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An icebreaker gets stuck in the ice, photos are used to mislead

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday…

Clearing snow for a helicopter rescue makes for a dramatic photo, but let’s not forget the science. EPA/Andrew Peacock/Footloosefotography/spritiofmawson.com

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and by now you might have seen dramatic images of passengers on stranded icebreaker Akademik Shokalskiy being rescued by helicopter last Friday after becoming lodged in Antarctica sea ice on Christmas Eve.

Another type of picture – the graph – plays a major role in science. No one could look at the graph below, which shows the extent of arctic ice during the past 1,450 years, without realising that the polar ice cap has been melting at a rapid and wholly unprecedented rate over the past few decades.

Skeptical Science

Similarly, my own research has shown that if people are shown a graph with global temperatures during the past few decades, they invariably understand and predict that further warming is in stock – this is true even for the few people (less than 10% in my sample) who denied that climate change is taking place.

Graphs and pictures are powerful scientific analysis and communication tools.

The power of graphs and pictures, and the anecdotes they can evoke, are also powerful means by which people can be misled, inadvertently or otherwise.

It is well known that the national newspaper, The Australian, has a track record of distortion and misrepresentation when it comes to climate reporting, so it is informative to examine what role pictures, or the anecdotes they evoke, often play in their reporting.

The recent adventures of the Australian expedition to Antarctica are a case in point. Under the headline Stuck on a ship of (cold) fools, the newspaper opined:

You have to feel a touch of sympathy for the global warming scientists, journalists and other hangers-on aboard the Russian ship stuck in impenetrable ice in Antarctica, the mission they so confidently embarked on to establish solid evidence of melting ice caps resulting from climate change embarrassingly abandoned because the ice is, in fact, so impossibly thick.

The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, led by Chris Turney of the University of NSW, was to prove the East Antarctic ice sheet is melting. Its website spoke alarmingly of “an increasing body of evidence” showing “melting and collapse from ocean warming”.

Instead, rescue ships and a helicopter, all belching substantial carbon emissions, have had to be mobilised to pluck those aboard the icebreaker MV Akademik Schokalskiy from their plight, stuck in what appears to be, ironically, record amounts of ice for this time of year.

An ice breaker gets stuck in ice – we’ve all seen the pictures – and somehow this is an embarrassment to “global warming scientists”.

A helicopter rescue was the last option left for the passengers after French, Chinese and then Australian icebreakers failed to smash through more than 20 kilometres of pack ice to free the Shokalskiy. EPA/Andrew Peacock/Footloosefotography/spritiofmawson.com

Actually, no.

If one goes to the expedition’s website, their first three scientific goals (there are nine altogether) are as follows:

  1. gain new insights into the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle
  2. explore changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay
  3. use the subantarctic islands as thermometers of climatic change by using trees, peats and lakes to explore the past

I have highlighted the important bit: the growth of extensive fast ice. So what is “extensive fast ice”? It is a form of sea ice, and it is obviously sea ice in which the expedition is now stuck.

In other words, the expedition is experiencing the very conditions it set out to study — namely the various kinds of sea ice that scientists know are increasing around Antarctica, while the icecaps on Antarctica are known to melt.

How much is Antarctica melting? The graph below shows us.

Shepherd A et al (2012). 'A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance.' Science, 338 6111:1183-9

There is a solid body of evidence that Antarctica is melting (a consequence of global warming) whereas sea ice around Antarctica is increasing. The reasons underlying those seemingly opposing trends make for some fascinating science.

A fascination with science, alas, is not always apparent in the pages of The Australian.

Their idolatry of pictures, on the other hand, cannot be overlooked.

If it is not icebreakers, then it is a picture of a bronzed Aussie swimmer in his budgie smugglers under the headline Wong wipeout doesn’t wash with locals. This heroic 53-year-old had been swimming at Bondi beach for 30 years and “was adamant he had seen ‘no change’ to the coastline”, thereby presumably putting yet another final nail (approximately the 156th) into the coffin of global warming and sea level rise.

A great picture, perhaps, and Bondi’s swimmers are entitled to their opinions. The actual data, meanwhile, paint another picture about global sea level rise: a steady increase in mean sea level over the past two decades.

Nerem R S et al (2010). 'Estimating Mean Sea Level Change from the TOPEX and Jason Altimeter Missions.' Marine Geodesy 33, no. 1 supp 1: 435.

Pictures are powerful.

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words.

Pictures and graphs can inform when they present scientific data. But equally, pictures can mislead when they evoke irrelevant anecdotes instead of the reality that is described by scientific data.

Join the conversation

184 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Comment removed by moderator.

  2. Mike Hansen

    Mr.

    This morning the climate science denier trolls who take their lead from the climate crank blogs and the Murdoch press and attack science articles at The Conversation have claimed that scientists are hiding the growth of sea ice in the Antarctic.

    Hidden in plain sight.
    https://theconversation.com/antarctic-sea-ice-bucks-trend-13195
    https://theconversation.com/why-is-antarctic-sea-ice-growing-19605
    https://theconversation.com/ipcc-where-to-for-antarctica-and-the-southern-ocean-17767
    "While the Arctic sea ice has declined substantially, “Antarctic sea ice cover shows a small increase”. Overall, Antarctic sea ice has very likely increased at around 1.2 to 1.8% per decade between 1979 and 2012. "

    What is striking in the commentary from the trolls here and the articles in the Murdoch press is the raw hatred for science and scientists that is being demonstrated. Chris Turney is the latest target of the lynch mob's ire. Next week they will find another scientist to hate.

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    1. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    2. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Kerry Palmer

      Here. Let me save you some time, Kerry. Plimer must have this Abbott government scared he will expose their Direct Action Plan as fraud http://www.climatechange.gov.au/accurate-answers-professor-ian-plimer. This sort of government harassment on citizens who don't 'believe', or follow the party line is reminiscent of certain behaviour we fought wars for.

