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 11:10 AM ET, 08/ 3/2010

Hot weather records falling left and right

By Andrew Freedman

* Heat strikes back: Full Forecast | Classic D.C. snow photo *

Temperature anomalies (degrees Celsius) for January to June 2010. Red dots indicate warmer-than-average conditions, and blue dots indicate areas that were colder than average. Credit: NCDC/NESDIS/NOAA.

As she did for winter 2010, this summer Mother Nature has truly outdone herself, this time by brewing up a miserable combination of heat and humidity that has enveloped not only the northeastern U.S., but much of the Northern Hemisphere as well. As Ian Livingston reported on Saturday, July was the warmest single calendar month of all time in Washington (tied with July 1993). The warmest day in the city was July 7th, when the temperature soared to 102 degrees Fahrenheit at Reagan National Airport. The day before, the temperature rose to a sweltering 105 F at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

In total, Washingtonians sweated through 21 July days during which temperatures exceeded 90 degrees. Baltimore set a new record for the average daily high temperature, which was 92.5 degrees, beating July 1988's 91.9 degrees.

New York City and Philadelphia experienced their second-warmest months since records began in the late 1800s. New York recorded an average monthly temperature of 81.3 degrees, which was 4.8 degrees above the July average. The warmest July on record there occurred in 1999, when the average temperature was 81.4 degrees.

Worldwide, this year already stands second to 2007 for the largest number of all-time high-temperature records set in one year, including the searing 128.3 (!!!) degrees recorded in MohenjuDaro, Pakistan, on May 26. If the World Meteorological Organization verifies this reading, it will go down as the hottest temperature ever recorded in Asia.

As detailed by Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, all-time high-temperature records have fallen from Finland to Russia to Sudan. Moscow in particular has been suffering through an unprecedented heat wave, which has featured the city's first-ever 100-degree plus reading, and poor air quality due to smoke from nearby wildfires.

Flames travel along a parched forest floor near a suburb of the town of Voronezh some 500 km (294 miles) south of Moscow, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)

Although long-term global climate change doesn't directly cause a particular heat wave, the pronounced warming trend in global average temperatures during the past century has increased the odds of more frequent and severe heat waves. For example, scientists have partially attributed the deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed tens of thousands, to manmade climate change.

Despite cooler-than-average conditions in parts of the Southern Hemisphere, thus far 2010 ranks as the warmest year on record on a global basis, with the warmest March, April, May and June ever recorded. Furthermore, high-temperature records have occurred twice as often as low-temperature records in the U.S. during the past 10 years, according to a study published last year.

As Masters noted, "Of the 229 countries with extreme coldest temperature records, 14 of these records have occurred in the past ten years (6% of all countries). There have been five times as many (74) extreme hottest temperature records in the past ten years (33% of all countries)" as extreme coldest temperature records.

Part of the warmth this year has been due to the influence of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean, which featured warmer-than-normal water in the equatorial tropical Pacific. However, the El Nino has transitioned to its opposite phase -- La Nina -- that is characterized by cooler-than-average waters. La Nina conditions can cool global temperatures, and may keep 2010 from becoming the warmest year on record.

Influence on public opinion?

Much has been made of the recent decline in public concern about global warming, and support for policies to combat climate change. It will be interesting to see if the hot summer will affect the public opinion polls, albeit for reasons that are far from scientifically accurate.

As detailed in a New York Times article on Sunday, daily weather conditions do influence people's thoughts on long-term climate change, despite the tenuous links between the weather on a particular day and long-term climate trends. For example, this past winter, when Washington was buried in snow and Europe suffered through an unusually cold winter, many polls showed a decline in concern about global warming.

The Times article said that psychologists have found "a high correlation between a participant's stance on global warming and how he perceived the outdoor temperature on the day he was asked about it."

For people at either extreme - that is, those alarmed by or dismissive of climate change - the local weather isn't going to have much influence, although they may use it conveniently to drive home a point.
But for those in the mushy middle - about a third of the overall population - the local weather, rightly or wrongly, influences their thoughts on the topic, often subconsciously.

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  | August 3, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  Climate Change, Freedman, News & Notes, Science  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forecast: The heat strikes back
Next: PM Update: Clouds and shower threat hang tough


The basic problem with articles like this is the mixing of the the Global warming issue with MAN MADE GLOBAL WARMING. The truth is that the last 100 years, on a geological scale, is a blip in time. We believe the globe is warming but we do not know for sure why. There is proof that global temperatures have been higher in the past. There just weren't any experts around to raise the alarm.

Posted by: moser_m | August 3, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

As I said yesterday, Al Gore may be right. This may test the credibility of the right-wing "tea party" activists who wish to turn the clock back to the "status quo ante" of the Reagan-Bush years [some of which were rather warm!].

Where is Mr. Q. these days with his contrarian opinions?

Incidentally, Mohenjo Daro [the correct spelling!] is a well-known locale in the annals of ancient history. It is one of the completely-excavated city sites of the lost Indus Valley civilzation of three to five thousand years ago. Not much is known in detail of the Indus Valley civilization, and its written inscriptions remain undeciphered. The reasons for the disappearance of the Indus Valley civilization are also unclear, though climatic change, in the form of hotter, drier weather, or repeated failure of the summer monsoons may have been a major factor; there may be hints of this culture described in the Rig Veda and other Hindu epics. It is interesting that at present, the monsoon has returned to Pakistan and is now causing massive flooding.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | August 3, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

i posted this a few days ago, but it was kind of off-topic then. here, it's right on topic:

"June 2010 was the fourth consecutive warmest month on record (March, April, and May 2010 were also the warmest on record). This was the 304th consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last month with below-average temperature was February 1985."


wow... just wow... 304 "above average" months in a row! unbelievable. ronald reagan was president last time earth had a "cooler than average" month... wow...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 3, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Not sure you can call it an "average" if it has been exceeded for 25 years.

Posted by: beamer0922 | August 3, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

@beamer0922: Records go back to the late 1800s, so it is definitely possible to have 25 years with the average exceeded. Most of the other 75+ years would have months at or below the average.

Posted by: Murre | August 3, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

it's based on the "20th century average".

and it's pretty incredible. assuming each month has a 1 in 2 chance of being above average, i guess the odds of that happening randomly would be .5^304, right? (.5 raised to the 304th power) - something like 1 in 300000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

(that's supposed to be 3 followed by 92 "0"s.... i may have miscounted....)

as far as people clinging to the idea that warming could be caused by "natural" processes: it's a bit like someone eating chocolate all day every day and wondering why he's"gravitationally enhanced".

we know co2 is a greenhouse gas, and we're emitting lots of co2... duh...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 3, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Bombo47jea - "Where is Mr. Q. these days with his contrarian opinions?"

While I am not Mr. Q and certainly would not speak for him, I'll submit the following.

First, I'd like to see the January to June 1890 map like the one above and if anyone was able to supply it, I'd like to hear the data point comparisons. I'd be particularly interested to see the temp comparisons from the middle of the Atlantic and Pacific.

Secondly, the following two sentences seem somewhat contradictory to me:
"Although long-term global climate change doesn't directly cause a particular heat wave..."

"...scientists have partially attributed the deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed tens of thousands, to manmade climate change."

I had this discussion during the winter with Andrew and he insisted I was confusing weather events with weather trends. So is a particular heat wave a weather event or a global trend? And if GCC INDIRECTLY causes weather events, then we need to return to our winter weather discussions. And just as an aside, what does the number of people purportedly killed by this heat wave have to do with any of this? I'm sure I continue to be (and will continue to be) mixed up with what Global Climate change causes and does not cause (directly and indirectly).

Continuing..."Moscow in particular has been suffering through an unprecedented heat wave, which has featured the city's first-ever 100-degree plus reading..."

"Unprecedented" and "first ever" denote a VERY long time. How about at least inserting a "since records began" or something to that extent.

Finally, "The warmest day in the city was July 7th, when the temperature soared to 102 degrees Fahrenheit at Reagan National Airport..." Interestingly, my Annandale temp gauage has not reached 100 yet this year. Location...location...location...

Posted by: amaranthpa | August 3, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Walter, the interesting statistic you posted doesn't hold up for UAH satellite measurements, see

Also the chance of a month being colder or warmer than an average is not an independent 1 in 2 since there are trends to consider (e.g. PDO) along with warming from CO2. Also using the "20th century average" cherry picks the end of (or recovery from) the LIA and the higher volcanic activity (first half of 20th century).

