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Groundbreaking climate change discovery made by, sigh, Boaty McBoatface

Gabe Worgaftik Jun 19, 2019. 22 comments

Climate change is real, and many would argue the most serious existing threat to humanity. Today, British scientists announced a major new discovery about how climate change is affecting sea levels that will most likely cause climate scientists to reconfigure their projection models. This discovery was made due to the efforts of, ugh, Boaty McBoatface.

Boaty McBoatface, if you recall, was the subject of some internet hubbub back in 2016. Since the internet at large can not be expected to exhibit any chill whatsoever, “Boaty McBoatface” was the winner of a contest held online by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council to determine the name of a new $300 million research vessel. Because “Boaty McBoatface” is fucking stupid, the NERC then declared they would instead name the new boat by fiat, electing for the far more respectable and deserved RRS Sir David Attenborough. As a bone thrown to the hoi polloi, Boaty McBoatface was given to a small unmanned submarine housed aboard the Attenborough.

Now, as part of the Attenborough’s maiden voyage, Boaty McBoatface has made a major discovery, published in the journal PNAS, for which we must unfortunately give it credit. In short, the submersible traversed the waters of Antarctica measuring temperature, salinity, and current. What it found was that increasingly strong winds in the Antarctic are causing cold water at the bottom of the ocean to mix with warmer water from the middle levels. That, in turn, is causing overall ocean temperatures to rise, which contributes to rising sea levels. Previously unaware of this process, climate scientists will now need to adjust their sea-level forecasts.

This is indeed a major finding that deserves major coverage. The sad fact is, though, that Twitter and the majority of publications—this one included—would not be talking about this discovery had it not been made by an unmanned submarine with a very dumb and bad name. We are all as stupid as we are doomed.

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