back to article Arctic freshening not due to ice melt after all, says NASA

Concern that the Arctic Ocean is becoming massively less salty due to its ice cap melting - which could have knock-on consequences for the planet's climate - is unfounded, NASA scientists have said. For years, researchers have seen falling salinity readings in the Canadian half of the Arctic Ocean. This has led them to theorise …

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So....

..are we f**ked or not?

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Trollface

@silverburn

Depends which way the wind is blowing

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"are we f**ked or not?"

Dunno. I think we're still at the foreplay stage.

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Yep

While Greenpeace exists, none of us are safe!

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I can see how comforting it is that the hippies were wrong

but "freshest water in 50 years of monitoring" is less so.

Are we f**cked? Depends upon where you live, I think.

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Boffin

Conclusions cannot be drawn

We don't really understand the processes involved. This might be just one point in a natural cycle, it might be the end of an unual salinity distribution that was present whilst we were measuring and decided to call 'normal' without any real idea what 'normal' actually meant.

We can't tell if the change is our fault, if it is, we can't tell what caused it, and if we change what we're doing we won't be able to tell if it has done any good for a very, very long time.

Are we screwed? Possibly. Is it our own fault? Possibly. That's about as certain as anyone can be.

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@ dr2chase

"but "freshest water in 50 years of monitoring" is less so."

Presumably, since that appears to be the result of more fresh water being pushed away from the Russian side, presumably that side is the SALTIEST that it's been in the last 50 years, with the total salinity of the ArcTic ocean ending up almost constant.

Could we see species "flipping" with high-salinity-preferring species moving west and low-salinity-preferring ones moving east? Is the change in salinity across the ocean enough to make a difference? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Boffin

It Goes Without Saying

All the data is (still) not in. Science never knows absolutes and people who purport it does are at best ignorant. All science can tell us is what it has concluded from all the supposedly objective data accumulated thus far and correctly evaluated producing theories, hypotheses, experiments, and results leading to redifinitions of what fresh data is now more important and deserving of resource allocation for its capture; rinse, repeat.. Remember "junk DNA" if you need a contemporary exemple.

This fundamental of science used to go without saying, but it needs to be shouted from the rooftops these days (thank you, public education).

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From the CRU's rooftops for a start, I think

You'd think they would be doing more to make sure people understand that we really can't be sure, and less to convince governments and the progressive movements not just that we are in fact quite certain that the present warming trend a) exists and b) is the fault of the Industrial Revolution, but also that only social engineering on a massively Malthusian scale will suffice to preserve the species.

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Mushroom

Don't tell the Americans

They will start screaming about Communist water and invade Canada to give themselves a buffer against the onslaught of the Red Tide.

The North Atlantic Conveyor (Gulf Stream) will be most affected by the Greenland melt.

It won't "shut down" but may well move further south leaving the UK feeling more like Norway in terms of climate.

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Causation? Or simply correlation?

Two decades ago would put us back at the time the USSR collapsed. Whilst some Yanks might be unaware of that event, it may be that the planet noticed!

Causation much?

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Hippies?

Just some more fodder for the long-running flame-fest on El Reg:

Here in Edmonton, Alberta, we set a new high-temperature record 2 days ago. We beat the old high temperature by 3 degrees, with a temperature of +12C, 20C above the normal daytime high for this time of year. Lots of places in western Canada similarly broke records. Some forecasts indicate that 2 days from now might break records as well.

Now breaking records is not that big of a deal. This year we have almost no snow, and that increases the amount of warming from sunlight, thus melting more snow and ...

The thing that we are set to do that is totally unprecedented, however, deals with the number of consecutive days where we don't get below -10C. This long a stretch of very warm weather in December/January has never happened before, at least during the 100+ years that temperature measurements exist for.

This time of year is normally our coldest. The long range forecasts in the fall had said that we were going to have a unusually cold and snowy winter. Not so far...

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Anecdotes

My grand-aunt catched the flu this winter. Surely a sign that Earth is getting colder?

