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Arctic Ice Extent Understated Because of "Sensor Drift"

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the give-it-a-few-taps dept.

Earth 823

dtjohnson writes "The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has been at the forefront of predicting doom in the arctic as ice melts due to global warming. In May, 2008 they went so far as to predict that the North Pole would be ice-free during the 2008 'melt season,' leading to a lively Slashdot discussion. Today, however, they say that they have been the victims of 'sensor drift' that led to an underestimation of Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers. The problem was discovered after they received emails from puzzled readers, asking why obviously sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as ice-free, open ocean. It turns out that the NSIDC relies on an older, less-reliable method of tracking sea ice extent called SSM/I that does not agree with a newer method called AMSR-E. So why doesn't NSIDC use the newer AMSR-E data? 'We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data.' Turns out that the AMSR-E data only goes back to 2002, which is probably not long enough for the NSIDC to make sweeping conclusions about melting. The AMSR-E data is updated daily and is available to the public. Thus far, sea ice extent in 2009 is tracking ahead of 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, so the predictions of an ice-free north pole might be premature."

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first post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915213)

before the shitstorm hits

Rocket science? (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915219)

Obviously not, too cold. The more astonishing the fact they can make such errors.

CC.

Incorrect (0, Offtopic)

UbuntuLinux (1242150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915279)

Although you are correct that the extent of arctic ice has been understated, this does not in any way suggest that the moon *is not* haunted - in fact current evidence suggests that moon ghosts wander the planet's surface both day and night.

Nor, as you suggest, is the moon too cold. Ghosts do not have a physical presence, so the temperature of the moon would mean nothing to them.

Re:Incorrect (0, Offtopic)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915469)

Nor, as you suggest, is the moon too cold. Ghosts do not have a physical presence, so the temperature of the moon would mean nothing to them.

So, my patent for a method involving the freezing and storage of moon ghosts is probably worth a little less than I had hoped... sigh...

Re:Incorrect (-1, Offtopic)

Oswald (235719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915573)

Like you were ever going to implement it! I wish you patent trolls would just get a job. Society would be much better off without you leeches impeding progress to satisfy your own greed.

Re:Incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915793)

No nescessarily - my recent research suggets that moon-ghosts *could* be trapped by getting them really wet, and then freezing the water.

Re:Rocket science? (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915339)

Science isn't an exact science, people are involved and people make mistakes. Scientist need to remember that they are human too and they will make mistakes. Data can be off or altered, I remember a local weather channel use to use a point for the local temperature until they built a Dunin Donuts next to it, and heat escaping the building or cars or something (it was a long time ago) raised the temperature 5 or 6 degrees warmer then the actual weather.

Climate Scientists are trying to make very accurate predictions where they don't have the data to do so. We can probably say global warming is real, however that is a very broad statement. But to say The Polar caps will be gone in 2008 or by 2012 NYC will be flooded, is grossly misunderstanding the complexity of the earths environment.

Granted that most of the fear mongering worst case scenarios stuff isn't from the people doing the real science but from activists groups who pick and choose data to make people afraid so they do what they want. But still the Scientists don't like saying to people Hey I could be wrong, but thats OK because with the scientific process being wrong takes us the next step closer to the real answer. They want to in general portrait themselves like the Sci-Fi scientist who know what is going on and is always right.

Re:Rocket science? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915747)

There is no question that data analysis and prediction is subject to errors, sometimes quite large ones. The real question is whether these errors are due to researcher bias. Unfortunately climate data and predictions are apparently more motivated by political beliefs and biases than hard facts.
Many people have strong feelings that disaster is about to occur. Perhaps this comes from childhood recollections of maternal warnings about running with scissors or touching hot stoves. These fears can be reinforced by religious beliefs that portend the end of the world. Because this psychological factor is so prevalent we need to be especially skeptical of predictions of future disasters.

Re:Rocket science? (2, Insightful)

tritonman (998572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915367)

Is it just me or are the global warming doom prophets as bad as the christian doom prophets? The world is going to end next year, it will be 1000 degree. Next year it ends up being colder than ever. Oh well, there was a slight miscalculation, it will be NEXT year now.

Re:Rocket science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915395)

The world is going to end next year, it will be 1000 degree. Next year it ends up being colder than ever. Oh well, there was a slight miscalculation, it will be NEXT year now.

See also: Year {X} is the year MS's global domination was finally ended, heralding an enlightened new era of Linux on the desktop.

There's a lot of it about.

Re:Rocket science? (2, Funny)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915777)

My prediction from my data states that Year {X+1} will be the year of the Linux Desktop.

Re:Rocket science? (0, Flamebait)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915483)

At least we HAVE a calculation. The CDPs are just pulling crap out of their asses.

Re:Rocket science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915737)

So you have calculation, wrong is still wrong! Sheesh

Re:Rocket science? (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915769)

Kinda like the 'Year of Desktop Linux'! When the predictions for the current year don't pan out, wait! *NEXT* year is going to be the year of desktop Linux!