I think that amaranthpa has the right idea, that location counts. Seeing new high temperature records, particularly higher average temperatures, can easily be an effect of urban heat islands especially heat retention at night. When Andrew links to the global averages above, those have been adjusted for UHI effects. New records obviously cannot be adjusted.

It is not only incorrect to use high temperature records to "convince" the public, but it is quite counterproductive. Better to present facts and details (the more the better) and leave the politics and spin out of it.

Posted by: eric654 | August 3, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

amaranthpa: Climate change does not cause a heat wave, or any other single weather event. It can increase the odds of heat waves by contributing to changes in overall atmospheric circulation, that would make a heat wave more likely. This is essentially what scientists say happened in Europe in 2003, and in study (linked to in my post), researchers tied the heat wave to a longer-term trend towards hotter summers with unique upper air weather patterns in Western Europe. There is an emerging field within climate science, within which scientists are studying formal attribution of extreme events, but this is in its relative infancy.

Let me take this out of the weather/climate realm, since that may be helpful for you and other readers. A car swerving into the path of oncoming traffic could cause a car accident. However, there may have been contributing factors that encouraged the driver of that car to swerve, such as a fallen tree in the road, a distraction in the back seat, etc. The car swerving is the proximate cause. But the underlying dynamics include other things too.

Climate change can be thought of as an underlying factor that makes certain extreme weather and climate events more likely, even though it does not directly cause them.

Hopefully that clarifies a bit?

Posted by: afreedma | August 3, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

For those who want a more approachable paper on catastrophic climate modeling pertaining to the 2003 heat wave, there is Obviously previous years had extremes, so the conclusion of the paper relies on model assumptions.

Another paper shows that the extreme in Europe was not uncommon in a global context using data from 1979 to 2003
The extremes are more a manifestation of natural factors than global trends although the authors don't try to quantify or apportion the "blame". Suffice to say that cold and warm extremes (e.g. 1880's, 1930's) are going to happen regardless of what happens with CO2 and greater frequency is probably a moot point.

Posted by: eric654 | August 3, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

While it is not surprising given the content of Mr Freedman's columns it would be fair to the readers to disclose that he is on the staff of Climate Central, an advocacy site for human caused climate change. I was perusing that site and was surprised to see his picture. I am not objecting to advocacy, but I do think full disclosure would be appropriate.
The continual mixing of weather and climate from an advocacy perspective makes perfect sense, even as Mr Freedman professes that climate science does not support doing that.

Posted by: 123andy | August 4, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

123andy: You couldn't be more wrong about what Climate Central is. The nonprofit communications organization conducts zero advocacy work, either on science or policy. We provide science information, and climate science articles/videos/graphics. Our stories have appeared on PBS, The Weather Channel, and other mainstream media outlets. Furthermore, my position at Climate Central is not some secret that you discovered. It's in my CWG bio!

Importantly, my work at Capital Weather Gang predates my position at Climate Central, and is unrelated to it. Climate Central is not involved with the content of my WashPo pieces.

Here is the description of Climate Central from its web site. Hardly the profile of an activist group.

Climate Central is a nonprofit, collaborative group of scientists and communicators. Our mission is to create a bridge between the scientific community and the public, providing clear, honest, nonpartisan, and up-to-date information to help people make sound decisions about climate and energy.

Everything we do will ultimately zero in on a set of core questions. Among them: What do we know today about the state of Earth’s climate? How do we know it? What do we not yet know, and how are we going to try and find out? What might we do to prevent the most disruptive effects of climate change, and how might we adapt to those changes we can’t avoid? How does our use of energy, land and natural resources interact with the climate?

The answers will continue to change as observations improve, as technology advances, and as scientific understanding of the climate system deepens. Climate Central will keep the public informed about these changes through compelling stories that combine words, images and sounds to explain climate change and our possible responses to it—while remaining scrupulously faithful to the underlying science, and avoiding any sort of advocacy or partisanship. We believe good information is the best foundation for sound choices.

In order to convey that information in the most engaging way possible, our written and video pieces, animations, interactive graphics, and other features are produced by a team that includes experienced graphic artists, producers, writers, editors and correspondents. In order to remain rigorously aligned to the science, our communications professionals work hand-in-hand with Climate Central’s Ph.D.-level experts in the sciences, technology and public policy, and with an extended network that includes the world’s leading thinkers on climate science and policy. Our staff scientists are also actively engaged in their own research, and continue to publish in leading journals.