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

100 years? Is that it?

"This long a stretch of very warm weather in December/January has never happened before, at least during the 100+ years that temperature measurements exist for."

Last time I checked, the land currently labelled "Canada" has been around rather longer than a century. Many orders of magnitude longer. Feel free to come back to us when you have a more useful dataset, rather than a snapshot of events taken over a tiny, tiny period in time.

And remember: the Earth's climate does not need "saving". If you want to preserve the Earth's *current* climate in amber, I would strongly advise against it; it would be much, much cheaper to just let it get on with itself and adapt to it, rather making blind, flailing attempts to adapt it to _us_, despite our clear lack of full understanding over how the climate's mechanism actually works.

Our species is nothing if not adaptable. If sea levels do rise, we can always move inland. If the temperatures rise or fall, we can improve our structures accordingly. If floods become more frequent, we can adapt to that—as those living along the Nile in ancient Egypt did.

Humans have built their homes on water (Venice), in mountain ranges (Switzerland and Austria), in tundra (Canada, Russia, Norway), in deserts (Africa, Australia. China. Antarctica*), on ice floes (Arctic research bases), in areas prone to tornadoes (US), floods (US and almost everywhere else), hurricanes (US, Japan), volcanoes (Italy, Hawaii, etc.), earthquakes and more.

The problem with many of the so-called ecologists and "Climate Change Fearmongers" is that they assume we're all complete and utter fucking idiots, ignorant of the sciences and the many thousands of years of our species' recorded histories. Personally, I find this attitude incredibly insulting.

Enough already. The sky is not falling. We are NOT going to be killed by "climate change", because we, as a species, have been *adapting* to changes in our planet's climate for *thousands* of years already. There are as-yet unknown tribes hidden in the Amazon rainforest that know how to adapt to changes in their environment. Life _is_ change.

* (Yes, technically Antarctica is a desert. It doesn't get a lot of rainfall.)

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Anecdotes from too short of a history

Going longer back, it was generally even WARMER in AD800-1300 which gets ignored. That was a period of reasonable prosperity. It ended in the Little Ice age which technically we have almost climbed out of (FINALLY). But when the temps dropped going into the Little Ice Age, plague and famine (and wars) wiped out huge swaths of population back then. That went on into the mid 1800's. That doesn't happen when the planet heats up. The animal and plant populations prosper instead. The current planetary temp is still COLD according to the geologists who have a much longer timeframe to work with than the 100-150 years the climate guys keep banging on about... The science behind the climate still isn't well understood, so long term predictions are still near impossible to make since there are too many variables and not enough data points yet. In the late 70's we thought we were about to turn into a snowball (which would kill millions), now we think the planets heating up which will bring prosperity but few deaths. Warmth brings life, cold brings death. I don't see a problem with a warmer planet, unless getting warmer plunges us into an Ice Age again...

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FAIL

Beach weather in Canada -- snow closer to equator

Well, not quite the equator, but my inlaws were surprised by snow in the end of November near the Georgian-Turkish border. They saw snow fall before Oslo, Norway.

So, warmer up here, colder down there.

On average, all good then.

Begs the question: To properly measure global warming (or cooling) -- where exactly do you measure? And do we blame an increase in CO2 emissions? ('No' says http://www.forskning.no/artikler/2011/desember/306493)

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Anonymous Coward

Edmonton: When it happens 5 years in a row...

...then we should take notice. Until then: stastical blip.

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It's called weather...

...see, two can play at that game.

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Spinning registers...

The editorial decision to add 'hippies' to the story detracts from the factual contact.

It is a confusing thing to do. The (confusing) Editorial use of the term just adds emotion to a factual discussion.

This kind of editorial function lessens the collegial discussion of important point.

But I'll bet the editors weren't worried about that...

Too bad.

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WTF?

ODFO

Agendas aside (and I'd say el Reg is agnostic bordering on denialist in its agenda), the people who proved the "hippies" wrong were "boffins", both terms equal in being able to take as an insult or a complement. If anything, the word hippie was self-invented by hippies for hippies. Boffins, it's less clear of the etymology, but still applied affectionately or derogatively.