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    3. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. David Rennie

      IT Contractor

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark,
      The only reason you know that the Antarctic sea ice is expanding is because the SCIENTISTS TOLD YOU SO. They also told you why it is happening but you didn't listen to that you just decided that it supported your case for denying the science behind global warming.
      Unlike deniers like yourself, scientists don't get to choose their answers first and then plug in the facts to suit their answers. Scientists need to justify their conclusions, and their conclusions are unambiguously that the expansion of the antarctic sea ice is consistent with changing weather patterns and increased antarctic melting caused by global warming.

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    5. Pamela H.

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      We don't need 'Hiroshima bombs' when we've got Fukushima fukushing up the oceans. Not being a scientist I can only guess how much all that radiation is contributing to what is currently occurring.

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    6. Pamela H.

      logged in via email @hotmail.com

      In reply to Pamela H.

      ... and they say it's 'not man made'.

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    7. George Takacs

      Physicist

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      Mark,

      Heating can occur through three distinct processes: radiation, conduction, and convection. Only the final one of these cares about gravity, and hence distinguishes between up and down. The warming of our lower atmosphere due to increased concentration of greenhouse gases is due to radiation. If your only source of heating is radiation then a kettle can be warmed just as efficiently from above as from below.

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    8. Phil Dolan

      Viticulturist

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      'By the way, how is that efficient kettle that heats from above going?'

      Mark, you must have experimented on this and reached the conclusion that it does not work.

      I think I know where you went wrong. You shouldn't put the match in the water, hold it just above. Better still, use a blow torch.

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    9. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Phil Dolan

      Even better still, get a bar radiator and hold it above the kettle..

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    10. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    11. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    12. Robert Tony Brklje
      Robert Tony Brklje is a Friend of The Conversation.

      retired

      In reply to David Rennie

      Want to confuse them, then point them to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McMurdo_Dry_Valleys. Valleys in Antarctica with no snow or ice, where did it go, what happened to it?
      Of course people with a reasonable education will know what is going on but forcing them to explain it, do a bit of research (they could never accept it as a climate change event, which of course it isn't) but, it might teach them there is more to weather than just the temperature of the air.
      Lots of snow and ice require moisture…

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  3. John Newlands

    tree changer

    I'm still trying to wrap my thinking around the fact that a year ago all I could see was bushfire from horizon to horizon and today I'm wearing a heavy jacket and beanie to ward off the cold. So far we seem to be able to cope with 30C variations in temperature but what if the unseasonal swings get even bigger? Horticulture will be very difficult with summer frosts and winter warm spells. That will affect food supply and costs.

    The fact that the outback had almost record temperatures a few days ago also seems odd, a fact conveniently omitted by those pointing to the ice bound ships. I note in the US the current cold snap is attributed to a 'polar vortex'. I wonder if it is affecting both poles at the same time and if that is unusual.

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    1. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to John Newlands

      That a polar vortex has moved away from its pole as fa as mid-latitudes (ie US) is remarkable, and arguably ascribable to increases in mass flow of subpolar jet streams (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_stream).

      There might be some explanation to be found in:

      Peterson, T. C., M. P. Hoerling, P. A. Stott and S. Herring, Eds., 2013: Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate
      Perspective. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94 (9), S1–S74. http://www.ametsoc.org/2012extremeeventsclimate.pdf

      I think the west to east traverse of temperate climate bands has slowed in both hemispheres, so that ex-TC Oswald last year travelled southwards down Australia's east coast, dumping rain into coastal and hinterland catchments as it went, instead of simply wandering off towards New Caledonia as it might once have done.

      Ex-TC Oswald gets a mention in BoM's 2013 Annual Climate Statement: http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/current/annual/aus/2013/

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    2. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to John Newlands

      Reply to John Newlands
      Maybe mother nature is more human like than we have thought. Push a person too far and what happens? Push our climate/planet too far- and maybe we ought to expect a mammoth tantrum!

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  4. Henry Verberne

    Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

    Well this is the article that tackles the issue of Antartic ice that the deniers claimed would never be published because it would be "too embarrassing".

    But it now has been published and it is a soundly based refutation of the cherry pickers.

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Congratulations on your new appointment!

      Many of us who follow this very informative and stimulating site will welcome the improvement that is already apparent. May I suggest another issue for attention: people who comment here using other than their real name. In some instances it is incontrovertible that the commenter is not using their own name, in others I can only register my suspicion, based on some having rather mellifluous names.

      I suspect that some may register using multiple email addresses- something which is easy to do- to circumvent the "use your real name" policy.

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    2. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Thanks Henry. Happy to be here.

      People using aliases is something we're taking seriously and hope to crack down on. Unfortunately, as you allude to, our 'use your real name' policy can be difficult to enforce but we're working on it.

      If you have any ideas (or any other concerns), feel free to get in touch with me directly.

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    3. Mat Hardy

      Lecturer in Middle East Studies at Deakin University

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      But Cory, surely you have just been put here by the climate change "disciples" in academia to delete any comment that seeks to show "the truth"?

      - Sebatsian Weetabix

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    4. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Thanks Cory. I should have included links to the withdrawn papers that Prof Lewandowsky is referring to but I thought that would get me deleted. As I said before, "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." History is littered with your type of failed conversation.

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "History is littered with your type of failed conversation."

      Before climate science denial, we had creationism, aids denial, anti-vaxxers etc.

      Hatred of science is endemic among ideologues when it challenges their world view.

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    6. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Why don't you add "snark" to your guidelines then. Be sure to provide a good definition too.

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    7. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Has a "climate science denier", whatever that may be, ever suggested that we suspend the democratic process? Name one please.

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    8. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      "I should have included links to the withdrawn papers that Prof Lewandowsky is referring to but I thought that would get me deleted."

      If you have some evidence of nefarious dealings then put up or...

      It's dishonest to cast aspersions and then leave it at that.

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    9. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Definition of "Snark" from the Oxford dictionary: make snide and sharply critical comments.

      And "snide": derogatory or mocking in an indirect way.

