I was thinking of calling editors at the on line wing of the UK's Guardian stupid. But that is too harsh. I'll settle for carelessness behind this hed:
- Guardian Environment Network – Eric Steig (of RealClimate): Is Antarctica's Warming Natural or Man-made? Antarctica is warming at one of its fastest rates in 2,000 years, shows a new paper in Nature, but it's still too early to call man-made climate change the 'smoking gun' ;
This is a little like a headline telling you that your favorite baseball pitcher is dead head to toe when all he has is a dead arm (that isn't dead dead, just weary, anyway). As even the shortest perusal of the actual story picked up from the RealClimate blog will reveal, the story is about the Antarctic Peninsula's rapid warming. It is far ahead of the world's overall pace. Researchers have noted that for, um, more than half a century. I know because a writer I know well told readers exactly that a dozen years ago. The bulk of Antarctica is warming, maybe and not for nearly as long a time, by only a small amount. So, no way should the headline say this is about peculiarities in the temperature history of the entire giant white continent. The Peninsula is a fascinating place. But it is distinct. It sticks way out. It is not even below the Antarctic Circle. Ocean currents hit it from both sides, winds are fierce and wild too. If one follows the story to its origin at RealClimate, one finds it there with a correct headline. The result of this headline miscue at the Guardian will inevitably be a suggestion that Antarctica may somehow be immune from global warming and adding a tidbit to predilections to doubters of the whole science of climate change – at least to doubt the mainstream version that get support from the national academies of every country I can think of.
The report, on the deep history of the Peninsula as revealed by ice cores the British Antarctic Survey gathered, got a good deal of interest from reporters elsewhere (Steig is a scientist-blogger, legit I fully believe but not a journalist). Most of them make clear it's the peninsular we're talking about here but not all (Steig's story touches on the erratic way media handled the news).
- LiveScience – Wynne Parry: Antarctic Peninsula now almost as warm as 12,000 years ago ;
- Reuters – Alister Doyle: Antarctic Peninsula started warming 600 years ago ; Where the reporter asks a question and the lead author cautions him that the study applies only to a small part of Antarctica.
- NPR – Richard Harris: Humans' Role In Antarctic Ice Melt Is Unclear ; Hmmm, a little more inadvertent ammo here for the contrarian wing of global warming blather, which on irony-seeking reflection is itself a sort of peninsula that has little to do with the great bulk of climate science. One would like to have seen the estimable Rick Harris put a finer distinction between the meteorology of the peninsula compared to the continent.
- Register (UK) Lewis Page: Ice core shows Antarctic Peninsula warming is nothing unusual ; Lots of the Register's fondness for boffin talk arises in this article, which also puts a few well-placed skewers into the BAS press release (see Grist). But then the story goes a ovewrly ballistic over a perceived, blind acceptance by media of carbon-driven climate apocalypse. At least it does say this has only to do with the Peninsula (here's a contrarian-tilting site that refers to the Register's account but omits 'peninsula' from the hed.
- Australian – Graham Lloyd: Ice-core warming 'within bounds' ; A bit muddled iwth its abrupt jump to Himalaya ice; not bad overall.
- AFP – Man partly to blame for Antarctic ice shelf collapse: study ; Hey not bad at all. It has the clear paleoclimate sign that the Peninsula's climate is wildly erractic in the long haul – right along with a distinct jump higher in warmth over the last century that is most easily ascribed to human inflence.
MEANWHILE WAY UP NORTH, OPEN WATER HEADING FAST FOR NEW RECORD HIGH (that is, ice scarcity getting really scary).
If you will consult that image stuck at the top of this post, you will see that the US's National Snow and Ice Data Center's satellite imagery indicates this year's Arctic sea ice cover, nearing the annual low of late summer, is almost as low as the record minimum of 2007, is a mess of standard deviations below the pattern seen from 1979-2000, and there are weeks left before the ice might begin regrowing toward its winter-spring maximum. The record is likely in the next day or few days. Many reporters have been watching these data and reporting on them already. Some,using other data sets, say we're already below 2007's benchmark and not slowing down yet. Alaska's polar bears now have almost no ice within swimming distance yet over water shallow enough to support the bottom-feeding diets of seals on which their diet depends. Watch your kids, up there in Inupiat land. The beasts are hungry.
Sample Stories Foreseeing this Year's Record-Breaking (Inevitable) Arctic Ice Pack Shrivel:
- Climate Central – Andrew Freedman: Arctic Sea Ice Record Now Could Be Set in August ; Hmm. Don't think it will be set. It will be broken, and likely keep going down until it sets the record for this year in September. But good story.
- Reuters – Alister Doyle : Arctic sea ice shrinks to record low, by some estimates;
- Guardian (UK) John Vidal: Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days ;
- BBC – Mark Kinver: Arctic sea ice set to hit record low ; It also says it already broke the record low for the data, ascribing that to the NSIDC in Boulder. But that's the record for this very date (or any date in August). The absolute record is an oonch away in NSIDC's data set.
- Wired – Liat Clark: Arctic Ice Set for record-Breaking Summer Melt ; Fine except NO NO NO! It is not the Arctic ice cap at risk. Ice caps sit on land. This is the ice pack, aka floating sea ice.
Grist for the Mill: Arctic Institute Press Release (says new record reached TODAY).
And Finally, a somewhat related weather and climate story, just because it's late and I don't want to write a separate post:
- Grist – Jordan Haedtler: Heroic weatherman talks climate in a red state – and viewers thank him for it ;
– Charlie Petit