The only way for reporters (and columnists) to avoid making these mistakes in the future is to pay more attention to detail. When reviewing scientific data, it is imperative to note whether the data reflects trends that are global, regional, seasonal, annual, perennial, etc. Such nuance is as fundamental to good science journalism as an understanding of the difference between weather and climate.

Correction: This article was changed to reflect that the University of Illinois has no “Arctic Climate Research Center.” The researchers responsible for the sea ice data are informally known as the polar research group.

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.