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« Yeo makes the big time | Main | Where next for climate policy? »

The Unprofessional Panel on Climate Change

This is a guest post by David Holland.

After suggesting that they would not be released, WGI have now released some of the AR5 WG1 review editors’ reports. I say ‘some’ because I have also obtained from the University of Reading copies of the review editor reports by Keith Shine and Tim Palmer. Among the materials released by the university were the equally interesting interim review editor reports. These suggest that Shine and Palmer did their job properly.

It is noteworthy that the university appears to have learnt from their Climategate experiences, responding to my FOI request without any argument. The same cannot be said for DECC, which once again made sure of not physically holding any review editors’ reports, perhaps to ensure that they could not be obliged to release them. The University of Cambridge used the discreditable Met Office ‘Mitchell’ defence, claiming that Peter Wadhams worked for the IPCC as a review editor on a personal basis. I have appealed this decision.

I was particularly interested in Wadhams’ report because I had seen him in action at the Cambridge seminar described at BH. Wadhams was only marginally less offensive to climate sceptics than Lord Deben. Peter Lilley MP also spoke at that Cambridge meeting and was later to complain after he was ‘ambushed’ by the BBC with a paper of Wadhams' which claimed, as usual, that global warming is worse than we ever thought.

I had watched the Panorama recording of this encounter and thought Lilley dealt with matter fairly, so I was astonished to find Wadhams’ final IPCC review editor’s report brings up his spat with Lilley. He wrote:

...the slow pace of new IPCC assessments means that AR4 predictions and statements, made in 2007 and based on research carried out in 2005 or earlier, are still being quoted as “holy writ” by politically motivated individuals who seek policies that ignore very direct climatic threats. I myself have had such an experience in September 2012 when, after a well balanced BBC TV programme on the summer retreat of Arctic sea ice, I was viciously attacked on air by a UK politician directly paid by the fossil-fuel industry (Peter Lilley MP) who, as part of his diatribe, read from the cryosphere chapter of AR4 that scientists were not predicting that summer sea ice would disappear before 2080 or later. On being asked by the program chairman (Jeremy Paxman) whether he knew more about climate change than someone who had spent all his life on this problem (i.e. me) he said “Yes – because that’s what the IPCC says and that is the consensus view”. Many other climate scientists have had this experience and it is a real problem.

Wadhams’ role as a review editor is clearly defined in the IPCC’s Appendix A procedures and his disparaging comments on Lilley have no place whatever in a report on the IPCC review process. On 8 August 2013, when Wadhams signed his report, Arctic sea ice was near its lowest extent although still within 2 standard deviations of its 1981 to 2010 average. At that time it may have looked worrying to him. Today it is back up and still with 2 deviations and his comments looks extremely unprofessional.

Wadhams’ report raises doubts as to his suitability for the job he was paid by the public to do. It also raises questions concerning the management of the IPCC process, since they appear to have accepted Wadhams’ report, rather than requesting the inappropriate references to Lilley be removed and the report be resubmitted.


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Reader Comments (17)

The Wadhams report is also remarkable for the proposal that there should be a “last-minute fix-up” to chapter 1, predicting disappearance of Arctic ice by 2015.

In general the Review Editor reports seem to be much more substantive than they were last time. I have set up a post for general comments on these reports.

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:53 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Why would they ask for the comment to be removed? These guys probably thought they were playing a blinder at the time!

Sadly for them reality disagrees with their catastrophilia.



Jan 30, 2014 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Isn't it Wadhams who reckons Arctic sea ice will be gone by summer 2015? The guy should be put somewhere out of harms way.

Jan 30, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Phillip - no Wadhams said it would be gone by 2013!

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:11 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

More climate bollocks from Wadham:

Arctic will be ice-free in 20 years, new survey predicts
Catlin Arctic Survey, explorer Pen Hadow, Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics and head of the Polar Physics Group, has spearheaded the team analysing the results. He said: "The summer ice cover in the Arctic will completely vanish in 20 to 30 years time. There won't be any sea ice there at all.
"In much less time than that, the ice in summer will be shrinking back to this last bastion north of Greenland and Ellesmere Island, so within a decade we will see a largely ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer.
"It won't be very long before we have to start thinking of the Arctic as an open sea. Man has taken the lid off the northern end of his planet, and we can't put that lid back on again.
"There will be a small enough area left, but you can regard the Arctic Ocean as open as far as transport is concerned.
"You'll be able to sail across the Arctic Ocean from the Bering Strait to the Atlantic without any hindrance."

Source: (but now a dead link) Published Date: 15 October 2009

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

We know from experience that the vast majority of climate alarmists are not professional in their behaviour.

