Climate science's trouble spots

By Peter Griffin 21/01/2010 3


Nature has just published a very good feature on its website which is worth reading for anyone wanting an overview of the real contentious areas of climate science.

As Nature sees it, the areas that need “greater open discussion” include: regional climate forecasts, precipitation forecasts, aerosols and palaeoclimate data.

A fuller reading of the e-mails from CRU in Norwich, UK, does show a sobering amount of rude behaviour and verbal faux pas, but nothing that challenges the scientific consensus of climate change. Still, the incident provides a good opportunity to point out that – as in any active field of inquiry – there are some major gaps in the understanding of climate science. In its most recent report in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlighted 54 ‘key uncertainties’ that complicate climate science.

…Such holes do not undermine the fundamental conclusion that humans are warming the climate, which is based on the extreme rate of the twentieth-century temperature changes and the inability of climate models to simulate such warming without including the role of greenhouse-gas pollution. The uncertainties do, however, hamper efforts to plan for the future. And unlike the myths regularly trotted out by climate-change denialists (see ‘Enduring climate myths’), some of the outstanding problems may mean that future changes could be worse than currently projected.

Meanwhile, scientists writing in a letter to the journal Science have dissected the Himalayan glacier melt claim and how this erroneous information got into the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report. You can read the letter below.


3 Responses to “Climate science's trouble spots”

  • Aside from the low CO2 energy, the following is not particularly relevant to the self-inflicted travails of IPCC, but an interesting article anyway from Bill Gates.

    Perceptive, and thus partially explains why he’s a billionaire and I’m not.
    http://www.thegatesnotes.com/Thinking/article.aspx?ID=47

    We should explore innovation and lifestyle choices to help move NZ to low CO2 emissions. There’s some innovative transportation options already appearing at overseas auto shows ( 75 – 100 km charge EVs – rather than overly-complex hybrids ), and the choices will only increase. The IPCC is now part of the problem, not the solution.

  • It must be awfully fatiguing and outright embarrassing for those who are charged with defending the IPCC, the CRU, NOAA, etc…

    After the Climategate revelations the assigned talking points were essentially that “these were scientists behaving badly, who are only human, but nothing is changed about the science” — as if nobody out there had actually read the emails, lol… I mean, if nothing has changed about the science after those Harry Read Me files, well then the science has ALWAYS been corrupt and the intention is for it to always be so.

    Then there is the IPCC’s Pachauri and his very clear ideas about what is happening in the Himalayas (Damn those voodoo scientists!), who would never have even considered the idea of his being in error had the case not been made so public. And what will he say now of the new Disastergate revelations…? Will he admit that the IPCC’s reports on increased natural disasters were also based upon unpublished, non-peer-reviewed studies — the author of which clearly stated that the evidence was inconclusive…? And that the IPCC doctored his paper…? I guess we’ll see…

    And that Nature editorial! Would now not be a good time for science publications to at least APPEAR to be objective…? But no, the science is settled. See talking points….

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