Wilkins Ice Shelf and forecasting the media reaction

The Wilkins Ice Shelf is back (e.g. here and here) in the news.

Image courtesy of the European Space Agency

[Prediction: some in the media will incorrectly attribute its collapse directly to global warming/climate change. An in-depth analysis of the conditions relating to the collapse will find that atmospheric and oceanic variability contributed significantly to the collapse. This will be championed among the denialosphere as evidence that anthropogenic warming had nothing to do with it, and that the media is complicit in the “warming hoax”. We’ve seen this before.]

I’ve got low expectations, to be sure. Perhaps the media will handle this issue in relation to climate change with poise and verve, going out of their way to emphasize that no single event such as an ice shelf collapse or hurricane can be directly attributed to anthropogenic emissions-driven warming. I won’t hold my breath. In any event, here are the key quotes likely to be circulated on both sides of the issue:

Wilkins Ice Shelf is the most recent in a long, and growing, list of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula that are responding to the rapid warming that has occurred in this area over the last fifty years


Current events are showing that we were being too conservative, when we made the prediction in the early 1990s that Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within thirty years – the truth is it is going more quickly than we guessed.

From David Vaughan of BAS.

But to me, the money quote of the article is an unusual source for some of the ocean temperature, depth, and location readings:

data from some interesting sources, electronic seal hats

Not quite sharks with frickin’ lasers beams attached to their heads, but an evocative image nonetheless. I’ll have to confess my ignorance on this issue- I was aware of seals and penguins and even wild birds being outfitted with “critter cams” to record video- but I was unaware of this creative method of gathering climatological data in areas where standard techniques could not be employed. And although this method isn’t unique to this project (e.g. here and here), I imagine that I am not the only one who had until recently been unaware of it. Which begs the question-

How long until the inevitable SealStations.org?

[UPDATE: A company named Dalton, which specializes in ear tags for livestock, apparently manufactures such “seal hats”. Pic to follow.]

Dalton “Seal Hat”. Someone should notify Watts that the seal is <10m from a heat source.

2 responses to “Wilkins Ice Shelf and forecasting the media reaction

  1. Yet another straw man the denialists are setting up to knock over.

  2. “Prediction: some in the media will incorrectly attribute its collapse directly to global warming/climate change.”

    You mean like CNN, MSNBC and every other major news network that doesn’t rhyme with “knox”…

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