Antarctica is Still Warming

By February 1, 2011February 20th, 2013Antarctica

February 1, 2011 – A paper by Stieg et. al. in 2009, widely accepted as the best  in Antarctic temperature analysis in recent history, has recently come under fire from a paper by O’Donnell, et. al. O’Donnell’s paper says that warming in Antarctica is only half of what Stieg says.  The denialists are wild with glee. Another warmist has been slain.

Unless, of course, O’Donnell is wrong, which Steig says is true, but Steig also says O’Donnell makes some good point. Steig’s critique of the O’Donnell paper can be found on Realclimate.org.  The denier’s critiques can be found on a denier’s site near you along with personal attacks and other unscientific behavior.

What Steig says is that O’Donnell is wrong about West Antarctica, which is where the largest disagreement in the two papers is found.  Everywhere else, it’s just a question of "how much warming".  Both papers say that Antarctica is warming. Antarctica, according to the 2001 IPCC Report, was not supposed to start losing ice until the end of the century.  that it is warming now – at all – is the important thing. The reason we are even having this discussion is that Antarctica is a very sparse place when it comes to finding temperature.

The O’Donnell paper says West Antarctica is not warming.  They also through out half the data from West Antarctica (the Byrd Station), and what they threw out is where the warming is.  What about the other stations in West Antarctica? There are none. O’Donnell has also used a model that has a history of underestimating. So to find that O’Donnell’s results are less than a model that historically does not underestimate is not new, it’s propaganda.

The Realclimate.org post ends "In summary, even if their results are taken at face value, O’Donnell et al. 2010 doesn’t change any of the conclusions reached in Steig et al. In West Antarctica where there is disagreement, Steig et al, 2009 is in better agreement with independent data, and O’Donnell et al.’s results appear to be adversely affected by using procedures known to underestimate trends. Thus while their results may represent an improved estimate for the trends in data rich regions — East Antarctica and the Peninsula — it is virtually certain that they are an underestimate for West Antarctica. This probably means going back to the drawing board to write up another paper, taking into account those suggestions of O’Donnell et al. that are valid, but hopefully avoiding their mistakes."

Realclimate.org – http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/02/west-antarctica-still-warming-2/

O’Donnell – http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2010JCLI3656.1

Steig – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7228/covers/