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  1. Hi!

    Is there any possibility that you have an address for the picture with the effect on temperature by El Nino, or a larger picture?

    (thanks again for a great blog)

    [Response: Sorry, should have included that. You can actually ‘custom build’ a composite on this NOAA site, choosing the region, season, type of event (El Nino vs. La Nina), etc. Unfortunately, you can’t change the base period :( -mike]

    Comment by Magnus W — 8 Jan 2007 @ 7:11 PM

  2. The US is not the world – I’ve heard from various people that Europe seems to be experiencing an even more anomalously-warm winter this year – no snow in Norway & Sweden, crocus blooming at Christmastime in Germany, etc. Indeed, it almost seems that I’m in one of the few places (northern Nevada) that’s having fairly normal winter temperatures. Care to expand/comment on this?

    [Response: I confess that the resources I rely upon (e.g. NOAA’s web pages) don’t provide up-to-date global temperature information. Perhaps some of my European RC colleagues can help out here? -mike]

    Comment by James — 8 Jan 2007 @ 7:23 PM

  3. How can and I help and are there any careers available to make a living?

    Comment by rick — 8 Jan 2007 @ 7:38 PM

  4. The current weather pattern is classic El Nino.

    Eastern Siberia has had a large area in the last several days which are below -50C. The really, really cold air has just moved to eastern Siberia rather than central northern Russia. The stormy weather of El Nino has hit Oregon and British Columbia rather than California. The cold water pattern in the north-western Pacific is exactly the same as the above graphic. The north Atlantic warm pool is exactly the same. North American temperatures are similar.

    One would expect some variation and that is what we have got.

    Comment by Jeff Weffer — 8 Jan 2007 @ 7:59 PM

  5. The most important thing about this post, is the NBC Nightly News had exactly the same story tonight.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:08 PM

  6. Most of the scientific observation and analysis of ENSO was since 1976 and as a result, during a positive PDO phase. PDO has been behaving erratically since 1997 or 98 (some suggest it may want to flip negative). What should we expect due to ENSO during a negative phase PDO? Perhaps the period 1940 – 1976 might provide clues. At some point we’ll probably be able to characterize it better. Then the final food for thought, what sorts of even higher order, longer period things might be going on in terms of these SST anomaly oscillations? Is there something with an even longer period than the PDO that we simply don’t yet recognize because the pre 1940 data are not sufficient to reveal it? And all of this superimposed on even longer term changes.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:09 PM

  7. #2 Not really an RC colleague :D but I confirm (from France) that west-European winter is unusually warm, even if december anomalies are a bit less pronounced than sep-nov (fall) ones (in France, the warmest fall since 1950, beginning of homogeneized daily measures, and probably since 1865 ; in Austria, Germany, Spain, Portugal… +1,5 to +4°C, snowfall deficit in all the Alpin region, etc.). Previous works (eg Moron et Plaut 2003) find an El Nino influence on European fall-winter weather, with a zonal mode dominant on nov-dec (warm and wet flux from Atlantic) and with a higher probability of a switch on west blocking or Greenland anticyclone regimes on feb-march. But correlations are not causations, weather conditions are more chaotic (and the present El Nino is weak).

    Comment by Charles Muller — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:13 PM

  8. RE: #2 – RE: The European drought (and warmth in the SW quadrant of Europe). So here is an image of current snow cover and sea ice. Southern Sweden is drought ridden (but yet cold enough for some shore fast / near shore sea ice nearby in the usual places). Northern Sweden and much of Norway have coverage. The coverage along the Western shore was greater during the fall and had since melted / sublimated away. The rest Western Europe is in a bad way and will need to get lots of snow / rain between now and mid year to get out of trouble.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:16 PM

  9. A difficult point for me is : in what way can we partly attribute all phenomena (even a local cooling) to AGW (and if so, is there any sense for this kind of attribution)? Small changes in oceanic or atmospheric circulation due to small changes in radiative equilibrium may translate in flooding here and drying there, warming here and cooling there, etc. So, we allways need a long term trend (30 yrs) to assert a significative change, a potential link with AGW and a more-or-less good conformity with models’ predictions. Where are we now for 1977-2006 trends in the USA winter?

    Comment by Charles Muller — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:29 PM

  10. Sounds like NOAA’s pronouncement is distinctly unempirical, because if records are being broken over your way like they are here in Europe, then by definition that is not evidence of a cyclic description.

    From the point at which detailed records begin, you can always expect new records to break old ad infinitum in a chaotic system, but if there were no inherent trend then the rate of record-breaking for a finite set of annual indicators would tend to decay with a zero asymptote.

    As regards Katrina, although were it not for AGW a hurricane as damaging as Katrina might have occurred if one were to wait long enough, surely Katrina itself was made more damaging by AGW as that was a factor contributing to Caribbean SSTs and the local tropospheric vertical temperature gradients at that point in time?

    And now to get a life in the mild January over here…

    Comment by Jim Roland — 8 Jan 2007 @ 8:33 PM

  11. Have you and the US weather service been using a 10 year running average to compare higher and lower than “normal” temperatures? You and the US weather service need to set a period of time in the past as the “normal” period so that “normal” doesn’t change every year. The century from 1850 to 1950 seems appropriate. Against the century from 1850 to 1950, has the past half century been warmer?

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 8 Jan 2007 @ 9:01 PM

  12. RE: 6

    Hey Steve;

    Actually, there were significant deviations before then. It was the winter of �84 that I stood on the Point near Port Washington, Wisconsin the day before New Years Eve in a brisk breeze and 60 Deg. F dangling my feet in the chilly water. A week later around the 10th of Jan. 1985, I was climbing over ice floes on the shore of Grand Haven Michigan, watching pot ice form in the Grand River.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 8 Jan 2007 @ 9:19 PM

  13. re: 11. The statistical “normals” for climate data are 30-year periods, not 10-year running averages. For example, 1961-1990, 1971-2000, etc. However, they are 30-year blocks, not 30-year running averages. Generally in the eastern US, the 1961-1990 30-year normals are cooler than the 1971-2000 normals. Many will recall how snowy the 1960s were in particular.

    Most important, the word “normal” here is a statistical calculation/definition. It does not mean normal as the word is used in common speech. In fact, in my city, today’s statistical normal daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F rarely actually occurs since that value is based on the daily maximum temperatures from each January 8th during the period from 1971-2000. In other words, the daily maximum temperature for each of those January 8th days is summed up and divided by 30.

    A 30-year period was determined to represent the statistical normal through various analyses. I beleive there is more detail at the National Climatic Data Center web site which is easily found via Google.

    Comment by Dan — 8 Jan 2007 @ 9:58 PM

  14. Regarding the comments on the VERY warm winter in Scandanavia – my wife is a Finn. She is currently in Vaasa. Vaasa is not too far below the Arctic Circle. This morning, she called me to say that it is raining non-stop, the grass is green and, in the park yesterday, she saw tulips pushing up.

    Comment by Jim O'Donnell — 8 Jan 2007 @ 10:36 PM

  15. Of course no one weather incident can be proven to be the result of any other one single factor, global warming or el nino. However it seems like saying that this latest anomoly fits the pattern we would expect from anthropormophic climate change, would be very useful and scientifically correct. I’m just a layman, but while denying direct correlation is correct, saying that what we are seeing fits the computer model predictions (even if it is more extreme than most predictions) would also be just as correct and more politcally useful.

    Comment by john — 8 Jan 2007 @ 11:08 PM

  16. A surface temperature anomaly map by NASA for 2001-2005 shows that the warmest regions occurred over northern high latitude land mass areas, exactly what global climate modelers had predicted many years ago.

    2006 annual mean temperatures at climate stations in Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota were near or exceeded the warmest years of record (1890s-current).

    Based on things that we know, it seems irresponsible to me that some people continue to try to credit mainly El Nino for many of the warming conditions which we know have been happening for many years. Come on folks, wake up! It’s obvious.

    See photos and figures at:

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 8 Jan 2007 @ 11:11 PM

  17. > the word “normal” here is a statistical calculation/definition.
    > It does not mean normal as the word is used in common speech.

    This is important to know — the same definition is important for medical lab test reports:

    “… usually, these cutoffs are established by measuring the test in normal, healthy people (called “a reference group”) and figuring out where 95% of the results fall; if your result falls in between the cutoffs, your health care professional may call it “wnl,” “in the normal range” or “within the reference range.”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2007 @ 11:15 PM

  18. Why is it mid January and now we are all beginning to hear of el-nino as the culprit of this “new” weather we are having? It is extremely after the fact, and a monkey could deduce this fact as late as it is. Save some water, same some food, and eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. I swatted a mosquito on my back door today, did I say I was in central PA? What happened to Jack frost whipping in the house as I opened the door? no, I am going out without a coat.

    Comment by Paul M — 8 Jan 2007 @ 11:42 PM

  19. If you’d been reading Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog, you’d have known about it months ago!

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 8 Jan 2007 @ 11:55 PM

  20. In Reply to comment 9: “A difficult point for me is : in what way can we partly attribute all phenomena (even a local cooling) to AGW …?”

    If the analysis was scientific as opposed to political, other factors would be considered and discusssed. For example solar (Note the current solar activity is very, very, unusual). See the attached paper that shows there is a significant correlation of average planetary temperature and the solar index-ak. (See attached for details as to what ak measures, also check out the Solar Terrestrial Activity Report. The Dec 16, 2006 spike is what the paper is describing.)

    The following is an excerpt from the conclusions (Short paper. Difficult for scientific discussions without facts.)

    2005 paper by Georgieva, Bianchi, & Kirov �Once again about global warming and solar activity�

    “It could therefore be concluded that both the decreasing correlation between sunspot number and geomagnetic activity, and the deviation of the global temperature temperature long-term trend from solar activity as expressed by the sunspot index are due to the increased number of high speed streams of solar wind on the decreasing phase and the minimum of sunspot in the last decade.”

    1. The high speed solar wind (during the solar cycle minimum) has increased the net charge in the ionsphere. (Normally the ionsphere can discharge during the solar minimum and there is less charge to discharge.)
    2. As a result of the increased charge in the ionsphere, the newly observed phenomena called “Sprites” (a discharge from ionsphere to cloud tops) has been observed starting in about 1993. Sprites can and have destroyed aircraft.
    3. It is assumed that this solar driven phenomena is the reason why there is a reduction in low level clouds. See attached paper by Palle. Palle found there is a 99.9% oorrelation of GCR to cloud cover 1983 to 1993. From 1993 and on there is an anomalous reduction in low level clouds. Where have all the low level clouds gone?

    Solar Terrestrial Activity Report

    Copy Palle’s paper. (See figure 2. Note low level clouds are reduced by minus 0.065% per year, starting in about 1993.)

    Comment by William Astley — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:04 AM

  21. What can I say, most excellent post, and also great remarks from RC bloggers, Eastern Siberia is it, we are sharing some of its cold, it is eerily like the winter of 2005-06 except its warmer, I might add what I wrote last November, this winter will be like fall with the occasional visit from winter. One must remember, the temperature mean is pushed upwards, but natural variations from the mean predicts some cold is bound to come, but not to last for very long.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:04 AM

  22. #19, hmm sounds like the abnormally warm winter we’ve had in Montana. Due to get a couple of days of cold by the end of the week, but it is not supposed to last long.

    Comment by John Sully — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:14 AM

  23. Hiya folks, here in the uk, the lovely weatherman said we might get a new nightime record high temperature for January, over night.

    This is following on from a ‘hottest on 350yr record’ 2006(by an alarmingly large margin), and it feels anomalous to me, but then i’m alarmed:-)

    To add to the pan-european flavour, i distinctly remember mention of the very late onset of winter in Moscow, in the reports of snowless ski resorts in the alps, back in mid-December!

    I agree with john, don’t say ‘its global warming, you know’, say ‘welcome to the future’! it saves time:-)

    Comment by mark s — 9 Jan 2007 @ 1:20 AM

  24. Reference book: “The Way to Win, Taking the Whitehouse in 2008” by Mark Halperin and John F. Harris, 2006
    The referenced book makes many references to The Drudge Report is where the “Freak Show” happens. The freak show is bad journalism that causes the best candidate to loose the election for president.
    You are battling the “Freak Show”. Many of the readers and commenters at that level have such poor reading comprehension that they will never understand you. Don’t try to accomodate them, they really don’t want to understand. But they Would enjoy making fun of a degreed person. If you answer them, don’t use your real name.
    “The Way to Win” also mentions many times that people are INSTINCTIVELY conservative. Take that literally. Management hasn’t changed much in the past 30 Million years. People still look to the president to be the Alpha Male.

    Comment by Edward Greisch — 9 Jan 2007 @ 1:42 AM

  25. Many of these explanations also apply to explain why the ‘winter’ has not yet ‘arrived’ in Northern Europe. December was record-warm in many parts of southern Norway, ann the autumns has been record-warm over extensive regions of Northern-Europe.

    Comment by rasmus — 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:38 AM

  26. What is astonishing to me is that El Nino is caused by abnormally warm Pacific ocean SST (surface sea temperature), and higher SSTs are quintessencial global warming, so why does NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) seek to disassociate El Nino from global warming?

    In other words, what is the hidden motive of NOAA to deny global warming and higher SST? Sooner or later the increased severity of hurricanes (which are already twice a strong due to higher SST), and increased frequency and severity of El Nino, will have to be called what they are: manifestations of global warming.

    Comment by Brad Arnold — 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:49 AM

  27. please be careful with acronyms … AGW?

    Comment by David Wilson — 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:58 AM

  28. Excellent post once again, Dr. Mann! I couldn’t have said it any better (and probably wouldn’t have done it nearly as succinctly and concisely). Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Stephen Berg — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:13 AM

  29. I work for the US military in the German Alps. Despite the facts that we have had virtually no snow this year and that the grass is spring green in January – in a ski resort – and the temperature tomorrow is predicted to be 15-18 C, many of my colleagues, indoctrinated by army-provided Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, deny that global warming is taking place and continue to drive their huge gas guzzlers with no qualms. The Germans (and the thinking Americans here) are astounded and dismayed at how far media political indoctrination can go in helping people to ignore what is happening right before their eyes.

    Comment by anonymous — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:40 AM

  30. El Nino, Global Warming, and Anomalous U.S. Winter Warmth
    should read and feature: El Nino, Global Warming, and Anomalous global Winter Warmth

    Comment by suntau — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:57 AM

  31. You say that the current anomalies in the US are well beyond the most extreme predictions from climate models, suggesting that the the chaotic nature of weather events must play a role, too (though within an overall warming trend).

    What really concerns me is that I’ve read a lot about climate models not being able to replicate the magnitude of abrupt regional temperature changes in the past, and Raypierre has said here that he fears that past climate records point towards some yet unknown positive feedback which might amplify warming at the northern latitudes.

    My feeling in Scotland is that the changes to the weather (ie where the wind comes from) are far more dramatic than the background warming. When we do get northerly winds they are probably less cold than they were 15 years ago but that’s far harder to notice than the fact that we now tend to get southerly or south-westerly winds nearly all of the time.

    Could we be looking at any fairly abrupt changes to the jet stream, possibly triggered by sea ice melting or stratospheric changes? Has anybody looked at whether the jet stream has behaved ‘abnormally’ over the past few years?

    Comment by Almuth Ernsting — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:05 AM

  32. About the winter in Finland: December was the warmest measured in a large part of the country. Deviations from the 1971-2000 climatology were 6-8 degrees (C). I don’t know how many sigmas that is, but local news cited “two times in thousand years” – and the reference period includes warm winters of 90’s! The situation is pretty much similar for the whole Scandinavia, including northern parts of Russia west of Ural. The beginning of January has been about equally warm, and the models do not show an immediate (7-14 days) cooling.

    From the newspapers one get the feeling that with respect to global warming, this has been the strongest wake-up call so far. People have been aware and mostly believing in AGW in a theoretical sense, but now it is concrete that something strange is really happening. The exceptionally dry past summer amplifies the feeling.

    By the way, Vaasa is not exactly close to the Arctic Circle, at least not from our point of view. :) Instead, it is close to the seashore in south-west Finland. Finnish Arctic Circle currently has about 40cm snow. But it is true that in the south we have seen some quite strange effects in nature.

    I don’t think ENSO can be blamed of our warmth. AO and NAO have been positive, but nothing extraordinary. I wonder if the (lack of) Arctic ice cover is somehow involved.

    Comment by Janne Sinkkonen — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:11 AM

  33. Tobacco, asbestos, radiation and most health hazards have been hiding themselves for many years behind the fact that you cannot assign a single cause as determinant to a single effect: you cannot prove a single cancer has been caused specifically by that person’s smoking habit (or work environment, or whatever lethal cause is suspected).

    It took years and and overwhelming amount of statistical data to revert these statements, which caused numerous deaths of individuals.

    Do we need to wait until statistics also justify the underlying causes of numerous disasters affecting society all over the world?

    We know things are going the wrong way, and almost everything we see corresponds to that view. What more do we need to get some action?

    Comment by Koen — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:24 AM

  34. Koen, I think we’ll need to see some very painfull events to wake up, much more painfull than Katrina.

    Good news is many people are waking up, at least in Spain and I think this is quite common around Europe. It’s just obvious climate is wrong. I just can’t remember a normal year here. It’s been hot since last week of February until December, then one week of colder weather and it’s hot again. My tomato plants are growing like weeds when they should be barelly alive. In the mountains, trees have gone up hundreds of meters… We are used to variable weather, but not to constantly variable.

    Comment by i. — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:59 AM

  35. In Switzerland, current January temperatures are 5-6 degrees C above the mean (1961-90), and current weather forecasts do not show any hint for a change for the next two weaks. Last fall set a new temperature record for the instrumental period (since 1864) which was about one degree C above the previous record (three months mean). July 2006 was the warmest month ever in the instrumental period.

    From a quick search for global anomaly charts (850hPa temperature):

    Comment by Urs Neu — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:02 AM

  36. British weather report:

    – 2006 is shaping up to be the the hottest year since records were kept (1659)

    England Mean Temperature Series (series began in 1914). The provisional mean value for the month of December is 6.1 °C 1.8 °C above the 1961-1990 average, which is in the well above average category.

    – we haven’t had a winter yet, here in London. I’m not even sure we’ve yet had a frost. Flowers are blooming and there are migratory birds in evidence (3 months early). Average temperature would seem to be about 5 degrees centigrade above normal. It’s 13 degrees centigrade today, London in January is normally betwen 0 and about 8 degrees. Also we have near record gales forecast, and we had a tornado last month in North London (a very rare occurrence)

    The forecast, however, is for a cold snap in February.

    Will post the Met Office press release.

    Comment by Valuethinker — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:08 AM

  37. I can’t seem to link to the URL, so please have a look at under ‘press releases: 4th January 2007’

    4 January 2007
    2007 – forecast to be the warmest year yet

    2007 is likely to be the warmest year on record globally, beating the current record set in 1998, say climate-change experts at the Met Office.

    Each January the Met Office, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, issues a forecast of the global surface temperature for the coming year. The forecast takes into account known contributing factors, such as solar effects, El Nino, greenhouse gases concentrations and other multi-decadal influences. Over the previous seven years, the Met Office forecast of annual global temperature has proved remarkably accurate, with a mean forecast error size of just 0.06 °C.

    Met Office global forecast for 2007

    * Global temperature for 2007 is expected to be 0.54 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C;
    * There is a 60% probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year (1998 was +0.52 °C above the long-term 1961-1990 average).

    The potential for a record 2007 arises partly from a moderate-strength El Nino already established in the Pacific, which is expected to persist through the first few months of 2007. The lag between El Nino and the full global surface temperature response means that the warming effect of El Nino is extended and therefore has a greater influence the global temperatures during the year.

    Katie Hopkins from Met Office Consulting said: “This new information represents another warning that climate change is happening around the world. Our work in the climate change consultancy team applies Met Office research to help businesses mitigate against risk and adapt at a strategic level for success in the new environment.”
    Review of 2006 in the UK

    This startling forecast follows hard on the heels of news that 2006 was the warmest year on record across the UK.

    For 2006, all UK data have now been gathered, revealing a similar story to that of Central England Temperature already announced last month.

    For the whole of the UK, 2006 was the warmest year on record with a mean temperature of 9.7 °C, 1.1 °C above the 1971-2000 long-term average. Ranked warmest years in the series going back to 1914 are:
    # 2006 9.73 °C
    # 2003 9.51 °C
    # 2004 9.48 °C
    # 2002 9.48 °C
    # 2005 9.46 °C
    Mean temperature, sunshine and rainfall for regions of the UK compared with the long-term average UK regional averages for 2006, anomalies with respect to 1971-2000
    Region Mean temp Sunshine Rainfall
    Actual [°C] Anom [°C] Actual[hours] Anom[%] Actual[mm] Anom[%]
    UK 9.7 +1.1 1,507 113 1,176 104
    England 10.6 +1.2 1,638 112 8,51 102
    Wales 9.9 +1.0 1,534 113 1,420 99
    Scotland 8.3 +1.1 1,300 112 1,652 109
    N Ireland 9.6 +1.0 1,409 115 1,156 104

    Autumn 2006 (September to November) was also exceptionally mild over many parts of Europe at more than 3 °C above the climatological average from north of the Alps to southern Norway. In many countries it was the warmest autumn since official measurements began.


    * The Met Office is the UK’s National Weather Service, providing world-renowned scientific excellence in weather and climate change.
    * Met Office climate change consultancy provides data and risk-management services that are used by other government departments and agencies, the private sector and the public to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
    * Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change is funded by Defra and the MoD.
    * The 95% confidence range of the global forecast is that the temperature will lie between 0.38°C to 0.70°C above normal.

    Comment by Valuethinker — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:10 AM

  38. Sitting here in Brussels, the temperature today is around 12degC. Thats 8degC above average for Jan. Global temperatures have risen 0.7degC in 100 years. Thus global warming could explain about 0.4degC of this rise above ‘average’ (5%). Something else must explain the rest.

    Comment by PHE — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:33 AM

  39. Re: #22

    Thank you Koen! You expressed very well what’s been in the back of my mind since this post appeared.

    Comment by Grant — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:37 AM

  40. Re #18

    I don’t know where you’ve been but I heard about this El Nino several months ago and figured this would be warm winter in North America.

    Re #20

    I wouldn’t characterize the El Nino phenonmenon as abnormal warm water. It’s a natural phenonmenon. The ocean warms and cools on a natural cycle of a few years. The warming phase is called El Nino. There is some evidence that El Nino was even more active during the Little Ice Age. Of course, the real point of this article is El Nino may be making only a small contribution to the current North American warm winter.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:06 AM

  41. I haven’t seen this mentioned yet. Why are the anomalies (this winter) so much colder in eastern Siberia than prediced warmimg models. Are the very cold temperatures normal considering the El Nino and North Atlantic oscillation AND the warming over the rest of the arctic? It looked like the models would show warming in Siberia also when NA and Europe warmed. Thanks for your response.

    Comment by Brian Allen — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:09 AM

  42. RE: “But one can argue that the pattern of anomalous winter warmth seen last year, and so far this year, is in the direction of what the models predict.”

    Here in Australia, we are getting a “sneak preview” what the CSIRO have been predicting to happen 20-50 years from now. The SE has been suffering the worst drought on record for the past five years. Meanwhile the NW has had enough extra rain to keep the nations average relatively stable. As for extremes of weather we have had heat waves and constant bushfires interspersed with unseasonal frost and snow.

    The result is a halving (down 62%) of our grain crop due to lack of rain, a large chunk of fruit crops have died on the vine due to the unseasonal frost. Dairy and livestock herds have also been drastically reduced in the SE due to lack of rain. I hope EL Nino does break our drought because rain falling on the desert instead of the remaining topsoil in the dried up Murry-Darling basin isn’t going to feed anyone (I think we are around the 4th largest grain exporter, a 62% reduction in our grain crop equals a loss of ~17,000,000 tons).

    Australian crop report, Dec quarter 2006

    Comment by Alan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:28 AM

  43. I’m always a bit amused at those who promote AGW, and the media who support them, continue to use emotive, evocative words in their descriptions of mathematic statistical functions of temperatures and/or precipitation data sets. For instance, if it is warmer or colder, it is compared to “normal”, as in a norm or standard or the usual and expected state, when of course it is merely a statistical “average” they really mean. They give us no standard deviations, data distributions, nor other statistical tests, just one word, normal. So why not use the word average, or more precisely, statistical average? I think I know the reason, average doesn’t carry the emotional response that triggers fear and concern like something being abnormal does. Your words tend to prove your motives gentlemen.

    Comment by Dr. J — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:47 AM

  44. Re: #43 (Dr. J)

    Have you ever talked to people — nonscientists — about scientific topics? As soon as you use phrases like “statistical average,” “standard deviation,” “data distribution,” or “statistical tests,” their eyes glaze over and their attention wanders. We use the word “normal” because we’re communicating with lay readers, and that is the language as used by the general populace. When we scientists talk to each other, we use all the “technical” phrases you refer to.

    I think I know the reason for your post: your words reveal your motives. How weak is your case, when you must resort to “accusing” us of using the word “normal” in order to incite passion?

    Comment by Grant — 9 Jan 2007 @ 10:38 AM

  45. You’re amusing too! You missed the explanation above, perhaps? You wouldn’t want people to be confused about this, and saying ‘average’ confuses people as you’re confused about it — ‘normal’ is used in science and medicine — as your doctor should have told you when you had normal lab results on routine medical tests — to mean within 2 sigma.

    You don’t want your thyroid or iron or blood pressure to be ‘average’ — you do want it in the normal range. Same for your climate, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2007 @ 10:45 AM

  46. Re #43, on using “normal” instead of “average”. It is true that the words are not synomymous: normal implicitly refers to a distribution or a quantile, while average refers to a single number. Sometimes people use these correctly, sometimes not. I would attribute it more to expectations than to motives: if one is seeking deviations, it is natural to speak about “normal”.

    Speaking of emotive, “those who promote AGW, and the media who support them” could also read “those who try to educate people about AGW, including some media”. And “Your words tend to prove your motives” could be “Some of you seem to be really worried, and it shows in your language”. It’s really hard to be neutral. :)

    Comment by Janne Sinkkonen — 9 Jan 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  47. I was trained as a (mathematical) physicst but made a career as computer professional. I have had some contact with both large scale computer models and with the scientific establishment. I find RC an interesting read as an AWG skeptic. I think the following quote might add a little perspective to this discussion.

    “Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment.”
    Jean Baudrillard

    Comment by GAW — 9 Jan 2007 @ 10:55 AM

  48. Re: #44, well said GAW, and as Orwell said, sloppy language leads to sloppy thinking, this subject in spades. Why is it some scientists just can’t use precise, scientifically correct language? Again, your words prove your motives.

    Comment by Dr. J — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:05 AM

  49. Re #47. Hardly if they are telling you something that you do not want to hear. Climate Models are not fulfulling your wish as a skeptic are they?

    Comment by pete best — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:13 AM

  50. RE; #32 – Over the past year or so, the NH extent anomaly has wiggled between just under -1M Km^2 and just over zero. At present, the anomaly is ~ -0.3M Km^2 and somewhat positive trending. As you are probably aware, the Barents Sea and to a somewhat lesser extent the Kara Sea had quite late icing up this year (as opposed to other NH basins which more or less froze up on queue). Another oddity has been the repeated highly compressive (in terms of lateral pressure) events driven by easterly winds, along the ice edge between Svalbard and SE Greenland. Along the NW coast of Svalbard the edge has repeatedly enveloped the shore then been pushed back out by these winds. You comment has piqued my interest, for I have long wondered how a good closure of sea ice to a continental land mass can impact things, witness Actic NE Asia this year.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:35 AM

  51. mike wrote:

    As we are fond of reminding our readers, one cannot attribute a specific meteorological event, an anomalous season, or even […] two anomalous seasons in a row, to climate change.

    It seems to me that an “anomalous” some number of seasons in a row is the definition of “climate change.”

    How many anomalous seasons in a row must we have before we can say that what was once anomalous is now normal, and “the climate has changed”?

    [Response: Your point is well taken, and raises one of the trickier issues. Lets extend the dice rolling analogy we used in our Hurricane and Global Warming” article of last year. Lets characterize the two anomalously warm U.S. winters in a row, last year and this year (assuming the rest of January and February are not anomalously cold) as ‘snake eyes’ (double “1”s coming up in a roll of two dice, for the non-gamblers among us). Well, snake eyes will come up 1/6*1/6 = one out of every 36 rolls of two independent dice (3% of the time), randomly. Suppose we load the dice e.g. by erasing the “twos” and replacing them with “ones”. Snake eyes will now come up 1/3*1/3 = one out of every nine rolls of the two dice (11% of the time). It may take us quite a few rolls of the dice to determine decisively that the dice have been loaded (i.e. to conclude that the percentage is statistically significantly higher than the expected 3% rate). On the other hand, suppose that you really loaded the dice, by erasing the “twos”, “threes”, “fours” and “fives” and replacing them all with “ones”. Then snake eyes will come up 5/6*5/6 = 25/36, i.e. approx 70% of the time, rather than the expected 3% of the time. In this case, we would figure out quite quickly that the dice were loaded. So depending on just how loaded the dice really are, we may have to continue rolling for some time to determine decisively that they are loaded with respect to any particular phenomenon (e.g. U.S. winter warmth). On the other hand, such information does not exist in isolation. We have many other independent (theoretical and empirical) lines of evidence of climate change. The totality of the evidence convinces the vast majority of scientists in the field that we are indeed already seeing the influence of climate change in the collective observable phenomena. -mike]

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:45 AM

  52. re: 48. As opposed to using phrases such as “those that promote AGW”, as if anyone is in favor of it for some reason. Yes, your words do certainly prove your unscientific motives.

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  53. Re #43-47

    One reason to be cautious about using “average” in talking to the general public or to a scientific/technical audience is its ambiguity. Depending on the context, “average” may refer to the arithmetic mean, the median, the geometric mean, or the harmonic mean. Each of these is appropriate in certain contexts and one of the ways of lying with statistics is to use an inappropriate one and refer to it, correctly, as the average whatever.

    For instance, you might tell us that average real income in the US has gone up in the last 6 years, referring to the arithmetic mean, even though median real income has decreased.

    “Normal” is probably a good surrogate for “within the normal range of variation” and doesn’t need to refer to the Gaussian distribution. It would probably be better to use the whole phrase or give a 5/95 range.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:21 PM

  54. Re #43. Is this mischievous semantics?

    That the term ‘climate normal’ has been curtailed to ‘normal’ is perhaps to be regretted, but most people hereabouts know exactly what ‘normal’ means, as I hazard do people hereabouts who wish to pretend mischievously is otherwise the case.

    According to the WMO definition, climate average/mean/normal are interchangeable/synonymous terms. It is an arithmetic calculation based on observed climate values for a given location over a specified time period (‘normally’ 30 years) and is used to describe the climatic characteristics of that location. Real-time values, e.g. daily temperature, are compared with the ‘climate normal’ to determine how unusual or how great the departure from ‘average’ they are (whether you’re talking climatology or meteorology — and it is certainly the latter case recently here).

    Since this is a blog, not a peer-reviewed journal, I see no real problem with using ‘normal’. And anyone under a misapprehension as to what ‘normal’ means is likely to be corrected sharpish and/or pointed in the direction of the resources connected to this site.

    As to how this ‘normal’ term is portrayed in the media, that is in the domain of reporters and editors and their critically thinking (or otherwise) readers.

    Comment by P. Lewis — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:24 PM

  55. I am new to this stuff so please excuse the naivete of this question, but when we say the “warmest year on record” do we mean historical record, or since the mid 1800’s when regular measurements of air temperature were started?

    [Response: Depending on how much the trust the earlier instrumental records, and what you’re willing to consider ‘global’ coverage, we have a reasonably reliable record back to the mid 19th century. So by ‘warmest on record’ I simply mean in the context of the instrumental record available back to the mid 19th century. As for extending the record even further back than this using more tentative proxy and/or early instrumental and historical data, there is much discussion of this on the site. Just go to the ‘paleoclimate’ section of our ‘archive’. -mike]

    Comment by teacher ocean — 9 Jan 2007 @ 12:43 PM

  56. Thank you for the post.

    When you say:
    we find ourselves well into the meteorological Northern Hemisphere winter..

    you mean:
    we find ourselves well into the astronomical Northern Hemisphere winter..

    [Response: Thanks, but not sure I follow the comment. The meteorological boreal winter is DJF, i.e. Dec 1-Feb 28/29, thats 90 days long (91 in leap year). As it stands today, Jan 9, we’re 40 days–almost half way–in. I consider that “well” in! -mike]

    Comment by A.Escalas — 9 Jan 2007 @ 1:00 PM

  57. Mike – – Regarding this discussion of climate normals, I wanted to ask you to post a few time series of climate normals if you could. Most people have a sense of what a 30-yr climate normal is. I think a simple plot showing how the “preceived normal” has changed over time would be interesting and compelling. I imagine that you or your RC colleagues would have the data at your fingertips to plot the 1930-1960, 1940-1970, 1950-1980 . . . . . 1970-2000 surafce air temperature normals for a few representative stations. These plots would how perceptions of what is “normal” are changing in different areas. Perhaps this has already been done and you could suggest a link.

    [Response: Thanks, this would be useful. But unfortunately I don’t have the data at my fingertips. We’re so used to working with anomalies that we usually just discard the climatologies. Perhaps some RC followers know of an online resource that provides a comparison of the evolving climatologies for one or more observing stations? -mike]

    Comment by Tom Huntington — 9 Jan 2007 @ 1:40 PM

  58. Regarding the connection between El Nino conditions and greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations, I would be interested in RC’s opinion on the explanation for the apparently high temperatures in the Pliocene (5 to 3 million years ago (MYA)). At that time the GHG concentrations were not much above today’s level, yet sea levels were 10 to 20 meters higher.

    Two competing hypotheses both seem to involve alterations of ocean currents and ocean surface temperatures. The earlier hypothesis was that the restrictions of the Indonesian and Panamanian seaways were responsible for the shift to major northern hemisphere glaciations starting about 2.75 MYA. The other posited by A.C. Revelo and others at U.C. Santa Cruz and Mitchell Lyle at Boise State U. (see and Nature Magazine, May 20, 2004, Vol. 429, pp. 263-267) is that higher temperatures might induce a permanent El Nino which could cause a significant positive feedback and amplify global warming. These two hypotheses have hugely different implications for the sea level rise in the centuries ahead, even if CO2 concentrations do not exceed 450 ppm.

