UN climate panel head says glacier alarm 'regrettable error' | india | Hindustan Times
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UN climate panel head says glacier alarm 'regrettable error'

india Updated: Jan 23, 2010 13:31 IST

AFP
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The head of the UN's climate science panel said on Saturday that a doomsday prediction about the fate of Himalayan glaciers was "a regrettable error."

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in an emailed statement to media outlets that the mistake arose out of "established procedures not being diligently followed."

Pachauri was referring to a forecast which featured in a benchmark report on global warming that the probability of glaciers in the Himalayas "disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high."

The IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report was a 938-page opus released in 2007 whose warning that climate change was on the march spurred politicians around the world to vow action.

Earlier in week, the panel apologised for "the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures."

In the latest statement on what the media have dubbed "Climategate," Pachauri said the possibility of further errors in the report was "minimal -- if not non-existent."

He added the report' general conclusions that Himalayan glaciers were retreating due to global warming were "robust, appropriate, and entirely consistent with the underlying science."

He said the forecast that the glaciers could disappear by 2035 may have "genuinely alarmed" some people. But he said there had been a benefit in that it created a "heightened awareness about the real threat to Himalayan glaciers."

The IPCC co-won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for bringing climate change to the world's attention.

The glacier error came to light after four prominent glaciologists and hydrologists wrote a letter to the prestigious US journal Science.

They said the paragraph's mistakes stemmed from a report by the conservation group WWF.

WWF had picked up a news report based on an unpublished study, compounded by the accidental inversion of a date -- 2035 instead of 2350 -- in a Russian paper published in 1996.

The IPCC came under ferocious attack from climate sceptics ahead of the UN conference in Copenhagen in December.

But Pachauri has defended the panel's overall work, a position shared by other scientists, who say the core conclusions about climate change are incontrovertible.