Glaciers and Sunday in England

Continued from here.

Lots of coverage in today’s English press about glaciers.

David Rose in the Daily Mail here. Among other points, he reports that Georg Kaser says that he notified WG2 Lead Author Lal of the error several months prior to publication. Lal denied receiving the letter.

Last week, Professor Georg Kaser, a glacier expert from Austria, who was lead author of a different chapter in the IPCC report, said when he became aware of the 2035 claim a few months before the report was published, he wrote to Dr Lal, urging him to withdraw it as patently untrue.

Dr Lal claimed he never received this letter. ‘He didn’t contact me or any of the other authors of the chapter,’ he said.

Cristopher Booker in the Daily Telegraph here. An interesting addition to the backstory from North/Booker, tracing the language in IPCC WG2 to almost identical language in an interview with an Indian environmental magazine.

In fact Dr Hasnain had first made his own controversial claim two months earlier, in a much longer interview with an Indian environmental magazine, Down to Earth, in April 1999. It was the wording of this interview which the IPCC was to quote almost exactly in its 2007 report.

Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times here discusses TERI’s role, observing that Pachauri repeated the claim in a TERI press release issued on January 15, announcing a joint venture between TERI, Iceland and Ohio State University:

“According to predictions of scientific merit they may indeed melt away in several decades.”

And, needless to say, more new posts from Richard North at his blog.

All worth a read.


  1. P. Solar
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    From the press release linked about:

    Elaborating on the Himalayan scenario and explaining that TERI has already started working in the area of receding glaciers, Prof. Syed Iqbal Hasnain, Distinguished Fellow, TERI said …

    The same (then Dr.) Hasnain that said Himalayan glaciers could be gone in 40 years. A dubious choice to teach science to a new generation of indian glaciologists .

  2. ClimateQuoter
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 1:28 PM | Permalink

    “The problem isn’t simply that the IPCC caused that sort of alarm with unscientific claims. That would be a problem in and of itself, but the real troubling concern is far deeper. They wanted that alarm. Even worse, they intentionally created that alarm by including a false statement and claiming it was science.”

  3. Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

    A scan through Google News shows the American new media to be ignoring this one. NY Times shows one story – 3 days ago. Then there’s the Wall St Journal – no surprise there. The rest of the country? If you rely on newspapers, it didn’t happen.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

      Re: MarkB (Jan 24 13:36),

      Not American news but Seth Borenstein,THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, wrote an article for the world famous Toronto Sun a few days ago.

      I’ll leave it there except to say, in this one instance, Ray Bradley was right.

    • PhilJourdan
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunate, but true. The American MSM is ignoring it. But as P Gosselin states, the alternate media, which has gained a lot of traction lately, is taking it up. I have seen the UK and Vancouver articles linked in several areas on comment sites. The MSM is ignoring them at their own peril.

  4. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    Well, we know the actual providence for the IPCC reference is bogus, but just what is he real situation concerning glaciers melting in the Himalayas? Someone here posted on another thread that about 20% melting has occured in the past 30 years. But I’d like to see the providence of such numbers.

    • Harry
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

      Pielke Sr dug up some actual literature about the Himalayan Glaciers here

      Reads about the same as the Mt Rainier Glaciers…which we have 150 years of observations and records for

      Some receding…nothing ‘unprecedented’. The Glaciers on Rainer receded quite rapidly in the 20’s and 30’s and then advanced again.

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

        Re: Harry (Jan 24 15:38),

        Around mid-December, Cliff Mass blogged about climategate and snowpackgate:
        “The reaction was intense. One of my colleagues, Mark Albright, who was the first to notice the lack of snowpack loss was fired as associate State Climatologist…”

        Many good scientists knew something was going on, some perhaps using benefit of the doubt, thinking it was simply normal differences of opinion at play. Or even realizing some normal defensiveness on some people’s part.

        Recent developments say it wasn’t normal.

        • Harry
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

          The recent development on Rainier is someone found a USGS survey marker on bare ground and held it up as ‘proof’ that the Glaciers were melting. After a few days the professionals at USGS confirmed that yes, they had in fact placed a survey marker on ‘bare ground’ near the summit of Mt Rainier in 1956.

          From 1934

          “The recessional figure of the Nisqually Glacier for the past year is startling by comparison with the recession of previous years”

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:44 AM | Permalink

          Re: Harry (Jan 24 18:58),

          Yup, Nisqually is my one. The others are OK, too.

          Reid A. Bryson from U. Wis once said wrt to the Alps:
          Bryson mentions the retreat of Alpine glaciers, common grist for current headlines. “What do they find when the ice sheets retreat, in the Alps?”… Bryson interrupts excitedly,

          “A silver mine! The guys had stacked up their tools because they were going to be back the next spring to mine more silver, only the snow never went,” he says. “There used to be less ice than now. It’s just getting back to normal.”

          The arguments over Cascade snowpack had to do with the base year. I think it was Mass that showed the (IIRC) 1950 baseline shouldn’t be used because it was abnormally high that year and that something like 1944 was a normal year. Those baselines get them (or me) everytime.

        • W F Lenihan
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

          Somewhat off topic: The author of the 1934 NPS Nature Notes about Mt Rainier’s Glaciers, Frank Brockman, was my dendrology professor at the U of WA college of forestry in 1950. He was a first rate, ethical, old school scientist in every respect.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:32 PM | Permalink

          Re: W F Lenihan (Jan 25 15:10),

          I am struck by the ironies in these interrelated topics but the 1934 report mentioned by Harry and your description of “a first rate, ethical, old school scientist” goes back to a quote from above: “Richard Armstrong from NSIDC said, via Science, “Glaciers at lower elevations are going to respond faster to a warming climate than those at the highest elevations.”

          1934 was an important year in another topic… It was almost the warmest year of the last century (by 0.01deg). Two scientists making comments 75 years apart about the snout of a glacier receding being dependent on temperature.

          It always made sense to me.

    • Jon von Briesen
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:20 PM | Permalink

      “provenance” — not necessarily divine

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:03 PM | Permalink

        Re: Jon von Briesen (Jan 24 18:20),

        Mea Culpa! I’d have got if right if it had been on something like a Reader’s Digest vocabulary quiz, but didn’t think about there being a different spelling than “providence” when I wrote.

  5. Brian Macker
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 3:21 PM | Permalink

    The bigger lie here is that net glacial melt water is an important source of water in the first place. It’s snow melt, and rain that matters, and that comes from precipitation, not glacial stored ice. In fact, if there were no climate change then there would be zero net glacial melt water.

    So all the hysteria over Asia turning to desert and great rivers drying up was total nonsense, even if the glaciers were to cease to exist today.

    So there are two scandals. 1) They’re not disappearing in 2035. and 2) It wouldn’t matter if they did. Snow would still accumulate at high elevations during the winter, and melt the rest of the year peaking discharge in late summer.

    • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

      Isn’t the issue is that the glaciers are not melting but not being replenished by new fallen snow? So the scenario is as you say it, it is about the current year’s snowfall and not stored ice.

      • HectorMaletta
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

        A glacier in equilibrium releases as much water as it receives from precipitation. Release is in the form of runoff, infiltration or evaporation. If precipitation does not change, and warming causes the total disappearance of a glacier (which may happen only in relatively low altitude glaciers), the difference would be in the seasonality of runoff, not the amount. And the reduction is not linear: if 20% has disappeared in 20 years, it does not mean the rest would disappear in another 80 years or so: the receding occurs at the lower parts, but predicted warming would not melt ice at high altitudes, usually too cold for melting even if warmed a few degrees. On the other hand, if precipitation is reduced, less water per year would be available, no matter if the glacier is melting or not, except that during the warming/melting process there would actually be increased runoff due to increased summer melting.

      • Brian Macker
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:44 PM | Permalink


        You are thinking of Mt. Kilimanjaro and it doesn’t melt, it sublimates.

        The claim in the Himalayas is that the glaciers melt and that they provide most of the runoff. – snip

        There is plenty of precipitation in the Himalayas. The contribution to runoff from actual net glacial melt is insignificant. Very little precipitation falls on the glaciers compared to surrounding areas in the first place.

        See here: “The most salient finding of this study is that the glaciers of the Nepal Himalaya do not appear to make a
        significant contribution to the total streamflow of the rivers of Nepal.”

    • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:16 PM | Permalink

      snip – OT and one-paragraph big picture

    • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

      Re: Brian Macker (Jan 24 15:21),

      Let me try one more time as questions (with apologies for past misdemeanors).

      Did the IPCC itself make the claim that this massive glacier melt by 2035 was evidence for (or a result of) extreme global warming, of the kind that could only be explained by man’s emissions of CO2? Or was this argument made only in popular expositions of the subject?

      I ask partly because of the potency of the argument that 2000 of the world’s leading scientists had checked, peer reviewed and (in effect) endorsed all that the IPCC published, most recently the AR4, and partly because of the potency of popular arguments based on melting glaciers.

      Clearly the IPCC’s checking was deficient on the claim of the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035, as has now been admitted. Brian calls the claim that net glacial melt is an important source of water a ‘bigger lie’ and I’ve seen this point made elsewhere. Do we know the authorities that the IPCC relied on in the related area of sources of water for India? Are they at least ‘peer reviewed’ scientific papers, not the thoughts of an environmental NGO? (I realise the question cuts both ways.)

      I’m not looking for a one-paragraph knockdown of the whole of AGW but I am interested in clarifying the chain of reasoning, and where the reliance on authority has definitely broken down. Not least because nobody that I have read, while saying that the ‘vast bulk’ of the IPCC argument for harmful AGW remains in tact, post Climategate and post Glaciergate, has been at all specific. In particular they have not mentioned one line of evidence for the A in AGW, in tact or otherwise.

      I’m very grateful for those that have exposed the Himalayan glacier situation and for more here on the impact of glacial melt. (I believe Brian, without having studied sources.) I’d like further clarity on how the authority of the IPCC stands in this area, if that’s possible.

      Steve: This issue arose in WG2, not WG1. MAke sure that keep each issue in perspective.

      • Brian Macker
        Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:00 PM | Permalink


        Read the IPCC report for yourself here: Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability

        Did they claim it was due to humans, yes:
        “The receding and thinning of Himalayan glaciers can be attributed primarily to the global warming due to increase in anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases.”

        They said that 4/5 of glaciers would be gone by 2035.

        Did they claim the melting glaciers were evidence for the A of AGW? Not on that page about the Hymalayas but I think it is the assumption that any glacier melting anywhere points the finger at man implicitly.

        They state: “The current trends of glacial melts suggest that the Ganga, Indus, Brahmaputra and other rivers that criss-cross the northern Indian plain could likely become seasonal rivers in the near future as a consequence of climate change and could likely affect the economies in the region.” This after they mention that these rivers are the “lifeline of millions of people”, and that “The Gangetic basin alone is home to 500 million people, about 10% of the total human population in the region.”

        So yes the IPCC WG2 report itself was using the Himalaya glacier claims to induce fear, and generate political pressure.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:12 PM | Permalink

          Re: Brian Macker (Jan 24 22:00),

          The Gangetic basin alone is home to 500 million people, about 10% of the total human population in the region

          Did you copy that correctly? If 500 million people are 10% of the regional population, the region must have a population of 5 billion people, which is clearly not the case for any particular region of the earth (unless they are talking about the entire eastern hemisphere as a “region.”)

        • Brian Macker
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:54 AM | Permalink

          Stop being lazy. It’s a cut and paste of the last sentence of the first paragraph, and that’s why I used quotation marks. Go look. This is the quality of peer review science over at the IPCC?

        • Dave
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

          I would note that the sentence is only missing the word ‘is’ inserted between ‘population’ and ‘in’ to make some sort of sense, especially granted that perfect English is desired but not required. I think it’s reasonable to assume a typo.

          It doesn’t do CA’s credibility any good when people jump on every tiny mistake as ‘evidence’.

          snip –

          Steve: “conspiracy” is an off-limits word here.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Jan 25 16:28),

          Good point. But where did I jump on the mistake as “evidence” and of what? You’ll note I even suggested an out; I just didn’t go far enough and realize they were talking about the entire world population but had left out a word.

        • Dave
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

          I was going by your comment:

          “This is the quality of peer review science over at the IPCC?”

          It’s not really about the science. What this sentence tells us is that the *report* hasn’t been read, sentence by sentence, by anyone paying attention to what it means, as opposed to just spelling and grammar.

          Just a note, by the way, about the -snip- above. I wasn’t suggesting that there was one of those things I’m not allowed to mention. I was citing an old saying which talks about assuming that anything which can most simply be explained by human error is probably just that, rather than anything more sinister.

        • Brian Macker
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Permalink

          Dave (not Dave Daranger),

          That was my quote, not Daranger’s. I fail to see how questioning the quality of the report in any way implies anything sinister (conspiracy or not). Quality is directly related to human error, so you are lecturing me to make a point I already did.

          Furthermore, you are incorrect because this is about science. This report is a scientific assessment of the impact of global warming. So population estimates are central to that assessment and not some side issue. The claim is that this was peer reviewed and yet as you’ve admitted from a scientific point of view the report doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter why the error got there from the standpoint of quality. The fact that it is so blatant reflects on the quality of the scientific review.

          Inserting the word “is” doesn’t really help the quality either. Science is supposed to reduce ambiguity as a source of error also. We don’t know what “region” refers to. If “the region” refers to the Gangetic basin then the 10% should in fact be 7%, which is an error of 43%. If “the region” refers to the overall drainage area of the Himalayan glaciers then the error is potentially 100% in the other direction.