    Even if the El Nino feedback is only a partial reason for the high sea level in the Pliocene, that would have significant implications for long-term planning for coastal areas. Which of these two hypotheses is more credible? Are there other hypotheses?

    Thanks in advance.

    Comment by Phil Carver — 9 Jan 2007 @ 1:50 PM

  59. >words prove your motives
    Always worth Googling: “Dr. J” +climate +skeptic

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:25 PM

  60. Ahem … So what was the need to pretend that I was talking nonsense in the previous thread and then turning around to make the same point (re: wrong order of magnitude) here?

    [Response: Sometimes our readers do raise points worthy of greater discussion in a more appropriate thread. So a hat tip to you indeed Sashka. You got a brief response earlier, and an expanded one in this latest post. -mike]

    Comment by Sashka — 9 Jan 2007 @ 2:52 PM

  61. RE: #58 – In the day (old fart that I am) the “earlier hypothesis” was how they taught it in the UC Santa Barbara Geological Sciences Dept.

    I seem to recall an earlier thread where I brought it up, I seem to recall Dano and others making quite and effort to discredit it. IIRC – the discrediting factor was the time lag between the tectonic closures you mentioned, and the onset of the Pleistocene. My own continuing curiousity about it is based on my studies and work with transients in semi chaotic networks. An event (a step funtion or unit impulse) may occur, then it may take some time before the resulting perturbation settles and a new astable condition sets up. The tectonic closures would have constituted a fairly serious transient being imparted to ocean current systems. It would have taken some time after them for the new ocean current regime to be properly set up (the current THC/global conveyer system, more or less). Personally I would not rule out this theory. The time lag is actually expected. That’s how networks behave.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:13 PM

  62. It’s just as well that single events or seasons cannot conclusively be attributed to GW.

    What’s important is the recognition that AGW (assuming we keep emitting GHGs) will on the whole include greater warming, heat deaths, perhaps greater droughts, floods, storms, glacier melt, crop harm, fish harm (from warming, current disruption, acidification), wildlife harm, and many other problems. Because what we need to do is work to reverse this and avoid these future harms on the whole — rather than get tied up in court for decades trying to sue the pants off the perpetrators of some wacky weather event in Idaho. We need action to avoid enhancement of future hurricanes, not endless debates and recriminations about Katrina 2005 that prevent us from doing anything constructive to mitigate future GW. (I was able to tell a friend, a victim of Hurricane Rita, that it was in part to avert such mega-hurricanes, that I have been reducing my GHGs since 1990).

    I was actually motived to start reducing because GW “may have been exascerbating” drought & death in Africa. “May have” was a high enough standard to motivate me & it wasn’t unit 1995 that the 1st scientific studies reached 95% certainty re AGW. Likewise wacky weather and other possible current effects of GW (that portent worse to come in the future) should be good motivators for others…not to change weather tomorrow in some tiny location, but to avert or reduce such problems or increased effects in the future around the world. I hope no one realistically thinks that by running multiple instead of single errands or turning off the motor in drive-thrus that will make it colder today in Cincinnati so Johnny can build a snowman.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  63. Appropriate to the El Nino/global warming discussion and the warm December in the US:

    “Warm December pushes 2006 to record year in US”

    Interesting to note the National Climatic Data Center says it is not certain as to how much is due to global warming and how much is due to El Nino.

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  64. Not to rain on anyone’s (warm) parade, but down here we’ve just had the coldest December for 60 years, and icebergs off the coast. Unsurprisingly, our local sceptics reckon this disproves global warming. For my part, I will acknowledge the variability in the system – but not revel in it. Could I please have some of your anomalous warmth for my grapevines?

    Comment by Gareth — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:42 PM

  65. “The forecast, however, is for a cold snap in February.”

    A cold snap sounds like a sort of candy to me.

    Comment by Kay — 9 Jan 2007 @ 3:49 PM

  66. On attributing single weather events to climate change: has nobody really tried to formalize this?

    For example, suppose you have a background model M1, giving density p(x|M1) for a quantity, say temperature. M1 could represent a stable climate, and be for example a gaussian or t-distribution derived from past records. An alternative model M2, that could be derived from a climate model with AGW taken into account, predicts another density p(x|M2) for the same quantity.

    The basic idea would then be to quantify the surpriseness of an observation under both models, and compare these to some base level.

    By decision theory one can maybe justify the rationality of log-probability as a measure of surprise – at least log-probabilities are justifiable as a “score function”. Now if the most probable event by M1 is x_0, one can use it as a baseline, and evaluate the “surpriseness” of event x_1 under model M1 as log p(x_0|M1) – log p(x_1|M1). Under the model M2 the event x_1 would (maybe) be less surprising, and that surprise could be measured by log p(x_0|M1) – log p(x_1|M2). The numbers are comparable, and ratios of log-odds would allow fractional attribution of surprise. (No problem with using densities here as long as a physical symmetry spans a reasonable unique (Lebesque) measure into the x-space. But getting a justifiable baseline for the log-odds is critical and might be a challenge.)

    Of course the result would be conditional on a climatology and a climate model, and the climately model must be able to generate probability distributions for single events, such as daily temperatures on a station. This, especially the latter, adds a lot of assumptions. Model uncertainty, on the other hand, is easy to include if it’s quantifiable, once one gets the basic framework right.

    My version above is just hand-waving, and would probably fail miserably under a closer look. But has anyone seriously tried something along these lines and been unsuccessful?

    [Response:Good question. I’m not sure if I’ll succeed giving a sensible answer, but I’ll try: Your ideas bear many similarities to Bayesian statistics and attribution studies, e,g, Leroy (1998). Although this kind of analysis gives a probability associated with one explanatory factor, it cannot prove that the causation unless the probability is 0 or 1 (which is rarely the case). Furthermore, in complex systems such as the climate, it is difficult/impossible to statistically make any definete link between only one given event and a climate change, as the latter implies a change in the statistics – the pattern of behaviour (take the anology of a loaded dice). -rasmus]

    Comment by Janne Sinkkonen — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:10 PM

  67. An amateurs observations:
    There is a bug in the NAO index! Some surfers in the NW parts of Norway were excited when they learned about the NAO index. The index will normally show the track of low pressure systems in the N Atlantic. High index should indicate lows coming from the south tip of Greenland and crash right into the NW coast of Norway producing enjoyable waves. The peak in the NAO was in 90-92, when several hurricanes struck the coast. For the last three months, something odd has happened. The index has been quite positive, storms have been frequent, but the lows are traveling far more towards north, giving mild southernly winds in norway (and record high temperatures). Today is the very first day in many months with lows coming from north.
    I wonder why the lows are coming from SW, not W / NW as usual.
    To me, AGW is not a direct explanation. How well do we understand why the weather systems are stuck in these “modes”?

    Comment by Tommy — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:15 PM

  68. Re #60, for reference, the prior good catch comment by Sashka and longer response by Mike are in the “New Heresy” thread, here:
    It’s the comment by Sashka 5 Jan 2007, 8:56.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:19 PM

  69. Re 63.

    NOAA News public release:

    General Warming Trend, El Niño Contribute to Milder Winter Temps

    The text released on the link (below) says nothing about global warming.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:24 PM

  70. Re #69:

    Pat – there is a brief mention of greenhouse gases in the third paragraph from the bottom. That make it a balanced account by some standards.

    And they do have a good graph of U.S. temperatures. Since the World revolves around us, of course, those are the only temperatures worth reporting. [Don’t write angry replies, I’m joking.]

    Anomalously Warm Regards – Phillip

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:48 PM

  71. RE: Dave Cooke, in #12.

    Chicago experience: Christmas Eve, 1984, 70 F. Christmas Eve, 1985, -24 F. A 94 F degree difference on the same day in the same location, one year later (admittedly one was a high and one was a low, but the high in 1985 was still very cold).

    Comment by Jack — 9 Jan 2007 @ 4:58 PM

  72. Good post by Jeff Masters on the same subject. If you scroll down to the global temperature anomaly maps for December in El Nino years 1957 and 2006 you can see a striking illustration of why this year is different. ’57 has a cold Arctic above the warm US. ’06 has a warm Arctic above a warm ’06. Compare ’06 with model projections. Compelling, I would say.

    And look at Svalbard. What’s that station doing this year?

    Masters also uses the same dice-rolling analogy, but I think Mike got there first…

    Comment by Gareth — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:14 PM

  73. RE: #59, Googling “Hank Roberts”+ AGW+ believer, is also instructive.
    As to the language, yes, I do assume there are many who “promote” or encourage the AGW hypothesis and it’s spread, are there some who deny that? I don’t think scientists should talk like reporters no matter who you are talking to, the piece on the NBC Nightly News last night was a case in point. Again, the public hears our words and listens with their experience and vocabulary, when our precise meaning is misunderstood, perhaps intentionally so, we do no good. And I think all the talk of this issue of a warmer winter is a little strange, it has been shown that colder weather kills many more people than heat waves and is more dangerous for longer periods and exacerbates disease as well. Are you all really advocating for colder weather?

    Comment by Dr. J — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  74. Just a short report on winter weather in Europe:
    Indeed, the whole Europe is experiencing very warm winter (if a record one will be clear after it will finish), at least the start of the winter. For the first time, we were able to drive BY CAR to our cottage in High Tatras, in Slovakia in January. But there is almost NO SNOW in all the Europe. Acually, TODAY, on my way by bus from Slovakia to Netherlands, it looked like a spring trip across Europe with no signs of snow anywhere, and temperatures reaching as much as 16C.
    Indeed, not a single weather event can be blamed on “global warming”, but also not a single weather event “is NOT affected by global warming”. Similarily, not a single cigatarette You will blame for cancer, but EACH cigarette contributes to the cancer… or not?

    Comment by Alexander Ac — 9 Jan 2007 @ 5:50 PM

  75. Here in Australia, we’ve just experienced the 6th warmest year on record (0.47oC above standard 1961-1990 base period), including the warmest spring on record and extremely high temperatures in the country’s west. However, average temps were pushed down by an extreme drought in the South East and South West, and a very active tropical wet season.

    We’ve also experienced a near unprecedented drought, caused by the formation of the El Nino. This has devestated agriculture.

    So it’s not just the US and Europe. Spare a thought for us in the South!

    If anyone is interested, the 2007 Australian climate report is linked below

    Comment by ChrisC — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:03 PM

  76. Re #73:

    Dr J, you wrote “it has been shown that colder weather kills many more people than heat waves and is more dangerous for longer periods and exacerbates disease as well.”

    That’s a pretty bold statement given the tens of thousands who died in recent heat waves, and the tropical diseases such as West Nile Virus that are expanding into temperate areas where they were previously unknown. Please provide the citations to support your statement or have the integrity to retract it.

    Comment by Phillip Shaw — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:18 PM

  77. Excellent post!

    The more I read about how global warming is discussed by “media / the man in the street”, the more I think that many of the questions asked about it are the problem – they are fundamentally unscientific.

    People who frame questions in the manner of “Is this current hot weather due to global warming?”,

    a) do not understand risk, and/or
    b) do not understand that events can have multiple causes

    Comment by Peter Winters — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:25 PM

  78. re: 73. “I do assume there are many who “promote” or encourage the AGW hypothesis and it’s spread…”

    That would be a very poor assumption as there are no legitimate (i.e., not political hacks/blogs and fiction writers) references which provide any evidence to support such a claim. To simply believe it for no good reason is to really deny science. And we are not in the Middle Ages anymore. If you are looking for promoting disinformation, just read the latest news about Exxon/Mobil’s funding of contrarians.

    Comment by Dan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:33 PM

  79. re #33 Although there are scientific indications that tobacco, etc directly cause some deaths and clearly aggrevate serious health problems, the professed numbers, taken as gospel from the Mount, are Jon Lovitt style hyperbole and grow as fast and add health anamolies just as fast as the populace will accept. Statistics, in the scientific and meaningful mathematical sense, they ain’t. Though nobody much cares.

    Comment by Rod B. — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:34 PM

  80. a minor question: though it is probably implied, when the posts talk of El Nino “warming the pacific ocean” do they really mean the Eastern Pacific ocean which warms at the expense of the western Pacific ocean cooling. Does this make any difference ala global temperatures?

    [Response: The surface warming takes place over much of the eastern and central tropical Pacific, and does not come at the expense of any surface cooling elsewhere, i.e. it is isn’t a zero sum game. Rather, the warmer SSTs are due to the breakdown of the tropical easterlies or “trade winds” in the region, which are typically responsible for the upwelling of cold deeper sub-surface water in the eastern and central tropical Pacific. In the absence of the upwelling, the surface waters are free to warm in response to solar heating. So there is a net warming of the tropical Pacific ocean surface during an El Nino event. As the tropical Pacific ocean covers a sizeable chunk of the earth’s surface, this warming is responsible for a substantial part of the projection that El Nino has on to global mean surface temperature (the warming and cooling that occurs over various regions of the extratropics in response to El Nino, by contrast, largely cancels). You can find some useful resources on El Nino on the web here at this UCAR site, on Wikipedia’s El Nino page, or on NOAA’s El Nino page. Oh, and as usual, our glossary is often a good place to look too. -mike]

    Comment by Rod B. — 9 Jan 2007 @ 6:53 PM

  81. Re “If the analysis was scientific as opposed to political, other factors would be considered and discusssed. For example solar (Note the current solar activity is very, very, unusual). See the attached paper that shows there is a significant correlation of average planetary temperature and the solar index-ak.”

    Sure, because they scanned about 20 or 30 solar indices to find one that seemed to fit. This is called “the fallacy of the enumeration of favorable circumstances,” or to put it a shorter way, “cherry-picking.”

    The only obvious physical way for the Sun to link to climate is through the Solar constant, and that has been pretty flat for the last 50 years.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:14 PM

  82. Re #70. How does the 3rd from the bottom paragraph in the release by NOAA News (#69.) make the NOAA release a balanced account? Whose standards?

    The Jan 9 story by NOAA News has not balanced the Jan 4 story by NOAA’s NWS Climate Prediction Center on CNN at:

    I gave my account on the Jan 4 story at:

    under the title: So … you call this winter? – (but say colder spells do not mean that global warming is not upon us), or linked at:

    I must admit I am, by some minor standards I go by, a bit happy to a few people begin to understand what NOAA’s NWS has been not doing to see to it that the public understands the truth about what’s really happening to our weather and climate.

    My thanks are offered to Mike for that bit of happiness.

    Comment by Pat Neuman — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:20 PM

  83. Re Dr. J’s “Again, your words prove your motives.”

    The attribution of motive is known as the fallacy of argumentation ad hominem. I deny the motives you attribute are correct, but it doesn’t matter a bit whether they’re correct or not. One side’s motives has nothing to do with whether their argument is correct or not. A kid might be arguing that the French Revolution was in 1789 because he wants to show up his sister who guessed at 1750. But he’d still be right.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:21 PM

  84. Re: 73 “I think all the talk of this issue of a warmer winter is a little strange, it has been shown that colder weather kills many more people than heat waves and is more dangerous for longer periods and exacerbates disease as well. Are you all really advocating for colder weather?”

    No, I think those of us that are advocating are doing so for stability. The stable climate period during which human civilisation has developed is necessary for many reasons, only one of which is our species physical temperature range. We can, after all, either retreat to caves or wear furs, but we rely on the biota to provide everything we need, except minerals. So if water gets too warm or acidic we lose phytoplankton production, which is not only the base of the aquatic food chain but supplies a not inconsequential portion of the oxygen we need. Mention has already been made of food production in an uncertain climate. This can be affected by storms, surges of sea water, drought and pests and disease. Winter cold has a cleansing effect on some of the nasties we, as a species, have to contend with. “Normal” weather patterns are what our agricultural systems have adapted to. Can we adapt fast enough to extreme weather events at the rate they appear to be happening, and at what cost?

    Comment by Sally — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:36 PM

  85. Re: #57
    I’ve made a graph using the raw data for KNMI station The Bilt, The Netherlands. The daily data starting 1901 can be found here.
    The KNMI calculates ‘normals’ every 10 years; in the graph I did it for every year; each bar represents the mean of 30 years mean temperatures ending in the year on the X-axis.
    Note that there is a urban effect for The Bilt, because it is situated near the city of Utrecht. There is an estimate from the KNMI that this urban effect results in 0,2°C extra warming over the last century.

    [Response: Thanks! -mike]

    Comment by Henk Lankamp — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:42 PM

  86. #51 50 years ? Strange. On all sunspot number reconstructions, cycle 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 have not exactly the same maxima. More important, “solar constant” is no more significant, you should speak about total and spectral irradiance. For example, UV effect on stratosphere (and climate) are not presently integrated in GCM as a TOA forcing. But these UV do have an influence on climate and are studied by photochemistry and physics models. If a solar forcing is considered for 1750-2000, you should probably add this effect. As you should consider it for weather analysis, notably planetary waves, jet-stream and polar vortex. Nevertheless, It’s clear that total irradiance did not have much effect between cycles 21, 22 and 23 (less clear for 20 to 21 transition).

    Comment by Charles Muller — 9 Jan 2007 @ 7:54 PM

  87. I think the role of el nino in mid-latitude temperature and precipitation anomalies is way overplayed. For instance, just because the current US temperature anomalies look like El Nino, doesn’t mean El Nino does a good job of explaining the anomalies.

    We are currently in a 1 standard deviation El Nino event. Therefore, take the composite El Nino temperature anomaly (which is probably fairly close to a one standard deviation composite) multiply by one standard deviation and you get expected anomalies over the midwest of order of 1C. Subtract this expectation from the observed anomaly from this winter and you still have of order 10F unexplained temperature anomaly.

    Even though this temperature anomaly looks like El Nino, the El Nino index only explains something like 25% of the variance. I’ve heard from folks who are well versed in El Nino dynamics, that you can only explain about 30% of the mid-latitude variance with the El Nino index. That leaves a lot of variance to other factors and I think the couple of months of data available from this year are no different.

    Comment by Aaron — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:03 PM

  88. WRT 60, how about putting another comment there with a pointer to the additional info.

    [Response: previous commenter (#68) already provided above, its here. -mike]

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:04 PM

  89. >60
    See 68 for the link to start from, Eli, and subsequent posts thereafter.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:11 PM

  90. It might be said, that this winter thusfar is quite different all around the Northern hemisphere than the previous ones. I have the foggest idea, what’s going on down there in the other side of Equator.

    However, I wonder if it happened to be a case that some drastic changes to the average temperature of the climate do occur by the thus far unknown mechanism, how fast such anomalous changes can be detected by the experimental measurements?

    Comment by Petro — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:18 PM

  91. Global Temperature Report: November 2006
    University of Alabama in Huntsville

    …The atmosphere has warmed by more than seven tenths of a degree Fahrenheit (0.71 degrees F) in the past 28 years, with the bulk of that warming in the Northern Hemisphere, according to data released today by Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

    The 28-year data from Dec. 1, 1978 through Nov. 30, 2006 also show Earth’s polar extremes are heading in opposite directions: The Arctic has warmed by an average of more than two and a quarter degrees Fahrenheit (+2.27 degrees F or +1.26 C) in less than 30 years, while the Antarctic region has cooled by an average of more than half a degree (-0.55 F or -0.31 C).

    The contiguous 48-states of the U.S. have warmed at an average rate of 0.29 C per decade, a change of 0.81 C or 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit in 28 years.

    …The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and NOAA, Christy and Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in the ESSC, use data gathered by microwave sounding units on NOAA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth.

    Comment by Rhampton — 9 Jan 2007 @ 8:48 PM

  92. What is the 95% confidence interval of annual average temperature estimate for the U.S. in 2006? That information is not in the NCDC press release. Kind of hard to tell if a 0.07 deg difference is significant or not without the confidence interval.

    [Response: Good point, unfortunately the estimates often come without error bounds. Perhaps the error estimates (accounting for sampling uncertainties and estimate of potential systematic bias) shown for the global land surface temperature series in this figure (see part ‘b’) from chapter 2 of IPCC(2001) will give you at least a rough feel for what the uncertainties are. -mike]

    Comment by Ed — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:10 PM

  93. RE: 71

    Hey Jack;

    Granted, year to year you can get a large range of surface temperature deviation naturally. The point I was sharing with Steve was the range in a short period (covering around 15 days and a separation of 120 miles, as a crow flies) during a season that appears to track similar to the current winter pattern. As to your measures, have you tried graphing 150 years of Christmas Eves in Chicago and reviewed the long term trend?

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:31 PM

  94. Re #51 and the response: The Guardian quotes climatologist David Viner as suggesting that we are not just seeing the effects of AGW, but that we may be seeing a path at the upper end of the IPCC forecast:
    What’s happened to winter?

    Is Viner’s view an isolated one? Are other climatologists considering this, but perhaps only in the “raised eyebrows” stage?

    Comment by S. Molnar — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:38 PM

  95. RE: 71

    Hey Jack;

    For a follow up, my concern in the trend is not necessarily the trend of the peaks or the valleys. My concern is the trend of the differences. The greater the influence of global warming the more likely a reduction in the daily temperature range for a given weather pattern.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 9 Jan 2007 @ 9:52 PM

  96. #71, there is no role of the dice , just roving planetary waves!

    Comment by wayne davidson — 9 Jan 2007 @ 10:47 PM

  97. ok, sorry if said before, and sorry to quibble, but the phrase is on cue, not on queue, the latter referring (in Brit speak) to a line, and the former referring to a stage direction.

    [Response: Oops. Fixed, thanks much! -mike]

    Comment by princeps — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:03 PM

  98. Please don’t assume I’m an AGW heretic, I’m here to learn from very broad knowledge base provided by this site. I am a farmer in Australia and as such GW has important implications. Warmer nights here in conjunction with less humidity (in our near desert climate the heat should radiate away quicker) suggest GW is real.
    What I don’t understand is why, if water vapour is a significant GHG (the most significant according to a post I read on this site), that the tropical temperatures remain reasonably moderate despite the amount of moisture, say mid 30’s compared to experiencing 40’s in more southern(in my case) drier latitudes. Is the heat leaving the tropics on convection only.
    I guess my question really is do the increasing GHG’s of all decriptions act only as a trap for heat radiation or can they actually insulate against some of it.

    Comment by Jonathan — 9 Jan 2007 @ 11:04 PM

  99. Re Magnus W , replying to your first comment (sorry I’m so late), ESRL’s Monthly/Seasonal Climate Composites site allows you to create national or global graphs showing the difference between two arbitrary periods (between 1948 and 2006). This lets you show the anomaly versus an arbitrary baseline. For example, select ‘Air Temperature’ in the ‘Which variable’ box, ‘Surface’ in the ‘Level’ box, jan for the beginning month, dec for the ending month, 2006 to 2006 in the ‘Enter Range of Years’ boxes, 1948 to 1977 in the ‘optional minus’ boxes, and you should see a graph of global temp anomalies versus a 1948 to 1977 baseline. It shows most of the earth with about 0.5 C – 1C of warming, with a few cool patches around Australia, south of Alaska, and west of the tip of South America. Most of the Arctic is at least 3C warmer, and ranges up to 7C warmer near Svalbard. Some similar ERSL sites can be found via the CDC Interactive Plotting and Analysis Pages.

    Comment by llewelly — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:50 AM

  100. Jonathan:

    What I don’t understand is why, if water vapour is a significant GHG (the most significant according to a post I read on this site), that the tropical temperatures remain reasonably moderate despite the amount of moisture, say mid 30’s compared to experiencing 40’s in more southern(in my case) drier latitudes. Is the heat leaving the tropics on convection only.

    Most of the large land masses are away from the equator – which means much of the solar radiation intercepted by the tropics warms the ocean. Water can absorb much more heat than air. This moderates the temperatures of the tropics. In addition – moist air is less dense, and will rise faster than dry air at the same temperature. So moist air transports heat into the upper troposphere much faster than dry air. This moderates surface temperatures, a property which is largely independent of water vapor’s GHG properties (which are due to its optical properties).

    Comment by llewelly — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:08 AM

  101. Dear sir,
    i am owning 20 aceres of land near the sea at andhra pradesh.I am intrested to start a therma power generation plant.Where this state is suffering with lack of power.I Request you to help me and suggest me on this project.You can visit to india you can start thermal power station in my land and i will act as share holder in this.KINDLY HELP ME.

    Comment by s.v.s.b.shankar — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:19 AM

  102. I wanted to make sure everyone is aware of what an excellent job frequent RC commenter Grant is doing on his newish AGW-focused blog Open Mind.

    His posts are all good, but of particular note he has taken to deconstructing the weekly “Not much global warming here!” posts purporting to show that a given location in the U.S. is actually experiencing cooling. Look in the right bar for the first two posts of the series. So far the Idsos look kinda like frauds. (For those who don’t know about it, is one of the oldest denialist websites, and is infamous for its intentional distortions.)

    While working on the above Grant noticed this small change on co2science:

    “By the way – the opening line for their “Temperature Record of the Week” page used to say, “To bolster our claim that There Has Been No Net Global Warming Over the Past 70 Years.” Now it says “To bolster our claim that There Has Been Little Net Global Warming Over the Past 70 Years.” It’s such a ‘little’ change.”

    Wow. Now there’s a milestone.

    (Add this man’s blog to the RC sidebar, please. He richly deserves the traffic.)

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:00 AM

  103. Re #98 The reason the topics are cooler than the subtropics is because of the cloud. When the temperature rises the air becomes more humid, and eventually clouds form cutting off (well reducing) the heat from the sun.

    In Australia there is not enough water in the soil to produce clouds, and the high temperatures tend to dry the soil thus removing even the little that is there. cf the parable of the talents! Australian (and US) farmers have made things worse by ploughing up the soil, which releases moisture beneath the surface. At first this increased the humidty and made rain more likely, “The rain follows the plough”, but once all the moisture has gone then they got a Dust Bowl :-(

    Now, water is pumped from deep aquifers, but when that runs out, then you will get desertification.

    It is not just Austalian and US farmers who are making this mistake. They are only following the example of the farmers on the southern coast of the Mediteranean which was the bread basket of the Roman Empire and is now part of the Sahara Desert. The Bazilian and Indonesian farmers are carrying on this tradition by felling the jungle, which will have the same effect.

    It is not just anthropogenic greenhouse gases that are a problem. It is well known in the scientific community that change of land use is also a contributary factor to global warming.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:03 AM

  104. Bush lifts Alaska drilling ban.
    “President Bush lifted the drilling ban Tuesday for Alaska’s Bristol Bay, clearing the way for the Interior Department to open the fish-rich waters to oil and natural gas development.”

    Comment by tears — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:42 AM

  105. Re #100, I read yesterday that the democrats in power in the US senate and representatives are putting forward a bill to ban drilling in Alaska along with some form of CO2 emissions reduction as the same time as the EU is bringing forth a new CO2 emissions and environmental law. Emissions reduction of kyoto (5 %) style proportions might happen in the USA to.

    There are 10 billion barrels of Oil in Alaska apparently and some day without alternatives to Oil/Gas/Petrol this will be dug up esecially as we appraoch peak oil and the $100 a barrel price tag. The fact is that we have 1.1 trillion barrels of known Oil left to use and maybe some more from tar and oil sands and other heavy oil sources but thats only makes 30 to 40 years of continued oil use and thats without any growth which is running at one to two percent per annum.

    Without alternatives to Oil (and hence motion) it is going to get messy in terms of world energy security and the like as countries like the USA use its military might to secure scare oil areas.

    One such area is Iraq of course with its 115 billion barrels of known Oil reserves (3rd largest in the world) and first world countries have sought to get the private Oil companies back in there and are at the present moment in time arranging this in Law with the pro western Iraq government preapred to let this happen in order to get money to help rebuild their war torn country. 115 billion barrels equates to some $6 trillon at $60 a barrel or some $11.5 trillion at $100 a barrel. With incentives like this James Hansen better ne wright when he states that we can burn all of the gas and oil without causing serious climate change but we must get rid of coal and generate electricity by other means.

    Comment by pete best — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:08 AM

  106. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says “summer in Massachusetts could feel like the typical summer in South Carolina by the end of the century unless we take action to reduce heat-trapping emissions today.” The report does not of course caution us that our winters could be like those in Los Angeles, nor that airconditioning suits South Carolinans just fine during the summer.

    What concerns me is that the really devastating effects of climate change will be manifest in those parts of the world with the weakest political voice (small island nations, Bangladesh, sub-Saharan Africa). Yet, in one of the world’s most economically and powerful regions (around Boston, New York and Washington), the impacts will be relatively benign at least in the foreseeable future — implying of course that there will be relatively little impetus for strong action.

    Comment by Chella Rajan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:14 AM

  107. Re: #102 (Steve Bloom)

    Thanks for the endorsement! Actually, it was RC that motivated me to blog in the first place.

    Comment by Grant — 10 Jan 2007 @ 8:57 AM

  108. I would like to lend support to the comment by James Jan8th, 7:23.

    The weather in Europe (particularly northern Europe) is off the charts pt. We have no snow in most of Scandinavia (it is the warmest year ever recorded in norway, sweden and denmark). Heavy winds (12-24 m/s) hit more often than usual.

    Clearly, Europe is experiencing increasing anomalies over the last few years. So this certainly – I would claim – is a (N hemisphere) global tendency.

    Whether global warming is to ‘blame’ is not for me to assess, and neither the human impact factor regarding any possible global warming. However, it is important to monitor and model the climate globally. Further, to take steps to minimize our wasteful way with (all) resources, as well as taking precautions regarding living conditions globally, if things should turn out to be changing.

    Cheers, Jacob

    Comment by Jacob — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:15 AM

  109. Question:

    I’ve generally believed that the single most severe consequence of AGW was likely to be rising sea levels. However, it seems increasingly clear that the most significant warming is likely to be Northern Hemisphere, where most of the land-mass is, and within Northern hemisphere, the land areas themselves. This would tend to inhibit the sea-level rise due to h20 expansion in the oceans, as ocean temperature increase will be less than the overall forecast GMT increase (even after ocean temp equilibriates). At the same time, sea level rise due to Greenland ice-melt, if the arctic amplification is as extreme as it now appears to be, may be a more important factor in sea-level rise. Any thoughts on how recent findings and N. hemisphere anomaly might affect forecasted sea-level rise?



    Comment by Dan Allan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:36 AM

  110. RE: #76 by Mr. Shaw, he is one reference there are many more if you care to actually research it yourself:

    Comment by Dr. J — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:40 AM

  111. BBC news: Chrysler’s chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched a fierce attack on “quasi-hysterical Europeans” and their “Chicken Little” attitudes to global warming.

    full story is here:

    My quasi-hysterical and humble opinion about this is, that such an ignorant behaviour should not turn out to be profitable for automotive industries this guy is working for, shouldn’t it?

    Comment by Andreas Mueller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:49 AM

  112. RE: #101

    Hey Saishankar;

    Looking over the area you are suggesting placing a thermal power source seems unlikely. Gelogically, there is not a quick enough drop off into the Bay of Bengal to get the thermal difference necessary for any type of Rankin or Sterling Engine of much size or power.

    If you are talking about the idea of a thermal tower or chiminey such as was tested in Spain in the mid-70’s with reinforced stacked dark brick of about 100 meters in height, with openings at the base and top to allow hot rising air to turn a propeller type fan might be a possibility, except for the lack of foundation strength geologically to support this construction in the deltas where you are.

    It would appear that the best consideration would likely be the installation of vertical axis Tidal Stream or flow turbines in the delta channels. There appears to be two large rivers that empty out in your district and the flow of water into and out of the tidal flats in this region would provide sufficient flow for several installations to provide about 15-30 KWh per unit. The best unit I know of today for this type of application is designed by the Italians, specifically I think the project was called the Enemar Project and used the Kobold platform. The reference site:

    may provide some background. In addition there is a study that was done here in the US about possible alternatives using Tidal sources. That reference should be at this site:

    They have a press release at the Ponte Di Archimede company talking about a Sri Lanka installation, so they should have a representative that would be available. Of issue is clearly the funding and installation and as you suggested you can only offer the site for a tidal energy Substation, the rest needs to be funded externally.

    Other then these information sources I am afraid I can not be of any further assistance. My hope for your success!

    (Note: I only pointed out the Kobold Platform from the study as it is very similar to a design I had been working on for nearly 30 years now and have a strong belief in it’s possible strengths in both an economic and speedy installation. The specific reference was for infomational purposes only, it is not an endorsement by this site or anyone associated with this site.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:57 AM

  113. I would like to make a small appeal on behalf of anecdotal evidence.

    To be specific its ability to change individual thinking. In a sense the cause of a particular weather anomaly does not matter much. The important point is that we perceive that the weather is becoming increasingly odd.

    This is occurring, people are commenting on the weather and how it seems to be contradicting our expectations.

    Here in the UK, the weather has been puzzling in recent years. That we are noting this, and holding this anecdotal evidence to be significant, is changing our opinion regarding climatic change.

    When it comes down to it; the evidence of our own eyes will always sway us more heavily than any amount of learned words.

    I believe it to be important that our attention is drawn to anecdotal evidence. It is the way our opinions are formed.

    In this way it does not matter if we next have several cold years on the trot. We will perceive that as another example of the weather having lost its way and its reason.

    In the UK, the warmth of the last decade has been well received and is not of itself frigthening. What is unsettling is that we no longer now quite what to expect of the seasons. We have no idea in which month we can expect to sweep up leaves nor when the roses will stop flowering (it has not happened yet). In the S.E. we stumble from floods to droughts unlike anything we can remember.

    This is significant.



    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:01 AM

  114. RE: 109

    Hey Dan;

    Granted there is likely to be some added evaporation. The suggestion I thought was interesting was the idea of using wind systems to pump a portion of the added sea water into the Sahara Desert and use the basin there to grow algae for diesel fuel. The idea was to increase the potential economic return in this region, to make a massive change in the ITCZ heat transport and at the same time provide a large scale reasonable resource alternative. This idea was labled as linked to a cult something haveing to do with the blooming of the desert; however, logically it might have some value. It would be interesting to me to explore the impact this might have on both the energy future and climatic change. I’m afraid however, that it would not get any serious play as it would mean major human intervention into land use and would massively get bad press from the staunch environmentalists. Oh well….

