AP’s “Runaway” Reporting on Ice Melt
The Associated Press’ Seth Borenstein published an article September 23rd, titled “NASA data: Greenland, Antarctic ice melt worsening.” The story opens, “New satellite information shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica continue to shrink faster than scientists thought and in some places are already in runaway melt mode.”
Oddly, there is no mention of “runaway” in either the British Antarctic Survey’s press release or the research paper itself. Yet the lurid conclusion appears in the reporter’s first paragraph.
Although the paper at issue is already, as we see here, being spun as evidence of impending catastrophic sea level rise, that’s not what it represents. Instead, the researchers use a satellite-based laser-altimetry system that’s been operational only since 2002, indicating that what the study shows is that glaciers are much more dynamic than scientists had previously understood.
Regardless, the “runaway” melting was not something that the authors or BAS found as worthy of the peer review process or the paper itself, and as such is inappropriate for use as a lurid news “hook.”