Amazing IPCC: Finding Climate Change Before The Climate Changes

It’s open season on the IPCC, thanks to the absurd antics of a Dr Rajendra Pachauri, and a series of revelations including manipulation of science for policy purposes in matters of glaciers and disaster losses. As it happens, those problems concern a part of the IPCC report of 2007 I have already argued about: the actual evidence for “Climate Change/Global Warming” in the physical world of today, as per the IPCC AR4-WG2-Chapter1 (“Assessment of observed changes and responses in natural and managed systems” (*))

(for a different example concerning future “changes and responses”, see how a clever mix of “could”, “might” and “likely” means that even if we meet again in 2050 and global cooling is in full swing, still the IPCC reports will be, in a sense, correct)

And so here I’ll add my small contribution: because the IPCC authors and reviewers have managed to collate evidence for climate change where even James Hansen and Reto Ruedy agree that the climate has not (yet) changed. Time to ditch AR4-WG2-Chapter1 altogether?


AR4-WG2-Chapter1 is rapidly turning into a sad joke almost devoid of scientific content. After all, with most if not all tangible AGW effects expected in the future, any serious present “Assessment of observed changes and responses” should be a 1-page note declaring “not much if anything”…

I have already shown quite some time ago how AR4-WG2-Chapter1 fails to demonstrate the “global” in “Global Warming”. For example, Table 1.12, p116 “Global comparison of significant observed changes…”) contains a total of 26,285 observed “significant changes compatible with warming“. Of those, 25,135 come from Europe alone: that is a whopping 95.6% out a continent covering less than 7% of the world’s land area.

Two out of three of the remaining observed “significant changes compatible with warming” come from North America. And so on and so forth.

If it interested anybody, we could start discussing how Europe has been warming of late. But about North America, the IPCC assessment is now smelling even fishier. It all started on Jan 14 with Judicial Watch announcing they

obtained internal documents from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) related to a controversy that erupted in 2007 when Canadian blogger Stephen McIntyre exposed an error in NASA’s handling of raw temperature data from 2000-2006 that exaggerated the reported rise in temperature readings in the United States

The news was linked later the same day by McIntyre himself. With 215 pages to go through, no wonder it took around a week for somebody to notice some peculiar statements (click here to read a funny episode almost straight out of The Office). And so AJ Strata of the Strata-sphere reported on Jan 21:

In their snobbish and arrogant effort to belittle those asking questions about what was the warmest year on record, they [GISS] inadvertently admitted that the current warm period is not significantly greater than the warm spots seen in the US in the 1930’s and 1950’s

What the above refers to is GISS’s Reto Ruedy writing on Aug 10, 2007 (expanding on a quote by James Hansen):

He [McIntyre] concentrates on the US time series which (US covering less than 2% of the world) is so noisy and has such a large margin of error that no conclusions can be drawn from it at this point

Later on Jan 21, AJ Strata pointed to another message by Mr Ruedy, dated Aug 15, 2007 and containing the following statement:

The US has been warming in the period 1980-2006 similarly to the period from 1920-1934; that earlier 15-year period then was followed by a cooling period and the same might be true for the current 25-year period. The annual US mean changes are still large compared to any CO2 effect

In other words: not even at GISS they can see any “climate change” concerning the USA.

And yet…amazingly, at the IPCC “somebody” still managed to find a series of pieces of evidence about “climate change” in the USA. Here they are from fabled IPCC AR4-WG2-Chapter1:

  • p84: Table 1.1. Direct and indirect effects of non-climate drivers. Invasive species:Tamarisk (USA)
  • p85: no change in the number of frost days in the south-eastern USA (Feng and Hu, 2004)
  • p86: Table 1.2. Selected observed effects due to changes in the cryosphere produced by warming. Decreased snow in ski areas at low altitudes:Decrease in number of ski areas from 58 to 17:1975-2002 New Hampshire, northeastern USA:Hamilton, 2003b
  • p89: Table 1.3. Observed changes in runoff/streamflow, lake levels and floods/droughts. Due to dry and unusually warm summers related to warming of western tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans in recent years:1998-2004:Western USA:Andreadis et al., 2005; Pagano and Garen, 2005
  • p92: Changes in coastal wetlands. In the USA, losses in coastal wetlands have been observed in Louisiana (Boesch et al., 1994), the mid-Atlantic region (Kearney et al., 2002), and in parts of New England and New York (Hartig et al., 2002; Hartig and Gornitz, 2004), in spite of recent protective environmental regulations (Kennish, 2001)
  • p100: Table 1.8. Changes in the timing of spring events, based on observations within networks. Location:Period:Species/Indicator:Observed changes (days/decade):References. Western USA:1957-1994:Lilac, honeysuckle (F):-1.5 (lilac), 3.5 (honeysuckle):Cayan et al., 2001
  • p100: Table 1.8. North-eastern USA:1965-2001,1959-1993:Lilac (F, LU),Lilac (F):-3.4 (F) -2.6 (U),-1.7:Wolfe et al., 2005,Schwartz and Reiter, 2000
  • p100: Table 1.8. Washington, DC:1970-1999:100 plant species (F):-0.8:Abu-Asab et al., 2001
  • p102:  Table 1.9. Evidence of significant recent range shifts polewards and to higher elevations. California coast, USA:Spittlebug:Northward range shift:Karban and Strauss, 2004
  • p102:  Table 1.9. Washington State, USA Skipper butterfly Range expansion with increased Tmin Crozier, 2004
  • p102:  Table 1.9. Montana, USA Arctic-alpine species Decline at the southern margin of range Lesica and McCune, 2004
  • p103: Climate-linked extinctions and invasions. The pika (Ochotona princeps), a small mammal found in mountains of the western USA, has been extirpated from many slopes (Beever et al., 2003)
  • p105: Table 1.10. Observed changes in agricultural crop and livestock. Yields:Part of overall yield increase attributed to recent cooling during growing season: 25% maize, 33% soybean:USA county level:1982-1998:Lobell and Asner, 2003
  • p105: Box 1.2. favourable conditions for wine…the same tendencies have also been found in the California, Oregon and Washington vineyards of the USA (Nemani et al., 2001; Jones, 2005).
  • p107: Climate warming can also change the disturbance regime of forests by extending the range of some damaging insects, as observed during the last 20 years for bark beetles in the USA (Williams and Liebhold, 2002)
  • p107: One study of forest fires in Canada (Gillett et al., 2004) found that about half of the observed increase in burnt area during the last 40 years, in spite of improved fire-fighting techniques, is in agreement with simulated warming from a general circulation model (GCM)[...] it seems to be confirmed by another recent study (Westerling et al., 2006), which established a dramatic and sudden increase in large wildfire activity in the western USA in the mid-1980s closely associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and an earlier spring snow melt.
  • p108: This increase in heatwave exposures, where heatwaves are defined as temperature extremes of short duration, has been observed in mid-latitudes in Europe and the USA


QED: the IPCC AR4-WG2-Chapter1 is a sad joke almost devoid of scientific content. All that effort has been for nothing, all the more so as it reported (especially) about warming-related climate changes no matter what.

That is, independently even from the actual measured temperatures.

(*) The obligatory full reference: Rosenzweig, C., G. Casassa, D.J. Karoly, A. Imeson, C. Liu, A. Menzel, S. Rawlins, T.L. Root, B. Seguin, P. Tryjanowski, 2007: Assessment of observed changes and responses in natural and managed systems. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 79-131.