Himalayan glaciers "melting ten times more slowly than feared"


UDPATE: Cartoon by Josh, right.

Remember the IPCC melting glacier scare? Gone by 2035? Glaciergate? It made great publicity for the alarmists. Sadly it was total rubbish. And now further studies reveal that the melting is fully ten times slower than previously thought.

But it’s still bad news, naturally. They’re still melting. Just an order of magnitude more slowly than we had previously been led to believe, as the ABC reports:

Himalayan glaciers and ice caps that supply water to more than a billion people in Asia are losing mass up to 10 times less quickly than once feared, according to a new study.

Based on an improved analysis of satellite data from 2003 to 2010, the findings offer a reprieve for a region already feeling the impacts of global warming.

But they do not mean that the threat of disruptive change has disappeared, the researchers warn. [Of course, any good news has to be tempered with a reminder that the planet is going to hell in a handcart – Ed]

“The good news is that the glaciers are not losing mass as fast as we thought,” says Professor Tad Pfeffer of theUniversity of Colorado‘s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and a co-author of the study.

“The bad news is that they are still losing a lot of water. There is still definitely a serious problem for the Himalayas.”

Much of that loss, it turns out, is taking place in the huge plains immediately south of the towering mountain range, where pumping from wells is draining ancient aquifers far faster than precipitation can replenish them.

Earlier estimates, also based on satellite data, mistakenly attributed much of the draining of these water tables to glacier melt-off, says Pfeffer.

So the attribution of the cause was wrong too.

Other calculations now thought to be off the mark were based on scaled-up extrapolations from lower-elevation glaciers that were more accessible to observation, but also more subject to warming trends.

“Many of the high glaciers would still be too cold to lose mass even in the presence of atmospheric warming,” says co-author John Wahr, a physicist at the University of Colorado. (source)

And of course, none of this says anything about the cause of the warming. Amazing that the ABC reported this, but at least the spin cycle made sure that any good news was diluted by more hectoring warnings of disaster.

Even more dire warnings at the press release here.

More at the UK Guardian here, where it is claimed that “the worlds greatest snow-capped peaks have lost no ice in the last ten years”.

Glacier claims won grants for TERI


The Sunday Times reports, via The Australian, that the dodgy glacier claims were used in an application by Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) to win funding worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It just keeps getting worse:

Rajendra Pachauri’s Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), based in New Delhi, was awarded up to $US500,000 ($555,000) by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the lion’s share of a $US4 million EU grant funded by European taxpayers.

The revelation comes just a week after London newspaper The Sunday Times highlighted serious scientific flaws in the IPCC’s 2007 benchmark report on the likely impacts of global warming.

The IPCC had warned that climate change was likely to melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 — an idea considered ludicrous by most glaciologists. Last week, a humbled IPCC retracted that claim and corrected its report.

However, the same bogus claim has been cited in grant applications for TERI. One of them, announced earlier this month, resulted in the $US500,000 grant from Carnegie. An extract from the grant application published on Carnegie’s website said: “The Himalaya glaciers, vital to more than a dozen major rivers that sustain hundreds of millions of people in South Asia, are melting and receding at a dangerous rate.

“One authoritative study reported that most of the glaciers in the region ‘will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming, resulting in widespread water shortages’.”

The Carnegie money was specifically given to aid research into “the potential security and humanitarian impact on the region” as the glaciers began to disappear. Dr Pachauri has since acknowledged that this threat, if it exists, will take centuries to have any serious effect.

The money was initially given to the Global Centre, an Icelandic foundation that then channelled it to TERI.

The cash was acknowledged by TERI in a news release, issued on January 15, just before the glacier scandal became public, in which Dr Pachauri repeated the claims of imminent glacial melt. It said: “According to predictions of scientific merit they may indeed melt away in several decades.”

The same release also quoted Syed Hasnain, the glaciologist who, in 1999, made the now discredited claim that Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2035.

Professor Hasnain now heads Dr Pachauri’s glaciology unit at TERI, which sought the grants and which is carrying out the glacial research.

What a tangled web. Who would possibly have thought, just a few months ago, that the credibility of the IPCC and Pachauri himself could have disintegrated so thoroughly in such a short time.

Read it here.

IPCC: Glacier data included "to pressure policymakers"

As Anthony Watts puts it, the IPCC is damaged goods and Pachauri is toast. From the UK Daily Mail:

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.

‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’

Read it here.

UN admits glacier data dodgy

Still there?

