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The annotated AR4

Donna Laframboise has an article introducing the release of an unofficial annotated version of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report - all three volumes of it.

Canadian blogger Hilary Ostrov and Australian computer programmer Peter B. have given the climate change world a gift this week. Since March they’ve been hyperlinking and annotating the 3,000-page Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in 2007. The result is

Those of us who’ve been taking a close look at the 2007 report (also known as AR4) have identified numerous concerns. Now we have a tool to analyze it more comprehensively than ever before.

The results are very interesting. I'm sure some people will take issue with some of the tags applied to papers, but this shouldn't detract from the overall effect, which is to illuminate our understanding of the AR4 process. Well done Hilary and Peter.

(H/T Ray G)

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Reader Comments (34)

What a very helpful idea. Another kind of openness, well before AR5 becomes a potential global laughing stock (or perhaps something much better). What are the intellectual property implications? Will Ostrov and B. need a fighting fund to help pay for lawyers?

Dec 8, 2010 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

"What are the intellectual property implications?"

Fair comment Richard but in this day and age it seems to me this should have been done from the beginning along with a repository for all data and code. I would imagine the two M's could then have had a family life!

Secondly, it is a U.N. document paid for with tax payers money so......

Dec 8, 2010 at 8:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

I think IPCC reports can be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes.

Dec 8, 2010 at 8:55 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


'Secondly, it is a U.N. document paid for with tax payers money so......'

1. it will miraculously be found to have become a state secret in all UN countries
2. it cannot be questioned..those doing so must be mentally ill and locked up
3. you are all evil deniers funded by Big Oil.
4. will nobody think of the Children?

Dec 8, 2010 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Many thanks, Your Grace, for your kind words.

But lawyers, Richard? Aaaack! Perish the thought!

Considering Muir Russell's "finding" that neither Jones nor Briffa bore any responsibility for the content of that which they participated in authoring (because it was all a "team" effort), surely this would apply across the board. So who would lay claim to "intellectual property" rights? The United Nations?!

Hilary [stepping out and taking a slightly nervous bow ;-)]

Dec 8, 2010 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

What a splenid idea this was. Hyperlinks are so useful and the annotations are so revealing. Now I wonder why the IPCC never thought of it!

Dec 8, 2010 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

To Hilary (hro001): That is an excellent site you have. Why haven't I found it before?

Dec 8, 2010 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

That is one of the most useful referencing tools I have seen in a long time!
Well done Hilary and Peter!

Does that mean it will be easier to annotate the AR5 as well when it comes out? I hope so.

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

Bish, OT how are you enjoying all this global warming we are having in Scotland?

Just as well those brave deligates at COP16 are fighting to save us from this, the warmest year on record! Not sure how dancing with the playboy bunnies at the playboy casino helps; but i was hoping they would save us in time on Monday I had a five mile hike through a blizzard to get home if only we had sent more Money. /sarc off

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Personally I'd prefer Alex Salmond to worry about gritting my road than sea level rises in the Maldeves!

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

I think I like the Prall-ification of the IPCC report.

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Oh, thank you, Phillip, I'm glad that you found my quiet little corner of the blogosphere - and very pleased that you like what you found! As for why you haven't found it before ... I dunno ... perhaps your mouse needed a nudge, or maybe it's because I haven't made it to our host's honour roll [sob, sob, sniffle, sniffle]

I quite agree that AccessIPCC is a splendid idea ... and I can say that, because it was Peter's brainchild, and he has done by far the lion's share of the work!

As for why the IPCC never thought of it, I have a hunch that as people discover and use our "gift" - and as our work progresses (oh, yes ... there's more to come in the months ahead!) - they just might wish they had ;-)

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001


I just hope that you are prepared for the storm of abuse and unpleasantness that this will bring down upon you. Think the vatican and Heretics c. 1350 AD and you'll have some idea. You are not climatologists so you are not entitled to do anything like this. And you are destroying unborn generations. And all the usual AGW tripe .

More power to your elbow! I assume that Steve and Anthony know about your work?

Dec 8, 2010 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Bishop O/T pls give me absolution for this, but could I refer you to the article:

Perspective on climate history badly needed

on the Greenie Watch blog. This lists major weather events from about 8 A.D. through to the late 1800s.

It is only 315 pages long and will take several minutes to donwload but it is a great read.


your ever obedient and obsequious acolyte


Dec 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

Good work and thank goodness we have at least one sensible computer person down south (Peter B). Hitherto all we've had is gnomic SFB.

Dec 8, 2010 at 12:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB


You are now on my favourites list. I trust the good Bish and Anthony will put you on their blog rolls of honour.

[BH adds: To tell the truth, I thought she was already. Added now.]

Dec 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I love the idea of the abbreviation BC (Before Climategate) as noted by Hilary to denote when the climate change agenda of the warmists was in the ascendency. It is a handy reference in this ongoing debate.

Dec 8, 2010 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

An excellent resource - thanks for all your hard work, Hilary and Peter!

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Most illuminating piece of work. Thank you.

I have just glanced at one section of the IPCC report and found myself playing spot the "clean" citation.
I've got to say it: "Its worse than we thought"!

