UPDATE: The press release reappears! Maybe the embarrassment of taking it down surpassed that of having it up.
In December the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) issued a press release about a
study model simulation claiming that greater snowfalls over Antarctica would increase ice discharge into the oceans, and thus speed up sea level rise, by Winkelmann, R., Levermann, A., Martin, M.A., Frieler, K. (2012): Increased future ice discharge from Antarctica owing to higher snowfall. Nature [doi:10.1038/nature11616].
Press release on lead author’s Ricarda Winkelmann’s controversial paper disappears. Photo source: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research/M. Martin.
Although the claim pushed the limits of science absurdity into new territory, many media outlets still ran with the story anyway, not bothering to see if it held water. For example, Spiegel had the headline Snowfall increases ice melt in the Antarctic and Stern reported here, as did nuch of the German mainstream media…all telling readers that the PIK claim was yet more cause for even higher alarm.
The task of asking tough questions, once again, was left to the blogs.
As it turned out the story was not even based much on observed data, but more on crystal ball computer models. The claims by the PIK were dubious to say the very least. In not time at all they were torn apart and landed in the dustbin. For example, Don Easterbrook commented at WUWT:
Papers like this are why I don’t bother to read Nature anymore–it has lost all scientific credibility by publishing such nonsense. The authors apparently didn’t bother to check the temperature records at the South Pole and Vostok, which go back to 1957 and show no warming whatsoever over the past 55 years.”
Now it appears that even the PIK got embarrassed about it, and has quietly removed the press release they had issued here on 12 December. Do you find it? It’s also been removed from their German language page.
But it hasn’t totally disappeared. You still can find it with a bit of effort, if you know the address, It just isn’t anywhere prominent.
What explanation does the PIK offer for taking down the press release? One reader wrote to me in an e-mail: “From Ms Winkelmann, I still have yet to receive a reply after having sent here a query where I stuck to the facts back in December.”
It goes to show that there are some things left out there that are still too embarrassing to publish – even for the PIK.
UPDATE: It turns out that Ms Winkelmann is rather inexperienced in the field. She is not even a climate scientist. Flagship newspaper FAZ here, for example, wrote in 2011 (my emphasis): Hat-tip: DirkH
But: ‘Originally I do not come from climate science. Rather I come from the Chaos Theory.’ Ricarda Winkelmann is 26 years old and a professional climate modeller down to the tips of her hair. […]
Together with her colleagues at the PIK and scientists from Alaska, Ricarda Winkelmann developed admittedly the most advanced ice sheet and ice shelf model: About 10,000 program lines make up the super-computer model that simulates the fundamental processes of the polar ice sheets: The ice flow to the sea, the melting on the surface of the lower bedrock, ice collection above, the formation of crevices and including calving at the edge.”
Only 10,000 lines to simulate all that all over Antarctica? Only 26 years old, no experience and not even a climate scientist? If all that doesn’t sound like a half-baked operation. No wonder her team ended up with the preposterous result that more snowfall over Antarctica leads to faster sea level rise.