The UN's international panel of climate scientists have begun reviewing a disputed claim in its 2007 report that said Himalayan glaciers could melt entirely by 2035.
The review follows a New Scientist article last week which revealed that the source of the claim in the report by the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPCC) was not from scientific literature - but from an interview with a scientist conducted in 1999.
Yesterday the Indian environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, told reporters the claim that climate change would cause Himalayan glaciers to melt away by 2035 was unfounded. "They are indeed receding and the rate is cause for great concern… [but the claim is] not based on an iota of scientific evidence," he said.
At the time, the chairman of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, dismissed the report as not peer-reviewed and said: "With the greatest of respect this guy retired years ago and I find it totally baffling that he comes out and throws out everything that has been established years ago." Yesterday Pachauri told Reuters: "We are looking into the issue of the Himalayan glaciers, and will take a position on it in the next two or three days."
The row centres on the IPCC's "fourth assessment" report in 2007, which said "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 claim was attributed to a report by campaign group WWF, but in the New Scientist article, Guardian writer Fred Pearce notes that WWF cited a 1999 interview in the magazine with Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain as the source of the claim. Hasnain told the magazine last week that "It is not proper for IPCC to include references from popular magazines or newspapers."