by Staff Writers
Geneva, Switzerland (UPI) Jan 21, 2009
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.
Beyond the Ice Age
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