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Earth Science

West Antarctica Warming Faster Than Thought 247

Posted by timothy
from the it's-just-preheating-for-now dept.
New submitter dgrobinson writes "NY Times reports that West Antarctica has warmed more over the last half century than was first thought. A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience (abstract) found that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth."
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West Antarctica Warming Faster Than Thought

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  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:25PM (#42378253) Journal
    A single weather station? Whatever happened to "weather's not climate?"

    Also, why is this single weather station suddenly getting a paper? It's been there since 1958, there is nothing here we didn't know.
  • by Dolphinzilla (199489) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:31PM (#42378297) Journal

    slow news day at the NY Times I guess.....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:35PM (#42378331)

    Single weather station indicates climate too - local climate.

    The difference is not spatial, it is temporal. Weather is short duration. Climate is average over long period of time.

    Single weather station measures local climate over decades. It also measures local weather.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:47PM (#42378397)

    A single weather station? Whatever happened to "weather's not climate?"
     

    Well, weather isn't climate. The aggregate of all the weather in combination is climate.

    Also, why is this single weather station suddenly getting a paper? It's been there since 1958, there is nothing here we didn't know.

    And this is where bothering to read the article saves you from looking like either an idiot or a troll....

    It is by far the longest weather record in that region, but it had intermittent gaps and other problems that had made many researchers wary of it. The Bromwich group decided to try to salvage the Byrd record.
    They retrieved one of the sensors and recalibrated at the University of Wisconsin. They discovered a software error that had introduced mistakes into the record and then used computerized analyses of the atmosphere to fill the gaps.

    Now, go read the rest of it, and maybe start doing that in the future and you won't have to keep asking questions which could easily be answered by any 14 year old school child.

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:52PM (#42378435) Homepage Journal

    Is 4.4 much? Or is it not so much?
    Scientific articles that suddenly use Fahrenheit are ... disgusting.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @08:55PM (#42378453)

    You cannot tell with a single coin flip whether the coin is fair (50% probability of heads) or not. You cannot predict any particular flip of the coin. But if you flip a coin 1000 times and it comes up heads 659 times, you can say with a high degree of confidence that the coin is not fair. You still cannot predict any particular flip, but we can predict that we would see about 66 heads if we flipped the coin 100 times. If tomorrow we flip the coin 1000 times and it comes up head 831 times you have a high degree of confidence that the distribution of heads and tails changed since yesterday.

    Weather is like a single coin flip. You cannot tell in advance easily whether it will rain or not or exactly what temperature it will be. But we can make statements about the average temperature in January or the average number of rainy days in April. If we see those values change over time, as we have all over the Earth, you can say that the climate is changing. With enough measurements over a long enough period of time, you can see the climate change at only one weather station. If we also see the same thing happen at thousands of other weather stations over decades, and we observe the ice sheets melting and the humidity increasing, then that's clear evidence of the climate changing.

    That's the difference between weather and climate. Weather determines what you wear on a particular day. Climate determines what clothes you have in your closet.

  • by asifyoucare (302582) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:03PM (#42378503)

    Fair enough, but nobody is very interested in local climate in the immediate vicinity of one weather station. The fact that a paper was written is evidence that the importance of these measurements is being overstated. And it's worse that that - the record for this weather station had many gaps, and the researchers had to 'correct' the data and to interpolate the gaps.

    I believe the world has warmed over the last century or so, but I can't get worked up over incomplete data for a single station. I realise that this data is the best they have, but it is insufficient to indicate anything of importance.

  • by 517714 (762276) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:16PM (#42378569)
    Data is data and everything they added is not data, it is fabrication. They aren't researchers they are revisionists. You can't recalibrate a sensor and apply the correction after the fact as you don't know why the sensor lost calibration - was it a drift over time or due to a single incident? This sounds like really bad science, but it may just be really bad reporting.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:32PM (#42378649) Journal

    Amazing. I have now seen the AGW skeptic equivalent of "there are no fossils of fish turning into humans."

    Most data has gaps of some kind. That's why you use statistical analysis and correction. Once again the need to deny AGW means having to deny methodologies used in vast and diverse areas of science.

  • by khallow (566160) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:49PM (#42378715)

    Most data has gaps of some kind.

    At least with fossils, they look for new fossils to fill in the gaps between existing ones rather than interpolate and hope they got it right.