          Scientific assessment of impact needs to also include beneficial changes too. If the negative impacts are overestimated by 43% that could completely unbalance a full assessment. It’s possible that overall global warming is a positive externality.

          snip – policy

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 5:01 PM | Permalink

          I agree that’s what was probably meant. 8% would of course be closer in that case – presumably 10% was chosen to give a bigger reaction. But the whole thing is evidence – of very sloppy scientific review and proof-reading.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

          Re: Brian Macker (Jan 24 22:00),

          Thank you very much for such a detailed response. The 10% of population giving 5bn in the Ganges basin and thus allowing the rest of the world, including China, only 1bn, has to be another howler. I want to ponder how the strength of the case for harmful AGW never seems to change, according to pundits like Bob Ward (as quoted yesterday), however drastically the most iconic impact claims do, even under the gentlest of peer-to-peer review.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:53 AM | Permalink

          Re: Richard Drake (Jan 25 08:43),

          I don’t mind what is probably just a typo. I just wish that people producing policy pertinent papers would maintain a errata page so that corrections and their date would be available. Even on this blog Steve tries to do so informally by “updates” and leaving posts requesting corrections in the comments. The IPCC should probably have a centralized one which is well known and “advertised” so that people can see the history of changes made anywhere in their output.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 9:08 AM | Permalink

          In my current mood I mind even the typos. Was this not meant to be the most rigorously checked document in scientific history? And it’s not exactly a minor detail.

          But my main focus is (as I think you imply it should be) on how such a radical change is being made to claims about the biggest set of glaciers in the world – perhaps in the top two most highlighted of all the IPCC impact claims, because of its direct impact on so many in India (though we don’t know how many) – and yet the experts from the Grantham Research Institute and its ilk say it makes no difference to the overall case. I want to ponder that.

        • Brian Macker
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

          snip – venting

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave Dardinger (Jan 25 08:53),

          “I just wish that people producing policy pertinent papers would maintain a errata page so that corrections and their date would be available.”

          A very common theme, most recently in these last two topics, is the denial of any scientific error, the refusal to admit errors, and the cagey way in which critics are either silenced or the errors are quietly ‘adjusted’. This is by the ‘professional scientists’. Finally, Sunday in England, some say, “We made a boo boo. It’s only that one”.

          Wrt, “Even on this blog Steve tries to do so informally…” I’ll say, without numerical verification, that Steve snips, edits, etc, more than IPCC seemed to on some critical issues. Blog-wise, one rearrangement of the IPCC reports would be to get rid of WWF, Greenpeace non-peer-reviewed opinions in the bodies of the reports (‘settled science’) and put them in a single volume called “Unthreaded”.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 10:43 AM | Permalink

          The unthreading of the NGOs. Great thought.

        • Ray Boorman
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

          A look at this one page of the AR4 shows 4 errors I am aware of:
          1) The incorrect disappearance date;
          2) The 500,000 sq km of ice (actually 30,000sq km);
          3) The population proof-reading boo boo;
          4) The 135 m/yr melting of a glacier which is really 23 m/yr.

          How many thousand’s more are there in this document? Lets shred it & start again from scratch.

      • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 11:04 AM | Permalink

        You may be dancing close to the one-paragraph snip rule, though I happen to feel the same. But in both our cases it’s just an opinion, not hard science.

        snip – editorializing

      • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 11:07 AM | Permalink

        In fact it’s intact. Yep, spotted that a while back. I was wondering if it was a subconscious attempt at a pun. Strange error. Thanks for the ongoing peer-to-peer review!

  6. Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 3:37 PM | Permalink

    This really belongs with the story yesterday, but as comments are closed, I will post here.
    The blog post stated:

    The glacier claim proved to be based on a 2005 World Wildlife Fund pamphlet, which in turn was based on a 1999 New Scientist interview with Indian scientist Syed Hasnain (see his joint interview with Richard North).

    The truth seems to be more complex than that and more interesting. It’s mostly explained in Nielsen-Gammon’s blog post, but as the chain is subtle, I will attempt a summary here:

    (1) The IPCC report referenced the WWF report.
    (2) The WWF report referenced the 1999 WGHG report.
    (3) But the 1999 WGHG report (by Hasnain) has nothing relevant in it (!)
    (4) However the India Environment Portal article (which quotes Hasnain) has the IPCC paragraph ( with small changes ).
    (5) And the source for that is porbably the Kotlyakov report, which has 2350 not 2035.

    The last point is conjecture, but the most likely explanation is that Hasnain at some point mis-read Kotlyakov. Hasnain was repeatedly been associated with the 2035 date ( as per the New Scientist article). Syed Hasnain succeeded Kotlyakov at ICSI.

    • Duke C.
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

      Re: George Barwood (Jan 24 15:37),

      In this report written by Hasnian in 1999 he references an IPPC (1996) prediction that one quarter of the mountain glacier mass could disappear by 2050. There was no mention of 2035, nor did he dispute the IPCC prediction. Is it possible that his memory is so bad that he can’t remember what he wrote the same year? /sarc off

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

        Re: Duke C. (Jan 25 18:35),

        I interpret all of those numbers (2030, 2035, 2050) to be stated for public consumption so that whatever the ‘exact’ estimate it means ‘this century, soon, act now before it’s too late’.

        2350 might be a little far out to be motivational

  7. David Holland
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    This of course may not be directly related but . .

    Also I have provided a little background to the 2035 story here:

  8. R Rodger
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 4:53 PM | Permalink

    snip – there are other threads on sea level

  9. justbeau
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    snip – editorialzing

  10. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:22 PM | Permalink

    I agree with the points about melt versus precipitation. If melting glaciers are a material contributor to water supply, then society is in effect depleting a sort of reservoir. And stabilizing the glacier (reservoir) would cause the same decrease in water supply.

    My understanding of the true situation is that glacier depletion would only account for a few percentage points (at most) of total runoff. The water supply issue would be whether warming would cause less precipitation. Since a warmer ocean causes more evaporation, perhaps someone can direct me to a reference claiming that precipitation in the Himalayas would decrease in a warmer world.

    • HectorMaletta
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:40 PM | Permalink

      According to AR4, global precipitation would increase, though not equally everywhere. Along the Andean mountains of South America, for instance, precipitation would increase in the Northern half, from Colombia to middle Peru, and decrease from Southern Peru southwards. The largest tropical glacier area is in Peru, but more than half of it is in the Cordillera Blanca, where precipitation is expected to rise. On the other hand, the summer snowline of most Andean glaciers has been tending to recede since the mid 1600s, with only a small acceleration in latest decades: see V. Jomelli et al, Fluctuations of glaciers in the tropical Andes over the last millennium and palaeoclimatic implications: A review (Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2009).

    • R.S.Brown
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:44 PM | Permalink


      I keep hoping folks will read the Himalayan glacial paper from India by
      Dr. V.K. Raina and then react to the strange political dances going on.

      The paper is very readable, including the graphs and citations, and openly available
      from the India Ministry of Environment & Forests here:

      Click to access MoEF%20Discussion%20Paper%20_him.pdf

      • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:48 PM | Permalink

        Aha, thanks. Goes to the top of the list.

      • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

        Re: David Holland (Jan 24 16:05),

        I think the first article is directly related. Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Minister of State for Environment & Forests, was hosting the meeting of BASIC environmental ministers and in diplomatic mood

        … refused to accept China had stepped out of line, although he conceded: “We still need more science to understand whether global warming is causing glacial melt or whether it is the natural cycles.”

        This is the same Jairam Ramesh who commissioned the study by Vijay Kumar Raina that expressed doubt about the IPCC Himalaya claims that led on to Galciergate. He writes in the foreward:

        This Paper draws upon Mr. V.K. Raina’s original research
        conducted in the Geological Survey of India (GSI) over
        several decades, starting in 1956, backed by painstaking
        on-the-ground observations. In this age of readily available
        satellite imagery, Mr. Raina’s epic efforts, which involved
        several long expeditions to remote glaciers, in trying
        circumstances and with limited resources, are particularly
        commendable. I want to sincerely thank Mr. Raina for
        putting this Paper together on my personal request.

        It is my sincere hope that this paper, and subsequent
        papers in this series, will inspire critical debate. I invite you
        to read and challenge the ideas presented in these papers.
        I look forward to your feedback.

        I was thinking as I read that how wonderful it would be if the UK government explicitly sponsored expert research by those critical of the IPCC findings, to redress the imbalance many of us perceive, and to give policymakers the best possible range of inputs in such a crucial and complex area. McKitrick & Essex argue for something systematic of this kind at the end of Taken By Storm, if I remember rightly. It’s as refreshing as a (limited) Himalayan glacier melt to see Mr Ramesh taking up the challenge.

    • potentilla
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

      The IPCC reports do not adequately address the issue of the potential effects of climate change on hydrology. There is speculation, some references to papers that may or may not indicate some trends in specific rivers depending on whether you accept the quality of the statistical analysis, and overall very little evidence presented. There is not even any evidence provided by the global climate model results that would indicate catastrophic climate change resulting from global average temperature increases, let alone on the hydrology of river basins.

      Nevertheless we can find some information in the IPCC reports: Figure 10.12 in IPCC (2007) Chapter 10 of the Fourth Assessment Report indicates that most climate models project an increase in precipitation and runoff in the Himalayas.

      Increased precipitation and runoff in rivers with headwaters in the Himalayas will result in increased water supply downstream. Glaciers in the system act as small storage reservoirs providing increased dry season flow immediately downstream. Dry season flows from glacier melt are important for irrigation and hydropower projects where intakes are located a relatively short distance downstream from a glacier.

      Glaciers do not add to overall flow unless their mass balance is decreasing due to increased melt. In the areas where millions of people live, potential elimination of the glaciers would not be noticed as glaciers form a very small part of the total river basin area and the storage effect of the glaciers would be negligible. Furthermore, runoff from the areas that were occupied by glaciers would, of course, still occur. What would be noticed is increased flows from increased precipitation and runoff and increased discharge from groundwater which is the primary origin of low flows in large river basins during the dry season.

      • Brian Macker
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:03 AM | Permalink

        The most economical way to mitigate against decreased river flows during dry periods is to construct reservoirs. That is already a problem that needs to be solved, and is not one that would significantly be effected by the presence or absence of a glacier in the same exact spot. Snow buildup at high elevations already serves the same purpose in the regard to glacier, melting only in late summer.

    • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:02 AM | Permalink

      Just a simple numerical point. Taking the Himalayan glaciers contain 12,000 cubic meters of water, the Indian rivers which have a cumulative runoff of 1000 cubic meters water per year, would have depleted them in but 12 years if fed primarily on the glaciers melt. The fact that these rivers have existed for several thousand years shows unambiguously that the glaciers (whether melting or not) do not make any significant contribution to the regional water supply.

      A warmer ocean causes a greater carrying capacity for the atmosphere to store water vapor. Precipitation/evaporation is not a store, but a flux. It is bounded from the above by the solar energy flux. Already at present evaporation/precipitation globally accounts for about one half of incoming solar energy. Even an infinite increase of oceanic temperature (and a corresponding drastic elevation of vapor content) cannot increase evaporation/precipitation by more than twofold.

      The water cycle on land is determined by continuous transport of moisture from the ocean. Thus, the water security of the region depends in the first place on the stability of the wind patterns bringing moisture from the ocean. Our studies indicate that this stability is primarily a function of the condition of the regional vegetation cover. Under equal geophysical conditions, destroying the natural vegetation reduces the ocean-to-land moisture transport via a positive physical feedback.

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

        Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Jan 25 00:02),

        Taking the Himalayan glaciers contain 12,000 cubic meters of water, the Indian rivers which have a cumulative runoff of 1000 cubic meters water per year, would have depleted them in but 12 years if fed primarily on the glaciers melt.

        I think you mean 12,000 cubic kilometers or something like that. 12,000 cubic meters is a piddling amount (remember a cubic meter of water is a metric ton and most oil tankers have more capacity than that.)

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:14 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave Dardinger (Jan 25 00:33),

          I see this 12,000 number comes from the same link Brian sent me to. It is indeed in (km)^3. And it does indeed claim that 500 million people is 10% of the people in the region which is doubtful. Maybe it should be 50 million, or maybe the % is wrong.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:55 AM | Permalink

          These are cubic kilometers, of course, it was a misprint of mine made early in the morning. The cumulative runoff of the three rivers is also in cubic kilometers of water per year as per Dai and Trenberth 2002. The decade estimate for complete depletion of glaciers (without accounting for precipitation) via runoff is correct.

        • Ed MacAulay
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

          Perhaps they were just thinking that “the region” had a global context since the 500 million is 10% of a 5 billion population, roughtly the population in the late 1980’s as compared to today’s number of World 6,798,687,959 from the population clock.

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 5:28 AM | Permalink

        Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Jan 25 00:02),


        Can you supply a reference or two with respect to Kilamanjaro and the surrounding forests supplying moisture? I don’t think it was one of your papers but I had a good reference and I can’t find it. It might have been a review paper.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:40 AM | Permalink


          As far as I know, the idea that local deforestation is to be blamed for the retreat of Kilimanjaro glaciers can be traced on many environmental blogs for a few years. However, I do not know of any mainstream meteorological studies that would firmly put local deforestation on the map as the driver of the glacier retreat. Partly this may reflect the general tendency to neglect the biotic effects across the entire GCM enterprise, see, e.g., the most recent paper on Kilimanjaro in PNAS edited by Dr. J.E. Hansen which says: “Over recent decades there has been a continual transformation of the landscape surrounding Kilimanjaro into agricultural land, thus, unraveling large-scale climate forcing from regional forcing caused in part by landscape changes is difficult.”

