Example Of Media Overstatement

There are quite a few examples of overstatements and errors in media reports on climate science (and in the associated research paper). Today, I present one example that appears in a UCAR press release

Indian Ocean sea level rise threatens coastal areas

‘The key player in the process is the Indo-Pacific warm pool, an enormous, bathtub-shaped area spanning a region of the tropical oceans from the east coast of Africa to the International Date Line in the Pacific. The warm pool has heated by about 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius, in the past 50 years, primarily because of human-generated emissions in greenhouses gases.”

The attribution of the positive temperature anomalies “primarily because of human-generated emissions in greenhouses gases” ignores  research that documents in the peer reviewed literature a much more complicated role of human and natural climate forcings and feedbacks in affecting all aspects of the climate system (e.g. see and see).  

The current sea surface temperature anomalies are presented below. The attribution of the Indo-Pacific warm pool to human-generated emissions in greenhouse gases without commenting on the reasons for the cooler than average anomalies (e.g. see the developing La Nina and the cool south Atlantic Ocean) illustrates how this UCAR study has selectively chosen data that fits their preconceived assumptions of climate.

From http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/ml/ocean/sst/anomaly.html [see also a larger view of the globe at http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2010/anomnight.7.15.2010.gif]

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