Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Who agrees with the IPCC?

With the current fiasco concerning the IPCC reports perhaps it is appropriate to see what the climate science community thought about the reports before the report hit the fan. Using the data from the 2008 (after The Report) survey of climate scientists, it seems that most climate scientists (at least those in the survey sample) tended to agree with the IPCC conclusions. There was even a significant minority that claimed the IPCC tended to under estimate things.
In the following figures the sample is divided between those scientists who participated someway in the IPCC process and those who did not. Where there is a discrepancy concerning the IPCC conclusions both groups of scientists tend to favour that the IPCC tended to under estimate the magnitude of change to temperature, precipitation, sea level and extreme events.  This is evident in the following 4 figures.

The IPCC reports tend to under estimate, accurately reflect (a value of 4) or over estimate the magnitude of future changes to: temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, extreme events.

With reference to changes in temperature a majority of scientists, both IPCC participants and non-participants (64.52 and 64.13% respectively) think the IPCC reports accurately reflect the magnitude of future changes to temperature. From the IPCC participant respondents, approximately 21.5% state that the IPCC reports tend to underestimate the magnitude of change to temperature, slightly more than the 19.5% of respondents making similar claims from the group claiming no participation with the IPCC. Approximately 14% of the IPCC participation group and approximately 21% of the non-IPCC participation group claim the IPCC reports over estimate of the magnitude of change to temperature. However, there is no statistically significant difference between the means of the two groups of respondents.

The IPCC estimates of future changes to precipitation demonstrate a lower level of agreement that the IPCC represents consensus, with approximately 54% of the IPCC participation group stating that IPCC reports reflect consensus and approximately 59% of the non-IPCC participation group stating the IPCC reflects consensus, i.e. in regards to precipitation change, those who have not participated in the IPCC are more likely to accept the IPCC consensus. The perspective that the IPCC reports under estimate changes in precipitation, is shared by approximately 31% of respondents who participated in the IPCC process and 33% of those who claim no participation. Over estimation shares a similar set of perspectives with 15% IPCC participants and 13% of non-participants claiming that IPCC reports tend to over estimate changes in precipitation.

With regards to sea level change, there is only a strong minority of scientists who accept that the IPCC reports reflect consensus: approximately 43% of participants and 50% of the non-IPCC participants. In terms of under estimation, approximately 43% of IPCC participants claim the IPCC reports tend to under estimate sea level change and approximately 38% of non-IPCC participants claim the same. 15% of IPCC participants claim the IPCC reports over estimate changes to sea level and 12% of non-IPCC participants claim the same.

The last measure of change is in reference to changes in extreme events. Here, only 45% of IPCC participants and 45% of non-IPCC participants claim the IPCC’s account of extreme events represents consensus. In terms of under estimating the magnitude of change in extreme events, approximately 37% of IPCC participants and 36% of non-IPCC participants claim the IPCC under estimates change in extreme events. As for over estimation, approximately 19% of IPCC participants and 19% of non-IPCC participants claimed the IPCC tends to over estimate changes to extreme events. In all four measures of change, there are no statistically significant differences between the means of IPCC participant group and the non-IPCC participant group.

It is also necessary to assess the level of consensus concerning the impacts of aspects of climate change. This is, after all, the impetus for policy change and emission reductions. The next figures contains the distributions of responses from climate scientists pertaining to the magnitude of impacts resulting from changes to temperature, precipitation, sea level rise and extreme events.

The IPCC reports tend to under estimate, accurately reflect (a value of 4) or over estimate the magnitude of the impacts resulting from changes in: temperature, precipitation, sea level rise, extreme events.

