Review Editor Reports

The IPCC has now published all of the reviewer comments and author responses, together with a file containing the Review Editor Reports. This post is on the Review Editor Reports – we’ll come to the comments and responses later.

There are three or four Review Editors for each chapter. The list of names is here.
The role of the Review Editors is to provide an overview of the comment and response process, ensuring that all comments have been adequately considered.

For AR4, there was some criticism of the Review Editor process. In most cases it appeared to be a rubber-stamping exercise, with most of the Review Editor comments being just a standard form letter.

This complaint cannot be levelled against the AR5 Review Editor comments, which appear to be quite substantial and in places quite critical.

Please put any points of note from the Review Editor Reports in the comments section below.

Related posts elsewhere:

Bishop Hill

Marcel Crok

3 thoughts on “Review Editor Reports

  1. A big change from AR4, as you say. It seems very much in line with the IAC Review’s recommendation to strengthen the role of the Review Editors.

    I found Kevin Trenberth’s report interesting. As review editor of chapter 14: Climate Phenomena and their Relevance for Future Regional Climate Change Trenberth was quite critical and even asked to print a disclaimer regarding the review editors’ responsibility for the text.

    I’m quoting here from the final sections of Trenberth’s report (pp 95-96 of the pdf):

    A few observations as a commentary on the final product:
    Some of our suggestions have not really been adopted. For instance the advice to properly qualify statements with how well models perform and the basis for confidence is still not well done in the Exec summary.

    To say “The following large-scale climate phenomena are increasingly well-simulated by climate models and so provide a scientific basis for understanding and developing credibility in future regional climate change.” avoids saying that some of these are still really poorly simulated and the basis is not adequate to say very much. For instance: “There is growing evidence of improved skill of climate models in reproducing climatological features of the global monsoon” really puts a positive spin on the mixed and even poor performance of models, and thus the assessment of the basis (or its absence) for projections is not well communicated. A similar positive spin is placed on blocking, and simulations of modes. There is a risk of overstating the confidence in results as a consequence and perhaps this was done in order to be able to say something that might get into the SPM. The evidence sometimes does not really support the confidence that is stated, a point made by several review comments (e.g. SOD comment 90 by Reto Knutti).


    Overall comments on procedures.
    It was extremely frustrating to not be able to make review comments and suggestions on the chapter of which we were review editors. Advice was given about procedures and priorities and how to organize, and I believe these were effective. But I would not do this again and I think the whole process needs major revisions. I would like the following added to the chapter to ensure that we (REs) are not responsible for any text:

    [this part is in red in the original] Review Editors were responsible only for seeing that review comments were appropriately responded to. They were not permitted to comment on their own chapter and therefore have no responsibility for the content or quality of the chapter. They do not necessarily endorse the chapter.

    I do not say this lightly. Because I am often quoted in the media and I had a lot of exposure via “climategate”; climate change deniers are apt to take stuff out of the chapter and attribute it to me personally. Therefore I hope that such a disclaimer can be added.

    Kevin E. Trenberth

    Looking at chapter 14, it doesn’t appear that Trenberth’s request was granted – I can’t find any such disclaimer.

  2. Yes, that is interesting to see Trenberth criticising the IPCC report for putting a positive spin on model skill, since sceptics often criticise him for positive spin.

    But I don’t quite get what he means when he says his recommendations were not all adopted while saying he wasn’t allowed to comment on the chapter? Maybe he means that as RE he can comment on the comments and how they are handled, but not on the chapter material itself?

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