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Improving conveyance of uncertainties in the findings of the IPCC

TitleImproving conveyance of uncertainties in the findings of the IPCC
Publication TypeManual Entry
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsJonassen, Rachael, and Jr. Pielke, Roger
Climatic Change
Volume108
Pagination745-753
Citation Key145
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Community Notes

Jonassen and Pielke emphasize the inconsistencies in the presentation of uncertainties present in the IPCC reports, which is a result of inconsistencies in the IPCC process.  The authors lay out the definitions of uncertainty as per the IPCC guidelines and they follow the reports of the working groups to point out how the IPCC narratives deviate from these guidelines.  The IPCC recommends descriptions of uncertainty in the form of qualitative, quantitative and probabilistic reports.  Some of the main issues with each report’s conveyance of uncertainty is in the words that they use to describe it.  Some phrases, such as “more likely than not” and “verylikely” (yes, as one word) required further interpretation by the reader.  There were also inconsistencies in how uncertainty was presented in the full text of the report versus the summaries.  The authors support the approach of a traceable account of how the IPCC arrived at their ratings for individual findings.  This article is useful to describe how uncertainty can be misrepresented by the IPCC.