Sloppy Mistake on Glacier Disappearance Chills U.N. Climate Panel

"Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005). The receding and thinning of Himalayan glaciers can be attributed primarily to the global warming due to increase in anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases."

It is unclear what the reference is for the "Its" at the start of the second sentence.

And the statement that "The likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 ... is very high," seems at odds with estimate in the next sentence that the "total area" will shrink to 100,000 square kilometers by the same year, 2035.

"Nobody does this business perfectly. It's a pity this slipped through -- and it's such a politically salient part of the problem," said Oppenheimer, referring to the widely recognized potential for vanishing glaciers to produce hundreds of millions of climate refugees both around the Himalayas in Asia and along the Andes in south America.

Climate Report Mistake 'Unfortunate'

"Is the mistake unfortunate? Yes," he said. "Does it mean there's a major problem with the IPCC process? No."

Oppenheimer added that though the immense IPCC process, unprecedented in the history of global science, may have isolated problems like this again in the future, "the IPCC is an institution constantly changing and improving itself and making itself more transparent."

Widely respected climate science policy expert Rick Piltz has posted a detailed analysis of the IPCC blunder at his Web site, www.climatesciencewatch.org.

Not only has Piltz dug out what appears to be the extremely sloppy sourcing of the offending IPCC paragraph, he even unearths some documents that, while not proving it, raise the distinct possibility that a writer confused the year 2350 with 2035, possibly through a typo.

The mistake has been picked up by some climate change "skeptics" as evidence for their claims that the review process is like the game of "Telephone" played at children's parties.

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