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Nature – finally “finds” cause of Antarctic pause, will last centuries, tosses “global warming” out

Nature ties itself in knots here, and reveals a lot more than they probably meant too, but mostly about themselves rather than about Antarctica. If it’s correct, the implications from this study are pretty big, not that the study will tell you that. The term “Global warming” is tossed under a bus, along with almost all the Antarctic man-made scares of the last two decades. The political nature of Nature is on full display.

This time Nature claims it has found the cause of the Antarctic pause.  Apparently this now finally resolves yet another conundrum (fantastic, what!) that was, as usual, not called a conundrum until it was solved. Another secret problem fixed. Where was the press release telling us there was a problem?

Those who said there was a conundrum were just deniers. It’s right there in the press release, paragraph two:

The study resolves a scientific conundrum, and an inconsistent pattern of warming often seized on by climate deniers.

Which rather begs the question: If there was a conundrum then the skeptics who pointed it out were not deniers, but correct. And if there was no conundrum, and deniers were denying something, then this is not a new finding at all. Alternately perhaps some researchers “knew” the answer they were going to find, and the other researchers, who can’t see the future, are deniers?

Is Nature reporting a discovery, or issuing a political press release?

The use of “denier” in a science paper has a price. How, I wonder, does Nature define homo sapiens climate denier? — Bipedal primates who deny the sky?

Researchers now throw global warming under the bus?

“When we hear the term ‘global warming,’ we think of warming everywhere at the same rate,” Armour said. “We are moving away from this idea of global warming and more toward the idea of regional patterns of warming, which are strongly shaped by ocean currents.”

Look out for the death of the “global warming” term, and the rise of regional warming scares. Reality bites again.

The miracle of deep ocean currents?

Perhaps the paper has some teeth to it, but it’s not obvious in the press release. They appear to be announcing discoveries from text books. It’s been known for years that the deepest oceans take about 1000 years to turn over. So it is entirely expected that the water around Antarctica is old and cold.

Deep ocean currents, Circumpolar, Antarctica. Map.

The circumpolar current and deep ocean circulation has been known for years (as in this old popular map).


Deep, old water explains why Antarctic Ocean hasn’t warmed

The waters surrounding Antarctica may be one of the last places to experience human-driven climate change. New research from the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds that ocean currents explain why the seawater has stayed at roughly the same temperature while most of the rest of the planet has warmed.

Apparently climate modelers didn’t know basic ocean circulation and thought the heat would just mix downward — yes, even I am a bit amazed at this next para:

“The old idea was that heat taken up at the surface would just mix downward, and that’s the reason for the slow warming,” Armour said. “But the observations show that heat is actually being carried away from Antarctica, northward along the surface.”

Really – that was the old idea?

Look out here: It will take centuries for us to run out of cold ocean…

 The Southern Ocean’s water comes from such great depths, and from sources that are so distant, that it will take centuries before the water reaching the surface has experienced modern global warming.

Follow the implications — this is going to keep going. Antarctica will be fine for centuries? There’s no rapid sea level rise coming and no imminent destruction of the shelf? Forget all the images of penguins dying from global warming which is regional not-warming in Antarctica. So were all the papers blaming “global warming” for Antarctic icebergs, starving penguins, and collapsing ice shelves all wrong in attributing them to man-made warming which won’t arrive there for centuries? Could be.

Observations and climate models show that the unique currents around Antarctica continually pull deep, centuries-old water up to the surface — seawater that last touched Earth’s atmosphere before the machine age, and has never experienced fossil fuel-related climate change. The paper is published May 30 in Nature Geoscience.

“With rising carbon dioxide you would expect more warming at both poles, but we only see it at one of the poles, so something else must be going on,” said lead author Kyle Armour, a UW assistant professor of oceanography and of atmospheric sciences. “We show that it’s for really simple reasons, and ocean currents are the hero here.”

Gale-force westerly winds that constantly whip around Antarctica act to push surface water north, continually drawing up water from below. The Southern Ocean’s water comes from such great depths, and from sources that are so distant, that it will take centuries before the water reaching the surface has experienced modern global warming.

Ocean circulation is fairly textbook stuff, hardly a new discovery. The image below is from a post in 2010 where William Kininmonth explained the importance of our ocean circulation. Surface water pushes north.


And we’re back to “modeled discoveries”. Call it simulated science?

Someone put dye into a climate model? That’s got to be bad.

In the Atlantic, the northward flow of the ocean’s surface continues all the way to the Arctic. The study used dyes in model simulations to show that seawater that has experienced the most climate change tends to clump up around the North Pole. This is another reason why the Arctic’s ocean and sea ice are bearing the brunt of global warming, while Antarctica is largely oblivious.


Seems the real deniers were the ones who denied the Antarctic Pause, and the failure of the climate models.

All the modelers said CO2 would amplify the warming at both poles. The models were wrong.


REFERENCE / Peer reviewed political flyer

Emily R. Newsom et al. Southern Ocean warming delayed by circumpolar upwelling and equatorward transport. Nature Geoscience, May 2016 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2731

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