  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @10:06PM (#42378787) Homepage
    You can't recalibrate a sensor and apply the correction after the fact as you don't know why the sensor lost calibration...

    Even more important, you don't know when it happened, or if it all happened in one change or in several small changes. Unless you know that, any corrections you make are going to be honest guesses at best.
  • by repapetilto (1219852) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @10:13PM (#42378819)

    Well not even scientists are saying this. That is just the news. Go read what the scientists are saying then come back informed.

  • by repapetilto (1219852) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @10:17PM (#42378837)

    I don't think it is that bad (outright fraud). It is just bias run rampant along with financial incentive to underestimate uncertainty combined with widespread failure of science education in statistics.

  • Re:Last post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Holistic Missile (976980) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @10:52PM (#42379023)
    Isn't the entire coastline of Antarctica north?
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @11:10PM (#42379063) Journal

    no one with half a brain cell cares whether or not the cause of warming over time is due to burning of fossil fuels or some yet undiscovered natural process...the only important question is whether or not there is anything we as a people could conceivably do to mitigate the environmental changes

    Fortunately those of us with more than half a brain cell realize that the two are very closely linked. If the current rise in temperature is driven by natural cycles then stopping the burning of fossil fuel will have little, if any impact. So how do you know what to do to mitigate the impact if we are not certain what is causing it? Reducing fossil fuel use is probably a good idea but when I talk to scientists active in the field of climate research they themselves say that the jury is still out on how much is human driven vs. natural but reducing fossil fuel consumption is probably a good idea while we figure it out.

    so in summary shut the fuck up and deal with consensus reality for once

    What an enlightened attitude. I suppose a few thousand years ago you would have been arguing that the Earth is flat because that was the consensus? I'm a scientist so actual reality, rather than a group consensus of reality, is what I'm interested in. If you want to convince be I am wrong provide evidence and reasoned argument. Swearing about a consensus will help be form an opinion about you but will do little to persuade me that I'm wrong especially when I've spoken with colleagues in climate research and they say the same: it is not yet clear how much of the recent climate change is due to humans.

  • Re:Last post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catchblue22 (1004569) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:19AM (#42379301) Homepage

    The authors of TFA probably live in North America. This would explain the comment that the warming was "twice as much as previously thought".

    Why is this marked insightful???? It is in essence accusing without grounds PhD scientists who spend their lives studying these things with basing the entire thesis of a paper on grade school math errors. The author isn't supplying any quotations from the article supporting his assertion, other than a single number. It seems to me that the writer of this article is a peddler of misinformation. In the relatively recent past, he would be opening himself a libel suit. In the more distant past, the author would possibly in need of practicing his pistol aim and would need to find a second for his duelling appointment.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Monday December 24, 2012 @12:50AM (#42379447) Homepage Journal

    It's no use, you know. You can explain these things over and over again, but at this point you can be almost sure that anyone who needs it explained to them is going to answer your carefully reasoned mathematical and scientific explanation with the irrefutable counter-argument, "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEEEEAR YOOOOU ..."

  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Monday December 24, 2012 @04:58AM (#42380191)
    So, when I still worked on protein structures, each structure I ever calculated was a fabrication, since my raw spectra were averaged, zero-padded, treated with a window function, fourier transformed, phase corrected and baseline corrected, therefor, by your logic, not data, but mere fabrication. I let the publishers know that, guess I have to retract some papers and hand back my PhD then.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday December 24, 2012 @06:12AM (#42380375) Journal
    Please tell us what they have "added" and then explain why it's a problem. Fact is the type of analysis they are doing here is the same type of spacial analysis used in every other branch of science that needs to pick meaningful trends from noisy data. It's probably your politics that leads you to assume the numbers are biased toward warming, this is simply not true, the technique smooths out both +ve and -ve noise and is far more reliable than a simple least squares fit.

    You can't recalibrate a sensor and apply the correction after the fact as you don't know why the sensor lost calibration

    Sure you can, you just need to know how far out it is and for how long it has been wrong, simple instruments usually suffer from simple systematic errors, a thermometer does not normally output totally random data. Another common method (that can handle random as well as systematic errors is using weighted records of nearby stations to fill in or adjust known bad/missing data. They have probably used a sophisticated version of the second technique here since that is how both NASA and the MET office treat their global data sets.

    This sounds like really bad science, but it may just be really bad reporting.

    It's neither, it's your ignorance of common statistical methods combined with the paranoia displayed in your sig..

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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