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:11 AM

  115. Here’s the lates addition to the circus of long-range weather forecasting featuring Chief Long-Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi:

    “Those who think that winter 2006-2007 is going to remain mild are in for a shock,” said Bastardi. “Winter is likely to come with a vengeance. A week from now, we’ll start seeing truly cold air across much of the country, and we expect this change to last.” Added Bastardi, “Whether we end up with seasonably cold weather, or something far worse, remains to be seen. There are indications that this winter could parallel severe winters of the past. Even should we not see an extremely cold and snowy conclusion to winter, you can be sure that by the end of the month, when those in the Northeast are shoveling out their driveways and sidewalks, the mild weather we’re experiencing now will be a distant memory.”

    [edited (watch the ad hom)…]

    [Response: The weather channel predicts otherwise. (e.g. New York remains above normal for the foreseeable future). But that’s weather, anyway. Only seasonal anomalies start to put us in the domain of climate. -mike]

    Comment by Sashka — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:13 AM

  116. I made a comment yesterday that did not get through. I will try again.

    Many readers here at RC need to “chill” about the current warm spell (pardon the expression) [edited…] Climate modeling experiments (which RC is very fond of) have shown that free variations in the climate system due to things like El Nino (among many others) are still larger than the magnitude of any forced variations which might be directly attributable to changes in GHG’s (assuming a perfect model). Such short term variations such as the current warm weather are strongly affected by initial conditions of the ocean and atmosphere, and to a lesser extent (at this time) by boundary values (deviations in the probability density function due to external forcing are still small). This assumes a “perfect model” which we know we don’t have. Such introduces more error. I hope RC will offer some peer-reviewed literature in correction if the above is not correct. This is the message that I get from studying the literature.


    By the way, the synoptic pattern is in the process of changing (big time), and winter is about to make a comeback in the US. Give it about a week.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:26 AM

  117. From what I have been able to gleen from many weather reports from many sites on the web, the tropical jet transiting north america from equatorial eastern pacific to the north atlantic and arctic regions seems to cause artic air to push into regions unaccustomed to severe cold, like Bangladesh suffering a killer cold snap the last three weeks, or the blizzard that dumped a foot or more of snow in Jordan’s deserts last friday, or the repeated blizzards and blowing snows of Clorado and western Kansas and Nebraska. Reccord snowfalls in New Mexico shutting store and schools for days last week, or south asia getting snow and cold snaps in places like central India. Not to mention the Sahara desert has a new monsoonal flow causing rains to occurr throughout the sahara desert. In fact the Kalihari has been flooded for month’s now and South America has not had a dry season since the horrific amazon drought of 2005 was broken in november of that year. Then there is the reccord western US states (and provinces of Canada) who have recieved reccord snowfalls since april 2005 breaking the western droughts with reinvigorated snow pack in the rockies, this continues this years as well. Then there is the issue of the increased wind speed of the temperate zone westerly jet stream that seems to have caused polar vortices of extreemly cold air that has refrozen the Arctic Sea ice to extents beyond the Berring Strieght. So All is well, the winter is happening, just not where and when we think it should. One must question why?

    Comment by george naytowhowcon — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:34 AM

  118. Re: 111

    He got everything right except for saying that “global warming was a far-off risk”. Other than that he is pretty much right on and (speaking of ignorance) within his area of expertise.

    As for relationship between talking and profits, there’s little if any. GM’s Rick Wagoner is quoted in the same article as saying now an irrefutable business case for producing green cars. That’s about all there’s to it. Money talks, BS walks.

    Comment by Sashka — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:40 AM

  119. In my area, Sudbury Ontario CA (just north of Lake Huron), what was most striking about the recent warm spell was not the daily high, but the nightly low. On days when the daily high was 4-8C above normal the nightly lows were 10-15C above normal. With an increase in greenhouse gases, I would think that any effect would be more noticable in changes in night time temperatures. One indirect indication of this is the new USDA hardiness zone map. This map is based on winter minimums which almost always are the night time low . The new map shows all the warmer zones moving much further north.

    Comment by Pat O'Grady — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:44 AM

  120. I sometimes wonder if any of you guys who are so convinced that Global Waming is so real – so awful – so dramatic – so catastrophic – ever took the time to tabulate the ACTUAL temperatures as recorded by official weather stations from as long ago as records are available. Well I have. For the US, there were 9 years 1931-1939 in which, for all the locations I was able to find, that also had unbroken temperature records for 1996-2004, (there were 23 such locations), and the 1931-1939 period was WARMER by 0.4 F., than 1996-2004. Also found that 16 northern European locations with similar records, the 1931-1940 period was almost as warm as was the 1994-2003 period. Also, for these 16 northern European locations, the for the total temperature rise from 1874 through 2003, 94% of the rise had been observed prior to 1940, and only 6% of the rise from 1874 to 2003 happened from 1940 to 2003. Dramatic Global Warming – somebody must be on the “juice”.
    Wayne Byerly

    Comment by Wayne Byerly — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:46 AM

  121. Re #113: Here in Uppsala, Sweden, we’re having an exceptionally mild winter with the highest-ever recorded January temperature last night. Then this morning I get an email from a colleague in Iran who says they are having an unprecedented cold snap with themperatures down to -29C. Go figure…

    Comment by Per Ahlberg — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:51 AM

  122. I have read this article and all the blog responses with interest. I am very disappointed not to see a comment I wrote two days ago appear. I understand it may take time, but I must mention I am glad to see at this point, a few folks mention the SUN as a possible cause of global climate changes.
    Many People are conveniently forgetting the ice caps on Mars are also melting because its warming as well.
    Our vegetation and oceans are huge CO2 sinks and are the check and balance system when it comes to CO2, whether it comes from cars, volcanos, breathing animals or other sources. More CO2-more lush vegetation as it utilizes the CO2 to produce the O2 we breathe.
    I am no expert, but studied Earth sciences in college and follow the field to this day, so to me, the answer to apparent warming trend is the sun.
    In Earth’s past, long before human beings and industry, the climate has warmed and cooled. Some chatter on about Record tempatures, however, it is misleading, since it is only as long as we have kept records on meterological data which is perhaps 150 years or so. I may be off on that number but a couple of centuries is nothing in geologic time.
    Note too-Greenland 1000 years ago was not covered in ice but very much like new England is now, hence the name GREENLAND.
    But my overall point is, look to the Sun if one wants real answers as to why our climate is chnaging. Remember too, it is always changing.

    Comment by Marie Phillips — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:13 AM

  123. Re #105: The USGS has assessed the technically recoverable undiscovered oil in the Chuckchi Sea (alone) as 13.015 billion barrels (F50), and 51.840 TCF of natural gas (Sherwood, 1995). This is only in the federal offshore, and does not include ANWR or NPRA, or any of the state lands. The technically recoverable oil for the North Slope state lands is another 4 billion barrels (F50). Add in ANWR and NPRA plus remaining oil in the Cook Inlet and undiscovered potential in the North Aleutian Basin, there is clearly a lot more oil in Alaska than most of the public realizes.

    Comment by Bryan Sralla — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:17 AM

  124. RE: #122, very true Ms. Phillips, and an excellent study was done at Duke U. recently about how the solar variances are very much underestimated in the AGW debate, for obvious reasons.

    Comment by Dr. J — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:19 AM

  125. FYI, the Los Angeles Times has an article about NOAA’s announcement that 2006 was the warmest year on record for the 48 states:

    Record Warmth (Again) in 2006
    Experts say the increase offers further evidence of climate change.
    by Robert Lee Hotz
    January 10, 2007
    The Los Angeles Times

    RC’s Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann are quoted in the article.

    In what may be a first for a mainstream media report on global warming, climate change deniers are not quoted and given equal weight with actual climate scientists, and the basic science of anthropogenic global warming is not portrayed as a “controversy”.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:30 AM

  126. Dr. J wrote: “… an excellent study was done at Duke U. recently about how the solar variances are very much underestimated in the AGW debate, for obvious reasons.”

    Oh, really? And what exactly were the “obvious reasons” that the Duke study identified?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:32 AM

  127. Marie Phillips wrote in #122: “I have read this article and all the blog responses with interest.”

    I encourage you to continue reading the articles and commentary on this site. It will help you correct some of the erroneous information that you posted in this comment.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:54 AM

  128. Re: #120 (Wayne Byerly)

    I sometimes wonder if any of you guys who are so convinced that Global Waming is so real – so awful – so dramatic – so catastrophic – ever took the time to tabulate the ACTUAL temperatures as recorded by official weather stations from as long ago as records are available. Well I have. … there were 23 such locations … 16 northern European locations … Dramatic Global Warming – somebody must be on the “juice”.

    You’ve posted pretty much exactly the same argument on this site before. I answered you before. I’ll answer again.

    I have data for over a thousand locations throughout the U.S — not just a paltry 23. I have data for several thousand more throughout the world — not just a meager 16 restricted to northern Europe. I haven’t just “tabulated” them, I have analyzed them thoroughly (I’m a professional mathematician, my specialty is the statistical analysis of time series).

    And I’m not even a climate scientist! Do you actually expect anyone to believe that the thousands of climate scientists who are warning us of the danger of global warming, have never looked at this data? How naive.

    Re: #122 (Marie Phillips)

    Note too-Greenland 1000 years ago was not covered in ice but very much like new England is now, hence the name GREENLAND. But my overall point is, look to the Sun if one wants real answers as to why our climate is chnaging. Remember too, it is always changing.

    Hmmm… If Greenland was like New England just 1000 years ago, then how did I get data from the Greenland Ice Sheet Program (GISP) for ice cores that extend back more than 50,000 years? Do you have 50,000 years of data from the “New England Ice Sheet Program?”

    Re: #124 (Dr. J)

    RE: #122, very true Ms. Phillips, and an excellent study was done at Duke U. recently about how the solar variances are very much underestimated in the AGW debate, for obvious reasons.

    Are you referring to the work of Scaffeta & West? There was a post on that, with lots of discussion, not too long ago on RC. The methodology of their studies is about as reliable as George W. Bush’s evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    Comment by Grant — 10 Jan 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  129. Re: 115

    Sorry for the ad hom – I meant it in a humorous way. Anyhow, isn’t it amazing that a guy who is in weather forecast business is using expressions like you can be sure WRT long term forecast. Normally, a meteorologist will not be sure of anything, even tomorrow.

    Comment by Sashka — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:00 PM

  130. Marie Phillips:

    Many People are conveniently forgetting the ice caps on Mars are also melting because its warming as well.

    Please see the extensive RC article Global warming on Mars? .

    Comment by llewelly — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:06 PM

  131. RE #122 & 124, if you read Lovelock’s REVENGE OF GAIA, you’ll get a good overview about the sun-earth-life system — 5 billion years from the past through a 5 billion year forecast into the future.

    The sun is indeed warming (ever so slowly in human timescale terms). Lovelock suggests that some 2 billion years ago the sun was just right for optimal life on earth, and since then it’s been getting hotter, and the earth-life system has responded by a series of ice ages/warmings trying to get it right for optimal life (which is closer to the ice age eras than the warming eras). In a way this is similar to the thermostatic nature of the human body that self regulates the right internal temp, regardless of the heat or cold outside, and sometimes goes into fever to try and throw off some disease. However, Lovelock is clear that he’s using a metaphor and he doesn’t really think the earth-life system is alive, like an organism.

    Lovelock suggests that in another 2 billion years, the sun will be too hot for life on earth. However, he sees this current human-induced warming epoch as something that did not have to happen, that we may not have been due for another one of these natural “interlude” warming/fevers for a very long time (in human time-scale terms). However, he thinks that once this current human-induced warming reaches its maximum & stay fever-hot for 100,000 to 200,000 & kills off much of life, it will eventually cool back down again to present and even cooler levels. He thinks humans will survive, but perhaps sans civilization. He also thinks there’s a chance we could avert going into this fever hysteresis, but we will have to drastically reduce our GHG emissions. And that seems unlikely to me, as long as there are so many people who cannot image we humans could be a fault in this warming project, or people who accept it, but refuse to act on that knowledge.

    So, yes, the sun has a lot to do with warming, and it will eventually get too hot for life in 2 billion years, but until then we will have these warming/cooling fluctuations as the earth-life system struggles to adjust to optimal life conditions. Unfortunately we are triggering one of these fever episodes, jumping the gun with nature. But eventually we will cool back down again, say, in 100,000 to 200,000 years. I just feel bad that so many people will have to die because of this generation’s folly and obstinance. Maybe if and when civilization rises up again, people’ll do it right next time.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:07 PM

  132. Re: 114

    I had contemplated the notion of using solar energy to pump sea into the desert, though I was thinking of the Rub al-Khali or Empty Quarter, and of passing the water through a desalination plant. I know that desert ecosystems are fragile, but it’s not much of an ecosystem anyway and there is more life on margins of biomes so I’m not sure that the stringent environmentalists would have a hissy fit over it. There were lakes there once, as this tells:

    Now, as this is severely off-topic, I’ll bring it back with a query on the current El Nino. I keep hearing El Nino but I see the Humboldt current still active.

    So am I right in thinking that the lobe of warmth pointing east and slightly south is the signature? The measurements for ENSO are measurements of trade winds, the Southern Oscillation Index and the TAO array:

    So I think what I want to know is how much annual variance there is in the Humboldt current and how has this/ how will it be affected by warmer conditions in the Southern Ocean?

    Comment by Sally — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:07 PM

  133. re 129 (and slightly off topic):

    Regarding weather forecasters being “sure”: most amusing to me is the extended forecast “percent chance of precip” I see on the I often see that the precip chance, 8 or 10 days out, can be 0% or alternatively, 100%, for my hometown of Boston. And there is a good chance that, “miraculously”, it will not rain on days when the precip probability was listed as 100%.

    Apparently, someone is taking the results of forecasting models a bit too literally, without considering the possibility that the “precip probability” that the model spits out is itself subject to an incresingly large margin of error the further out the forecast goes.

    Comment by Dan Allan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  134. I live in Fort Collins, Colorado and have been a bit astonished by the basic premise of this discussion. Our temperatures have been frigid, below normal for 20 out of the last 26 days according to accuweather. It is by far the coldest and snowiest winter I can ever remember – we have snow and ice piled up three feet deep.

    When I see the wildly inaccurate data presented here it makes me doubt the entire premise of the discussion.

    Comment by Tony Heller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:41 PM

  135. “Witness for example the dramatic decrease in Atlantic tropical cyclones this most recent season relative to the previous one”

    If this was so obvious, why was the past Hurricane Season (2006) forecasted to be just as strong as 2005?
    It seems to me that there are just too many weather variables to predict and forecast long-range outlooks.

    Comment by Russ DeStefano — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:43 PM

  136. Re #113, I agree with you about anecdotal evidence. I think such evidence is only dangerous if it is misleading — such as when denialists latch on to some unique cooling spot in the world as proof against GW. In this case of weird winter warming (or increased el ninos) being taken as signs of GW, the anecdotal evidence is not misleading, since it has been established that GW is happening, even if the particular piece of anecdotal evidence eventually proves not in the least to be associated with GW (I’m now thinking that the African droughts that so motivated me to start reducing my GHGs in 1990 may have been due to global dimming, not global warming, but no harm done in my response since AGW was later established at 95% confidence, and it is considered to have many other negative effects, AND I ended up saving money without lowering my living standard — no harm done at all).

    Another point is that science itself is composed of many many pieces of anecdotal evidence — they call it data. It’s just the anomalies (“regular” cold winters) that need to be viewed with caution; the data (such as warmer winters) that fit the general findings can be viewed as important anecdotal evidence of GW that should spur the public into action.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  137. Does anyone predict Pacific cyclones and what was the prediction last year? I do like Judith Curry’s description of the last Pacific season. A ripsnorter, I believe she called it. As Bill Gray had some confidence in his predictions maybe there is something going on that we haven’t experienced. Careful use of words there, note. We, as in human population, experienced as in haven’t seen in human historical records.

    Comment by Sally — 10 Jan 2007 @ 12:59 PM

  138. The recent press articles claim 2006 was the warmest year in modern record, and based on my experiences living in New England, I could be persuaded that is true. However, this seems to be true because the cold season months – particularly November and December – were much warmer than normal. The summer seemed remarkably normal. I say “seemed” because I have not been able to yet find and download the data needed to perform a simple analysis for my region.

    The apparent greater anomaly in the cold months versus the warm months brought a question to my mind. How well, if at all, do the climate models factor in human responses to climate change? Specifically, if one believes that the radiative effects of CO2 are the major contributor to climate change, then it seems one should model the effects of CO2 emission changes in response to climate change.

    It stands to reason (although I have not seen the data) that CO2 emissions in the Northeastern US are below the predicted trend. Use of home heating oil is well below normal. I normally fill my tank once a month in Dec – Feb, but I have not filled it since mid-Nov this year and I may not need to until March. My electricity usage is running about 30% below the same period last year, implying I am imposing less of a load on our coal-fired power plants. Like almost everyone else in the area, I have not bothered putting less-efficient snow tires on my car – we have not had snow. Not only do I not need to warm up my car as I do in bone-chilling cold, the engine runs more efficiently that it does in such cold. My billing records indicate I am filling my tank less often.

    Multiply this across the millions of households in the region, and it stands to reason that CO2 emissions from our region are below forecasts, and thus should be factored into climate models.

    Of course we could take this beyond CO2 emissions. Take vegetation as an example. Lawns are still green instead of brown, some trees are beginning to bud, crocuses are up, I have seen forsythia here and there starting to bloom. Are the climate models sophisticated enough to account for the response of vegetation to climate change, and its subsequent impact on climate?

    Comment by John G — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:12 PM

  139. RE #135, while heat is a NECESSARY cause for hurricanes, it is not a SUFFICIENT cause (one that ensures it will definitely happen). It’s like a fertile woman is a necesary cause for a pregnancy, but not a sufficient one.

    And one reasons why it’s so hard to say GW is causing increased hurricanes is because you don’t get enough hurricanes to do good statistics (it’s more a problem with “n” or number of observations, than with whether there’s an association — at least that’s what I think is the problem). I.e., you could have an association (e.g., a positive correlation), but its significance might not scienfically prove that association (at .05 or less prob that the null hypothesis of no association is correct) due to the low number of observations.

    But despite this problem, studies have been coming in that GW is causing increased hurricane intensity. Which means that there is less than a 5% chance that the increase in hurricane intensity is due to random fluctuations a & not GW. Which means we may likely be seeing future years with a lot of mega-hurricanes, if not this year or the next, then sometime in the future, assuming we continue with our GW experiment.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:14 PM

  140. Lynn Vincentnathan wrote in #131:

    “[James Lovelock] thinks there’s a chance we could avert going into this fever hysteresis, but we will have to drastically reduce our GHG emissions. And that seems unlikely to me, as long as there are so many people who cannot image we humans could be a fault in this warming project, or people who accept it, but refuse to act on that knowledge.

    David Morris, the founder of the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, has written an article entitled “What Al Gore Hasn’t Told You About Global Warming”, about British journalist George Monbiot’s new book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, in which he says that the challenges of “acting on that knowledge” to “drastically reduce our GHG emissions” are considerably greater than are commonly discussed.

    An excerpt:

    Monbiot launches his investigation by asking a crucial question rarely discussed by Al Gore and other U.S. environmentalists: How does the responsibility of the world’s largest polluters differ from that of the rest of the world? The average American generates more than 10 times the greenhouse gas emissions as does the average Chinese, and perhaps 30 times more than the average citizen of Bangladesh. (The gluttony of the average citizen of the UK is not far below that of the average American).

    When Al Gore says he wants to freeze emissions, presumably he’s talking about planetary emissions, not U.S. emissions. Otherwise, he’s asking humanity to freeze the current stark disparity in resource use in place. That’s politically impossible and morally disagreeable. Since the U.S. and UK generate a disproportionate amount of global greenhouse gases, a responsible approach presumably would require them to disproportionately reduce their emissions.

    Monbiot argues for a global carbon emissions cap allocated on a per capita basis. Since all of humanity shares the biosphere, which has only a limited absorptive and cleansing capacity and all humans are created equal, then each should have equal use of that capacity.

    The implications of biospheric equity are so profound and so disturbing, that it is understandable why American environmentalists shy away from discussing the issue. Currently, global carbon emissions are about 7 billion tons, roughly, 1 ton per person. But the average American generates, directly and indirectly, some 10 tons per capita. Thus, to save the planet and cleanse our resource sins, Americans must go far beyond freezing greenhouse gas emissions. As a nation, we must reduce them by more than 90 percent, taking into account the sharp reductions in existing global emissions necessary to stabilize the world’s climate.

    Suddenly we realize that addressing the global warming problem will be very difficult, not only politically but economically and institutionally. And it may well entail significant sacrifice.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:16 PM

  141. Re #134: Tony, you need to distinguish between the comments of the climate scientists here (the site authors plus a very few commenters whose names will become apparent if you read this blog on a regular basis; but including e.g. Isaac Held, Urs Neu and Michael Tobis) and those of everyone else. Observe that Mike was quite careful to note above that from the POV of climate science anything less than a full-season anomaly is really just interesting weather. As the current example of Australian precipitation makes clear (record rainfall in the west, horrible drought in the east, but pretty much average overall), you should also bear in mind that extremes in variability are climate statistics of interest.

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:23 PM

  142. Steve #141

    “during this warmer-than-average winter in Colorado”

    I was referring to this text from the article above. It appears that the author is pushing an agenda and is ignoring the facts. It has been exceptionally cold here in northern Colorado (only five days have reached normal temperatures since Dec 17) and the next week is forecast to average at least 15 degrees below normal per day.

    [Response: Try thinking before slinging accusations around. The graph above comes from NOAA (not us) and so if you feel their Colorado Dec 06 estimates are wrong, take it up with them. -gavin]

    [Response: Gavin’s already made the main point. But please spare us the cherry picking. “Dec 17” was a curious start date for you to cite. Here are the high/low observed for Ft. Collins (where you indicated you live in comment #134) over the preceding week: 54/26, 63,/32, 61/34, 54/25, 38/21, 45/30, 45/30 (compare with the climatological December mean of 44/16). If you have serious evidence that NOAA’s monthly mean numbers are in error, please meet the burden of proof and demonstrate so. Otherwise, take your antics elsewhere. They’re not appreciated at RealClimate. -mike]

    Comment by Tony Heller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 1:56 PM

  143. #140, Secular Animist: Thanks. I already read that & was making comments on it at, so here goes what I wrote:

    “AUSTERITY AND LESS FREEDOM is what this article ( ) says is needed to mitigate GW — based on Monbiotâ��s book HEAT. Itâ��s a slam against people who say it will be painless.

    I have several points:

    (1) since we are (as households and businesses, esp here in the U.S.) very inefficient, way inside the “production possibilities frontier,” there is a good ten years of taking actions as fast as we can that could (a) save money, (b) reduce GHGs, (c) without lower living standards or productivity. By the time we trim all the unnecessary fat, making it even more economically acceptable to go onto alt energy (bec even if it costs more per KWH, our KWHs have been cut by 1/3 to 1/2, so no econ hardship), by that time perhaps new technology will come on line that will extend our “party” while reducing GHGs even further, so that the time for austerity might be postponed longer…though eventually we may have to actually sacrifice our material gluttony, and perhaps even some comforts.

    (2) the austerity and loss of freedom will end up even much greater de facto if we do not reduce our GHGs significantly right now. (Denialist-alarmists, afraid of austerity and loss of freedom, are you listening?)”

    I would add (3) any small austerities or loss of freedom (e.g. emissions caps) we undergo now to mitigate GW should be viewed an innoculation not only against future GW harms, but against even greater austerities and loss of freedom (or political chaos, or both) forced upon us if these GW harms are allowed to go rampant without adequate mitigation. Sort of like using polio to fight polio.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 10 Jan 2007 @ 2:19 PM

  144. Re #142: Tony, to focus things a bit more I went to the NOAA site and did a custom plot for 12/24 to 1/7. Eyeballing the results shows Colorado as averaging about 4F above normal. I don’t see a cold anomaly up north. Is there something wrong with this data?

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 10 Jan 2007 @ 2:39 PM

  145. Re #91, John Christy (apparently) wrote, as reported by Rhampton:

    “The 28-year data from Dec. 1, 1978 through Nov. 30, 2006 also show Earth’s polar extremes are heading in opposite directions: The Arctic has warmed by an average of more than two and a quarter degrees Fahrenheit (+2.27 degrees F or +1.26 C) in less than 30 years, while the Antarctic region has cooled by an average of more than half a degree (-0.55 F or -0.31 C).”

    If you read the 5 or 6 peer-reviewed papers written by Christy and Spencer and colleagues describing the MSU system and the algorithms for turning the temperature-dependent screams of oxygen molecules into estimates of the “average” temperature of large blocks of the atmosphere (large both vertically and horizontally), you will discover several caveats that are not reflected in the quote above.

    Specifically, the satellites provide no data at all above 80-85 N and S and the data they do provide at lower latitudes is unreliable for high altitudes and for snow/ice covered areas (for which read Northern Greenland, Central Antarctica, and the Tibetan plateau).

    That said, the Antarctica is SO different from the Arctic — land vs ocean, ice sheet, high altitudes, and stronger polar vortex — that we should not be too surprised if the behave differently. In addition, the Antarctic Peninsula, which extends roughly a thousand miles north of the Antarctic mainland, is warming strongly, with collapse of floating ice sheets and acceleration of the flow of ice streams into the ocean.

    Best regards.

    Comment by Jim Dukelow — 10 Jan 2007 @ 2:53 PM

  146. Re: #138
    The annual cycle of budburst and bloom of many perennial plants can be a very useful indicator of climate trends. The study of recurring natural phenomena related to climate is called “phenology”, although the word is almost always used in the context of plants rather than say the date of the onset of mountain snowmelt (also an interesting indicator here in the western US). There is a national phenology network, and the program’s website is at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You will never look at a lilac bush the same.

    Comment by David Graves — 10 Jan 2007 @ 2:58 PM

  147. Re #142: Noting your date of December 17th, I did another one for then through January 7th and got a result pretty similar to the first one; i.e. the anomalies are still substantially positive for that period.

    [Response: Thanks for the helpful info Steve. So also our response to the commenter immediately above. -mike]

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 10 Jan 2007 @ 3:15 PM

  148. Speaking of recent Colorado weather/temps….

    I was in Denver Dec 26 through Jan 1. Between snowstorms, we had some nice, balmy weather there. One afternoon, I was out and about in jeans and a t-shirt and was quite comfortable. (And I’m a wimpy southern-California native!).

    Comment by caerbannog — 10 Jan 2007 @ 3:32 PM

  149. Re: #132

    Hey Sally;

    Actually, for part of the incoming sea water rather then passing the water through a desalination plant why not set up an evaporation desalination system where the sun does all the work there as well. You could pump the saline water into troughs and let evaporation go to work, the collected water could be sequestered into underground holding ponds and pumped into the condensation coils on it’s way to the algae seas or lakes.

    The idea is to have both environments represented, that way you could farm a much wider diversity and ones that would more closer match the historical representation. The NW seems to have an example of a saline environment. While the SE appears to have a definitive fresh water environment.

    It is almost like 6-12 kya the first farmers let the moisture get away from them and the grasslands dried out and the pastures were lost. (Kind of like a permanent Oklahoma dust bowl.) Now that there appears to be an excess of the primary resource, water, why not return this area to it’s former glory. It may be that this is an opportunity to return Northern Africa to the Eden it once appeared to have been, along with providing the world with a renewable resource necessary to ring in a new era. Sorry the idealism just leaked out…, reality will snap back in in a moment…

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 10 Jan 2007 @ 3:35 PM

  150. Some other data, not from NOAA.

    Comment by gary — 10 Jan 2007 @ 3:57 PM

  151. Re: Can we attribute one hot winter to GW? (see also #66)

    No, we can’t, but as the loaded dice post (#51) tells us, we can find the (low) probability that such an anomaly occurs on the assumption that nothing is happening really (the environmentalists are making it all up, you know).

    Another way to detect that something is going on, is looking at how often weather records are broken. Suppose all winter temperatures are drawn from some distribution (say the observations of 1850-1900 give us a normal distribution with some mean winter temperature, and let us assume for argument’s sake that the standard deviation is 1 deg).

    Now suppose we start taking down winter temperature records from 1900 onwards. Then we would get something like this (numbers were found with random generator experiments):

    Record 1 after 1 year, at 0 degrees above average
    Record 2 after 5 years, at +0.9 deg
    Record 3 after 21 years, at +1.6 deg
    Record 4 after 45 years, at +1.9 deg
    Record 5 after 146 years, at +2.5 deg
    Record 6 after 1145 years at +2.8 deg

    Obviously the time between successive records gets longer and longer, which is not quite what we see happening now.

    Of course this is just hand waiving, but it might be worth somebody’s while to get into it more seriously (although personally I see enough evidence already).

    Comment by DIck Veldkamp — 10 Jan 2007 @ 4:03 PM

  152. Here in The Netherlands, the moving temperature average over a period of one month (31 days) has consistently been 4 degrees C (7 Fahrenheit) higher than normal (1971-2000) from July through December, with the exception of August. This made 2006 by far the hottest year since reliable measurements started 300 years ago. January 2007 sofar beats everything. Temperature average over the first 10 days of January has been approx 9 C (normal value for end of April), vs. a normal value of 2.6 C.

    Comment by Ark — 10 Jan 2007 @ 4:30 PM

  153. Fort Collins weather data

    Deviation from normal since Dec. 17 has averaged -6 degrees. [trash talk edited out…]

    17 -5
    18 -6
    19 -5
    20 0
    21 -6
    22 -15
    23 -9
    24 -6
    25 -16
    26 -1
    27 3
    28 1
    29 -5
    30 -9
    31 -12
    1 -10
    2 -11
    3 0
    4 13
    5 -9
    6 -16
    7 -12
    8 -2
    9 -4
    average -5.92

    Comment by Tony Heller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 4:37 PM

  154. [more trash talk eliminated] here is the actual data from Fort Collins. We are averaging ~6 degrees below normal. High temperatures have been averaging more than 10 degrees below normal. It is by far the coldest and snowiest winter I have seen here in 15 years.

    Dec 17 -5, 18 -6, 19 -5, 20 0, 21 -6, 22 -15, 23 -9, 24 -6, 25 -16,
    26 -1, 27 3, 28 1, 29 -5, 30 -9, 31 -12, Jan 1 -10, 2 -11, 3 0, 4 13,
    5 -9, 6 -16, 7 -12, 8 -2, 9 -4, 1

    average deviation -5.92

    [Response: We and several commenters above have pointed out the cherry-picked nature of the numbers you’re citing. Now, if you have a problem w/ NOAA’s numbers, report it to them. But we’re not taking any more comments from you on this thread. -mike]

    Comment by Tony Heller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 4:46 PM

  155. What effect, if any does the gulf stream have on the weather conditions for the east coast of the U.S.? Thank you.

    Comment by Larry Vetter — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:05 PM

  156. Please send this article to the major news outlets. I was so happy to hear it on NPR because just last night on Brian Williams NBC evening news they were parroting that old thing that this unusually warm winter is nothing to do with climate change and is only due to El Nino.Given my understanding that the frequencies and strength of the ElNino’s have changed due to climate change that is no consolation. It is time the scare the complacent public into pushing for immediate climate action. Like Al Gore, this has interested me for the past thirty years, but nothing happens to change things. This president has been the most disasterous of all. We need to energize Americans to change their ways whether or not Russia and China and India are going to change theirs. Every little bit hopefully will help.

    Comment by Dianne Humphrey — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  157. Here in SW France it’s the same story as noted by #152 in Holland, with temperatures WAY, WAY, WAY above average… as is also described by many others above. Now, having scanned this whole discussion am I missing the question that must be playing on everyone’s minds, or has it not been posed, or am I the only one this paranoid? Anyway, my question is: what are the odds that we are seeing the first signs of a runaway greenhouse effect?

    Some scientists have for years been warning that global warming may not necessarily develop gradually, but that there’s a risk of a sudden feedback mechanism causing a runaway warming effect… Are there signs that this may now have occured?

    In addition, here in Europe the weather is strongly affected by the warm gulf stream. Last year we had an unusually cold winter, and there was talk that this was due to a weakening of the gulf stream. Is there any evidence that this is still happening, and if so, how does this tie in with the dramatically warm winter weather?

    Comment by Jodro — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:36 PM

  158. Tony,
    Sorry to hear the past couple weeks have been so cold in Ft Collins, but 2006 was the second warmest year on record there.

    [Response: Thanks, why don’t we close of this particular sub-thread on this note. The focus here was supposed to be on the larger-scale, longer term (i.e., seasonal or longer) trends, not weather in specific locations. -mike]

    Comment by Chris Hawkins — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:47 PM

  159. Cherry picked numbers? The numbers I listed above are *all* of the data for the winter so far -i.e. every single day. High temperatures have diverged even further. Other than four warm days in mid-December it has been below normal nearly every day for the last six weeks. Again, please look at the link-

    Additionally, the forecast high temps for the next week are-
    26, 17, 18, 19, 14, 27, 26 F. We normally are about 45 this time of year.

    When I saw the map and text in this article saying that we have been above normal this winter, I realized how little I can trust the information being presented by global warming proponents.

    [Response: I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. If you look at the GISS data for Fort Collins (up to 2005), there are clearly large adjustments that have been made from the raw data. These relate to biases from the time of day of observation, station movements etc. In particular, it looks like the adjustments at Fort Collins are large; 1934 annual mean for instance changes by over a degree, 1981 by 0.5 degrees. I have no idea what those adjustments are specifically due to in this case (the Colorado Climate Center may be able to help), but given that – any raw analysis of the station ‘normals’ is bound to be different. The point is, that raw data always need to be analysed for such corrections and that the NOAA data – far from being inaccurate – are actually much better quality controlled. (And incidentally, NOAA are not usually described as global warming proponents!). A paper that analysed some of these issues was: Hansen et al (2001) – gavin]

    Comment by Tony Heller — 10 Jan 2007 @ 5:50 PM

  160. >155, Larry Vetter, “what effect … does the Gulf Stream have …”

    Google will help with this if you paste your question into the search box. A few examples:

    The dominant feature of the North Atlantic is the warm Gulf Stream and its eastward extension, the North Atlantic Drift. ….