I also noticed that Your Grace is mentioned in the spreadsheet as being the one who fingered the usual suspects - based on information in HSI. (Excellent read, by the way.)

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

Excellent Hilary, many thanks.

'Joseph Alcamo noted at Bali in October 2009, "as policymakers and the public begin to grasp the multi-billion dollar price tag for mitigating and adapting to climate change, we should expect a sharper questioning of the science behind climate policy"'

And I count 24 'Persons of Concern' on your pruned list, so a bit of gonzo math gives us 24 into those multi millions of dollars.

Does anything really believe that that lot are individually - or even jointly-and-severally - anywhere good enough?

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Pshaw. That's "Does anyone really believe ... "

As someone who grew up with the Range Rider and the Cisco Kid , I can't help converting this to a price on their heads on a Wanted poster.

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

Like Railroad Bill Pachauri's sordid '09 expedition into porn, the more you see of AR4 the less you want to see.

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Blake

"Canadian blogger Hilary Ostrov and Australian computer programmer Peter B. have given the climate change world a gift this week."

Your gift is truly appreciated.

Many thanks for all your hard work.

Dec 8, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreen Sand

I think IPCC reports can be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes.

Yes and no, at least in the USA. As an author and publisher, but not a lawyer, I have spent a good deal of time on the questions of copyright infringement. You are correct if there is NO commercial purpose. However, there is a very, very narrow test for that. For example, you as BISHOP HILL on this site are running a commercial enterprise. I see an advert for a book written by you. You are obviously using this site to enhance your income from that book, or so the attacking lawyer will claim. I am sorry for those of you who think I am bonkers, but I am dealing with US case law.

What the deal is in UK is not known to me, but I would bet it is the same.

You would be wise to remove that advert, but that is not legal advise. For that, you need a real lawyer or solicitor. Perhaps you should have a chat with one. There are many many cases where the owner of a web site has been brought down by having adverts on the site.

As long as Hilary does not "advertise" on her (or is it a "his"?) site, everything is fine. Put an advert up, and look out.

Now, as a point of fact, any document created by the US Federal government is NOT copyrighted by law. However, I know of no such law covering the UN. There may well be, but I did not find it. So if there is someone out there who does know of one, I would appreciate knowing about it.

For those of you interested in US copyright Law, the best source on-line is the Cornell University Law School website. You need to read US Code Title 17. However, you should start HERE as it deals with an overview and a small part of the case law, which is extensive and very important.

Dec 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

Please remove if it too OT.

This is symptomatic of the thinking of the people that worked on AR 4, its a post from a Climate Scientist attending Cancun in the Guardian today. My mind is befuddled by the weird logic and waffly piffle contained in it. Doubt he got much more than the minimum 2B's to get in to UEA.

Yesterday I posted the personal operational viewpoint set down below. This statement wax based on my llife long UN experience of attending complex UN meetings.. I have had the privilidge to participate in three UN global negotiations as a knowledge based individual scientist invited to participate by specific UN agencies rather than arriving at the Conference as a national delegate aiming to advise on viewpoints for one specific country. This geopolitical position forces one to try understand better the scientific conflicts latent in many complex UN meeting Agendas. I became very friendly with one Ambassasor who held the Chair of the Group of 77 at one UN meeting. .We used to talk over breakfast most days I saw my mission to be to try to help safeguard sound scientific knowledge against diplomatic knowledge corruption The basic problem is that any complex scientific knowledge base can be so easily undermined by aggressive and patisan comments by ill informed sceptics..The consequences of such distortion of serious scientific thought by Climate Gate scandal were all too clearly demonstrated in Copenhagan

There seems to be so much mal will circulating in some comments. This agression just makes the task of achieving sound scientifically knowledge based diplomatic progress so difficult. People should assess the good the UN us trying to do rather than show aggression towards progress of our main global agency for fostering himan progress

Posted yesterday
The basic challenge in UN Member State negotiation is to decide exactly how the meeting leadership can establish the fundamental good faith required to foster progress towards an satisfactory international agreement as the conclusion to the meeting. The Copenhagen meeting finally fractured into a set of substructures. Climategate too acted like a set of marbles under diplomatic horses feet.. Progress at this type of meeting can only be achieved by operating successfully within a complex intercultural dialogue. Draft texts are a sort of clothes hangers for alternative ideas. Bad Ideas hopefully fall off poor idea clothes hangers The culture is geopolitically multi-dimensional. The discussion forum is always made up of a wide range of independent states..Any individual member state may increase its UN impacts trhough alinement with other suitable states like the Group of 77, the small island member states and the European Community. Such negotiation implies working within non uniform structures of human beliefs and values. While the need for comprimise is implicit, it is always extremely diffficult to identify the common international ground in internationally acceptable ways .The Member States some how or other have to move towards common ground. In UN practice, one has,at meetings like Cancun, countries that understand the basic agenda and countries that do not understand the basic Agenda but never the less want to exploit the agenda for their own national benefit. The organisers face countries that will wish to exploit the agenda at the expense of other countries. More fortunately one also has many counrries with more corporate concepts involving lateral international thinking It is very hard to understand this complex process from outside the diplomatic negotiation.The current desire for more openness unfortunately does not recognise the necessary implicit complexity of the diplomacy required and the importance of sustaining the diplomatic dialogue within a structure of mutual confidence. Diplomatic ideas must be allowed to evolve without detailed interference during the negotiation
The exponents of extremes of diplomatic data openness do not recognise that such pressures will simply create far greater secretiveness which will be of no international human benefit. Agendas will simply become more hidden

And here's his profile

My taxes paid for this drivel

Dec 8, 2010 at 5:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

First off the annotated AR4 is a nice piece of work.