          Partly this may indicate that the relevant research is still in progress:
          Impact of Upwind Land Cover Change on Mount Kilimanjaro

          The Thermal Circulation on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and its Relevance to Summit Ice-Field Mass Balance
          these are meetings abstracts, see also

          General Characteristics of Temperature and Humidity Variability on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

          From the ecologists’ side, Hemp (2009), see also Hemp (2005) discussed the interplay of the glacier melt and deforestation/ land use changes in the locality.

          In our own work we do not discuss local patterns, but concentrate on regional analysis. Forests not only shape the local microclimate in terms of humidity and temperature. Importantly, large-scale forest cover facilitates the development of ocean-to-land moist winds that sustain the regional water cycle. Without this incoming transport, the mountain and its nearby forest are not sustainable in terms of moisture, because both lose water via the gravitational runoff.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:55 AM | Permalink

          Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Jan 25 07:40),

          Thank you. Your work makes sense to me. I know about the ‘debates’ regarding ‘large-scale’ vs. ‘regional’.

          More biotic effects need to be considered! … (personal bias).

        • bstewart
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

          Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Jan 25 07:40),

          These articles seem to have progressed somewhat farther in understanding than the impression given by the works you cited.

          Moelg and Hardy JGR 2004
          “…the results support other evidence that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are extremely sensitive to precipitation variability.”

          Pielke Sr comment on Cullen, Moelg et al GRL 2006, possible effect of dust still an open question

          Moelg, Cullen et al Int.J.Clim. 2008
          “…[for] Kersten Glacier, a slope glacier on the southern flanks of Kilimanjaro… Sensitivity experiments reveal that glacier mass balance is 2–4 times more sensitive to a 20% precipitation change than to a 1 °C air temperature change.”

          Of course plenty of questions remain unanswered, such as whether 19th century precipitation was “normal” or unusually high.

        • Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

          My point was about the lack of studies focusing at the impact of land cover change (deforestation) on the glaciers’ retreat. The two references for abstract papers I provided touch specifically upon that problem, not on the more general issue of how precipitation might affect the glacier mass balance. The possible effects of land cover change are not reduced to (the so far not studied in any sufficient detail) the changes of precipitation regime, but also involve change of heating/cooling regimes, local transport of vapor upslope and downslope, the abundance of biogenic condensation nuclei, etc.

          This is another relevant study,
          Estimating Land Cover-Induced Increases in Daytime Summer Temperatures Near Mt. Adams, Washington although it is not about the Kilimanjaro.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

          Re: Anastassia Makarieva (Jan 25 12:20),

          Thanks for that 🙂 I was at Mt. Adams not too long ago. More biotic effects regarding glaciers and other local to regional temperature dependencies need to be studied. There’s good science… I just don’t like it getting shoved in the closet.

        • HectorMaletta
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

          Bstewart comments that “Of course plenty of questions remain unanswered, such as whether 19th century precipitation was “normal” or unusually high.” Perhaps one should go further back, e.g. to the 18th century, since apparently the Kilimanjaro glacier retreat has been proceeding for more than 150 years or so. I do not know the Kilimanjaro literature in detail but my
          understanding is that the recess of its glaciers is a long term phenomenon related to local climate, especially precipitation trends. Something similar
          has occurred in other tropical glaciers, such as in the Northern and Central Andes, which are clearly tending to recede in the long term, down from maxima attained in the 17th century, a process probably associated with the long term warming subsequent to the local manifestation of the Little Ice Age.

    • Raven
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 2:15 AM | Permalink

      My understanding of the glacier issue is they provide water storage by accumulating mass during the wet season and losing it during the dry season. If the glaciers dissappeared their would be massive floods during wet season and drought during the dry.

      However, this is an example of harm that only comes to stupid humans. In the real world, intelligent humans would build dams in the mountains where the glaciers are now and manage the water supply as required.

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:19 AM | Permalink

        Re: Raven (Jan 25 02:15),

        Your description refers to what we call “snow pack” in my neck of the woods: that’s where my water comes from.

        For glacier ice: The number I use as a rule of thumb is approximately 4% of glacier mass may contribute to river water mass in a given year, depending on conditions.

      • DavidM
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 9:36 AM | Permalink

        In a sub-tropical area like Nepal the warm season is actually the wet season, lots of rain in summer. So it’s not like they need the ice run off when they do melt. Occasionally villages get wiped away by mudslides over there in summer initiated by rain in the mountainous areas. Trekkers too sometimes, which I’ve been one of.

      • Brian Macker
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

        The reservoir effect can be had with snow pack as the other fellow said. I think it is wrong to play up the reservoir effect too much. What kind of reservoir dumps water unpredictably and without control. Real human constructed reservoirs are far superior to what is going on with glaciers. We have no need for storing water during cold decades/centuries only to release it tens or hundreds of years later.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:28 PM | Permalink

          Re: Brian Macker (Jan 25 12:14),

          This is a bit off the glacier topic, except maybe Nisqually River vs. Glacier, for example, but flooding is a problem and one recent, local, concern was the man-made reservoirs not containing the combination of snowpack melt and rain, a la 2008. OK, it’s not a concern now due to ENSO. I’ll leave it there.

        • Brian Macker
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

          Reservoirs never aggravate flooding if they are build and managed properly. Flooding is in fact mitigated by reservoirs. You release water during the dry season so it is below capacity, and later during flooding you allow it to fill up. This will always mitigate, not aggravate. It’s true even if you have significant water flow year round.

          Flooding is about weather, not climate, in the first place.

          As I already pointed out glaciers cannot mitigate against weather, and in fact may tend to aggravate weather effects. A heavy snowfall, followed by a warm spring and heavy rainfall, which would already tend to flood, would be aggravated by extra glacier melt due to the warm temperatures. Man made reservoirs don’t have this problem.

        • Dave
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

          Snow pack is somewhat misleading; snow on a glacier melts at a different rate to snow on bare ground. Additionally, as Jimchip says, the problem is likely to be flooding more than drought. Bear in mind that people have always tried to strike a balance between being near enough to flood zones to benefit from the fertility they bring, but just far enough away not to be hit by devastating floods too often, and then consider the human impact of (on that scale) drastic flooding as an annual occurrence. Not insurmountable, but clearly a problem.

        • Jimchip
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

          Re: Dave (Jan 25 17:18),

          Not really a ‘stickler’ issue with glaciers but I agree with you and Hector. ‘Snowpack’ on a glacier (or not on a glacier) can sit and act like a sponge, absorbing water without visible size accretion. (ala Cliff Mass). The worst flooding I’ve experienced (closed us down big time) was pre-winter (PNW), glaciers, snow at higher elevations, then moist air condensing ~7000 ft.

          Snowpack never had a chance to make ice… Down the mountains, warmed up, all water now…

          Later, ‘summer’ melts are different, at least in my neck of the woods.

        • Brian Macker
          Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

          “Snow pack is somewhat misleading; snow on a glacier melts at a different rate to snow on bare ground.”

