I read a fascinating article in Nature.com on the influence of the Southern Ocean on climate. I’m not a scientist, so I can’t examine the truth of the article, but I do know words. Certain words and phrases in the article make me think we don’t quite have Climate Change figured out.
The title was a bit odd for a ‘settled science.’
How much longer can Antarctica’s hostile ocean delay global warming?
The waters of the Southern Ocean have absorbed much of the excess heat and carbon generated by humanity.
The first sentences relay the first discovery of the phenomenon. Then…
Although controversial when she encountered it back in 1994, this powerful upwelling is now recognized as a hallmark of the Southern Ocean, a mysterious beast that swirls around Antarctica, driven by the world’s strongest sustained winds. The Southern Ocean absorbs copious amounts of carbon dioxide and heat from the atmosphere, which has slowed the rate of global warming. And its powerful currents drive much of the global ocean circulation.
I noticed these phrases along the way:
enormous data gaps
bolster understanding of how the Southern Ocean — and the global climate — functions
improving predictions of how quickly the world will warm
New technologies are allowing us access to these remote areas
This raises new questions
Scientists only started to realize how important the region is for controlling global climate in the 1980s,
is leading an effort to gather the first real-time data on the chemical and biological processes
With the new data, Sarmiento and his team can test their models and refine estimates
researchers are getting some of their first glimpses in near-real time
the question now is whether the higher CO2 emissions during winter represent larger trends
It would imply that potentially there is a much weaker
Le Quéré says it’s unclear
Scientists are also beginning to pin down
I stopped less than halfway through the article.
These are by definition phrases pulled out of context. On the other hand, they are phrases about the very real questions which are being asked about a phenomenon which has huge impact on the climate: the effect of the churning Southern Ocean. Apparently, the watery area around Antarctica cools down the Earth as very cold water churns up from far below the surface. Do we understand it well enough? No.
This was ‘discovered” in 1994, is barely understood now, and could possibly impact all of the so-called Climate Science. It is one of many factors which may – or may not – affect the global climate.
Settled? Not at all.