NOAA’s Ark: A Report That Includes Two of Every Conclusion

There’s a new study on the Arctic and global warming released by NOAA, and the results are, well, mixed. The Los Angeles Times reports:

An international team of scientists reported Thursday that rising temperatures are steadily transforming the Arctic — warming millions of square miles of permafrost, promoting lush greenery on previously arid tundras and steadily shrinking the annual sea ice.

Yet the researchers also found new patterns of cooling ocean currents and prevailing winds that suggested the Arctic, long considered a bellwether of global warming, may be reverting in some ways to more normal conditions not seen since the 1970s.

So global warming is both radically altering the Arctic in unprecedented ways, yet a countertrend is simultaneously doing the opposite. I see. I’ll let the experts on the global warming team dig into the details of the report itself. From a media perspective, however, the quotes Times writer Robert Lee Hotz chose to include are interesting:

“This is a region that is fighting back,” said lead author Jacqueline Richter-Menge, a civil engineer at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H. “There are things that showed signs of going back to norms, trying to right themselves under very dire circumstances.”

Fighting back? It seems an oddly anthropomorphic metaphor to use when what we’re really talking about are things like atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and ocean currents. Was Europe “fighting back” in the 14th century when the Medieval Warm Period came to an end? And how far do we go back to determine what the “correct” climate for any particular place on earth is supposed to be?

UPDATE: You know what they say about great minds – Myron agrees with me! (see post above)