    The effect of these currents on the terminal weather around the coastal area of the Atlantic varies with the time of year, the type of air mass involved, and the direction of flow. …

    “… Midlatitude cyclones develop off the Carolinas during winters and move north producing gale-force winds, ice, and heavy snow. ….
    “… This research investigates … nine years of data on the Gulf Stream position and East Coast winter storms … quantitatively indicate that Gulf Stream-induced wintertime baroclinicity may significantly affect the regional intensification of East Coast winter cyclones.”

    Lots more available including realtime satellite maps, etc.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:01 PM

  161. If, as British scientists say is likely, 2007 does develop into the hottest year yet recorded worldwide, this could have serious consequences, and soon. It was only a few years ago that an unprecedented heat wave killed tens of thousands of people in Europe. If this unusually warm winter proves to be a harbinger of what 2007 has in store, it could be a very, very bad year.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:24 PM

  162. Re “More important, “solar constant” is no more significant, you should speak about total and spectral irradiance. For example, UV effect on stratosphere (and climate) are not presently integrated in GCM as a TOA forcing. But these UV do have an influence on climate and are studied by photochemistry and physics models. If a solar forcing is considered for 1750-2000, you should probably add this effect.”

    Your suggestion that the Solar constant is irrelevant to climatology is, to put it mildly, bizarre. Again, I maintain that finding obscure solar indices to fit bits of climatology does nothing to prove your point. Provide a clear mechanism, and find a way to test it empirically, and you will have something to say. So far you don’t.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:30 PM

  163. Re #156: Based on the number of other blogs linking to it, this post has already spread far and wide. The blog reactions link shows 129 just now. I don’t know if that’s a record for RC, but regardless of that it’s pretty impressive considering that the post hasn’t even been up for 48 hours. People do seem to care about the weather! Perhaps this is evidence that people need to see and feel climate change to be able to respond to it in any kind of urgent way. We shall see.

    BTW, in case it’s not obvious, the blog reaction counter (at the bottom of each post, although it doesn’t show in the comment window) can be clicked on to see a listing which is in turn clickable to go to the individual linking blogs.

    [Response: I’m not sure those numbers are accurate. If you click through, the number of blogs appears to be much less. If anyone knows why, please let us (and technorati!) know. -gavin]

    Comment by Steve Bloom — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:30 PM

  164. Re “In Earth’s past, long before human beings and industry, the climate has warmed and cooled. Some chatter on about Record tempatures, however, it is misleading, since it is only as long as we have kept records on meterological data which is perhaps 150 years or so. I may be off on that number but a couple of centuries is nothing in geologic time.
    Note too-Greenland 1000 years ago was not covered in ice but very much like new England is now, hence the name GREENLAND.
    But my overall point is, look to the Sun if one wants real answers as to why our climate is chnaging. Remember too, it is always changing.”

    1. Yes, it has warmed and cooled in the past. And when it has done so very rapidly, mass extinctions have usually been the result.

    2. Direct temperature measurements only go back to about 1850, to be sure (1650 in the case of the UK, but that’s a quibble). However, we are able to reconstruct earlier temperatures by the use of proxies such as tree rings, lake and ocean sediments, ice cores and the O16/O18 ratio in seashells. The ice core evidence goes back 650,000 years.

    3. Greenland got its name from the Vikings, who deliberately misnamed it to direct people there instead of the equally misnamed Iceland. The ice cap on Greenland is tens of thousands of years old, if not hundreds of thousands.

    4. The Solar constant has not varied significantly in 50 years. But global warming has turned up sharply in the last 30 or so years. So it’s not the Sun.

    It’s anthropogenic greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:40 PM

  165. Re “RE: #122, very true Ms. Phillips, and an excellent study was done at Duke U. recently about how the solar variances are very much underestimated in the AGW debate, for obvious reasons.”

    The most obvious reason being that there’s no clear connection between the Sun and recent temperature changes, and no believable mechanism for one has been observed. You do know that we’ve been measuring the Solar constant directly with satellites such as Nimbus-7 and the ERBE array, don’t you? The Solar constant is up perhaps 1 watt per square meter over the past 50 years, if that. To get the observed temperature change you’d need 12-20. Want to see the math?

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:42 PM

  166. #158 Mike’s Response

    Let me second the call not to hear more about how warm, dry, cold, wet, dry, or whatever it is somewhere.

    I haven’t heard much discussion about whether El Nino is likely to become more frequent or intense with global warming, although there were some teasers about some controversy surrounding this issue in the initial post. It might also be interesting to hear opinions about whether the El Nino phenonmenon might augment or moderate the effects of global warming.

    Comment by Jim Cross — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:49 PM

  167. Technorati gives 74 now, which is impressive enough, I think. It shows that RC is a formidable force on this important issue

    Comment by Sally — 10 Jan 2007 @ 6:58 PM

  168. Re #161

    What the Met Office bods actually say is:

    “Global temperature for 2007 is expected to be 0.54 °C above the long-term (1961-1990) average of 14.0 °C;
    There is a 60% probability that 2007 will be as warm or warmer than the current warmest year (1998 was +0.52 °C above the long-term 1961-1990 average).”

    I thought it was us Brits that had the propensity for talking about the weather at every opportunity. It’s our national pastime.

    Anyway, the world JFM forecast by the UK Met office can be found here:

    So perhaps a few cold waves are on their way; or not, given the 3-month forecast accuracy

    Comment by P. Lewis — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:04 PM

  169. Signs of Global Warming

    Global mean surface temperatures 1856 to 2005. –> see chart here (Add the imagnery 2006 year as the warmest ever on top of this chart.)

    Anomaly weather patterns.

    More energy inside our global climate system means more energy fluctuations. This leads to weather anomalys like when it snows it snows heavy, or much rain in short terms. Every single weather pattern will be act more powerfull, relative/compareable to the increase of energy flux.
    Heating the planet surface triggering positive feedbacks, first from heat trapping GHG mainly CO2 emission and induced further more positive feedbacks, which we can measure and come slowly into play but will than rise abrupt.(See to find out how at 1 point all of the methane bubbled up once the ocean warmed up.)
    Example of abrupt climate change in earth history, the PETM Event

    Positive Feedbacks:

    Further global warming (positive feedback)

    Some effects of global warming themselves contribute directly to further global warming, in a vicious circle, the nature of which may be difficult to predict in advance.

    Scientists warn thawing Siberia may trigger global meltdown
    Methane clathrates (frozen methane-water deposits on the ocean floor) might thaw and release more methane into the atmosphere (the clathrate gun hypothesis).
    The melting of permafrost and ice caps appears to be causing the release of large amounts of additional carbon dioxide or methane from decaying vegetation trapped beneath [52] [53] [54].
    There have been predictions, and some evidence, that global warming might cause loss of carbon from terrestrial ecosystems, leading to an increase of atmospheric CO2 levels [55] [56]
    Melting could also lead to increased heat absorption because ice reflects more solar radiation (i.e., it has higher albedo) than land or water. Because sea ice and seasonal snow cover are more reflective than the underlying sea, any meltback may lead to further warming.
    Warmer temperatures in the oceans reduce the productivity (growth) of ocean phytoplankton (algae). This is expected to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide taken up by photosynthesis in the ocean [57][58], which would again increase the effects of anthropogenic CO2 releases on the overall amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and hence increase the greenhouse effect. This is a concern because ocean photosynthesis is as large a part of the planet’s overall carbon balance as land photosynthesis.

    Warming worry: Potent gas bubbling up faster
    Methane ‘coming out a lot, and there’s a lot more to come out,’ expert says
    MSNBC staff and news service reports
    Updated: 9:19 a.m. ET Sept. 7, 2006

    Methane, a gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere, appears to be bubbling up from thawing permafrost at a rate five times faster than originally measured, scientists reported Wednesday.

    The effect, reported in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, is seen mostly in Siberia in a type of carbon-rich permafrost that was flash frozen about 40,000 years ago. A new, more accurate measuring technique found that methane bubbling from that permafrost under Siberian lakes was higher than previously recorded.

    �The effects can be huge,� said lead author Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. �It�s coming out a lot and there�s a lot more to come out.� (subscriber only).

    Aware of positive feedbacks we can now connect the dots, but the diffrent now is, and this is eminent important, the speed of the Co2 emission.

    The speed of current Co2 emission into the atmosphere was never as fast as now. And it is accelerating!
    Fossil fuel combustion of mankind is now starting to trigger positive feedbacks.

    Industries and companys who change now to renewable energy ressources will have an advantage and a good position on the new energy markets. The turn comes now, be a pioneer and help to sustain life on earth for future generations.

    Comment by Plato — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:04 PM

  170. This is more of a quiestion than a comment.

    I live in Muskoka, Ontario.
    I was wondering what is really going on with our current weather conditions?
    Is it this El Nino event?
    Because we have just gotten our first snowfall that has left snow on the ground, about three days ago now.
    Up until then, it was unaturally warm for winter.

    I am currently researching Global Warming for an independent study unit for science, and was wondering if anyone could give a helping hand.
    What we are to do is to research global warming to find current scientific thinking with respect to possible connections between global warming and its impact on these weather systems.

    any help at all, would be wonderful.
    even a good website.


    Comment by stephanie — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:21 PM

  171. > Colorado
    Colorado was in the warm area until about this particular day:

    See the green area to the southeast that looks like, er, Florida? That’s the edge of the huge area of excess warmth all across the middle of the continent.

    Click ‘back’ a day at a time and you’ll see that area of green covering Colorado (it’s that brick shaped state in the lower left of the extra warm part of the map) consistently.

    Click ‘forward’ a day at a time and you’ll see that lobe of extra warm temperatures withdraw from Colorado and stay outside the state’s boundaries starting around the 16th or 17th.

    Focusing on Colorado and a few particular weeks isn’t informative — look at the overall largearea of excess warmth, in the whole North American continent, over the larger span of time.

    The little bump of temperature change over Colorado is a little bump of temperature change. Get the big picture.

    Look how warm it is in north central Canada, eh?

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:37 PM

  172. A good start of the study on global warming are the movie An inconveniet truth from Al Gore, visit
    Than for a more indepth study i recommend the wikipedia wikis about “global warming”, and “mitigation of global warming”. During the read you come across most of the relevant wiki links.

    Next is to hook up specific analyzes and science based discussion here on, use the search function and start here , at the topic index.

    Comment by Plato — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:45 PM

  173. Re #106 – “Yet, in one of the world’s most economically and powerful regions (around Boston, New York and Washington), the impacts will be relatively benign at least in the foreseeable future — implying of course that there will be relatively little impetus for strong action.”

    We live in Washington DC, and we are beginning to look at the plant catalogues for cold resistant banana plants. We have had no – zero – snow, and only very light frost on a few nights since November, and all the anomalies – forsythia blooming today, January 10, for example. We’re on the 38th parallel. The Washington Post published a story a few days ago saying that NOAA has moved us climatically from where we used to be to the equivalent of southern Virgina.

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 10 Jan 2007 @ 7:48 PM

  174. Question: Does anyone know of recent work done on soil bacteria metabolism as affected by a warming clmate?

    Comment by Pavel Chichikov — 10 Jan 2007 @ 8:15 PM

  175. Wrong? Right? Lose the schoolyard attitude children. Scientists study phenomena, non-scientists offer commentary on the phenomena being studied. I think the real point here (the one inspiring the large amount of passionate responses) is that we all need to step back and change our “wicked” ways. We all know that we need to put our energy consumption into check, if for no better reason than to simply prove that we have the strength and fortitude to do so. Global warming (or the concept of GW) simply gives us a damn good reason for doing it, if nothing else. I must also add that I have not enjoyed such good reading in a long time and would like to thank each and every one of you for that. There is a reason that people have always discussed the “weather”, (not just for a lack of a better subject either) that is because it directly affects our lives. I believe the “weather” ( I am using this term all-inclusivly..indicating climate as well) is doing an excellent job of communicating with humanity. Whether or not we will be able to decipher what is being communicated is another story and like I said…makes for damn fine reading.

    Comment by Barbie B. — 10 Jan 2007 @ 8:33 PM

  176. Climate Experts Worry as 2006 Is Hottest Year on Record in U.S.

    By Marc Kaufman
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 10, 2007; Page A01

    Last year was the warmest in the continental United States in the past 112 years — capping a nine-year warming streak “unprecedented in the historical record” that was driven in part by the burning of fossil fuels, the government reported yesterday.

    According to the government’s National Climatic Data Center, the record-breaking warmth — which caused daffodils and cherry trees to bloom throughout the East on New Year’s Day — was the result of both unusual regional weather patterns and the long-term effects of the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    “People should be concerned about what we are doing to the climate,” said Jay Lawrimore, chief of the climate monitoring branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Burning of fossil fuels is causing an increase in greenhouse gases, and there’s a broad scientific consensus that is producing climate change.”

    The center said there are indications that the rate at which global temperatures are rising is speeding up.

    Average temperatures nationwide in 2006 were 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the mean temperatures nationwide for the 20th century, the agency said. It reported that seven months in 2006 were much warmer than average, and that last month was the fourth-warmest December on record. Average temperatures for all 48 contiguous states were above or well above average, and New Jersey logged its hottest temperatures ever.

    Comment by Plato — 10 Jan 2007 @ 8:41 PM

  177. #170, I suggest El-Nino being part of a larger world wide longitudinal shift in location of “cold high pressure ” and “warm / low pressure” areas, it makes practically no sense that El-Nino is responsible for everything, the Climate world doesn’t rotate around the West coast of Peru. When a cold zone shifts from continent to the ocean it gets warmer world wide, ENSO is a pure ocean bound cycle with a more dominant wind driven upwelling of cold water in the East Pacific during La-Nina’s. It is not the only place in the world where something similar happens.

    Comment by wayne davidson — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:02 PM

  178. Just have a look at what we’re up against down here. I don’t know whether to laugh, or cry.

    Global And NZ Temperatures Are Cooling, Not Warming
    Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 4:31 pm
    Press Release: New Zealand Climate Science Coalition

    10 January
    Global And NZ Temperatures Are Cooling, Not Warming

    Figures just released by the U.S. National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) show that mean global temperature for 2006 was 0.24 deg C cooler than it was in 1998.

    The seven years 1999 to 2005 were also cooler than 1998.

    Unlike air temperature measured by thermometers on the ground, NSSTC data comes from highly accurate measurements by satellites, correct to one tenths of a degree C.

    NSSTC is a research organization partnership between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama universities, US federal agencies and industry. click here

    “This data suggests global warming might have stopped eight years ago, in line with what might be expected from the natural cycles of warming and cooling that are common features of climate” said Professor Augie Auer, chairman of the scientific panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

    “It comes two days after the statement by the NIWA National Climate Centre that New Zealand can expect cooler but drier than average conditions over the next three months. This prompts the question: how much more cooling will have to occur before NIWA will admit that global warming is not happening.

    “We know that emissions of carbon dioxide are still occurring, which prompts a further question: for how much longer can NIWA support claims by the present government that CO2 causes catastrophic warming, and needs to be curbed by the imposition of special taxes or emission charges. Surely it’s now time to put a stop to these sensationalist claims, which are not supported by verifiable scientific data” said Professor Auer.

    It is, at least, risible.

    [Response: I suggest you read what Tim Lambert has to say about the so-called “New Zealand Climate Science Coalition”. It should tilt you to the laughter side of the spectrum. p.s. don’t skip the comment at the end! -mike]

    Comment by Gareth — 10 Jan 2007 @ 9:20 PM

  179. Your comparison of a 30-day mean and a 90-day mean temp anom was odd, considering you could have compared the two 30-day means from Jan 5 from 2005 and 2006:

    Comparing like to like, the range of temp anom for the last 30 days is similar to 2005, with, generally speaking, the main difference being the distribution in temp anom across the northern tier of the continental US due to El Nino.

    So news stories about daffodils in the northeast US really are about nothing more than an El Nino year. It is the distribution of the temps that indicate the El Nino, making it much warmer than usual in the northeast. The more interesting thing is that both last year and this year at this time, there were temp anom up to nine degrees in the north central US, where I live. And January this year is shaping up very similarly to last year, regardless of El Nino. The consistencies of the high temp anomalies in both Jan 2005 and Jan 2006 says much more about potential climate change to me, than the supposed differences you tried to make a case for by the comparison shown in those two diagrams.

    [Response: I think you’ve missed the point. We’re interested in climate, not weather. So a seasonal meteorological winter mean (DJF) is what we’d really like to look at. We have that for last winter. We don’t have that for this winter yet. The best we can do is look at the winter so far, a bit more than a month long now. The temperature anomalies observed in the northeastern U.S. so far this winter are several times larger than typically observed in even a large El Nino winter, and this is at best a moderate El Nino so far. You are correct that the most prominent anomalies both in last year and this year’s (so far) pattern are in the north central U.S. It is intriguing, if nothing else, that, as shown in the article, this is where the predicted anthropogenic warming is also greatest. -mike]

    Comment by Margie — 10 Jan 2007 @ 10:54 PM

  180. Seeing our phrase “missing the point” struck me kind of funny, because I thought the same thing when writing my original post.

    I knew you were trying to make a comparison to the winter mean, and we aren’t there yet, at the end of the first week in January. But 30-day temp anomalies are usually going to be more extreme than 90-day temp anomalies, so making a comparison between the two is not kosher. By the end of this winter, the 90-day anom probably won’t look so terribly different from a year ago. So, if you compare the Jan 5 2007 30-day mean with the Jan 5 2006 30-day mean (the one I posted), and subsequently also compare the 90-day mean so far, with last year’s, that would be comparing like with like, even if that 90-day mean at this point in time is for the most part OND. Otherwise, wait until the end of Feb to make the comparison with last year’s winter mean temp anomalies.

    Those two images you compare also make it appear that you’re focusing on the higher range of the anomalies, in the northern midwest, not that you’re simply focusing on the northeast. You also don’t say that you’re emphasizing the northeast; you state, “the anomalous winter U.S. warmth.”

    Finally, you also have to consider something about this year’s El Nino. It ramped up really fast, and caught up fast, in spite of the late start. It is so strong right now that the strongest previously-documented El Ninos that exceeded it on this date, going by either the MEI or ONI, can be counted on the fingers of one hand. That could have a bearing on why the amplitude of the anomalies in the northeast is so strong. This (possibly very short-lived) El Nino has been a very impressive one, and has had an equally impressive effect. So trying to leverage the temp anomalies in the northeastern US in this interesting El Nino year, is not going to be a strong argument for warming due to climate, not weather, especially when there are many places in the northern hemisphere that might be more appropriate to look at, where temp anom cannot be so closely tied to the effect of El Nino.

    Comment by Margie — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:12 AM

  181. How strucky Margie,

    1. Go and read the complete article again.

    2. Read the comment from a climate scientist, replying to your statement.

    3. If you think you found something what is not right, than note this to the author but wait before you base a hypothesis on this. Because the way you act here is not science.

    4. This year El Nino is weaking at the momeent.

    5. It is not kosher how you overlooked the basic point, that we dont have a 90 day anomaly chart yet, because of an ongoing season. (Read the comment to your “introduction” post). And that is why temperature varies on the images due to the diffrent time period. Maybe you learned now how to read these images.

    6. Your personal wrong assumption can not downplay the extreme seasonal anomalys. And you should read the complete article when you contribute here to a scientific discurs. (You can’t pin down special weather events – We need to see the big picture and temperature trends.) In fact it is irrelevant too, because this is climate sience – not seasonal weather forcast (Again read the provided comment in your initial post).

    7. And finaly your El-Nino-Anomaly-Weather hypothesis is proofed wrong by measurable data from past and this year El-Nino.

    It is remarkable here how you try to denie global warming. It is hard to understand the full spectrum of consequences to our everyday lifes. Seek here on RC for more infos to understand the big picture, good luck.

    Comment by Margret — 11 Jan 2007 @ 5:07 AM

  182. Re “Anyway, my question is: what are the odds that we are seeing the first signs of a runaway greenhouse effect?”

    Effectively zero. A runaway greenhouse effect is what happens when the oceans boil away, the water vapor is dissociated by the sun, the hydrogen is lost to space and the oxygen combines with the rocks, leading to conditions like those on Venus. There is no prospect of that happening to the Earth any time soon. Triggering geochemical feedbacks even in the worst scenarios only lead to a total warming of 5-10 K. This would be disastrous for humans, but it wouldn’t make the Earth into Venus.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 11 Jan 2007 @ 5:39 AM

  183. Re 131

    If Lovelock is right about us facing a Thermal Maximum and during the course of that we lose civilization then that’s it. Humans would face a permanent stone age with no possibility of advancing to bronze or iron ages again as pretty much all easily accessable ores have already been mined over the millenia. We face an equally grim fate if we fail to phase in alternate sources of energy to oil before it peaks and starts to run out.

    Comment by Kieran Morgan — 11 Jan 2007 @ 6:26 AM

  184. Dear RC

    There are a lot of way of the mark points in this thread it seems to me compared to this time last year and a lot more posts to, getting towards 200+ on the last two alone. This site is becomming popular and although your threads are very scientific and accurate they do not seem to be appeasing a lot of skeptics found here. More skeptics than alarmists to be honest. As I am a english speaking person living in Europe the message from here is more ‘alarmist’ than not, even the EU itself has just released new legislation to lead the way in the cutting CO2 emissions that hopefully when it has been shown to be economically viable the world can and will use. It is this ‘alarmism’ which may have politically motivated the EU and other EU states to try to act on CO2 emissions.

    Is anything going on in the USA in this regard when the message seems more skeptical (right wing patriots – way of life under threat etc) than alarmist (left wing doomongers – cut back on prosperity etc) to me. Are any individual states doing anything as seemingly the government currently are not although I now understand that the democrats plan to now that they have some power to wield.

    Comment by pete best — 11 Jan 2007 @ 7:30 AM

  185. RE: #180

    Hey Margie;

    Looking at the data regarding the NOAA indicated SST anomalies I suggest this El Nino event is nearly dissipated, if you look at the most recent animated weekly Pacific SSTs.

    The reference:

    As to the total amplitude, I disagree, this El Nino was marked with small pools of elevated temperatures and not a contiguous event. The obvious character was of a concentrated region that simply moved along the Equator to dissipate quickly in the Eastern Pacific. It is more likely that this event was either more of a interim indication of an extended El Nino to come or it could be an early release valve such that the energy does not build up.

    I suggest that the question becomes more of whether we are going into a period in which short lived El Nino/La Nina events switch out every year. There is the possibility the former idle periods are going to end and at some level, you will have one or the other event every year.

    It maybe that the old nature that held the higher temperatures in place, that were associated with El Nino events, may have changed in that the heat energy may not rise to the former sustained levels. It may be the widespread intensity of ENSO or SIO events are weakening as examplified in SSTs. Until we have sufficient examples, it is going to be difficult to know.

    Likely or not, we may be able to look to the Arctic for clues. I am now curious whether there may be a mode in which strong sustained NAO events may indicate weaker and short lived ENSO events, likewise the inverse. Much more study is required to see if the correlation (@r2=.49) of ENSO to NAO may have more then one mode. So much to do and so little time�.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 11 Jan 2007 @ 7:57 AM

  186. I found a link to the global December 2006 Land Surface Temperature anomaly,
    from NASA-EOS (thanks to my colleague here at ECMWF) based on satellite measurements of the skin temperature:

    As a caveat though, this is as compared to a 2000-2005 base period and is from MODIS data (the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer).
    You can see that, as stated above in one of the previous comments, the northern hemishpere land masses were anomalously warm, but the same is not true for the southern hemisphere. I’m more of a satellite person than a climate person so I can’t really say this is more or less attributable to El Nino or AGW or whatever, but it is interesting I think.

    Comment by Chris O'Dell — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:00 AM

  187. Re: #165, to Barton Paul Levenson:
    As them for their math, I think they have it.

    Comment by Dr. J — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:28 AM

  188. This topic has come up in media I frequent twice within recent days. The Chicago Tribune had a front page article attributing the anomalously warm weather in the US this winter clearly to global warming. Although El Nino was mentioned in passing, the article totally ignored any subtlties. The other was an interview on NPR of Michael Mann, who was described as ‘a meterologist’. He did the best he could with the questions he was asked, and I’m sure they edited it eliminating some extra illuminating comments. But I was disappointed that they didn’t spend more time on it. Also, characterizing him as ‘a meterologist’ seemed to me the understatement of the year, and probably annoyed the NOAA people no end.

    [Response: Thanks for your comment Leonard. For those who are interested, the interview is available online here (click on “listen” link). In NPR’s defense, my primary appointment at Penn State is in the Department of Meteorology (and my Ph.D training was largely in that subject area). Also in NPR’s defense, while they did indeed cut some (and so my “dice rolling” analogy didn’t get described in sufficient detail), they did devote a good 5 minutes to this, on a day when there was lots of other new to discuss. As an aside, I found Robert Siegel to be an unusually affable interviewer. -mike]

    Comment by Leonard Evens — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:34 AM

  189. re 180:


    Your point seems to be that, if the anomaly comparison were apples-to-apples, then the 2005-2006 anomaly would be just as dramatic as the 2006-2007 anomaly. Interesting…considering that 2005-2006 was a La Nina winter. I can only presume that you are therefore arguing that ENSO has no effect whatever on the anomaly, since it is just as pronounced during La Nina as during El Nino.

    In other words, your point directly contradicts your conclusion in the following paragraphs.

    Comment by Dan Allan — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:41 AM

  190. Hi – I see some want to know the european story. Well, my good collegues at the norwegian met-office has viewed 2006 in a century perspective ( . only in norwegian but the graphs should be easy grasp). As bottom line, 2006 is the warmest year on record (el nino or no el nino). December 2006 is represnted by really huge anomalies. We also see evidence of ‘polar amplification’ when we consider Spitsbergen. December had mean temperatures up to 9 deg C above normal and 2006 was 1.3 deg warmer than any previous year measured (back to 1912), including the warm 1930’s and was 5 deg. C above normal.

    And point is? As neatly stated by Mike above, anthropogenic effects are not to be used as explanation for the exact temperature-pattern this day, month or winter as little as ENSO should be used to explain the global warming over the last century.
    when the global mean goes up – the extreme anomalies will follow if the amplitude remains stable. Now, that may of course not be the case.

    greetings from bergen on the 75th concequtive day of precipitation!

    Comment by Oyvind L — 11 Jan 2007 @ 10:06 AM

  191. RE: #187

    Hey Dr. J;

    Actually, we have had a fairly long discussion regarding the study by Dr. Scafetta on this site this past Fall. The indications are that there reamins additional work to be done, as the periodic events that Dr. Scafetta linked to did not seem to have a valid reflection in down-welling measurements. Even if you apply the Granger Causuality lag for the statiscical verification the period detected by the ACRIM experimental package did not match up with the observed data. I had even sugested to Dr. Scafetta, when he visited us at Elon, that the character of the coupling of the insolation to the observations appeared questionable and that might be worthy of review.

    Dr. Scafetta continues to try to demonstrate what is in character a capacitive coupling or a near linear rise to a peak and then a drop. My point was the input was more similar to an inductive coupling in which there was very little change until a point in which a variable achieved maximum capacity and then the level would quickly rise and just as quickly fade out. (More of a reflection of the input energy.)

    The point is the insolation may not be directly measureable. Instead it may be that the increasing energy level of a variable has a separate period. (Similar to how you can ring a conductor with a pulse of shorter amplitude.) In addition, with the simple TOA solar constant 1-3% variability and the 13 Deg. C to 20 Deg. C average ambient surface varibility window, with a 0.6 Deg. C noted increase or approximately an 8.6% increase does not seem to track very closely.

    However, that was only my interpetation, Dr. Benestad and others here seem to have other concerns. In the meantime, I have been reviewing the site for the past 6 years and have not seen a dramatic change at in the surface down-welling detected in either the longwave or the shortwave bands. I am hoping the recent changes in the pyrometers, as to having a more descrete bandwidth and a wider spectrum, may provide a better indication of radiative budget effects. On the other hand we still have additional work to do regarding the ICME and CR correlations.

    Do you have additional observations you would like to explore in regards to the solar participation? If so it is possible that Dr. Schmidt or Dr. Benestad may be willing to entertain a review of this in another thread, providing there is new or improved data to be discussed.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 11 Jan 2007 @ 10:13 AM

  192. Re: #145

    Right, and there is still another problem with Christy and Spencer’s results for the Antarctic. In a paper in the GRL, I pointed to a difference between sonde data and the 2LT in the seasonal cycle. See:

    “R. E. Swanson (2003), “Potential error source in Microwave Sounding Unit tropospheric temperature trends due to sea-ice influence in polar regions”, doi:10.1029/2003GL017938.

    Alao, as far as I’ve been able to learn, Spencer and Christy never actually documented the method which they used to produce their 2LT algorithm. I suspect it’s based on the lapse rate found in the U.S. Standard Atmosphere, which is rather off-base over the polar regions. The folks at RSS who produced another analysis of the MSU using the 2LT process do not include any results southward of 70S, noting the impact of the high surface elevations there. Yet, Christy continues to post his analytical result, even though it may be flawed. Not only that, but Christy is frequently quoted in media reports, whereas the other workers in the field are mostly bypassed.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 11 Jan 2007 @ 10:39 AM

  193. I occasionally look at the data for daily record temperatures which are reported through the U.S. NWS. The last few weeks have been rather interesting as the record warmth was quite a bit above previous records. This is weather, of course, but still, there are often more than 100 years of data included in some of the records.

    What I found most interesting was the occurrence of a string of record high MINIMUM temperatures lately at Key West, FL. This location is far out in the Gulf of Mexico and very near the Florida Current, which “drains” the Gulf of Mexico and loops around the East Coast of Florida. The flow continues to the north, eventually becoming the Gulf Stream as it turns towards the east off North Carolina. My guess is that the current is also rather warm, perhaps the result of the lack of large tropical storms over the Gulf last season. The latest northward flows of warm, moist air may also be related to extra thermal energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico.

    Just a thought from a non-expert…

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 11 Jan 2007 @ 10:50 AM

  194. RE: #193

    Hey Mr. Swanson;

    Actually, I suspect that the GOM may be a bit cooler this year then even last year. Not that the temperatures are lower then normal, just fewer temperatures higher then normal. Take a look and compare the last few years AM/PM values and share your observations. (The historic data is under the specific regional images…) (BTW: Take a look at the Caribbean Basin near Cuba, even here there appears less of a ramp up this year, of course this is just the beginning of the season. The real clue is going to be to observe the GOM and Eastern Caribbean results in late Feb through early Apr.)

    The reference:

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 11 Jan 2007 @ 11:22 AM

  195. Is there a metric for the “amount” of weather?

    By this I mean weather as defined as the varinace from the expectation (climate) of temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed , etc., at a particular location, date and time.

    Such a metric would not suffer from cold spells aguing against the evidence of hot spells etc. It would be the square (always positive) of the amplitude of the difference from the mean (climate) that would be significant.

    Obviously this would not measure climatic change in the sense that it is normally considered, but an increase might indicate the system is moving into a higher gear with more work being done due to the increased energy available.

    Personally I fear that initially and in the short term it will be the weather that will cause as all a lot of grief.

    It may turn out that we are not longer able to predict the weather and the seasons in the way that we, and the rest of nature, are used to. If so, systems both agricutural and ecological might just start breaking down.

    I realise that freak weather events are counted and catalogued but I was thinking about something a bit more general and continuous than that.

    So is such a metric currently available?

    Comment by Alexander Harvey — 11 Jan 2007 @ 11:44 AM

  196. No way to get my comment through. What’s wrong with it?
    Anyway, it’s to late for the answer, forget it and continue censoring your blog.

    [we’re not sure what comment you’re referring to]

    Comment by Gaudenz Mischol — 11 Jan 2007 @ 11:57 AM

  197. If the predictions as little as thirty years ago came true, there would be no oil left in the ground and the ozone layer would cover only one fourth of the earth. There was no talk of human induced global warming back then, only of stopping the aerosols. Any scientist can make a case for global warming or not, just as many intellectuals can make a case for intelligent design. While I hesitate to call proponents of intelligent design idiots, I also hesitate to call intelligent people who believe climate change is not human induced names as well. The human race is on the verge of new paridigms in space and technology, but socially we are still in the 600’s. The intelligent scientist as well as the moron will perish side by side as the earths atmosphere and terrestial biology disconnect.

    Comment by Paul M — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:08 PM

  198. I been posting three times (including the last one).
    Here it is again:
    Re 84: dy you really believe, climat was so stable during the last 2000 years (believing in the HockeyStick Curve)?
    Everybody who is interested in historical climatology, which ist perhaps more known in Europe, will see that there have been quite important flucutations in the climate and men has been able to adapt to it.
    With this statement I do not mean to continue in business as usual, but I would not expect the climate to stay “stable” by cutting down our CO2-emissions.
    And up for now we have no real alternative for fossil fuel to cover our demand on energy and as we as men and women are not that good at limiting our energy cosumption without external forcing (hopefully not from climate change), I don’t see no solution so far.

    [Response: Read our comment policy focusing on item #7 , and you will understand why comments like this often don’t make it through. You repeat specious talking points that have been debunked countless times before on this site. In short, your comments adds “noise” not “signal”. It was admitted this time only to make a point. -mike]

    Comment by Gaudenz Mischol — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:11 PM

  199. RE: #177 – Noting also, the collective impact of convective activity in both the West Equatorial Pacific Warm Pool as well as the East Indian Ocean. Consider them as sort of a “dipole transmitter” capable of greatly affecting the global heat engine. ENSO is only one element of the system.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:37 PM

  200. RE: #184 – in fact, in the US there is a massive forward momentum in terms of what I’d term “stealth” anti GHG efforts. It is more action than talk. It is being led more by the business community than government (and to fend off the predictable “Exxon” this and that, Exxon is but one company – overall, corporate America are true believers in killer AGW – I know, I am part of one that is). Not if but when the US quietly invests in cap and trade, and even more draconian emission controls than found in the EU, you will see the true magnitude of this.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:42 PM

  201. Barton Paul Levenson wrote: “A runaway greenhouse effect is what happens when the oceans boil away, the water vapor is dissociated by the sun, the hydrogen is lost to space and the oxygen combines with the rocks, leading to conditions like those on Venus.”

