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 …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Silverburn


    ..are we f**ked or not?

    1. Chris007


      Depends which way the wind is blowing

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "are we f**ked or not?"

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

    3. Charles Manning


      While Greenpeace exists, none of us are safe!

  2. dr2chase

    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.

    1. Ru

      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.

      1. dlc.usa

        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).

        1. Aaron Em

          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.

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      @ 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.

  3. Big_Boomer Bronze badge

    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.

    1. ian 22

      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?

  4. Chris Gray 1


    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...

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge


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

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Sean Baggaley 1

      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.)

    4. admiraljkb
      Thumb Down

      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...

    5. Rune Moberg

      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

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

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

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

    7. david 63

      It's called weather...

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

  5. Beachrider

    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.

    1. Annihilator


      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.

  6. Some Beggar

    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]

    1. Tomato42 Silver badge

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

  7. Scott Wheeler

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

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Sean Baggaley 1

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        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.

        1. Keep Refrigerated


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

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            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.

            1. Alister Silver badge

              @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.

            2. dlc.usa


              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.

            3. dlc.usa
              Thumb Up

              @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.

      2. dlc.usa


        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):

  9. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Big Brother

    In Soviet Russia ...

    ... a river runs through you!

  10. Alan Esworthy

    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.

  11. All names Taken

    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?

    1. Toastan Buttar


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

  12. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    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.......

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      With apologies to Gen. Jack D Ripper:

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

      1. Microphage

        re: Damn commie water!! #

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

    2. DanceMan

      Precious Bodily Fluids

      enough said

      1. dlc.usa

        Meanwhile, In The Persian Gulf...

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

  13. All names Taken



  14. 100113.1537

    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.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    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*.

    1. admiraljkb
      Thumb Up

      @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. :)

  16. Bill Gould

    So not hippies?

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

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    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.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      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.

  18. Gary Bickford

    So it's true then ...

    We're all gonna die!

    1. dlc.usa

      Exceptionally High Probability

      if you follow ZH, somewhat less if you believe Daniel, Saul of Tarsus, and John had credible inside information, and statistically impossible if you believe it is credible and the return of The Messiah occurs while you're still converting O2 into CO2.

      Or did you mean all together now?

  19. Peter Dawe
    Thumb Down

    Not one, but another

    NASA seems to be saying that the salinity issue is not one consequence of climate change ( Artic melt), but another (Changes in the Arctic oscillation ). Definitely not NASA saying the climate isn't changing!

    BTW, stereo-typing those concerned about the future as "Hippies" is totally inappropriate. Hippies tend to consider the moment, rather than the future and are often not rational, and Those concerned about the future are certainly rarely Hippies. and many base their concerns on scientific evidence

  20. BillBall

    Let's be clear about one thing...

    ...this study does NOT say that sea ice isn't melting, indeed if you follow the link to the summary it says it took place "during a time of record reductions in ice extent from 2005 to 2008".

    So this does nothing and says nothing to prove or disprove AGW, it only says that melting sea ice is not the major factor in freshwater distribution.

  21. LeonB


    So you are saying freshwater from melting ice is less likely to cause a decrease in the gulf stream, which would have attenuated future warming in Europe? So the 'hippies' at Greenpeace were wrong and it will be warmer than they thought?

  22. JeffyPooh Silver badge

    "...fresh water is a *very* important natural resource..."

    As you continued, " many parts of the world."

    Meanwhile, in many other locations, freshwater falls from the sky like rain.

    We have thousands of times more water available to us than we require. We have massive rivers spilling petatonnes of freshwater into the oceans.

    My residence consumes essentially zero water. We pull it from a deep well, annoy it for a day or two, and then return it to the forest through the on-site state-of-the-art septic system. Not quite closed loop, but effectively similar as we simply borrow the water.

    Many rivers are similar, with at least some water molecules passing through several citizens on their journey from the mountains to the sea.

    We need to get that iceberg to the deserts scheme going.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "Meanwhile, in many other locations, freshwater falls from the sky like rain."

      Quite true. The UK being quite a good example.

      I wounder how many hose pipe bans they will have this year?

      "My residence consumes essentially zero water. We pull it from a deep well, annoy it for a day or two, and then return it to the forest through the on-site state-of-the-art septic system. Not quite closed loop, but effectively similar as we simply borrow the water."

      Impressive, but I wonder how many houses could afford the space in a built up area?

      "Many rivers are similar, with at least some water molecules passing through several citizens on their journey from the mountains to the sea."

      IIRC it was said London water was clean because it had been through 7 sets of Kidneys already.

      In truth I'm not sure how valuable fresh water is as a resource to that part of Russia, just that hanging onto it is usually a good idea.

      1. madenglishbloke

        Not quite…

        "IIRC it was said London water was clean because it had been through 7 sets of Kidneys already."

        That, as any PTerry fan could telly you, was Ankh-Morpork.

      2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Sets of kidneys

        >IIRC it was said London water was clean because it had been through 7 sets of Kidneys already.

        Yes, as any full nose, urine is usually cleaner than the tap juice we all drink dayly... it's sterile, to begin with (when it isn't, you do feel it) and does not usually contain anything toxic -unless you put something seriously wrong through your gobhole-. It is probably a bit too salty to be completely healthy though.

  23. Jim Birch
    Black Helicopters


    Does poor old Lewis Page spend his entire life hunting down potential denialist news articles, or only a large part of it? I'm waiting for an article that openly admits global warming, or one that debunks some of the crap that is sprouted by denialists and then repeated endlessly even after it has been torn to threads. Give it a try Lewis. You can't be as stupid or scientifically incompetent as you are making out.

    It might not hurt. Then again, it might.

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Oh puh-leese...

      ... will you stop birching?

  24. Chris Sake

    Water wars

    So can we expect to see a third round of SALT Talks?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019