Sweden and Ireland are warming, Antarctic sea ice shows no trend
The claim: There has been no January warming in Ireland and Sweden since 1988
Average global temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, according to NASA. Other independent and long-term climate data sets support this verdict.
However, some social media users shared a blog post which claims that some countries are defying this trend.
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However, the claim is misleading. This blog post selects both the time period and the specific month, a methodology that experts say is flawed. Ireland and Sweden have warmed since 1988 if all months are taken into account.
USA TODAY has reached out to the blog author and social media users who shared the request for comment.
Sweden and Ireland have warmed since 1988
While the blog names the Japan Meteorological Agency as a source, the data was not originally collected by the agency, according to Wakamatsu Shunyaa science officer from the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The Swedish data seems to come from the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, which participates in the messaging system. While the blog analyzed data from five Swedish stations, there is data available from 35 stations dating back to 1988, according to Sverker Hellström, a climatologist at the institute.
When data from these stations are analyzed, there has been no statistically significant January warming since 1988, Hellström told USA TODAY in an email. However, Sweden has warmed since 1988 when looking at annual temperatures.
Additionally, Swedish data shows a positive warming trend for January since 1985, he said.
“I don’t know why they started in 1988 in the blog, but 1988 was a pretty warm winter after several really cold winters in the mid-80s,” Hellström said. “It’s an old trick to start with a warm year if you want to show the absence of a warming trend.”
Like Sweden, Ireland has not warmed since 1988, when only January is taken into account. However, annual temperatures have warmed significantly over the same period, Spillane told USA TODAY in an email.
While Sweden and Ireland have not shown significant warming in January since 1988, global temperatures in January warmed by about 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit per decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Time Series tool.
“You can almost always find a shorter or more local record to seemingly contradict the long-term global trend,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies previously said USA TODAY. “They don’t though.”
Unlike Arctic sea ice, the extent of Antarctic sea ice is not shrinking
The blog post also claims that Antarctic sea ice has been stable for 40 years. It’s pretty accurate.
While the extent of Antarctic sea ice – the size – has fluctuated since the late 1970s, it has not changed much overall.
“There had been a trend in Antarctica towards an increase in sea ice cover from the late 1970s to 2014, but with the decreases from 2014 to 2017, the record from the late 1970s to present does not show a strong overall trend”, Claire Parkinsonsenior climatologist at NASA, previously said USA TODAY.
However, the Antarctic ice sheet has lost significant mass in recent decades, according to NASA. The ice sheet is mainly based on the landmass of Antarctica, while sea ice refers to the ice that forms on top of the ocean.
arctic sea ice declines so quickly.
Our opinion: Missing context
Based on our research, we note MISSING CONTEXT the claim that there has been no January warming in Ireland and Sweden since 1988, because without additional context this may be misleading. While the claim itself is accurate, it is based on hand-picked data. There has been warming in Ireland and Sweden since 1988 if all months are considered.
Our fact-checking sources:
- Wakamatsu ShunyaMarch 15-24, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Sverker Hellström, March 23-April 6, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Sandra SpillaneMarch 22-April 1, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Claire ParkinsonJanuary 17-18, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Gavin SchmidtFebruary 22, email exchange with USA TODAY
- Ahira Sanchez-LugoMarch 23-25, email exchange with USA TODAY
- NASA, accessed March 23 Ice caps
- NASA, accessed March 23 Extent of arctic sea ice
- NOAA, August 14, 2020, Climate Change: Global Sea Level
- NASA, April 20, 2020, Ice-albedo feedback in the Arctic
- USA TODAY, January 21 Fact check: NASA didn’t deny warming or claim polar ice has increased since 1979
- The Washington Post, January 25, 2021, Earth now loses 1.2 trillion tons of ice every year. And it’s gonna get worse
- NOAA, April 28, 2020, Understanding the climate: Antarctic sea ice extent
- NASA, accessed March 23 A changing world: the Antarctic sea ice
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report, accessed March 23 Regional Fact Sheet – Polar Regions
- National Snow and Ice Data Center, January 7 How does Antarctic sea ice differ from Arctic sea ice?
- Japan Meteorological Agency, accessed March 23 ClimateView
- Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, accessed March 23 Climate
- Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, accessed March 23 Swedish annual average temperature graph
- Met Éireann, accessed March 31 Home page
- Japan Meteorological Agency, accessed March 31 Home page
- Japan Meteorological Agency, accessed April 1, Introducing ClimatView
- NOAA Climate at a Glance, accessed April 5 World time series
- USA TODAY, March 1 Fact check: Japan Meteorological Agency data shows warming on Japanese island
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