While it is obvious that the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report (4AR) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was going to be more comprehensive than the 2001 Third Assessment Report (TAR), I was surprised to see the extent and the breakdown:
Sector – Studies assessed in TAR – Studies assessed in 4AR
Cryosphere: 23 – 59
Hydrology and water resources: 23 – 49
Coastal processes and zones: 4 – 56
Aquatic biological systems: 14 – 117
Terrestrial biological systems: 46 – 178
Agriculture and forestry: 5 – 49
Human health: 5 – 51
Disasters and hazards: 3 – 18
Total: 95 – 577
While it is simplistic to equate the number of studies examined with the overall quality of the conclusions drawn, the large increase is certainly reflective of the amount of research being devoted to climate change issues, as well as the level of resources it has been deemed appropriate to spend examining that body of scientific work.
These figures come from Cynthia Rosenzweig, a research scientist at NASA and member of the IPCC’s second working group.