In short, Climate Central combines sound science and vibrant media to increase public understanding and attention to the climate challenge.

Posted by: afreedma | August 4, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Andrew, a question:

There is little, if any, doubt that El Nino has contributed to the warmth this year. But, that to a large degree must reflect a transfer of heat from the ocean over the tropical Pacific to the atmosphere which eventually gets transported around the hemisphere

The question is whether it is known whether there has been a discernible NET gain of heat in the combined atmosphere/ocean system.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | August 4, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

thanks eric. i knew you'd weigh in on this.

you quibbled w/my assumption of a 1 in 2 chance of warmer (or colder) than "average" - citing the PDO. well, naturally i made an assumption to simplify the calculation. also, i figured that over the 25 years the various cycles would have had time to cycle through. for instance there have been la ninas over that period, which makes a warmer than average month less likely than 1 in 2. also, the PDO has Oed during the 25 yrs, right?

you said,
"Suffice to say that cold and warm extremes (e.g. 1880's, 1930's) are going to happen regardless of what happens with CO2 and greater frequency is probably a moot point."

huh? why would greater frequency of warm extremes be moot? it seems likely that as the earth warms, more warm extremes would happen. why would that, if we find it to be happening, be moot? seems like a pretty good piece of corroborating evidence - not "proof" in an of itself, but just another piece of the puzzle. wouldn't it be more accurate to say that cold and warm extremes are going to happen against a background of co2-induced rising temps?

"regardless of...co2"? hardly! if the earth is warming due to co2, which is the theory under discussing, then co2 is relevant. sure, it COULD be all these other things (pdo, el nino, lack of volcanoes, whatever) could simply be the co2.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 4, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

i've wondered about that: the NET GLOBAL effect of these cycles (meaning el nino, la nina, PDO, others?).

intuitively, it seems like these cycles could only redistribute heat - not produce or suppress it. i suppose "stirring up" the ocean could bring more cold water to the surface, presumably simultaneously taking warm water down to deep water. i suppose that could change the surface temps.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 4, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Hi Walter, I would prefer "demolished" rather than "quibbled", but that might itself be a "quibble". The fact that no La Nina months have dipped below the "average" is somewhat significant but the average is cherry-picked from a cold stretch last century. Also the satellite record points to some recent colder-than-average months like early 2008.

When I said "moot" I meant moot for purposes of planning for extremes. To me a 1 in 100 year event like 1936 coming at a 1 in 10 year interval makes no difference because it is going to come sooner or later and we might as well be prepared for it (and sadly the Europeans were not in 2003).

As far as a background of rising temperatures from CO2, I have never argued against that, only that I think it is pretty small. Any purported positive feedback is exactly the same as "natural variation" and there is in fact no way to tell the amount of feedback (which must be variable by being a product of weather) from natural fluctuations. I don't think that background changes the magnitude of the heat waves, only a bit of the frequency.

So in the satellite record I see a peak in 2010 close to 1998 but with a moderate El Nino versus 1998's strong El Nino. That means that there has been warming since then, some natural (although I would have be specific), some from CO2. But contrary to the cherry-picked statistic that you brought up, I will guarantee that a month will fall below even that cold average within the next few years. (terms of a bet would be just like I offered $50 to Andrew's charity of choice if Arctic ice went below 2007).

Posted by: eric654 | August 4, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Steve - are you asking whether El Nino has caused a net gain in heat in the ocean/atmosphere system, or whether there has been a net gain in general, potentially independent of El Nino? Ocean heat uptake has continued to increase, likely related to climate change, recent studies show. But I am not sure exactly what you're asking. Thanks!

Posted by: afreedma | August 4, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Seems climate change is getting harder and harder to ignore." We have to act now and insist that our Reps in Washington put political expediency aside to stem the tide of global climate change.

Posted by: SallyVCrockett | August 4, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for our reply, Andrew

I realize now my question was not well phrased and, indeed, meaningless.

Your remarks did raise another thought related to the likely increase in ocean heat content over the years. I say only likely because there is another possible explanation having to do with the relative intensity and areal coverage of the 1998 versus 2010 El Nino events

Because of the geekiness, I'll communicate my thoughts to you offline and follow up here if possible in non geek language.

sorry folks

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | August 4, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

afreedma wrote, "You couldn't be more wrong about what Climate Central is. The nonprofit communications organization conducts zero advocacy work, either on science or policy."

