A little while ago (see HERE) we pointed out that local Inuit knowledge was important in recognising that Polar Bears sometimes eat each other. As Inuits are around to witness Polar Bears a lot more than tourists and passing scientists, it makes some sense to listen to what they are saying. ABC now report on a recent study (lead by the aptly named Betsy Weatherhead - a scientist from the University of Colorado) that has used Inuit Knowledge to suggest that the weather has been "ogianaktook" (phonetic) or less predictable over the past 15 or 20.
The study titled "Changes in weather persistence: Insight from Inuit knowledge" was published online in the journal Global Environmental Change. The abstract reads:
Since the 1990s, local residents from around the Arctic have reported changes in weather predictability. Examination of environmental measurements have not, until now, helped describe what the local inhabitants have been reporting, in part because prior studies did not focus directly on the persistence aspect of weather. Here we show that there is evidence of changes in persistence in weather over the last two decades for Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada. Hourly data indicate that for local spring, the persistence of temperature has changed dramatically in the last 15 years with some years showing a strong drop in day-to-day persistence in the local spring afternoons, somewhat at odds with changes in persistence on a more global scale. Changes in daily persistence may have implications for human health, agriculture, and ecosystems worldwide. More importantly, the approach of merging indigenous knowledge with scientific methods may offer unexpected benefits for both.
ABC's headline however reads: "Inuit knowledge reveals warming effects". The study is about Inuit knowledge of weather persistence, not warming or cooling. The emphasis is on unpredictability in weather over the past 15 years (which hardly covers half a climate cycle). Hence we lodge a complaint on the grounds that the report headline lacks factual accuracy and breaks ABC editorial policy. We request the ABC amend the headline and we provide the following title for ABC to consider: "Inuit weather whisperers say weather less predictable-study"
The ABC appear to have found out about the article through a press release from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, issued on the 7th of April, 2010 (seems like ABC were a little slow off the mark with this one).
ABC Audience and Consumer affairs reply: 13 July