Unsettled science: Antarctic climate confusion 

Posted: June 1, 2016 by oldbrew in modelling, predictions, research, sea ice
Tags: , ,

Gentoo penguins at Palmer Archipelago, off the Antarctic Peninsula [image credit: Liam Quinn / Wikipedia]

Gentoo penguins at Palmer Archipelago, off the Antarctic Peninsula [image credit: Liam Quinn / Wikipedia]

Looks like Antarctic climate warming scares have gone into a death spiral. What a shame after all those man-made attempts at doom and gloom, and harsh attacks on critics.

A group of scientists have just published a study that tries to explain why Antarctica isn’t warming as predicted, and its ice isn’t melting as climate models say it should be.

As Reuters reports, the researchers identified flows of cold, deep water as the primary reason our models are failing down there: A persistent chill in the ocean off Antarctica that defies the global warming blamed for melting Arctic ice at the other end of the planet is caused by cold waters welling up from the depths after hundreds of years, scientists said on Monday.

[…][An] upwelling of cold water helped to explain the persistence of sea ice but not its expansion, a trend other studies have linked to shifts in winds off the vast frozen continent. Monday’s report found that warm waters in the Gulf Stream cool as they flow north into the North Atlantic, then sink and loop south towards Antarctica as part of an aquatic conveyor belt that takes centuries to complete.

Eventually, gale force winds in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica blow surface waters northwards and draw the chill, ancient waters from the depths. That upwelling helps explain why the surface of the Southern Ocean have warmed by just 0.02 degree Celsius (0.036 Fahrenheit) per decade since 1950, a fraction of the global average of 0.08 degree (0.144F), the study said.

We’ve known for some time that Antarctica hasn’t been melting as fast as climate models predicted it ought to be, and scientists have been surprised to find the southern continent’s ice sheets have expanded in some places. Last fall a group of researchers issued a corrective to models that predicted that melting Antarctic ice could add a meter to global sea levels by the end of the century, calling that catastrophic future “implausible.”

Last September new research suggested that Antarctic water was capable of storing much more atmospheric carbon dioxide than previously believed—one of those rare examples of positive climate news. Now, scientists think they have a better handling on why those waters haven’t been warming as expected, and to the extent that we’re able to refine our knowledge of the way these important systems work, that’s encouraging progress.

But it should also serve as a warning to overzealous greens that point to climate models as fonts of infallible evidence for justifying their harebrained policy schemes.

Source: Unsettled Science: Antarctic Climate Confusion | The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)

Jo Nova dissects the whole saga and skewers ‘Nature’ magazine here:
Nature – finally “finds” cause of Antarctic pause, will last centuries, tosses “global warming” out

  1. Joe Public says:

    “Last September new research suggested that Antarctic water was capable of storing much more atmospheric carbon dioxide than previously believed—one of those rare examples of positive climate news.”

    That can’t be true. The BBC hasn’t reported it.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Joe – are you sure?

    “If giant iceberg calving increases this century as expected, this negative feedback on the carbon cycle may become more important than we previously thought.”

  3. ren says:

    Chief Investigator, Dr Andrew Constable, said the preliminary results indicate an ecosystem that is much more productive than previously estimated.

    ”We observed whales including humpbacks and fin whales in many locations where Antarctic krill were in abundance, and also saw Adelie, emperor and king penguins, crabeater and Antarctic fur seals and several species of flying birds, including albatross, petrels and terns,” Dr Constable said.

    “On Valentine’s Day (14 February) we encountered a rare super-swarm of Antarctic krill with more than 100 humpback whales feeding in the area.

    “This is the first time a super-swarm has been properly observed and measured in the Indian Ocean since initial observations in the early 1970s by a fishing vessel. We were able to use the latest technology to map the swarm to learn about the behaviour and abundance of krill in the region.”

  4. Joe Public says:

    @ OB

    Drat I missed that. Considering the research was from Sept 2015, I was looking for 2015 links in their ‘News’ section.

    I hope Aunty forgives me for the unintended slight on their integrity. 😉

  5. gymnosperm says:

    Upwelling only happens in Antarctica? Nope. Upwelling waters are practically fizzing with CO2? Yep. C’mon, that CO2 should be melting the ice by itself /wink.

  6. ren says:

    Interactions between primary producers and bacteria impact the physiology of both partners, alter the chemistry of their environment, and shape ecosystem diversity1, 2. In marine ecosystems, these interactions are difficult to study partly because the major photosynthetic organisms are microscopic, unicellular phytoplankton3. Coastal phytoplankton communities are dominated by diatoms, which generate approximately 40% of marine primary production and form the base of many marine food webs4. Diatoms co-occur with specific bacterial taxa3, but the mechanisms of potential interactions are mostly unknown. Here we tease apart a bacterial consortium associated with a globally distributed diatom and find that a Sulfitobacter species promotes diatom cell division via secretion of the hormone indole-3-acetic acid, synthesized by the bacterium using both diatom-secreted and endogenous tryptophan. Indole-3-acetic acid and tryptophan serve as signalling molecules that are part of a complex exchange of nutrients, including diatom-excreted organosulfur molecules and bacterial-excreted ammonia. The potential prevalence of this mode of signalling in the oceans is corroborated by metabolite and metatranscriptome analyses that show widespread indole-3-acetic acid production by Sulfitobacter-related bacteria, particularly in coastal environments. Our study expands on the emerging recognition that marine microbial communities are part of tightly connected networks by providing evidence that these interactions are mediated through production and exchange of infochemicals.