My two quibbles (and they are just that and no more):

On the error of omission side, if there's any one individual in climate science who rates the 'Person of Concern' handle it's James Hansen, yet the scoring methods as applied let him skate.

Flipping the coin, the Journal of Concern category may be too broad, in that publications with decades of history are tarred by far more recent association with the Team.

Dec 8, 2010 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Excellent work, well done.

Dec 8, 2010 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris S

Bish and Don P,
Wouldn't you suppose that a complaint of misuse of an IPCC document would have to be brought by the IPCC and for that reason be very unlikely? The sort of thing Don refers to is what happens when you've made someone very angry by something you've done with their intellectual property and they are most interested in slamming you down by whatever means they can grasp.

Dec 8, 2010 at 10:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson


Many thanks for the tip on historically recorded weather events.

Dec 8, 2010 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterE O'Connor

An interesting resource. I would be nice to be able to select which warnings appear when reading. All the major journals I know about are polluted with editorials about climate change and potentially subject to pal review at the editor's discretion. There is nothing that can be done about this situation, but that doesn't mean that most of the articles in these journals are problematic. I'd also like to be able turn off the warning that the author of a paper is contributing to another chapter. Self-referencing is a problem, but this isn't self referencing.

In my dreams, I'd be able to click on a reference, have the title of the paper forwarded to Google Scholar, and be one click away from the abstract, if not the whole paper.

Dec 9, 2010 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrank

j ferguson

The sort of thing Don refers to is what happens when you've made someone very angry by something you've done with their intellectual property and they are most interested in slamming you down by whatever means they can grasp.

While your are correct, often they chose to "look the other way" because the downside for such action is worse. However, my point is if someone wished to go after BH for improper use of copyrighted material, the simple fact he has an advert for his book converts this blog into a commercial enterprise under US law with regard to the Fair Use Doctrine, which is very, very complex. However, generally, the more commercial the "use" of unlicensed copyright material, the tougher the judge will be and a single advert might not be enough. However, I would not run the risk, myself. I have better things to do than deal with lawsuits.

And if in UK, I would have a chat with a good IP law firm. I do not know UK case law.

For US case law, I did find this "guide line" piece Fair Use Guide Lines for USA

Dec 9, 2010 at 1:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

What you are asking for will probably be available in the companion database to accompaning a later version. Clicking on a citation or reference in this later will take you into the database on the paper being sited, where much data will be available, including the link to Google Scholar if that takes a predictable URL.

Dec 9, 2010 at 3:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterPJB253

JEM, re quibbles

re Broadening criteria for PoC: We are part way thru processing the annexes to yield "Org Charts" for a country, thru the top level organisations and hence down thru the subordinate organisations to the authors/reviewers. We would need to collect the verifiable public statements of the senior officials of these organisations which might allow the organisations to be categorised by the stridency of the advocacy. This might then be used to tag papers originating within those organisations.

re narrowing JoC: More data on the Journals would help; data and code archiving policy and enforcement; editorials advocating particular viewpoints; perhaps specific mention in the ClimateGate emails.

Both of these improvements look like requiring human effort, unless anyone can point me at some existing data. Any volunteers for either effort? Any suggestions please to

Dec 9, 2010 at 4:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterPJB253

Thanks all, for the very encouraging feedback (and the suggestions that Peter has responded to above).

@Latimer Alder

"I just hope that you are prepared for the storm of abuse ..."

In one of my previous incarnations, I spent several years in the trenches of a newsgroup called alt.revisionism. This was the primary posting-ground of those virtual cretins known as Holocaust deniers. As a consequence, I developed a very thick skin! (And I occasionally had a lot of fun leading them down the path of hanging themselves with their very own words.)

So, fear not ... I am prepared!

"I assume that Steve and Anthony know about your work?"

I try not to be a pushy broad - and always endeavour to drop links in appropriate threads. Haven't found any on CA yet, but have dropped several at WUWT (as have others). So they may or may not be aware of our work.

But the good news is that Judith Curry has noticed this post and included a link at the top of her recent Open Thread post (which kinda makes up for the fact that she may not have noticed my link and suggestion in her first "testimony follow-up" post) ...

Btw, JC has now posted her response ... it warms the cockles of my heart!!

Testimony Followup Part II

And the cockles of my heart were also warmed when I saw that my blog has made it to the honour-roll here ... thanks, BH :-)

Dec 10, 2010 at 12:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

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