Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
The new Washington
Post Weather website
Jump to CWG's
Latest Full Forecast
Outside now? Radar, temps
and more: Weather Wall
Follow us on Twitter (@capitalweather) and become a fan on Facebook
Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 01/11/2010

A virtual tour of the cold (and not so cold)

By Andrew Freedman

* Flakes tonight? Then warming: Full Forecast | Ann to Antarctica *

This just in to the CWG newsroom: It's cold outside.

Sorry, I couldn't resist making fun of the fascination with the recent cold weather. In Boston, where I am writing from today, the air has the same fierce bite to it that I endured during two Chicago winters, when tiny icicles would form at the corner of my eyes as I walked to the "El" train in the morning. It's the type of cold that makes me reluctant to venture outside for any reason other than for absolute necessities. (And I'm beginning to reevaluate what constitutes a necessity. I mean, do I really need milk in my cereal?)


Surface temperatures in December 2009, compared to average temperatures between December 2000-2008. Blue represents colder-than-average temperatures and red warmer than average. Credit: NASA. Enlarge image.

Most media coverage of the cold weather has featured images of bundled-up people, cold animals, snow falling on city streets, and icebound orange groves in the citrus belt of Florida. Given that this is a weather blog, I figured it's as good a time as any to geek out a bit, so to speak, and share some data that can help you put the cold in a broader context. Think of it as taking a tour of the cold without having to actually go outside.

First up is this neat NASA image (above at right) showing December 2009 surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere, as compared to the average of December temperatures from 2000 to 2008. Blue represents colder-than-average temperatures and red warmer than average. Clearly December 2009 was a lot colder than recent Decembers in most of the hemisphere.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, in the lower-48 states December 2009 was the 14th coolest December in 115 years, and was 3.2 degrees F cooler than the 20th century average.

As the NASA image hints at, a key exception to the cold has been in the Arctic, which has been much warmer than normal so far this winter. Last week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) posted the map below showing just how unusually warm the Arctic was in December 2009.


Average air temperature anomalies at about 3,000 feet above the surface of the Arctic during December 2009. Areas in orange and red correspond to strong positive (warm) anomalies. Areas in blue and purple correspond to negative (cool) anomalies. Credit: NSIDC.

As Andrew Revkin has expertly detailed at the New York Times' Dot Earth blog, the warm Arctic and cold U.S./Europe is related to an unusually significant shift in a climate pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation.


Image from NASA's MODIS satellite last week shows snow covering all of the United Kingdom. Courtesy NASA.

The Arctic Oscillation, or AO, is a short-term climate pattern that influences the weather in the Northern Hemisphere. For a great technical explainer of the AO, check out this page from the NSIDC. Occasional CWG contributor Robert Henson has also posted an informative piece on the links between the recent weather and the AO.

Next up on our tour is the map below from the U.S. Climate Prediction Center, showing temperature anomalies (blue: colder than average; red: warmer than average) in Europe during the period Jan. 3-9. Note the colder-than-average conditions in Great Britain, which experienced significant snowfall during this period (see image above at right), as well as the exceptionally cold conditions in typically wintry Sweden, Norway and Finland. Brrrr....


Surface temperature anomalies (blue: colder than average; red: warmer than average) in Europe from Jan.3-9. Credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

A key message from these images is that when one region is experiencing unusually cold weather, chances are that another is basking in warmth. For example, the Arctic, much of the Middle East, parts of Asia, Australia and Africa have all been warmer than normal lately. This is illustrated by the image below, from NOAA's Earth Systems Laboratory. The image shows average temperature anomalies during the period from Dec. 10, 2009, to Jan. 9, 2010. It's evident that the cold conditions in some of the world's major media centers was balanced out by warm conditions outside of, say, CNN's typical domain.


Average surface temperature anomalies between Dec. 10, 2009, and Jan. 9, 2010. Credit: NOAA ESL.

In addition to many land masses, the oceans are also warmer than normal, in part because of an El Niño event. In fact, many scientists still expect 2010 to be one of the warmest years on record, following hot on the heels of the warmest decade on record. As I discussed in a relatively controversial post last week, that's rather inconvenient news for climate change skeptics who claim the recent cold weather as evidence against the scientific consensus of long-term warming.

The views expressed here are the author's alone and do not represent any position of the Washington Post, its news staff or the Capital Weather Gang.