If you want news stories written about scientists and Greenpeace, with measurements in yards, feet & inches, would suggest not el Reg. If you want stories about boffins, hippies and measurements in brontosauri, buses and linguine, then you're in the right place.

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Headmaster

Strictly speaking, it wasn't the hippies who proposed that the fresh water was due to melting ice, it was the boffins.

Although I suppose some of those boffins could also have been hippies.

[insert venn diagram]

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Your venn diagram is quite fuzzy on the boffin side...

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Mushroom

This would be the nicely radioactive fresh water from the Russian side?

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Anonymous Coward

Hard science

I can't think of a single hard science article that points to a group of people and calls them "Hippies".

Calling people you disagree with names detracts from any good points you may be making. If you are serious about the "Global Warming is all a mistake" agenda that The Reg takes, you detract from your point. If however, you are trying to make as many people comment as possible, I'd chuck another few names in for good measure.

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WTF?

This is The Register.

It is not a scientific journal filled with peer-reviewed articles.

ALL words have emotional baggage attached to them. That baggage is defined not by the writer, but by the _reader_. Every article is therefore subjective. There are no exceptions.

The above is why papers submitted to science journals read as painfully as they do: they spend a big chunk of their time explaining, in anal detail, _exactly_ what the author _intended_ each term to mean, to avoid any misinterpretation. Journalists don't do that; it's not their job.

The Register is a website that has "Biting the hand that feeds IT" in its bright red masthead. This is a site that used to have "Integrity? We've heard of it," as one of its slogans, and which runs articles about home-brewed rocketry with project titles like "LOHAN" and "PARIS".

If you're taking it as seriously as a more po-faced rag like the Financial Times, you really need to work on your critical thinking skills.

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Anonymous Coward

@Sean

The articles on 'Reg about climate change are positioned as "we know the real truth that these scientists don't" with a heavy slice of "they're on the gravy train", it therefore does the credibility of the author no good whatsoever to indulge in name-calling.

I do note that you clearly believe the 'Reg line about climate change and wonder what your response would have been had the name calling been pointed at the deniers' camp in some way.

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Facepalm

@AC

Like, what, calling them "deniers"; in a thinly veiled attempt to equate questioning the models with holocaust denial?

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Anonymous Coward

Seriously?

I'm tempted to call Godwin... If someone thinks that something, which is generally regarded to be happening (by science), isn't in fact happening, despite massive evidence to say that it is, it's not unreasonable to call them a denier. Their position, after all, is denying that something is happening. In no way does that equate them with holocaust denial, there is no suggestion of racism, or tacit support of the slaughter of millions of people. To suggest that this is the case points towards overestimation of the importance of your beliefs and an inability to discuss a subject in a sensible manner.

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@AC 00:22

"If someone thinks that something, which is generally regarded to be happening (by science), isn't in fact happening, despite massive evidence to say that it is, it's not unreasonable to call them a denier."

This is the typical strawman used by CAGW supporters. The vast majority of those who oppose the CAGW position do not deny that there are changes in global climate (for which there is, yes, a large amount of evidence), they deny, or do not accept, that there is sufficient evidence that the climate change is as a resut of mankind's activities.

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Boffin

Everybody

needs to really work on their critical thinking skills. Some need to acquire the skills first, of course. The final exam reveals if you have learned the skills and underlying raison-d'être by evaluating how well you have personally integrated what you learned. It is a test that never ends. Here's a good syllabus (graduate level--you should deem this required, IMHO): http://www.cct.umb.edu/601-09F.pdf

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Boffin

Oversimplification

is just plain simplification, all of which is a rather lossy algorithm. That why the earlier comment about scientific writing vis-à-vis El Reg's Pulitizer candidates (</:-^ in case it wasn't obvious>) is germane to this discussion. In scientific writing, simplifications must be clearly labeled as such with subsequent restatement without the simplification or, if impractical, clear pointers to appropriate restatement. Simplification is a teaching aid, nothing more, IMHO.

