Thursday, June 10, 2010

And so Eli writes, by morning, night, and afternoon

Time to submit comments to the IPCC review. This is a review of IPCC Processes and Procedures, it is NOT at review of the reports themselves. The terms of reference are

The IAC Review Committee will take into account the following IPCC official documents: “Principles Governing IPCC Work”, including their Appendices: Appendix A “Procedures for the preparation, review, acceptance, adoption, approval and publication of the IPCC reports” and its Annexes (hereinafter referred to as “IPCC Procedures”), Appendix B “Financial Procedures for the IPCC”, and Appendix C “Rules of Procedures for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau”. The Review Committee is requested to perform the following tasks:

2.1. Review the IPCC procedures for preparing assessment reports including, but not restricted to:

    1. Data quality assurance and data quality control;
    2. Guidelines for the types of literature appropriate for inclusion in IPCC assessments, with special attention to the use of non peer-reviewed literature;
    3. Procedures for expert and governmental review of IPCC materials;
    4. Handling of the full range of scientific views; and
    5. Procedures for correcting errors identified after approval, adoption and acceptance of a report.

2.2. Analyze the overall IPCC process, including the management and administrative functions within IPCC, and the role of UNEP and WMO, the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders, with a view to strengthen and improve the efficiency of the assessment work and effectively ensure the consistent application of the IPCC Procedures.

2.3. Analyze appropriate communication strategies and the interaction of IPCC with the media to ensure that the public is kept apprised of its work.

While everyone is free to submit, perhaps this is time for another Bunny Labs submission?


Arthur said...

and pretty soon, Eli's name is cursed! (well it already seems to be a byword for Watts and friends).

I don't feel I have a lot to contribute on this subject though - maybe other bloggers do. I guess the main thing is to try to counter stupidity from the usual suspects, but what are they expected to say?

The one thing that really could be improved IMHO is to figure out some more objective way of assessing the *quality* of the scientific information being lumped together in the report - I seem to recall specifically that some of the models, for example, were of considerably objectively lower quality than others, but had to be included in the report summaries for political reasons (research done in important countries etc.)

Other things I would tweak if I were in charge would be finding a way to get updates or "supplements" out in between major reports that address important scientific developments in the interim (like the Greenland and Antarctic mass loss measurements, ocean heat content measurement improvements, etc) and finding better ways to communicate the report results to the general public (as opposed to the summary for "policymakers" or the technical summaries prepared now which both contain language that obscures the magnitude of many issues).

Anonymous said...

Is there not a list of recognized peer reviewed journals. Or is E&E just as good as Science and PNAS.

Even Little Mouse knows that is not so, but is there a recognised ranking of scientific journals.

Anonymous said...

Thompson's master list?

Little Mouse always finds the answer after he asks the question.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

I think there has been a tendency for laymen and maybe even some technical types to confuse various phases of the study--e.g. science, risk analysis and mitigation--and the types of analysis and literature appropriate for each.

People and the press got all wrapped around the axle of whether all the references were "peer-reviewed" without focusing on whether any peer-reviewed studies were available on the subject or whether peer-review was even applicable (e.g. government statistics).

Moreover, since the goal of the risk analysis phase is first to BOUND risk, a non-peer-reviewed reference might be entirely appropriate, even if it wouldn't be for the science.

It might be appropriate to explain the goals and ground rules for each section so that you can at least point to it when idjits start making claims of inappropriate references or techniques.

Anonymous said...

Talking of review. Can the smart professorial bunnies please help me out here? Dr. Spencer seems to believe that PNAS is not peer-reviewed. And that is apparently enough reason to dismiss Swanson et al. (2009, PNAS).



Anonymous said...

From PNAS's submission guidelines:

All manuscripts are evaluated by the Editorial Board. The Board may reject manuscripts without further review or may subject manuscripts to review and reject those that do not meet PNAS standards.

Seems straightforward, but perhaps the chief bunny knows better.

Cymraeg llygoden

EliRabett said...

Part of the issue is that members of the National Academies could... well it's a bit complicated so here is a long explanation

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, does this mean Al Gore is not the high-supreme part of the review process? I guess I have to adjust my fantasies a bit...