By Andrew Freedman  | January 11, 2010; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Extreme Cold, Freedman, International Weather, U.S. Weather  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: Work week warm-up
Next: PM Update: Chance of snow showers tonight

Comments

Over 20 years ago Dr. Hansen predicted the West Side Highway would be underwater and restaurants would serve water only upon request.

10 years ago Dr. Viner of the CRU predicted that "Children just aren't going to know what snow is".

The scientific method mandates that a theory be capable of being proven false. Otherwise, it doesn't qualify as a theory.

What will prove the theory of catastrophic man made global warming false?

It is a sincere question. Will ANYTHING at all prove the theory of catastrophic man made global warming false? And if nothing will, does it qualify as a valid theory?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 11, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

It's cold here in North America because it's January. We expect it to be cold in January. That's why it's called WINTER. Just as we expect it to be hot in June, July and August. Get over yourselves.

Furthermore, global warming is a major hoax perpetrated by Algore so he can collect major money for his speaking tours and DVD sales. Algore's video may have been a catharsis for his guilt about his sister dying of lung cancer when the family grew tobacco but WTF does that have to do with global warming?

Stop believing that garbage. Legitimate scientists, who know what they're talking about, say it's all a bunch of baloney. It's cold in winter and hot in summer. So there.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | January 11, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Ah-HA! Oceans are still warmer than average, despite our colder than average winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Perhaps we should be looking to the oceans for climate change clues, huh! :) This frustrates me too, since it is simple physics that determines how much greater heat content the oceans can hold than continental landmass. Who cares about seasonal swings in continental temperatures within context of the Climate Change debate?! grr.

Posted by: Camden-CapitalWeatherGang | January 11, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Andrew. This is beautiful. This (and Andrew Revkin's piece, which I had missed - thanks) is exactly the kind of weather/climate journalism the public needs more of. "Geeky" stuff that goes a little deeper than the 47th article informing us that - news flash - people in the UK and Florida are experiencing cold.

I had suspected that with this cold "artic" air we'd been having, that that meant that the real artic (along with some other areas) was warmer than usual. Finally someone is reporting on that. Kudos to the CWG!

Posted by: B2O2 | January 11, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the mention of Finland! After 15 years (with the exception of 2003) of much midler than normal winters here (as measured by square miles and duration of ice cover in the Baltic Sea), it's awesome to have some old school winter for a change.

Posted by: Finn1917 | January 11, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

OK, here's my summary of Siberian weather for the past few hours. Some areas are literally having a "heat wave", so to speak. Oymyakon is reporting -28, b.p. 30.48. Novosibirsk has 14 ABOVE zero, b.p. 29.98.[Time to get out the toboggan, folks, this won't last!]. Irkutsk has minus 27, b. p. 30.66. Shologontsy, -24, pressure 30.56, and Verkhoyansk, -4, with snow, b.p. 30.15.

The highest pressure in the area is over 1042 mb, extending from Lake Baikal, just to the west.

Sounds as though the same "buran" [the Siberian equivalent of a "clipper" system] is hitting Verkhoyansk while keeping Novosibirsk "mild".

Posted by: Bombo47jea | January 11, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Gotta add that that's an awesome picture of the UK. At first glance it didn't look like anything, since I figured all the white stuff was the usual satellite cloud cover. Then I actually looked at it. That's actually snow on the ground that kids are playing in and people are trying to drive through!

Posted by: B2O2 | January 11, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Richard Betts, who heads up the UK Hadley Center's climate impacts group, wrote an interesting op-ed for the BBC about how scientists need to be more responsible about how they communicate with the public. In particular, he argues against the urge to blame climate change for individual severe weather extremes, and helps put Britain's recent cold weather into a broader context as well. It's worth a read: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8451756.stm

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | January 11, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I've never commented on one of these climate change posts before, mainly because I tend to not really understand the science behind the phenomenon. I do have a nagging question though. My understanding is that we've only had accurate weather records for maybe 150 years. This planet has been around for millions of years. How can we extrapolate what is going to happen when we are dealing with such a tiny sample of data when compared to the how long this planet has been around.

I'm not trying to be funny or a troll, I'm genuinely interested. Is there a way to figure out what the temperature trends, water temperatures, etc. have been over even just the last thousand years? I have only the science I learned in HS and college to go on but it just seems as if the data sample we have is too small to be able to begin to predict what might happen.