          I think you have cause and effect reversed here. The speed of snow pack melt has more to do with elevation and latitude than with whether it sits on a glacier or not. The closer you get the the snow line the later the snow pack melts in the season (the slower it melts) regardless of whether it is on a glacier or not. Glaciers specifically form where snow pack melt is slower than normal due to weather conditions, not the presence or absence of a glacier.

          In other words, slow snow pack melt creates glaciers so therefore it would not be surprising that slow melt is associated with glaciers. Yes, they are correlated but the causation runs the other direction.

          The snow sponge argument made by the other guy relies on the assumption that the snow pack hasn’t already melted in the first place. It assumes what it sets out to prove. Snow over rock can act as much as a sponge as over ice. In addition, it can be released into soils, scree, and fissured rock, for additional sponging.

          Obviously, a glacier in equilibrium does not have snow pack melting at a rate that is slower than average for the elevation. If it did then it would be growing. If one could by magic remove the entire glacier making the ground bare, the rate of net snow pack melt would actually decrease as a new glacier formed to replace the one that was removed.

          Therefore comparisons of the histograms of stream flows from glacial valleys in comparison to non-glacial valleys is not valid. Glacial valleys would naturally have delayed stream flow regardless of the presence or absence of the glacier, mostly due to temperature.

      • HectorMaletta
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

        The seasonal effect is much more noticeable in areas where the dry (or relativaly dry) season occurs in summer, as in Europe or North America. In other latitudes that is not the case. In the Andes, for instance, the rainy season is during the crop growing season (Nov-March). But again, only the water formerly stored by the glacier would increase runoff during the rainy season: the majority of precipitation in the rainy season is never stored in the form of ice. However, in some cases flooding may be an issue. Another major issue is the formation of precarious proglacial lakes that may outburst with disastrous consequences. Remedies include reinforcing the lake boundaries and building dams, either at the lakes or further downstream. Only in the Cordillera Blanca (Peru) some 35 proglacial lakes have been already reinforced or contained by dams, and work is ongoing on others.

  11. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    I think your first link is appropriate if only because the major focus is on Himalayan glaciers and the countries of India and China and others share them. Leaving political aspects aside, Pielke, Jr.’s “Honest Broker” is worth some thought. Who were/are honest brokers and how does a civilian find out in order to form their own opinion? Sunday in England.

  12. Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    For my part I hope Pachauri digs in and rejects the calls for his resignation. I think it would benefit the cause of scientific openness and intellectual freedom if he remains chairman and public icon of the IPCC for a long time.

    • Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

      Digs in and down, presumably.

    • Anand Rajan KD
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:37 PM | Permalink

      Are you implying that he should stay on because he weakens the IPCC overall – which is a ‘good’ thing, because Pachauri is now a chink in the ironclad authority of the IPCC’s armor? Because he is the lame duck that softens warmists to open their ears to skeptical arguments?

      Or do you believe he has done nothing wrong?

      I think he should step down because his patronage network has immensely benefited from his position as IPCC chairman. Not primarily because the glaciers are not melting.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:31 AM | Permalink

      Re: Ross McKitrick (Jan 24 17:51),

      Some ‘trusted brokers’ need to do an ‘AR 4.5’, an assessment of previous reports through AR4. If Pachauri remains Chairman he could end up rendering a valuable service although it will be painful.

  13. Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    In the UK, when there is a serious systemic failing in a public body, then the press call for an independent enquiry, to discover the causes, the extent of the problem and to make recommendations to stop the error happening again. The most recent was the MPs expenses scandal.
    This also happened in accounting post the scandals of the late 1980s (e.g. Robert Maxwell, Polly Peck etc.) and post Enron as well. In all cases the data was manipulated to create a false impression of the company.
    Yet the UN IPCC have not even launched an internal enquiry. Instead, Dr Pachauri says it is an isolated incident. The AR4 is probably the most important report in human history. Yet no proper internal control procedures seem to be consistently adhered to.

  14. Winny
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:52 PM | Permalink

    The Sydney Morning Herald included a comment on the glacier/2035 issue in Saturday’s edition. It included the extraordinary claim (to me at least) that;

    “The error […] was in fact fairly well known among glaciologists. [It] had been ‘discovered’ and publicly discussed at least four times in the three years before The Sunday Times published its exclusive, including a long piece by the BBC last December.”

    complete article at

  15. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    I always thought low, warm, moist air caused caused high, cooler, precipitation, at least if the moist air was coming in to the windward side of a mountain range. But that’s weather, not climate.

    As far as “precipitation in the Himalayas would decrease in a warmer world.”, Here’s a few refs, I think, and AR4 related at that.

    Hydrological Consequences of Global Warming
    Norman Miller, Climate Science Department, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
    and the Geography Department, University of California, Berkeley.
    (Refs inside, AR4, Trenberth)

    Science Daily News article here based on a Nature article here but discussing the Tibetan Plateau vs. Himalayas

    And in their corner, saying the opposite (Mentioned in the Nov. 13 Science, News of the Week.)

    Rajinder Kumar Ganjoo is at U. Jammu (India) claims, via Science, “Snowfall patterns are more important to Himalayan glacier stability than temperatures”
    A pdf: Recent Trends in Melting Glaciers, Tropospheric Temperatures over the Himalayas and Summer Monsoon Rainfall over India is here.

    Richard Armstrong from NSIDC said, via Science, “Glaciers at lower elevations are going to respond faster to a warming climate than those at the highest elevations.”

    Jack Shroder (U. Neb) newspaper interview ( December 17, 2009) is here. In Science: “horribly wrong”

    The (Nov. 15) GWPF article presumeably based on Science is here.

    I haven’t done too much besides rattle around nsidc/glaciers.

  16. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    More doom: Lester Brown, the American environment guru, estimates that the glaciers of the he Tibet-Qinghai Plateau could be gone by 2060:

    “Yao Tandong, one of China’s leading glaciologists, who predicts that two thirds of China’s glaciers could be gone by 2050, says “the full-scale glacier shrinkage in the plateau region will eventually lead to an ecological catastrophe.”

    • BillyBob
      Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:22 PM | Permalink

      “This glacier has been constantly receding since measurements began in 1780.”

      • JPeden
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:29 AM | Permalink

        From your second link, the last satellite photo was posted in 2004, while the last boundary line for the glacier is the 2001 boundary. The NASA search engine won’t give me anything else whatsoever on this glacier. Have they stopped following it? If so, why?

        The text includes: Today, only 37 glaciers [in Glacier National Park] remain, and scientists say they will likely completely melt by the year 2030.

        The 2030 date is the same as the one which somehow morphed from the unsupported 2035 date alleged for the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers. So does it have the same source?

        One glacier’s retreat doesn’t mean much of anything compared to the ~162,000 NASA says exist.

        snip – editorializing

        • Winny
          Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

          It appears that the source is a 2003 paper published in Bioscience (Hall & Fagre, Vol. 53, No. 2, Pages 131–140). I haven’t read the paper in detail, but basically it posits two scenarios, one with a doubling of CO2 and one with a linear temperature extrapolation. Under the first scenario “the glaciers in the Blackfoot–Jackson Glacier Basin disappear completely by the year 2030.”

