Climate body sets up procedures to catch errors
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has developed new procedures for dealing with errors, conflicts of interest and other issues, in response to recommendations made by an independent scientific body last year, according to Science Insider.
These changes are the most significant response from the panel since questions over the integrity of their reports were raised last year. Their fourth assessment report, published in 2007, erroneously stated that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035.
Agreed at the IPCC's annual meeting in Abu Dhabi last week, the additions stem from recommendations by the InterAcademy Council (IAC), a group of representatives from top international science academies, which deemed the IPCC "successful overall" but said it needed to "fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures to handle ever larger and increasingly complex climate assessments as well as the more intense public scrutiny".
The changes include getting editors and authors of reports to annually fill out a form declaring any conflicts of interest, and establishing an internal tracking system to catch and correct errors, which would also allow the public to report errors.
They also clarify that non-peer-reviewed literature can be used in the reports only when it is scientifically and technically valid, but say that magazines, newspapers, blogs, social networking sites and broadcast media "are not acceptable sources of information for IPCC reports".
But delegates did not heed the council's recommendation to create a position of executive director for the IPCC. Instead, they set up an "executive committee" to make certain decisions regarding the correction of errors and management of the reports.
Harold Shapiro, chair of the IAC's committee on IPCC said in an e-mail to Science Insider: "we are very gratified that the IPCC found the substance of our key recommendations compelling and useful."