Again, any sense of unanimity is absent in all four measures. In terms of the impacts resulting from temperature change, 67% of IPCC participants and 65% of non-IPCC participants agreed that the IPCC reports accurately reflect the nature of impacts concerning temperature. Approximately 19% of IPCC participants and 20% of non-IPCC participants tend towards the claim that the IPCC reports underestimate the magnitude of the impact, while approximately 14% and 16% respectively claim that the IPCC reports tend to over estimate the impact. For impacts due to changes in precipitation, approximately 63% of IPCC participants and approximately 59% of non-IPCC participants view the IPCC reports as accurate. Approximately 23% of IPCC respondents and approximately 29% of non-IPCC participants make the claim that the IPCC reports tend to under estimate impacts from precipitation changes; approximately 14% of IPCC participants and 13% of non participants claim the opposite, namely the IPCC reports tend to over estimate the impacts due to change in precipitation. Concerning impacts from sea level, approximately 50% of IPCC participants and 53% of non-participants claim the IPCC reports to be an accurate depiction. Some 28% of IPCC participants and 34% of non-IPCC participants claim the IPCC reports under estimate the impacts of sea level and 11% and 13% respectively claim the IPCC reports over estimate the impacts of sea level rise. Finally, concerning extreme events, 48% of IPCC participants 41% of non-participants agree that the IPCC accurately depicts the impacts resulting from extreme events; approximately 31% and 39% respectively claim the IPCC tends to under estimate impacts resulting from extreme events and 23% and 20% respectively claim the IPCC tends to over estimate impacts resulting from extreme events. Concerning the means, there are no statistically significant differences between the two groups.
Well, what can we make of that?


Tobias W said...

"Well, what can we make of that?"

I don't think we will have the answer to that one until your next intriguing report.
I mean were these scientists even aware of the sources for the IPCCs claims that are now proving wrong? And do they care? If i'm not incorrect it was also a majority of them that thought Al Gores own version of "Adventures in Wonderland" (aka An Inconvenient Truth) was an accurate description of the science.

Marco said...

Tobias: you may note that the largest uncertainty with the projections is in exactly those sections were some(!) grey literature was used.

Because let's be honest here: there ARE references to the grey literature, but they do not dominate the AR2 (as now seems to be suggested).

Leigh Jackson said...

A timely article. Without a scientific consensus on AGW the IPCC could not exist. Unless the IPCC reflects that consensus then the IPCC should not exist.

Tobias W said...

Marco: Well I must say that you are most certainly more versed in the actual science than I am. However is it not the actual consequences of the estimated global warming that is really most important for the usual lay person? I mean let's say that the actual projektions state that all things will get better if the globe warms (hypothetically offcourse). Would people then worry about "climate change", and think it worth doing something to stop it? Probably not, or wouldn't you say?

Therefore these projections that claims disaster are a lot more important than the projections claiming that the world will warm by this or that degree. This is also the reason why it's so important for the IPCCs agenda (because let's face it, they do have an agenda) to report projections of disaster and catastrophe. And as "Glaciergate", the coming scandal of the "Amazongate", the "Hurricanegate" and the "Africcan droughtgate" (don't you just hate this suffix by now?), shows - this is both where the projections are as you say most uncertain, but also therefore where a "normal" scientific process would mean that it was treated with most carefullness.

Instead the scientist that wrote the paper about the glaciers has admitted they knew the year 2035 was bogus and that they put it in simply to put pressure on the politicians. That is fraud, and nothing else.

And whether the grey litterature dominates or not (I'm sure you're right that it doesn't) there are dozens of more claims in the report whose primary source is a non peer-reviewed report from an NGO. And that is simply unforgivable. This is not the way to do science, and I hope and believe that's the way the authors of Die Klimazwiebel sees it as well.

Source for claims of more NGO cited sources:


Marco said...

Tobias: 'glaciergate' was one projection, which didn't change anything about the fact that most glaciers in the Himalayas ARE getting smaller.
'Amazongate' is an example where they chose to cite a WWF report *even though peer-reviewed science making similar projections are available*. Sure, ask yourself why they chose the WWF report, and not the peer-reviewed literature stating the same or similar.
I haven't looked into the other two, so there I will not comment.

Also note that the uncertainty in projections is most surely not something to get all excited about. Au contraire, it actually should really worry you: it might be better, but it might also be worse. Unfortunately, some people will take uncertainty as "nothing to see here, just walk on".

Finally, the lead author that SUPPOSEDLY said he knew it was bogus...has said he most certainly did not. It was David Rose 'interpreting' the words of a climate scientist again. He's done that with Mojib Latif earlier ("20-30 years of cooling"). We thus have claims that Murari Lal knew it was bogus that are fraud.

Also note that British newspapers are notorious for poor quoting.
See e.g. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201001/british-newspapers-make-things with several horrendous examples of journalists twisting the words of scientists (and even making them up).

Hans von Storch said...

I would also be reluctant in believing Rose's quote of Lal. In fact, Lal has objected this quote, didn't he?
Be careful not believe a claim because you want to believe it, or because it fits perfectly in how you want to see the situation.

Timo said...