    There was a thread a while back on RC about the meaning of terms like “runaway” greenhouse effect. What I took from that discussion is that “runaway greenhouse effect” is not a scientifically-defined term and thus may be legitimately used with different meanings, but people should be certain to be specific about what they mean when they use such phrases.

    I think the person who posed the question of whether we are seeing the early signs of a “runaway greenhouse effect” may have been definining it in the way that I do, namely, a greenhouse effect that has been increased by anthropogenic GHG emissions to the point where the resultant heating triggers self-reinforcing feedbacks (e.g. release of carbon & methane from melting permafrost, decreased polar albedo from melting sea ice, die-off of oceanic phytoplankton, etc) that are then entirely beyond human control and will continue to increase the greenhouse effect and heat the Earth’s biosphere to the point of global ecological catastrophe (e.g. mass extinction of much, or most, of life on Earth, as has happened in the past) even if humans ceased all anthropogenic GHG emissions.

    It seems to me that this process need not proceed to the Venusian scenario to be properly characterized as a “runaway greenhouse effect”.

    And in the sense that I defined the phrase above, I would say it seems to me very likely that we are seeing the early stages of a “runaway greenhouse effect” because the feedbacks that I mentioned are, in fact, all being observed already.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:47 PM

  202. Perhaps assigning numbers to each such argument, with the refutation as a link, such as:

    Do you really believe climate was so stable during the last 2000 years = 7

    Believing the hockey stick curve = 19.

    So that #198 could be replaced by

    Michol posts #7 and #19.

    would suffice. It would lead to some interesting dialog: #22. No #4. I disagree it is clearly #17.

    Comment by Eli Rabett — 11 Jan 2007 @ 12:48 PM

  203. Re: #194

    Dave Cooke,

    Yes, I do think it’s rather strange that the data from Key West is indicating record temperatures for January, while the SST anomaly data from satellites shows below average temperatures.

    In a event report from Key West, it was noted that:


    The day before, they reported:



    Since Key West is a small island surrounded by lots of ocean, it’s unlikely that this warmth is in any way the result of mankind’s influence. Of course, the instrument used to take the measurement may be faulty in some way. However, there were also a few instances of record warmth reported from other locations in South Florida as well.

    There’s another winter storm brewing in the U.S. Mid-West. Looks like another warm/wet mix as it’s raining over the Southern Plains and snowing towards the north. Rain in January?? I’d better get the snow shovel ready again.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 11 Jan 2007 @ 1:31 PM

  204. #202 (Modest Proposal) That is just about the funniest thing I’ve read on RC. More so for being much in the spirit of what goes on here. Though serious most of the time, some of the common denialist claptrap verges on comedy. Especially when they #8 and #42 in the same post, with strawman #11s for good measure. You gotta love that!

    Comment by cat black — 11 Jan 2007 @ 1:32 PM

  205. re #200 (“stealth” anti-GHG) In fact, I’ve been watching and wondering what the insurance industry is going to do. I understand they’ve been quietly collecting data and rejiggering their actuarial databases to factor in *anticipated* losses from massive hurricanes, coastal flooding in urban areas, and who knows what else (they don’t want to discuss it, obviously) in what I imagine is a mad scramble to cover their soon-to-be mounting loses. I further imagine that their industry, while rich, is perhaps on the verge of becoming extinct, or maybe a luxury item, when they become squeezed between what people can actually pay in premiums verses the real losses the industry must absorb. Certainly we can’t expect wages and income to go up just because insurance prices rocket. And if the insurance industry prices you out of the market you can bet it’s for a reason, and that should be all the signal you need to get the hell out of the way of whatever they *know* is coming.

    Comment by cat black — 11 Jan 2007 @ 1:45 PM

  206. RE #178 & “New Zeland Cooling”…

    And not a moment too soon! Apparently there are huge amounts of methane clathrates off NZ’s coast (a potential time bomb) that could really jumpstart runaway (from human) heating conditions. See:

    So let’s hope this cooling trend continues (which even if it does, does not a GLOBAL cooling trend make, of course).

    And BTW, re #178, I think it’s just fine for laypersons to use the term “runaway warming,” since we tend to think in human & not geological or venusian terms. As I’ve mentioned many times before, “runaway” does not in and of itself indicate permanent runaway, but could indicate limited runaway (or positive feedback situations) that eventually stops, stabilizes, then reverses. So, to me, when speaking about earth in the current epoch, any mention of “runaway warming” would refer to this limited type, while speaking of earth, say, 3 or 4 billion years in the future, perhaps the term “runaway” might indicate something more like what’s happening on Venus.

    The point is we laypersons NEED A WORD for this, something simple, and the problem with “positive feedback situation” or even more scientific jargony & lengthy phrases and sentences to capture the same meaning would lose the audience after the first 2 words. Another problem is that “positive” feedback, sounds like something good, and people may not understand it. There are lots of people who still think GW has to do with hairspray causing an ozone hole; and now some may be confusing GW with el nino….since these 2 are mentioned in the same news stories these days.

    And I think “runaway” is something people can understand. People do understand the idea when a horse runs away with a rider, or when a kid releases the parking brakes by mistake or mischief and the car starts rolling downhill, with no one to stop it, except a tree or house. I don’t think people automatically think of “runaway” as necessarily being a permanent state; more often than not the thing stops or gets stopped.

    If you can think of a better word than “runaway warming” for this positive feedback situation (carbon emissions–>GW–>more carbon emissions–more GW–>still more carbon emissions…and so on until it stabilizes and reverses), then please let me know. And “Rumplestilskin” is not okay.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Jan 2007 @ 1:51 PM

  207. A view at the NCEP Reanalysis data (thanks to Ilewelly for the nice link, NCEP Reanalysis Derived data provided by the NOAA/OAR/ESRL PSD, Boulder, Colorado, USA, from their Web site at shows the following:
    – Over the last five years (2002-2006), December temperature anomalies (compared to 1961-1990) were most positive over the Arctic, especially around Spitsbergen, over the Northern part of North America and Northern Europe, most pronounced over Western Canada (5 to 7 K). December 2006 had the same centers of positive anomaly (Spitsbergen, Western Canada and Scandinavia), but more pronounced (7 to 14K) with strong positive anomalies extending farther into the midlatitudes (including Siberia) and slight negative anomalies over the Arctic sea ice.
    – January temperature anomalies over the last five years were most positive over the Arctic Sea Ice and Spitsbergen and to a smaller extent over the U.S.
    – There are no persistent patterns for monthly means, neither over the 5 years nor over the winter months, although Western Canada and Spitsbergen have strong positive anomalies during most of the winter months of the last 5 years.
    – The winter mean (DJF) over the last five years shows (accordingly) strongest warm anomalies around the North Pole and Spitsbergen, and to a lesser extent over Western Canada and over the sea East and West from Greenland.
    Thus: The geographical patterns mostly seem to be �weather�, the long-term signal is consistent with polar amplification of global warming. Maximum regional anomalies for individual months are stronger in the last two years than the three years before.

    Winter (DJF) trends of spatial averages since 1970 are
    – North of 75N: 0.83K/decade
    – North of 60N: 0.57K/decade
    – North of 45N: 0.47K/decade
    – 60-75N: 0.51/decade
    – 45-60N: 0.39/decade

    Thats what the NCEP2 reanalysis says. However, I have some troubles with the NCEP data concerning the Alpine area. The measurements show a winter trend for Switzerland since 1970 of about 0.4K/decade while the NCEP data has a slightly negative trend. I will have to ask the specialists at NOAA…

    Comment by Urs Neu — 11 Jan 2007 @ 2:02 PM

  208. #195 [weather metrics] Here in California, today and the rest of the week we’re having record cold. It’s being handled as severe weather, with a radio announcement from the Governor and everything. This comes on the tail of eerie, record warmth the several weeks prior. I can predict now that denialists will say “oh look now it’s record cold again! it’s just weather!” but even the NWS is saying that this cold snap is Arctic air, which CA almost NEVER sees. Our prevailing winds come off the Pacific Ocean, which for 2 years running has had an anomolous SST some several degrees F warmer than usual just off our shores. I don’t know what the SSTs are now, but having Artic air blowing in from a strange direction and killing the citrus and any plants that were blooming in the unseasonal warmth is just as weird as the warm days before. Point being, we’re seeing savage, wild swings of the weather pendulum this week and it is looking *real* scary here in the mid-latitudes.

    Comment by cat black — 11 Jan 2007 @ 2:04 PM

  209. > numbers
    This would certainly facilitate playing Global Warming Skeptic Bingo.

    >Key West is a small island surrounded by lots of ocean, it’s unlikely
    >that this warmth is in any way the result of mankind’s influence

    Human activity warms the oceans; warm oceans warm the islands they surround.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2007 @ 2:21 PM

  210. RE: #203

    Hey Eric;

    Actually, there was a small tongue about 82 to 80 Deg. W and 25 to 28 Deg. N of warmth that whipped around through the Straights of Florida about the time you have marked. However, the short duration of such an event is not representative of anything special. Though it would be interesting if you had an explanation of what contributed to this small anomaly.

    This only goes to reinforce Dr. Mann’s earlier call for a reduction in the discussion of one off events and a reference to the “loaded dice theorem”. Variations in patterns are normal, that an average temperature is given only establishes the middle of the range. It is when you look at the range that you begin to discuss possible GW drivers. Though the high and low temperatures for a day temperature may be between 76 and 38, they average out to 57 Deg. F and so do 67 and 47 Deg. F.

    Where 67 and 47 Deg. F may not be abnormal, 76 for the high or 38 Deg. F for the low may be cause for concern, as they are less likely to occur; hence, the concern over long term shifts, not spot events. The problem with using averages is that the indicated change when you have a lot of data points is there is an abnormal weighing of the average towards the middle.

    This is part of why what is considered normal is determined to be within windows of time, for which the recent trends are not over burdened with a long history of values reducing the impact of the variation. Another way to point to interesting trends is to look at the high temperature for a specific date averaged over many years. However, the greatest impact is looking at the range of historic temperatures and checking the trend for recent temperatures within that range for a given date or for a collection of subsequent dates.

    (Sorry for monopolizing this post today, I will step back and watch to see what others have to say on the subject of temperature trending of observed patterns versus unknown; but, suspected sources. Have a great day y’all!)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 11 Jan 2007 @ 2:27 PM

  211. >203
    > … Key West is indicating record temperatures for January,
    > while the SST anomaly data from satellites shows below average….

    You’ve given us a link to the December _2003_ SST anomaly data.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2007 @ 2:48 PM

  212. Current and archive for SST anomaly maps:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  213. Eric, please see NCDC’s week of jan 3, 2007 SST anomaly. (Thaks to Hank Roberts and Cooke for pointing out other issues with your post).

    Comment by llewelly — 11 Jan 2007 @ 3:22 PM

  214. I suspect that “runaway” is often used as an (inaccurate) synonym for “rapid”. Looking at the figures in #207, you could make a case for a “rapid” shift in climate, at least as perceived by anyone living in the relevant regions. Which leads to the problem of definition. If climate is defined by a 30 year average, changed once a decade, how do you describe a climate shift where the underlying rate of change is significantly faster? In the case of Urs’ figures there is confirmation of projections and a hint of faster change more recently. The layman. seeing this, may conclude that climate has changed, is changing, and that the rate of change is increasing. This could be described as “runaway”, and – frankly – I wouldn’t blame them.

    Comment by Gareth — 11 Jan 2007 @ 4:08 PM

  215. As I view it, climate is the average of the weather. So climate change cannot cause a change in the weather. Rather, changes in the weather are reflected in changes in the climate. It’s like in baseball. A hitter might be a great hitter and hit .400. But the fact that he hits .400 doesn’t make him get the hits. Weather is the hits, climate is the batting average.

    [Response: Nice analogy. One could take it a step further. Greenhouse gases are to the climate as steroids are to the batting average. If a player on steroids hits a home run, you’ll never know if it was because he was taking the steroids. However, the use of steroids is likely to be clearly reflected in an improved batting average. In baseball, steroids have of course been banned. -mike]

    Comment by Mike Burnett — 11 Jan 2007 @ 4:18 PM

  216. Re: # 210, 211, 212, 213

    Thanks guys. I somehow went from David Cooke’s link in #185 back to 2003. But compare:


    That last one shows a warm “hook” between Cuba and New Orleans, which is probably the loop which has been reported in the Florida Current as the flow shifts back from the flow entering the Gulf from the Caribbean Sea. One is left to wonder why the two versions appear different.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 11 Jan 2007 @ 5:18 PM

  217. “I think the person who posed the question of whether we are seeing the early signs of a “runaway greenhouse effect” may have been definining it in the way that I do, namely, a greenhouse effect that has been increased by anthropogenic GHG emissions to the point where the resultant heating triggers self-reinforcing feedbacks.”

    Thanx #201, this is indeed the way I meant it. Was not thinking of Venusivian catastrophes. Runaway simply means self-reinforcing, or, perhaps ironically, ‘positive’ feedback that we humans can’t control anymore. So one question here, why are all the feedback mechanisms ‘positive’? Why aren’t there feedback mechanisms that work the other way, ie towards cooling? Or are there? Or can we create some?

    And also, is the current dramatically warm weather in Europe and North America mirrored anywhere else on the planet? Ie, has most of the planet been way above average in recent months, or are significant other sections below average?

    Then, according to the World Development Movement (,,1984815,00.html) the UK began emitting more carbon than is sustainable in 1830. It seems that we’re over our heads in it, and given the way our political systems work, our societies won’t make any dramatic changes in emissions until catastrophes have already happened…

    In this context, is there anyone here who thinks we have realistic chances of turning this whole thing around? Or are most of you in agreement with Lovelock, who predicts Armageddon? In the latter case, what do people suggest? Everyone intelligent move to Canada and Norway in the next few years? But I haven’t heard of mass migration among climatologists, so…

    Comment by Jodro — 11 Jan 2007 @ 5:21 PM

  218. RE #214, yes, I think we should talk about “rapid” warming, if applicable, but “runaway” is something much more than that. For instance, if human GHG emissions are causing this current warming, then we might expect more rapid human GHG emissions to cause more rapid warming. The warming would still be under human control — just reduce emissions and the warming would reduce.

    In a limited runaway scenario (which some scientists refer to as “hysteresis,” and it is the main focus of Lovelock’s REVENGE OF GAIA), at some point the increasing warming caused by human emissions would trigger nature to start (net) emitting GHGs. Maybe you could say that the warming is “forcing” the GHG emissions from nature, such as warming causing GHG emissions by melting permafrost & frozen ocean methane clathrates. And the warming might cause other effects that feed back into further increased warming — such as (1) heat, drought, floods, ocean acidification, GW wind-whipped brush fires killing plants that would have absorbed CO2, and (2) human-induced warming melting snow and ice (which we know reflects light & heat back away from earth), leaving darker soil and ocean, which absorb heat and lead to further warming, leading to further ice/snow melt. One could do an experiment to prove this — just place a black blanket over some snow and a white blanket over some snow, and see which one melts faster. Oh, yeh, a lot of typically snowy places don’t have snow this year. Well, I’m sure there’s some other experiment one could do.

    So the point is, runaway in lay terms means “runaway from human control” (people in general would be more interested in this than “permanent runaway” warming on Venus or on earth 4 billion years from now).

    In the rapid warming scenario, it’s still within human control. All we have to do is cut back at any time to reduce the warming. In the runaway warming scenario — even if it isn’t as rapid as the “rapid scenario” — the situation is in the long run a lot more dangerous. It means there’s a point at which even if humans go down to zero GHG emissions, the warming we have caused to that date will trigger nature into an upward spiral of warming, perhaps making lots of species go extinct and killing off large chunks of humanity. I’m not sure how fast this would happen, once this point it reached, but past such “limited runaway” warmings happened over thousands of years, stablized at very hot for 80,000 to 200,000, then gradually returned to “normal” (like today’s conditions). The PETM 55,000 mya & end-Permian 251,000 mya are examples of this type of “limited runaway” warming of which we speak.

    So it’s not the “rapid” that is ultimately as dangerous as the “runaway,” even though “regular” AGW — which we can reduce by reducing our GHG emissions — promises to be very harmful indeed.

    Maybe a good analogy would be this: “regular” warming is like heating one’s house with a thermostat…Junior keeps turning it up (people emitting GHGs), so it keeps getting hotter, until Mom comes and turns it back down (gets people to reduce their GHGs), and the heat goes down. In “runaway” warming, Junior keeps going back and turning up the thermostat, until the heat gets to be so much it short-circuits something and the house goes up in flames — and the fire rages out of control, engulfing many houses around it (making many species go extinct); eventually the fire burns out and after many many years someone comes and builds a new house.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 11 Jan 2007 @ 5:44 PM

  219. > # 210, 211, 212, 213
    You got to the image from 2003 by clicking the back-link on the page mentioned in #185 — it should go ‘up’ to 2006. It goes to 2003 instead; I emailed their webmaster. Good catch, ‘tho _it_ caught _you_.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2007 @ 6:02 PM

  220. #197 Paul M., The human race is on the verge of new paridigms in space and technology, but socially we are still in the 600’s. The intelligent scientist as well as the moron will perish side by side as the earths atmosphere and terrestial biology disconnect.

    Couldn’t said it better, thanks.

    Sincerly, Plato

    Comment by Plato — 11 Jan 2007 @ 6:11 PM

  221. Eric, the base period of those two SST anomaly maps is quite different. The first (NCDC) uses a 1971-2000 base period, whle the second (OSPD) uses ‘1984-1993, with SST observations from the years 1991 and 1992 omitted due to aerosol contamination from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.’

    Comment by llewelly — 11 Jan 2007 @ 6:19 PM

  222. re #205: Regarding my post about insurance companies running for cover, this little gem just popped up in my inbox:

    Regarding the verdict (and the threat of punitive damages), Robert Hartwig, chief economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York, said “It adds even more cost and more uncertainty to the other problems that already exist in the Mississippi homeowners insurance market.”

    Read: If the courts make us pay, we might not be able to insure.

    You read it here first.

    Comment by cat black — 11 Jan 2007 @ 6:31 PM

  223. Re: #217

    … is there anyone here who thinks we have realistic chances of turning this whole thing around?

    I think we have a realistic chance of averting Lovelockian disaster. Don’t get the wrong impression; it’s gonna be bad. But we may be able to avert the worst case.

    Perhaps the best way to accomplish this is to make global warming the #1 issue at the voting booth. When politicians are faced with extinction…

    Comment by Grant — 11 Jan 2007 @ 7:08 PM

  224. These statistical conventions sound “scientific”, but are they? No, they are just another language code. The sentence “one warm season can’t be attributed to climate change” is the same as a historian, fx. a roman historian in 410 saying: “one lost battle can’t be attributed to our Empire collapsing.” Or a scientist studying mudslides saying “just one tiny particle slipping away can’t be attributed to a whole mudslide taking place.”

    The problem is this: we think we know what climate change is, based on geological records, meteorological etc. But we don’t. Our thirty years averages are pure statistical convention. Because the globe has problably never seen as fast a rise in CO2 levels as happening now before – we can’t know anything about what they’ll mean to the global climate. This has never happened before. Maybe climate change/warming by now is growing so fast, because the atmosphere has crossed a threshold, that the effects are litterally exploding from year to year. We haven’t got the time to wait and see, the risk is too huge. We must act before we know for sure.

    Comment by Occam — 11 Jan 2007 @ 7:55 PM

  225. Re: #224

    Because the globe has problably never seen as fast a rise in CO2 levels as happening now before – we can’t know anything about what they’ll mean to the global climate.

    I think the point is, in large part, valid, that we are in unexplored territory and it’s very difficult to “expect the unexpected.”

    But it’s not impossible. The history of science is replete with predictions of phenomena which had never before been observed or even conceived of. The existence of antimatter is one example.

    I’m not saying we know enough about climate to predict reliably its future course. There’s a lot we don’t know. But there’s a lot we do know. Your statement seems dangerously close to the “we don’t know everything, so we don’t know anything” argument (which usually comes from denialists).

    So while I agree that there are likely some big surprises to come from rising CO2 levels, in my opinion there are some things that we can reliably predict. Mainly this: it’s gonna get hot in here.

    Comment by Grant — 11 Jan 2007 @ 8:12 PM

  226. Re: #215

    Both nice analogies.

    Forgive me if I can’t resist taking it another step further: And the fossil fuel companies and their political allies are like the steroid pushers?

    Comment by Peter Backes — 11 Jan 2007 @ 8:22 PM

  227. Exxon may be warming to greenhouse gas rules
    Reuters, January 11, 2007

    Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and other groups [e.g. TCS Daily] that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions. Last year, CEI ran advertisements, featuring a little girl playing with a dandelion, that downplayed the risks of carbon dioxide emissions…

    “The fact that Exxon is trying to debate solutions, instead of whether climate change even exists, represents an important shift,” said Andrew Logan, a climate expert at Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmentalists that works with companies to cut climate change risks.

    In a report last year on how oil majors are addressing global warming emissions, Ceres gave Exxon a 35 — the worst score. Oil majors BP Plc and Royal Dutch Shell got 90 and 79, respectively.

    Comment by Rhampton — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:14 PM

  228. RE: #222 Jury awarded the policyholders $2.5mm in punitive damages. On to the Fifth Circuit, undoubtedly.

    Comment by Guest — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:23 PM

  229. Re #217

    Like Europe and North America, Australia too is experiencing extreme climate.

    See the “2006 Annual Climate Statement from the Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology “ for a short but informative summary of what came our way last year.

    2006 was the 6th hottest on record (averaged across the continent). In the drought stricken southeast we had record warm daytime temperatures.

    However, it is the rainfall that is behaving really anomalously.

    The Annual rainfall deciles for 2006 map within the above climate statement demonstrates this really well. regions in the far south west and east have experienced their lowest rainfall on record (on top of five years or more of low to very low rainfall in many areas). In the north and west the rainfall is very much above average or highest on record.

    Of course this could all just be a statistical hiccup being hyped up by climate alarmists at Australian Bureau of Meteorology!

    Comment by Craig Allen — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:29 PM

  230. To veer back on topic:

    January 11, 2007

    “… The upper ocean heat content since April 2006 has been modulated by oceanic Kelvin waves …. Four distinct Kelvin waves have occurred in the last nine months (Fig. 4), with the amplitude of each wave exceeding that of its predecessor. The most recent Kelvin wave (bottom of Fig. 4) reached the west coast of South America during the last half of December 2006, resulting in a warming of the subsurface and surface waters along the coasts of Ecuador and northern Peru.

    “… In the absence of any further Kelvin wave activity, the upper-ocean heat content should return to near average in a few months. However, there is considerable uncertainty in this outlook, given the resurgence of MJO activity in late December 2006. It is possible that the enhanced precipitation phase of the MJO, which is currently entering the western tropical Pacific, might trigger a more persistent pattern of cloudiness and precipitation over the anomalously warm waters of the central equatorial Pacific during the next several weeks. If that occurs, then the equatorial easterlies over the central Pacific will likely weaken possibly leading to the initiation of a fifth Kelvin wave. …”

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 11 Jan 2007 @ 9:47 PM

  231. Re: 15 Mike Burnette and Mike’s response

    Analogies work. Trial lawyers use them to explain to explain complex topics to people who are not familiar with them.

    I personally like sports analogies. The batting average is a very good one. Weather is like one game, where climate is like a season. For example, to determine who wins the batting title you have to look at who had the highest batting average over the entire season, not just a few games.

    The extremists on both ends who are like fans who insist their favorite teams are going to win the championship (insert world cup, super bowl, world series etc. ;) ) even though their teams have no chance of winning.

    Finally cherry picking is like gathering all the MLB films that show all the times that Cal Ripken Jr struck out out then arguing that he should not be in the hall of fame, but if you look at his entire career its a no brainer that he should be in the baseball hall of fame

    But as for analogies for someone who is not a sports fan, I have not thought up good ones yet :)

    Comment by Joseph O'Sullivan — 12 Jan 2007 @ 2:38 AM

  232. Germany and europe experiencing strong storms …
    Watch the video stream, almost unreal scenes.,1518,459240,00.html

    Comment by Jonathan — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:46 AM

  233. I have noticed that the study concentrate on the effect of el nino on north america,have there been any study done on its effect on other parts of the world such as the middle east. Many thanks

    Comment by mohammed abdulrahman — 12 Jan 2007 @ 5:58 AM

  234. Re 215


    You wrote “nice analogy” in reply to your namesake Mike Burnett, who had written “climate is the average of the weather” and then went on to compare climate to batting averages. It is a nice analogy of climate but not of the climate system. There is a confusion between climate, as average weather, and the climate system which at a local level is more like an El Nino. The climate is found by taking the average over 30 years, but the climate system can change within as short a period as three years. See Richard Alley’s description of the ending of the Yonger Dryas in his book “The Two Mile Time Machine.”

    Section 1.1.1 of the IPCC TAR concludes “We must understand the climate system, the complicated system consisting of various components, including the dynamics and composition of the atmosphere, the ocean, the ice and snow cover, the land surface and its features, the many mutual interactions between them, and the large variety of physical, chemical and biological processes taking place in and among these components. â��Climateâ�� in a wider sense refers to the state of the climate system as a whole, including a statistical description of its variations.” So although the IPCC recogises the difference, they are still mixing up the statistics with the system. That is why the Heretical Concensus of the IPCC are falling out with the Realists who know that the climate is a dynamical system. (Don’t confuse RealClimate-ists with Climate Realists. They are the complete opposite!)

    The problem is that the ordinary scientist understands statistics, but is unfamiliar with feedback. Thus he can visualise a smooth transition that happens when negative feedback predominates, but has no concept of the abrupt change that can happen when positive feedback takes over. This is partly due to the fact that he has never expeienced rapid change. When positive feedbacks dominate the system is unstable. It then rapidly changes until a new stable state is reached. There it remains. Thus a system does not spend 50% of time with positive feedback and 50% with negative feedback. This would imply that it is unstable 50% of the time. Most of the time the system is stable, and only unstable for very short periods. No one living has experienced unstable climate, so they believe it cannot happen.

    However, a few scientists know from past climates that rapid climate change can happen, for instance Richard Alley, Wally Broecker, and James Lovelock. It is time you RealClimate-ists came out of your safe concensus bunker and joined the climate realist who can see the dangers facing the world.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jan 2007 @ 9:12 AM

  235. Re:195. “Is there a metric for the “amount” of weather?
    By this I mean weather as defined as the varinace from the expectation (climate) of temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed , etc., at a particular location, date and time.”

    I’m in favour of an index of extreme or anomalous weather events. I thought of an acronym for it. Planetary heuristic of weather events, or PHEW!

    Comment by Sally — 12 Jan 2007 @ 9:18 AM

  236. With reference to the discussion about sea surface temperatures I would like to see a critique of the various sites available online. My personal favourite is where you can get archived charts by going to the home page.

    Comment by Sally — 12 Jan 2007 @ 9:30 AM

  237. A “runaway greenhouse effect” to my naive understanding happens when the feedbacks from CO2 forcing eclipse the size of the CO2 forcing itself. I don’t know if that’s possible.

    Comment by Jeffrey Davis — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:01 AM

  238. RE: # 233

    Hey al-Sayyid Abdulrahman;

    There are a few studies available from the and in the annual summaries there appears to be some references in the sites. However, as to extensive studies in regards to near equatorial countries other then South America (because it would directly be affected), ENSO or SIO events have not, to date, demonstrated a definitive global impact.

    Activity in the Nile Valley, South Africa, the Horn of Africa, some regions of Iran, Yemen, and Western India do have some studies as relates to patterns in the western Indian Ocean. The question is whether the effects of ENSO are a global signal or more of a regional event.

    Based on the newest evidence, it appears that there is a possibility of a global event effecting atmospheric patterns, such as ENSO, SIO and NAO then we have had in the past. Most of the recent data improvements have come about as our tools have improved and more technology has been employed. If there were more interest in the region of your concern and a desire to add to the pursuit of data I am sure there would likely be more studies and data available there.

    If you look at the recent SST interaction between the Western Pacific and the Central Southern Pacific you realize that there is some form of interaction occurring. At the same time when you see the build up of SST’s off Madagascar you have to suspect they are playing a part in the apparent cooling in the NW Indian Ocean. (Note: This is based on the SST anomalies links we have been discussing a lot in this thread.)

    As to a direct study of ENSO and Western Indian Ocean activity I have not seen much. That does not mean the region of your concern is unimportant. It more likely means that the region that is being addressed has more people that are interested in funding the research of weather/climate and the impact of global changes.

    Are you aware of any Middle Eastern atmospheric monitoring activities or weather organizations? It is possible there may be data that is kept locally and is not published. It would be interesting to have the ground based feedback to the remote sensing provided by the current satellite systems where there currently may not be any.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:18 AM

  239. Re #237:

    A runaway greenhouse effect happens when the forcing from the feedbacks (dE_feedback/dT) is greater than the extra radiation that the Earth emits from being warmer (dE_radiation/dT). If (dE_feedback – dE_radiation)/dT is positive, then a slight warming will push the Earth even further out of equilibrium and the warming will accelerate. Eventually whatever is causing the feedback will become saturated or the radiation component (roughly T^3, or the derivative of T^4) will overwhelm the feedback and the Earth will settle at a new, much higher temperature (perhaps 300C instead of the 13C we had before).

    With the current conditions on Earth, it’s impossible.

    Comment by yartrebo — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:37 AM

  240. Re: #221, 236 and previous,

    llewelly, the base period for the first link (1971-2000) suggests that this plot is derived from the re-analysis of several sorces of weather data. The other plot is most likely calculated only by using satellite data. For what it’s worth, the satellite data may be more accurate, as it is calculated from one type of data.

    Sally, the UNISYS ocean surface temperature plot is interesting, but the anomaly plot gives more information about changes:

    As I write this morning, there’s lots of rain falling over middle America. The low level circulation around a surface high is producing the air flow which is feeding warm, moist air from the Gulf towards the north. Could be another batch of record high temperatures in Mid-America today, not to mention the effects of the clash of warm and cold air masses.

    Comment by Eric Swanson — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:06 AM

  241. RE: #234

    Hey Mr. Mc Donald;

    I have a question, if you are looking to establish the baseline for climate I think I agree that the statistical averaged over 30 years is appropriate. However, if you are trying to establish a trend for temperature change would this not be a false indicator? It would seem if you want to track one value out of a number of values you would likely want to collect 30 values under nearly equivalent conditions to establish whether or not the a value is a normal distribution.

    I have always marveled at the temperature trends that get thrown around in relation to trying to describe temperature curves. Recent work that has been broken down into 30 year groupings are more likely going to produce poor trend data for a single variable, though it is very good for establishing a mean value. If you are looking for trend data, would you not want to establish the mean for each random sample window and then trend the sample?

    (If you take 30 years of a temperature on say the 30th of July globally, you will get a very different value then if you take 30 samples of July 30th when the humidity, the barometric pressure, the aerosol density/composition, and cloud densities are all within 5% for a given site.)

    It comes down to question of whether random samples will dismiss the all the other variables or not. The problem with this is you no longer can specify a date, month, season or even a year. In short, you have to look at all data within the descriptive window regardless of any categorization. This would seem to mean that even the 30 year baseline is invalid if you are tracing a single variable by a specific date, or you are trying to establish the mean for that 30 year period. So the question is do you try to link mean temperatures into a trend or do you try to trend data which is collected within a similar environmental window?

    (Note: There is going to be a problem with any 30 year window for temperature mean as the mean is apparently always shifting higher in the current ice age emergent environment. This means that you cannot establish a mean by a simple 30 year window for use in a standard statistical model. Your analysis will nearly always demonstrate a skew towards the higher range limit.)

    I am just sharing observations from the edge. My apologies if the points I am raising were outside the range of your point; however, when we are discussing these items it would be nice that the common definition was mentioned, especially in the presence of laymen, such as myself.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:06 AM

  242. Jodro wrote in #217: “In this context, is there anyone here who thinks we have realistic chances of turning this whole thing around?”

    In my personal opinion, which is only that of a “civilian” who tries to follow the climate change issue as closely as possible: No. We do not have a realistic chance of “turning this thing around”.

    CO2 emissions have been growing rapidly for over 15 years and are now growing faster than ever, around two percent per year, which is double the rate of only a few years ago.

    The International Energy Agency forecasts that by 2030, world energy consumption will increase by 50 percent above today’s levels, with resultant GHG emissions increasing by 52 percent.

    If there were 100 percent commitment by every single person on Earth — including all governments and all corporations, including the fossil fuel corporations — it would be an enormous challenge to slow down this growth, let alone reverse it, and actually reduce GHG emissions by the amounts and in the time frame of 10-15 years that scientists such as James Hansen say are needed to avoid global ecological catastrophe. And clearly we do not have such a commitment, and indeed there are very powerful and wealthy interests who are doing everything they can to prevent such a reduction.

    And the opinion of other scientists such as Lovelock, that we have much less time than Hansen believes (if indeed it is not already too late) cannot be discounted. Meanwhile there is mounting evidence of self-reinforcing warming feedbacks that could produce much greater GHG emissions from “nature”, that could be beyond human control soon, if they are not already. So the time available to “turn this thing around” through major reductions in GHG emissions may be only a few years.

    The bulk of the GHG emissions are from the developed industrialized countries, e.g. the USA, the UK, Europe and Japan, with a large and rapidly growing contribution from the major industrializing countries, e.g. China and India.

    Will the USA reduce its GHG emissions by 90 percent, as journalist and author George Monbiot says will be needed if global GHG emissions are to be reduced “equitably”? Will China and India forgo all further development of coal-fired electricity generation and other fossil fuel energy sources that they can legitimately claim are needed for the economic development of their countries? Will both of these things happen within the 15 year period in which the IEA projects energy use and GHG emissions are going to increase by 50 percent? It seems to me extremely unlikely.

    Of course we should try — and try mightily — and up to the point where feedbacks take over beyond our control it is always possible to achieve an outcome that is not as bad as it would be if we don’t try.

    But realistically, I find that I am extremely pessimistic.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:40 AM

  243. For those who are interested in the ENSO influence on European climate during the last centuries, please have a look at the recent February 2007 Climate Dynamics issue.

