The Australian is spreading misinformation on climate change … again

15.04.15 By
This content is more than 9 years old

The Australian is back at it, skewing the facts and publishing harmful misinformation on climate change. We’ve previously debunked their claims of a “pause in warming” here.

Their latest claim, that Arctic seas ice melt has stabilised, is flat out wrong, here’s why:



As the National Snow and Ice Data Centre points out, Arctic sea ice extent normally varies from year to year, much like the weather changes from day to day. But just as one warm day in October does not negate a cooling trend toward winter, a slight annual gain in sea ice extent over a record low does not negate the long-term decline. In the short term (a few years) Arctic sea ice extent is not only affected by warming, but also by wind patterns and ocean circulation, which have their own patterns of variability. However, the fact that Arctic sea ice extent has decreased so dramatically over the past few decades shows that the warming of the climate system is now the dominant driver of change in sea ice extent in the longer term.

This NASA video shows the Arctic ice melt trend over time. The picture is pretty clear.

In addition, sea ice remains much thinner than in the past, and so is more vulnerable to further decline. While ice thickness is difficult to measure using satellites, a variety of data sources and estimates indicate that the Arctic ice cover remains thin. You can read more about ice thickness here.

So what would the experts call a recovery in sea ice? First, a true recovery would continue over a period of many years (probably more than a decade or two). Second, scientists would expect to see a long series of summer minimum sea ice extents that not only exceed the previous year, but also return to within the range of natural variation of the past several centuries. In a recovery, scientists would also expect to see a return to an Arctic sea ice cover dominated by thicker, multiyear ice.

Speaking of pauses, continued claims of a “hiatus” in warming are also flat-out wrong. We already debunked the pause in warming myth here. Even taking the El Nino year of 1998 as a starting point, global average surface temperature has increased up to the present, with 2014 the hottest year on record.

It’s also important to remember that global average surface temperature is just one measure of changes in the Earth’s climate system. There have been continuing increases in heat extremes, and in the heat content of the oceans (what accounts for over 90% of the excess heat), as well as rising sea levels, and ongoing melt of ice sheets and glaciers.

It’s time for responsible journalism to help the public understand the reality that the Earth continues to warm strongly with grave implications for humanity.

So – help us spread the word and say “enough with the myths already!”