IPCC Reviewing Disputed Himalayan Glaciers Gone by 2035 Claim - Will This Be Underestimated Too?


photo: Karunaka Rayker via flickr.

A week after it emerged that some off-hand speculative remarks to a journalist regarding all Himalayan glaciers melting by 2035 made it into the 2007 IPCC report like they had been in peer-reviewed literature, the world's highest climate change organization will review the disputed claim.The IPCC report says: "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

The original statement that gave life to that line was made by Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain to Fred Pearce for an article which appeared in New Scientist back in 1999. Pearce was also the one who broke the news that Hasnain was backtracking on those claims, which had taken on a life of their own in the past decade.

Glaciers Are Indeed Melting... Yes, It's a Big Problem
Commenting in The Guardian, Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh confirmed that the Himalayan glaciers "are indeed receding and the rate is cause for great concern."

Indeed. And that's what readers need to take away from this. The 2035 claim may be off the mark, but the fact of the matter is that Himalayan glaciers are retreating quickly, with deadly impacts on water supply, and subsequently food supply, for a billion people.

Whether glacial melting begins taking its toll in earnest by 2035 or 2135, it doesn't change the fact that we have the ability to modify that trajectory by action taken today.

IPCC Predictions For Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise Lower Than Observations
Then there is the fact that when the IPCC reanalyzes the data--as Climate Progress urges them to do for all sea level rise and ice melt projections--the revised predictions may very well be higher than originally expected.

I don't know if Climate Progress' claim that 99% of IPCC "mistakes" are underestimates of what is being observed is accurate or artistic license, but that is without a doubt the trend. When it comes to sea level rise predictions, it's long been known and acknowledged that the IPCC numbers are too low; and, by and large the worst-case scenarios presented three years ago are coming to pass.

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Tags: China | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects | Global Warming Science | India