A recent CNN headline, “Critical Atlantic Ocean current system is showing early signs of collapse, prompting warning from scientists“ misleads its readers into believing that a collapse of a critical Atlantic Ocean current is pending. This is false.
The CNN article opens by saying:
A crucial system of ocean currents may already be on course to collapse, according to a new report, with alarming implications for sea level rise and global weather — leading temperatures to plunge dramatically in some regions and rise in others.
The CNN story is referring to a study in Science Advances, titled Physics-based early warning signal shows that AMOC is on tipping course.
Dozens of other media outlets picked up the story, also running frightening headlines, all blaming climate change. For example:
The crucial tipping point scientists say could cause Atlantic Ocean collapse (The Liberal Washington Post)
This episode is yet another “tipping point” scare for the ocean currents, and one that has been debunked multiple times at Climate Realism.
Despite the title, rather than being “physics-based” the research published is actually “climate model-based,” describing an outcome projected by a single climate model’s calculation for the distant future for the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current (AMOC). The AMOC is also part of the well-known “Gulf Stream” current. Here’s what the AMOC pattern of currents looks like.
However, behind the scary headlines pushed by the mainstream media is this one immutable fact buried in the study: the supposed AMOC tipping point will not occur until 1758 years from now, in the year 3782 AD. This is clearly shown in figure 1A from the paper which is reproduced in Figure 2 below.
In other words, even if the study turns out to be true, there is absolutely no threat during lifetime of any person living today, or their children, or grandchildren. Or their great, great, great, great grandchildren, many generations in the future. Yet the mainstream media irresponsibly reports results of this study as if the collapse of the AMOC is just around the corner.
The reporting on the study is also irresponsible for failing to acknowledge the recent research suggesting that AMOC has been speeding up or strengthening in recent years, as described in a 2018 study.
The Scientific Advances’ study’s conclusion is predicated on a single climate model, the Community Earth System Model (CESM), projecting far into the future and it’s also predicated on an amount of ice melt that has not happened in our lifetimes. Even then, the CESM had to have its pump primed with unrealistic meltwater data in order for the researchers to come to the conclusion they got. What they did was to run the model, then add modeled freshwater very gradually to the modeled North Atlantic, presumably simulating a melting of the Greenland ice which might shut down the AMOC.
There’s only one problem; the amount of freshwater from melting that they injected into the model is about five times the actual amount of ice available in Greenland to melt.
The study reports that 14,629,305 cubic kilometers of modeled fresh water were added to the model. Yet, the National Snow and Ice Data Center says: (bold mine)
The Greenland Ice Sheet contains about 2.9 million cubic kilometers (0.7 million cubic miles) of ice. The ice sheet extends about 1.7 million square kilometers (656,000 square miles), covering 80 percent of the world’s largest island, and is equivalent to about three times the size of Texas. It contains about 2.9 million cubic kilometers (696,000 cubic miles) of ice.
Simple math shows the water volume inflation factor: 14,629,305/2,900,00 = 5.044.
So, the researchers used an amount of melted ice that was impossible to occur because that much ice doesn’t exist in Greenland. This sort of irresponsible use of a climate model seems to have as its related goals – to grab headlines, inspire fear, and motivate government action.
Of course, the media completely missed the facts about the timing in the distant future and water volume used to goose the model, that completely negate the study and render it moot, but instead blasted out scary headlines as if doom were imminent. Journalism is supposed to check facts, as Climate Realism does daily. Instead, they rushed to publication and in the process published blatantly false information and tried to blame present day climate change.
The media also missed the fact that about 12,500 years ago the AMOC slowed down and in fact the planet’s weather and temperature changed during that time. The Younger Dryas Climate Event occurred about 12,900 to 11,700 years ago. Many of the climate changes related to that event were likely a response to increased freshwater discharge to the North Atlantic and the reduction in AMOC strength. That basically signaled the end of the most recent ice age, beginning the time when Earth became more habitable for humans, and sedentary agriculture began. Shortly after that, in geologic time the blinking of an eye, the first nascent, large-scale civilizations began developing.
This all occurred well before climate change was even a twinkle in the eye of climate catastrophists and was a completely natural event unrelated to modern day concerns.
On the status of the AMOC, the science itself, and the press reporting on it, are both bipolar. Some people in the climate debate seem to believe that “the science is settled,” yet every few months the press bombards the public with stories diametrically opposed to what they reported was occurring with the AMOC just a few months prior. Heartland Institute president James Taylor tracked news articles on the topic over the last few years, compiling a list of dozens of news stories published since 2020, all citing research on the AMOC. But the research is contradictory. Studies, sometimes published within a year of each other, sometimes within the same year, come to contradictory conclusions. Some studies say the AMOC is slowing down and about to collapse, a tipping point for worsening extreme weather, others say the AMOC is speeding up which will lead to runaway weather. The reporting swings back and forth just a quickly, reporting diametrically opposed results as if both could be true.
Concerning the AMOC, not only is the science not settled, but the media doesn’t have a clue concerning how to even determine if the science they are reporting on is grounded in fact and correct, or if the what they are writing about it is being reported accurately, or whether the conclusion of a particular study fits within the overall science on the AMOC. The reporting on this new study is yet another shameful example of the media putting their climate narrative scare stories ahead of actual facts: the AMOC is speeding up, or its declining, but in either case its bad for the world and governments need to act to prevents it, as if keeping the AMOC constant is even possible.
The post No, CNN and Other Media Outlets, Climate Change Is Not Causing the Ocean Circulation to Collapse appeared first on ClimateRealism.
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Author: Anthony Watts
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