The last two years have been unkind to Geophysical Science. Or, perhaps accurately, they have been unkind to be people who work in the Geophysical Sciences using questionable ethical standards. A recent spate of credible allegations left many of most egregious practitioners of “curious statistical methodologies” and “unique data normalization procedures” stuck in a precarious spot vis-à-vis their professional honor. A new study released by the US National Science Foundation may offer them a significant reprieve. It gives them an "out" via "amazing new findings."
It turns out that ice bergs floating through ocean water catalyze a process that munches CO2 by dropping soil nutrients on the phytoplankton. These nutrients supercharge basic plant photosynthesis. The photosynthesis equation dictates that the CO2 gets mixed with water and light and turned into sugar and oxygen. This stuff is fundamental organic chemistry, if you don’t work on grant for the NSF. “Astonishing” new discoveries follow below.
Some cheerful news on the climate change front today, as US government boffins report that ice breaking off the Antarctic shelves and melting in the sea causes carbon dioxide to be removed from the environment. This powerful, previously unknown "negative feedback" would seem likely to revise forecasts of future global warming significantly downwards.
"These new findings... confirm that icebergs contribute yet another, previously unsuspected, dimension of physical and biological complexity to polar ecosystems," says Roberta Marinelli, director of the NSF's Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems Program.
In climate science terms, negative feedbacks lower temperatures. We’ve now moved from hiding the decline to explaining it via an enhanced comprehension of the Earth’s Carbon Cycle. For people who want to see the science done properly, rather than used as a prop for a cynical politician’s dog and PowerPoint show, this is the smell of victory.
For the “consensus” which “settled the science,” and then proceeded to debate dissenting voices with all the fairness of Cotton Mather, this is an escape hatch. If it sounds at all fishy that we only just recently verified that plankton photosynthesizes in the oceans, and that carbon gets liberated from melting ice bergs, that just means you are a “denialist.” We can now very quickly move on to the next cataclysmic enviro-scare. There is nothing more here for you to see.
I hope exhaustive Congressional Hearings get convened to explain why James Hansen’s temperature predictions don’t match observed reality. In fact, (McLean, Frietas and Carter, 2009) argues that 80% of the climate variability observed in the last 15 years is driven by the El Nino Southern Oscillation. The smack is laid down thickly below.
The results showed that SOI accounted for 81% of the variance in tropospheric temperature anomalies in the tropics. Overall the results suggest that the Southern Oscillation exercises a consistently dominant influence on mean global temperature, with a maximum effect in the tropics, except for periods when equatorial volcanism causes ad hoc cooling.
That, right there, is an astounding result. It’s whole lot more believable than hearing that the NSF has just now gotten around to figuring out that the Carbon Cycle actually worked when submerged in cold ocean water. Not only did the iniquitous “Hockey Team” have their model wrong, they also claimed a regression-like relation to temperature based on a variable (CO2) that wasn’t even the First Principle Component by the distance between Borneo and Seattle!
This entirely shocking new realization that carbon gets more effectively sequestered by Polar Phytoplankton than previously believed should raise the logical question of what these cretinous morlocks with genius grants walked around believing. The answer is clearly nothing that didn’t sound convincing in a grant application. The burning questions for fans of probative, non-politicized science has to be this: why did the approvable verbiage for grant applications lead our foremost scientific intellects so far from patently obvious truth?