Oh gosh. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915229)

This is one of those things that grabbed by the neck and whipped around like a dog shaking a dead squirrel by the "It ain't warming up" folks.

Re:Oh gosh. (2, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915303)

Looking at the new graph it's still pretty obvious that the trend is "downwards", there was about 2 million square kilometers less ice in September 2007 than in September 2003.

http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm [uaf.edu]

But yeah, the deniers will be all over this.

Re:Oh gosh. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915405)

By calling them "deniers" what you're saying is that science should be thrown out the window. You do realise that science is about collecting evidence, forming a theory and then trying to disprove it.

What "alarmists" do which is the kind of science you support is to cherry pick unrelated events from around the world and scare people into agreeing with them for the purposes of making money off such schemes as carbon off setting.

Re:Oh gosh. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915463)

No, the point is that no matter which data set you look at, the trend is downwards. "Deniers" are those who completely ignore all of that data and say it's not happening at all. And trust me, they're out there.

Re:Oh gosh. (3, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915577)

A lot of them infect techy websites like dailytech for no apparent reason apart from one of "their kind" posts carefully selected anti-global-climate-change stuff. Mostly single data points, rather than overall trends of course. They don't have science on their side.

Of course it is good if they exist to ensure that the science is rigourous. Sadly they go beyond that, to actually trying to recruit believers to their cause - all too easy in a world addicted to cars - like a religion. They come up with alternate theories which the science doesn't support, much like intelligent design, creationism, etc. Considering the eventual outcome of being wrong in all this, it is highly irresponsible of them, and I hope that if things do go tits up in a pear shaped bowl that they are the ones made to pay.

Not that the extremists on the other side help. Doom-mongering damages your cause, all in the name of sensationalism. Just let the science speak for itself.

Re:Oh gosh. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915757)

Listen to what you're saying. You want to punish those who don't agree with you. You've turned the global warming debate into a religion.

There are ways... (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915565)

When a new sensor is thought to have greater accuracy or reliabilty than an old one, but produces data which are not entirely consistent with the older one, it does NOT prevent use of the new sensor or meaningful use of data from both sensors. One standard technique is to employ both sensors simultaneously for some time - in other words, the two data series would overlap for that time. If both series show a downward trend in ice cover, then the trend probably real, even if they always disagree about the level of ice cover or the rate of decline. Over a sufficiently long time, it should be possible to build a model to quantitatively explain the difference in readings.

Come on, guys. There must be a few PhD theses waiting to be written on how to reconcile these instruments...

Re:Oh gosh. (4, Insightful)

Stewie241 (1035724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915599)

However you feel about this issue, I think it is a bit weak to try and claim a change over 4 years constitutes a 'trend' when it comes to global climate data.

Re:Oh gosh. (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915419)

This is one of those things that grabbed by the neck and whipped around like a dog shaking a dead squirrel by the "It ain't warming up" folks.

Maybe it's because we are tired of people (read: activists and politicians) trying to take away our rights based on bunk data.

Why is it that people who refuse to show ID to board a plane because it "violates their rights" are the same ones that are perfectly happy letting the state of California change the thermostat settings in their home?

Re:Oh gosh. (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915585)

You think unfettered consumerism is a human right?

Re:Oh gosh. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915733)

Fuck. Yes.

Any other questions?

Re:Oh gosh. (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915817)

Maybe it's because we are tired of people (read: activists and politicians) trying to take away our rights based on bunk data.

I just think it's human nature to filter information to support our positions. Hypocrisy abounds in all of us in some quantity, but "with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world."

Re:Oh gosh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915601)

Is it any more ludicrous than the now-erroneous report being picked and whipped around by "the sky is falling" folks?

We only use data that support our hypothesis (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915237)

"We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data."

And our historical data shows terrible calamity awaiting us at every turn, and even if reality doesn't bear this out, it makes sense that we should continue to sound the alarm because if we do decide to face reality people may not take us and our hysterical blatherings seriously.

We'd rather just keep on using outdated modes of measurement and forecasting that give incorrect results every year because the results fit our hypothesis better. And what better to support a hypothesis than data that will back it up?

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (1, Interesting)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915337)

Unfortunately that seems to be the way of a lot of science today. Carbon dating is another minefield that comes to mind. The current mindset seems to take on popular theory and interpret it as fact. The scarier and more apocolyptic, the better. Very post-modern. Anything that doesn't fit that 'fact' has a fight ahead to even get published.

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (2, Insightful)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915731)

Unfortunately that seems to be the way of a lot of science today. Carbon dating is another minefield that comes to mind.

How so?

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915431)

"We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data."

And our historical data shows terrible calamity awaiting us at every turn, and even if reality doesn't bear this out, it makes sense that we should continue to sound the alarm because if we do decide to face reality people may not take us and our hysterical blatherings seriously.

We'd rather just keep on using outdated modes of measurement and forecasting that give incorrect results every year because the results fit our hypothesis better. And what better to support a hypothesis than data that will back it up?

