IPCC based claims on a student dissertation and a magazine article

posted at 11:56 am on January 31, 2010 by Karl

This story just keeps getting better:

The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]’s remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

Neither the article nor the dissertation was subject to peer review. Moreover, the Sunday Telegraph notes that the latest IPCC report made use of 16 non-peer reviewed reports from the World Wildlife Fund.

Then again, the ClimateGate scandal has raised questions about the the quality and process of peer review in the field of climate change, so maybe it is more honest for the IPCC to rely on a magazine article. It is arguably more honest than covering up the inconvenient truth that the IPCC’s claim that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 was based on nothing but speculation.

These lapses should be a source of embarrassment to those involved, but apparently are not to the UK’s weather service:

The Met Office, which has seven researchers who contributed to the report including Professor Martin Parry who was co-chair of the working group responsible for the part of the report that contained the glacier errors, said: “The IPCC should continue to ensure that its review process is as robust and transparent as possible, that it draws only from the peer-reviewed literature, and that uncertainties in the science and projections are clearly expressed.” (Emphasis added.)

It is impossible for the IPCC to continue drawing only from peer-reviewed studies, because they clearly are not doing that now.

Thanks to Kathleen McKinley for the tip.

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