It’s Monday morning, start of a new work week and time for another global warming scandal. The Guardian UK reports on how studies claiming a drastic rise in sea levels have been retracted. Last year, a study published in Nature Geoscience gave dire warnings regarding rising sea levels.
The study, published in 2009 in Nature Geoscience, one of the top journals in its field, confirmed the conclusions of the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It used data over the last 22,000 years to predict that sea level would rise by between 7cm and 82cm by the end of the century.
At the time, Mark Siddall, from the Earth Sciences Department at the University of Bristol, said the study “strengthens the confidence with which one may interpret the IPCC results”. The IPCC said that sea level would probably rise by 18cm-59cm by 2100, though stressed this was based on incomplete information about ice sheet melting and that the true rise could be higher.
Many scientists criticised the IPCC approach as too conservative, and several papers since have suggested that sea level could rise more. Martin Vermeer of the Helsinki University of Technology, Finland and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany published a study in December that projected a rise of 0.75m to 1.9m by 2100.Estimates were mixed but there was a definite trend to suggest rises near a meter or more. Now it turns out the science behind at least one of these estimates was flawed.
In a statement the authors of the paper said: “Since publication of our paper we have become aware of two mistakes which impact the detailed estimation of future sea level rise. This means that we can no longer draw firm conclusions regarding 21st century sea level rise from this study without further work.
“One mistake was a miscalculation; the other was not to allow fully for temperature change over the past 2,000 years. Because of these issues we have retracted the paper and will now invest in the further work needed to correct these mistakes.”I’ll leave the “science is not settled!” told-you-so’s to others this time. But this retraction is actually good news. This is a rare occurrence of scientists going on record and retracting a global warming claim. And this isn’t a minor phenomenon that is being discussed. Rising seal levels of this magnitude can cause devastation to coastal settlements. It is much different to have people question the predictions only to be labeled deniers and skeptics than to have the original authors retract the assertion.
In truth, I misspoke at the beginning of this post. This isn’t a scandal. This is scientists taking responsibility and admitting past mistakes. That, too, is part of the scientific process.