Right! If the data doesn't back our conclusions, use different data!

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (2, Insightful)

aurispector (530273) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915527)

Garbage in, garbage out.

This is a core reason why I get very, very nervous whenever people start talking about global geoengineering schemes to fix global warming. The first question is "how good is the data?" Any good science is all about getting good data.

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915593)

Look who's talking. BadAnalogyGuy, the reason why scientists sometimes prefer inaccurate but precise and historically consistent data over data sources which are more accurate but have not been around for long is that they are interested in trends, not absolute values.

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915629)

they are interested in trends, not absolute values

Climate scientists are the mental equivalent of teenagers and shallow women. Thanks for the clarification.

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915631)

My father is an environmental engineer. He cleans up some of the stupid crap we have done over the past hundred years. We were having a talk about global warming years ago, before it was a big buzzword. He said to me: "Be careful listening to the global warming experts. If they have devoted their career to global warming and if it turns out not to be true, they don't just lose their job they lose their field of expertise."

Re:We only use data that support our hypothesis (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915841)

I once worked with an environmental professor who could put the harshest fire-and-brimstone preacher to shame in her millennialist proclamations of doom (her grad students could too). All she was after was grant money, and she wasn't above going to the press and using the Chicken Little routine in order to drum up support for her latest grant proposal. I frequently had to write press releases for her that I was ashamed of (if you even hinted to her that she should tone it down and stick to reasonable statements she would literally freak out like a madwoman). From that moment I met her, I adopted a very skeptical view of the whole global warming "crisis" and its proponents.

Science is nowhere near as "hard" as people think. Too many scientists are way more interested in grant money and in their personal reputations than in the validity of their conclusions.

Not consistent? (5, Insightful)

mccalli (323026) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915239)

From the summary:'We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data.'

What's the point of being consistent with a flawed methodology? I would have thought the thing to do would be to collect the new data, base newer model off that and then perform a statistically weighted correction to the older dater. Both data sets can be maintained if required.

Am not sure I see a point in consistency for consistency's sake, when you in the light of newer information you now know the original measurements are flawed.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Not consistent? (1, Troll)

M1rth (790840) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915315)

What's the point of being consistent with a flawed methodology?

Al Gore. James Hansen. And all the other Climate Frauds who insist that (a) the sky is falling and (b) "man-made global climate change" is something we need to pay them a bunch of money to do nothing about.

Remember: Al Gore's supposed "carbon neutral businesses" are that way because he's in the business of selling so-called "carbon credits." Absent the "sky is falling" hype, as paraded by his faux documentary the Inconvenient Lie (which was actually LESS scientifically accurate than the movie The Day After Tomorrow, and we all know how accurate that was [wikipedia.org] ), nobody would pay money to Gore's little scam.

Using the new data would expose the fraud, which would screw the agenda of the kooks trying to use "global climate change" to scare us into paying them scam money and doing things that aren't necessary.

Re:Not consistent? (1, Flamebait)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915445)

When are you "global climate fraud" people going to stop looking through ideology-tinted glasses and actually look at this the current climate crisis we are in with an open, objective, scientific mind? Are you really going to wait until 80% of Florida, the entire West Coast of California and New York City are under water?

There are actual photographs taken from outer space in different years that show that the polar ice caps are melting. They found a new land mass that they never new existed due to the polar ice caps melting. You can't possibly sit here and tell people with a straight face that the polar ice caps are not melting. The empirical evidence is as plain as the nose on your face and you don't need a degree in geology or climatology to see it.

Re:Not consistent? (2, Insightful)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915517)

When are you "climate change sheep" going to stop using the fact that some ice is melting or the climate has "changed" (it's ALWAYS changed in case you didn't know) as an excuse to peddle crisis hysteria that says the end of the world is coming. I don't think most people who look at this as a fraud disbelieve that the ice caps are changing, they just don't believe the hysterical rantings of scientists who can't predict the weather or a hurricane season with any certainty. There is nothing wrong with some skepticism considering the less than stellar record of scientific declarations in this area.

Re:Not consistent? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915589)

And for those who say "long term weather is easy to predict", I'm still waiting for the "warm, wet winter" that was predicted for this location--as it's again 10 degrees BELOW NORMAL YET AGAIN today--it's only been above normal a couple of days the entire winter. If this is "proof" that you globil warmin' doomsayers can predict long term trends, than it looks like another ice age is coming...

Re:Not consistent? (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915789)

when are the earth is doomed people going to stop taking a small data section and trying to extrapolate it out to 2 or 3 hundred years into the future. A good analogy would be taking the number of cars sold over the period of 1895 to 1902 and stating that there is no way cars will take the place of horse and buggy. the decline of ice cap has been proven to have happened in the past, several times, from core drilling. last time i checked, people are still here on the planet, so evidentially it was not the end point of the human race or the end of civilization

Because it conflicts with the decision (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915387)

they already made.

Look, they made up their minds and damn it, facts are not going to get in the way.