Anonymous said...

Many thanks Cymraeg and Eli. Interesting. Their unique review process, while not "peer-review" in the traditional sense, does not seem to have affected the quality of publications in the least, while also expediting the publication of cutting-edge research.

Pity Spencer is willing to dismiss some excellent research out of hand. In fact, I was quite shocked by what he wrote to me on his blog today.

He also dismissed Tamino......funny, b/c I'm sure Tamino being a statistician and all would have some rather damning critique of his latest research attempting to attribute most of the recent warming (in the N. Hemisphere, although the title does not make that point clear) to "natural cycles"

Anyhow, back to IPCC, sorry for the intrusion.


PS: Does this perhaps deserve its own thread. Dunno, but Spencer's opinion on this matter certainly surprised me. I wonder what he has to say about E&E then?

Martin Vermeer said...


this Swanson et al. paper seems to have been "Communicated", so Spencer may have a point here. It doesn't generally hold for "Edited" papers.

Martin Vermeer said...

Actually I don't think Spencer has a real point. For communicated papers it isn't the paper itself that was reviewed as much as the NAS member that fast-tracked it.

You need to be from a pretty good pedigree to join NAS. And the idea with peer review is to act as a nonsense filter, which this approach does. Most of the time... but that applies for any system.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

By Spencer's criterion Einstein's 1905 Special Relativity paper was not "peer-reviewed", since Planck fast-tracked it into print.

Anonymous said...

My reading was that, notwithstanding Eli's link, all papers are reviewed, whether or not they are fast tracked by an NAS member. Mind you, it was 02:30-ish and I couldn't keep my eyes open, so perhaps I'll have another look.

As ever, though, it's the content of the paper that matters, and whether it passes muster after those with the specialist knowledge of the area have had a gander at it.

Cymraeg llygoden

Anonymous said...

I thought that Martin may have had a point-- although Spencer did not cite that as a reason. But it took a while (over 5 months after submission) before it was "communicated" (31 July 2009, received February 20), so it seems that some kind of review was made.

This is what Spencer says:

"Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
June 10, 2010 at 10:11 AM
I believe the PNAS paper by Swanson et al. was not peer reviewed. Also, they used CLIMATE MODELS to judge what is realistic natural internal variability in order to support the supposed realism of CLIMATE MODELS that do not produce any natural global warming during the 20th Century.

Does anyone else notice the circular reasoning here?

Maybe that’s why it appeared in the PNAS, rather than a peer reviewed journal.

And I no longer take “Tamino” (whoever he is) seriously."

see more at:

To my knowledge, none has yet refuted the findings of Swanson et al. (2009), so IMHO their work stands. My response to Spencer is still in moderation, but in his defense he is having issues with WordPress.

Dr. Spencer also seems to confuse TCR with ECS in his paper on solar cycles. Actually when you apply the correction to his estimate of TCR of +1.7 K, you obtain an ECS of +2.55 K, well within the range reported in IPCC., and close to the best estimate 0f +3K. Although I admit that I may have this wrong.

Maybe some bunnies with more clout will have better luck making that point.

Sorry for hi-jacking this thread Eli, it was not my intention. The IPCC story is more important. Is there perhaps an open thread we can take this to? Tks for your patience, although I see that you nose is starting to twitch an awful lot, so I'd better hop off.


EliRabett said...

Maple Leaf,

Feel free, discussions go where they go, Eli is a very laid back bunny.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Eli. You are a very accommodating bunny. Any thoughts on Spencer's estimate of climate sensitivity, or is that transient climate response?

IMHO his two most recent posts need to be addressed by someone in the know.

And thanks to everyone here (our host included) for their valuable input.


Anonymous said...

I don't know how the IPCC process works in regards to the workload and people's regular day jobs, but it seems to me that major contributors like Lead Authors should be given a paid sabbatical of some kind while they're on the IPCC job. It would certainly reduce their stress level, if nothing else, and could possibly lead to the report coming together faster (if that's desirable).

Bill S.

Marion Delgado said...

I've come around to the idea that some of the observed atmospheric warming comes from UHIs - Unhinged Heritage Insituters.

