Climatic Change

, Volume 45, Issue 3–4, pp 471–488 | Cite as

Gearing up for IPCC-2001

  • D. M. Ritson
Article

Abstract

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, is charged withproviding scientific reviews of the current status of the climate sciences.Previous reviews were made in 1990 and 1995 (Houghton et al., 1990, 1995). Thenext review is due out in 2001. One of the important missions of the IPCCis to provide to the scientific community ‘the standard scientific reference’ for the science of climate change (cf. the Back Cover of the IPCC-95Assessment (Houghton et al., 1995)). This paper discusses flaws in the IPCC-90and the IPCC-95 scientific assessments that seriously compromised thisobjective. The previous reports contained numerous such flaws andrepresentative examples are discussed in detail where the quality of thepresentation was degraded, or even in some instances rendered meaningless byfailures to provide accurate or full error assignments, the sources forresults, the units or quantities being displayed in graphs, the methods usedto calculate results, and access to back-up materials required to understandthe materials being presented. Taken on their own, such errors might, perhaps, be regarded as minor blemishes, but taken in sum and coupled with problems ofpresentation they combine to confuse and to render unconvincing the argumentsbeing presented. In every case the problems described could have been avoided by following the italicized recommendations made throughout the text. It isconcluded that the quality and credibility of future IPCC assessments wouldbe substantially enhanced by adherence to these recommendations.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Barnett, T. P., Santer, B. D., Jones, B. P., Bradley, R. S., and Briffa, K. R.: 1996, ‘Estimates of Low Frequency Natural Variability in Near-Surface Air Temperature’, Holocene 6, 255.Google Scholar
  2. Chatfield, C.: 1996, The Analysis of Time Series; An Introduction, 5th edition, Chapman and Hall, London, U.K., for a discussion of windowing techniques used to smooth power spectrum data.Google Scholar
  3. Crowley, T. J. and Kim, K.-Y.: 1995, ‘Comparison of Long Term Greenhouse Projections with the Geologic Record’, Geophys. Res. Lett. 22, 933.Google Scholar
  4. Crowley, T. J. and North, G. R.: 1991, Paleoclimatology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., p. 339.Google Scholar
  5. Editors: 1997, ‘Guide to Authors: MATERIALS’, Nature 388, 606.Google Scholar
  6. Hassol, S. J. and J. Katzenberger (eds.): 1996, Elements of Change 1996: AGCI Session II: Characterizing and Communicating Scientific Uncertainty, Aspen Global Change Institute, http://www.gcrio.org/ASPEN/science/eoc96/AGCIEOC96General/AGCIEOC96TOC.html Google Scholar
  7. Houghton, J. T., Jenkins, G. J., and Ephraims, J. J.: 1990, Climate Change 1990: The IPCC Scientific Assessment, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 364.Google Scholar
  8. Houghton, J. T., Jenkins, G. J., and Ephraims, J. J. (eds.): 1994, Radiative Forcing of Climate Change and an Evaluation of the IPCC IS92 Emission Scenarios, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.Google Scholar
  9. Houghton, J. T., Meira Filho, L. G., Callander, B. A., Harris, N., Kattenberg, A., and Maskell, K.: 1995, Climate Change 1995: The Science of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 584.Google Scholar
  10. Mitchell, F. B., Johns, T. C., Gregory, J. M., and Tett, S. F. B.: 1995, ‘Climate Response to Increasing Levels of Greenhouse Gases and Sulphate Aerosols’, Nature 376, 501.Google Scholar
  11. Wigley, T. M. L., Jones, P. D., and Raper, S. C.: 1997, The Observed Global Arming Record: What Does It Tell Us? Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., p. 8314.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. M. Ritson
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics DepartmentStanford UniversityStanfordU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations