Falsified research images, arctic sea ice and German climate policy

Arctic animals like polar bears depend on ice floes. Although the minimum annual extent this year has been relatively high, ice cover is decreasing as global temperatures rise.Credit: Ekaterina Anismova / AFP via Getty

Arctic sea ice hits 2021 low

Arctic sea ice exceeded its minimum extent for this year – 4.72 million square kilometers – on September 16, the United States National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) reported.

Due to a cool and cloudy arctic summer, this year’s annual low was the highest since 2014: ice covered nearly a million square kilometers more than last year’s extent of 3.82 million square kilometers, which was the second lowest on record (see ‘Ice cover’). But it’s still the twelfth smallest extent of sea ice in nearly 43 years of satellite records, and scientists say the long-term trend is for weaker ice cover.

“Including this year, the past 15 years have had the 15 lowest minimum Arctic ranges on record,” said Walt Meier, senior researcher at NSIDC, based at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The lowest minimum extent on record was set in 2012, after a very strong storm accelerated the loss of thin ice that was already on the verge of melting.

ICE COVER.  The graph showing the minimum extent of Arctic sea ice is decreasing by about 13% per decade.

Source: NSIDC

In June and July of this year, a weak low in the central Arctic prevented warmer southerly winds from being drawn into the region. This kept the air cold and kept some of the ice from melting. The low pressure also causes clouds to form, which block sunlight. This can further slow the melting. In August, the low moved northward from the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in Alaska, producing air temperatures 2-3 ° C below average.

A transient increase in sea ice could create better conditions for species that use the ice to hunt, says Steven Amstrup, chief scientist at Polar Bears International in Bozeman, Montana. “But it is this downward trend in ice, caused by an increasing frequency of bad ice years, that determines the ultimate fate of polar bears and other sea ice dependent wildlife.”

A lab worker wearing a white coat and gloves holds a marker over the results of gel electrophoresis.

New guidelines list three categories of image manipulation, ranging from “embellished” figures to those that have been modified for the purpose of misleading.Credit: Getty

Publishers unite to fight falsified images

Some of the world’s largest publishers have come together to tackle the growing problem of image manipulation in scientific papers. They have developed a three-level classification system that publishers can use to report suspicious content, along with step-by-step instructions on how to deal with spoofed images.

A working group made up of representatives from eight publishers, including Elsevier, JAMA, Wiley and Springer Nature, as well as industry group STM, based in The Hague, Netherlands, created the guide, which was posted on the server. OSF preprint on September 9 (J. van Rossum et al. Preprint at https://osf.io/xp58v; 2021). Editors say it should be used as part of a pre-publication screening process, or to address issues raised by published articles. (NatureThe press team is independent of its publisher, Springer Nature.)

The guide lists three categories of manipulation, ranging from level one – in which images have been “embellished” in a way that does not affect the conclusions of an article – to level three, which includes “image manipulation”. severe, with unequivocal evidence of obfuscation or fabrication. ”Each level has a list of examples and actions editors should take.

Image integrity specialists welcome the guidelines, but say they are overdue. “They won’t prevent scientific misconduct, but they do provide further scrutiny both at the submission stage and after publication,” says Elisabeth Bik, California-based research integrity consultant.

Green Party chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock at a campaign rally.

Annalena Baerbock, co-leader of the Green Party, speaks at an election campaign rally. Preliminary results suggest the Greens won almost 15% of the vote.Credit: Liesa Johannssen-Koppitz / Bloomberg / Getty

Climate will feature prominently in German coalition talks

Climate and energy policies are expected to be a key talking point in negotiations over which parties will form the next German government, after the much-anticipated federal elections on September 26.

The center-left Social Democrats, a junior partner of the current coalition government, narrowly won the elections ahead of the center-right Christian Democrats of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The two parties are unlikely to continue their coalition, and a new government, regardless of leader, could include the Greens and the Free Liberal Democrats, who won 14.8% and 11.5% of the vote, respectively. . It could take weeks of discussions before a coalition is formed.

Climate change was a key issue in this election, and the new government will need to develop a plan to meet the country’s climate goals – a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030. , and become carbon neutral by 2045.

Analysts expect the Greens to claim ministerial responsibility for the environment and transport – key ministries for climate policies – while the liberals could claim the economy ministry. It is too early to say which party could get the Ministry of Science and what awaits researchers.

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