I am also reluctant in believing David Rose, but at the same time I am also reluctant to believe Joe Romm who said that he spoke with Lal. I have not yet any media outlet confirming what Lal told to Romm.

If Lal is of the opinion that Rose misquote him, than he should issue a statement and sue the Daily Mail and/or David Rose. If Rose or Lal have a recording of the interview the thruth may come out. Otherwise, it will remain an issue.

I think it's time to focus on the science and the facts again and stop attacking people on both side of the fence.

Tobias W said...

Marco & Mr von Storch: Yes indeed Glaciergate was only one projection. I had not seen the rebuttal from dr. Lal when I wrote the former comment, but I have only ever seen his rebuttal at "Climate Progress". And you may agree or disagree with me when I say that Joe Romm is no more credible than his nemesis Marc Morano, so I will wait until I see his direct statements somewhere else. Now it is obviously up to mr. Rose to prove that dr. Lal actually did make these assertions.

The fact that the glaciers in the Himalayas has been melting since quite a while before humans could have had an actual influence on the process really does play a role in this being a none issue. Especially since the only project I have heard of, that was commissioned by the indian government, said that it was entirely consistent with the melting of other glaciers around the world. Nothing out of the ordinary, in other words (well, it was actually their words).

Now what dr. Lal can't refute is the fact that the reviewers of the AR2 chapter said that this assertion, 2035, was nowhere to be found in the actual peer-reviewed litterature of the subject, even dr. Kaser says that he warned the authors that this had no basis. Is this not consistent with the analysis that it was put in the report for political purposes, and kept unaltered for the same purposes?

When it comes to the "Amazongate" you are actually mistaken. The actual peer-reviewed litterature, the Nature article, didn't discuss global warming effects at all. So the WWF report made a false claim about global warming effects, which was then parroted by the IPCC. That is probably why they didn't cite the real source.
You can read the cited parts of the Nature-article, WWF-article, and the IPCC-article, below.

From these two examples I draw the conclusion that the IPCC deliberately overstated the negative effects of future global warming. You are off course free to draw your own. I also find that Roger Pielke Jr's continuing discoveries of how the IPCC cited his work, and the science behind Hurricanes attribution in general, certainly fall within this category.

I don't take "uncertainty" as a "nothing to see here, move on". I'm simply saying that uncertainty goes both ways, yet for the IPCC everything allways gets worse if the globes temperature were to rise - at least in the "Summary for Policy makers" which to all non- scientists is really what matters. This is in my view quite strange, wouldn't anything get better? When I studied prehistoric archaeology I certainly only ever heard of positive effects (selective hearing perhaps:-).

Hans von Storch said...

Concerning Lal - there are two issues: his functioning as lead author, and the quote which is attributed to him by Rose. The former was, as far as we can say no, sloppy and not acceptable: flawed. Just because his method was not up to guaranteeing the high level of quality, the IPCC rules are asking for.

This is independent of the question if Rose's quote is accurate or not.

Anonymous said...

Bjorn says:

I am not sure whether we are discussing the right topic here. In my view, it is rather weird that we are asking sociological questions to natural scientists: On whether they believe or not believe in certain statements others have made.

Having done a physics PhD in brain sciences using supercomputing and non-linear dynamics, I would like to share an experience that might be a proper analogy to climate sciences. In brain sciences, the holy grale is to answer the question what cognition 'really' is. There are numerous different approaches to study this question, from neurology, brain imagery, neuronal cytology over psychology, psychopathology and communication science to kybernetics, robotics and non-linear dynamics.

Studying one of those fields does not necessarily mean that you understand other fields, and there is still no brilliant "Einstein" who were able to unify all aspects of the different fields into one big theory. It is a constant challenge, however, in the brain science community, to publish not only in very specific journals, but to explain the major results of the own field in Scientific American style to lay-men. Why so? All brain scientists are lay-men, in nearly all scientific disciplines dealing with brain sciences, but their own.

Reading the TAR and the AR4 makes it extremely plausible to me that all climate scientists are lay-men in nearly all climate science disciplines, but their own. On Primaklima, I once had a discussion with some computer modellers working on climate models that manifestedly did not understand the mathematical pitfalls of modelling non-linear systems and the elementary dynamic models that produce signatures that are then subject to time series analysis.

On the other hand, no scientific results will ever be produced without deep focus on very singular scientific questions (reductionism). The fall of "sciencekind" is where in the process of aggregating individual results scientists are not able to discern sociological aspects from hard results and their statistical evidence.