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Climate panel apologizes for glacier error
by Staff Writers
Geneva, Switzerland (UPI) Jan 21, 2009

Dense fog causes travel chaos across north India
New Delhi (AFP) Jan 21, 2010 - Thick fog across northern India has disrupted hundreds of flights and caused chaos on the densely populated region's roads, officials said Thursday. "The last time we had such dense fog conditions was in 2003," B.P. Yadav, spokesman for the New Delhi weather office, told AFP. "This is not an isolated phenomenon but it has covered the entire northern plains." More than 170 domestic and international flights were delayed, diverted or cancelled at New Delhi airport on Wednesday, while scores more flights were also hit on Thursday morning, an airport authority spokesman said. Departures were delayed by up to 15 hours, and several international flights to New York and Europe were cancelled. Police reported multiple accidents and long tailbacks on roads, while traffic on national highways was reduced to a crawl as drivers struggled with poor visibility. Railway schedules were also affected with many trains cancelled. Fog has been blamed for a series of train accidents in the past three weeks that have claimed at least 13 lives. Foggy conditions are common across northern India in January, but the region has been hit by an unusually severe winter cold snap since the New Year.

The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Switzerland apologized for a report asserting the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.-affiliated body, conceded the 2007 claim by the Nobel Prize-winning panel of climate scientists was "poorly substantiated."

The data actually indicate the disappearance will likely be around 2350 if global warming trends continue, 315 years later than 2035, Pachauri said.

The incorrect date appears in an error-riddled paragraph of a 938-page report.

The paragraph also misstates the total land area covered by Himalayan glaciers, claiming it is 193,000 square miles when it is actually about 13,000 square miles, said geography Professor Graham Cogley of Trend University in Peterborough, Ontario, one of four scientists who addressed the issue in a letter to be published in the Jan. 29 issue of the journal Science.

The glaciers would have to melt 10 times faster than they are now to disappear by 2035, he said.

The scientists who identified the mistakes say the report relied on news accounts that appear to have transposed 2350 as 2035, ClimateWire reported.

But the gaffes don't undermine the IPCC report's main conclusion -- that evidence for global warming is "unequivocal" and that human activities are driving the climate shift, the scientists said.

Ben Santer, a climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., called the error a "breakdown" in the peer-review process.

But "focusing on a mouse and ignoring the elephant would be a mistake," he told reporters, especially since independent assessments by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. government and other sources echo the IPCC's overall findings.

The controversy comes as the IPCC begins work on its next major report, due in 2013.


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UN climate panel admits Himalaya glacier data "poorly substantiated"
Geneva (AFP) Jan 20, 2010
The UN's climate science panel acknowledged on Wednesday that a grim prediction on the fate of Himalayan glaciers that featured in a benchmark report on global warming had been "poorly substantiated" and was a lapse in standards. Charges that the reference was highly inaccurate or overblown have stoked pressure on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), already assailed in a separate affair involving hacked email exchanges. The new row focuses on a paragraph in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, a 938-page opus whose warning in 2007 that climate change was on the march spurred politicians around the world to vow action. ... read more

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