How appropriate that it is pantomime season. This year’s sell-out production of “Climate Change Academics on Ice” may have been marketed under #SpritOfMawson, but Professor Chris Turney, climate scientist, certainly knew the story he wanted to tell via media circus.
As The Spectator blog puts it:
The idea was that the world would be left gasping at the changes measured by Turney compared with the measurements made by Mawson a century ago, thereby encouraging acceptance of the thesis of man-made climate change.
His own research seems to focus on peering into the past to understand climate change, and so established in his mind was the story of warming that it did not occur to him to get his facts right in the present.
Speaking to students during advance promotion Professor Chris Turney said
“One of the things we do know is that in the last 20 years or so the westerly winds in the Southern Hemisphere have been pushing towards Antarctica. […] greenhouse gas levels […] have been increasing and that’s changing the amount of heat in the atmosphere, but it’s also changing the distribution of heat and the result is that those westerly winds are continuing to go further South. […] It’s bringing warmer air further South; it’s also changing ocean circulation which is leading to some warming around the Antarctic coastline.”
He goes on in another video about the importance of believing the data in science. But is he a victim of believing models?
Modelling suggests warm water could push deep into the Weddell Sea (from BBC News)
In reality he shouldn’t have had too far to look to for real data. The NSIDC Sea Ice Index pages tell quite a different story. Note the pronounced increase in December 2013 ice along the coast adjacent to the target site at Commonwealth Bay (about 5 o’clock on the images). Must be those westerly winds to blame.
and not just this year – quite a trend:
The real drama certainly played out like a pantomime as the climate tourists, seemingly oblivious to the danger they were in, carried on with their plans, deaf to the cries of “It’s behind you” from the ship’s crew as the ice closed in.
How does it end? Well, while I do hope and pray for the safety of the crews of the Akademic and Xue Long currently imprisoned in the ice, the media circus on this Ship of Fools is all set for the traditional pantomime ending – the Harlequinade.