As Antarctica sets new maximum sea ice records, sensationalist scientists at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) remain relentless in conjuring up cataclysmic meltdown scenarios for the frozen continent. This is the case with a new paper by Levermann and Mengel appearing at Nature Climate Change.
Yet, when we read a little further, we realize that their drama-filled scenario of an “uncorking” of the East Antarctic Wilkes Basin, all accompanied by a 4-meter rise in global sea level, is not even supported by any observed data. Rather it is merely the product of a computer simulation, one that is no doubt likely fraught with lots of adventurous and dubious assumptions.
Spiegel journalist Axel Bojanowski writes about this spectacular horror scenario, and dumps plenty of cold water on it.
First Bojanowski starts by writing that the PIK scientists warn that “a collapse of the ice shelf threatens”. Levermann and Mengel write that “a sole ice cork blocking the glacier mass inland is preventing it from flowing into the ocean“. They are worried about the cork melting due to run-away global warming, and thus clearing the way for the massive Wilkes Basin ice sheet to cataclysmically collapse into the ocean.
While most media outlets took the sensationalist Potsdam study at face value and ran with it (see here for example), Bojanowski and Spiegel took the time to check the facts and consulted other polar experts on the matter before irresponsibly spreading fear among the public. Bojanowski cites other (warmist) polar scientists and discovers that they have strong doubts about the latest PIK scare scenario. The chances of an “uncorking” of the Wilkes Basin are purely speculative. Moreover Bojanowski writes that the scenario is not even new and that the IPCC has already looked into the matter and is reserved about it. He writes:
The UN climate report (IPCC), which summarizes climate science, is reserved: Up to now the region shows no trend; the East Antarctic ice appears stable.”
Bojanowski writes that a significant warm-up of the East Antarctic sea would be needed for the PIK drama to occur.
He also contacted Heinrich Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Ocean Research (AWI) and asked him about the PIK scenario. Bojanowski quotes Miller in the Spiegel piece:
It would necessitate a change in ocean circulation so that considerably warmer water would be led to the coast.”
Bojanowski then points out:
Currently the opposite is occurring: sea ice is expanding.”
Bojanowski also writes of the uncorking: “the study leaves open on how this would happen”.
Of course Spiegel writes that the scenario can’t be ruled out entirely because a melting of the East Antaractic has occurred before in history, such as “during the Pliocene and Miocene“.
But even Miller adds here:
Unfortunately there’s a lack of data on the deposits that would allow us to draw conclusions on whether such melts have happened already before.”
You can’t get such data by running computer simulations, rather only by boring on site in the icy cold of East Antarctica.”
Indeed. This is just a nice way of saying science begins with observations and real data, and not by putting your run-away fantasies in computer code.