    Broennimann, S., Xoplaki, E., Luterbacher, J., Casty, C. and Pauling, A., 2007: ENSO influence on Europe during the last centuries, Clim. Dynam., 28, 181-197.

    there is a review paper coming out soon by Stefan Broennimann in Review Geophysics:
    Broennimann, S. (2007) The impact of El Niño/Southern Oscillation on European climate. Reviews of Geophysics, in press.


    [Response: Thanks Juerg. -mike]

    Comment by Juerg Luterbacher — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:48 AM

  244. Re #237 and #239 First, you have to realise that a runaway greenhouse will not continue running away for ever. Venus stopped when the surface temperature got to about 480C, 860F. The earth has never been as warm as 100C, 212F. But a jump to 40C, 100F is not totally impossible. There are places in the world where this temperature is reached today.

    The increase in CO2 is already melting the mountain glaciers and the Arctic sea-ice. As they disappear, the albedo of the planet decreases, and the warming from the increased solar absorption is far greater than that from the enhanced greenhouse effect. Therefore, the positive feedback CAN exceed the CO2 forcing.

    The increase in temperature means more water vapour, and this will also produce a positive feedback via its greenhouse effect. However, it will also produce a negative feedback because cloudiness will increase. Eventually the increased albedo from the clouds will compensate for the lost albedo from the ice, and tempertures will stop rising. The question is how high do global temperatures have to rise for there to be enough clouds to stabilise the climate system? And how quickly will the change to this new temperature take, since it is being driven by the positive feedback (runaway effect) from water vapour?

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:48 AM

  245. This is somewhat off-topic but I think it worth posting and hopefully not inappropriate, because it illustrates the challenges of educating the public about this issue. Federal Way is a suburb of Seattle.

    Federal Way Schools Restrict Gore Film
    By Robert McClure and Lisa Stiffler
    The Seattle Post Intelligencer
    Thursday 11 January 2007


    This week in Federal Way schools, it got a lot more inconvenient to show one of the top-grossing documentaries in U.S. history, the global-warming alert “An Inconvenient Truth.”

    After a parent who supports the teaching of creationism and opposes sex education complained about the film, the Federal Way School Board on Tuesday placed what it labeled a moratorium on showing the film. The movie consists largely of a PowerPoint presentation by former Vice President Al Gore recounting scientists’ findings.

    “Condoms don’t belong in school, and neither does Al Gore. He’s not a schoolteacher,” said Frosty Hardison, a parent of seven who also said that he believes the Earth is 14,000 years old. “The information that’s being presented is a very cockeyed view of what the truth is…. The Bible says that in the end times everything will burn up, but that perspective isn’t in the DVD.”


    The Federal Way incident started when Hardison learned that his daughter would see the movie in class. He objected.

    Hardison and his wife, Gayla, said they would prefer that the movie not be shown at all in schools.

    “From what I’ve seen (of the movie) and what my husband has expressed to me, if (the movie) is going to take the approach of ‘bad America, bad America,’ I don’t think it should be shown at all,” Gayle Hardison said. “If you’re going to come in and just say America is creating the rotten ruin of the world, I don’t think the video should be shown.”

    Scientists say that Americans, with about 5 percent of the world’s population, emit about 25 percent of the globe-warming gases.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:51 AM

  246. Eric said (#240):

    llewelly, the base period for the first link (1971-2000) suggests that this plot is derived from the re-analysis of several sorces of weather data.

    I agree. The ncdc linked SST does use data from buoys and ships as well as satellites (AVHRR), assuming I have found the correct methodology description. (I am not an expert, and the relevant web pages seem quite disorganized to me.)
    this page has older SST anomaly images from the same series as the NCDC sourced 1971-2000 baseline SST from your first link. It has references and a link to the OISST page which seems to be the same methodology.

    The newest reference has:

    The in situ SST data are determined from observa-
    tions from ships and buoys (both moored and drifting).
    Most ship observations in our period of interest were
    made from insulated buckets, hull contact sensors, and
    engine intakes at depths of one to several meters.


    In late 1981, Advanced Very High Resolution Ra-
    diometer (AVHRR) satellite retrievals improved the data
    coverage over that of in situ observations alone.

    Comment by llewelly — 12 Jan 2007 @ 12:19 PM

  247. Alastair, I don’t know any site with more realistic scientists — possibly because nobody’s been able to publish any current predictive work using contemporary data that would suggest we’re headed into a rapid climate system change.

    But I don’t think — as a reader — the RC people are ignoring this. My impression is they aren’t able to say anything meaningful or publishable about those possiblities simply because we don’t yet understand either how the flips happened in the past or what to be measuring to a anticipate one.

    Would you consider the suggestion that it’s possible we are moving toward a permanent El Nino to be a ‘bunker’ mentality?

    David Cooke — you write
    “the mean is apparently always shifting higher in the current ice age emergent environment”

    I agree with ‘current’ but I don’t think we’re in an ‘ice age emergent’ environment, I think that already happened and wouldn’t be characterized by a slow steady shift of temperature anyhow.

    As far as I know, the last four ice ages ended with a rapid warming followed by a slower cooling, as charted here:

    including the one just past, which also ended that way.

    It looks to me like it’s only when the human influence comes into play, in the last couple of thousand years (see Ruddiman’s work and his topic here) that you start seeing the situation you describe where “the mean is apparently always shifting higher in the current [human] emergent environment” —

    Otherwise, if this had been a typical ice age emergence, we would be in a slow cooling trend now.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2007 @ 12:37 PM

  248. Re: 223

    In my view, ve have very close to 100% chance to avoid Lovelockean scenario. There’s no need to do anything. Even continuing business as usual won’t take us there. There’s no basis for his speculation.

    Comment by Sashka — 12 Jan 2007 @ 1:19 PM

  249. That last image link should be:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2007 @ 1:27 PM

  250. Sahska wrote:
    “In my view, we have very close to 100% chance to avoid Lovelockean scenario. There’s no need to do anything. Even continuing business as usual won’t take us there. There’s no basis for his speculation.”

    Just a few simple questions:

    How about the scenarios with lesser warming (2-3K), do these worry you?

    Don’t you believe such scenarios will happen, especially if we continue business as usual?

    Don’t you believe such changes are not worrisome?



    Comment by Petro — 12 Jan 2007 @ 2:09 PM

  251. Sashka wrote: “In my view, ve have very close to 100% chance to avoid Lovelockean scenario. There’s no need to do anything. Even continuing business as usual won’t take us there. There’s no basis for his speculation.”

    Lovelock explains the basis for his scenario in great detail in his book Gaia’s Revenge which I am 100% certain you have not read and will not read.

    You have “no basis” for your assertion that Lovelock’s scenario is without basis.

    If you want to argue that Lovelock’s scenario is highly unlikely, then rather than making plainly false assertions that there is “no basis” for it, you should discuss in detail the basis for it that Lovelock presents at length in his book and explain why the conclusions he draws from that basis are unlikely to be realized.

    “Business as usual”, according to the forecasts of the International Energy Agency, is that over the next 20 years or so, anthropogenic GHG emissions will continue to increase and by 2030, annual emissions will be 52 percent higher than they are today.

    Explain what you think the consequences of that “business as usual” scenario will be, and give the “basis” for your own conclusions, if any.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 12 Jan 2007 @ 2:43 PM

  252. But we digress …

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 12 Jan 2007 @ 2:51 PM

  253. As usual….

    Comment by Sally — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:04 PM

  254. Re #252 where Hank says we digress and in #247 where he asked me “Would you consider the suggestion that it’s possible we are moving toward a permanent El Nino to be a ‘bunker’ mentality?”

    Perhaps bunker was the wrong word, but let’s think about El Nino since it comes into the title of this thread.

    El Nino happens when the Trade Winds can no longer hold back the warm pool of water they have blown into the Indonesian achipeligo. The warm pool of warm water flows across the Pacific, disrupting the Walker circulation, and radiates vast quantities of heat from the cloud tops that form. The air trapped beneath the clouds is also warmed by the long wave radiation the clouds produce, and so while the area beneath the clouds ie the US warms, the atmosphere as a whole cools. El Nino acts like a saftey valve keeping the the planet cool. But it is a cyclic process: the Trade Winds blow the warm water into the warm pool, then it escapes across the Pacific, and the process starts again. From a systems viewpoint, it is a cycle. The idea of a permanent El Nino is as plausible as a clapping with one hand! Anyone who imagines that is possible, and it seems that the IPCC do, has lost touch with reality. They are not realists.

    Similar arguments can be used to demolish the idea that global warming will stop the THC and cool Europe and the rest of the world as happened during the Younger Dryas. If the Arcctic ice melts and that stops the THC, then Europe and the Arctic will cool, the ice will regrow, and then the THC will restart! It does not take much systems theory to see that. However, once an idea becomes fashionable, then logic can be countered by claiming the idea is counter-intuative. That means unrealistic in my vocabulary.

    The problem is that modern science is based on reductionism – break the thing down into smaller and smaller pieces, to find out how it works. But that cannot work. If you smash something up, how can you possible tell how it operates?

    NOAA are a good example of this. They break the climate system down into small units and detect an El Nino. The effects of global warming pass them by, because they are too focussed in the small details. The RealClimate scientists can see that the current warm winter in the US (Hank, digression over :-)) is due to enhanced greenhouse gases as well as the El Nino, but do they recognise this as the start of a rapid warming? Of course not, that is a step even too far for them.

    Just as NOAA know deep down that greenhouse gases are irrelevant to weather, RealClimate knows that rapid change cannot happen. RealClimate can cast the mote out of their brother’s eye, but the beam remains in their own!

    RealClimate get real!

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:20 PM

  255. Re: Sashka’s opinion on Lovelockian future

    I usually disagree with Sashka, and this is no exception. I also agree that he gave no substantive reasons for his opinion.

    But I will point out that he did not just drop in out of the blue to dismiss Lovelock. He was replying to a previous post which solicited opinion. Under such circumstances, I think it’s valid to express one’s opinion, even without supplying substantive reasoning (although it’s better with than without).

    In fact — I did so myself! But since I seem to be much closer to the “concensus” view here, nobody objected to my failure to “back up” my opinion.

    Comment by Grant — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:20 PM

  256. RE #237 & “A ‘runaway greenhouse effect’ to my naive understanding happens when the feedbacks from CO2 forcing eclipse the size of the CO2 forcing itself. I don’t know if that’s possible.”

    I don’t think they “eclipse” the size of the CO2 forcing, so much as increase the CO2 (& methane, reduced albedo effect, etc), and thus increase the CO2 forcing (though they would eclipse the human GHG emissions). And #239 is referring to the permanent runaway situation, the only one scientists understand. But I think it OK for laypersons to have their own understandable jargon, and for our time period, “runaway” would be that nearer future possibility that positive feedbacks could increase the global temp by, say, 6 degrees C, which could remain there for thousands of years before getting back to present conditions.

    This is only a possibility at this point and not a huge probability….or the scientists can’t really say with any scientific level of certainty one way or the other. It certainly is not impossible, since it’s happened several times in the past — 55 mya & 251 mya.

    So as we put forth efforts to reduce our GHGs (like buying a Sunfrost refrig), we might think we are not only working to avert regular GW, but also the possibility of “limited runaway (up to 6 degree C increase) global warming.” And enjoy all that money saved from reducing our GHGs.

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:21 PM

  257. RE: #247

    Hey Hank;

    Not a problem, that is a small point of difference IMHO. I think that until the character of a lack of ice formation is present in the polar continental regions are still in the process of emergence. At the same time you do not agree with this point, as you contend that we have already emerged from ice age characteristics.

    Does it really matter? I believe that there maybe an indication of a small temperature increase regardless of the AGW input, you may not. As to the rest of the inputs, we are still in our infancy in collecting and documenting their contributions.

    I understand that many suggest that there is an over burden of evidence that GHG specifically CO2 are the primary contributor. Personally, I do not necessarily agree, radiative down welling evidence does not seem to be available that supports this conclusion.

    I keep hoping that the suggested radiative input will be identified and tracked. As of yet this has not been observed, to my knowledge. Yes, I am aware of the possible reasons for this failure; however, I believe that with the capabilities of the scientific community this is resolvable within the near future. Therefore, I reserve my belief that the evidence of AGW is over whelming as I anticipate the next wonderful idea to unfold in answering my concerns for direct evidence.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 12 Jan 2007 @ 4:58 PM

  258. Doesn’t the increase in nighttime temperatures provide some evidence of radiative down-welling? Or do I have the wrong end of the photon?

    Are we digressing again?

    Comment by Sally — 12 Jan 2007 @ 6:08 PM

  259. This comment February 2006 comment by a Daily Kos reader with first-hand experience may give insight into NOAA’s public positions:

    I work for NOAA as a contractor…been here almost 10 years…in the telecoms area (not a meteoroligist). The morale has gone straight downhill since W took office. It’s a standing joke around here that “you better not mention global warming out loud.” The restrictions as to press contacts, getting permission, have been made very, very clear. A few months ago I attended a “brown bag” lunch at the library where they had a distinguished professor from U MD who had written a book on the history of research into global warming. Attending this lecture were a group of college students who had been chosed for a year long scholar’s program where they would work at NOAA. We chatted and they expressed their amazement to me that in their welcoming breakfast from Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, he had actually said to them “Oh, you know of course that there is no definitive proof that global warming exists.” Each of these intelligent, educated students were dumbfounded.
    I will tell you that just about every person here hates this Administration. They proudly announce their “10 year” research plan on global climate….starting from scratch, as if no previous data exists. This is very pathetic. We can’t wait for the 2008 election….we may soon reach “the tipping point” of no return.
    Now…all that being said…my impression is, that a direct causal link between global warming and increased volume and intensity of hurricanes may actually be somewhat debatable…but of course, that does not change the crime that they have only “sent out” those scientists willing to adhere to their view to talk to the press.

    by hcc in VA on Fri Feb 10, 2006 at 05:44:36 PM EST

    Comment by Erica — 12 Jan 2007 @ 6:46 PM

  260. Erica,

    You have been a bit slow in posting your info on how bad the effect of GWB on NOAA has been since it is nearly a year old. Unfortunately it is too late now to do anything. The tipping point has passed :-( Next time act faster :-)

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jan 2007 @ 7:50 PM

  261. Re #258

    Hi Sally,

    You are quite correct. If the Sun was getting hotter then day time and summer temperatures would be increasing, but with this abnormally warm night and winter warmth and even summer time night time temperatures rising then we can be sure that greenhouse gases are the cause of global warming.

    But we have known that since the IPCC TAR in 2001. It is just that certain oil men would rather make a profit for their shareholders than help save the world or even the USA. Well that is what they are paid to do!

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 12 Jan 2007 @ 8:07 PM

  262. RE: #258

    Hey Sally;

    It sure would, if the added Infra Red energy was in the frequency band of CO2 photonic emission and not in the 15-20um band. The increased detected energy appears to be both up-welling and in the long wave terrestrial radiative frequency band.

    If there were increases in the 280-320 nm, the 920-930 nm (short wave) band and down welling we could possibly consider the added input to match the commonly referred to Water Vapor radiative input. However, even this appears to be in question.

    By the same token if there was an obvious emission in the clear night time sky in the (I think it is) 6.2-6.4 um band down welling from a clear night sky it would appear that CO2 was a major player.

    The process is that the source solar radiative energy raises the energy level of the broad mix of chemicals in solution in the atmosphere. The problem in defining the energy flow sources is that the photons that are added bounce back and forth between all the various molecules.

    In essence, an element in atmospheric solution might get energized by the solar input and radiates this energy out at it’s fundamental frequency. This energy then radiates to a different molecule and it gets energized and radiates this energy out at its fundamental frequency which may be different then the input. This interference generally prevents a direct measurement according to most of the scientific analysis I have seen.

    (Meaning it is nearly impossible to confirm that the GW is due to the Greenhouse theory. This interference makes it difficult to determine the source of the detected energy. It raises the question, is the added energy we are currently seeing from increased solar, a more radiant earth or is it due to more feedback or “resonating” inputs? So it is nearly impossible to determine the source of the input energy and makes it very difficult to determine the participation of the various elements in climate change.)

    At this point, I get a little confused about the reasons this causes problems, as I figure that the detectable incoming energy reaching the earth is a reflection of the mix of molecules regardless of the interference. If I were to measure with high resolution the clear night sky down welling and the decay rate as opposed to the known TOA down welling and the earth up welling inputs in the various frequency bands I should be able to determine the necessary data, if I also knew the material mix in the column I was measuring. (What happens is the photons at the higher frequencies begin to ring the contributing elements which emit the lower frequencies until most of the energy can be found only at the lower frequencies.)

    Once the scientists can make direct measurements of this type, they can track the distribution of energy in the atmosphere and can see directly into the energy balance and the energy distribution paths. As the weather is supposedly driven by the distribution of heat energy and the change in the heat energy defines climate this should move climate science from a complicated nearly chaotic science to a nearly mechanical technology.

    (Of course, all of this may just be wishful thinking on my part. I had hoped that I might get to see this ability in my lifetime; however, it looks like that is not to be.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 12 Jan 2007 @ 9:39 PM

  263. Every time I hear certain scientists saying that our increasingly abnormal weather is NOT being precipitated by CC I ask myself how do they know? When it EVER will be? Each incident is but a freak according to them. They seem to be unwilling to definitively commit to GW.

    I would think that this is exactly how CC will act: rising slowly but surely above the background noise until a clear signal is absolutely clear and continues to grow. It’s not going to suddenly STRIKE out of nowhere at which time we can then say “AHA!!”. People are now detecting that signal, and since to every action there is a reaction there are detectable reactions to the carbon we are pouring into the atmosphere – as there should be according to the laws of physics (- any possible Gaia-like feedbacks that we may not know about but will probably be overwhelmed anyway eventually).

    Comment by Ron R. — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:30 PM

  264. RE: #258

    Hey Sally;

    Just as a quick follow up, it is quite possible that the transport of water vapor to higher then normal altitudes falling within a High Pressure can impart higher then normal AT which is independent of ToD. Meaning warmer air temperatures are not necessarily an indication of GHG influence.

    Based on the research I have done to date seems to indicate Adiabatic and Saturated Adiabatic transfer of heat and water can have a greater impact then GHG has in regard to changing air temperature; however, this has not been researched by a professional scientist to my knowledge.

    That there appears to be a question of what is heating the surface air temperatures is the primary driver for my focus on radiative measures. For me the question is not if GHG are playing a part; but, how much of a part are they playing. When I couple these observations with the data from the Swiss research into radiative increases and what until recently had appeared to have been decreased frozen precipitation means to me is that questions seem to remain.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:48 PM

  265. Re#254, McDonald:

    Similar arguments can be used to demolish the idea that global warming will stop the THC and cool Europe and the rest of the world as happened during the Younger Dryas. If the Arcctic ice melts and that stops the THC, then Europe and the Arctic will cool, the ice will regrow, and then the THC will restart!

    Maybe the question is more how long this will take, i.e. how much time till the ocean water temperature cools down, till it reaches the temerature state to tip the point which favors the THC?

    Why do we most focus on U.S. El Nino?

    El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a global coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon. The Pacific ocean signatures, El Niño and La Niña (also written in English as El Nino and La Nina) are major temperature fluctuations in surface waters of the tropical Eastern Pacific Ocean. The names, from the Spanish for “the child”, refer to the Christ child, because the phenomenon is usually noticed around Christmas time in the Pacific Ocean off the west coast of South America.[1] Their effect on climate in the southern hemisphere is profound. These effects were first described in 1923 by Sir Gilbert Thomas Walker from whom the Walker circulation, an important aspect of the Pacific ENSO phenomenon, takes its name. The atmospheric signature, the Southern Oscillation (SO) reflects the monthly or seasonal fluctuations in the air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. As of September 2006, El Niño is currently active, and is expected to continue into 2007.[2]

    ENSO is a set of interacting parts of a single global system of coupled ocean-atmosphere climate fluctuations that come about as a consequence of oceanic and atmospheric circulation. ENSO is the most prominent known source of inter-annual variability in weather and climate around the world (~3 to 8 years), though not all areas are affected. ENSO has signatures in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

    From the article:

    climate change is actually influencing El Nino (e.g. favoring more frequent and larger El Nino events).

    Can we connect El Nino with ocean currents?

    Example 1, how el nino manipulated ocean currents(eddy vortex).

    Abstract. Extremely anomalous water mass properties,
    with deviations as high as 35�, were observed in the
    thermocline during January 2001 at the Hawaii Ocean
    Time-series site north of Oahu. The spatial distribution
    of the anomalous waters is consistent with a sub-
    mesoscale vortex with radius 20-30 km, possibly a
    remnant of a mesoscale eddy. The most plausible source
    location of the anomalous waters is offshore of Mexico
    near Baja California. Given the southwestward sub-
    tropical gyre circulation, it is unlikely that these waters
    were transported directly westward to Hawaii. Unusual
    northward transport of Equatorial Waters along the
    coast by the 1997-98 El Niño event, and subsequent
    transport southwestward in the core of a mid-
    thermocline eddy is more plausible. El Niño modulation
    of eddy transport and diffusion of water mass properties
    may substantially impact biological productivity in the
    low-nutrient North Pacific subtropical gyre.

    Example 2, ocean currents fuel storms and i wonder if CO2 levels spikes can be called a positive feedback?

    It’s not just warmer water on the surface that’s powering the hurricanes; deeper warm water is too–at least in the Gulf of Mexico. Extending from the surface to a depth of 2,000 ft. or more is something scientists call the Loop Current, a U-shaped stream of warm water that flows from the YucatÃ�¡n Straits to the Florida Straits and sometimes reaches as far north as the Mississippi River delta. Hurricanes that pass over the Loop typically get an energy boost, but the extra kick is brief, since they usually cross it and move on. But Rita and Katrina surfed it across the Gulf, picking up an even more powerful head of steam before slamming into the coastal states. Even if those unlucky beelines had been entirely random, the general trend toward warmer Gulf water may well have made the Loop even deadlier than usual.

    “We don’t know the temperature within the Loop Current,” says Nan Walker, director of Louisiana State University’s Earth Scan Laboratory. “It’s possible that below the surface, it’s warmer than normal. This needs to be investigated.”

    Other greenhouse-related variables may also be fueling the storms. Temperature-boosting carbon dioxide, for example, does not linger in the atmosphere forever. Some of it precipitates out in rain, settling partly on the oceans and sinking at least temporarily out of sight. But the violent frothing of the water caused by a hurricane can release some of that entrained CO2, sending it back into the sky, where it resumes its role in the warming cycle. During Hurricane Felix in 1995, measurements taken in one area the storm struck showed local CO2 levels spiking 100-fold.,9171,1109337-3,00.html

    Comment by Plato — 12 Jan 2007 @ 10:55 PM

  266. Of course as these feedbacks are overwhelmed one would expect the rate of warming/climate change to increase as well.

    Comment by Ron R. — 12 Jan 2007 @ 11:23 PM

  267. Re: 262

    1) Is there any correlation between increased down-welling in the right wavelengths and the increase in CO2?

    2) I think I read that atmospheric CO2 throws out at 40 to 60um but you quote in nm. With all the bouncing around and the different interactions there must be a wide range of wavelengths. How would you hope to distinguish one from t’other?

    Sorry for the digression, guys.

    Comment by Sally — 13 Jan 2007 @ 12:31 AM

  268. David Cooke, Sally —

    That is part of a really good clear explanation of the basic science.
    Once you follow through from Arrhenius to the end of the AIP history, you’ll have a solid background in the basic physics — then the last 20 years or so can make more sense, by knowing what’s known and how it’s known.

    You won’t find the ‘more radiant Earth’ notion in there, though.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2007 @ 1:09 AM

  269. RE: #267

    Hey Sally;

    1) That appears to be part of the problem there does not appear to be significant indications in the CO2 emission spectrum.

    2) According to several sources the frequency band for CO2 emissions are in the 1.5-1.6 and again about 2.1-2.3um and should be closer to the correct value as the 40-60 um would nearly be in the microwave band if I remember correctly. (I am not sure where I got the original values I suggested, I thought it was in the CO2 laser spectrum and found out that the frequency there was between 9.2 and 10.6um.) The pyrometers at and other sites are supposed to have selective filtering for each pass band. (An easy read reference for CO2 participation can be found here: with more details here: )

    (Generally the older models only measured long wave or short wave which did not leave room for much discrimination. The newer models are supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. Plus with the addition of The Western Pacific (TWP) sites, the capability to get values in the ITCZ along with the additional cloud measurement systems add a lot to the value (cloud parameterization and aerosol participation). (The only problem with the cloud measurements is the lack of Lidar during the night time measurements to check for the cloud density and participation.)

    As to the division of participants, the indication of decay in each pass band for a given molecular density in the region of measurement should help, especially when you have a known input levels and frequencies. I have been hoping our illustrious science teams might percieve a miracle breakthrough in detection and measurement techniques, so far nada to my knowledge.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 13 Jan 2007 @ 2:50 AM

  270. While this warm winter may not be directly caused by high carbon dioxide levels, it can serve are a representation of the kind of changes that may occure if the average surface temperature continues to rise, wicth has been measured. While not directly corrolated, we must believe that we are a closed system, and any large changes will have some effect. That is just plain physics. So lets this take this winter as a picture of what could be come far more prevelant, and fix our carbon problem.

    Ironicly, I am working at a oil refinery for the next six weeks. It isamazing the amount of caron released just refining oil. Ask your grand parents how much stuff we used to dump in the rivers before “we knew” it was a problem.

    Comment by Bruce Billedeaux — 13 Jan 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  271. Re: 268

    It’s the ‘more radiant sky’ that concerns me at the moment, Hank. Thanks for the link.

    Comment by Sally — 13 Jan 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  272. Re “If the predictions as little as thirty years ago came true, there would be no oil left in the ground and the ozone layer would cover only one fourth of the earth. There was no talk of human induced global warming back then, only of stopping the aerosols.”

    Human-induced global warming has been discussed since Svante Arrhenius published the first paper on it in 1896. Chamberlain worked on it in the ’30s, Plass in the ’50s, Manabe and many others in the ’60s onward.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Jan 2007 @ 12:46 PM

  273. Re “It seems to me that this process need not proceed to the Venusian scenario to be properly characterized as a “runaway greenhouse effect”.”

    Secular, I usually agree with your points on this blog, but I think you’re a bit off on this one. A “runaway greenhouse effect” has a specific meaning in planetary astronomy, involving a water-vapor feedback that gets out of control and boils the oceans. I think Sagan first proposed it for Venus in a paper in 1961, and you can find discussions of it in Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres” and the much more technical Goody and Yung’s “Atmospheric Radiation.” You’re probably right that the public in general uses the term in a different sense, but then, they probably do that for “evolution” and “quantum leaps” too. :)

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Jan 2007 @ 12:50 PM

  274. Re ” As I’ve mentioned many times before, “runaway” does not in and of itself indicate permanent runaway, but could indicate limited runaway (or positive feedback situations) that eventually stops, stabilizes, then reverses.”

    But “runaway” means just that. It means the process gets out of control and only stops when one of the resources involved runs out. It doesn’t mean something that stabilizes on its own. That would be “run a little way and then settle down.”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 13 Jan 2007 @ 12:53 PM

  275. >more radiant sky

    You’ll get good info on this from the infrared astronomy pages. It’s quite well understood which molecules absorb which wavelengths. The CO2 absorbs and re-emits infrared (except for narrow ‘windows’), that’s why the sky is bright in the infrared (except for those ‘windows’).

    In the very top of the atmosphere, an infrared photon has a chance to get away — to go out into space rather than to be caught by another CO2 molecule or the ground or the astronomer’s IR telescope as background.

    “Infrared astronomy is carried out in a series of windows in the atmosphere that allow us to see out into space. In between, the atmosphere is largely or totally opaque. Infrared radiation is absorbed by …. The very same gases that make life on our planet possible by causing a natural greenhouse effect block the radiation that we wish to detect from space. The amount of carbon dioxide, ozone and methane are quite stable all over the Earth and from night ….

    “Around 15 microns Carbon dioxide completely blocks out infrared radiation from space. …”

    Here is another good page showing these emission and absorbtion bands as seen from the astronomer’s point of view:

    “There are specific wavelengths in the infrared though called “bands” that can reach the surface; but for the most part, infrared light is absorbed by water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. J, H, and K are bands often observed in the infrared because they correspond to wavelengths that are observable on the surface. They correspond to wavelengths of 1.25, 1.65, and 2.20 microns respectively.”

    That’s how the greenhouse gases affect Earth’s radiating heat into space, by capturing it and re-emitting it so the whole sky is bright in those wavelengths.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2007 @ 1:32 PM

  276. RE: #268

    Hey Hank;

    For right now I concur with Sally, I had started on the radiative path exploration 7 years ago and the tools that were available had limited capabilities compared to what they have today. So I had backed off and looked into the aerosol and water vapor transport mechanics. (Try picking out the character of emission of H2O as opposed to CO2 when the short wave detector has a non-linear 9db sensitivity with a bandwidth from 300 nm to 3.2um.)

    The work by P. Chaung et al (2006) at now places the CCN large particle versus small particle argument in question as to regards of the apparent lack of CCN necessary for the formation of condensation surfaces. (The explanation I think is going to relate to the differences in coalition of liquids and surface as opposed to frozen crystal coalition.)

    The CloudSat and Calipso water vapor transport experimental packages have only begun adding to the knowledge base. Therefore, it will take some time to begin to get more in-depth confirmation of the physics involved. (The Colorado State ground based Lidar seems to demonstrate that the Rossby or Kelvanic waves are involving more then the troposphere / tropopause. It appears there is now involvement of the Stratosphere thickness and possibly involves some of the temperature transfer to/with the mesosphere. So until the cloud formation and water vapor condensation and heat transfer physics are clarified I am going back to explore the radiative physics.

    Other then that I am comfortably aware of the laymen level of physics that go into the current strong opinions regarding GHG participation. I continue looking for the smoking gun that will either confirm or deny the current beliefs. Logical associations or indirect correlations trouble me as a basis for significant changes in the current economic infrastructure. (Especially, when the science supporting the next generations energy sources has not been resolved, Fusion, economic Fuel Cells, inexpensive Photo-Voltaic Cells, … etc.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 13 Jan 2007 @ 1:41 PM

  277. Hello everyone from a cold New Zealand.

    Fascinating post, fascinating thread. I am originally from the UK, and indeed, those islands are experiencing record high temperatures, the warmest autumn ever recorded (and remember that UK data go back further than anywhere else) and a friend from Helsinki wrote to me, and said the weather “weird”. However, down in our little green islands, we have had, partly as a consequence of El Nino, one of the coldest Decembers ever recorded. Indeed, where I live in Wellington, we have born the brunt of persistent cold southerlies, and apart from being cold, it has been the windiest spring in Wellington ever recorded, in the 91 days of official spring, 79 of those days have recorded wind speeds of 60 kph or greater. See this NZ Herald Article Now that is WINDY, as I can vouch by personal experience.

    Local climate change deniers have been using our unusual weather to claim that global warming is a myth, thereby neglecting the experience of 99% of the rest of the world’s population, such as you folk in the US or in Europe. Indeed we have in New Zealand a group, the so-called “NZ Climate Science Coalition” who have done precisely this. They have just released a painfully silly and very misleading media release, which you can read here , but I append here in any case:

    Global And NZ Temperatures Are Cooling, Not Warming

    Figures just released by the U.S. National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) show that mean global temperature for 2006 was 0.24 deg C cooler than it was in 1998.

    The seven years 1999 to 2005 were also cooler than 1998.

    Unlike air temperature measured by thermometers on the ground, NSSTC data comes from highly accurate measurements by satellites, correct to one tenths of a degree C.

    NSSTC is a research organization partnership between NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama universities, US federal agencies and industry. click here

    “This data suggests global warming might have stopped eight years ago, in line with what might be expected from the natural cycles of warming and cooling that are common features of climate” said Professor Augie Auer, chairman of the scientific panel of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition.

    “It comes two days after the statement by the NIWA National Climate Centre that New Zealand can expect cooler but drier than average conditions over the next three months. This prompts the question: how much more cooling will have to occur before NIWA will admit that global warming is not happening.

    “We know that emissions of carbon dioxide are still occurring, which prompts a further question: for how much longer can NIWA support claims by the present government that CO2 causes catastrophic warming, and needs to be curbed by the imposition of special taxes or emission charges. Surely it’s now time to put a stop to these sensationalist claims, which are not supported by verifiable scientific data” said Professor Auer.

    What is particularly egregious about this nonsensical rubbish, is that Augie Auer, an immigrant from the US, is a well know professional meteorologist, this is part of his c/v – During his 22 years of service as a Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Wyoming USA, with tenure both as an educator and research meteorologist, Augie Auer took sabbatical leave from university life and worked with the former New Zealand Meteorological Service in 1984-1985. Emigrating to New Zealand in 1990, as Chief Meteorologist for the MetService from his arrival until 1998, Augie Auer was responsible for the improvement and updating of the technical competence of the MetService weather forecasting staff. His frequent liaison between the media and the MetService during major weather events, and his accurate interpretations, endeared him to the nation.

    It is not surprising that the public remains confused about global warming science, when a man with such credentials should so abuse the scientific principals that he has previously avowed. I have written him a very pointed e-mail.

    Another member of the “NZ Climate Science Coaltion” is a man named Owen McShane. It was he who said, as environmental correspondent for the “Business Review” in New Zealand, in an interview in the Dominion Post “I don’t give a stuff for future generations. They can take care of themselves. It’s immoral to care for someone who hasn’t been born yet”. I think that just about sums up the moral position of many global warming deniers, it certainly is a most convenient intellectual and ethical cop-out.

    Comment by John Monro — 13 Jan 2007 @ 5:22 PM

  278. Barton Paul Levenson wrote:

    A “runaway greenhouse effect” has a specific meaning in planetary astronomy, involving a water-vapor feedback that gets out of control and boils the oceans […] You’re probably right that the public in general uses the term in a different sense

    Then what would the correct term be for a scenario where anthropenic global warming has heated the Earth to the point where self-reinforcing feedbacks (albedo changes, release of carbon and methane from warming soils and thawing permafrost, die-off of phytoplankton, etc) are increasing GHG concentrations as much or more than humans are, and as far as we can tell will continue to do so indefinitely, beyond human control, even if humans stop all of their GHG emissions?

