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Glaciergate is worse than you think

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Tim Lambert points us to this excellent analysis by John Nielsen-Gammon and the Glaciergate story is perhaps even worse than we first thought. This is not just a simple error or transcription problem.

the available evidence indicates that the IPCC authors of this section relied upon a secondhand, unreferreed source which turned out to be unreliable, and failed to identify this source.

Nielsen-Gammon also finds a remarkable consistency between the IPCC statement (on the left in the panel below) and a statement at the India Environment Portal (on the right in the panel below).

The inartfulness of the transfer of verbiage from the IEP to the IPCC explains the first word (“Its”) of the second IPCC sentence: there’s no single noun to which “Its” can refer in the IPCC quote, but in the IEP quote, “Its” refers to “The glacier” (poor English, but singular) in the previous sentence. To me, this is like a fingerprint: I am convinced that the IPCC author paraphrased the IEP article and leaving off or altering the references.

It just doesn’t look good at all.

He is also able to track down a potential origin of the 2035 date (emphasis added).

According to Kotlyakov, the loss of 80% of the extrapolar glaciation on the Earth’s surface will be by 2350, not 2035. And even after 2350 there will still be some glaciers surviving in the Karakoram, the Himalayas, and in parts of Tibet.

There are other errors too.

Recall that the IPCC quote referred to a table. The table lists the retreat of 8 Himalayan glaciers. Only one such retreat is as stated in the WWF report. Another retreat, recorded as 2840 m from 1845-1966, is listed as a rate of 134 m/yr, but the actual rate is 23 m/yr. Whoever did the calculation for the IPCC divided by 21 years instead of 121 years! The rest of the values are from other, unnamed sources.

Lambert’s own analysis is also quite interesting. He looks at the reviewing process itself.

There was no cite at all for the claim and more than one reviewer noted that a citation was needed. If the chapter authors had followed this comment, all would have been well:

I am not sure that this is true for the very large Karakoram glaciers in the western Himalaya. Hewitt (2005) suggests from measurements that these are expanding – and this would certainly be explained by climatic change in precipitation and temperature trends seen in the Karakoram region (Fowler and Archer, J Climate in press; Archer and Fowler, 2004) You need to quote Barnett et al.’s 2005 Nature paper here – this seems very similar to what they said. (Hayley Fowler, Newcastle University)

But the response was this:

Was unable to get hold of the suggested references will consider in the final version

Instead the authors added to a cite to this WWF report, which says

“In 1999, a report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology (WGHG) of the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI) stated: “glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the livelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high”.

And here we see the perils of lazy citing. The IPCC report should have cited the WGHG/ICSI report, but the authors weren’t able to get hold of it. If they had, they would have found that it doesn’t say anything about the glaciers disappearing by 2035. The WWF report authors hadn’t seen the WGHG report either, but relied on this New Scientist story, by a reporter that hadn’t seen the report either, but had talked to the author of the WGHG report.

So Lambert concludes its all about lazy citation. But that isn’t what he has found. The IPCC state that they are unable “to get hold of the suggested references” but that isn’t the WGHG/ICSI report they can’t get hold of. The reviewer is suggesting they get hold of a paper in Nature. Furthermore the reviewer is saying that the peer-reviewed literature is suggesting that glaciers are expanding not melting away. The IPCC ignore that, claim they can’t find a reference in Nature, and then publish the false information anyway.


Written by Sinclair Davidson

January 20, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

11 Responses

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  1. Credit where it’s due to Lambert for looking at this with clear, critical eyes.

    daddy dave

    January 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

  2. Dave, he was actually trying to dishonestly dismiss it as a bibliographical oversight.

    As I pointed out on the other thread, the Glaciergate fraud was deliberate propaganda. More generally, the whole point of the IPCC was to “prove” catastrophic and saleably imminent “AGW.”


    January 20, 2010 at 3:37 pm

  3. ah, I see you are right. and yes, glaciergate wasn’t just a slip of the tongue.
    I hope they issue a retraction in every class in every school where they’ve taught this rubbish.

    daddy dave

    January 20, 2010 at 3:43 pm

  4. Good point re schools.


    January 20, 2010 at 4:05 pm

  5. Lambert’s deluded.

    Anyway, you’d expect the IPCC – who will ultimately be responsible for significant reduction in human prosperity (ie: human life) – would have the decency to think a little more critically.

    I was indoctrinated and propagandised to about the “dangers” of global warming over 20 years ago as a primary school student. I was taught that inanminate objects, and blades of grass are of greater value than human life (nihilism).
    These days I don’t know anybody my age that is sceptical of government economic restrictions in the name of climate science. The ideology of environmentalism has taken the world by storm and I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.

    However this is a serious issue and needs to be fought. Governments encouraged by the IPCC will hurt us all.

    Tim R

    January 20, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  6. Why are they using the WWF (World Wrestling Federation of environmentalism) as a reference? We’re constantly reminded the IPCC was peer reviewed.

    This is a shambles.


    January 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm

  7. Lambert’s deluded.

    That’s perhaps the mot offensive comment I’ve seen in a long time about an other blogger, Tim. Even I’m offended. 🙂

    He’s perhaps the smartest, most intelligent dude in this whole debate. … perhaps even as honest and ethical as Doc. Pauchauri n a bad hair day.

    Shiny’s honesty and enthusiasm at getting to the truth is infectious.


    January 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm

  8. Let’s all stay on topic.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm

  9. Howabout cutting to the chase – are the worlds glaciers shrinking or not?

    And is it faster than previous or not?

    The Extreme Ice Survey could give an oversight – to date the evidence has been patchy, in part due to the enormous area covered. Individual sites, such as Switzerland, show a steady decline


    January 20, 2010 at 9:11 pm

  10. Guys please move to the new site.

    Sinclair Davidson

    January 20, 2010 at 10:11 pm

  11. […] Doet het fragment uit het artikel op de India Environmental Portal de lezer al ergens aan denken? Kijk eens naar de overeenkomsten met het IPCC-rapport: Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in […]

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