      You seem to be challenging Cory to moderate your posting.

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    10. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry, google is your friend. If I am wrong, Mr Lewandowsky is quite welcome to sue me.

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    11. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes Peter, and lets hope he has lots of resilience and coping skills, otherwise he will be needing to take stress leave soon.

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    12. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      Lubos Motl.

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    13. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Mat Hardy

      I wish I was. I assume "Acolytes" get paid a lot better than "Community Managers".

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, please supply the link to back up your claim that "those Topex and Jason satellites are more than 100% wrong with their SLR as a result of the NASA JPL Terrestrial Reference Frame being out of whack".

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Really Jim? Is sea ice above the annual median during the NH winter? Gee - go figure. That has never happened before (except for just about every year according to that graph of yours).

      But well done. It really takes a special form of cherry picking and denialism to misuse statistics like that.

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    3. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      You should keep up, Henry. GRACE is out of whack too so the land ice melt is wrong as well.

      No SLR, no ice melt, eh?

      SLR actual; 1.5 mm/y

      SLR T-PJ; 3.2 mm/y

      Over 100% exaggeration.

      GRASP needed to fix the TRF:

      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/12/03/why-ice-loss-and-sea-level-measurements-via-satellite-and-the-new-shepard-et-al-paper-are-highly-uncertain-at-the-moment/

      But don't feel lonely, DA and all you warmers are in denial about it.

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    4. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Matthew Lancey

      Inglis is referencing the climate science denier website WUWT. That should sound alarm bells.

      "The terrestrial reference frame (TRF) is the foundation for virtually all space-based and ground-based Earth observations. "

      "The Global Positioning System (WGS84) has been refined on several occasions since its inception and is now aligned with the International Terrestrial Reference Frame (ITRF) at the level of a few centimetres. For most people it is impossible to obtain a WGS84 position with an…

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    5. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      What is it about "daily global sea ice anomaly" you don't understand?

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    6. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Matthew Lancey

      Mathew, have you worked it out yet?

      Actual SLR 1.5 mm/y

      Satellite SLR 3.2 mm/y

      I make that 113% out of whack.

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    7. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      What is it about Northern Winter that you do understand?

      As Michael points out the daily **global** sea ice **anomaly** has been above the mean during winter for most of 30 years. That is because the Arctic sea ice melts in summer not winter.

      Looking at global sea ice anomalies is a favourite of climate science deniers because it masks the trends.

      Antarctica and Arctic sea ice are not comparable. Explained here.

      "The Antarctic is almost a geographic opposite of the Arctic, because Antarctica…

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    8. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Oh great link to support your claims Jim. With such unimpeachable evidence that whole conspiracy of climate change is blown out of the water.

      Please keep up your great efforts; I for one am convinced the more you write with such strong science backing your remarks.

      Wish there was more of it.When are you becoming a contributor?

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    9. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    10. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      "been at or below average for the last several winters"

      That's northern winters.

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    11. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Grow up, Henry.

      Those sites are no better and arguably a lot worse than WUWT.

      But that's just my opinion against yours.

      Just stick to, and argue the facts and the evidence.

      And the evidence here is that NASA JPL admit that their Terrestrial Reference Frame for these satellites [Topex, Jason, GRACE] is out of whack, they are in error and it will be a few years before GRASP will be able to fix the problem.

      But in the meantime SLR and land ice melt cannot be calculated accurately by these satellites.

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    12. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    13. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Oh and direct me to your evidence please Jim/

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    14. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    15. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    16. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Satellites??? What utter nonsense Jim ... don't be deceived by these so called scientists pretending to be able to put things where things shouldn't go ... it's like that moon landing scam isn't it? They just say that to get their grants and stuff the pockets of their lab coats with public dollars.

      And once they have their so called satellites "up there" ther produce doctored photos showing a round near spherical planet ... as if!!!

      Everyone knows that just can't be true innit.

      We…

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    17. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    18. In reply to Jim Inglis

      Comment removed by moderator.

    19. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to John Phillip

      "Please, Jim, don't call them stupid. It will only get your post deleted."

      Correct.

      Keep debate respectful and civil. Rein in the 'righteous indignation'. No personal attacks. They're not science.

      And keep posts on topic. If you want to continue slamming blogs, do it elsewhere. I think you've all made your stances on SS and WUWT clear.

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    20. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Are all you Mikes this obtuse?

      According to that cryosphere graph, the daily global sea ice anomaly has been at or below average for the last several winters but today it is 1 million sk above.

      Also total sea ice is at an all time record.

      January 1st global sea ice area was 17,932,000 km², which is the highest ever recorded during the month of January.

      "As a result, almost all of the sea ice that forms during the Antarctic winter melts during the summer."

      Yeah, we noticed.

      http://bishophill.squarespace.com/display/ShowImage?imageUrl=/storage/Akademik_Junket_scr.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1388513103988

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    21. Jim Inglis

      retired

      In reply to John Phillip

      Too late John. Anyway I'll copy it here without the "stupid":

      "Now go and read it and become less 'foolish'."

      Says Mike Swinbourne and links me to a site of 15 GCMs.

      All of which are wrong. And contain that error-filled data that I just warned him about.

      All the time mouthing defamatory epithets about poor old Wattsy.

      What was it that Winston Churchill said about "foolish" people:

      "They occasionally stumble over the truth but pick themselves up and hurry off as though nothing happened."

      How are you going with that "daily global sea ice anomaly"?

      Worked it out yet?

      No? Never mind. Keep at it

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  5. Andy Cameron

    Care giver

    "Another type of picture – the graph – plays a major role in science. No one could look at the graph below, which shows the extent of arctic ice during the past 1,450 years, without realising that the polar ice cap has been melting at a rapid and wholly unprecedented rate over the past few decades."
    Except those who look at the graph, and wonder why you would truncate the vertical axis at 8, rather than 0. This is something we taught to look out for in high school science, let alone university.

