Improving conveyance of uncertainties in the findings of the IPCC
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Authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) received guidance on reporting understanding, certainty and/or confidence in findings using a common language, to better communicate with decision makers. However, a review of the IPCC conducted by the InterAcademy Council (2010) found that “the guidance was not consistently followed in AR4, leading to unnecessary errors . . . the guidance was often applied to statements that are so vague they cannot be falsified. In these cases the impression was often left, quite incorrectly, that a substantive finding was being presented.” Our comprehensive and quantitative analysis of findings and associated uncertainty in the AR4 supports the IAC findings and suggests opportunities for improvement in future assessments.
KeywordsSynthesis Report Guidance Note Third Assessment Report Technical Summary Global Change Research Program
The authors thank Ms. Julia Kalloz (LMI) for supervising the collection and organization of all the IPCC AR4 findings. Ms. Kalloz also performed much of the initial analysis of finding frequency and oversaw indexing and tagging findings with keywords. Ms. Shaun Lehman (Virginia Tech), Ms. Kristen Cleven (Columbia University) and Ms. Rebecca Freeburn (George Washington University) assisted in collecting the IPCC findings while interns at LMI. Ms. Kelli Canada (LMI intern), Mr. Mark Gross (LMI), Mr. Aman Luthra (LMI), Ms. Lia Marroquin (LMI), and Mr. Daniel Jackson (LMI) assisted tagging findings with search terms. Cathy Becker (LMI) advised on frequency analysis. Mr. Greg Wilson (LMI), Mr. David Manzolillo (LMI), Mr. David Shepherd (LMI), and Mr. Reddy Enugu (LMI) developed the web-based version of CliCKE. We wish to acknowledge the support of the LMI Research Institute for multiple grants to develop the CliCKE database, the underlying research and preparation of this manuscript. Ami Nacu-Schmidt aided in the preparation of the manuscript. We thank an anonymous reviewer for useful comments that improved the text.
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