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Earth Science

Why Groundwater Use May Not Explain Half of Sea-Level Rise 244

Posted by Soulskill
from the science-is-complicated dept.
New submitter Sir Realist writes "A recent Slashdot scoop pointed us at a scientific study that claimed 42% of global sea-level rises could be due to groundwater use. It was a good story. But as is often the way with science, there are folks who interpret the data differently. Scott Johnson at Ars Technica has a good writeup which includes two recent studies that came to remarkably different conclusions from mostly the same data, and an explanation of the assumptions the authors were making that led to those differences. Essentially, there is some reason to think that the groundwater estimates used in the first study were too high. However, that's still under debate, so it's worth reading the whole argument. Scientific review in action!"
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Why Groundwater Use May Not Explain Half of Sea-Level Rise

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  • Scientific review (Score:3, Insightful)

    by x0 (32926) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:55PM (#40311869) Homepage
    So, we can review groundwater/sea-level scientific studies, but 'Climate Change' is a done deal.

    Got it...

    m
  • Interesting Theory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ferretman (224859) <ferretman@nosPAm.gameai.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @01:59PM (#40311959) Homepage
    We certainly HAVE pumped a lot of groundwater out and I presume most of it ends up in the atmosphere or the oceans one way or the other.

    Glad to see REAL scientists questioning AGW tenets.

    Ferret
  • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:06PM (#40312033) Homepage

    Or maybe it is simply that all peered reviewed papers get reviewed. And it is simply that climate change is a fact and it is happening ~ like we believe it is so all reviews of those papers turn up no problems.

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:07PM (#40312047)
    If you'd care to have a look at the literature, you'd see constant reviewing of all models, of all parameters, of all proxies. In contrast to just repeating the same old talking points, that would take effort, though, wouldn't it?
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:07PM (#40312053)

    So, we can review groundwater/sea-level scientific studies, but 'Climate Change' is a done deal.

    It's a scientific fact that global warming is real. There is no debate, and no controversy, there. We've got too many satellites confirming it, along with thousands of ground stations and the upward trend is undeniable.

    It's still up for discussion why it's happening or what it will eventually mean for us. Ethical scientists generally take the side of "Until we can predict with some confidence what will happen, we should do what we can to limit the impact," similar to the ideal behind the Hippocratic oath. Our present models, understanding, and theories point to rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and heating to the point where much of the ariable land along the equator will no longer be able to sustain industrial farming.

    We're already seeing some of the effects of this rapid heating (in geological terms); In Japan, native moss is no longer used at several Zen shrines because it's become too warm for them to survive. Coral reefs are undergoing a mass-extinction event, and we are seeing weather patterns which roughly correspond to modelling predictions for a warmer Earth. If these trends continue, life will become increasingly inhospitable to humans. While long-term predictions aren't reliable, it is almost certain the Earth of 200 years from now will have a radically different climate than the Earth of today; We are directly responsible for this planet entering a new geological age with as much speed and force as the Cretaceousâ"Paleogene extinction event.

    The debate really doesn't center on whether or not these things happen; The choice faced by our generation is not whether or not life after climate change is possible, but what kind of life it will be.

  • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:17PM (#40312155)

    Just finished the article. These scientists can't even reach a conclusion of how much groundwater was pulled from reservoirs *even when directly measuring it*. Some say 0% loss. Others 40% loss.

    And yet these same people claim they can predict the temperature 100 years from now. :-| Riiiight. If they can't get *current* numbers right, even when pulling out their rules and measuring, how can we trust anything they say about the future water level, temperatures, et cetera? The Greeks called this "hubris".

  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:18PM (#40312163)

    Any individual study can be reviewed at any time. This rarely has any significant impact on the consensus formed by the weight of all other existing related studies. If there are two interpretations of a study based on two different sets of assumptions, the question can be resolved by testing the assumptions. The fact that a single study is ambiguous does nothing to cast doubt on the remaining vast preponderance of scientific studies which unambiguously indicate that climate change is both real and man made.

    'Climate Change' is a done deal

    The scientific community has overwhelmingly agreed that Climate Change is occuring, and that there is a greater than 90% chance it is man-made. [wikipedia.org]

    That this is the consensus is a cold, hard, unambiguous fact. If you want to believe that climate change is not real, or not man-made, the only remaining avenue of rationalisation is that the scientific community a wrong or lying for some reason. This puts climate change deniers on the same ground as creationists.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:23PM (#40312227)

    It's still up for discussion why it's happening

    Personally, I feel it's a bit disingenuous to say that without adding something along the lines of "but the most widely accepted and scientifically supported explanation is man made CO2 emissions". The plain fact of the matter is that there isn't much discussion amongst scientists as to the cause and that there's virtually no debate amongst climate scientists. Solar variation isn't enough to explain the changes we've seen and CO2 from other sources is a tiny fraction of human output (despite what many people would tell you online). Having a group of laymen trotting out the same tired arguments again and again while the experts explain why they are wrong isn't a debate, if it were then evolution would be up for debate as well!

  • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:24PM (#40312241)

    >>>It's a scientific fact that global warming is real. There is no debate, and no controversy

    How come it's getting colder over the last decade with record levels of snowfall and cooler-than-normal summers? (I had heard by 2010 we wouldn't even know what snow is in Great Britain.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:24PM (#40312247)

    It's still up for discussion why it's happening or what it will eventually mean for us. Ethical scientists generally take the side of "Until we can predict with some confidence what will happen, we should do what we can to limit the impact," similar to the ideal behind the Hippocratic oath.

    My concern here is that without being able to predict the outcome with confidence it is not possible to determine what action will "limit the impact". What we need to do is to verify the models by predicting a future change and see if it happens as predicted. If so the model used is "good enough" and we can see if limiting carbon emission makes things better or worse.
    We also have to get ridf of the myth that climate is something stable. The earth is on a journey from creation to end. No year will ever be the same as the last one. The distance to the moon changes, the distance to the Sun changes, the solar output changes. The cyclic model is just a model that works well enough. What we need to find is not a state that is "natural". What we need to determine is what kind of climate we want and do whatever it takes to get that climate, even if the this includes increasing gas emissions. Until we are willing to do this we are playing with the planet for the sake of politics rather than doing what is scientifically sound. (Also, it might be a better idea to experiment with Mars rather than to try to fix the production system while we still depends on it.)

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:24PM (#40312249) Homepage Journal

    One is one paper, the other is scientific consensus. Please troll elsewhere.

  • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:30PM (#40312323)

    At one time it was the scientific consensus that light was a wave, and that it traveled through a medium called "ether" that filled the gap between the sun and the earth. 99% of scientists believed this.
    They were wrong.
    Consensus doesn't really mean much..... read "Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn. Learn about paradigm shift; how an entire generation of scientists can believe with absolute certainty a false fact.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:47PM (#40312567)

    Define "radical" please.

    The rate of change is important. Toss me a baseball and I'll catch it, whip it at my head and I probably won't.

    We generally don't know the rate of change that previous global climate changes had, but the rates that we're seeing today would be equivilent to the ice age ending in a matter of decades or at most a couple centuries. 1.5 degrees so far might not sound like much but when look at the global scale that is a big change.

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:50PM (#40312593)
    Well, within a period of 120 years, no one has brought up sufficient empirical data to challenge the hypothesis that the radiative balance of Earth deviates from the expected blackbody values due to greenhouse gases, as put forth by Arrhenius - it gets "touchable" once you provide data instead of talking points.
  • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @02:53PM (#40312621)

    Mod AC up. While more of an engineering exercise, this is more than likely the correct course of action.

    We have to say for certain that given a certain subset of data, with X variables factored in, we can validate Y over a certain time frame.
    This would tell us the following;

    1. Is our science correct?
    2. Are our predicted results accurate?
    3. What factors occurred during this time frame that could have favored or skewed our estimates?
    4. What should we do next?

    Right now, the problem with AGW\Climate Change science is that it works like this;

    1. Scientists gather data
    2. Peer review takes place - "data only".
    3. Scientific community finds potential "cause data".
    4. Peer review takes place - "data only".
    5. Scientific community makes recommendation based upon 2 different datasets (problem dataset, cause dataset)
    6. Politicians scream and legislate based on #5.

  • by Ironchew (1069966) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @03:20PM (#40312947)

    These points have been refuted so many times that it honestly isn't worth listing them again.

    I sure as hell hope that no scientist has to work under these ludicrous standards you demand of the climatology field. They've demonstrated on several occasions that they have nothing to hide, and denialists just keep piling on them with more cherry-picked quotes. It's sickening to watch.

  • by Lisias (447563) on Wednesday June 13, 2012 @04:08PM (#40313733) Homepage Journal

    It's a scientific fact that global warming is real.

    As the Earth being the center of the Universe was, once, another scientific fact.

    Every single scientific fact is prone to scrutiny and refutal. Every single one.

    We can assume that some scientific facts are insanely unlikely to be refuted (Gravity Law, for the sake of my balls and despair of my girlfriend's boobies, are one of them). But never, ever, assume any "scientific fact" above any controversy or debate.

    Dogmas have no place here.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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