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    1. Matthew Lancey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      All that would change if the vertical axis of the graph went all the way down to zero is that there'd be a big blank space below the data plots, because none of the data points on the graph are lower than 8(m sq km).

      It wouldn't change what the data actually tells you.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      At high school we were told to look out for conspiracy theorists trying to discredit science with specious arguments.

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    3. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Quite right Mike, which is why I despair when non-scientists enter the debate using methods that are non-scientific. On another thread the issue of the role played by non-scientist "communicators" have played in the denial of AGW. I am sorry if you think our schools have indoctrinated us by looking out for whoppers link truncated axes in graphs.

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    4. Matthew Lancey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy - the truncated vertical axis on this graph makes no difference to what the graph tells you. None of the data points are below 8, so all there would be if you took the y-axis down to zero is a big blank space. The scale of the y-axis from between 8 and 11 is consistent so it's not as if the axis has been distorted to exaggerate the big drop on the right.

      I do, as it happens, agree with your point about the phrase "no one could look at the graph below" though. It's coming very close to the classic "argument from personal incredulity" fallacy - for example:

      "I don't see how there could be global warming if ships are getting stuck in the ice in Antarctica!!!"

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    5. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Matthew Lancey

      Here is The Age trying to deceive me about today's stock market all ords index by starting their graph at 5320.
      http://www.tradingroom.com.au/apps/index.ac

      Or perhaps they just think that the average punter is capable of reading the labels on the axis so they can avoid filling up their web page with all the white space it would take to extend the graph axis to zero.

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    6. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Matthew Lancey

      In other words, Matthew, you agree with me!! And when *I* "look" at the graph, I *see* a dodgy truncated axis, and wonder what 'the data would tell me' without the truncated axis, and with some statistical significance points printed like the graph below it.

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    7. Matthew Lancey

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      But that's the whole point! It's white space, with nothing in it, therefore there's no point putting it in!

      There are no data points for today's ASX index that are lower than 5320, and there are no data points for Arctic Sea Ice Extent over the last 1450 years that are lower than 8m sq km. There's nothing dodgy about truncating an axis when there are no data points to show.

      As I said, if people are messing around with the **scale** of an axis to exaggerate the extent of an increase or decline, that's dodgy. But in the graph in the article above, they're not doing that. You can check it with a ruler.

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    8. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Matthew Lancey

      I agree. I should have added the /sarc. Cameron is talking obvious nonsense as The Age graph shows. No one in the history of the stock market has complained about that graph since it is not deceptive. Cameron like Inglis is blowing smoke.

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    9. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    10. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    11. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    12. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      "wonder why you would truncate the vertical axis at 8, rather than 0."

      OK, we've got nothing to think about until the Arctic sea ice gets to zero. Sounds great.

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    13. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      "deceive me about today's stock market all ords index by starting their graph at 5320"

      The stockbroking websites do the same. I think Andy is on to something here.

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    14. Andrew Kerber

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      Actually, the sea ice graph would have a lot more credibility if the sudden down hill slide didnt correspond so closely to the change in measurement methods from extrapolation (ie, guesswork) to actual measurements by satellite. As is, the graph itself simply cannot be considered credible.

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    15. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy, Matthew Lancey has more than adequately explained the obvious resolution of your concern. To continue repeating your point as if it had meaning after this explanation is merely to appear irrational and obsessive.

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    16. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy, in contrast to your way of viewing graphs, when I look at this graph I don't just look at it as a picture. I also look at the axes and the values displayed there - graphs are quantitative, and not just qualitative as are most pictures - and use those values in my assessment.

      And that is the point of the article. Look at the evidence, be it graphs or pictures or text, and evaluate it. Evaluate, don't just apply willy nilly general rules of thumb taught at school.

      I think anyway that you would also have been taught that the rule of thumb of 'show the zero y intercept' would have been qualified as applying to relative values for the y axis. This is particularly apt for most financial graphing which plots change and not absolute values.

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  6. Wade Macdonald

    Technician

    From my understanding this trend of melting caps has been happening for 20, 000 years so I don't see any reason to be alarmed. No doubt if we were in a cooling trend the same fear would be perpetuated.

    Since November the news and gov websites have been pushing out warnings to Adelaide residents that we are about to get burnt to a crisp. However, maximum temps have been below average so far.

    While I accept the long term warming trend I think there is far too many people exaggerating that change is all bad.

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    1. Kerry Palmer

      Health Promoter

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      The normal crank argument is that the end of the last ice age was 10,000 years ago and that there's been a warming trend ever since. They conveniently forget to mention that sea levels were 60 metres lower then.

      I don't know if you live 60 metres above sea level or not, but 600 million around the world don't and they might have a different view on whether change is bad or not.

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    2. Peter Hoberg

      Physics

      In reply to Kerry Palmer

      Showing graphs with truncated scales may lead to misinterpretations as to amount of change, just as author pointed out regarding the picture, it may be misleading to some but not all.

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    3. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Peter Hoberg

      "it may be misleading to some but not all."
      Thus invalidating the author's claim, and adding to the general atmosphere of suspicion.

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    4. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Kerry Palmer

      .....and the world has how many meters of rise left to go if all the ice melted?

      I don't see these millions of poeple complaining about the last 60 meters of rise you claim so why should I think another 5 or 10 meters would be bad?

      Is the expansion of the ocean a bad thing given its a massive human food source?

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    5. Kerry Palmer

      Health Promoter

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Another 60 metres if the Greenland and Antarctic ice shelves melt. The most catastrophic projections for that are around another hundred years.

      I think you'd be lucky to see millions of people complaining about the last 60 metres of sea level rise as even the bible was only written 2,000 years ago and it has been (up until now) an extremely slow process.

      I don't think the expansion of the ocean is a bad thing at all; but then I live 320 metres above sea level. If I was in an Australian city I might have a different view.

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    6. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Well Mike, I was just making a minor point, so let's not go jumping off. But last point - log graphs are perfect to follow growth in a stock market index!

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    7. Chris O'Neill

      Retired Way Before 70

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      "I don't see these millions of poeple complaining about the last 60 meters of rise"

      So you knew those people who lived more than 10,000 years ago that experienced that sea level rise?

      Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

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    8. Brooke Berry

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Actually there has been considerable impact of the small rises in recent years. The islands to our north-east are becoming uninhabitable. A number of communities are leaving their islands.

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    9. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Chris O'Neill

      The point is that changes have been going on for ever and we adapted and still proliferated. The super toba eruption knocked back the human population to just 11 thousand mating pairs but some found a way to survive.

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    10. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Andy, given that there would be no difference other than a larger amount of white space on the bottom of the picture, what in hell is there to be suspicious about? What do you imagine is hiding in the lower half of the graph that is not depicted? There is a difference between rational suspicion and baseless paranoia.

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    11. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Brooke Berry

      They would have to leave eventually at some point given the known changes in sea level over this planet's history. I am not going to panic or blame man when inatural ice cap melting would see this happen anyway.

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    12. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      It isn't the expansion of the ocean that is bad Wade, its the loss of land that the expanding ocean covers that is bad. Land where people live, cities are located, food is grown. How much does Vietnam's rice production drop when they lose the Mekong Delta for example.

      The world has a major looming problem of feeding a growing population. Actually losing production capacity due to various impacts of warming is the last thing we need.

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    13. Glenn Tamblyn

      Mechanical Engineer, Director

      In reply to Wade Macdonald

      Wade, the primary food supply for the world isn't animals. It is grains. Only we privileged few in the West have a meat centric diet. The oceans provide the protein content for 1 billion people. Important but still secondary to land crop agriculture. And Ocean Acidification will put that ocean protein source under pressure.

      So, '...I don't see it as all bad'. We can't afford it to be bad at all!

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    14. Wade Macdonald

      Technician

      In reply to Glenn Tamblyn

      That may be the case but 80% of global forage fish stocks go to the pet food industry not human consumption. There is far more potential left including aquaculture.

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  7. Dave Broad

    logged in via Twitter

    Akademik Shokalskiy is not an ice breaker.

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  8. Gopalan Srinivasan

    logged in via Facebook

    Mr.Stephan's laboured analysis to discredit evidence or lack of any incontrovertible evidence against ice melting in Antartica by highlighting the picture of a ship caught in hefty shaft of ice does not make any sense. The issues involved are not just to prove a point or disprove it. but the fact that Australia has been experiencing flinty winter and implacable summer in recent years does demonstrate unequivocally that the weather pattern of the universe in general and Australia in particular has…

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  9. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Quote:"I have highlighted the important bit: the growth of extensive fast ice."
    So, the purpose of the expedition was to prove Al Gore was wrong when he said the Antarctic was "the canary in the coal mine" in the award winning movie, "An Inconvenient Truth?" http://books.google.com.au/books?id=93M6C24ac9MC&pg=PA176&lpg=PA176&dq=al+gore+inconvenient+truth+canary+in+coal+mine&source=bl&ots=-v_i93a8_z&sig=5RHEmITuR81UaEFNOoYbxATywAA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=nMDJUvCyCIqtiAfvxYH4DA&ved=0CDsQ6AEwAjgK#v=onepage&q=al%20gore%20inconvenient%20truth%20canary%20in%20coal%20mine&f=false
    This just gets more hilarious with every excuse.

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    1. Kerry Palmer

      Health Promoter

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      I'm a little confused with your point. I'm imagining you're meaning that the Antarctic ice sheet growing is evidence that AGC isn't occurring. Yet one of the denialist's arguments is that warming is the result of solar cycles. Does this mean you think they're wrong in that assertion.

      Climate change science says that changes in climate are the result of some form of physical forcing. What sort of forcing do you think explains the growth of sea ice?

      Climate science has found terrestrial…

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    2. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Kerry Palmer

      Quote:"Yet one of the denialist's arguments is that warming is the result of solar cycles." Ole Sol's cycles are also responsible for cooling (ice ages). Do you deny that? To quote the IPCC 3rd Assessment Report, 2001. Section 14.2.2.2 page 774: "In climate research and modelling we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system and therefore that LONG TERM PREDICTION OF FUTURE CLIMATE STATES IS NOT POSSIBLE." Game over.

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    3. Brooke Berry

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      You've just proved the point which you were trying to deny. When you are adamant there is no climate change, it suggests that long term prediction is possible. Science is about measurement and hypothesis. The question we have as a community is do we just wait until there is no doubt to do something about it or do we act on the strong warning evidence?

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  10. David Sisson

    Gadfly

    Personally, I reckon there is something in this global warming thing. So I guess that puts me on the side of the C.U.L.L.s (Cashed Up Latte Lefties), rather on the newspaper's side.

    But anyone with a sense of humour has to smirk at the irony of a shipload of global warming advocates getting stuck in unseasonably heavy ice. It's a joke so apt that no comedy writer could have got away with it.

    So rather than shouting "Heretics" and "Unbelievers" like some of the humourless CULLs I know, (and also like the Spanish Inquisition did in a different context), perhaps we should appreciate the irony and let them have their laugh, while not abandoning polite advocacy of the climate change cause.

    Remember that the one thing that puts the public off an issue is one-eyed, joyless, puritanical zealotry. So calling people who laugh at this circumstance "trolls", will actually damage the climate change advocates cause in the mind of many average people out there in suburbia.

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Once in the fossil fuel industry but now free to speak up

      In reply to David Sisson

      Looks like you need to read this article or read it again to ensure you comprehend the picture clearly.

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to David Sisson

      So, 'shouting "Heretics" and "Unvelievers"' is offensive, but labelling people CULLS isn't?

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  11. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Quote:"I have highlighted the important bit: the growth of extensive fast ice." As links provided showing more ice demonstrate, we have proved AlGore's "canary in the coal mine" prediction wrong from an Inconvenient Truth. Now, let's prove the UN-IPCC wrong. UN-IPCC Assessment Report ar4/wg2 Chapter 15 Polar Regions (Arctic and Antarctic) page 656, Key regional projections highlighted in the TAR: *Substantial loss of sea ice at both poles was projected." http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter15.pdf
    If the objective of the expedition was to prove the UN-IPCC settled science wrong, it was a success. Congratulations.

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mark McGuire

      The section that McGuire is selectively quoting from is in the 2007 AR4 WG2 report which is discussing the 2001 Third Assessment Report.

      The report points out page 656

      "Key trends highlighted in the TAR (2001 Third Assessment Report.
      • There has been a marked warming in the Antarctic Peninsula over the last half-century. There has been no overall change in Antarctic sea-ice extent over the period 1973-1996. "

      So as far back as 2001, scientists were reporting via the IPCC that Antarctic sea ice was not decreasing.

      McGuire is a climate science misinformer. Check his quotes. He is here to misinform and deceive.

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    2. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      The following quotes are directly from the technical summary of the 2001 IPCC TAR physical science report which was referenced indirectly above.

      "No significant trends of Antarctic sea-ice extent are apparent since 1978, the period of reliable satellite measurements."

      "there is no readily apparent relationship between decadal changes of Antarctic temperatures and sea-ice extent since 1973. After an initial decrease in the mid-1970s, Antarctic sea-ice extent has remained stable, or even slightly increased."

      http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/pdf/WG1_TAR-FRONT.pdf

      Mark McGuire is a climate science denier and misinformer.

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    3. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Thats why I provide a link, Mike. Apparently trolls don't usually do that, but I'm a Conversation troll. When they delete my comment, they censor information. When I come back to have a conversation, voila', disappeared, like ice in the polar caps because of global warming!

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    4. Mark McGuire

      climate consensus rebel

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Again, that's why I provide links, so people like you only confirm what I said. ""No significant trends of Antarctic sea-ice extent are apparent since 1978, the period of reliable satellite measurements." I was going to use that quote.

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  12. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    Stephan's gotcha moment was actually reported by the Australian four days ago:

    'Further countering claims this was not a climate expedition are its published aims and objectives, which include ... exploring changes in ocean circulation caused by the growth of extensive fast ice and its impact on life in Commonwealth Bay'.

    (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/an-icy-blast-of-scepticism/story-e6frg6z6-1226793315257)

    He paints a pretty black-and-white picture of media reporting. I think there's more to it.

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  13. Mark Pollock

    Analyst

    Why are getting a psychologist to comment on Antarctic ice levels? I know he's talking about pictures and all that and graphs and stuff but couldn't TC have found someone with a little expertise to do the article?

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    1. Mark Pollock

      Analyst

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Yeah but that was back in October? What a shame Turvey didn't read that article. Too busy making a toboggan for his kids probably. But you still don't explain what the shrink is doing with his graphs and charts.

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    2. John Rutherford

      Worker

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      The article is more about the presentation of a theory or facts if you like by a media in which to contribute you have to be as thick as an Antarctic ice cap or as shallow as a puddle with no concept of anything in between

      As sheep we do follow

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mark Pollock

      He was commenting on reporting and information dissemination, Mark, which is his area of expertise.

      There's this little distinction between content and process that is always interesting to understand. Stephan is well-qualified to comment on the process, media, etc. and simply has the good sense to rely on data from the actual experts on the content.

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  14. Mark McGuire

    climate consensus rebel

    Wait! It's not climate, it was weather! http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/03/antarctica-ice-trapped-academik-shokalskiy-climate-change . Of course, weather is now climate, http://www.theage.com.au/national/climate-change-a-key-factor-in-extreme-weather-experts-say-20130303-2fefv.html unless it's cold. Then it's first stop, deniersville! Of course I will be deleted for a. going off topic, b. offensive, c. personal abuse, d. all of the above.

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  15. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Stephan,

    I'm pleased that you wrote this research up. More facts! As if facts will solve a global ecological crisis driven by ruling global interests. The professional bourgeoisie, of which class you are a member, can spew out as may facts as it likes but in doing so will provide nothing more than a perfect bureaucratic record of global ecological collapse. Nice files, shame about the planet.

    Get real.

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  16. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    I should have added: as to those idiot middle classes trapped in ice, or arrested and thrown into shithole Russian gaols, who do you think you are? Activists? Someone please tell me how much they paid Greenpeace or the tourist enterprise who promised to take them in Mawson's steps, to do so?

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  17. Michelle Burrows

    logged in via Facebook

    It's the little things that tick me off when they're written by pros. I tend to stop reading and discount all from the author as bs.

    The Akademik Shuleykin is a ice-strengthened ship.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akademik_Shokalskiy

    It is not an icebreaker.

    The Akademik Shuleykin bring a ice strengthened ship instead of an icebreaker may be part of the problem for the giggling folk involved in Turneys folly. Them setting out to research the growth of extensive fast ice in the Antarctic an' all.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Michelle Burrows

      So, the fact that you've got the name of the ship wrong (twice), doesn't discredit your post, Michelle?

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    2. Michelle Burrows

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      ***M/V Akademik Shokalskiy
      The Akademik Shokalskiy moored in Ushuaia
      Career
      Name: Akademik Shokalskiy
      Owner: Russian Federation (Far Eastern Hydrometeorological Research Institute, Vladivostok)[1][2]
      Operator: 2011-2012: Aurora Expeditions, Sydney, Australia[3][4]
      2013-2014: Australasian Antarctic Expedition[5]
      Port of registry: 1982–1992: Vladivostok Flag of the Soviet Union.svg
      1992–2013: Vladivostok Flag of Russia.svg
      Builder: Oy Laivateollisuus Ab
      Turku, Flag of Finland.svg Finland[6…

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  18. Karl Lusdig

    Private sector

    Warmer oceans = more sea ice. Makes perfect sense to me. /sarc

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  19. Jim Inglis

    retired

    What makes the Lewandowsky et al claims of unprecedented ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland very questionable is the fact that the world has had almost no sea level rise during the last 2000 years.

    The remains of the Roman fleet that invaded Briton 2000 years ago was found recently upstream in the mouth of the river Stour.

    Old Roman stone fish traps still essentially functional.

    The polders in Holland are still there from 500 years ago.

    And when they went to dig out "Glacier Girl" from the Greenland ice cap, she was under 265 feet of ice.

    That exaggerated claim doesn't equate to unprecedented ice melt or SLR.

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Hopefully someone who understands it better than I do will explain properly Jim, but the way I understand it is that although the wider environment is doing one thing, cooling or warming, there are bits and pieces of the environment that are different and do things that don't follow the broad trends.

      I think of it like the garden, you can find 'micro-environments' where a plant that shouldn't grow in the area will grow because of particular features of that area of the garden.

      There are reasons that these anomalies that seem to deny the big 'easy to tell' story. That is one of the ways that it is so hard to communicate science because it is so complex at one level and people don't want to understand that things are complex, people want a story that makes sense.

      People want things to be easy and rational but the climate isn't rational it is chaotic.

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  20. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist at Australian National University

    Likely explanations of the minor growth in Antarctic sea ice cover:

    1. Whereas the southern oceans warm faster than the average for the global oceans, as climate zones shift toward the Earth's poles wind speeds over the southern oceans change, with a consequent changes in the wind-chill ice forming factor.
    http://www.acecrc.org.au/access/repository/resource/4f15b7ba-6abc-102f-a3d0-40404adc5e91/ACE_OCEANS_POSITION_ANALYSIS_LOW_RES.pdf

    2. The rise in GHG and thinning of the ozone layer effect…

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  21. Andrew Glikson

    Earth and paleo-climate scientist at Australian National University

    THE ANTARCTIC ICE SHEET

    As contrasted with the transient freeze/melt of the Antarctic sea ice, the main Antarctic ice sheet is melting at accelerated rates, as in the following summary of the 2011 paper "Acceleration of the contribution of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to sea level rise" (Rignot et al., Journal Geophysical Research 38)

    "Ice sheet mass balance estimates have improved substantially in recent years using a variety of techniques, over different time periods, and at various…

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    1. Peter Banks

      retired Civil Engineer

      In reply to Jim Inglis

      Jim, get your thinking cap on. Cold in itself does not make ice - water makes ice.

      So you need also to check precipitation at high altitudes - if it is decreasing then ice formation will also be decreasing. And if the continental ice sheet is being eaten away by warming seas or other mechanisms at sea level, then surely gravity will cause the sheet to decrease, unless it is topped up by sufficient precipitation.

      Gets complex, far more complex than I imagine, I imagine. Probably a lot to do with my only applying engineering principles from my armchair, not devoting a career to studying and trying to understand the many phenomenon involved.

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  22. Pamela H.

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    So sad that the religious Right are once again controlling this country and doing their worst to fill [gullible] people's heads with their lies and ignorance of scientific facts. They don't believe the climate is warming and ice is melting even though we have documented video evidence of these events occurring right before our eyes, yet they believe men were born of virgins, turned water into wine, walked on water and rose from the dead. At least Jesus had the decency to cover up while walking on water.

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  23. Neil Gibson

    Retired Electronics Design Engineer

    Pictures are worth a thousand words and I don't recall the good professor getting up in arms about fake photo-shopped pictures of polar bears languishing on ice floes. The Bondi swimmer has actually got it right according to an expert and the local tide gauges showing what is actually happening in Bondi.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/sea-level-rises-are-slowing-tidal-gauge-records-show/story-fn59niix-1226099350056
    Other photos of Antarctica melting show transmission towers buried over 50 years under 25 Meters of ice which somehow must have melted on top of them and then refroze.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Excellent ... that's the sort of incontrovertible definitive common sense truthiness that will send these scientists packing Neil ... cuts straight through all that complexity and dynamic systems nonsense and shows it like it is .... simple facts, plain as the nose on one's face - like the obvious flatness of the earth. Ban photoshop now!

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    2. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Neil Gibson

      Neil, not only that, but the author didn't condemn the atrocities committed in Rwanda, so he obviously supports genocide. Meanwhile, in the rational world...

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    3. Paul Prociv

      ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I don't think you'd even have to photoshop pictures like that, Peter. Anyone having done high-school science would know that ice melts under pressure, so any structure placed on ice-sheets will inevitably go under, with time. No need for ice build-up to explain this; it's simple sinking.

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Paul Prociv

      No indeed Paul ...

      But I'm thinking more of those photoshopped snaps of a supposedly round earth - like as if!!! .... and all that technicolour nonsense the sinister scientists said came from the Hubble telescope ... as if God would leave such a mess!!! As if we can see things from space! As if they got to space in the first place!

      If you believe the boffins, this whole universe business looks like some kinda pond slime... which is probably where they got those pics in the first place…

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  24. Jill Sampson

    visual artist

    This article talks about the imagery used to put a point of view or a piece of science across.

    If science is to rely on graphs to put their research and findings across then science must translate these graphs in a way that is really easy to understand and to read by all. Often this would be as simple as adding explanatory text as simple translation.

    This is where science communicators are vital. If graphs are to cut through the misleading rhetoric of certain journalists, politicians and commentators then make the graphs more accessible.

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    1. Julie Thomas

      craftworker

      In reply to Jill Sampson

      Jill as you say it is the role of science communicators to cut through the scientific language and explain things to ordinary people; to explain what scientists are doing. But it is also up to us to ask for and value these explanations if we want to be an informed population.

      The media concentration that we have allowed to happen in Australia means that there are only a few newspapers and magazines who are communicating anything to 'us', except what to buy. This has happened because of the neo-liberal…

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Julie Thomas

      I'm not sure that this is just a "communication problem" ... I have a hunch that we have some people who do not want to - will not - accept the science no matter how clear and accessible it is. It is not that they don't understand - it is that they will not understand - will not accept the facts no matter how well presented they are.

      Of course presentation of facts to an open mind (most people) should be as accessible and clear as we can make it - but entrenched denialism is not rational, not…

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  25. Berthold Klein

    Civil-Environmental engineer

    Every time people look at a graph showing weather temperature anywhere in the world they are looking at "circumstantial evidence". There are many reasons for the changes. Solar output, manipulation of data, someone built a fire under the weather station, someone put on to many pairs of long underwear, on and on and on.
    No one has ask the critical and most important question. If this question were really answered there would be no need for further research. The question has been asked by me hundreds…

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    1. Steve Hindle

      logged in via email @bigpond.com

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      "The work of many scientists has shown that the "greenhouse gas effect" can not happen".
      Tell that to Venus.

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    2. Account Deleted

      logged in via email @drdrb.net

      In reply to Berthold Klein

      I give this post 41 points on the Crackpot Index.

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  26. Chris Harries

    logged in via Facebook

    Though the guts of this article is about the extent of Antarctic sea ice I can't help noting the ultimate political kudos the US will get at home if it's ice breaker manages to rescue both the Russians and the Chinese hopelessly stuck in the ice. Superman to the rescue. Worthy of a Hollywood movie.

    Though the Cold War is well and truly over, it is anything but in the minds of US citizens, that political psychology being frequently played out in movies. The recent box office hit film 'Gravity' was a parody on Russian bumbling incompetence whilst subtly extolling US patriotism and superiority, a sure fire, juicy recipe for home audiences. Will the next Hollywood blockbuster movie be titled 'Icebreaker'?

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  27. lavinia kay moore

    child and family counsellor

    Thankyou for this article.
    As one of the unfortunate people whose education was interrupted and as a result lacking in such things as scientific knowledge, such clear explanation helps.

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  28. Katy MacDougal

    Research Officer

    Great, sensible article. I continue to be amazed and insulted that people think they can grasp a complex issue with detailed science in a few misleading paragraphs or a dramatic photo. Why insulted? Because I trained in science and I know how complex it is. A lot of people don't even know how uneducated they are about science and yet like to act like they can 'debate' with scientists on equal terms regarding climate change.

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  29. john tons

    retired redundant

    Thanks for the analysis. It is a pity that the mathematics of complexity is still in its infancy; I suspect that part of the problem in evaluating climate change is that we lack the mathematical tools to fully account for all the variables that impact on climate change.

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to john tons

      Not so much the maths John it's the sheer number of variables involved and the relative significance of each over time ... take deep ocean currents for example - stuff we know very little about other than that they're big - very big ... and they move heat about but not necessarily where we might think.

      To quote that great scientist and mass murderer Donald Rumsfeld: “... as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say…

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    2. lavinia kay moore

      child and family counsellor

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hello Peter,
      Human judgement? I think that Hopkin's poem Pied Beauty has relevance there!
      I am a fan of dappled things.....

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  30. Dianna Arthur

    Environmentalist

    "...the various kinds of sea ice that scientists know are increasing around Antarctica, while the icecaps on Antarctica are known to melt...."

    The icecaps - the most ancient part of Antarctica's frozen water - are melting. The melt does not turn into a gas, too cold for that, it is melting, into water, which enters the ocean and becomes sea ice. The more melt from icecaps, the more sea ice.

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  31. Tony Simons

    Director at Bedlam Bay Pty Ltd

    Great work. We need much more of this to counter the lies and deceit of the Murdochracy, shock jocks and the Abbott ship of fools. What is really galling is the daily assault on the intelligence of the public. Howard had a rat cunning with his plausible deniability while Abbott and co gives us implausible deniability. There were no leaks form the Howard regime till very late in its term but the leaks from bullied Abbott MP's are flowing "we'll tell you what you can say and what you can't say".

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  32. Gerrit Hendrik Schorel-Hlavka O.W.B.

    Constitutionalist

    I am a CONSTITUTIONALIST and not a scientist, and rely upon facts not fiction. When I hear about minus 50 degrees Celsius in the USA then scientist can produce any graph they like but reality is that those are very low temperatures. And, when I consider that we are in January and my wife desires to have the air-condition going to heat up the house because it is so cold then all this hype about global warming is far from reality.
    We have scientist making claims all the times only later to change…

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  33. Paul Prociv

    ex medical academic; botanical engineer at University of Queensland

    Having read the article twice, and the comments, with their links, and having visited Antarctica and the Arctic on several occasions, I feel compelled to add my two-bob’s worth.
    First, the photo is misleading. The MV Akademik Shokalskiy is no ice-breaker, and I would never have boarded it myself for a voyage to a place it shouldn’t have gone. Serious ice-breakers can get stuck in that part of the world, even in summer. While Commonwealth Bay was most unusually ice-free for Mawson’s visit…

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  34. peter mackenzie

    Transport Researcher

    I rarely comment on climate issues - I just don't know enough to be one of the "experts".

    However, I must add that on a bus ride this morning, I overheard an older man (I'm 62) convincingly tell the driver that ice-breakers got stuck in Antarctica, so there is no problem of the ice diminishing.

    Ample evidence, story over, case closed, forget your science and arguing and move on!

    Oh Gawd, were stuffed!

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    1. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to peter mackenzie

      Sher nuff Peter ... I realised weeks back now that all this warming business was a try-on when I couldn't prise the frozen peas out from one of the more siberian corners of my freezer. Hope beats science every time.

      Most people will choose to accept a simple comforting message over a complex uncomfortable bit of science.

      The trick - the key - is to make the science comforting somehow.... maybe by offering a better future for the grandkids than the one on offer currently.

      report
  35. xeroxcliche

    logged in via Twitter

    Found the article and comments interesting. Just wanted to add two cents, namely much of the fundamentals in our economy don't make sense anymore - most of the intensive energy industries only survive through massive subsidy through below cost electricity which the consumer pays for and this has gotten so high it is cheaper to have solar panels on your roof, the digging up of materials and exposing them to intense heat thang that we have been doing since the iron age isn't needed anymore - its not…

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