Headline Disease at e360

I’m not sure but I think we are starting to see signs of a decline in quality at Yale’s Environment360. I hope not.

In any case we have another instance for the misleading headline file on their short article “Greenland’s Ice Sheet May Be More Stable than Previously Thought“. It could equally read “Antarctica’s Ice Sheet Less Stable than Previously Thought“. Better would be “Antarctica Drives Greater Fraction of Sea Level Change than Expected“.

The press release was titled “Sea Level Rise Less from Greenland, More from Antarctica, Than Expected During Last Interglacial

The actual article is here: Elizabeth J. Colville, Anders E. Carlson, Brian L. Beard, Robert G. Hatfield, Joseph S. Stoner, Alberto V. Reyes, David J. Ullman. Sr-Nd-Pb Isotope Evidence for Ice-Sheet Presence on Southern Greenland During the Last Interglacial. Science, 2011; 333 (6042): 620-623 DOI: 10.1126/science.1204673

Headlines are important.


  1. It's not just that the sea ice retreat in extent is large but that it's clear from images like this one from The Cryosphere Today website that the quality of the pack ice is much lower and more of the ice is unlikely to hold a polar bears weight. Actually, I just checked the North Pole Webcam and it looks like the ice there won't hold the camera packages weight.

  2. Just to add, it's completely clear from the transcript that there was no miscounting. IIRC a comment was made by Monnett or one of the PEER reps that even if there had been miscounting it wouldn't amount to misconduct, but that was no admission of any such thing. Re the sea ice, retreat in the Beaufort looks to be pretty large this year, which will mean more drowned bears.

  3. The Denialsphere's minions are already screaming at the top of their lungs that this investigation invalidates all AGW scientific claims because "scientists can't be trusted." On the internet no less. Where they probably do their banking. Meanwhile, the arctic sea ice extent is well below two standard deviations from the mean and is on track to be in the top three lowest minimums if not the lowest. It's one thing to miscount a few polar bears; to deny that we're missing almost two million square kilometers of sea ice is another. There are still nutcases claiming global cooling.

  4. Worse, there's no compare and contrast with McKay et al. (in press GRL) or the Alley and Joughin review (Nature or one of its subsidiary pubs), both out within the last couple of weeks. I haven't read the latter yet but, while providing confirmation of the point about West Antarctica, the former makes it clear that the peak-Eemian minimum SLR is way bigger than the ~4 meters quoted in the e360 article, which is to say that the WAIS threat is large indeed. And of course, forcing now is not at all the same as forcing then, even if GMST is in the same ballpark. The GIS could yet have a nasty surprise in store for us.

  5. There appears to be a coordinated effort to understate the impact of climate change even when the science is clearly showing our projections of rate and damage have been too conservative.

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