Maybe I'm missing some science theory that I didn't get majoring in English so I'd love to hear what the holes are in my theory.

Thanks!!

Posted by: ana_b | January 11, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

As Richard Betts and so many others have said, global warming refers to the long term rise in the global average temperature. One month out of a year means nothing by itself one way or the other. But those predictability compelled to read the recent cold as undermining the case for global warming ignore the fact that satellite based measurements show globally December was .28C (.50F) above average. In fact, although it means nothing except to those who wish to exploit the most recent cold as something it’s not, the first week of January globally was .56C (1.00F) above average.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 11, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Another reality check (reference to first commentary above:


Yes, “over 20 years ago Dr. Hansen predicted the West Side Highway would be underwater and restaurants would serve water only upon request”. And, he also said (but not referred to in comment) that this would occur in 20 or 30 years. Was he correct? No-one can possibly know for sure for at least ten more years.


Yes, 10 years ago Dr. Viner of the CRU predicted that "Children just aren't going to know what snow is". But he added (and not mentioned in comment) that “Heavy snow will return occasionally but when it does we will be unprepared.”We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time".


Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 11, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

ana_b, here's an incredibly short answer to questions you've asked which literally thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal papers have been written on. However your question, while admirable that you're curious, actually ultimately is somewhat off the point of anthopogenic climate change (and a common misconception).

First for the temperature record. While there are only *thermometer-based* records going back about a century and a half (as you note), there are actually somewhat detailed, somewhat precise "proxy" temperature records gathered and determined - and corroborated - by a panoply of different methods. Some of these are tree ring widths in trees that are hundreds (in some cases perhaps thousands) of years old; coral growth rates; and isotope ratios in ice cores (and sediments) going back thousands of years.

You can read a little more detail here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record

The reason your question is a bit of a red herring - and a common one, though most often put out by people who know better and are simply trolling to confuse people - is that the appropriate question is actually NOT "is this warming unprecedented in earth's history?" If that were the question, the answer would surely be "no". There was probably a time in earth's early formation when it was a ball of hot boiling matter. In addition, there are all kinds of NATURAL cycles, most of them well understood to scientists, that drive very long term (tens and hundreds of thousands of years) heating and cooling. That isn't the question at hand however.

The real question is simply "are we heating the earth NOW?". And the answer is that in the presence of all of these very slow, long term forces mentioned above, the earth has experienced a very short, very sharp upward spike in temperature that has correlated very strongly with greenhouse gas emissions.

People have thrown out all kinds of alternative theories as to what else could be driving it. Solar cycles partially explain it, but not the major part of it. The only thing left is greenhouse gases - which is in perfect keeping with what theory would expect. You trap more heat in a system that's receiving input, and it slowly heats up. Kind of like a clear rubber balloon outside on a hot sunny day.

Okay, not so short, but trust me, there have been volumes written on this.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 11, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Cool Hypothesis: Soapy ocean surface == snowy mountains.

High school science: Soap in small quantitys does reduce surface tension.
So how about soap upon the oceans?

On ocean surfaces, would the tension be so reduced, that, alot more evaporation from oceans would occur (instant frosty freeze effect), then more clouds above (water vapor goes up high, cools at the outer boundary of the atmosphere), then snow falls on the mountains, in quantitys unseen since the previous ice age.

Disclaimer: I do NOT work for P&G, Squaw Valley, or Breckenridge.

Posted by: pehoushek1 | January 11, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

You can try to put a positive spin on it or downplay it, but the fact remains - The same people who over 20 years predicted that as early as last year that the West Side Highway would be under water, and in 2000 predicted that WITHIN A FEW YEARS winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event", are predicting catastrophic man made global warming.

Which, by the way, predicts milder winters. How are those milder winters working out so far?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 11, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

@SteveT, you don't always need to bite on the bait, you know. :)

@B2O2, you suggested in another thread that global warming may increase temperature variance. Do you have a reference, please? Thanks in advance. Mark

@pehoushek1, usually impurities in water tend to reduce evaporation.

Posted by: imback | January 11, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Tracton,

You didn't address my question.

What will prove the theory of catastrophic man made global warming false?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 11, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that a hot summer in Europe or a one season reduction in the arctic ice pack can be used as "proof" of global warming, but have a cold winter and "experts" claim that you can't take such a small scale event as proof of anything.

