Monday, April 19, 2010

Sensationalist headline for CSIRO study on ocean salinity

ABC HEADLINE: "Ocean's saltiness reaching extremes" ABC Science 16 April 2010
ABC REPORTED: ABC post a news report by Larry O'Hanlon of Discovery News dealing with a recent study published online in the Journal of Climate by CSIRO scientists Paul Durack and Dr Susan Wijffels titled "FIFTY-YEAR TRENDS IN GLOBAL OCEAN SALINITIES AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO BROAD-SCALE WARMING" (doi: 10.1175/2010JCLI3377.1)
The introductory sentence of the news report reads: "The supercharging of Earth's water cycle by global warming is making some parts of our oceans saltier, while others parts are getting fresher, according to a new study." The ABC version is slightly modified from the version on Discovery News (HERE).
The report appears to be based on a CSIRO Press Release of the 14 April ( which does not indicate that salinity is reaching extreme levels, merely that the water cycle has intensified. 

THE COMPLAINT: The headline misrepresents the contents of the report. No where in the article is there an indication that Ocean saltiness is "reaching extremes". Indeed no where in the actual study is there a suggestion that Ocean saltiness is reaching extremes. Please amend the headline.Suggest: "CSIRO Study finds water cycle intensity has increased".
The link to the Journal of Climate referred to in the article does not work.

OUTCOME: Pending
COMMENT: Sensationalism is not justified by the facts. Perhaps more troubling is that the authors of the study appear to have let the media get away with misrepresenting their findings. We trust they are complaining as loudly as we are.

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