Journal 'Nature' retracts ocean-warming study

September 30, 2019
by Joshua Emerson Smith

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The journal Nature retracted a study published last year that found oceans were warming at an alarming rate due to climate change.

The prestigious scientific journal issued the formal notice this week for the paper published Oct. 31, 2018, by researchers at the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

They released a statement published on the journal's website that read in part:

"Shortly after publication, arising from comments from Nicholas Lewis, we realized that our reported uncertainties were underestimated owing to our treatment of certain systematic errors as random errors.

"Despite the revised uncertainties, our method remains valid and provides an estimate of warming that is independent of the ocean data underpinning other approaches."

Lewis, a mathematician and critic of the scientific consensus supporting the , posted a critique of the paper shortly after its publication.

Co-author and scientist Ralph Keeling at Scripps has taken the blame for the mistake.

The report used a new approach to measure the ocean's temperature based on measuring the amount of oxygen and rising off the oceans' plants. Much of the data on ocean temperatures currently relies on the Argo array, robotic devices that float at different depths.

The retraction of the article came on the same day that the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report on the impacts warming on oceans and ice-covered regions.

The findings were some of the most dire to date, warning that if emissions continue, sea level rise could reach 3 feet by the end of the century, a more than 10% increase from 2013 predictions. At the same time, the report found that in some cities and islands hundred-year floods will become yearly events.

More information: L. Resplandy et al. Retraction Note: Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1585-5

L. Resplandy et al. Quantification of ocean heat uptake from changes in atmospheric O2 and CO2 composition, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0651-8

Journal information: Nature

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