That's the funniest thing I have read all week!! So, striving to influence public opinion regarding the science, doesn't actually count as advocacy work? I hope, for your sake, that you don't actually believe those words.

Here's another case of "zero advocacy". They are only concerned about the science. wink wink, nudge nudge

Mr. Freedman, don't your readers deserve to know if you were a member of journolist?

Don't your readers deserve to know when their opinion makers/columnists have a personal animosity? Are they not right to expect unbiased journalism?

Mr. Q.

Posted by: Mr_Q | August 5, 2010 2:19 AM | Report abuse

dag nabbit! i wrote a long reply yesterday and thought i had posted it...only to check back and see it's not here! rats. i'll summarize:

of course you prefer to think you "demolished" my point, but that's not what happened.

using the NOAA data set my point still stands. why do you characterize the average of the entire 20th century as a "cherry-pick"? do you have data showing the 20th century to be colder than "normal"? i could just as easily say the average is skewed upwards by all this global warming... (and the lack of volcanic eruptions late in the century...)

also, you said,
"I will guarantee that a month will fall below even that cold average within the next few years."

using the NOAA data, right? so is "few" 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 years? you're boldly predicting that ONE of the next 24 or 36 or 48 or 60 months will fall back to below average?! on the face of it that doesn't sound bold at all, but given the recent 0 for 304 streak, i guess it is. if/when that happens, will we hear about how global warming has ended...because of the one month...if/when that happens i suppose we could, at least for a month, even say the earth is cooling.... i can see the WUWT headline now: "global warming ended last month"....

re temps: would you be willing to say 1/4 or 1/3 of the next 24 or 36 months will be below "average"?

anyway, before i go on too much i'd like to know more about why you think the 20th century average temp is a cherry-pick, and what you think a better "average" would be.

you said,
"(terms of a bet would be just like I offered $50 to Andrew's charity of choice if Arctic ice went below 2007)."

again, this is not really a bold prediction - saying we won't set a RECORD low this year... it's along the lines of me predicting we won't have as much snow this winter as last winter...

re ice: would you be willing to say this year's or next year's ice minimum will be above average? close to average? anywhere hear average? how low is the bar? i mean, if we don't set records every year, does that undermine the case for global warming?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 5, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

eric, on aug 3 at 4:39 you said,
"Walter, the interesting statistic you posted doesn't hold up for UAH satellite measurements, see "

yeah, well, i hadn't even noticed this until now, but that data set uses '79 to '98 (the hottest years of the 20th century - talk about your cherry-pick!) as the baseline, whereas the NOAA data used the entire 20th century....

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 5, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

No, I was never a member of "journolist", which, if you know anything about it, was for political journalists." As in - people who report on politics.

Posted by: afreedma | August 5, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

that NOAA site ( ) says the average land and sea surface temp for the 20th century was 15.5 degrees C.

CWG, anybody,
do you have any idea what the average is for the '79 to '98 period used as a baseline in the UAH/spencer graph eric refered me to? ( )

just trying to compare apples and apples here...

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 5, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

above, i said,
"we know co2 is a greenhouse gas, and we're emitting lots of co2... duh... "

well...maybe not everyone knows that:

eric, what do you think of this article?

true it's not peer-reviewed etc, but this guy is trying to make the case that co2 IS NOT a greenhouse gas. is this paradigm-shifting nobel prize stuff, or is he just crazy?

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 5, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Hi Walter, I was of course kidding about "demolished" but I figured I was a bit better than "quibble". But now that's really a quibble. For the substantive argument, the 20th century isn't a gross cherry pick, but certainly worse than picking the second half. Longer is NOT better. Using 79-98 (I was actually using 79-present for my claim above) is likewise better being more recent.

Showing the warming from turn of the last century picks up part of the 100% natural climate change of warming out of the Little Ice Age. Or it includes the other "Little Ice Age" of the late 1800's in U.S. if using U.S. records. That was also a natural cooling that ended naturally.

I wouldn't bet on 1/3 or even 1/4 of the months being below some "average" any time soon unless a large volcano erupts. But I would bet that any streak of new warm months similar to the record you pointed out will end only because that is what weather is all about (I think we both agree on that). I guess that seems spineless, but if we extend the interval (e.g. the next 10 years) I would be more sure, but we would have to wait to long to get a result.