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 13 Jan 2007 @ 6:08 PM

  279. I suspect that by “update 1/9/06”, you mean “update 2007-01-09″.

    [Response: Oops, yes thanks! Fixed. -mike]

    Comment by Nick Barnes — 13 Jan 2007 @ 6:56 PM

  280. > Then what would the correct term be for a scenario where …


    Comment by Hank Roberts — 13 Jan 2007 @ 9:18 PM

  281. Re “Then what would the correct term be for a scenario where anthropenic global warming has heated the Earth to the point where self-reinforcing feedbacks (albedo changes, release of carbon and methane from warming soils and thawing permafrost, die-off of phytoplankton, etc) are increasing GHG concentrations as much or more than humans are, and as far as we can tell will continue to do so indefinitely, beyond human control, even if humans stop all of their GHG emissions?”

    “Global warming with geophysical feedbacks?”

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 14 Jan 2007 @ 6:58 AM

  282. RE: What to call self sustaining warming caused by accumulated phenomena?

    In regards to the discussion I believe an appropriate term may be “avalanche”. This term should indicate an issue in which participant factors build up until the point the physical bounds are breached and the potential energy is released as kenetic energy and continues until the energy resource reaches entropy. The suggestion of GWA or Global Warming Avalanche may be an appropriate substitue term that many english speaking layman participants would be both comfortable with and may be descriptive of the phenomena.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 14 Jan 2007 @ 9:16 AM

  283. The term “avalanche” has the advantage that it implies a small fixed change rather than the gigantic leap that “runaway” implies. Any change that might happen will most likely be of the same order as the abrupt changes which happened in the northern hemsphere at the end of the last glacial maximum and at the end of the mini-glacial – the Younger Dryas. Note both were in a warming world and temperatures rose by about 10F, 5C on average. The idea of a warming world switching into a cold one, in the same way as happened at the start of the Younger Dryas, is impossible as I have already explained.

    The problem with the term ‘runaway’ is that in many peoples minds it is associated with Venus, but a jump to that type of temperature, or even that where the oceans boil, is also impossible because before that could happen clouds would form which would reflect the solar energy, and so limit the maximum temperature.

    OTOH, ‘avalanche’ does not quite give the correct idea. With an avalanche, after it has created its damage, people can wait for summer and the snow to melt. Then they recover and get on with their lives. When an abrupt climate change happens, the climate will flip, and after that has happened the world will not recover. It will be changed for ever. Well, at least until long after our grandchildren and their grandchildren, if they survive to have them, have left this planet.

    The problem is that people like Roger Peilke Jr, Gavin Schmidt, and Sir Nicolas Stern do not believe or even know that this can happen. They are almost like people who refuse to take out fire insurance because they don’t believe that their house can burn down. (“Well, it is made of bricks and bricks don’t burn.”)

    Even Cecilia Bitz was surprised when her sea ice model showed a sharp drop in ice. We are heading for disaster, and calling people “Chicken Little” or denying that it can happen will not help.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 14 Jan 2007 @ 10:45 AM

  284. Re: New term for self-sustaining climate change.

    I do not doubt the power of this blog to put a new term into circulation, so I think we need to be careful about the perception of the terminology. I was thinking of suggesting ‘automatic’ but realised that it might be used as in ‘we can’t do anything about it.’ I’m not sure whether ‘avalanche’ might be labelled alarmist and ‘runaway’ has been rejected because of it’s astronomical use.

    Having said this, I confess I am unable to think of a more appropriate term; one which indicates the potential for catastrophic climate change, without inducing a sense of helplessness or attracting cries of alarmism.

    Meanwhile, can someone tell me where this sudden big freeze throughout the mid-west fits into the whole El Nino scenario? I’ll echo an earlier post asking whether anyone is studying the jet stream and is there an index of it that tells us anything?

    Comment by Sally — 14 Jan 2007 @ 11:21 AM

  285. Sally, the NOAA page Jan. 12 story addresses your question, about how the current freezing conditions and jet stream location fit:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2007 @ 12:38 PM

  286. Sally,

    There are two terms already used: rapid climate change and abrupt climate change. However, they do tend to have the connotation of a cooling caused by the THC in the North Atlantic stopping, an extremely unlikely event since a vast proglacial lake the size of Lake Agassiz is not sitting in the middle of North America.

    I do have a suggestion for a new name though – a climate excitation. In other words the climate leaps up into a higher temperature level, just as an atom does when it is excited by a photon.

    Is it better to be alamist and warn people so that they can be prepared, or is it better to keep quiet because you think they will not take action anyway? Surely the former is the correct answer, but if you are too alamist they won’t believe you anyway cf. Cassandra.

    The point to realise about the climate is that the atmosphere has a fixed mass. If one region gets high pressure then another has to get low pressure. When this happens the air flows from the high pressure area to the low pressure area. Low pressure is caused by warm or damp air rising. Damp air is less dense than dry air! Thus with the parts of the US having warm damp winters, I assume the cold air is being dragged from the Arctic over the mid-west to replace the rising air elsewhere.

    Another way of looking at it is that the jet steam is wiggly. It can stay at the same average latitude, but if a cold wiggle is over the mid west then it will be cold there. If the jet stream twists eastward then the east coast gets the wiggle and will be cool, while the mid west warm. Therefore the weather can change quickly, even if the climate is unchanged.

    So the atmosphere is like a water bed, if you force it down in one place it will pop up somewhere else. This is probably what is happening in India where there is record cold. The Indian Ocean is warmer than normal causing rising air, which is replaced by cold air from the Tibetan Plateau. These cold winds are cooling India. During the summer when the continent becomes warmer than the sea, the air flow is reversed and and the warm wet air from the ocean is drawn inland causing the monsoon.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 14 Jan 2007 @ 12:53 PM

  287. RE: #283

    Hey Alistar;

    What about the term avalanche diode. Given the time period after entropy has been reached the CO2 -> fructose or sucrose and O2 would likely restart the system all over again, after most of the current terrestrial life forms have been reduced back to single celled or simple multi-celled organisms… Does the time period really matter?

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 14 Jan 2007 @ 1:43 PM

  288. RE: Misspelling:

    Hey Alastair;

    My apologies about mispelling your name!


    Comment by L. David Cooke — 14 Jan 2007 @ 1:46 PM

  289. Regarding #259, NOAA’s public behavior has been outrageously unscientific for some time now (as has the EPA’s) but the problem is (as you say) with the newly appointed administrative heads, not the rank-and-file. Unfortunately, there are a few who curry favor and put personal advancement over scientific integrity, as usual.

    In the NBC interview cited in the comments, meteorologist Dennis Feltgen of NOAA said â��Itâ��s not global warming at all, Brian. It is El Nino, El Nino, El Nino.â�� Then on came NBC News Chief Science Correspondent Robert Bazell, who said: “Climate scientists say there is no question that the immediate cause of the unusually warm weather in the Northeast this winter is El Nino, a natural warming of the ocean halfway around the world.”

    Now take a look at the recent El Nino assessment from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology :

    “Summary: El Niño showing signs of weakening (Jan 10, 2007)

    All the main ENSO indicators show that the El Niño event has begun to weaken. This bodes well for a switch towards wetter conditions across Australia sometime in the late summer or autumn. The timing of the weakening also fits in well with that observed during previous events, although it is still possible for there to be renewed strengthening of the El Niño event for a month or two before it finally dissipates.”

    So, what does this all mean? NOAA was also predicting a steep decline in El Nino (unlike the Met Office) – but now things get weird. Under Mid-Latitude Storms (RC) I posted a link to the NOAA El Nino prediction (NCEP) output, which previously had a graph showing a strong decline in El Nino – now it is a blank field – updated today, Jan 14, 2007. The Met Office still has their graph up.

    One possibility is NOAA hasn’t updated their model after a new run… the other is that the political appointees who run NOAA now want to blame the unseasonable winter warmth on El Nino, and the graph was inconvenient. This is the kind of thing that happens when politicians are chosen to run science programs – they distort the science to serve their political agendas, which in this case appear to be preventing real action on reducing CO2 emissions and funding renewable energy programs.

    This article (thanks to mike!) has clearly spelled out the actual science involved in analyzing our anomalous winter warmth; in particular the plots showing similar temperature distributions during last year’s La Nina as compared to now were illuminating. It’s also noticeable that there’s no discussion on NBC of the role of El Nino in disrupting hurricane formation this past fall. (Gray and Klotzbach, noted climate contrarians, were predicting nine hurricanes back in May 2006, and and 82% chance of landfall; in actuality five formed and none hit the US).

    It seems to be that more frequent El Ninos are linked to global warming in the public’s mind, and so are not to be discussed, unless necessary to draw attention away from more unusual weather patterns, and certainly not in connection with suppressing hurricanes.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 14 Jan 2007 @ 9:51 PM

  290. This is the source for the NOAA forecast images:

    One of the four monthly forecasts is up at the moment, the other three are blank as I post this.

    All four of the seasonal forecasts are up, this is one:

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 14 Jan 2007 @ 11:17 PM

  291. #290 – Thanks! That’s still very strange. Why would NOAA forecasters be saying it’s “El Nino, El Nino, El Nino”? I followed that link from the Australian BOM model summary page; that link is still blank.

    In any case, blaming what is shaping up to be the warmest winter in US records on a moderate El Nino is indefensible – particularly when we are incapable of blaming ‘any single event’ on global warming – isn’t the same thing true for El Nino? A very selective use of accurate scientific terminology, wouldn’t you say?

    The statement made by Dennis Feltgen to the Washington Post was “We’re in an El Nino, which has absolutely nothing to do with global warming” – which isn’t true either; the accurate statement would be “El Nino frequencies and intensities may be increased by global warming, but the relationship is difficult to pin down, though it is what models predict.”

    Feltgen does say that “without global warming, it might be 68 or 70, instead of 73” – but that is just nonsense – what possible basis could he have for such a claim?

    See The Impact of Greenhouse Warming on the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Most of the media is doing an amazingly poor job of covering the issue – “climate paranoia” seems to be the most widely used phrase in much of the coverage, or “the world is not coming to an end” – nothing but smug dismissal.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 15 Jan 2007 @ 1:45 AM

  292. RE: #289

    Hey Ike;

    It is not unusual in forecasts, if there remain questions about future events and you do not have enough data or the data demonstrates an inconclusive forecast to delay posting the data. At this point I suspect that NOAA has indicators of both a receding ENSO and a build up of factors that would normally lead to a EL Nino. This seems to fit Steve Sadlov’s original idea, if the ENSO were to have multiple modes, rather then a simple Positive, Neutral and Negative. It appears to point to the possibility of multiple interactions that contribute to the ENSO, SIO, NAO or any multi-decadal oscillation. The issue now is to ferret out the contributing elements!

    I understand your concern over the NOAA responsiveness seems to create a question in your mind; however, I suggest that not everyone that disagrees with the basic postulate of the physics of CO2s contribution is undermining the physics by attempting to manipulate the data. To some in the field the data is only that, it is what you do with the data that provides knowledge. Ignoring basic available data because it does not fit the mold is false science on both extremes…:-) . Just as withholding a conclusion until you have more confidence in the trend forecast is also a sign of good science.

    In the meantime, note that if Global Warming were a primary contributor to the current weather, I still go back to the old Clear Night Sky Radiative Measurement not the night time temperature. What is the decay in Terrestrial temperate at six feet under a clear night sky today as opposed to say 52 years ago for a given day over say 50 years. Has the range in temperature drop declined significantly over the last 150 years, if so you might have an example of GW trend. Now if you can prove this trend over 150 years since the expansion of the human population and no indications of it prior you might have the proof for AGW. Not saying that the logic and derivations are wrong only there are many factors and some we may not have considered as we attempt to gather even more knowledge about this wonderful world we have.

    Sometimes it gets a little frustrating when there is possible direct evidence and it seems to be unimportant because it is not flashy enough or there are too many possible other explanations. The truth is there is likely enough direct evidence in night time radiation, water vapor and barometric differentials that if CO2 was significantly the participant everyone says it is that there would be indications of it in even the simplest of measures, temperatures not included. If you can resolve this issue, it is likely you can also go back, figure out the ENSO contributors as well, helping to bolster the NOAA confidences in their forecasts.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 15 Jan 2007 @ 8:27 AM

  293. I consider the declining ratio of carbon isotopes in the oceans to be the “smoking gun” for anthropogenic CO2 in global warming.

    CO2 Pollution and Global Warming
    by Roberta C. Barbalace
    Environmental Chemistry, November 7, 2006

    It becomes important to determine the source of the increase in CO2 from 280 to 380 parts per million by volume between 1800 and 2005.

    Isotopes of carbon may hold a key to determining the source of the increased carbon in the atmosphere. The studies are based on the ratio of the three different carbon isotopes in atmospheric CO2. Carbon has three possible isotopes: C-12, C-13 and C-14. C-12, which has 6 neutrons, is by far the most prevalent carbon isotope and is a stable isotope. Carbon 13 is also a stable isotope, but plants prefer Carbon 12 and therefore photosynthetic CO2 (fossil fuel or wood fuels) is much lower in C-13 than CO2 that comes from other sources (e.g.: animal respiration) Carbon-14 is radioactive.

    Comment by Rhampton — 15 Jan 2007 @ 3:23 PM

  294. Re #286: There is an interesting/funny panel comic on the pros/cons for being an alarmist or not here:

    I keep it taped up on the wall of my cube. It pays to be reminded.

    Comment by cat black — 15 Jan 2007 @ 7:50 PM

  295. RE: #293

    Hey Rhampton;

    That may be a possible indication; however, it is not a direct indication as there are more means of corrupting the mix of isotopes that then are likely with radiative input. The output of the fires from the Iraq oil wells coupled with the possible methane hydrates and rampant forest fires have recently generated sufficient amounts to corrupt the Anthropogenic sources versus the above mentioned or even volcanic contributions. Granted the total associated with human contribution is higher then any one of the other sources; however, the combination of the other sources would be enough to upset the ratios. Especially when the the ratio of human to natural participation in annual CO2 generation is .037:1.

    The primary reason I am invoking proof of the radiant increase is simply that is the described mechanism that is supposedly associated with GHG rise. That there is a question of the radiant increase, seems to put the theory of how GHG are supposed to contribute to GW in question.

    In the meantime, I added a few links that suggest some interesting aspects of data regarding your reference.

    When the foraminifera data is reviewed in long term analysis, such as: ,

    seems to put the relationship between the indicated data and the fossil evidence in question.

    Then we have the incident regarding the earlier cooling indications in the Calcium Carbonate and Carbon oxide concentration in solution in the oceans as seen here:

    Data worth associating with the Carbon Oxide work should also relate to the GISP2 project. Here is a image attributing the use of fossil fuels to the indicatons in the ice cores. (I remain curious if the mix between soft and hard coal used in combustion during this period had been taken into consideration.)

    The point is though there is data that seems to both share and deny the relationships of isotope ratios, the mechanism for GHG warming does not appear in the data base over the last 7 years to my knowledge.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 15 Jan 2007 @ 8:08 PM

  296. Wow all these long posts. Here in New Zealand we have had a year averaging 0.2 degrees C less than our 1971-2000 levels. Typical of El nino where 5 degrees C temp diff works from west to east. THis is also consistant with cool siberian temps. Anyway thsi has been the coldest year for ages, sure 2007 will be hotter all i’m saying is don’t underestimate el nino. We had snow on the hills in december (thats summer down here folks)

    Comment by Matt — 16 Jan 2007 @ 8:22 AM

  297. This comment is not only “anecdotal” and related to local weather, but it is entirely qualitative and subjective.

    I live in the Washington DC area. I went for a walk in a nearby park this past Saturday afternoon, January 13. It was quite damp, with occasional light drizzle, and the temperature was around 65 degrees (F). I was thinking that it felt like spring had come in January.

    Then it occurred to me: no, it doesn’t feel like spring. It doesn’t feel like spring at all.

    It was not just the strangeness of having 65 degree days in January, at the wrong time of year. The weather itself was strange, somehow … unnatural. It made me think of descriptions I’ve heard of the eerie calm in the eye of a hurricane, or the nervous electrical tension in the air that precedes a thunderstorm.

    Perhaps instrumental readings of humidity and temperature would have shown that it was “like spring”, but it didn’t feel like spring at all. Winter was still there, somehow, in the background — perhaps in the low angle of the winter sun, in the trees empty of leaves, in a damp chill underlying the warm air, in other ways that I can’t put words to. The warmth and humidity was not the warmth and humidity of spring. It was someting different, something … anomalous.

    That evening, I saw a mosquito.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2007 @ 1:46 PM

  298. Secular/Animist, did it feel tropical? It sure did to me. And on January 15, I swatted a mosquito or two also…in Washington, D.C.

    Comment by John L. McCormick — 16 Jan 2007 @ 2:56 PM

  299. John L. McCormick wrote: “did it feel tropical? It sure did to me.”

    It felt like, to borrow James Hansen’s phrase, “a different planet”.

    It felt unearthly.

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 16 Jan 2007 @ 3:17 PM

  300. Okay, re “runaway warming”: “PETM-like” would have no meaning for the man in the street, nor would “GW with geophysical feedbacks.” “Avalanche,” though not too bad, sounds weird. And “rapid” as I mentioned before is too general and not descriptive enough.

    I still think it’s perfectly all right to use a word that is also in use for something else that is a bit similar (but different). Otherwise what would you call it when a horse takes the bit in his mouth and gallops off like crazy and the rider can’t stop him? Should we stop talking about “runaway” horses, because it’s been copyrighted by Venus?

    So, there could be different types of “runaway” (positive feedback) situations, and different mechanisms that stablize or reverse the “runaway” condition after some time. What the person in the street might be concerned about is not earth 3 billion years from now when the sun gets very hot and causes venusian-like runaway conditions, so much as what’s happening now & in the near future, involving his/her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

    I think the term “runaway” is quite descriptive and easy to understand (as “runaway” from human control & spiralling warming) for this PETM-like situation we may be facing in the near future. It’s the perfect term.

    I’m just asking you science guys, let us use this word for this meaning. Broaden the term, give it subtypes. Work with us on this. Maybe when asked about “Is runaway warming possible in the (geological) near term,” you could say (knowing full well the person is not asking about it getting 1,000 degrees hotter, but only becoming fairly dangerous for much of biota on earth), “Yes, a type of runaway that could mean cataclysm for our way of life is possible, though not nearly to the extent of what happened on Venus.” And then get into the particulars of what could happen, and how it would be different from runaway on Venus.

    Is that too much to ask?

    Comment by Lynn Vincentnathan — 16 Jan 2007 @ 8:37 PM

  301. > PETM-like
    dislike that?

    E.O. Wilson, among others, has answered the question.

    This era is the Sixth Great Extinction.
    Good compilation of links here:

    Why is this appropriate? Because the law is not only on the books, it’s been to the Supremes several times. The Endangered Species Act and the sense behind it gives enough reason to take the steps needed, assuming the current Supremes don’t overturn the law.

    1978: The Supreme Court rules that the Endangered Species Act … “plain intent” of the law, say six of the nine members, is to save all species “whatever the cost.”
    1995 the Supreme Court affirms, by a six-to-three vote, that alteration of a listed species’ habitat is considered a taking” of that species and can be regulated by the Fish & Wildlife Service.

    If you could stop a large asteroid from hitting the planet by enforcing a law, would you not?
    We can have that much of an effect, because we can decide not to make it worse, at any point, if we have the intelligence to design the outcome.

    Other terms are on offer:

    “… we must face the fact that the Cenozoic, the Age of Mammals which has been in retreat since the catastrophic extinctions of the late Pleistocene is over, and that the Anthropozoic or Catastrophozoic has begun.” –Michael Soulè (1996)

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 16 Jan 2007 @ 11:14 PM

  302. Amendment to 207

    As I noticed when using NCEP Reanalysis data for temperature analysis, there are problems with surface temperature trends. As I have learnd from the NCEP scientists (thanks to Wesley Ebisuzaki) NCEP reanalysis does not include surface measurements but relies on the model forecast results which depend among others on the land-surface model and the boundary-layer properties. These in turn depend on snow cover analysis. NCEP had to change the snow cover analysis in 1998 because the former used analysis was stopped. This discontinuity may produce artificial trends in the snow/no-snow transition regions, i.e. e.g. in the midlatitudes in winter over land, including Europe and the U.S. However, the missing trend in Europe winter temperatures since 1970 cannot be explained by a discontinuity in 1998. There might be additional problems.
    Thus: Caution is advised when using reanalysis data for near surface temperature anomalies and trends, especially in the midlatitudes in winter.

    To avoid misinterpretation: surface temperature measurements are not included in the reanalysis, because the reanalysis calculates absolute temperatures. Most measurement stations are not on the level of a grid point, they might be influenced by local effects and might have problems with calibration, thus there would be the problem to correct for all these effects.

    On the other hand, global temperature anomalies are calculated from anomalies of the individual stations. In the case of anomalies height above sea level, local effects and systematic measurement errors (if consistent over time) are unimportant. Thus the calculation of global temperature anomalies and corresponding trends is much more reliable than absolute global or regional temperature data.

    [Response: Thanks for the comment Urs. I agree that NCEP shouldn’t be used for trends, for the reasons you mention, and for other reasons (e.g. discontinuities due to the introduction of satellite data in the 70s). Trenberth and others have written extensively on this. As it happens, it does a good job for the ENSO composites. In fact, the GUI I used (and provided a link to in the first comment on this thread) allows you to use climate division temperature data rather than the NCEP product. Using the climate division data shows the same thing. -mike]

    Comment by Urs Neu — 17 Jan 2007 @ 4:12 AM

  303. Someone mentioned the NZ climate coalition or something, I used to comment there until they got spammed out of existance, most of us commenting were not climate skeptics myself and despite appearances nor am I. the NZ climate coalition is a dogs breakfast, just like Al Gore’s movie (Sorry I know you all like that thing)

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 4:50 AM

  304. Mr Barton I don’t want the math. but isn’t 1 watt per square metre rise approx a 3% increase (from 35 watt per metre square) which would correlate to a 1K rise or more alone on a 33K we get from our atmosphere hence being more than enough without atmospheric involvement. Please unconfuse me or at least give me a link that will “learn me” :) No doubt i’m all mixed up on that one.

    Comment by matt — 17 Jan 2007 @ 5:59 AM

  305. Re post no.2 In England flowers were blooming in to December. Even in Northumberland(near Scotland)a farmer had a crop of raspberries in early December.
    The trouble is in England ElNino’s ruin our summers. In the previous warmest year of 1998 it never stopped raining in July. It made me sceptical about the temperature readings, although then as now the winter was very mild.

    Comment by David Price — 17 Jan 2007 @ 11:26 AM

  306. This morning I heard that the California winter crop had suffered severely as a result of a winter chill,
    Would this be related to jet stream shifts caused by climqate change.

    Michael mott

    Comment by Michael Mott — 17 Jan 2007 @ 1:27 PM

  307. RE: #233 – El Nino, as well as other causals, which result in an exagerated Azores High, tend to, via the wave formed in the Jet Stream, result in more snow and more frequent Arctic outbreaks affecting the vast swath from the Levant over to, roughly, the Southeastern-most Himalaya spurs in SE Asia. Witness this season’s snow cover in Kurdistan, and recent record cold and near record cold temperatures in the Persian Gulf and Indian Subcontinent.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 17 Jan 2007 @ 2:22 PM

  308. You can’t say any individual weather event is attributable to climate change. The prediction is that variability will increase. This was called a “record-breaking” freeze, whatever that means.

    California will have climate history info online here:

    But there’s nothing much available yet at that site.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 17 Jan 2007 @ 2:43 PM

  309. I’m sure someone will tell me its rubbish, but what about ‘uncontrollable global warming’.

    Comment by mark s — 17 Jan 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  310. Hi! Thanks for a great site about the global warming. I also think this is a big problem that we all have to take serious. I participate in a Seo championchip were we spread the message about the globalwarming awareness2007. Hopefully it will alert some important people. Check out

    Comment by Daniel — 18 Jan 2007 @ 2:34 AM

  311. RE#292,

    Actually, I think the issues at NOAA and NWS are more political in nature and less scientific; they appear to be under political pressure to deny the significance of anthropogenic global warming. Their ‘anomalous behavior’ has included things like taking down the Reynolds Sea Surface Temperature page for a while (post-Katrina) and then switching from the 1961-1990 ‘baseline’ to the 1971-2000 baseline (which reduces the values of the anomalies)

    Their climatology page still asserts that

    “CO2-induced tropical cyclone intensity changes are unlikely to be detectable in historical observations and will probably not be detectable for decades to come.”

    There is a gread deal of evidence to the contrary (which has been discussed at RC: Tighter Hurricane Intensity-SST link and also at RC: Hurricanes and global warming.) The main sources NOAA uses to support that claim are Gray, Pielke, and Landsea – noted climate contrarians.

    Furthermore, there is the noted case of a political monitor telling NOAA scientists not to speak to the press about global warming. Take this together with the NWS claims that the strange weather is due to “El Nino, El Nino, El Nino” (which really doesn’t seem to fit with the current cold snap from California to Texas which is wiping out citrus crops; as I recall, you’d have very wet-warm conditions in a major El Nino) and the whole picture at NOAA/NWS looks like one where politics trumps science.

    There are also record high winter temperatures in Russia

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jan 2007 @ 3:02 AM

  312. Re “Mr Barton I don’t want the math. but isn’t 1 watt per square metre rise approx a 3% increase (from 35 watt per metre square) which would correlate to a 1K rise or more alone on a 33K we get from our atmosphere hence being more than enough without atmospheric involvement. Please unconfuse me or at least give me a link that will “learn me” No doubt i’m all mixed up on that one.”

    I’m not sure where the 35 W/m2 figure comes from. If you want an overview of how the greenhouse effect works, I have some short articles about it here:

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 18 Jan 2007 @ 6:58 AM

  313. In response to #10 – a quick point about Katrina: this was not a particularly strong storm, just a storm which unfortunately landed on the bullseye.

    Comment by TRB — 18 Jan 2007 @ 10:39 AM

  314. Thanks Barton, I did an environmental physics paper like 9 years ago, I was out by an order of magnitude at least, I think my Physics lecturer would be ashamed….. The thing is I now have no idea where the hell that 35W m sq came from. Anyway your link is very good, THanks

    Comment by matt — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:03 AM

  315. so what does this all mean? I live in Philadelphia and we have been at 70 degrees one day and 22 the next day, Snow one minute with the tempeture at 35 and sunshine the next with tempetures increasing to 47. what is in store for us the rest of this winter into the summer?

    Comment by Stan — 18 Jan 2007 @ 11:52 AM

  316. RE: #315

    Hey Stan;

    What I think it means is that the Jet Stream has split at a very strong Low pressure area over the Eastern Siberia region and the split is being reinforced by a weaker Low in the Mid N. Pacific. So you have a series of meanders between the northern flow and the southern flow that are mixing it up over the central N. American Continent.

    When you couple this trend with the strong low pressure that has formed over the NW European region it appears this same characteristic will extend to the Euro-Asian continent as well over the next few weeks. If the polar High and the Artic high near Finland join up it is possible that the split in the jet stream could re-merge and the lows in the 60 Deg. N region could encirle the globe providing a strong westerly wind at between 45 and 60 Deg. N tansporting much of the Arctic Ocean heat to space. It is likely going to depend what happens with the weak surface high pressure zones stretching across in the Euro-Asian region at about 35 Deg. N.

    (Here is a link so that you can see it for yourself, (pay particular attention to the 15 Jan – 18 Jan 07,
    250mb and the 850mb NH Analysis barometric energy
    transport paths): )

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 18 Jan 2007 @ 12:15 PM

  317. RE#315,
    Well, you can look back and compare the current situation to the 1997-1998 El Nino.

    Here is the Reynolds SST plot for this week, Jan 1998 from Australian BOM. Straight SST’s for 1998 are here.

    Here is the current (Jan 2007) situation, also from Australian BOM. The straight SST graph from Jan 2007 is here

    The data is nicely compiled at the Australian BOM past BMRC ocean analysis. It’s well organized and easy to access.

    This, by the way, is why the shift of NOAA’s baseline from 1961-1990 to 1971-2000 for the purpose of calculating anomalies is problematic: how do you compare different years when you’re switching the baseline? Also, I couldn’t find archival data from before 2006 on the NOAA server – the ‘archival data’ page only covers the past year!

    Here is the NOAA analysis of the current anomaly 2007. If you compare this to the Australian version, there is one glaring difference – look at the artic regions. The large (purple) anomaly in near-arctic water temperatures shown in the Australian version is absent from the NOAA chart!

    NOAA’s NCEP model page also has this cryptic statement: “Base period for bias correction is 1983-2003” Wouldn’t that skew the results? The contact person for this at NOAA is

    Regarding #316, you seem to be trying to make a long-range weather forecast; climatology is something different. More generally, climate predictions are for drier continental interiors and generally wetter continental-ocean boundaries as global warming proceeds, but the exact location of this transition will probably fluctuate all over the place – resulting in unprecedented weather fluctations, which is probably what’s going on.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 18 Jan 2007 @ 1:07 PM

  318. RE: #317

    Hey Ike;

    Stan had posed a weather question and based on the NCEP Analysis for generally available barometric pressure zones by altitude in the NH, I projected what appeares to be a logical possibility. This is no different then our earlier discussion regarding the recent change in the EL Nino phenomena. The question we need to take away from Stan’s question is what is the El Nino signaling as it relates to barometric pressue and Jet Stream phenomena? In other words what is it that causes atmospheric oscillations and temporary stangnant barometric zones? What is it that causes positive or negative phases to these oscillations?

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L . David Cooke — 18 Jan 2007 @ 5:59 PM

  319. Hey Dave;

    I know this is off-topic, but I can’t stand it. You said, “The output of the fires from the Iraq oil wells coupled with the possible methane hydrates and rampant forest fires have recently generated sufficient amounts to corrupt the Anthropogenic sources…”

    Um…how can you possibly consider the CO(2) from the Iraq oil fires *non*-anthropogenic? Humans drilled the oil wells, right? And humans set them on fire, yes?

    It seems to me that all CO(2) from fossil fuels is anthropogenic. Of course, there are people smarter than me posting here, and if anyone can give me an example of non-anthropogenic fossil fuel CO(2), it would actually help me sleep better. Thanks!

    Comment by Arvella — 19 Jan 2007 @ 12:59 AM

  320. Two years ago people here in the North East US were complaining about how harsh winter was. Al Gore had to cancel his NYC talk about global warming. Interestingly, scientist/pundits were telling us on the television that harsh winters were an expected part of “climate change” (seems the term “global warming” that winter was unadvisable to use). I do remember certain scientists mentioning that we cannot judge climate change by the “local weather”.

    Now that we have a very mild winter, you are telling me that all that I was told during the harsh winter were false. That we can equate local weather with global warming (seems we can now use that term again).

    At this point, I do not know if Global Warming is real or not. I really don’t. What I do know is that people are using every Orwellian tactic to tell me that it is true. I feel that one year if the winter is harsh, we are told “Climate Change” predicts it. If the winter is mild, we are told it is “Global Warming”.

    The sad thing is you could be right about Global Warming and yet when I see people using such tactics I cannot help but doubt you with every fibre of my being. I am sorry, but you cannot be trusted.

    [Response: This is a very odd comment, as you appear to have completely misread the post, which begins with Meteorological anomalies cannot be purely attributed to deterministic factors, let alone any one specific such factor (e.g. either global warming or a hypothetical long-term climate oscillation). Perhaps you should try reading the whole thing again – William]

    Comment by Violin Stringer — 19 Jan 2007 @ 9:01 AM

  321. CATO Expert Likes His Winters Warm and Toasty

    Pat Michaels, writing in the American Spectator says the Little Ice Age was ended by the industrial revolution, warmer winters are to be expected, they began in 1976 and are overall, a good thing. Emissions controlling legislation is pointless, climate engineering OK as long as we all decide where to set the global thermostat, preferably higher rather than lower. Sorry, but there are no plans to “increase” global average temperatures through geoengineering.

    Comment by Alvia Gaskill — 19 Jan 2007 @ 9:01 AM

  322. Dear Violin Stringer,

    Unlike William, I do not think your comment is odd at all!

    The problem is that the climate system is complicated with several contradictions. For instance during summer the continents WARM more than the oceans, but during the winter the continents COOL more than the oceans. The seasonal response is completely the opposite.

    Last year may have had a cold day when Al Gore had to cancel a talk but … “It’s official: 2006 is the warmest year in the temperature history of the lower 48 states. The records go back to 1895, and so far, with the exception of the far West, the winter of 2006-7 hasn’t been much cooler than your average fall. Last summer was the third hottest of all.” That was written by Pat Michael, a leading global warming sceptic! See Alvia’s link So although we are getting cold weather at times, climate change is marching on.

    Global warming causes more water to be evaporated, because ncreasing temperture makes the saturation vapour pressure rise. As a result, the air contains more water vapour and therefore there is the potential for more precipitation. So when it rains or snows, then it can be much heavier than normal. Where the higher summer temperatures happen over land, the increased evaporation leads to a drying out of the vegetation and more wild fires. Where very moist air is blown from the oceans over the cold winter continents, then the heavy snow falls and ice storms which happen are not incompatible with global warming.

    No one is claiming that a heavy snow fall proves global warming is happening. The point is that it is not inconsistent with global warming.


    Cheers, Alastair.

    Comment by Alastair McDonald — 19 Jan 2007 @ 10:08 AM

  323. RE: #319

    Hey Arvella;

    Sorry for the poor communications, the intent was to differentiate the contribution of isotopic corruption from “abnormal” anthropogenic and natural processes from the contribution from normal anthropogenic processes. The idea is that there is a corruptive element contribution outside of the emissions from the maintenance or growth of the human species.

    As to non-anthropogenic fossil fuel fires, prior to 1850, there are examples from oil pools and tar pits, though that is reaching a bit. Contribution by the release of methane hydrates from the ocean floor appears a strong possibility. There are indications of “blowouts” or pits near continental troughs. (Though some of these “pits” may actually be signals of crustal fractures in the sea floor, especially when there are lateral chains of these depressions.) You also have around 200 M Tons (Data available from USGS) of geologic/tectonic events that release vast amounts of CO2 that could contribute to need to correct the measured isotope values.

