Top Scientists To Review Climate Panel

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The world's biggest scientific guns are being called in to mop up after a trickle of unsettling errors in the authoritative reports written by a global warming panel.

The United Nations and the beleaguered Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said Wednesday that a Netherlands-based group of 15 national academies of science will study how the warming panel does its job. That independent review will be finished by the end of August, said Robbert Dijkgraaf, co-chairman of the group, the InterAcademy Council.

A panel of experts created by the council will try to figure out how better to catch and correct errors, Dijkgraaf said. It will also consider whether the climate panel should use non-peer reviewed literature, how governments review IPCC material, and even how the IPCC communicates with the public.

Mistakes in the IPCC reports, found in recent months, don't undercut the broad consensus on global warning, but they have shaken the credibility of climate scientists and given skeptics of global warming ammunition.

Dijkgraaf said the review is "a forward-looking report" but will examine the errors already found as "case studies." He said it will not be a comprehensive review of the "vast amount of data that has already been obtained."

The review will involve a mix of outside experts and climate scientists who have worked with the IPCC before but are "far enough removed to be truly independent," Dijkgraaf told The Associated Press in a telephone interview before a briefing at the U.N. The idea is to have expertise and insight into how IPCC works without including current leaders, he said.

"The full panel needs gravitas and I think scientific stature," Dijkgraaf said. The members of the panel haven't been chosen, but it will likely be 10 scientists.

The evaluation group will be chosen when the InterAcademy's board meets on March 22, Dijkgraaf said. The InterAcademy has done science reviews before for the United Nations.

"The (review) panel will have great liberty to function and work and write a report with an open mind," Dijkgraaf said. And the conclusions of the panel itself will be peer-reviewed by outside scientists.

The IPCC was formed in 1989 by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization to study global warming and its causes and effects.

Both critics and supporters of the IPCC process cheered the outside review.

"The idea sounds fine. I hope people like me have input. Otherwise it's just the usual members of the establishment defending to themselves what's been done," said researcher John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, a prominent IPCC critic and warming skeptic.

Prominent mainstream climate scientist Kevin Trenberth at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said "climate science has become a political hot potato." He said the reviewers should not just look at the IPCC but the standards of its critics. The IPCC, which is mostly a collection of volunteer scientists, shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with former Vice President Al Gore.