Sorry, but you can't have it both ways.

Anyway, geologists laugh at meteorologists and climatologists using such small time frames to try and prove anything.

Posted by: Curmudgeon4 | January 11, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

@imback:

Unfortunately, though I know I've read that at least a couple of times, but can't readily recall where. I'll see if I can find it.


@Mr_Q:

It's interesting, and I think demonstrative, that a blog like "What's up with that" would go to such great efforts to recreate the "scene of the crime" (although I admit that google street stuff is entirely cool, didn't know you could do that!) over an off-the-cuff answer during an interview-- but will not spend ten minutes absorbing the science laid out in carefully analyzed and published studies. Or take five minutes, for example, to read about why a CRU researcher might be using Michael Mann's "trick" to accurately present tree ring data.

It just speaks volumes as to intent, I think.

(And for what it's worth, most restaurants I go to no longer serve drinking water unless you ask for it. I guess that settles the AGW issue for all you guys? No, I thought not. Only the negative predictions are useful to you and your obfuscation agenda.)

Posted by: B2O2 | January 11, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Andrew, first of all there isn't any consensus. I have no idea why people keep bringing this up, but even the reports (Which I've reviewed) by those scientists who actually have observed warming trends, express a hesitating reluctance to contribute any of this to human forcing. No self-respecting scientist is willing to jump to shaky conclusions, no matter their inclinations. We have, as of recent, witnessed a complete flurry of unconceivable incompetence among a variety of researchers in their willingness to jump to AGW claims, and in the process, they have completely abandoned the experimentation necessary to discover the true cause-and-effect in regard to their study.

Also, the displays which you present here actually tear into the AGW theory. The PDO/AMO Cycles are well known natural factors of our global climate patterns, and not only do we know with certainty that they do in fact combine to drive the AO, but the sum of their cycles also directly affects the average temperature trends over the Arctic region. I have myself been displaying and discussing the PDO/AMO-Arctic average temperature cycle graphs for quite some time now, but finally the "Mail" of the UK tracked down the scientists responsible for creating such, and rightfully brought their findings into the mainstream. If you observe the graphs, you will notice that the 1930's/1940's was a time-frame when the PDO/AMO were cresting in their trend, and in direct correlation to such, the Arctic crested at its peak average temperature. In the 1970's both cycles hit their trough (In terms of temperature), and again at the turn of the Millennium they hit their peak once again. These cycles run in 30-40 year patterns, and since we are less than 10 years into the current decline, we should witness another 20-30 years of further cooling overall.

Posted by: TheAnalyst | January 11, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Andrew claims "A key message from these images is that when one region is experiencing unusually cold weather, chances are that another is basking in warmth"

Not true. A simple observation can be seen from the satellite record is that global averages bounce around all the time. The cold in Europe and North America is *not* balanced by warmth elsewhere. The blocking patterns that you are looking at do pump warmth into the mid-Atlantic (esp. Greenland) but not nearly enough to bask in or balance the cold.

Another simple demonstration of non-balanced weather: increase the wind speed over a decent chunk of the Pacific. The increase will result in greater evaporational cooling across that area, and cooler ocean and air temperatures. The resultant water vapor will condense elsewhere, but will typically condense at altitude so that resultant warmth radiates into space. If this happens enough we have La Nina.

But right now we have El Niino, lower Pacific windspeeds along with changes in ocean currents, and weather patterns. El Nino causes globally warmer temperatures, there is no cooling anywhere to balance it out.

What you have done is rationalized the circulations with stagnant weather patterns (e.g. sunny southern European warmth) with the idea that cooling is balanced by warming. It is not.

Posted by: eric654 | January 11, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

SteveT, you should also mention that December was a sharp drop from November when the world was warmer. Also January is turning out to be warmer primarily because of El Nino. The cooling here is not related in any significant way to that warming or vice versa. It is simply two different sources of weather fighting it out in the global average.

Posted by: eric654 | January 11, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

B202 says "very short, very sharp upward spike in temperature that has correlated very strongly with greenhouse gas emissions" The shortness and sharpness does not correspond at all with GH gases, only the upwards. CO2 provides slow steady warming, all the rest is natural variation. Obviously the current cooling (2005-present) is natural variation, but it is being tempered by the slow steady warming from CO2.