No need to reply to the Vincent Grays of the world.

Biggest contribution we could make:

pushing the upper bounds and worst-case scenarios.

Finding the stray factors that people don't know about.

The denialist goal is to get the IPCC scared of its shadow so it lowballs and only includes denialist caveats.

Russell said...

The IPCC is about to remind itself that universal suffrage may be attended by universal suffering.

As increased transparency maps into greater quango- friendliness, expect a new crop of Pythonesque political appointees, from American Tea Partistas to British UKIPsters to demand their place on dais beside the usual deep green bores.

And UKIP's new VP is.......

Russell said...

The fight honorable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley.

Twit Happens.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Dr. Roy Spencer: "And I no longer take “Tamino” (whoever he is) seriously."

Translation: "I have no cogent arguments to Tamino's objections, so I will merely dismiss him with an imperious wave of my hand so that I can remain the deluded fundie that I have always been."

Aaron said...

The IPCC has set up a Catch 22 situation by assuming that Global Warming would unfold much more slowly than the information cycle in science. It has not.

The IPCC missed the loss of Arctic Sea Ice (with all of its follow on feedbacks and tipping points.) We need to move from feeling that Global Warming is in “the Future” to Global Warming is here and it is changing – everything.

What the IPCC needs to write its reports are “Park Rangers” that know how to quickly and effectively move people away from bears, forest fires, and floods.

Holly Stick said...

The National Post (the paper being sued by Andrew Weaver) has a rather extreme headline about the IPCC today:

pough said...

"And I no longer take “Tamino” (whoever he is) seriously."

Well, as long as he gives a good reason, that's fine. He does give a good reason, right? Something compelling, that can excuse dismissing a statistician?

Marco said...

@Holly Stick:
the National Post (or rather, Lawrence Solomon) is once again lying-by-omission. The sentence following puts it all in perspective:

"That particular consensus judgement, as are many others in the IPCC reports, is reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies; other IPCC authors are experts in other fields."

It could be easily solved, though, but in a way that would make Solomon not very happy:
"The experts in the field of detection and attribution have reached the consensus that humans are affecting the climate", or something similar...

James Annan said...

As for IPCC procedures, it does seem that it's a bit of a cliquey club - witness the limited attendance "expert meeting" that I mentioned earlier this year, where there were as many as 4 attendees from a single institute (and even from the same research group) and apparently very little effort to reach out to people with different points of view. At the time I had just written a paper which basically knocked a hole in the underlying premise of much of their work, and it was not just an accidental omission but rather a deliberate decision that I should not be allowed to attend (even though I had the full support of the Japanese IPCC Liaison Group, or whatever they are called).

(Even more amusingly, I've just submitted another manuscript with a trivial 3-line solution to a problem that has been puzzling all the "experts" in this area for the past decade. It is genuinely astonishing to me that 50 supposed experts could be found who were not aware of this result. It was only recently that I realised that it was considered a major open question or I would have explained it to them sooner!)

Nick Barnes said...

Why didn't I know about this? Firing up emacs....

Nick Barnes said...

I am certainly interested in writing something about the importance of open code and data - and also the value of clarity. I have the ClearClimateCode background, and made submissions to the various enquiries; my submission to the Muir Russell review is pretty relevant. I'm interested in collaborating with the Bunny Labs on a submission, especially - given that this is the IAC - if we can get someone from one of the national academies on-board. I'll discuss this with David Jones, who might want to write something.

James Annan said...

Open code:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Annan,

"At the time I had just written a paper which basically knocked a hole in the underlying premise of much of their work,"

I went to your blog (briefly), but don;t see any record of this. I do not dispute what you say, but could you (or someone else) please direct me to the appropriate material? You have piqued my interest. Thanks.

"I've just submitted another manuscript with a trivial 3-line solution to a problem that has been puzzling all the "experts" in this area for the past decade."

Are you allowed to divulge the results yet? If so, could you please elaborate...sounds intriguing.

Thanks Dr. Annan.

James Annan said...


this shoots down the consensus about how to consider the multi-model ensemble.

The new thing will be on my blog shortly...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link James!

Look forward to the the new posting....