Friday, December 14, 2012

IPCC draft report leaked

Yesterday Alec Rawls, a self-described climate sceptic and IPCC reviewer, has put a draft of the next IPCC report on the web. The website went down immediately down under overload. Commentators and twitterati are divided: some see it as a fullfilment of the demand for more transparency, others are up in arms about the unethical breach of the terms of confidentiality (each IPCC reviewer has to sign up to a secrecy clause when registering, see the experience of one of my colleagues at my university for an inside view).

Andy Revkin has spoken out in favour of the leaking and posted new links to alternative servers. So if you want to read the draft, I suggest you follow these.
Revkin has something very interesting to say about the changing climate of these pre-release leaks:
It’s important, before anyone attacks Rawls for posting the drafts (this is distinct from his views on their contents), to consider that panel report drafts at various stages of preparation have been leaked in the past by people with entirely different points of view.
That was the case in 2000, when I was leaked a final draft of the summary for policy makers of the second science report from the panel ahead of that year’s round of climate treaty negotiations. As I explained in the resulting news story, “A copy of the summary was obtained by The New York Times from someone who was eager to have the findings disseminated before the meetings in The Hague.”

9 comments:

Richard S J Tol said...

The problem with the IPCC mode of review is that drafts were bound to be leaked, and that those who leak have a different agenda than the IPCC. You can never control a message, but early spin is the spin that sticks.

Werner Krauss said...

und das sagt Markus Becker von spiegel-online dazu:
http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/klimabericht-der-uno-ipcc-report-im-netz-veroeffentlicht-a-872984.html

eduardo said...

In theory, the IPCC reports should help policy makers in their process of decision-making. So policy makers themselves should be the ones that judge whether or not the reports are useful for them. I do not think they are useful for them for their purpose, but I am may be wrong.

One question that scientists could pose is the following: if climate scientist would strike and reject to write further IPCC reports, would politicians complain ? I am afraid they would not even notice it.

This being said, in general terms my reading of the WG-I of this IPCC report was quite positive. I think it sticks much closer to what it is known and what is yet not known than previous reports. My speculation is that some of those that previously defended the 'consensus' to stifle any scientific discussions may now attack this consensus themselves, but again I may be wrong

zk said...

Weiterer Bericht auf Spiegel.de:

http://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/ipcc-report-uno-sagt-staerkeren-meeresspiegel-anstieg-voraus-a-873029.html

So verblüffend finde ich die Spanne zum Meeresspiegel ja eigentlich nicht. Aber das mag auch zu sehr von der Sicht des Insiders her gedacht sein?!

Mark B. said...

Roger Pielke Jr has expressed his satisfaction that all the claims of attribution for extreme storms in AR4 have been rejected in AR5. Now, the fingerprint of global warming is no longer seen on cyclones or tornadoes or floods. This, Pielke points out, is exactly what the literature says.

Question: so how is it that the climate scientists of the world signed off on the flawed AR4 report? Why did the scientists charged with writing AR4 on this matter get it so profoundly wrong, and when they did, why did the rest of the world's climate scientists not speak out against it? It seems as if skeptics were right to question this aspect of the previous report.

eduardo said...

Mark,

the making of IPCC reports is quite complex. It is not a group of scientist that meet, write a report and sign it off, but rather a network of many scientist that contribute with little pieces, that then are put together by a smaller group and then even in a more condensed form by a group of scientist and politicians. In the very few scientist have a measurable influence on what the reports says. Whether this is the optimal way is another matter.
This being said the previous report AR4 -WG-1 included in its Summary for Policymakers that the assessed human influence on recent trends on intense tropical cyclones is 'more likely than not', which is the weakest form of attribution in the IPCC scale. Actually, it does not say anything about the total number of TCs, but just those of the intense sort. That statement would remain as such in AR5, I think. Regarding intense precipitation or droughts, AR4 also chose the grade 'more likely than not'.

We still have the problem that what the AR4 WG-1 included, is not completely faithfully transported to WG-2 or WG-3, or to the public opinion for that matter. This was one of the major problems of AR4, in my view, and probably what Roger P. Jr. is referring to.

I would in general recommend to all those interested to always check with the WG-1 reports.

eduardo said...

To avoid further confusion, what has been now leaked is just the report of the Working Group 1 'The physical basis'. There are other two working groups that should assess the climate impacts and policy options

Anonymous said...

@ Eduardo

Working Group 1 'The physical basis ...

Here's a comment by Matt Ridley in the WSJ which gives a good introduction to the sensitivity problem and and its presentation in the AR5/WG1 second draft paper ...

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323981504578179291222227104.html#

The article refers to a more technical thread by Nic Lewis which is published over at Bishop Hill ...

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/12/19/why-doesnt-the-ar5-sods-climate-sensitivity-range-reflect-it.html

"1°C by 2100"?

Would be interesting to learn what you think about it.

Thanks.

V. Lenzer...

eduardo said...

@8

I have read the post at BH with interest. I think it is a plausible analysis , although the conclusions hinge on the estimation of aerosol forcing, which is still quite uncertain. As I am not really an expert on aerosols, I can only say that the article is suggestive, but maybe our reader Karsten may have a more solid opinion. Anyway, I would never title a blog post with 'climate sensitivity IS low' . There are simply too many things that are still obscure. Why has this not been taken into account by the IPCC report? I surmise that because it is not published. It is not the same thing thing write a post and put it up in a blog where most readers will welcome their conclusion than to publish it in a journal (provided that the pee review process goes as it should..)
There have been other hints at low values of the climate sensitivity, also by well respected climate researchers. For instance , a remember a blog post by Isaac Held suggesting this, which I unfortunately cannot locate now. But you can have a look <a href="<a href=”http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/blog/isaac-held/2011/10/07/18-noise-toa-fluxes-and-climate-sensitivity/”>at this </a>instead. Interestingly, Held refers to a paper by Spender and Braswell, which I also think is the most serious approaches from the 'sceptics' camp. An <a href=”http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2012/2012GL053872.shtml”>article just published this week</a> based on paleo climate evidence points to a value of 2.5 K with values over 4K found to be very unlikely.