          The paper is available online here;

  17. vg
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

    An absolutely wonderful program to let you detect changes in global warming sites

  18. David Smith
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Sorry for this OT, Steve, there will be an interesting debate on January 27 between Lindzen and North in Houston.

    I’ll try to go to the Rice debate. Other CA readers in the area may want to attend, too.

  19. WillR
    Posted Jan 24, 2010 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    It looks like this controversy — glaciers and WWF — is just one of many. The issue has been raised here.

    and here

    The glacier issue is just the tip of the iceberg according to the story by Donna Laframboise.

    Maybe this story of “peer reviewed” study is gaining legs. … or is the story about “non-peer-reviewed”????

    • thefordprefect
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

      In one breath people are shouting “Peer review is a fraud”
      In another breath they are shouting “No peer review is a fraud”



  20. Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:58 AM | Permalink

    WRT the “failure of the vaunted IPCC […] peer review process” you mentioned in your original post, buried in the Mosher Timeline thread, I had posted a link to a preliminary analysis I did on Briffa’s responses to the reviewer comments on the 2nd Order Draft of Chapter 6 (based on what I had found in AR4SOR_BatchAB_Ch06-KRB-1stAug.doc).

    In my post, I trace Briffa’s responses “on behalf of the chapter team” on the paragraph [Page 29, Lines 40 to 51] that had elicited the highest number (39) of reviewer comments. Clearly, the glacier issue is not the only one to demonstrate the failure of this polluted process. For those who might be interested, pls. see: The climate change game … Monopoly: the IPCC version

  21. C. Baxter
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    “Lots of coverage in today’s English press about glaciers.”

    Yes, but not a single word from the BBC.

    • WillR
      Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

      Re: C. Baxter (Jan 25 10:12),

      There was some coverage from the BBC shortly thereafter.

      Worth a listen.

      The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come under pressure over its discredited claims that glaciers in the Himalayas would melt by 2035.

      Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia, and Tony Juniper, climate change campaigner and former director of Friends of the Earth, debate whether the IPCC should be reformed.

      • Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

        WillR (Jan 26 12:38),

        With my nerdy pedant hat on:

        The same link was put up by johnh on another thread 23 minutes before. That kind of thing is always going to happen – indeed, thanks to you both, I was glad to find and listen to it, as I said over there. But if this was a wiki (or a wiki-ized blog *) I would feel free to combine the two, maybe in a separate page on the BBC’s coverage of climate change, to help later readers. Or someone more trusted than me might be able to.

        * The full definition of this term may appear later. Or not. Like most things, I don’t completely know.

  22. Steven Mosher
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    for folks who want the ebook version of Climategate book

    • Kendra
      Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 4:01 AM | Permalink

      Any chance that or .uk will eventually have it? It would be nice to have a hard copy (to show off with as well as reading in comfort).

  23. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    When Judith Curry comments at the mother thread for this one as follows:

    “Kenneth, as far as i can tell, these probability ratings are “negotiated” by the scientists and also even by the policy makers in the summary for policy makers. I think more care is taken with the probabilities in the WG I report than the WG II report. However, a concern that i have raised many times is that “expert judgement” is used too early in the assessment, and scientific uncertainty analysis receives short shrift.”

    I say Judith if you have any confirming evidence for what say about the process for the IPCC authors determining the published probabilities I would be interested in hearing them.

    I did considerable digging to determine the IPCC “rules” on the processing that was supposed to be used for determining these probabilities and it rather left the exact process to the groups, but with the provision that the process be documented. My request was to reveal this documentation. I received no reply and while I have heard “guesses” on how the process works I have never seen any documented evidence of these processes.

    Since there are probably going to be different processes by different groups for determining probabilities, and in light of the IPCC indication that the glacier finding was an exception, what better time to demonstrate that then to reveal all the groups’ documentation on how the probabilities were determined and in detail (not something like negogiated expert opinion and nothing more) – and, if the documents have been misplaced, we should know that too.

    • DaveJR
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

      “negociated expert opinion”

      Don’t knock it! Seems as scientific a description as possible for the process of sitting round a table (or email list) and guessing how certain you are about what you do know and what you don’t. I’d be extremely surprised if these numbers represented anything more than handwaving, but it will be interesting to find out what kind of liguistic gymnastics are required to elaborate on Judith’s succinct summary!

      • Jimchip
        Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

        Re: DaveJR (Jan 25 15:58),
        A search of eastangliaemails for key words like ‘possibility’ and ‘probability’ not only show a wealth of negotiations regarding ‘the numbers’ but also negotiations regarding words to describe conclusions in the most favorable light.

        I’ll include this one example: “how to think about probabilities of who is wrong and who is right in a given scientific dispute (including the question of burden of proof as you and I have been discussing it here), how consulting and polling experts can illuminate issues even for those who don’t understand everything that the experts say”

  24. potentilla
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    A common defence is emerging in AGW blogs that the rate of glacier melting is irrelevant because they will eventually all melt anyway with global warming. However there is no evidence that this would be a catastrophe. In IPCC (2007) Working Group II

    it is maintained that: “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 on glacial melt for their water supplies (Stern, 2007).”

    Note the reference is Stern (2007) which is a report prepared by an economist. Reading the Stern Report it is virtually impossible to determine the source of his information because in the report, the “catastrophe” is simply an unreferenced assertion.

    Glaciers in the Ganges River Basin make up 1.6% of the total basin area. As I have posted earlier, the storage effects of these glaciers would be observable in the flow records in the headwater catchments of the Ganges. A reduction in dry season flow with the absence of glaciers would affect hydropower and small irrigation projects in the headwaters. The storage effects of glaciers forming only 1.6 % of the Ganges River basin area would not significantly affect dry season main stem river flows.

    Inadequate dry season flows that currently occur in many world rivers that cause stress to farmers and aquatic ecosystems, result from excessive upstream water use, not climate change.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

      It is a common tactic to argue that “eventually” all the glaciers will melt or sea level will rise, as if something happening 1000 years from now is equally urgent as something happening next week.

  25. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    TimesOnline here

    Just a few boo boos re: glaciers.

    “The discredited claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 because of global warming was just “one page in a 938-page report”

    “He did, however, criticise Dr Pachauri for last year accusing the Indian Government of peddling “voodoo science” when it questioned the IPCC’s claims about Himalayan glaciers.”

    “I think in a sense this incident on the Himalayan glaciers might contribute to increase the credibility of the IPCC.”

    Perhaps my favorite, “He tried to play down the significance of the mistake that has led to growing calls for Dr Pachauri to step down. “It was not done in the glacier chapter, it was also not in the summary for policy makers in the scientists’ report, which is what the policy-makers are using. Which policy-maker is really going to go to page 450-something to look for that number?”

    “Mr van Ypersele said that an e-mail from the Austrian glaciologist Georg Kaser warning of the error sent to the IPCC had gone to the wrong person.”

