by Chip Knappenberger
March 8, 2010
Another error in the influential reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports has been identified. This one concerns the rate of expansion of sea ice around Antarctica.
While not an issue for estimates of future sea level rise (sea ice is floating ice which does not influence sea level), a significant expansion of Antarctic sea ice runs counter to climate model projections. As the errors in the climate change “assessment” reports from the IPCC mount, its aura of scientific authority erodes, and with it, the justification for using their findings to underpin national and international efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Some climate scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC Working Group II’s (WGII’s) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, prefering instead the stronger hard science in the Working Group I (WGI) Report—The Physical Science Basis. Some folks have even gone as far as saying that no errors have been found in the WGI Report and the process in creating it was exemplary.
Such folks are in denial.
As I document below, WGI did a poor job in regard to Antarctic sea ice trends. Somehow, the IPCC specialists assessed away a plethora of evidence showing that the sea ice around Antarctica has been significantly increasing—a behavior that runs counter to climate model projections of sea ice declines—and instead documented only a slight, statistically insignificant rise.
How did this happen? The evidence suggests that IPCC authors were either being territorial in defending and promoting their own work in lieu of other equally legitimate (and ultimately more correct) findings, were being guided by IPCC brass to produce a specific IPCC point-of-view, or both.
The handling of Antarctic sea ice is, unfortunately, not an isolated incident in the IPCC reports, but is simply one of many examples in which portions of the peer-reviewed scientific literature were cast aside, or ignored, so that a particular point of view—the preconceived IPCC point of view—could be either maintained or forwarded.
The problems with the IPCC’s handling of the trends in Antarctic sea ice was first uncovered and presented a week or two ago in an article posted over at the World Climate Report—another blog with which I have been involved with for a long time.
The First Order Draft of Chapter 4 contained the following illustration of Southern Hemisphere sea ice, along with the caption “Sea Ice extent anomalies … the Southern Hemisphere based on passive microwave satellite data… [l]inear trend lines are indicated for each hemisphere….the small positive trend in the Southern Hemisphere is not significant. (Updated from Comiso, 2003).”
Figure 1. Figure 4.4.1b from the IPCC AR4 Chapter 4 First Order Draft.
Notice two things, 1) the figure depicts monthly ice extent anomalies from November 1978 through October 2004, and 2) the trend through them seems to be statistically significant (i.e. the confidence range does not include zero), given in the illustration as 9089.2 +/- 2970.7 km2/year or 0.735 +/- 0.240%/dec.
Yet, for some reason, the accompanying text claims that the trend in Figure 4.4.1b is insignificant (AR4 First Order Draft, page 4-14, lines 9-10):
The Antarctic results show a slight but insignificant positive trend of 0.7 ± 0.2% per decade.
This inconsistency was brought to the IPCC Chapter 4 authors’ attention by several IPCC commenters. Commentor John Church wrote “I do not understand why this trend is insignificant – it is more than three times the quoted error estimates” and Stefan Rahmstorf wrote “How can a trend of 0.7 +/- 0.2 be ‘insignificant’? Is not 0.2 the confidence interval, so it is significantly positive?” The IPCC responded to both in the same manner “Taken into account in revised text.”
And boy did they ever!
Read the entire article here: Yet Another Incorrect IPCC Assessment: Antarctic Sea Ice Increase