Maybe the best way to look at the warmer and warmer issue is to look at new weather events and new volcanoes and try to do apples-to-apples comparisons. When the next Pinatubo hits, for example, we will pull up Spencer's chart above and compare to 1993. Similarly (or even in parallel) we can pull up the ENSO data here and see if the next La Nina cools the planet less than the previous one of the same magnitude.

Of course there are still other natural factors besides those, but that would let us compare some major ones and see, over multiple examples, how the underlying CO2 warming is progressing.

Posted by: eric654 | August 5, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Walter, in the WUWT article, I don't think he's implying CO2 is not a GHG, but merely that the popular (not really scientific) explanations of GHG heating the atmosphere are misleading. The scientific explanation that he does not take issue with is that the back radiation from GHGs heat the ground, not the atmosphere around the GHGs.

Here's an article depicting that back radiation although I haven't read all the comments yet to see if there are legitimate criticisms of it

Posted by: eric654 | August 5, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think a better point than my WUWT post above (which is the same point as #26), read #67, Ferdinand Engelbeen's response (and others before him like #12, #52, #64). The addition of external energy flux invalidates the LTE assumption.

Posted by: eric654 | August 5, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

eric, you said,
"Maybe the best way to look at the warmer and warmer issue is to look at new weather events and new volcanoes and try to do apples-to-apples comparisons."

well...i think we're back to where we started: looking at "new weather events" like heatwaves and the deluge of record high temps compared to record low temps etc... based on things like that it seems like the "underlying co2 warming is progressing""nicely" so to speak.

eric, anybody,
also, i'm still curious about the difference between the 20th century average temp (15.5degrees C) and the '79 to '97 average temp. anybody know?

thanks for your analysis of that WUWT article. it sure seemed to me to be discounting the greenhouse effect of co2. but as per ferdinand englebeen's comment, it WAS faulty and not nobel prize worthy paradigm-shifting. thanks again.

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | August 5, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr Freedman, I have no problem with your association with Climate Central, just think it should be part of your tagline in your Washington Post column. But, hey that is your business. Perhaps more important is your belief that Climate Central is a pure, non advocacy science institution. Wow. I just read the archives, the latest news, etc. It is hard to distinguish Climate Central from Climate Progress. Again, nothing wrong with that either, but I am amazed by your self image of that of a non-advocate. Why don't you own up to what you believe?

Posted by: 123andy | August 6, 2010 1:07 AM | Report abuse

What is the point of expecting Mr. Freedman to identify his connection with Climate Central more publicly? So his columns can be dismissed without consideration? So he can be conveniently tagged and labeled?

Why don't we take away all labels including names, so we don't quickly dismiss an argument without considering it?

To me, climate progress seems to waste a lot of time in personal attacks and arguments, climate central does much less of that. But I haven't followed them very long.

Most people when they study a subject develop a point of view on that subject.
It needs to be allowed for by that person and by others.

Posted by: Dadmeister | August 6, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Dadmeister, it helps to be specific about what you are trying to defend. Are you claiming that Andrew's columns are being dismissed without consideration? Wrong. Are you claiming that climate central should not be labeled at all but considered a neutral source? Also wrong.

Details matter. Here's climate central's claim about climate change: "The rise in temperatures, in turn, has led to a wide range of secondary effects, including rising sea level; the melting of glaciers, mountain snowpack and permafrost worldwide; a decrease in sea ice, especially in the Arctic, during summer; an increase in droughts, wildfires, extreme weather events and insect infestations; changing migration patterns among birds; changes in growing zones for plants; and many more."

ALL of those things have occurred in the last 1000 years by natural causes. Some have occurred as recently as the 1930's before CO2 had any significant effect on temperature. But even worse things occurred as the climate cooled in the LIA worldwide. The statement of climate central above is to have people believe that those effects are unique (they are not), caused by man-made global warming (partly at best) and are catastrophic (certainly not).

Conclusion: climate central lacks a broader view of man made and natural impacts and leaves out important facts for advocacy purposes.

Posted by: eric654 | August 6, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

To me, climate central's statement is reasonable, perhaps pushing cause and effect a bit; I do not consider it advocacy, but an interpretation of the data.