Just be glad we have doubters and amateur scientists who call out crap for what it is. Maybe, just maybe, more people will come to realize just how bad of a model we are working with because all our facts aren't worth the paper their recorded on. Like any other bureaucracy stuff like this happens because no one wants to step forward to a) upset the status quo, b) take responsibility for a decision, c) work.

Just be glad it was caught. Just like people found temperature sensors in parking lots, readings duplicated across months, and other sorts of fun. The ineptness of some of so called scientific groups when it comes to climate science makes me wonder if we do proper vetting of who is getting the money.

Re:Because it conflicts with the decision (2, Insightful)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915647)

Actually, that's not really the fault of scientists in general. There are good scientists, and bad scientists. The good ones would rather die than claim or conclude something that they haven't cross-checked with all available data 100 times. Bad scientists will say anything as long as it gets them attention and money. Conclusion: bad science is the fault of the media, the government, and private organizations that for various reasons fund it.

Re:Not consistent? (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915441)

I don't think that what he meant is that they're going to blatantly ignore any piece of information that doesn't fit in with their current model/hypothesis (even if this is actually what they would do). Probably what he meant is that the actual way in which final data is acquired from the newer sensors is sufficiently different from the old way that they would have to make a significant investment in order to combine or entirely switch to that method.

I understand that it's pleasant to make fun of/insult scientists, and jump to conclusions regarding their integrity. In many cases such accusations are true, but there is no need to be so hasty in claiming that someone is a charlatan and understands less about his/her job than you do.

Re:Not consistent? (1)

rho (6063) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915533)

Do you have doubts?

IT IS SCIENCE!

Skepticism is heresy. Turn in your Feynman decoder ring. You are shunned.

Re:Not consistent? (2, Insightful)

germ!nation (764234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915609)

The problem is that scientific claims are publicised and jumped on by the media, this raises the bar at how loud you have to shout to continue getting your comfortable amount of funding, so then you need to keep shouting.

These people are career 'environmental scientists' and have a vested interest in perpetuating the worst case scenarios so the money keeps rolling in. Once you are out of fashion in science then you might as well not exist.

I'm not saying that the things they are studying aren't happening, but being conservative doesn't put you high on the list when the money is being allocated.

Re:Not consistent? (1)

anegg (1390659) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915677)

I think the logic is something like this: The newer, more accurate measurement is not done in the same way as the older, less accurate method. It would not be valid science to compare the data gathered today with the newer method against the historical record using the older method because the measurement method changed. They want to be able to make the comparison over a longer period of time so that the trending is clear(er), so they have to use the older measurement method to have a valid comparison.

A hidden assumption is that whatever errors exist in the older method, those errors will remain constant over time, and those errors will be essentially "random." I.e., with respect to the theory about declining sea ice, the errors will neither falsely indicate increasing or decreasing sea ice levels, they will merely cause larger error bars around each years ice measurement.

If anyone wants to properly discredit the use of the older measurement method, one approach would be to show how the older less accurate method has a bias in its measurement that favors the argument that an overall loss of sea ice is present.

Eventually they will have to switch to the newer measurement, because I suspect the older sensors will eventually all have failed, leaving only data from the newer method. They probably hope to have enough data to be able to progress from the trending developed using the old data to trending developed using the new data in a scientifically valid fashion before then.

alternative solutions (2, Interesting)

mcfatboy93 (1363705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915241)

instead of using sensors that move and 2 systems that don't work why not try just taking pictures or using those weather satalite things to look at whats ice and whats not

Re:alternative solutions (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915287)

Both the AMSR_E and SSM/I data are satellite derived products.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/satellite/ssmi/ssmiproducts.html
http://www.aqua.nasa.gov/about/instrument_amsr.php

Multiple Data Sources (4, Insightful)

s31523 (926314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915243)

FTA, "Some people might ask why we don't simply switch to the EOS AMSR-E sensor. AMSR-E is a newer and more accurate passive microwave sensor. However, we do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data. Thus, while AMSR-E gives us greater accuracy and more confidence on current sea ice conditions

OK, I can see their point, but using the EOS sensor may have given pause to researchers doing a comparison to current conditions using the traditional sensor, i.e. cross-reference current conditions to be more confident that your data is correct. Nothing like screaming "the sky is falling" due to bad data. Any science experiment, especially one that can produce sensationalist news, should not just rely on one piece of data.

Re:Multiple Data Sources (5, Insightful)

chr1sb (642707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915567)

From TFA:
<i>"Sensor drift is a perfect but unfortunate example of the problems encountered in near-real-time analysis. We stress, however, that this error in no way changes the scientific conclusions about the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice, which is based on the the consistent, quality-controlled data archive discussed above."</i>

If the media outlets and attention seekers sensationalise the real-time output, then unreasonable conclusions might well be drawn. What's the alternative though? To not make this real-time data available? Scientific hypotheses will be tested against the corrected data, so this sensor drift doesn't affect them. These are preliminary measurements only, not full-blown experiments with scientific conclusions. The polar bears are still going to have to become better swimmers.

