And more on Glaciergate and Pachauri and IPCC and their “science”.
“They raise more questions about why the IPCC ever took the claim seriously. It means the UN panel ignored scientific publications rejecting the rapid-melt theory in favour of claims that had been reported only in the non-scientific media and in a report by WWF, a conservation pressure group.”
“A furious Rees made the magazine publish a retraction in its letters page, describing Hasnain’s comments as a “gross misrepresentation”.
This weekend it emerged that the leaders of the IPCC had known for weeks and probably months about the error and had even convened private conferences to discuss it.”
From The Sunday Times January 31, 2010
Panel ignored warnings on glacier error
THE United Nations climate panel ignored warnings by leading scientists not to publish false claims that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.
One warning, in 2006, a year before the report was published, came from Georg Kaser, an Austrian glaciologist who was a lead author on another section of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
He said: “I sent warnings to the IPCC telling them the claim about Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 was false.”
Another warning came from Gwyn Rees, a British hydrologist who oversaw a £300,000 study funded by the UK government in 2001 to assess the claims about rapid melt.
His findings were published in 2004 — three years before the IPCC report — and also showed there was no risk of rapid melt.
Rees said: “The sheer size and altitude of these glaciers made it highly unlikely they would melt by 2035.”
The new revelations follow a report in The Sunday Times this month which forced the IPCC to retract its claim that the glaciers in the Himalayas might be gone by 2035.
They raise more questions about why the IPCC ever took the claim seriously. It means the UN panel ignored scientific publications rejecting the rapid-melt theory in favour of claims that had been reported only in the non-scientific media and in a report by WWF, a conservation pressure group.
The saga began with Syed Hasnain, the Indian glaciologist who issued the first warnings about rapid glacier melt in media interviews in 1999. He now works for The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi, which is run by Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC.
It was those claims that prompted Britain to fund the study by Rees — who recruited Hasnain to help lead it.
Rees, a water resource scientist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, a government research centre, said Hasnain had signed up to the study’s conclusions. These stated that any suggestions the region’s glaciers might soon melt “would seem unfounded”.
Hasnain was also in the audience at a seminar sponsored by the EU in 2004 where Rees gave a presentation suggesting there would be some glacial melt, but nothing on the scale suggested by Hasnain. His closing slide read: “It is unlikely that all glaciers will vanish by 2035!”
That same audience also included representatives from WWF who were compiling their own report on glacier melt. Despite Rees’s warnings, they later decided to include Hasnain’s claims in their report, published in 2005, from where they were picked up by the IPCC.
In 2004, Rees had assumed the rapid-melt claims would not be repeated, but in May that year Hasnain gave an interview to New Scientist suggesting the UK-funded study had confirmed his claims of rapid glacier melt.
In it he said: “Global warming has already increased glacier melting by up to 30%. After 40 years, most glaciers will be wiped out and we will have severe water problems.”
A furious Rees made the magazine publish a retraction in its letters page, describing Hasnain’s comments as a “gross misrepresentation”.
This weekend it emerged that the leaders of the IPCC had known for weeks and probably months about the error and had even convened private conferences to discuss it.
The last such meeting was hosted by TERI in Delhi last month and was the scene of a confrontation between Hasnain and Professor Murari Lal, one of the lead authors of the glaciers section of the IPCC report.
According to the minutes, Hasnain defended himself by pointing out that he had not mentioned the 2035 date in any of his scientific papers.
This is true, but The Sunday Times has confirmed that Hasnain has repeated the claims in a series of media interviews over most of the past decade.
In 2007 he told the Indo-Asian News Service: “After 40 years, most of these glaciers will be wiped out and we will have severe water problems.”
Perhaps his biggest publicity coup came in August 2008 when he was interviewed by ABC, one of the giant American TV networks, suggesting that the Ganges, one of the world’s greatest rivers, would dry up by the middle of the century. He said: “We are going to be doomed in the future.”
Suspicions about Hasnain’s claims began to spread, and the Indian government sponsored a new report by V K Raina, the former deputy director-general of the Geological Survey of India.
That study, published last October, rejected the claim that Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035, saying: “It is premature to make a statement that glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating abnormally because of global warming.”
An IPCC spokesman said it regretted the error but pointed out that glaciers were still melting — albeit far more slowly than its report had suggested.
Hasnain could not be contacted for comment.
Copyright 2010 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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