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Climate panel admits error on melting glaciers

Climate panel admits error on melting glaciers
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First Published: Thu, Jan 21 2010. 12 45 AM IST
Updated: Thu, Jan 21 2010. 12 45 AM IST
New Delhi: The world’s foremost group on climate change science has admitted that its finding that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 due to global warming was based on poor science.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said the paragraph on Himalayan glaciers in its study had referred to “poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance”.
It said IPCC’s procedures on clear and established standards of evidence were not applied properly in drafting the paragraph.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning IPCC was set up by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 to evaluate the risks of climate change due to human activity.
The controversy regarding the deadline for the glacier meltdown began with a story in The Times newspaper in London. Mint reported additional lacunae in the glacier finding on 20 January.
Syed Hasnain, the glaciologist who was quoted in a June 1999 New Scientist article as saying that Himalayan glaciers can disappear by 2035, also issued a clarification. He attributed the error to a journalistic assumption interpolated by the interviewer, over which he had no control. The year 2035 did not have any mention in the scientific paper Hasnain was interviewed on. The misquoted fact later found its way into the 2007 IPCC report.
“During the interview I presented the outcome of the findings on the basis of 20 years of my research till 1999. The statement I gave was: ‘All the glaciers in the middle Himalayas are retreating…’—and a scientific postulation was made that all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear in the next 40-50 years at their present rate of decline,” said Hasnain in the statement.
He added that the pathetic state of the Himalayan glaciers is no secret and he will be presenting a report on their status based on research by Indian and overseas scientists published in peer-reviewed journals across the world.
padmaparna.g@livemint.com
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First Published: Thu, Jan 21 2010. 12 45 AM IST