  7. ren says:

    Isolate Sulfitobacter sp. EE-36 was isolated from the salt marsh on the coast of Georgia, US. Phylogenetically it belongs to the Sulfitobacter genus, which has been isolated from numerous places. Originally Sulfitobacter was isolated from the Black Sea, although it proved to be abundant in other environments, such as coastal and open ocean environments, an Antarctic lake and in symbiosis with sea animals. Sulfitobacter is particularly abundant in environments with a constant source of inorganic sulphur, like the Black Sea sediment or seafloor. Sulfitobacter sp. EE-36 stands out for its high inorganic sulphur oxidation activity. It is able to oxidize sulfite and thiosulfate, possibly to conserve energy for growth. It also grows on DMSP and glycine betaine as sole carbon sources.
    The study of microbial oxidation or reduction of elements is of great importance for our understanding of biogeochemical cycling of these elements in nature. Many transformations of metals in anaerobic and aerobic environments are the result of the direct enzymatic activity of bacteria. Bacterial bioremediation is a potentially attractive and ecologically sound method of removing environmental contaminants such as in polluted industrial wastewaters. (5)
    Support for AAP’s larger influence in the global carbon cycle (including that of R. denitrificans) is growing as evidence exists that the bacteria are abundant in the upper open ocean and comprise at least 11% of the total microbial community. The aerobic phototropic bacterium is a member of a group of a group of organisms that dominate the microbial biota of the surface of the oceans and other surface waters and thus likely plays a major role in the way the earth absorbs and releases carbon dioxide. They act as aerobic photoheterotrophs, metabolizing organic carbon when available, but capable of photosynthetic light utilization when organic carbon is scarce. They are globally distributed in the euphotic zone and represent an unrecognized component of the marine microbial community that appears to be critical to the cycling of both organic and inorganic carbon in the ocean. (6)
    Key transformations for the biogeochemical cycling of sulfur that involve both organic and inorganic compounds have also been identified in Roseobacter clade members as well as having pathways that may play a role in determining the balance between the incorporation of sulfur into the marine microbial food web (the demethylation/demethiolation pathway) and the release of sulfur in the form of the climate-influencing gas dimethyl sulfide (the cleavage pathway). Inorganic sulfur oxidation is an important process in many coastal and benthic marine environments (e.g., sediments and sulfide-rich habitats), and the recent discovery of genes encoding sulfur oxidation enzymes (sox genes) in open ocean bacterioplankton suggests a previously unrecognized role for sulfur oxidation in these systems as well.

  8. ren says:

    (Economic Collapse) You may not have noticed, but our planet is becoming increasingly unstable. According to Volcano Discovery, 40 volcanoes around the globe are erupting right now, and only 6 of them are not along the Ring of Fire. If that sounds like a very high number to you, that is because it is a very high number. As I have written about previously, there were a total of 3,542 volcanic eruptions during the entire 20th century. When you divide that number by 100, that gives you an average of about 35 volcanic eruptions per year. So the number of volcanoes that are erupting right now is well above the 20th century’s average for an entire calendar year. And of course we are witnessing a tremendous amount of earthquake activity as well. Nepal was just hit by the worst earthquake that it had seen in 80 years, and scientists are telling us that the Himalayas actually dropped by an astounding 3 feet as a result of that one earthquake. How much more does our planet have to shake before people start paying attention?

  9. ren says:

    Published Thursday in the journal Science, the study details a tenfold increase in the abundance of single-cell coccolithophores between 1965 and 2010, and a particularly sharp spike since the late 1990s in the population of these pale-shelled floating phytoplankton.
    “Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should,” said Anand Gnanadesikan, associate professor in the Morton K. Blaustein Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s five authors.
    Gnanadesikan said the Science report certainly is good news for creatures that eat coccolithophores, but it’s not clear what those are. “What is worrisome,” he said, “is that our result points out how little we know about how complex ecosystems function.” The result highlights the possibility of rapid ecosystem change, suggesting that prevalent models of how these systems respond to climate change may be too conservative, he said.

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-11-rapid-plankton-growth-ocean-carbon.html#jCp

  10. oldbrew says:

    From the GWPF: a brief video…’chilling news for scare stories’.

    Confounding factors – the curse of over-simplistic theories.