9/12/2013 10:28:40 PM

The Planet Is NOT Cooling

Have you seen the headlines claiming the planet is cooling? They were in several newspapers and all over the Internet: "Climate change is over and we can all rest easy now." We wish that were true.

The reports make the amateurish mistake of confusing natural, short-term variation with the long-term trend.

The Guardian wrote, "When it comes to climate science reporting, the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph are only reliable in the sense that you can rely on them to usually get the science wrong. This weekend's Arctic sea ice articles from David Rose of the Mail and Hayley Dixon at the Telegraph unfortunately fit that pattern."

The science is in, and while there was more sea ice in the Arctic this summer, over time, sea ice is shrinking.

An article in Alaska Dispatch correctly states, "The change is a one-year reversal in line with long-term warming trends. While the Arctic sea ice in August stretched farther than it did 12 months ago, it remained hundreds of thousands of square miles below the long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)." 

The Guardian concurs, "Both articles claimed that Arctic sea ice extent grew 60 percent in August 2013 as compared to August 2012. While this factoid may be technically true (though the 60 percent figure appears to be an exaggeration), it's also largely irrelevant. For one thing, the annual Arctic sea ice minimum occurs in September - we're not there yet. And while this year's minimum extent will certainly be higher than last year's, that's not the least bit surprising. As University of Reading climate scientist Ed Hawkins noted last year,

'Around 80% of the ~100 scientists at the Bjerknes [Arctic climate science] conference thought that there would be MORE Arctic sea-ice in 2013, compared to 2012.'"

The two graphs below show first, how it is possible to cherry pick a shorter time frame over which global surface temperatures haven't warmed, and second, how the opposite is true in the overall warming of the planet.

Don't believe everything you read, and always check the science.

Original articles: Arctic sea ice delusions strike the Mail on Sunday and Telegraph (there are some very cool illustrative .gifs in this article) and Global cooling? London newspapers having a row over climate change in the Arctic 

Average of NASA GISS, NOAA NCDC, and HadCRUT4 monthly global surface temperature anomalies from January 1970 through November 2012 (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes Jan '70 - Oct '77, Apr '77 - Dec '86, Sep '87 - Nov '96, Jun '97 - Dec '02, and Nov '02 - Nov '12.
© Dana Nuccitelli/The Guardian

Average of NASA GISS, NOAA NCDC, and HadCRUT4 monthly global surface temperature anomalies from January 1970 through November 2012 (green) with linear trends applied to the timeframes Jan '70 - Oct '77, Apr '77 - Dec '86, Sep '87 - Nov '96, Jun '97 - Dec '02, and Nov '02 - Nov '12.
© Dana Nuccitelli/The Guardian

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