It's a little ironic that this data will have been used by one group with an agenda to sensationalise climate change, and now will be used by the (perhaps overly) sceptical amongst us to poo poo it. Some have an agenda to sensationalise both. All serve to cloud the real message.

How can people expect... (2, Insightful)

Turzyx (1462339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915253)

...the world to take global warming seriously, when these jokers are making such wildly inaccurate predictions based on obsolete technology?

Re:How can people expect... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915305)

Who, other than idiots and hippies, was taking global warming seriously anyway?

Re:How can people expect... (4, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915393)

You mean besides the overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists?

Re:How can people expect... (2, Insightful)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915513)

You mean besides the overwhelming majority of the world's climate scientists?

Yes, just like the overwhelming majority of M.D.s oppose "alternative medicine".

Just like the overwhelming majority of "artists" support copyright.

Just like the overwhelming majority of bankers support the bailout.

Re:How can people expect... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915643)

Luckily for us, science always corrects itself in the long run.

This new data doesn't change anything except possibly the timescale. The effects of dumping billions of tons of CO2 into the air is still a bad thing.

Re:How can people expect... (4, Insightful)

Kokuyo (549451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915329)

The biggest problem is that you NEVER know whether any study published is done this way or not.

I am an advocate of scientific methods, and yet I am someone who is in doubt about this whole "The earth is warming up because of us" spiel.

Now why is that? Even though I'm going to get modded troll or flamebait again, I'm going to repeat myself: Without checking procedures and facts that went into a study, you can never be sure about the results.

Face it, people, the time when scientists did their thing to broaden humankind's knowledge is over (or probably has never happened in the first place). Too many 'scientists' have been given deadlines by their institutes (or the fact that they cannot survive on air and sunshine) and must produce results that people will acknowledge one way or another.

I am not saying the earth isn't warming up. I am also not saying that we are innocent if it does. All I'm saying is that most of the 'studies' I've seen floating around the press smell fishy to me. And unless that changes, I'm rather inclined to label this stuff as simple FUD.

I'd rather we follow simple common sense and watch out for our planet because it's the frickin' right thing to do instead of running around like headless chicken being afraid of our children being cooked alive by the sun. Mindless impulsive actionism never helped anybody.

Oh yeah: Modding me down because you don't like my opinion doesn't make your opinion anymore right just as it doesn't make mine any more wrong, okay?

Re:How can people expect... (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915389)

Amen to that. Where have all my mod points gone?

Re:How can people expect... (2, Funny)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915411)

They probably melted due to global warming.

Re:How can people expect... (5, Insightful)

Binty (1411197) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915711)

While I respect your skepticism of the scientific press, I think this reasoning suffers from two flaws. First

All I'm saying is that most of the 'studies' I've seen floating around the press smell fishy to me.

Relying on the press to get your scientific information is going to be incomplete. The press reports particularly sensationalistic doom & gloom stuff, whereas most science goes out of its way to take a neutral tone. It is too much to ask a non-scientist to pay attention to the leading journals (I'm thinking of Science and Nature here), but we are also at a point in our history where science needs to inform our politics. This is obviously troublesome for democracy, and why I sympathize with your skepticism of science.

Second,

I'd rather we follow simple common sense and watch out for our planet because it's the frickin' right thing to do instead of running around like headless chicken being afraid of our children being cooked alive by the sun

This reasoning is suspect because, aside from global warming effects, green house gas emissions aren't very harmful. It is relatively easy to see the pollutant effects of particulate emissions: they make things dirty and also hard to breathe. GHG emissions, on the other hand, are fairly clean and only have a mediated effect on human health (through climate change). Your strategy would have us fix only the easy to see problems even if there are more important environmental matters that require advanced scientific techniques to understand.

Re:How can people expect... (3, Insightful)

bgray54 (1207256) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915797)

The biggest problem is that you NEVER know whether any study published is done this way or not.

Spoken like someone who has never actually read a scientific paper. Any paper I've seen will give you: (1) the historical context for why they are doing a study, (2) the assumptions made in doing the study, (3) details on the observational data and model used in completing the study, and (4) a RANGE of possible results. It is true that the media typically doesn't do a good job of reporting uncertainties, but don't accuse the scientists of sloppiness when you're completely unaware of what goes into a scientific paper.

500,000km (3, Funny)

MadDogX (1365487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915275)

Oh, by the way - we overlooked an ice block the size of Spain. Whoopsie!

Historical error (3, Interesting)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915281)

Am I to understand that they will continue to measure (and predict) ice conditions based on less accurate sensors simply because these measurements tally better with older measurements, which themselves are less accurate?

Or have I missed something?

Re:Historical error (5, Insightful)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915487)

Compare it to a game benchmark or whatever. You keep a standard, even if it's flawed, because that's the only way you get comparable results. You can't take a raw number for MIPS or millions of polygons/second or transactions per second or whatever the metric of choice is in your field (here, one is obviously ice sheath coverage) and use numbers from wildly different methods to even try to devise a historical trend. The value observed might not correlate exactly (or even very well) with old ones, but unless the flaws in the method cause great variability within that framework, the historical trends will still be accurate, or at least more accurate compared to what would happen if you changed your methodology each year and still tried to extract longer trends.

