'MAKE NO mistake, Arctic Sea ice is melting.'

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | April 12, 2009 10:07 am

Go check out the Washington Post’s latest editorial:

Arctic Ice Is Melting
The 30-year decline is accelerating, new data show.

The report noted that the Arctic winter was 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than average. This and other factors are causing the surface ice to melt. That ice is vital for reflecting the light and heat of the sun. Without it, the heat warms the Arctic Ocean, which then melts the ice below the surface of the water.

And stand by for the next round of razzle dazzle from Marc Morano,  climate change denial’s own Billy Flynn

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Global Warming, Media and Science

Comments (16)

  1. SLC

    Marc Morano, the global warming denialist version of Duane Gish. But I’m sure that Mr. Ferrara and Ms. Cross will be along to provide some denialist amusement.

  2. Jon Winsor

    Congratulations, Chris Mooney, looks like your op-ed was a great success. I think most of this controversy wouldn’t have happened without it. (Even if most of the country didn’t witness it, the beltway establishment did.)

  3. Steve Bloom

    It’ll take a lot more thn this incident to beat some climate sense into the thick heads of most of the Villagers, I’m afraid.

    Fresh example: The last segment of this week’s Inside Washington featured a final segment in which, following a clip of HRC saying some perfectly reasonable things about the urgency of the problem, three of the four panelists (Evan Thomas, Charles Krauthammer, and “liberal” Mark Shields) happily agreed that nothing will be done because it’s too hard and so we’ll just build dikes etc. as needed. Krauthammer actually started things off by quoting Freeman Dyson. The fourth panelist, “liberal” Nina Totenberg, failed to jump in to object to anything the boys said.

    These people do more damage than Morano could ever hope to.

  4. MadScientist


    Plimer has strange ideas about meteorology (and climate change), but he is an excellent geologist. On a geological scale, climate will change and there’s little to do about that than adapt, but why be reckless and make things worse in the sort term? I wonder where he gets his figures of only 0.1% of CO2 coming from humans; I have to admit I hadn’t checked the literature lately for the latest estimates of terrestrial sources. Nature does put out an awful lot though; for example, a single square kilometer of agricultural land can put out over 5000 metric tons of CO2 per year (but it can also take in a hell of a lot). All in all nature is fairly well balanced and essentially all of the observed increase can be blamed on humans (based on the fact that if all the CO2 we put out went into the atmosphere, the rate of increase would be about double). I don’t see what Plimer has to do with the melting of the ice sheets though unless he happens to be sitting on one.

  5. Michael

    Antarctic sea ice, on the other hand, is increasing. And it’s increasing at a rate that’s faster than the melting up north. If the computer models put forth by the IPCC were correct, the global warming would increase with only a few anomalous events or years.This not been the case. In fact, just te opposite has been true. Since about 1998 the earth has been cooling down. The mega astronomical and planet forces are simply overwhelming any slight changes that increasing CO2 percentages might have.

    It is interesting how vicious ad hominem attacks always end with name-calling from the proponents of the global warming theory. I have no political axe to grind at all, and I believe in global cooling, not warming. There is a growing list of very experienced and professional scientists who are now saying that global warming by man-made causes is simply not proven. There is no real ‘concensus’ and even if there were, concensus is NOT science.

    Finally, the consequences of even a ‘little ice age’ repeat would be many times worse than the mistakenly projected global warming. It’s a shame that once again, the science has been politicized.

  6. Scott Robertson


    I will refrain from name calling but would like to see your list of experienced scientists (and since Lindzen, Michaels, Spencer, Gray, et al have been deniers since the beginning they don’t count). 10 years ago I was non-believer but have been convinced by the overwhelming evidence to suggest that we are warming due to increased CO2. Many of us in the field (meteorology that is) were very skeptical initially but those numbers have greatly dwindled as the research has borne out the theory. A small period of leveling off of the warming is hardly enough evidence to dismiss a long-term trend.

    An no question that it is indeed a shame that the science has been politicized by both sides, but dare I say much more disingenuously by the right. While some on the left may have exaggerated and blamed AGW for natural disasters and other weather extremes the right has simply denied it is happening because they don’t won’t to deal with the economic consequences.

  7. While I wholeheartedly believe in warming, I am skeptical of computer models. I work in a field where people build models for predicting the activity of drugs and their interactions with protein. More often than not these models unexpectedly fail. Can someone point me towards a reference which explains how climate modelers avoid overfitting, mistaking correlation for causation and getting multiple solutions of equal merit?

  8. SLC

    Re Michael

    Aparently, things are not all rosy on the Antarctic continent these days. The attached link describes some disturbing happenings there.


  9. Erasmussimo

    Ashutosh, it’s true that computer models can go horribly wrong. However, there are three factors that should serve to heighten our confidence in the climatology models:

    1. They’ve been under continuous development for 40 years now. While the earliest models were really stinko, they’ve had a LOT of time to refine them.
    2. They are built by large teams rather than a few individuals. Those teams tend to winkle out erroneous assumptions.
    3. There are half a dozen different models. This permits us to compare them with each other. On the points where they diverge, we know that there’s a problem that needs more work. On points where they converge, we can have greater confidence in their results.

  10. SLC

    Re Erasmussimo

    One of the reasons for the fact that earlier climate models were inferior was the relative primitiveness of computers in those days. The improvement in climate modeling is highly correlated with the tremendous increase in computing power, and in this case, correlation is equivalent to causation.

  11. Erasmussimo

    Yes indeed, it’s easy to underestimate the power of modern computers. Depending on how you calculate throughput, current hardware is between a thousand and a hundred thousand times more powerful than the equipment of the 60s. That’s a gigantic leap.

  12. Thanks for the info which definitely sounds like the way it should be done. Having said that, I would like to compare the climate change models with my own field, drug discovery and design, since there are some similarities and differences. For starters, the human body is as or more complex than the climate. The tremendous advances in computational power have also enormously benefited the calculation of the behavior of drugs and their interactions with proteins in the body, but they have also brought some problems to the forefront. Based on this background I have some specific questions about the climate computer models:

    1. How do they account for chaos and sensitivity to initial conditions which is highly unpredictable?
    2. How do they prevent overfitting? In my field people usually do tests like cross-validation or LOO (leave-one-out) studies for predicting pieces of data. I am assuming climate scientists do such tests.
    3. How do they calculate p-values for complex climate scenarios? More generally, how do they know they don’t get results by chance?
    4. Do the models include error estimations in the experimental data? How much of the experimental data assumes a normal distribution of errors?

    I only ask because these factors are relevant to any kind of model building. Would be interesting to have some references.

  13. Erasmussimo

    The best starting point for climate models is Chapter 8 of IPCC AR4. You can download it here:


    However, you will probably be disappointed with it because it addresses the physical processes rather than the algorithmic problems that you’re asking about. It might still have some value to you in terms of its general presentation of how complex physical processes are taken into account, but it doesn’t provide any of the underlying algorithms. For those you have to dig through the 15 pages of scientific papers referenced in the chapter — and most of those concern the physical processes, not the algorithmic procedures. My guess is that, if you prowl through the 23 different variations of models, you’ll probably find some information you can use to find a link to something providing more details about the models.

  14. The volume of an icicle is the UPPER has his volume in water. If icicle melts, the level of the sea GOES DOWN. ” Climatic warming ” = NICKED!

    The bears are fed up there to freeze balls!

  15. Thanks. That definitely sounds informative although I may have to look elsewhere for some more methodological or statistical points.


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry. Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.com For more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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