But then claims the rest of the report is robust – of course it is. How could we possibly doubt it, after Climategate and Glaciergate and Hockeystick-gate? The next “gates” in this saga will be floodgates, as independent scientists poring over the IPCC’s claims will find many similar instances of shoddy science used to advance a pre-conceived agenda. From the ABC:

The UN’s climate science panel has acknowledged that a grim prediction on the fate of Himalayan glaciers in a benchmark report on global warming had been “poorly substantiated” and was a lapse in standards.

Charges that the reference was highly inaccurate or overblown have stoked pressure on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), already assailed in a separate affair involving hacked email exchanges.

The new row focuses on a paragraph in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, a 938-page opus whose warning in 2007 that climate change was on the march spurred politicians around the world to vow action.

The paragraph notably declared that the probability of glaciers in the Himalayas “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

The IPCC said in a statement that the paragraph “refers to poorly substantiated rates of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.”

“In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly,” the panel admitted.

“The Chair, Vice Chair and Co Chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance.

“This episode demonstrates that the quality of the assessment depends on absolute adherence to the IPCC standards, including thorough review of ‘the quality and validity of each source before incorporating results from the source in an IPCC report’.”

And the most shocking aspect to all this is that it appears the IPCC were warned of the dodgy data before it was even published, but they ploughed on regardless. What does that say about the mindset of those writing the reports?

Read it here.

Quote of the Day

Quote of the Day

From the opinion pages of The Australian, and referring to the newly christened “Icegate” story from yesterday, where the IPCC has been discovered taking “facts” about glaciers shrinking from the back of a matchbox (see here and here):

This “icegate” scandal is potentially far more damaging to climate change science than the recent discovery of embarrassing emails from the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. Those emails reveal a robust advocacy of global warming on the part of scientists but no evidence that this compromised their scientific work.

Strange that fiddling data (“hide the decline”), deleting correspondence in response to FOI requests and intimidating journals that dare publish alternative views doesn’t count as compromising their scientific work. Someone at The Australian should actually read those emails, perhaps?

Read it here.

Wong the apologist defends IPCC

Will still be there for a very long time

An update on this story. Despite the fact that the IPCC has been caught out again, Penny Wong’s knee-jerk reaction is to defend them, because she knows, as well as anyone, that if the IPCC is peddling a crock of s#!t, then the government’s climate policy (on which it is 100% based) is not worth the paper it’s written on. So Penny’s doing her best (which isn’t saying much, let’s face it) to shore it up:

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong says a mistake made by a United Nations body on the predicted rate of glacial melting does not mean all its findings are wrong.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claimed in a report that the glaciers in the Himalayas could vanish in 30 years.

However that claim was based on a conversation between a journalist and a single Indian scientist a decade ago, according to British newspaper the Sunday Times.

The Federal Opposition says this shows the organisation’s scientific findings lack credibility.

Opposition energy spokesman Nick Minchin says the mistake made by the IPCC calls into question the Government’s proposed emissions trading scheme.

“For Australia to act ahead of the rest of the world based on [Prime Minister Kevin] Rudd’s reliance on this UN committee, which we now find is presenting reports based on mere speculation, [would be a mistake],” he said.

But Ms Wong says the main claims of climate change science remain unchallenged.

“This is a report that has been peer reviewed extensively [Ah yes, peer-review, the be all and end all of climate science, so corrupt itself that few papers challenging the consensus ever get published, because the alarmists threaten and intimidate publications which consider doing so. See Climategate – Ed]; very few errors have been found in it and none that challenge the central findings,” she said.

“Climate change is real and human beings are contributing to it, and people like Senator Minchin, who have never believed in climate change, will jump on anything in order to justify their position.”

Yawn, yawn, yawn. Sorry Penny, but we’re all bored senseless by your repetitive, robotic pronouncements.

Read it here.

IPCC glacier claim was "speculation", not based on formal research

More dodgy science

The house of cards continues to topple as yet more “settled science” is revealed as being nothing of the sort:

THE peak UN body on climate change has been dealt another humiliating blow to its credibility after it was revealed a central claim of one of its benchmark reports – that most of the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 because of global warming – was based on a “speculative” claim by an obscure Indian scientist.

The 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming, appears to have simply adopted the untested opinions of the Indian glaciologist from a magazine article published in 1999.

The IPCC report claimed that the world’s glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish inside 30 years.

But the scientists behind the warning have now admitted it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC’s report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Mr Hasnain, who was then the chairman of the International Commission on Snow and Ice’s working group on Himalayan glaciology, has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research.

The revelation represents another embarrassing blow to the credibility of the IPCC, less than two months after the emergence of leaked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, which raised questions about the legitimacy of data published by the IPCC about global warming.

Read it here.

%d bloggers like this: