Failure of the ocean degree mannequin – watts with it?

From a post by Arnout Jaspers on

In 2016, a headline-grabbing study said the Antarctic ice sheet is much more unstable than it is [previously] estimated. As a result, the projected sea level rise would double in 2100. Computer modelers from Deltares and KNMI climbed back to their drawing boards to improve their projections for the Dutch coast. Did these predictions survive the climate news cycle?

Rarely has a scientific publication whose authors said the results “should not be taken as actual predictions” had such a profound impact outside of science.

The model was unrealistic and made little sense, but it got media coverage in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and the Dutch were told that due to the rise in sea levels, their children wouldn’t even have a country when they grew up.

This was refuted by a 2018 paper in Science, which showed that the base of the Antarctic ice sheet was much more durable than assumed in the previous study. Even in the unrealistic RCP8.5 IPCC scenario, sea level rise was modest due to the melting Antarctic ice. Of course, this later paper has been ignored in most of the media. As mentioned in the post:

Nevertheless, the extreme sea level rise of two to three meters in the year 2100 from the Deltares report still rules freely in the public debate. This is a recurring phenomenon in climate reporting: the most extreme forecast is readily accepted and propagated as a new normal that later research can no longer be falsified. And then you have to wait for the next extreme prediction that will make the media the new normal.

As usual, the media makes wild extremes seem real and ignores reality. The full article can be seen here.


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