Friday, March 26, 2010

German IPCC nominations for AR5

On Thursday, 25 March 2010, we had a public discussion organized by the KlimaCampus in Hamburg a discussion about IPCC, Climategate and the relationship of climate science, media and politics - see[tt_news]=245&tx_ttnews[backPid]=328&cHash=7fc18dbda5.

About 350 people, from academia, authorities, journalists and "people from the street" had shown up. Among them, a person working for the Federal Ministry of the Environment, who was responsible for the process of nominating German scientists for the selection process by the IPCC - to become convening lead authors, lead authors or review authors. She told the audience that all scientists, who volunteered for such a position, had been nominated by the German authorities.
Another interesting detail was an information provided by a person working for the German Weather Service -according to which the German "core data" needed to calculate the global mean temperature curve would be publicly available, whereas other more special data would not.


Tobias W said...

Can anyone in their right mind claim that the IPCC isn't politicized when even to get nominated you need the authorities approval?

Hans von Storch said...

Tobias W - the I in IPCC stands for "intergovernmental" - that is it is an organization which is run by the governments of this world. It is thus not surprising that governments nominate candidates - but also some other organizations can do so, as far as I know.
The significant part of my message was that there was no selection among those who volunteered.

ghost said...

"The significant part of my message was that there was no selection among those who volunteered."

that means, the German government does not interfere in the scientific process (or at least in the national selection process). Did this behavior change compared to the last IPCC reports?

Hans von Storch said...

ghost - I do not know. I forgot to mention that w were told that a total of 97 names has been sent to IPCC headquarters.
I also heard that there were efforts by Fox (?) to make several governments declaring whom they had nominated and how these groups had been determined. For the US the list has been made public - I have heard. Needs confirmation.

isaacschumann said...

Are all nominees usually accepted by the IPCC? And if not, who decides and based on what criteria? I understand, from reading Roger Pielke Jr.'s blog that this is an internal decision and a less than transparent process. Is this accurate?

What is the "special data", and why would it not be available?

Hans von Storch said...

isaacschumann: No, the IPCC can not accept all - there are more suggestions than position to be filled - so, the IPCC does select from the suggested list of names (only?); I do not know how they select.
"Special data" - I guess these are data with specific economic value; among them are temporally often sampled quantities, I would assume.
We usually get the data for our research without problems. In old days, say in the 1980s, it was very difficult, but the situation has greatly improved.

richardtol said...

Nomination is not the real issue. It is unlikely that Germany will get 97 authorships (about 3 per chapter). The question is, who is on the German shortlist? For whom will the German delegation lobby? And, if past behaviour is any guide, will the German delegation lobby against any of the German nominations?

isaacschumann said...

Thanks Hans,

I apologize for my ignorance on this topic, but I am very surprised that this is not a transparent and external process. (am I correct that current members of the IPCC decide which nominations are accepted?)

How does this compare to other scientific organizations of a similar purpose? (ones that issue scientific advice for policymakers, such as the IAEA)

Hans von Storch said...

Isaac, you certainly notice that I am also really ignorant in these matters - but maybe other readers know more about all this? In any case, these are relevant questions.

richardtol said...

Authors are selected at a meeting. The IPCC bureau will be there, government representatives, and a number of senior academics.

It's a big haggle. There are 10-12 positions per chapter, all the big countries have to have 1-2 convening lead authorship, there need to be a balance between regions and sexes and so on.

So, unless you have the full support from either the Bureau member of your country delegate, you won't get in.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

The UK government has made the list public after a request by Fox News. It can be found here:

Like in the German case, the UK government accepted all applications. There are 154 in total. I am on the list but if Richard is right I would not hold my breath.

richardtol said...

The UK has a list with names and top level affiliations. Did they include info on specialisation? Did they include indicators on academic quality? That would be too much transparency, would it.

isaacschumann said...

Thanks all,

I went briefly to the IPCC website, but could not find a description of the selection process.

This is my personal impression, but the IPCC appears to have a similar view of transparency as certain well known climate modelers of email fame. The raw data(nominations from governments) and results(ultimate selections by the ipcc) are sufficient for transparency, the way in which the results were arrived at is not necessary.

...I also would be more than happy for some of my tax dollars to fund a few salaried positions in the IPCC, the duties of lead authors sounds a bit intensive for volunteer work...

Zajko said...

I does seem like this is one of the least transparent parts of the process. I've been over the IPCC site ( and it doesn't give much info other than to say that the authors are appointed (by an elected Bureau - and the Bureau is elected by the Panel. So how is membership to the Panel decided?). From what Richard Tol is saying though, it seems it is more than just the Bureau involved.
I think academic bodies are often chosen through less-than-democratic or non-transparent means, but for the IPCC this seems troubling, especially considering the lengths it goes to being remarkably open about so much of its work.

eduardo said...

@ Zajko

The IPCC Panel comprises the delegation of each member country. Every member country of the UN or the World Metereological Organization is entitled to belong to the IPCC. So basically the Panel is the governments. The Chair and the Bureau of the IPCC is elected by the Panel according to some procedural rules that defines the majorities required.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has a different structure. It has a board of directors representing the country members, around 35 or so at present. So this board, equivalent to the IPCC Panel, is much smaller than the IPCC (about 190 countries). Other difference is that the IAEA hires and pays its director and all its employees (about 2000). The IPCC hires only the secretariat, which is a kind of supporting unit for the IPCC Bureau, and all the rest are volunteers.