    Most of these variables are traceable and it should be possible to correct for the imbalance if we can get to the point of “tagging” the various source contributions. I just have not seen the adjustments described in the studies done yet. (It may be possible that the values are corrected based on references that are called into the study. As I am not a professional, it is entirely possible that the references resolve this issue. I just figure if that were the case the participants here would gladly point out, “the log in my eye”.)

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 19 Jan 2007 @ 10:48 AM

  324. Dave, you ask:
    “In other words what is it that causes atmospheric oscillations and temporary stangnant barometric zones? What is it that causes positive or negative phases to these oscillations?”

    That’s weather – the trajectories of winds, the high and low pressure systems and how they interact with one another – that’s the region where chaos does matter (the butteryfly flapping region) and where detailed forecasts are limited to a week or two, even assuming ‘perfect’ initial data on temp, pressure, relative humidity, etc. (let’s say one-meter-resolution of the entire atmospheric system). Climatology is the averaged weather, and there are many discussions about this on RC, for example chaos and climate and short and simple.

    What’s your source for the “200 M Tons of geologic / tectonic events that release vast amounts of CO2”? Also, the human CO2 emissions are around 6-7 billion tons per year….Are you trying to say that the radioactive isotopic (14C) evidence that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to human use of fossil fuels is ‘corrupt”? You are talking about science that was established at least 40 years ago

    There have been other examples of this kind of thing on RC threads – people were also trying to claim that experiments from the 1900’s that “demonstrated the atmosphere was already saturated with respect to CO2 infrared absorption” meant that global warming wasn’t possible (it turned out that six inch tubes are poor models for the atmosphere).

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Jan 2007 @ 12:56 PM

  325. Climate is the average of the weather, so climate change cannot cause the weather to change. Rather, climate change reflects changes in the weather. It’s like a batting average. A high batting average doesn’t cause the hitter to get hits, but rather reflects the fact that he gets a lot of hits.

    Comment by Mike Burnett — 19 Jan 2007 @ 1:59 PM

  326. Perhaps this is off-topic although this has become a pretty wide-ranging discussion thread.

    Two important articles:

    The first discusses the soon-to-be-released Fourth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

    Landmark UN Study Backs Climate Theory
    by Peter Gorrie
    January 19, 2007
    The Toronto Star


    A major new United Nations report shows global scientists are more convinced than ever that human activity is causing climate change, the Toronto Star has learned.

    The rate of warming between now and 2030 is likely to be twice that of the previous century, it says.

    And it concludes that most of the global warming since the middle of the last century has been caused by man-made greenhouse gases.

    The report, to be released in Paris Feb. 2, should all but end any debate on climate change and compel governments and industries to take urgent measures to deal with it, scientists say.

    The second reports that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing much faster than scientist had expected:

    Surge in Carbon Levels Raises Fears of Runaway Warming
    by David Adam
    January 19, 2007
    The Guardian / UK


    Carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere much faster than scientists expected, raising fears that humankind may have less time to tackle climate change than previously thought.

    New figures from dozens of measuring stations across the world reveal that concentrations of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, rose at record levels during 2006 – the fourth year in the last five to show a sharp increase. Experts are puzzled because the spike, which follows decades of more modest annual rises, does not appear to match the pattern of steady increases in human emissions.

    At its most far reaching, the finding could indicate that global temperatures are making forests, soils and oceans less able to absorb carbon dioxide – a shift that would make it harder to tackle global warming. Such a shift would worsen even the gloomy predictions of the Stern Review which warned that we had little over a decade to tackle rising emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

    Also, yesterday (1/18) The New York Times had an article about the climate change legislation currently proposed in the Senate, with some nice charts comparing the projected effects on CO2 levels of the different proposals.

    And today (1/19) the Times has an article about a coalition of ten major corporations including “industry giants like General Electric, DuPont and Alcoa” that have “banded together with leading environmental groups to call for a firm nationwide limit on carbon dioxide emissions that would lead to reductions of 10 to 30 percent over the next 15 years.”

    Comment by SecularAnimist — 19 Jan 2007 @ 3:02 PM

  327. Dave, look at the rate of change in CO2 over time. I haven’t found any reports of a massive natural release of fossil carbon in the past few centuries. The amount of fossil fuels used is documented in market information. The change in the atmosphere tracks the change in human fossil fuel use.

    Yes, pits and pingos are interesting. I don’t know if they occur all through geological history, or are typical only of the brief warmest period after a glacial cycle ends. I don’t know if there’s longterm evidence of them through time, or evidence they occur after each glaciation ends.

    Either way, they’re either a longterm continuous source or one that’s been happening since the end of the last glaciation ten or eleven thousand years ago — not one that began a couple of centuries ago.

    If pingos and pits are now increasing in the last century or two, or starting to show up more as the oceans warm — that’s a feedback not yet counted on, I gather.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 19 Jan 2007 @ 3:05 PM

  328. Reno.322
    The Spectator article raised an interesting point about warming, which the poster has ignored. Namely where to set the thermostat. Do we want to remove all the excess co2 and go back to the little ice age? Does the New York want it’s arctic winters back? The pre greenhouse climate often made life very unpleasent for people living north of 40deg latitude. What is the planet’s ambient temerature? An issue so far ignored.

    Comment by David Price — 19 Jan 2007 @ 5:42 PM

  329. RE: #324

    Hey Ike;

    I will answer the question regarding the value of CO2 gasses from the USGS (I do not know if this quote is a copyright violation or not):

    “Comparison of CO2 emissions from volcanoes vs. human activities.

    Scientists have calculated that volcanoes emit between about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Gerlach, 1999, 1992). This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts. Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 22 billion tonnes per year (24 billion tons) [ ( Marland, et al., 1998) – The reference gives the amount of released carbon (C), rather than CO2.]. Human activities release more than 150 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes–the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 13.2 million tonnes/year)!”

    Source USGS Article:

    Also note that this was in relation to the discussion regarding 12/13 C isotopes not 14C. Also, you need to be aware of the Oxygen isotopes in the compound as in combination they may form a source “tag”.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 19 Jan 2007 @ 5:52 PM

  330. re #328 [what temp] This is very nice. Yes let’s debate what is the proper temperature for the planet. Hmm let’s see… so how about we adjust the thermostat a bit to help the New Yorkers with their winters, oh and give Canada a longer growing season, and then… plunge the American Mid West into a permanent drought? And maybe sub-Saharan Africa as well? Oh and maybe submerge half the islands of the South Pacific under permanent high tides? And thaw the Arctic Circle to the destruction of vast tracts of forest land and entire species assemblages.

    Kind of a silly question, don’t you think? And notice you’re not asking THOSE affected people what they want. Sad thing is, the economies with the most to gain short-term from global warming are also the ones burning most of the fossil fuels, so the politics of “what is the best temperature” are already in play.

    We suck. I really mean that.

    Comment by cat black — 19 Jan 2007 @ 6:21 PM

  331. Hey Dave,
    The sources of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere have been pinned down; the lines of evidence are a) carbon-14 dating of tree rings, b) the Mauna Loa CO2 record (and records of human fossil fuel use), c) the greenland and antarctic ice core measurements of preindustrial atmospheric CO2 levels, and d) the relatively higher CO2 concentrations in the Northern Hemisphere, where most of the fossil fuel is consumed. There is no question about where the additional CO2 in the atmosphere is coming from – and notice also that volcanic releases were also part of the pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 budget, as recorded in the ice cores.

    Recall that the original thread was about the role of El Nino in current weather conditions in the US, and whether or not these conditions can all be assigned to El Nino, which is the ‘official position’ of NWS and NOAA, apparently. Now, some people are saying that It’s the North Atlantic Oscillation – after all, El Nino is no explanation for record temps in Moscow.

    These patterns all fit in with what’s to be expected under global warming. It’s not a robust El Nino year, anyway – look at the graphs I posted in #317 and compare the 1998 very strong El Nino to the present one. Note also the current hurricane-force storms smashing into Europe – while none of these weather events can be ascribed to specific causes, the totality adds up to what global warming predicts.

    One bizzare switch is Patrick Michael’s piece in the American Spectator. Michaels, the author of “The Satanic Gases”, is now saying this: “That, coupled with the people’s general satisfaction with the warm winter and their prosperity as the planet warms, should provoke the real debate concerning global warming. If, in fact, we can develop technology to choose the planet’s mean temperature, where should we set it?” It’s just the next PR position for the ExxonMobil and CO2science crowd – “global warming is good for you!”

    Of course, he doesn’t reference or discuss The Stern Report on the economic effects of global warming; nor does he reveal his extensive funding from fossil fuel associations (RE#330, keep in mind this is a PR piece by the coal/oil industry – not exactly “we”). He ends his piece with “the futility of attempting to stop warming with impotent legislative acts” – which is what he’s paid to say.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 19 Jan 2007 @ 11:13 PM

  332. RE: #331

    Hey Ike;

    First, your attribution of the current Jet Stream abnormalities to GW is an interesting assumption. That there are deviations from the normal elliptic pathways in the upper 40’s or lower 20’s has happened throughout nautical observations for hundreds of years. The hurricane events of clustered sever storms in the northern Caribbean were the scourge of the Spanish Treasure Ships. If anything, it appears that because we have improved our ability to see the mechanisms of weather and the description of climate that comes from repeated weather characteristics we have the impression that the variability we are experiencing is “special”.

    I am not disagreeing that the increase in GHG has some effect; however, the radiative contribution of a low density gas to surface energy is very small based on every direct measure I have encountered. This brings into question do we really have an accurate representation of the physics involved. The interesting thing is that now that we are beginning to collect additional data we are seeing that the mechanisms are much more complicated then we have described so far. Does this mean that the work done in the past is incorrect, absolutely not! It simply means we have much more work to do going forward.

    As to making conclusions in the absence of data, I agree that a hypothesis based on our understanding of physical processes is a valid step in the scientific process. That this has been enhanced with specific mathematical models that have been measured against the recent past changes is also part of the theory generation process. However, when the models have significant basis in atmospheric patterns and not in defined heat flow pathways, it means that we do not have the knowledge necessary to define specific theories, scientifically speaking.

    If anything trying to note the changes in the weather patterns to define the expected, weather or define climate as a science, remains as much an art as opposed to a science. Many such as Dr. Gray or Dr. Landsea have been observing the patterns for much longer then the current models have been operating and if you went back and looked at the heart of most models you will find the work of these good gentlemen at it’s core. Much has been added in the 30 years that we have had the computational resources; however, we are still in the process of just knocking on the door of Mother Nature.

    In conclusion, when we can get to the point we can isolate the physical processes out that define the heat transport variation and intensity that define atmospheric oscillations and can define specific sources and cycle start/stop and variability in heat transport we are half way to being able to understand the science of long term weather characteristics or climate. That said, if you can add to achieving this goal I welcome the conversation, if you are simply going to be an impediment in achieving this goal, then I have no interest in pursuing further conversation.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 21 Jan 2007 @ 10:11 AM

  333. Re 331
    It has to be faced that AGW will not be universally catostrophic. Some countries will win and some will lost. To predict universal catastrophie is misleading. The Stern report was wildly alarmist and from the Lovelock school of climate science. Until a more rational tone is provided public support for reductions will be hard to get.

    Comment by David Price — 21 Jan 2007 @ 5:51 PM

  334. As much as the warming would seem to be beneficial during the Winters, the rapid rate of change of average temperature indicates to me that adaptations difficulties will be almost universally disruptive if not necessarily outright catastrophic.

    Anyway, I have a simple and maybe naive question: Is the increased CO2 actually perceptible to humans? Is the increased heat content of the solar rays during the day perceptible as when, for instance, one is in an insulated building where the infrared radiation balance from walls and windows is perceptible? Scientifically, that translates to whether or not the direct to infrared re-radiation components is significantly altered to be perceptible to humans without the use of instruments?

    Comment by Jonathan DeVito — 21 Jan 2007 @ 6:34 PM

  335. Re: 333

    If I was an ant in a colony I probably would not care much what happened to other ant colonies, but I am a human being, a sentient human being, therefore I regret catastrophe, no matter who is involved in it. Reduction is beneficial on a personal scale. I love my low energy light bulbs because not only do they save electricity, but I don’t have to change the darn things. I have one of those strips in the bathroom that had six 60 watt bulbs. I replaced them with two fluorescent bulbs and went from 360 watts to 30 watts. My car gets an extra two mpg on biodiesel, and likes it. Hanging my clothes up instead of using the drier means I don’t have to pull fluff out every time. That fluff is my clothes wearing out; they last longer if I hang them up. I don’t own an iron; what makes us think fibres like hot metal pressed against them? My electricity bill is about $40 dollars a month on average. It’s a win-win situation.

    Comment by Sally — 21 Jan 2007 @ 6:47 PM

  336. >Is the increased heat content of the solar rays during the day perceptible

    The increased warmth of the nights is, but that’s weather not climate. If keeping a diary qualifies as

    > … without the use of instruments

    Thermometer, pen and ink acceptable? you can probably detect it over a lifetime, paying attention, keeping a diary. But the main effect of what we’ve done so far won’t hit til after this century’s over.

    Let’s see, if you want daytime, lookup “insolation” — how much would you feel if you were a solar collector, say:

    How big’s the change expected, half a watt to a few watts per square meter; and solar collectors may be collecting kilowatts per square meter.

    I wouldn’t expect the Sun to feel warmer. If anyone keeps diaries of energy collected on systems like that, it’d still be weather driving the changes, at least til they had a decades long record. If anyone out there has been running a water heater solar panel for 20 years and keeping notes, don’t throw them out ….

    These are changes you can’t detect without a _statistician_, a thermometer and a lot of data points over a long period of time — and you have to get the statistian first, to design how you are going to be collecting the data, to have a fair idea at the end whether or not you can say there’s a trend after doing the math.

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 21 Jan 2007 @ 7:34 PM

  337. I’m currently living in Southeast Asia. This part of the world is known to experience rain like crazy.

    Anyway, I know that El Nino is supposed to bring in drier season to Southeast Asia. However, that is not the case currently. Instead of drought, it has been raining heavy and are causing major floods (some are worst in decades! Even some part of Singapore got flooded.)

    Could it be caused global warming or really weak El Nino or something else?

    Comment by __earth — 22 Jan 2007 @ 7:32 AM

  338. On page 8 of NOAA’s El Nino report, you can see the ocean anomalies for the whole globe. The whole Atlantic Ocean is warmer than average and whole Pacific Ocean is colder than average along the United States. I think it’s ridiculous to blame the odd weather on El Nino which is a small portion of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Given the ocean currents operate in a counterclockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere, we would expect it to be warm on the East Coast because the Atlantic Ocean currents come from the south and we would expect it to be cold on the West Coast because the Pacific Ocean currents come from the north. The strong coastal winds that we have seen have driven the ocean surface currents to the extreme temperatures that we have seen along the coasts of the United States. Most land is in the Northern Hemisphere and most people live in the Northern Hemisphere as a result. Hence, most pollution is generated and deposited in the Northern Hemisphere. What is driving the strong winds? Heat!

    I am referring to the 1-22-07 report, since the pdf changes frequently.

    Comment by pirex — 22 Jan 2007 @ 10:49 AM

  339. With the combination of recent California extreme cold events, and, what by all measures is at very least a short term drought (if not a severe multi year one, we’ll see) I am quite concerned that the current winter may be analogous to the winter of 1975 – 1976. If indeed it is followed by a winter akin to 1976 – 1977, we are going to be in a world of hurt. Most who now live in California were either not born yet then, or lived elsewhere at the time, and have no idea what I am referring to. I hope that they don’t get to find out any time soon. Incidentally, not that is means anything scientifically, but, the period 1975 – 1977 coincided with the last flip of PDO phase.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 22 Jan 2007 @ 1:41 PM

  340. RE: #339 – To wit, from the Monterey NWS site:

    OLD RECORD OF 0.39 INCHES IN 1976.”

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 22 Jan 2007 @ 1:58 PM

  341. RE: #339

    Hey Steve;

    I remember the summer of 1976, where Folsum Lake was a mud puddle and riding down El Segundo Ave. in 118 Deg. F on my Kawi 500.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 22 Jan 2007 @ 2:34 PM

  342. Prex – El-Ni&#241os normally raise central North American (NAM) December temps by about 2C . However, anomalous December warmth in central NAM was about 6C, and ranged up to 10C in Canada’s Northwest Territories, where historical El-Ni&#241o data would suggest only 1-2C . So I must disagree with ‘ridiculous’. The problem is that El-Ni&#241o is insufficient – it can only account for a small fraction of the unusual weather. Unusual January cold in the south east of NAM is also consistent with El-Ni&#241o . Note – the real climate provided graphs are not equivalent – one is a 90 day average and one is a 30 day average. I relied on the ERSL link I gave earlier.

    Comment by llewelly — 22 Jan 2007 @ 3:04 PM

  343. RE: #341 – And all that on the heels of a February which saw 2″ of sticking snow throughout the Bay Area, which lasted until afternoon prior to melting off. You could actually use the term “snowpack” to describe what was up on Mt. Hamilton for the rest of that winter.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 22 Jan 2007 @ 3:06 PM

  344. Yup. I was out gardening and watching the robins contending over the available food in our garden — they’re squabbling for territory early this year — and noticed how dry the ground is; only the top fraction of an inch was still wet from our last rain.

    And today felt like fire weather, static electricity eveywhere and a brisk dry wind.

    In January.

    Fortunately it’s not all about California. And anyway, who’s complaining….

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 22 Jan 2007 @ 4:15 PM

  345. I am not a doomer …. however:

    1973 – 1977: An unprecedented period of widespread drought world wide.
    1973: Watergate breakin investigation blows wide open.
    1973: Oil embargo
    1974: US President resigns.
    1975: North Vietnam surges into South Vietnam. Cambodia falls to the Khmer Rouge.
    1975 – 1980ish: On the back of drought and famine througout SE Asia, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, liquidates hundreds of thousands of innocent citizens. Communist insurgency rises in Thailand. The PRC invades Vietnam.
    1975 – 1977: California nearly runs out of water.
    1978: Communist coup in Afghanistan. Later, the USSR invades.
    1979: Revolution in Iran.

    Etc … history tells us that climate can have tremendous consequences …

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 22 Jan 2007 @ 4:47 PM

  346. Re #340: The Sierra snowpack is no better. In a normal year, I would expect roadside snowbanks close to head-high. This year they’re knee high at most. Better stock up on bottled water :-)

    Comment by James — 22 Jan 2007 @ 10:09 PM

  347. RE#332,
    Well, I’m certainly not trying to serve as an ‘impediment’ to the goal of getting to the point where “we can isolate the physical processes out that define the heat transport variation and intensity that define atmospheric oscillations and can define specific sources and cycle start/stop and variability in heat transport we are half way to being able to understand the science of long term weather characteristics or climate. That said…”

    Let’s see:
    1) “the physical processes that define the heat transport…”
    Well, heat transport in the sense of the equator-to-pole heat transport? There’s the atmospheric route and the oceanic route; but there is also the heat transport from the surface to the deep ocean; it would be nice if there was more comprehensive data on this issue.

    2) ” variation and intensity that define the atmospheric oscillations…”
    Well, that would be the general circulation of the atmosphere which is itself linked to the general circulation of the oceans, but which responds on a far faster timescale (making one wonder what the physical basis of the North Atlantic Oscillation actually is; the ocean seems to time the El Nino response.)

    3) “and can define specific sources and cycle start/stop and variability in heat transport…”
    Well, again this requires far better monitoring of the oceanic heat transport then can be accomplished on a single ocean cruise – it requires an extensive network of bottom-morred current/temp sensors, not something that the denialists ever seem to call for. However, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – and the current datasets in combination with the current modelling efforts seem very conclusive – industrial CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC and aerosol emissions are having a continually increasing effect on the climate.

    4) “we are half way to being able to understand the science of long term weather characteristics or climate”
    We are really more then ‘half way’ there; saying that we should take no action because we don’t understand the system makes no sense; we do have a decent understanding of the system, as it turns out.

    My post was really about the differences between the NOAA and Australian BOM anomaly calculations, particularly with respect to the Arctic region this January – why is there a large anomaly on one and not the other for the Atlantic Arctic?



    All the evidence seems to point to a rapidly warming Arctic, and the recent warm winter conditions are hard to explain based only on the moderate El Nino conditions. The BOM archival El Nino website is far more user friendly then the NOAA website when to comparing different El Ninos – in fact, NOAA seems to have no archival El Nino data available at all! Why is that?

    Comment by Ike Solem — 23 Jan 2007 @ 10:45 PM

  348. RE: #347

    Hey Ike;

    Thanks for the reasonable response, I was concerned that the conversation was drifting from the main focus which I took to be looking at the available reference data to see if the processes that lead to the atmospheric pattern changes could be defined. What you have clarified is that your concern was over the differences in the analysis of two scientific bodies. And you have demonstrated that there remains a need for additional work so we can move forward. As to not taking action in absence of the missing data, I agree, is foolhardy at best. Significant indications that there could be an anthropogenic handprint on the climate appears overwhelming, so until the additional data comes in it is best to act prudently. My apologies that this miscommunication should have occurred.

    As to your observations of the NOAA archive, most of this data is held in the NCDC in Ashville, NC. Primarily, NOAA will make their analysis and then store the data at that center instead of maintaining it on their active systems. ((The only data I have seen NOAA store locally appeared to be data from systems such as the TOMS experimental package in relation to Ozone density measures.) I suspect you are likely already aware of this)

    As to your observations of the Arctic warming, NASA generated a great report on this past summer and though I feel they needed to do a joint analysis with NOAA, they did a great job of demonstrating the character of the ice pack reduction. Based on the data I was looking at from NOAA at the time the Bermuda High that normally sets up around 38 Deg. N and 68 Deg. W was about 42 Deg. N and about 54 Deg. W most of last summer. This made me consider that much of the apparent warming that was occurring in the Barents Sea region may have been related to the NAO driven winds or a North Atlantic Drift eddy coming from a warm Gulf Stream.

    There does remain another question though in relation to the apparent Arctic warming and that relates to the concern of the polar ice cover reduction. The NASA paper indicated much of the issue could be related to the winds stacking up the ice in pressure floes. However, when I looked at the satellite photos I did not see significant pressure ridge formations on the windward side of most of the ice pack.

    This brought me back to a much earlier discussion regarding the possible causes of the demonstrated ice pack “melt”. If there did not seem to be issues of excessive heat in the water and there did not seem to be significant pressure ridge formation from increased winds on thinner ice, what could be driving the loss. That begins to demonstrate where the focus on radiative increase becomes a major question for me in researching climate change.

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 24 Jan 2007 @ 8:31 AM

  349. #348,
    L. David Cooke,
    Your questions about the radiative balance have been addressed years ago, as I pointed out multiple times – in fact, what you are doing is dredging up discredited arguments from decades past and presenting them as something new. See my recent post at Human Hand on Climate for the details.

    As far as ‘wind piling up the ice’; that’s more nonsense – as previously posted, here’s the relevant reference:

    “In summary, ice draft in the 1990s is over a meter thinner
    than two to four decades earlier. The mean draft has
    decreased from over 3 m to under 2 m, and volume is down
    by some 40%. The thinning is remarkable in that it has
    occurred in a major portion of the perennially ice-covered
    Arctic Ocean. This is not a case of thicker ice appearing
    in one region simultaneously with thinner ice appearing in
    another, induced perhaps by a change in surface winds and
    ice advection.”

    Finally, your attempt at justifying NOAA’s behavior with respect to the calculation of anomalies is also nonsensical – why do they not show the large warming anomaly in the Arctic that is so obviously visible in the Australian BOM anomaly map? It looks like deliberate manipiulation to me, or at the very least exclusion of part of the dataset – and that’s not clean science.

    Here’s the most recent versions (jan 2007)


    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Jan 2007 @ 11:36 AM

  350. RE: #349

    Hey Ike;

    My question is why do you assume that the BOM is correct?


    Comment by L. David Cooke — 24 Jan 2007 @ 12:14 PM

  351. RE: #346 – It’s probably too soon to use the word “megadrought” however there are certainly precursors. I would not be surprised at all to see a 1950s repeat, and would not rule out a 1930s repeat.

    Comment by Steve Sadlov — 24 Jan 2007 @ 12:23 PM

  352. RE: #349

    Hey Ike;

    One other question, if the collectors at ARM have only been in place since 1996 then how can you claim that the specific energy signatures for the various radiant atmospheric elements have been resolved a long time ago. What is even worse IMHO is your steadfast belief that you are correct in the light of what appears to be inaccurate data according to the ARM data collection team. Have you or anyone else gone back to the original works and calculated the corrections as deemed in the 2003, 2004 and 2006 work group recommendations?

    Finally, why does the desire to clearly define a direct measure seem to frighten you and Hank. Is it possible that the data will not support the theory? (That is very unlikely, whatever happened to crossing your Ts and dotting your Is? Is establishing a clean direct measurement a bad thing, I can assure you that would certainly silence the nay sayers once and for all. So why is it you want to avoid the pursuit of conclusive evidence?


    Comment by L. David Cooke — 24 Jan 2007 @ 12:26 PM

  353. David, you are asking these questions in various ways in several different threads scattered through, under topics set up for other matters. Can you get your material together on your own website (you say you have a server)? If you can display what you have and what you know, you have a much better chance of attracting the attention of someone who will help you.

    Eric Raymond will tell you in detail how to accomplish this:

    How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

    This is for people who asks question on the Net, especially on computer/technical questions. [Eric Steven Raymond]

    Comment by Hank Roberts — 24 Jan 2007 @ 1:07 PM

  354. RE#352,
    Numerous posts have pointed you to direct measures of longwave downwelling radiation; you should also keep in mind that the moon (which has no atmosphere) varies between 100C in the day to -150C at night, which is due to the lack of atmosphere; you can also try camping in the desert in the summer, when the low humidity results in hot days and freezing nights, all related to downwelling longwave radiation effects.

    As far as BOM and the record of Arctic temperature anomalies: their datasets match others, and are also available for inspection, unlike NOAA’s – for example, compare the Australian BOM’s January 2006 anomaly to that of the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s for Jan-Jul 2006 (see Figure 5 at bottom of page) – this temperature anomaly has also been reported elsewhere, and yet NOAA seems to be excluding this data from their SST analysis. Lack of transparency and refusing to reveal data are very bad signs in scientific inquiry…

    That’s not the end of it: NOAA just revised their CO2 atmospheric growth rate down because “December data should not have been published” – the whole story is told at “Surge in carbon levels raises fears of runaway warming, David Adam, Friday January 19, 2007 Guardian UK” – though I imagine they don’t mean Venus-style runaway warming, but rather an accelerating rate of the current global warming trend.

    Quote: “The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has now told us that the story below is based on preliminary data for December, which it should not have published. It has withdrawn the data pending further analysis.”

    I think that now that there is no question about the accuracy of radiation models, the last refuge of the contrarians is to claim that ‘there isn’t enough data to be sure of anything’ – yet there are many satellite and other measurements (you cite ARM, but here is the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program’s page on Downwelling Longwave Radiation – look for yourself! – here is yet another example:skyrad20’s data plot – and here’s a picture of the instrument in place. Claiming that the data can’t be trusted because it doesn’t extend back far enough is nonsense.

    When it comes to radiation models, the use of computers and the advancement of physical theory allows one to place a good deal of confidence in the models – for example, solar physicists tell us that it takes some 10,000 years for photons released from nuclear fusion reactions in the sun’s core to reach the surface – but would you say that statement is untrustworthy unless an actual ‘in-situ measurement of photon migration rates’ was made?

    See also the comments about Sherwood Idso’s discredited 1980 attacks on the basic radiation models in the Human Hand on Climate thread, #44.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Jan 2007 @ 2:17 PM

  355. RE: #353

    Hey Ike;

    Again you missed that my concern is the radiative downwelling related to GHG. The point I had been making was in relation to night time clear sky readings as a means to minimize confouding variables. The next step would be the implementation of discrete detectors, meaning highly frequency selective.

    If the detection capability across the bandwidth were sweepable such as using a variable diffraction grating on a detector with a sensitivity of 3 db across the entire range would be fantastic. (It would seem that a super conductor junction of yttrium-barium-copper-oxide (Y1Ba2Cu3O7) and a surface-stabilized ferroelectric liquid crystals (SSFLCs) that could sweep the frequency band would seem to be an optimal detector, if the detector chamber could be kept cool enough.) If such a detector could be devised then the discrete values from a single detector would reduce the standard deviation of error from multiple variables from multiple detectors.

    Now if you can see your way to define a means to establish the ratio of water vapor emission spectra at around 920nm to the emission spectra in the 1.2 um range we can get to a 1/2 wave harmonic of the CO2 shortwave value. Then if we can establish the ratio of short wave to long wave we might be able to remove the value associated with water vapor based on Lidar measurements leaving the radiative value of the CO2. If this were possible then we might be able to extract the direct value of CO2 attributed downwelling radiation. However, that leaves a lot of ifs…

    Dave Cooke

    Comment by L. David Cooke — 24 Jan 2007 @ 3:54 PM

  356. i reall really really need some one who is a expert in this field to answer there question
    its for school project
    huge grade
    pleseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee answer

    Person Interviewed: ____________________________
    Personâ??s Role: ________________________________


    1. Whatâ??s your opinion on Global Warming?

    2. Do you think recycling paper would help?

    3. Why should people recycle?

    4. Do you think there should be a recycling program at school?

    5. Should people be worried about Global Warming?

    6. Are there other people that believe Global Warming is important?

    7. If nothing were done, how would Global Warming affect our future?

    8. Is the government doing anything about global warming?

    9. Are there any negative things about recycling?

    10. Can recycling make a difference?

    Comment by aaron — 24 Jan 2007 @ 4:07 PM

  357. RE#355,

    You really do need to go camping in the desert; then you will feel the effect of low GHG (i.e. low H2O) at night. I have a feeling that your only experience with spectroscopic measurements is in a controlled laboratory setting looking at isolated chemical species.

    I notice that you are no longer attempting to question the radiative models of the atmosphere and are now only attempting to attack the issue of data collection – which you don’t seem to understand either. For example, where in the atmosphere is the main effect of CO2 and other infrared-absorbing gases most noticeable? What is the effect of temperature and pressure on the width of spectroscopic absorbtion curves? Your notions of emission spectra seem to be taken from an introductory physics textbook, but those spectra are collected in laboratories under conditions of low pressure and temperature.

    The atmosphere is a very dense and warm environment in comparison to such textbook emission spectra, and emission bands in such an environment are certain to overlap – but I hope you’re not trying to explain the observed downwelling longwave radiation as being due to something other than greenhouse gases; i.e. H20, CO2, CH4, N2O, CFC’s, etc. (notice that the definition of a ‘greenhouse gas’ is that it absorbs infrared, unlike O2 and N2). There is a ‘window’ in the CO2/H2O absorption (8-11 um, I believe) where CFC’s absorb, which is why they have a strong effect. See
    Infrared Radiation Parameterizations for the Minor CO2 Bands and for Several CFC Bands in the Window Region, Kratz et al 1993

    Hopefully that settles the issue…though I doubt it, somehow.

    You also seem to be ignoring the very real trends in the warming arctic SST temperature record, after attempting to defend NOAA’s questionable SST anomaly graphs – a topic that is far more closely related to the original post on El Nino and anomalous winter warmth. For an even more dramatic example of the differences between NOAA’s SST temps and others, see

    NOAA June 2006 (I managed to find their archives from 2000-2006, but not prior to that)

    Australian BOM June 2006

    The large (4C) temperature anomalies in the Arctic help explain the dramatic decline in Arctice sea ice over the past two years, don’t they? Why does NOAA’s graph not reflect this very real trend (see also Abrupt decline in the Arctic winter sea ice cover, Josefino C. Comiso – 2005-2006 winter periods). This matches the data on Arctic SST anomalies at the BOM archival site., which show a dramatic increase starting in 2005. Long-standing predictions of climate models are that the first major effects of global warming will be felt at the poles and at high altitudes, as well.

    Comment by Ike Solem — 24 Jan 2007 @ 6:29 PM

  358. Above I asked why all the climate feedback mechanisms appear to be ‘positive,’ ie ice cap melting results in more absorption of heat as there’s no more snow to reflect sunlight, etc. Is this just bad luck, or there reasons for them all being positive? The next question is, of course, can we develop ‘negative’ feedback mechanisms? Today the US government suggests that scientists develop giant mirrors etc to reflect sunlight… They really do have totally closed, one-track minds… any solution rather than cutting emissions… I suppose the idea is that in a 100 years from now Americans can still drive their SUV’s while we all live in pitch darkness…

    But here’s a simple solution I thought of… it sounds ridiculous, but perhaps someone is capable of doing the maths on whether it would compensate for the loss of snow cover; it’s also a nice participatory event, ie everyone can do something and feel they’re making a difference… what if everyone decorates the roof of their homes white or with some sun-reflecting paint? Ie what if every building on the planet reflects sunlight back into space? Would it make (enough of) a difference?

    Comment by Jodro — 27 Jan 2007 @ 3:48 AM

  359. Re “what if everyone decorates the roof of their homes white or with some sun-reflecting paint? Ie what if every building on the planet reflects sunlight back into space? Would it make (enough of) a difference?”

    Good idea in principle, but urban areas only make up 1-2% of Earth’s land surface, and land in turn is only 29.2% of total surface area. Might help regionally, though.

    Comment by Barton Paul Levenson — 28 Jan 2007 @ 7:36 AM

  360. Our last two months in Greeley, Colorado have been two of the coldest on record. In January we were below normal by an average of 12 degrees, and high temperatures were below normal for 28 out of 31 days. It is the coldest winter we have had in about 30 years.

    [Response:The 90 day running average for the entire U.S. (Nov 1-Jan 30) is available from NOAA here. Most of Colorado was above normal (and this is based on a rather warm 1971-2000 baseline climatology to begin with). Only far eastern Colorado was below normal, and in this case only slightly so. Much of the U.S. is still running well above the 1971-2000 average. This is all despite the reason cold spell. If you think NOAA’s numbers are wrong, you should consider contacting them. Here at RC, we’ll go w/ NOAA’s hard numbers over the anecdotal, imprecise assertions of some of our readers. This post seems to have outlived it usefulness, so we’re closing the comment thread on this note. -mike]

    Comment by Patrick Henry — 1 Feb 2007 @ 10:46 AM

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