After taking heat from critics and climate change skeptics for sloppy research at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations announced it would be appointing an independent panel of scientists to review the organization's work. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program), told Reuters the panel is one part of a broad review process to be announced next week.
"It will be senior scientific figures. I can't name who they are right now. It should do a review of the IPCC, produce a report by, say, August, and there is a plenary of the IPCC in South Korea in October," he told the news agency. "There's no review panel at the moment. Yesterday, it was clear from the member states roughly how they would like this panel to be, i.e., fully independent and not appointed by the IPCC but appointed by an independent group of scientists themselves."
The furor began when a report published by the IPCC turned out to include a major error-predicting the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035, when the report should have read 2350. Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations-sponsored organization, told the Wall Street Journal there would be "no stone left unturned" to ensure the veracity of future reports. "We certainly don't feel comfortable with the loss of even one iota of trust," he told the Journal. "We are grappling with this issue and we'll come up with some measures."
Late last year, in the midst of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, leaked e-mails at Britain's East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, one of the world's renowned climate change research centers, suggested the threat that man-made greenhouse gas emissions is overstated, prompting a renewed barrage of criticism from climate change skeptics. Adding to the controversy was an alleged attempt by East Anglia's head professor Phil Jones to exclude certain papers critical of the university's research efforts from the U.N.'s next major assessment of climate science.
The news comes as scientists warn of a threat to marine life posed by an enormous iceberg that broke off from the Antarctic earlier in the month. However, the iceberg, roughly the size of Luxembourg (965 sq. miles), is a natural occurrence, a senior scientist at the Australian Antarctic Division and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center, Rob Massom. "The calving itself hasn't been directly linked to climate change but it is related to the natural processes occurring on the ice sheet," he explained to Reuters. "Removal of this tongue of floating ice would reduce the size of that area of open water, which would slow down the rate of salinity input into the ocean and it could slow down this rate of Antarctic bottom water formation."