It might not be a good choice, and suggestions to run double series over the (short) timespan where overlapping data is indeed available would of course be better, but you can't just switch to the latest and greatest if you want some kind of consistency in your data.

Re:Historical error (1)

bbhack (98541) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915495)

Am I to understand that they will continue to measure (and predict) ice conditions based on less accurate sensors...

After the complete destruction of their credibility, does it really matter whether they do?

Re:Historical error (1)

germ!nation (764234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915635)

I guess they could argue that while the raw numbers are inaccurate, the relative figures you can extrapolate from the data would still be useful.

Didn't anyone notice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915283)

Didn't anyone notice before this that the two data sources were giving inconsistent data? Shouldn't this have alarmed someone when AMSR-E gave its first results and they disagreed significantly with the old method? You'd think that comparison would be the first thing you'd do.

Re:Didn't anyone notice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915361)

Why bother comparing the data when the new data irrefutably supports that your hypothesis is correct and the ice caps will be gone in less than a decade. This has nothing to do with science, it is all religion.

Polar Bears (1)

rlp (11898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915293)

Does this mean that the popular press will finally stop writing articles about the "poor drowning polar bears"?

Re:Polar Bears (2, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915541)

No, and Rupert Murdoch will head north and drown them personally if he has to.

Re:Polar Bears (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915713)

No, and Rupert Murdoch will head north and drown them personally if he has to.

I think you have Rupert Murdoch [wikipedia.org] and Ted Turner [wikipedia.org] confused.

Murdoch started Fox News. Turner started CNN.

Ted Turner:

Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. The few people left will be living in a failed state â" like Somalia or Sudan â" and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad there'll be no more corn grown. Not doing it is suicide.

Rupert Murdoch:

Imagine if we succeed in inspiring our audiences to reduce their own impacts on climate change by just one percent. That would be like turning the State of California off for almost two months.

Rush Limbaugh is going to have a field day (1, Insightful)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915295)

Its bad science like this that gives various talking head pundits the ability to totally disregard and blast climate change as bogus fear mongering.

C'mon guys, you have to do better than that.

Re:Rush Limbaugh is going to have a field day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915667)

Hold on just a damn second here. I was being told by all you goose-steppers that only republicans and the religious right were bending science to their own model? So what's going on? Are you know proclaiming that no one's hands are clean in this matter? Fancy that.

Time and time again what has been denounced as right-wing foolery has been proven to be the unethical tool of all involved. Can we finally get our heads out of the sand on these matters?

Confusing (2, Insightful)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915299)

This is _very_ confusing. By the IJIS website, 2002 and 2003 were in average:
http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm [uaf.edu]

But, then, look at this:
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/1023esuice.html [nasa.gov]

The result has direct connections to NASA-funded studies conducted last year that found perennial, or year-round, sea ice in the Arctic is declining at a rate of nine percent per decade and that in 2002 summer sea ice was at record low levels. Early results indicate this persisted in 2003.

The story is far over-hyped (1, Troll)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915319)

This error relates to Jan/Feb 2009 only. The problem has been identified quickly. It will be fixed quickly. No big deal.

For the climate change deniers among you, this is how science is supposed to work. Scientist A says something, scientist B says "hang on my experiment gives different results", scientist A checks and says "sorry, yes, we goofed" and it gets fixed. This is exactly the opposite of religion, where Religious Bigot A says "the Earth is 6000 years old", scientists B through aleph-null say "hang on, geology, biology and astronomy confirm this is rubbish", and Religious Bigot A says "you lie, the Earth is 6000 years old."

There is a British "science writer" named Nigel Calder who claims that AGW is a huge fraud by the scientific establishment, and that counter-evidence is always suppressed. This little episode shows that Calder is speaking out of his anus, which means it may serve some useful purpose.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915381)

srsly.

Re:The story is far over-hyped (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915455)

This error relates to Jan/Feb 2009 only. The problem has been identified quickly. It will be fixed quickly. No big deal.

For the climate change deniers among you, this is how science is supposed to work. Scientist A says something, scientist B says "hang on my experiment gives different results", scientist A checks and says "sorry, yes, we goofed" and it gets fixed.

In this case, Scientist A said "Yes, we knew that, but that data shows that our historical data is flawed, so we decided not to use it."

Bigotry? (2, Interesting)

paulthomas (685756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915543)

I like how you liken "climate change deniers" to religious bigots. "Religious zealots" would be more appropriate, and they exist on both sides.

Yeah, this is the basic idea of how science is supposed to work, but that's not the point that comes across in your post. The parent post is a troll.

Re:The story is far over-hyped (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915561)

This error relates to Jan/Feb 2009 only. The problem has been identified quickly. It will be fixed quickly. No big deal.

