Fuckin Magnets--How Do They Work?The Chronicle's resident right-wing climate denialist dimwit scores what she thinks is a great big gotcha:
A funny thing happened during Australian climate-change professor Chris Turney's venture to retrace a 1912 research expedition in Antarctica and gauge how climate change has affected the continent: Two weeks into a five-week excursion, Turney's good ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy got trapped in ice. It turns out, global warming notwithstanding, that there's so much ice down under that two ice-breaking vessels sent to rescue the research team cannot reach the Australasian Antarctic Expedition.Hilarious, amirite?
What follows is a sort of greatest hits of climate-denialism. Unseasonable cold!
Years ago, global warming believers renamed the phenomenon "climate change" - probably because of pesky details like unusually cold weather undercutting the warming argument.They can't even predict the weather!
Too bad the folks who are supposed to predict climate decades into the future are guided by scientists who could not manage to avoid ice floes during a five-week trip.Quote from ideologically-aligned pseudo-expert!
"I'm sure some researchers can find a possible explanation where humans are causing both Arctic ice melting and Antarctic ice growth, but I'm skeptical of scientists who blame every change in nature on human activities. Nature routinely causes its own changes, without any help from us," quoth Spencer, himself a climate change contrarian.1If I don't understand it, it can't be explained!
"Sea ice is disappearing due to climate change, but here ice is building up," the Australasian Antarctic Expedition acknowledges. It's a conundrum. If warming is melting ice in the North, why isn't it melting ice in the South?And so on, in similar fashion.
Shockingly, it turns out that this happy little denialist talking point about Antarctic sea ice is only part of the story:
Antarctica is a continent with 98% of the land covered by ice, and is surrounded by ocean that has much of its surface covered by seasonal sea ice. Reporting on Antarctic ice often fails to recognise the fundamental difference between sea ice and land ice. Antarctic land ice is the ice which has accumulated over thousands of years on the Antarctica landmass through snowfall. This land ice therefore is actually stored ocean water that once evaporated and then fell as precipitation on the land. Antarctic sea ice is entirely different as it is ice which forms in salt water during the winter and almost entirely melts again in the summer.And while there's no definitive answer as to why Antarctic sea ice is increasing, it isn't incompatible with climate-change models:
Importantly, when land ice melts and flows into the oceans global sea levels rise on average; when sea ice melts sea levels do not change measurably but other parts of the climate system are affected, like increased absorbtion of solar energy by the darker oceans.
It’s clear to Zhang and other experts who look at sea ice that the seeming paradox of Antarctic ice increasing while Arctic ice is decreasing is really no paradox at all. The Arctic is an ocean surrounded by land, while the Antarctic is land surrounded by ocean. In the Arctic, moreover, you’ve got sea ice decreasing in the summer; at the opposite pole, you’ve got sea ice increasing in the winter. It’s not just an apples-and-oranges comparison: it’s more like comparing apple pie with orange juice.But hey, poor little Debra can't be bothered with a bunch of trivial detail. What matters is the soundbites this gives her and Fox and the rest of the denialists. Because catastrophic change that would kill millions and devastate entire nations is nothing compared to winning the spin cycle.
It does serve as a reminder, however, that while the planet is warming overall, largely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, the complexity of the climate system guarantees that the changes to come won’t unfold in a completely straightforward way.
1Spencer, by the way, also happens to be an evolution "contrarian"; make of that what you will.