Originally posted to the PSG Listserve on 18 November:
Because of the coverage of the U.S. presidential election in the past year, we don't need to be reminded that the media fails us in many ways - including making the trivial seem important and poorly covering those things that are important.
A recent interesting paper in Nature Communications:
Contribution of Arctic seabird-colony ammonia to atmospheric particles and cloud-albedo radiative effect
reports that "model simulations indicate that the pan-Arctic seabird-influenced particles can grow by sulfuric acid and organic vapour condensation to diameters sufficiently large to promote pan-Arctic cloud-droplet formation in the clean (sic) Arctic summertime."
Many "news" sources, including a number that should really know better, have taken to the story and of course have presented it in a way that will do more to attract than inform their readers:
"Seabird poop is helping to keep the Arctic cool, researchers say" - Cantech Letter, "How Bird Poop Helps Cool the Arctic" - Science magazine, "How Bird Poop Could Help Keep the Arctic Cool" - Smithsonian.com, "Climate Change: Will Bird Poop Save The World As Arctic Winters Get Warmer?" - International Business Times, "Seabird Crap Could Help Save the Arctic" Gizmodo.com
The piece on the Popular Science website
ends by saying ""Our study just highlights one connection," Croft says. But it's a good reminder that the migration patterns of animals – which are shifting in the wake of climate change—might help keep our planet running as usual."
The source of the last sentence is not clear but it gives the general reader the impression that those studying climate and/or migratory animals need to be regularly reminded that "migration patterns of animals.....might keep our planet running as usual" and that the results of this study provide that reminder.
Ignored in all this are the findings that clouds have been shown to not affect the rate of Arctic warming:
"There's no cloud response in summer to melting sea ice, which means it is likely that clouds are not slowing down the Arctic climate change that is happening—clouds aren't really providing the expected stabilizing feedback"
and that they can actually increase the rate of melting
Meanwhile the current warming in the Arctic is unprecedented and also "insane" as the Washington Post reports