Um, didn't they say that there would be NO ICE on the north pole in 2008? It's 2009 and there is still ice on the North Pole.

Now, I understand that scientists can be wrong. That's perfectly acceptable. We are all human, after all. However, based on the fact that scientists can be wrong, and in this case and many like it they are, I'm not willing to give up rights, like the ability to regulate the temperature in my own home or drive myself to work, based on data that can be, and in this case is, flawed.

There is a British "science writer" named Nigel Calder who claims that AGW is a huge fraud by the scientific establishment, and that counter-evidence is always suppressed. This little episode shows that Calder is speaking out of his anus, which means it may serve some useful purpose.

If this revelation were made in 2008, you'd have a point, but to make a prediction as dire as this one and then come out a year later and say "oops, the data was bad" a year after your prediction has been proved false proves Calder's point, not the other way around.

Re:The story is far over-hyped (1)

intheshelter (906917) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915575)

"climate change deniers"

- Spoken like a true AGW fraud denier

"this is how science is supposed to work. Scientist A says something, scientist B says "hang on my experiment gives different results", scientist A checks and says "sorry, yes, we goofed" and it gets fixed"

- The problem with this convenient excuse for innacuracy is that in the interim Scientist A has already published his conclusions which say that the end of the world is coming and his supporters have already begun calling anyone who doubts him a "denier". Sound familiar to you?

"This is exactly the opposite of religion"

- Who said anything about religion? Why are you bringing religion into the discussion? It seems like you might have your own anti-religion agenda on this and it's coloring your thoughts a bit.

Re:The story is far over-hyped (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915681)

Not sure how this troll got modded Insightful.
This is not how science is supposed to work as per the article they already knew their methodology was flawed so scientist A says f-you we know our data is flawed and yours is more accurate but we like our more flawed data and reject yours as ours fits with our pre-conceived notions of the truth and your data shows we are wrong.
I find it sad that you had to go off on an anti-religious tirade as it had nothing to do with the article.
In reference to your last statement it only further honed the point Nigel Calder was making - they knew their data was flawed but the correct data didn't match with their FUD so they are going to continue to use known flawed data.

Re:The story is far over-hyped (2, Insightful)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915723)

"On February 16, 2009, as emails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem--sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean."

So far there is no Scientist A or a Scientist B. There's a data gathering satellite and readers of the data.

I would love there to be a few decades of data gathering and analysis before the world takes steps. But we're being told we have to take action NOW. Damn straight you're going to get Climate Change Deniers.

Politicians grabbing for money and power using non-existent emergencies is a common occurrence throughout history. The earth turning into a desert wasteland is not. Which do you think is happening here?

I think NSIDC need some Jedi powers (1)

Choozy (1260872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915369)

The sky is falling, the sky is falling... oh wait... my bad... This is not the melting ice cap you are looking for.

How can you tell graphs without error-bars? (1)

jopie_b (543754) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915373)

Looking at the AMST-E data it does seem to be warming up though.
For sure the lines in winter are pretty close, but if you look at the lines in August 2006 and 2007 show pretty deep dips.

If you look at the 'old' SSM/I data the same trend emerges.

If course graphs without error-bars are not to be trusted as people are wont to fixate on the exact numbers shown rather than the trend. Without error-bars you cannot even tell if the trend is real or due to sampling bias.

A nice way of doing error bars is used in the (our) national weather on TV.
Instead of showing a line to indicate the predicted rainfall, temp, etc.
They use a colored area with includes the line + error bars. Except almost none realise its error bars you're looking at. Neat.

Definition : Cherry picking their data (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915425)

They really aren't helping their case. One of the main arguments against their doom and gloom predictions, has been that they cherry pick their data.

This argument was used for example, against Al Gores pretty damn good documentary/movie when he used Mount Kilimanjaro as an example of glacial melting. Of all the examples he could have used, it was probably the worst one to use, since studies have shown that the retreating snow is not due to global warming. And the photos he used were deceptive, to say the least.

Tosh. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915467)

"n May, 2008 they went so far as to predict that the North Pole would be ice-free during the 2008 'melt season,' "

No they didn't.

They said it was a remote possibility.

This was taken up by the anti global climate change, altered, and then used to "prove" that global warming wasn't happening when it didn't happen.

The fact it is presented that way by the story submitter shows which way they think, and thus how reliable the overall story is.

Re:Tosh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915717)

But they strongly implied, if not stated out right, that the amount of ice would be significantly less in 2008. Turned out they were completely wrong.
And the global warming zealots (not the real scientists) and politicians took this as proof we need to do something RIGHT NOW or we're all dead. That is what is so scary--the zealots can take these pronouncements and take away your freedom based on a flawed prediction, but if the prediction is false, we are supposed to ignore it (and surrender our freedoms anyway.)

Re:Tosh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915805)

From the older article, where they state that the pole may be ice free:

"Could the North Pole be ice free this melt season? Given that this region is currently covered with first-year ice, that seems quite possible."