Posted by: eric654 | January 11, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

eric654
You make my point. The November warmth is no more meaningful taken alone than the decline to Dec to warming again in Jan. But in the realm of the longer term record, these individual short term components are consistent with the record of above average global temperatures.

imback

I'm not "taking the bait", just pushing it aside. Regular readers are most certainly aware of Mr. Q's (and some others') tactics of misinformation. Every now and then I believe it's a good idea to make this clear to any new comers to avoid confusion between honest skepticism with contrariness beyond the bounds of sound scientific inquiry.

Trust me, no reply to this comment will get me to bite on any new bait thrown my way

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | January 11, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Steve, it's ironic that those satellite measurements you linked to were posted on the blog of a man who, while not literally a climate skeptic, nonetheless believes that natural climatic changes swamp out any influence man has on the global climate.

Posted by: nlcaldwell | January 11, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

SteveT wrote, "Regular readers are most certainly aware of Mr. Q's (and some others') tactics of misinformation."

What is it with you and the personal attacks? I just don't get that. And not only do you go straight for the personal attacks, but your personal attacks aren't even true! And the honest, unbiased observer knows that you are wrong. What do you hope to gain with that? Making unfounded and untrue accusations at your readers is a pure losing proposition for you. Why do it?

Just for the record - I provide direct quotes. And I provide links to those quotes. If I were attempting to mislead, would I provide direct links to what I quote???? Wouldn't that be a little counterproductive?

I have NEVER misquoted anything. And no one has EVER had to ask me for a link to what I quote.

And you accuse me of misinformation?!?

For what, quoting Dr. Hansen? Quoting Dr. Viner? Quoting peer-reviewed, published studies that you don't like?

I am comfortable letting the honest, unbiased reader judge what I have written. I stand by every single word.

You want a good example of misinformation? Go back and take a look at Mr. Freedman's Australia wild fire column! Look for the words arson or IOD in that column. Let me know when you find them.

Mr. Q.

PS. I hope you are enjoying your global warming induced mild winter.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 11, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

And just for the record. No one has come forward with an example of something that will prove the theory of catastrophic man made global warming false?

Without an example of something that will prove it false, under the scientific method it doesn't qualify as a theory.

The fact that you have ignored that little point has not gone unnoticed.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 12, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

"PS. I hope you are enjoying your global warming induced mild winter."

Good grief, have you read nothing in this article? It's not even a COLD WINTER, unless your mind is nearsighted. You live on a *planet* - not just in your mother's basement. Why do you keep posting this childish stuff?

Posted by: B2O2 | January 12, 2010 12:31 AM | Report abuse

wrote, "You live on a *planet* - not just in your mother's basement.

Are you trying to say that when the modelers and climatologist forecasted that winters would be milder, they weren't actually referring to the hemisphere that was experiencing winter, but they were ACTUALLY referring to the WHOLE PLANET. Even the hemisphere that was experiencing SUMMER!

Is that really what you are trying to assert?

Are you trying to say that when they said the winters would be milder, they were also factoring in the Australian summers?

I absolutely love it when you guys post. The more you post, the happier I am.

Please expound more.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 12, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

For those that aren't aware of this fact, one half of the planet experiences winter while the other half experiences summer. Then we flip flop.

Right now, everyone north of the equator is enjoying winter. Everyone south of the equator is enjoying their summer.

B2O2 wants you to believe that when climatologist said that winters would be milder, they were including into the equation the half of the planet that was experiencing summer.

Can you provide a reference for that?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 12, 2010 12:43 AM | Report abuse

One minute B2O2 writes, "... news flash - people in the UK and Florida are experiencing cold."

and then writes, "Gotta add that that's an awesome picture of the UK. At first glance it didn't look like anything, since I figured all the white stuff was the usual satellite cloud cover. Then I actually looked at it. That's actually snow on the ground that kids are playing in and people are trying to drive through!

And then later writes, "It's not even a COLD WINTER, unless your mind is nearsighted. You live on a *planet* - not just in your mother's basement."

Draw your own conclusions.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 12, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Q, this is why no one here takes you seriously. These dancing parries of yours are just pointless and desperate.

It's already been pointed out that you took Viner's comment out of context from its paired, mitigating statement.

My comment was because it looked like you were back to square one of trying to imply that a colder December than normal in half of the world meant something about the globe, when in fact the other half more than made up for it.

