still scratching their head over certain issues in climate science. These are skeptics who are professionals in their own right, working in fields that overlap climatology (statistics, astrophysics, forecasting, etc.) It is like an metallurgist talking to a structural engineer talking to an architect talking to an artist. There is a chain of overlapping disciplines. The metallurgist gets to question the artist’s intentions.
The stuff in climate science that people scratch their head over…. well I’m scratching my head over the “explanation” that “something caused warming, and then 800 years later CO2 feedback caused the rest of the warming for the next 4000 years” (words to that effect). It may be… but the simpler answer is that the CO2 is the effect and not the cause. This is a huge question mark in a field that is *claimed* to be settled. It leaves me wondering whether the “settled” claim is simply a public relations strategy.
I am pretty OK guessing that these scientists are qualified and privately they KNOW how to research. But what they choose to tell the world could be something quite different. Remember, the general public is not scientists, so whilst privately amongst themselves, these scientists know what they are doing, what they choose to tell the general public and the politicians could be something quite different. We’re not scientists, so they can’t talk science to us, they have to talk public relations. So please let’s not confuse science with scientists and scientists with public relations. (Discernment is the key to cognitive ability).
Now, I personally have no problem with the ideal of a united humanity that lives lighter and doesn’t get bogged down in nationalistic self interest. I consider myself a world-citizen. I grew up in several countries. To me, Nationalism, country borders, where the poor are poor just because they happened to be born in a poor country, is a form of Apartheid. One day the world will move beyond that. But trying to scare the population into moving that way, is a mistake, it seems to me. Fear of disaster just causes people to become more isolationist and competitive and mean. It is the wrong direction. Even if AGW is happening, the IPCC public image and message is 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Dave in Canada

“he might pursue legal action”….like all warmist propaganda, nothing’s for sure.

nigel jones

Stefan (14:17:42) :
“It’s like, let’s take this opportunity (of having to admit to a mistake) to tell everyone how authoritative, comprehensive, exacting, and correct we are.”
Exactly what you’d expect from a PR/marketing department though, and that’s about what they are.

Nigel Brereton

@ Robert Townsend
If you check out pages 154-157 in the TERI annual report for 2008/9 you will find an immense number of engagements that Patchy would have had to of flown to. This guy has a bigger carbon footprint than a small town!
http://www.teriin.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19

Tenuc

Glaciers are very poor proxies for global climate. History shows that they have always grown or shrunk, with often opposite patterns for different glaciers in the same region.
Would have been good for the arrogant Pachauri to have said sorry about the mistake instead of trying to plug the crack in the dyke. Won’t be long before the full truth about what the UN and the IPCC have been up to. There are too many holes appearing in the flimsy façade of deceit. The UN is an organisaton that has outlived it’s usefulness.