20 January 2010

IPCC Statement on the Melting of Himalayan Glaciers

Below is the IPCC statement, it can also be found as a PDF.
IPCC Secretariat
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telephone +41 22 730 8208 / 54 / 84 · fax +41 22 730 8025 / 13 · email IPCC-Sec@wmo.int · www.ipcc.ch

Geneva, 20 January 2010

IPCC statement on the melting of Himalayan glaciers1

The Synthesis Report, the concluding document of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (page 49) stated: “Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e.g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.”

This conclusion is robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science and the broader IPCC assessment.

It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938 page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment2 refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate 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 Chair, Vice-Chairs, 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 into an IPCC Report” 3. We reaffirm our strong commitment to ensuring this level of performance.

1 This statement is from the Chair and Vice-Chairs of the IPCC, and the Co-Chairs of the IPCC Working Groups.

2 The text in question is the second paragraph in section 10.6.2 of the Working Group II contribution and a repeat of part of the paragraph in Box TS.6. of the Working Group II Technical Summary of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

3 This is verbatim text from Annex 2 of Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work.


  1. So F'n typical. Their "correction" begins with a quote and a self-pat on the back to show that they were right. Then, you learn that something - exactly what, they don't say - was "poorly substantiated." They can put a footnote in with a citation, but they can't tell you what they did that was wrong.

    Do they teach How To Dissemble in public relations classes? These people are just constitutionally incapable of telling the plain truth. To me, this statement indicts the entire IPPC process. If the Chair, Vice-Chair and Co-Chairs can sign off on this disgrace, then why should I believe a single word of what they have published?

  2. A sorry for what exactly ?
    what about a sorry for the "arrogant" tag?
    what about a sorry for the "voodoo science" bullying?
    Given his beneficial connections to companies providing solutions to the alleged problem, and given previous form (an Indian judge considered him a liar in a business dispute before the courts), Pachauri must RESIGN

  3. Pachauri's resignation would be a symbolic jesture, nothing more.

    What about the corruptable psuedo-scientific process that functions behind the curtain of the IPCC? A beheading or two is just a distraction.

  4. I disagree. Symbolism is important. This guy has been lauded by the establishment. The embarrassment would be acute. Politicians would run not walk from this failure.

  5. By July 2010, no-one even marginally associated with the IPCC, UEA's Hadley CRU, GISS/NASA, or Mann's notorious Penn State ESSC, will have published anything professionally since Climategate (sic) in late November 2009. From Pachauri's peculating backoffice on down, none of Mann's Green Gang may ever expound cultist drivel again.

  6. Roger,

    There has been a considerable amount of discussion about the "2035" during a very recent UNEP Expert Workshop (28-29 December 2009). They already suggest to revise the IPCC statement. See the full report with many discussion points below:


    Cheers, Jos.

  7. The errors in AR4 WG2 Chapter 10 have appeared in a peer-reviewed article in Geophysical Research Letters.

    The authors that used it as source material in their article are from the Byrd Polar Research Center of Ohio State University. One would hope that a research center focused on snow, ice, and glaciers would have noted the gross error, but unfortunately they went ahead and used it, after changing Himalaya to Tibetian Plateau.

    Article is Mass loss on Himalayan glacier endangers water resources”, Kehrwald, etal (with et al including Lonnie Thompson). Geophysical Research Letters Vol 35.
    doi:10.1029/2008GL035556 and available freely as pdf at

    The section referencing AR4 is right at the very end of the article, and includes the statement:

    “The surface area of glaciers across the TP is
    projected to decrease from 500,000 km2 measured in 1995
    to 100,000 km2 in 2030 [Cruz et al., 2007],”

    (the Cruz et al., 2007 reference is to AR4 WG2 Chap 10 pp 469-506)

    Earlier today I sent an email to Lonnie Thompson of BPRC, Ohio State Univ, asking if he still believes that statement is accurate.

    Lonnie Thompson has been quoted extensively in various magazine articles regarding the IPCC and Himalayan Glaciers disappearing by 2035.

    I also note that Lonnie Thompson was a Time magazine Hero of the Environment in 2008.