JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A federal wildlife biologist whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article.Something about this story is very odd. Surely, under the Obama administration any government official who was discovered to have been “emotionalising the issue” (external - login to view) in order to raise public awareness of the terrible dangers of ManBearPig would be given a promotion, and a Congressional Medal of Honor at the very least? Can it really be possible that BOEMRE remains so principled and inviolate that it still insists its employees cleave to the truth?
Charles Monnett, an Anchorage-based scientist with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or BOEMRE, was told July 18 that he was being put on leave, pending results of an investigation into “integrity issues.”
It’s definitely one to watch, anyway. After all, the “drowning polar bear” story was instrumental in the US Interior Department’s controversial decision in 2008 to have Ursus maritimus declared a “threatened species.” (Despite evidence that polar bear populations have increased roughly five-fold in the last 50 years: not so much a threatened species, you might say; more like a plague or an infestation). It also prompted the silly scene in Al Gore’s fantasy movie An Inconvenient Truth where an animated polar bear is shown drowning because of “global warming.”
At Watts Up With That (external - login to view) you’ll find an excellent World Climate Report essay reporting on the background to the “drowning polar bear” story.
But the part of the study that garnered the press attention so much so that it has become ingrained in global warming lore was that Monnett et al. reported the sighting of four polar bear carcasses floating in the sea several kilometers from shore, presumably having drowned. All four dead bears were spotted from the plane a few days after a strong storm had struck the area, with high winds and two meter high waves. Since polar bears are strong swimmers, the authors concluded that it was not just the swimming that caused the bears to drown, but that the swimming in association with high winds and waves, which made the exertion rate much greater, sapping the bears of their energy and leading to their deaths. The authors also suggested that the frequency and intensity of late summer and early fall storms should increase (as would the wave heights) because of global warming and thus the risk to swimming bears will increase along with the number of bears swimming (since there will be less ice) and subsequently more bears will drown. But they didn’t stop there—they suggested that the increased risk will not be borne by all bears equally, but that lone females and females with cubs will be most at risk—putting even more downward pressure of future polar bear populations. And thus a global warming poster child (or cub) is born.Lubos Motl, as is his splendid way, (external - login to view) has some trenchant things to say on the subject.
But does all of this follow from the data? Again, we haven’t heard of any reports of polar bear drownings in Alaska in 2005, 2006, or 2007—all years with about the same, or even less late-summer sea ice off the north coast of Alaska than in 2004, the year of the documented drownings.
One of the commenters at Watts Up With That thinks this story could turn out to be really juicy. His rationale is that no way would BOEMRE bring an action against an employee for something as innocent as having honest, peer-reviewed research twisted, misrepresented and exaggerated by the media. No, it would have to be way more serious than that.
The news is especially tragic for those of an eco-alarmist persuasion, coming as it does on the same day as new research from NASA (external - login to view)(of all places: where’s Jimmy “death train” Hansen when he’s needed to put the correct spin on things?) blows yet another massive hole in CAGW theory.
NASA satellite data from the years 2000 through 2011 show the Earth’s atmosphere is allowing far more heat to be released into space than alarmist computer models have predicted, reports a new study in the peer-reviewed science journal Remote Sensing (external - login to view). The study indicates far less future global warming will occur than United Nations computer models have predicted, and supports prior studies indicating increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide trap far less heat than alarmists have claimed.Anyhoo, weep not for the polar bear. The polar bears are doing just fine.
Study co-author Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and U.S. Science Team Leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer flying on NASA’s Aqua satellite, reports that real-world data from NASA’s Terra satellite contradict multiple assumptions fed into alarmist computer models.
“The satellite observations suggest there is much more energy lost to space during and after warming than the climate models show,” Spencer said in a July 26 University of Alabama press release (external - login to view). “There is a huge discrepancy between the data and the forecasts that is especially big over the oceans.”