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@AC: Gold Star For Critical Thinking

It is crucial to get past the actual denial to the motivation for denying, which explains a lot. This is also true when "facts" of science are cited as supporting some manner of statement.

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Big Brother

In Soviet Russia ...

... a river runs through you!

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Boffin

Dear Mr. Page,

I request that you cease using derogatory terms such as "hippies" when referring to the CAGW crowd, but kindly please wait until the CAGW watermelons stop referring to legitimate scientific critics as "deniers" and "enemies of humanity" and as being "funded by Big Oil."

Thank you.

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Dear El Reg

Thank you for letting me peruse these rooms and forms of discussions.

It is gr8 and I hope I uphold all of El Reg's terms and conditions.

But can we at least have a predictability score based on who said what in years past and what actually happened as time progressed.

Maybe even a fear-mongering score based on panic induced with actual observations after the event no?

Maybe it is time to sharpen el reg's teeth?

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Vulture

Birds don't have teeth. Talons on the other hand (or leg...)

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Black Helicopters

Damn commie water!!

So, in the 1950s there were those who thought that fluoridated tapwater was a communist plot, but they were obviously wrong. The real Russky threat is their corruption of our nice, salty American waters with their fiendishly fresh commie water!

Are the Russians trying to exploit a salt-water gap? Reasonable people would say no, but commies are obviously not reasonable--so I say yes!!! Trust me, I can name at least 100 communists involved in ocean sciences and water treatment within the United States, and these pinkos will stop at nothing to de-salinate the American way of life!!!!!

Now if you excuse me, I have to get back to my survival bunker.......

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

With apologies to Gen. Jack D Ripper:

"Fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had."

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Mushroom

Precious Bodily Fluids

enough said

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Devil

re: Damn commie water!! #

In the future everyone is going to get their history from fictional satirical movie characters ..

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Mushroom

Meanwhile, In The Persian Gulf...

"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when..."

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Okay?

Excused.

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Trollface

Happy New Fear

Sorry guys, you've got your scare story wrong. This isn't an CAGW scare story, but a "salt is evil" scare story and this is the anti-salt people putting their master plan into effect to get us all to reduce our salt intake.

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So the *total* salt level going into the sea is *unchanged*

But with so few climate scientists in the former soviet union to *measure* it no one knew.

Yet another case of "The sky is falling" turning into "actually half the model was missing and when we *bothered* to fill it in (that whole account-for-all-known-variables thing you're meant to do in *real* science) it turned out it wasn't"

This is good news for improving the global circulation models but once again *boy* has it taken a *long* time to get here.

Thumbs up for the science. The fact the result is optimistic regarding future climate change is a *bonus*.

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@John Smith 19

Yep. Pretty cool really. Another datapoint in the overall puzzle. The problem so far has been premature conclusions keep being drawn from incomplete data. Too much money being spent to prove Global Warming, instead of to just observe/theorize, prove/disprove and not get religious about it in the process. As human knowledge grows so does our understanding of our world and universe. Much of the time, things aren't what they appear. :)

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Joke

So not hippies?

Greenpeaceniks? Doom-n-Gloomians? Friends Without Benefits? Nah, hippies works when you're also dealing with those damn pinko commies.

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Boffin

Still leaves the $64 questions

While the total volume of fresh water going into the arctic ocean seems unchanged will its effect on salt *concentration* affect the ability of the "conveyor" current to move warm water around?

IIRC its the density gradients between fresh and salt water that drive this process so what's the tipping at which the forces are too low to move the current?

I'll note that fresh water is a *very* important natural resource in many parts of the world and the Russians might make better use of it by collecting it.

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Conveyor belt

"IIRC its the density gradients between fresh and salt water that drive this process"

Funny that, I always thought it was a combination of thermal gradient and dominant winds that drove the Gulf Stream. But I guess salinity does play a role too.

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Angel

So it's true then ...

We're all gonna die!

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