The qualifying word before possible is "quite" - which, although ambiguous, doesn't mean "remote" and it doesn't mean "It will", it means "It can" or "It might"
They didn't give a definite answer because they weren't sure, the indications showed it could, and just because it didn't doesn't mean they failed either

This is the story picked up by the Pro global climate change camp, changed to give a definite answer, and thrown about to guilt people, which has backfired and has now been picked up by the Anti-change camp, and now the pro change camp are apparently claiming they had nothing to do with it and it's all a conpiracy...
It's all a load of tosh if you ask me
I will continue to recycle, I will continue to commute by bus and use energy saving light bulbs, none of these scaremongerers or deep-set denialists will either make me do more or less. Whether or not these things will save the planet, they save me money, and that's what counts.

why they don't use the data (1)

slackoon (997078) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915477)

From the summary:'We do not use AMSR-E data in our analysis because it is not consistent with our historical data.' Is that the same thing as saying "We do not use AMSR-E data because it proves that we've been wrong all along!'

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915485)

They wanted their conclusion to be true and therefore didn't bother questioning the data.

Interests (2, Insightful)

www.drk.com.ar (1481793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915581)

There is a lot of people interested in denying climate change whatever it takes. Taking a single error from a single study about climate change as proof of a non-existent climate problem is obtuse. The global warming shows itself in so many ways that no one can tell it isn't happening at all. Of course we can sit to discuss how are we responsible for this change and how much of the change will occur as part of a natural process. But there is no such discussion. Instead you see a bunch of corporations claiming "there is no such climate change, let us keep burning oil".

Re:Interests (3, Insightful)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915705)

Please allow me to comment (ignoring all the obvious grammatical mistakes ):

There is a lot of people interested in denying climate change whatever it takes.
I think the word is skepticism, not denial.

Taking a single error from a single study about climate change as proof of a non-existent climate problem is obtuse.
Hmm, that mentality always works fine for the Global Warming camp, why can't skeptics use it too ?

The global warming shows itself in so many ways that no one can tell it isn't happening at all.
Climate change does not equal Anthropomorphic Global Warming, see, we're skeptical

Do you mean climate change Of course we can sit to discuss how are we responsible for this change and how much of the change will occur as part of a natural process. But there is no such discussion.
Not from the Global Warming camp anyway, from where I sit, those who are skeptical keep insisting this is required, but the Global Warming camp insists it's not a question of 'If' any more.

Instead you see a bunch of corporations claiming "there is no such climate change, let us keep burning oil"
Can you name one of these corporations ?.

Re:Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915765)

Instead you see a bunch of corporations claiming "there is no such climate change, let us keep burning oil".

You also see a bunch of governments claiming "there is such a thing as climate change, let us create more taxes".

You also see a bunch of corporations claiming "there is such a thing as climate change, let us sell 'carbon credits'".

Not sure what to believe anymore... (1)

mrn121 (673604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915663)

When I was in elementary school, they told us that if the polar ice caps melted, only the upper floors of the highest buildings in NYC would be above sea level. A few years ago, research starting coming out saying that a high percentage of the ice at the north pole was already melted. Clearly somebody was (or is) lying. It would be nice to get real facts from time to time instead of alarmist B.S.

We do not use ASMR-E data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26915715)

because it is inconsistent with our pre-determined conclusions that must adhere to the theology of global warming/climate change/name of the week.

Science vs. Finance... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915773)

"...that led to an underestimation of Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers."

Proof from the field as to why Science/Engineering and Accounting are indeed two separate departments.

Although, I wonder how many "Scientists" were in Accounting at Enron...

Typical spin job (4, Informative)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915781)

In May, 2008 they went so far as to predict that the North Pole would be ice-free during the 2008 'melt season,'

Er, no, they said it was possible and later quote "a 59% chance of a new record minimum this year". How the media chose to report this is another matter... Oh yes, note the date: May 2008.

Today, however, they say that they have been the victims of 'sensor drift' that led to an underestimation of Arctic ice extent by as much as 500,000 square kilometers.

And if you read TFA, the sensor drift started in January 2009, was spotted within a few weeks and only affected their daily images which are effectively "live" and hence haven't gone through QA.

So how exactly does an error which occurred in Jan/Feb 09, was almost immediately spotted and declared affect a (misreported) prediction made last May?

<irony>Meanwhile, I'm sure the little fairies are hard at work ensuring that the geological era's worth of sequestered CO2 we're in the process of releasing back into the atmosphere magically changes its physical properties. After all, it is made from special carbon that God put there in 4004BC for us to burn, unlike that nasty communist CO2 that exhibits the greenhouse effect in godless laboratories.</irony>

Credibility (-1, Flamebait)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26915787)

When are people going to wake up and realize the proponents of global warming have no credibility whatsoever and its all "BAD SCIENCE". It might or might not be happen but we don't know enough to be making public policy around it. These people need to shut up and find some real proof. Poof that will actually hold up to analysis by others.

The hockey stick report was fake, this ice melt data is wrong.

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