What went wrong?
The scandal has serious implications for public trust in science. The IPCC's mission is to reflect the science, not create it.
As the panel states, its duty is "assessing the scientific, technical and socioeconomic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change. It does not carry out new research nor does it monitor climate-related data." But as lead author, Briffa was a key contributor in shaping (no pun intended) the assessment. A small group was able to rewrite history.
When the IPCC was alerted to peer-reviewed research that refuted the idea, it declined to include it. This leads to the more general, and more serious issue: what happens when peer-review fails - as it did here?
The scandal has only come to light because of the dogged persistence of a Canadian mathematician who attempted to reproduce the results. Steve McIntyre has written dozens of letters requesting the data and methodology, and over 7,000 blog posts. Yet Yamal has remained elusive for almost a decade. ®
The Royal Society's motto from the enlightenment era is Nullius in verba. "On nobody's authority" or colloquially, "take nobody's word for it". In 2007, the Society's then president suggested this be changed to "respect the facts".
Andrew warmly welcomes your comments.
McIntyre: Yamal: A "Divergence" Problem
McIntyre: Auditing Temperature Reconstructions of the Past 1000 Years [PDF 2.8MB]
A Michael Mann Q&A