In the wake of revelations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) allowed faulty data into its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report about the rate of melt for the Himalayan Glaciers, the United Nations has announced it will commission an independent panel to review the IPCC's operations and recommend any needed changes.
One of the key areas for review is how the IPCC handles "gray literature," or academic articles not published in peer-reviewed journals. It was gray literature from the World Wildlife Fund that found its way into Working Group II's 938-page contribution to the IPCC's 2007 Fourth Assessment Report.
The exact process for the review will be announced next week.
Yesterday, it was clear from the member states roughly how they would like this panel to be - fully independent and not appointed by the IPCC, but appointed by an independent group of scientists themselves," Nick Nuttall, a U.N. Environment Programme spokesman, told the Guardian's David Adam.
The review should be completed by August, in time for an October plenary session in South Korea, where the recommendations will be sent for adoption.
Despite shaken public confidence in the IPCC undermining perception of the risks of global warming (indeed, even of its existence), IPCC chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri says the organization stands behind the principal conclusion of the Fourth Assessment Report stating with "90 percent certainty" that human activity is the main driver of climate change in the past fifty years.
But Pachauri also has acknowledged that the IPCC needs to redouble their efforts for ensuring more rigorous review procedures from contributors (such as the World Wildlife Fund report on the Himalayan Glaciers).
We certainly don't feel comfortable with the loss of even one iota of trust," Pachauri said. "We are grappling with this issue and we'll come up with some measures," adding that the IPCC will "leave no stone unturned" as it developed new procedures and steps-up enforcement of existing review policies.
Many climate scientists have come to the defense of the IPCC, saying the panel's peer-review process is "one of the most rigorous in the history of science, "writes Stacy Feldman in SolveClimate.