A leading British newspaper claims the United Nations body on climate change has made a blunder of Himalayan proportions over key evidence on global warming.

The Sunday Times says a key finding on melting glaciers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may have been simply taken from a press interview with an obscure Indian scientist.

Latest reports say the finding that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is now likely to be retracted due to the blunder.

The incident is an embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued a report two years ago that was meant to house the latest and most detailed research into global warming.

"A central claim was that the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035," says a report in the Sunday Times, London.

"In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

"It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi."

The Sunday Times says Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research.

"If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research."

The story has immediately made international headlines.

The Australian newspaper claims, "United Nation's blunder on glaciers exposed".

The Hindustan Times says the evidence is now likely to be dropped from the IPCC report and that Dr Hasnain can no longer be contacted.

The story came to light when the journalist who briefly interviewed Dr Hasnain for the New Scientist told the Sunday Times about it.

The story comes at a bad time in the debate over climate change.

Public confidence in climate science was dented last year by the East Anglia emails showing scientists appearing to fudge data and seeking to avoid freedom of information requests from their detractors.

Almost all governments accept the findings of a UN report, which concluded in 2007 that warming of the climate was "unequivocal" and it was more than 90 per cent likely it was being caused by human actions.