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IPCC Brand Science™ – extrapolating 10 himalayan glaciers to speak for 54,000 – meanwhile Himalayagate 2 is evolving over the Stern Report

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Watts Up With That?
December 5, 2011

10/54,000 = .0185 % That’s an impressively small sample size. Apparently Pachauri’s zeal to get back the Himalayagate claim of melting by 2035 outweighs any rational attempts at science. In any other discipline, a sample size this small would be laughed off as ridiculous, but this is climate science, where ridiculous has become the norm, especially when trotted out for the Durban Climate Conference.

Excerpts from the UK telegraph:

Himalayan glaciers are melting, says IPCC research

The Himalayan glaciers are melting after all, according to new research released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The research was released in an effort to draw a line under the embarrassing mistakes made about the effects of global warming on the region in the past.

The IPCC were forced to apologise for claiming that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.

The 2009 scandal, known as ‘Himalayagate’ led to criticism of the IPCC, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to warn governments around the world about the effects of climate change.

In an effort to move on from the embarrassing episode, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, has now announced that the latest statistics show the glaciers are melting, according to the limited amount of science available.

The reports, presented at the UN climate change talks in Durban were brought together by the the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

One three year study, funded by Sweden, found that of 10 glaciers measured in the region all are shrinking, with a marked acceleration in loss of ice between 2002 and 2005.


“…funded by Sweden” Does anyone care to place any bets on WWF and/or Greenpeace involvement in this? I’m sure Donna Leframboise will take a good look into this one.

Meanwhile, here’s all the reason you need not to trust anything the IPCC says. This comment left on our open thread today from Roger Knights is about as growing into  Himalayagate 2 as you can get:

Three Strikes Against the IPCC’s Asia Group (By Roger Knights)

(Summary: This post points out the cherry picking of quotations by the IPCC’s Asia group to spice up its widely publicized claim that 3/4 of a billion Asians were at risk of water shortages from glacier-melt.)

Here’s a bone for the gang to gnaw on and flesh out (to mangle a metaphor). I haven’t fully researched the matter, but what I’ve noticed is intriguing.

During a dispute with one of the one-star Amazon-reviewers (T. Bruner) of Donna Laframboise’s Delinquent Teenager book about the IPCC, I wrote:

“She [DL] wrote, at Location 763 in Chapter 14: ‘When the IPCC declared that three-quarters of a billion people in India and China depend on glaciers for their water supply, is it not strange that its only source for this claim was the Stern review?’ The link she supplied there takes one to that section of the IPCC report, 10.4.2, where one can see the single citation for oneself, as I have done.”

(My exchange with T. Bruner starts on the 5th comments page of his review, linked to below, but the most relevant material is on the 6th page.http://www.amazon.com/review/R3D6YKUGYE4WA0/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg5?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx2983WIRKIRW6A&cdPage=5&asin=B005UEVB8Q&store=digital-text&cdThread=TxO5HUAZSS2GUT#wasThisHelpful )

Bruner pointed out that the Stern Review in turn had cited, as its authority for that statement, Barnett et al., which, unlike Stern, was a peer-reviewed and before-the-deadline publication. He added that the Fresh Water Group had cited Barnett alone, in Section 3.4.3 (of AR4).

This made me wonder: Why had the Asia group taken the risk of violating the IPCC’s rules by citing Stern alone? Wouldn’t citing Barnett in addition, or instead, have been prudent?

It’s unlikely that the group hadn’t been aware of the Barnett paper, given that it was cited by Stern, and given its relevance, recency, and prominent & prestigious source, which could be found in Stern’s bibliography:

Barnett, T.P., J.C, Adam, and D.P. Lettenmaier (2005): ‘Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions’, Nature 438: 303-309

So this relevant, recent, and prestigiously published primary source, Nature, which all contributors had access to in their libraries, was omitted in favor of citing a gray, secondary, after-the-deadline (2007, hence unpublished per the IPCC’s rules) source. (It’s not cited anywhere in the Asia Group’s chapter, per its References section.)

Why? Let’s get started by looking at what the two sources and the Asia Group said. I’ve emphasized the most pertinent passages. (h/t to T. Bruner for the quotes.):

1. Barnett et al., as summarized by the Fresh Water Group, in AR4 WGII Section 3.4.3:
“Hence, water supply in areas fed by glacial melt water from the Hindu Kush and Himalayas, on which hundreds of millions of people in China and India depend, will be negatively affected (Barnett et al., 2005).”
Go to 5th paragraph, last sentence, here:

2. Stern Review, 2007, Section 3.2, page 63:
“Climate change will have serious consequences for people whodepend heavily on glacier meltwater to maintain supplies during the dry season, including large parts of the Indian sub-continent, over quarter of a billion people in China, and tens of millions in the Andes. (Barnett et al., 2005)”
Go to p. 8 at this link:http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/Chapter_3_How_climate_change_will_affect_people_around_the_world_.pdf

4. Asia Group, in AR4 WGII Section
“Climate change-related melting of glaciers could seriously affect half a billion people in the Himalaya-Hindu-Kush region and a quarter of a billion people in China who depend [unqualified] on glacial melt for their water supplies (Stern, 2007).”
Go to the second paragraph, second sentence, here:http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch10s10-4-2.html

Strike one: If the Asia group had cited Barnett at all it would have exposed its claims about three-quarters of a billion and “seriously affected” as being hyperbole. (Barnett et al. had used the less-exaggerated, less-alarmist words, “hundreds of millions” and “negatively affected.”) It’s not a big leap to infer that that was the motive for its omission. What other motive could there have been?

(“Hundreds of millions” suggests the lower end of the one-hundred-million-to-one-billion range. If Barnett et al. had had three-quarters of a billion in mind when they wrote “hundreds of millions,” they’d likely have indicated that they were thinking of the upper part of the range by saying something like “over a half-billion” or “many hundreds of millions.”)

Strike two: The Asia Group lied by omission by omitting Stern’s key qualification, “during the dry season.” Including it would have muted the alarmist impact of their sentence. It’s not a big leap to infer that that was the motive for its omission. What other motive could there have been?

Strike three: The Asia Group’s gray-lit-backed claim of a 2035 melt-by date now looks likely to be a similarly culpable instance of cherry-picking in the service of alarmist hyperbole, rather than clueless unfamiliarity with the dynamics of glaciers. They were likely knaves, not fools, in other words.

One reason it’s “likely” is the context provided by the two “strikes” above. Another reason is the context provided by their refusal to correct the error in their 2035 melt-by date when reviewers pointed it out to them, and their turning a deaf ear to Dr. Georg Kaser’s subsequent attempts to have it corrected.

(I’m skeptical of the IPCC’s excuse that Kaser sent his first complaint to the wrong department—wouldn’t they have forwarded it?—and that his second letter wasn’t received—a “likely story.” It seems more likely to me that the group couldn’t possibly admit to ignoring his letters—so it didn’t.)

Strike four: The three strikes above suggest that the IPCC has been infected by gang-of-green alarmism. The IPCC’s apologists have spun a deceptive damage-control message about the 2035 error by attributing it to ignorance, not malice—to cluelessness, not culpability. In the context of the deceptive pattern described above, that’s hard to believe.

Obviously, it would be awkward for the IPCC if the second interpretation gained traction, because that would raise the questions, “Where did the gangrene start?”, “How far has it spread?”, “Is amputation needed?”, and “Or maybe a mercy killing?”.

Paging Dr. Kevorkian!


For a brief history of Himalaya-gate, see my comment here:http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/17/the-wit-and-wisdom-of-real-climate-scientist-dr-ray-pierrehumbert/#comment-683880


It gets even better, commenter DirkH adds in the same thread:

The funniest part is that the IPCC report contains a table of glaciers and the speed with which they retreat or grow. ON THE SAME PAGE AS THE 2035 DATE!

The only part they left out is the length of the glaciers; in the case of the Gangotri, for instance, 30km. So obviously nobody of them ever did this mental exercise called “computing” where you divide a length by a yearly distance to get an estimate of the number of years that have to pass until the thing is gone. This is, as the media repeatedly told us, the Gold Standard of climate science, and serves as the blueprint for all future international scientific collaborations under the UN.

Here’s the IPCC errata and table 10.9:

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) 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. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

So let’s do the math for Gangotri glacier, which according to Wikipedia: The glacier is about 30 kilometres long (19 miles) and 2 to 4 km (1 to 2 mi) wide.

30 kilometers (30,000 meters) divided by 28 meters/year = 1071.4 years for Gangotri glacier to disappear at the current retreat rate.

That’s a bit further out than 2035.

UPDATE: I’ve updated IPCC table 10.9 and it is shown below with two column additions. I was unable to find a reference for length of the the Ponting Glacier but if someone can locate it I’ll update the table to include it.

Note that the Pindari Glacier does have a chance of disappearing by 2035 if the rate of retreat keeps up. Perhaps that one was the source of confirmation bias. Looking at this photo from Wikipedia though…


…it looks rather “dirty” with a lot of albedo reducing components in it. That might explain why it is melting at a much faster rate than all the others.

This article was posted: Monday, December 5, 2011 at 3:56 am

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