    “It is a combination of very unfortunate things.”

    Just a Comedy of Errors, hah, hah, All’s Well That Ends Well.

  26. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    Monday in the US?

    US News and World Report, here, IPCC’s Himalayan Glacier ‘Mistake’ No Accident

    Kansas City Star, here, Climategate update: ‘The wheels are coming off for the IPCC’

  27. Frank
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

    I was surprised to learn that the IPCC doesn’t rely only on peer-reviewed publications. The statement below concerning sources of information for IPCC reports seems to permit an IPCC author to ignore one or more peer-reviewed scientific publications and cite conflicting information from an environmental advocacy group or an unpublished manuscript. (As we have seen elsewhere, the authors also have great latitude in responding to comments from outside reviewers.)

    IPCC sources: “Peer-reviewed and internationally available scientific technical and socio-economic literature, manuscripts made available for IPCC review and selected non-peer reviewed literature produced by other relevant institutions including industry.”

    A detailed discussion of the rules for using non-published and non-peer-reviewed sources can be found in Annex 2 (page 14) of the IPCC’s PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION, REVIEW, ACCEPTANCE, ADOPTION, APPROVAL AND PUBLICATION OF IPCC REPORTS

    “Each chapter team should review the quality and validity of each [non-peer-reviewed] source before incorporating results from the source into an IPCC Report.”

    Co-Chairs shall: “send copies of unpublished sources to reviewers who request them during the review process.”

    However, the introduction to AR4 WG1 discusses using only peer-reviewed publications, so WG1 may hold itself to higher standards.

  28. P Gosselin
    Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:01 PM | Permalink

    Tol, Pielke and von Storch have writen an op ed on the topic here in the German Spiegel magazine (English Edition).,1518,673944,00.html

    h/t to von Storch’s blog:

    • P Gosselin
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

      I did all my venting at von Storch’s blog, so I won’t be venting about it here.

    • PhilJourdan
      Posted Jan 25, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

      You have to love that last post on the blog!

  29. michel
    Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 2:44 AM | Permalink

    It is a pity that your story missed the really exciting news that came out in the UK in connexion with glaciers. Not only is Global Warming going to free the Himalayas of glaciers by the year, but it will also have another truly dramatic consequence, which will transform the landscape of Wales, and boost Welsh tourism. Yes, that is right, glaciers are going to return to Snowdonia! In our lifetimes, more or less.

    This will probably have dramatic effects also on Welsh farming, since the Snowdon glaier will probably contribute to the rivers as much as the Indian ones. We can expect as the glacier builds up for the water levels downstream to rise, just as the vanishing of the Himalayan glaciers is going to cause them to fall.

    So not only will we have a glacier on Snowdon, but there will also be Welsh floods on the same scale as the coming Indian droughts.

    Enterprising minds are even now applying for grants to study methods of alleviating the dire social conssequences of this glacier related Welsh flooding, and my contacts tell me that the EU is well impressed with the urgency of the problem and the need for, preferably peer reviewed, studies.

  30. Posted Jan 26, 2010 at 1:30 PM | Permalink


    Now with the Glacier prediction turning out to be a fabrication and with the Amazon Rainforest prediction turning out to be a fabrication, what about CO2’s impact on coral reef prediction? Has anyone looked into the peer reviewed work underlying that claim as well? I now suspect its veracity too.

    Steve: I looked at one of the coral articles last year and found problems with it.

    • Brian Macker
      Posted Jan 27, 2010 at 1:16 AM | Permalink

      Yep, the coral stuff is nonsense also. Increased CO2 would tend to have greater acidification effects in colder water. Yet no problems there. Coral bleaching happens in warm water, major incidents have reversed themselves, and have been found to be due to algae/bacteria/starfish/pollutants, not CO2.

  31. Adrian
    Posted Jan 27, 2010 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    Goes on a bit, before dear reader is labelled ‘denialist’

  32. ScientistForTruth
    Posted Jan 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM | Permalink


    I demonstrate that the scientific community knew about these Glaciergate errors by their being exposed in a peer-reviewed journal in 2005, which was essentially the substance of a chapter from a book published in 2004 by an authority on the Himalayas. Syed Hasnain’s pronouncements are shown to be myths, and worse. The paper appeared in Himalayan Journal of Sciences, entitled

    “Himalayan misconceptions and distortions: What are the facts? Himalayan Delusions: Who’s kidding who and why — Science at the service of media, politics and the development agencies.”

    In light of that, I find it almost certain that Pachauri and a lot of others knew that these were lies years before AR4 was published.

  33. Peter Miller
    Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

    Something which everyone seems to have missed:

    When Dr Hasnain was interviewed recently by Aljazeera, he denied ever saying 2035 was the year by which the glaciers would all be melted. However, more interesting was his comment that such a forecast would be obvious astrology.

  34. Posted Jan 28, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Permalink

    Richard North has done a more complete timeline of the Himalayan glacier story, including a UK government-sponsored study in 2004 that refuted Hasnain’s 1999 claims but was ignored by the IPCC.

  35. Duke C.
    Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    Comment from with a reply from Gaven:

    jerry says:
    19 January 2010 at 8:48 PM

    Not only is the IPCC fallible, but NASA is as well, and even more so.

    Had almost the same error, just a little worse.

    “Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres, and may disappear altogether in certain regions of our planet, such as the Himalayas, by 2030″

    Note the 2030 figure, not the 2035 figure. I assume NASA must have used another source.

    The comment has been silently vanished today, but you can still read it in the Google cache.

    If there are any NASA employees here, can they perhaps comment on why NASA published an incorrect statement, and then silently removed it without any comment on their error – unlike the IPCC.

    Will NASA take some steps to remedy the false information that has been read by many of their web viewers? Perhaps by a statement, or even a link on the offending web page pointing out their previous error?

    [Response: That’s a joke right? They fix an error, and now you want them to track down and apologise to everyone who may have read it? If something is wrong, it gets fixed. You should be happy. – gavin]

    Geez. A simple straightforward public announcment posted at the top of the offending webpage would have sufficed!

    Why are you so defensive, Gavin?

    • Jimchip
      Posted Jan 29, 2010 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

      Re: Duke C. (Jan 29 10:53),

      Poor Gavin. “They fix an error, and now you want them to track down and apologise to everyone who may have read it?”

      Who’s tracking whom? I still don’t think he gets it. Just the website is fine with me.

  36. DCC
    Posted Feb 28, 2010 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    What became of

    “No web site is configured at this address.”

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Global Warming IPCC Meltdown « the Air Vent on Jan 25, 2010 at 12:06 PM

    […] Climate Audit on Glaciergate. […]

  2. By Top Posts — on Jan 25, 2010 at 7:05 PM

    […] Glaciers and Sunday in England Continued from here. Lots of coverage in today’s English press about glaciers. David Rose in the Daily Mail […] […]

  3. […] “Glaciers and Sunday in England” – […]

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