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Unsettled Science
Antarctic Climate Confusion

A group of scientists have just published a study that tries to explain why Antarctica isn’t warming as predicted, and its ice isn’t melting as climate models say it should be. As Reuters reports, the researchers identified flows of cold, deep water as the primary reason our models are failing down there:

A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday. […]

[An] upwelling of cold water helped to explain the persistence of sea ice but not its expansion, a trend other studies have linked to shifts in winds off the vast frozen continent. Monday’s report found that warm waters in the Gulf Stream cool as they flow north into the North Atlantic, then sink and loop south towards Antarctica as part of an aquatic conveyor belt that takes centuries to complete.

Eventually, gale force winds in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica blow surface waters northwards and draw the chill, ancient waters from the depths. That upwelling helps explain why the surface of the Southern Ocean have warmed by just 0.02 degree Celsius (0.036 Fahrenheit) per decade since 1950, a fraction of the global average of 0.08 degree (0.144F), the study said.

We’ve known for some time that Antarctica hasn’t been melting as fast as climate models predicted it ought to be, and scientists have been surprised to find the southern continent’s ice sheets have expanded in some places. Last fall a group of researchers issued a corrective to models that predicted that melting Antarctic ice could add a meter to global sea levels by the end of the century, calling that catastrophic future “implausible.”

Last September new research suggested that Antarctic water was capable of storing much more atmospheric carbon dioxide than previously believed—one of those rare examples of positive climate news. Now, scientists think they have a better handling on why those waters haven’t been warming as expected, and to the extent that we’re able to refine our knowledge of the way these important systems work, that’s encouraging progress.

But it should also serve as a warning to overzealous greens that point to climate models as fonts of infallible evidence for justifying their harebrained policy schemes. We can acknowledge that our climate is changing and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a major driver behind rising surface temperatures while also pointing out that the details (wherein the proverbial devil lies) are a lot less clear. We’re constantly being surprised by observations that don’t square up with predicted outcomes, and scientists must then dutifully search for explanations. Discovering those explanations is therefore both edifying and humbling, and reminds us just how little we really know about our climate.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Confusion is rampant among those “reporting” on climate change. The Arctic melt is due to geothermal heating not global warming (http://notrickszone.com/2016/04/05/new-findings-show-greenland-ice-changes-melt-water-production-due-to-natural-geothermal-factors/). Sooo . . . neither the Arctic nor the Antarctic are being warmed. One wonders when so-called “climate scientists” will begin to acknowledge that they are participants in the biggest pseudo-science scam in history.

    • Blackbeard

      Max Planck said science advances one funeral at a time. The answer to the question as to when today’s climate scientists will admit that they are wrong is never. Nor will today’s “journalists” nor today’s politicians ever admit to error. In generation or two historians will look back on this time of mass delusion with wonder but that will be too late for us.

  • CaliforniaStark

    According to the article: “Monday’s report found that warm waters in the Gulf Stream cool as they flow north into the North Atlantic, then sink and loop south towards Antarctica as part of an aquatic conveyor belt that takes centuries to complete.” Then goes on to add it “explains persistence of sea ice, but not its expansion.” So much for the science being settled. Perhaps the expansion is caused by wind, as guessed in other articles; maybe extraterrestrials?

    Agree with the end comment: “and reminds us just how little we really know about our climate.” Would add that we do know the computer models upon which all this speculative nonsense is based are clearly wrong, and need to be withdrawn.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    How about we use the “Scientific Method” and when the predictions based on the hypothesis of “Global Warming” prove to be incorrect, then the hypothesis is WRONG and the data it is based on should be reviewed for errors, falsehoods, and political influence. I recently saw a picture comparison of the Earth from 20 years ago and today, and the Earth is much Greener today, indicating much more plant life.

  • Frank Natoli

    We can acknowledge that our climate is changing and that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are a major driver behind rising surface temperatures while also pointing out that the details (wherein the proverbial devil lies) are a lot less clear.
    And we should so acknowledge, and consequently impose trillions of dollars in additional costs, because the environment “cheats” by absorbing CO2 into the oceans? Is this not absolute madness?

  • InvestLite

    Climate change……

  • CosmotKat

    “and reminds us just how little we really know about our climate.”

    Is this one of the known unknowns? If not then it should be and why would we entrust our economic system, our wealth and standard of living to those who insist they do know since the have prove over and over again they do not?

    • Frank Natoli

      This past Sunday, the forecast for Monday, Memorial Day, was 90% chance of heavy rain all day.
      There was light rain Sunday night, completely stopped by 9 AM, sunny the rest of the day, and everybody who had cancelled their BBQ felt like a dope.
      But the same forecasters know what the weather will be a century from now.
      But should I plan on steaks on the grill?

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