I'm done with your elf dance btw. I won't be biting on any more of your silliness.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 12, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm.... Your flip flopping is why no one takes me seriously? That seems a bit of a stretch, but if you say so. ;)

I will happily point CWG readers to the above comments. Let them decide.

Mr. Q.

PS. How is that milder winter working out for you?

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 12, 2010 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Hi Steve,

I think I made both our points. Yours that the December temperatures were above the 79-98 average, and mine that they bounce around a lot. It is consistent with the theory of slow warming from CO2 and the reality of normal weather. Part of the weather influence is the long term ocean-atmosphere cycles. So some of the natural bouncing takes place over decades.

Posted by: eric654 | January 12, 2010 5:39 AM | Report abuse

"Which, by the way, predicts milder winters. How are those milder winters working out so far?"

Pretty well unfortunately. :( I miss the snow and am sick of these mild winters. I'm really glad we finally got a cold one! ^_^


"What will prove the theory of catastrophic man made global warming false?"

"These cycles run in 30-40 year patterns, and since we are less than 10 years into the current decline, we should witness another 20-30 years of further cooling overall."

That would do it.

Posted by: Megaduck | January 12, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

I always see "short term" or "long term" trends mentioned in climate debate. How do the climate scientists define "short term" and "long term"?

Posted by: dave09 | January 12, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

So El Nino caused record global temps in 1998 which have not been seen since then? We should then suppose that since there is a moderate El Nino right now, that this year (2010) temps should come close to 1998 temps. Is that correct?

Posted by: Tom8 | January 12, 2010 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Dave09: In general, short-term refers to weather and climate variability on the timescales of days to a couple of years, depending what phenomena we're talking about. Long term refers to many years to decades. When scientists talk about man made climate change, they are typically referring to long-term timescales, or decades. Perhaps others can clarify this further.

Tom8: Yes, El Nino contributed to the record warmth in 1998. Remarkably, however, the temperatures in years since have approached 1998 levels, even without a strong El Nino. So, you are correct in your assumption that the current moderate El Nino should (in theory at least) set us up for another record or near-record warm year this year. However, that is not guaranteed. Other sources of natural variability could offset some El Nino-related warming, as we have been seeing so far this winter in parts of the northern hemisphere.

Posted by: Andrew-CapitalWeatherGang | January 12, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Also, 1997-1998 had a much stronger El Niño than 2009-2010 will likely have. CPC's Ocean Niño Index was 2.5 for OND 1997 but 1.5 for OND 2009.
source http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ensostuff/ensoyears.shtml

Posted by: imback | January 12, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

--begin quote--
Indeed, according to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, summer Arctic sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, roughly 26 percent, since 2007 – a figure that even the most ardent global warming believers do not dispute.

The scientists’ predictions also challenge standard climate computer models, which contend that the Earth’s warming since the year 1900 is due solely to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and will continue until CO2 levels taper off.

But the climate scientists say their research shows instead that much of the warming during the last century was caused by ‘warm mode’ oceanic cycles, as opposed to the present ‘cold mode’.

This challenge to the theory of man-made global warming carries weight, given they come from prominent climate scientists that cannot be defined simply as global warming deniers.

Both of Britain’s major political parties maintain that the world is facing imminent disaster without dramatic CO2 reductions. And many say the science of global warming is ‘settled’.

Professor Mojib Latif, who leads a research team at the Leibniz Institute at Germany’s Kiel University, is a leading member of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Since its inception 22 years ago, the IPCC has been working to get the issue of man-made global warming on to the international political agenda.

Professor Latif has developed new techniques for measuring ocean temperatures far beneath the surface, where cooling and warming cycles begin. In a paper published last year, he and his colleagues predicted the new cooling trend, and even warned of it again at a conference last September.

"A significant share of the warming we saw from 1980 to 2000 and at earlier periods in the 20th Century was due to these cycles – perhaps as much as 50 percent," he said during an interview with The Mail on Sunday.

"They have now gone into reverse, so winters like this one will become much more likely. Summers will also probably be cooler, and all this may well last two decades or longer," he said.
--end quote--

Source of the above quote -
http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1807787/experts_divided_on_implications_of_brutal_cold_spell/

I told you guys almost two years ago that man's level of climate knowledge was insufficient to credibly put forward the catastrophic man made warming fears. And we still don't sufficiently understand our climate.

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | January 14, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company