11 November 2013

Deeply Conflicted About Weather Extremes

Last week I gave a talk on how the IPCC has treated the issue of extreme weather events over the years. I concluded that despite some very positive signs that the community is reclaiming scientific integrity on this issue (see IPCC SREX and AR5), some part of the community -- especially visible leaders -- remain deeply conflicted. Following my talk a few colleagues asked me for evidence of that deep conflict. Here is a good one.

Have a look at the picture above (courtesy @JPvanYpersele on Twitter) of IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri presenting the findings of AR5 and SREX to COP19 delegates earlier today in Poland at this year's big UN FCCC climate confab.

For those curious, here is what the IPCC AR5 actually reported (here in PDF) on tropical cyclones (of the sort emerging from the smokestack in the image from Al Gore's movie shown above in Pachauri's slide):
"Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin... In summary, this assessment does not revise the SREX conclusion of low confidence that any reported long-term (centennial) increases in tropical cyclone activity are robust, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities"
Does the image chosen as the top line representation reflect the science reported by the IPCC? You be the judge. It is never too late for climate scientists to start demanding greater scientific integrity from the public faces of their community. Silence speaks loudly too.