Your statement also reflects a point of view, part of which I do not agree with.
We do not know how much is caused by global warming (some of the effects could be mostly due to global warming) and I do not believe we can prove yet that global warming will not be catastrophic. It is clear to me that global warming is occuring and that greenhouse gases play a substantial role, but it is not at all clear to me how strong global warming will become, let alone how serious its effects will be.

As for events occuring in the past, forest fires no doubt occurred before man developed fire. Does that prove man doesn't cause forest fires or cannot be the leading cause of forest fire?

I was advocating an extreme position because it is so easy to put people in boxes. Too often people are attacked not for their actions nor for their ideas, but for belonging to a certain group or organization. I was merely suggesting that the ideas or facts might be considered more if they are merely posted as ideas or facts free of any personal baggage, but I'm afraid people would still
label them and refuse to consider them fairly.

Unfortunately, it has become conservatively correct to reject global warming and liberally correct to believe that global warming will be catastrophic.

Posted by: Dadmeister | August 6, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

"Unfortunately, it has become conservatively correct to reject global warming and liberally correct to believe that global warming will be catastrophic."

Worth repeating. Both are very frustrating and I spend a bunch of time on a conservative site fighting with a "CO2 is not a GHG" ignoramus. But I would love to see an example of detail and nuance on the climate central site, so far I have found none. I wholeheartedly agree with Steve McIntyre (a liberal but a skeptic) who has said that the IPCC (by extension climate central) needs to focus a lot more time and effort on the feedback issue. Instead they waste their efforts on catastrophic models.

On the plus side, at least CC doesn't use the discredited Mann98 hockey stick.

On the minus side, they can devote a page to climate prediction without talking about feedback.

Posted by: eric654 | August 6, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I will never attempt to "prove" that AGW will not be catastrophic. To use the lack of proof as a reason to implement carbon rationing is not a scientific idea, but political choice because it requires adopting very speculative theories of tipping points. The scientific literature points to localized "tipping points" in the worst case, not runaway worldwide warming. Realistic climate models do not melt Greenland to any significant extent in 100 years, only unrealistically warm ones.

Nor can we prove that catastrophic natural global cooling will not happen in the next century with or without extra manmade CO2. A broad perspective would consider all these possibilities and remediation would then become less political.

Posted by: eric654 | August 6, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

How do we decide which climate models are realistic and which are not? As I understand it, climate models do not include ice sheet dynamics. It is possible that climate models underestimate the rate of decay of ice sheets by not including lubricating effects of melted water leaking through the ice sheet to the bottom.

It is also not clear to me that Mann's "hockey stick" has been discredited. Other researchers get similar results. Mann's work is seriously disputed. In the mass media I read of one statistician who said it should have been a field hockey stick instead of an ice hockey stick, because his method exagerated the warming of the last century to the previous centuries. A second statistician said Mann's method was fine.

The record of past climate change indicates that the climate has changed drastically and rapidly. This is not reassuring to me. This suggests to me that the earth's climate is more unstable than many people thought and that man-made changes can cause quite serious changes.

Global warming is not the only problem. I am concerned about acidification of the ocean by increasing carbon dioxide. There are many other environmental problems than global warming.

Posted by: Dadmeister | August 6, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry I brought up the hockey stick tangent. it would require a book (as it has) to start to describe the errors. A simple starting point is his incorrect normalization which is fairly easy to understand.

Stone 2010 combines ice sheet dynamics with a climate model. The problem is that the paper does not reveal the extremely warm temperatures used in the climate model (to make Greenland melt as quickly as 400 years). To give an idea of the magnitude of this assumption, they used 400ppm CO2 concentration (close to where we are now). That would require massive warming "in the pipeline" with a much higher rise in sea level (from thermal expansion) than we currently see.

As I always say, details matter and each time I dig into details I see "worst case" assumptions and outright speculation being advertised as mainstream science. Ocean acidification seemed like a legitimate concern but I also looked into some details on that. Upwelling changes make a much bigger difference in pH levels than CO2. But there are certainly some unknowns in that issue.

If it were cheap and easy to lower CO2 to preclude any of these possibilities that would be great, but it's not. The political lowering of CO2 will create far more problems than CO2 itself. One example is ethanol which destroys the Amazon, reduces the food supply and results in very little CO2 reduction if any.

Posted by: eric654 | August 6, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2012 The Washington Post Company