"after a well balanced BBC TV programme"

I remember the ambush programme which Lilley handled very well, the BBC coverage of the Arctic was far from balanced. It speaks volumes about Peter Wadhams, he really is a piece of work!. It also speaks volumes about the University of Cambridge.

Jan 30, 2014 at 12:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Generally I've been impressed with Tim Palmer, that's not to say that he's been "right" (indeed I might one day take him to task over what he wrote in his book on predicting climate) ... but given the environment in which he works and the doubtless perceptions he will have of us, he has been remarkable impartial.

In other words, if you are working in a particular kind of culture day-in day-out, one cannot blame people for being strongly influenced by that culture, and so I would praise those who have resisted the bias and been open to other ideas rather than condemn them for having some cultural bias.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:17 PM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Lapogus; was'nt that "Catlin" name also used for last summer's attempt on the NW passage? If memory serves a group of ecomuppets set out in kayaks to "demonstrate" the disappearance of the Arctic ice. They were blocked by ice a short way into their voyage. Must have been the warm-up act for the Ship of Fools.

Jan 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

mikeh - there were about half a dozen attempts at the NWP last year, as far as I know only one boat got through (east to west by having the good fortune to be able to follow an ice breaker through the Bellot Strait iirc).

I think you were thinking of the Vancouver/Irish team (mainstream FirstLast?) who tried to row but had to give up (like most others) in Cambridge Bay. They were fighting east winds so got well behind schedule.

The team on jet skies (for an adventure TV show) also had to abandon their attempt due to ice and cold.

The Quebec firefighters in kayaks - - actually did very well - they set off after the rowers, passed them, and got as far as Gjoa Havn before realising the ice would make the last third to Resolute or Grise Fjord impossible.

I follow most expeditions from the safety of my desktop - the best by far in recent years was the two British Marines who managed the west to east crossing in an open 17ft boat which they had to row, sail and pull across the ice. They also got hit by strong east winds between Alaska and Cambridge Bay, but persevered and got to Gjoa Havn where they over wintered the boat. They went back the following summer to complete the journey to Resolute, in 2010. No mention of global warming or cuddly polar bears on their blog. They were tough f*ckers and hats off to them.

See for last year's attempts and keep an eye on for this years.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

lapogus -
The Scotsman article may not be available any more, but one may see much the same at e.g. the the Daily Mail.

Jan 30, 2014 at 2:40 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Irish Windfarm promoter Mainstream Renewables ("Canada is a key market for Mainstream") $250,000 arctic rowers feat in ignoring the "St. Roch", the RCMP launch that traversed the NW Passage both ways during WWII, which sat a few feet away during their "expedition's" press event at the Vancouver Maritime Museum, took my breath away. Never mentioned on their website either.

"Disappearing ice" is one thing. Disappearing history is quite another

Jan 30, 2014 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Come on people don't leave the Guardian out.

Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years
As sea ice shrinks to record lows, Prof Peter Wadhams warns a 'global disaster' is now unfolding in northern latitudes
One of the world's leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years.

Jan 30, 2014 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

If all the ice melted one summer, just what would be the global disaster?
Sea level rise? Nope.
Extinction of polar bears? Nope.
Extinctions of any creature or plant? Nope.
Disruption of migration routes?
It is just another dose of AGW bs.

Jan 31, 2014 at 2:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Don't tell Dr Mann, but Professor Wadhams received continuous support from British Petroleum Co. from 1976 until 1992.

Jan 31, 2014 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

Marcel Crok, who first reported on the problems of the hockey stick has linked to this thread on his blog, De staat van het klimaat. Crok worked patiently on the IPCC WGI and secured the release of the Review Editors' Reports, although I like to think the FOIA requests here and in the US might have helped. Crok makes some interesting observations (in English) on Kevin Trenberth’s report which are worth reading. Among other things, Trenberth wrote:

[.. .. ] I would not do this again and I think the whole process needs major revisions

Feb 2, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Holland

Reduced Arctic summer sea ice extent is driven by negative North Atlantic and Arctic Oscillation episodes (e.g. as in 2007 and 2012). This is completely the reverse signal of Global warming phases where the NAO and AO tend positive and the Arctic pressure typically is lower, and hence the opposite of Arctic Amplification.
This means that there can be nothing internal to the climate system that could have forced the larger negative values of AO and NAO that have driven the reduction in summer Arctic sea ice extent since 1995/96, it has to be reductions in short term solar factors.

Feb 3, 2014 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterUlric Lyons

Wadhams said summer ice would be gone by 2011. He just keeps kicking the can down the road until he collects his pension.

This 2001 Nasa press release quoted: "Peter Wadhams of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge agrees that the Arctic could soon open up. "Within a decade we can expect regular summer trade there," he predicts."

Apr 15, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

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