In an unexpected development, the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature has retracted a study published last year which claimed that oceans were warming faster than expected due to climate change, and that the rate at which warming was happening was accelerating.

Campaigners had seized on the October 2018 study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography to predict dire consequences for the earth and demand governments take action.

However, Nicholas Lewis, a mathematician and self-described independent climate change researcher, posted a sharp critque of the research pointing out serious errors in the original calculations from the Scripps Institute and Princeton University researchers.

“The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer-reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote in November, 2018.

“Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.”Lewis’s analysis led to a review and then, this week, a full retraction of the paper.  The journal issued the formal notice of the retraction on Oct. 31, 2018.

A statement published on the journal’s website reported:

“Shortly after publication, arising from comments from Nicholas Lewis, we realized that our reported uncertainties were underestimated owing to our treatment of certain systematic errors as random errors.

“In addition, we became aware of several smaller issues in our analysis of uncertainty. Although correcting these issues did not substantially change the central estimate of ocean warming, it led to a roughly fourfold increase in uncertainties, significantly weakening implications for an upward revision of ocean warming and climate sensitivity.”

“Because of these weaker implications, the Nature editors asked for a Retraction, which we accept.”

The researchers said they believed their method remains valid: “Despite the revised uncertainties, our method remains valid and provides an estimate of ocean warming that is independent of the ocean data underpinning other approaches.”

Nicholas Lewis had acknowledged the usefulness of the new method but argued its results had been overblown and overstated.

“Moreover, even if the paper’s results had been correct, they would not have justified its findings regarding an increase to 2.0°C in the lower bound of the equilibrium climate sensitivity range and a 25 percent reduction in the carbon budget for 2°C global warming,” he wrote.

He was critical of the unquestioning reporting from the media and scientific communities in regard to accepting results that made the climate emergency seem real.

“The findings of the Resplandy et al paper were peer-reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results. Just a few hours of analysis and calculations, based only on published information, was sufficient to uncover apparently serious (but surely inadvertent) errors in the underlying calculations.”