Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New York Times: Remember when we told you that global warming causes warmer winters? We should have said that global warming causes *colder* winters

Topsy-Turvy Weather - U.S. Is Frigid, and Arctic Warmer Than Usual - NYTimes.com
Still, however erratic the weather may have become, it is not obvious to most people how global warming could lead to frigid winters. Many scientists are hesitant to back such assertions, at least until they gain a better understanding of what is going on in the Arctic.

In interviews, several scientists recalled that in the decade ending in the mid-1990s, the polar vortex seemed to be strengthening, not weakening, producing mild winters in the eastern United States and western Europe.

At the time, some climate scientists wrote papers attributing that change to global warming. Newspapers, including this one, printed laments for winter lost. But soon after, the apparent trend went away, an experience that has made many researchers more cautious.


Anonymous said...

"Jimbo says:
January 24, 2011 at 7:50 am "

. . . all science researchers, no matter what field, are jumping on the global warming bandwagon in a wild feeding frenzy of funds. Here is where some of the research funding went.

Warmer Northern Hemisphere winters because of global warming
Colder Northern Hemisphere winters because of global warming

Global warming to slow down the Earth’s rotation
Global warming to speed up the Earth’s rotation

North Atlantic Ocean has become less salty
North Atlantic Ocean has become more salty

Avalanches may increase
Avalanches may reduce

Plants move uphill due to global warming
Plants move downhill due to global warming

Declining coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming
Increasing coral calcification on the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming


Chuck said...

Half the problems revolve around the word "normal" or the use of "usual" in climatology and meteorology. The nightly news weathercasts use the mathematical concept of "average" to mean "normal". This is VERY misleading. Normal is and always should be described as a range, or deviation around the average, with the average sitting in the middle of that. Sometimes it is a very tight range, as in one deviation from the average. Other times there may be less data or information and so it's three or more deviations from the average. Most science and statisticians shoot to at least be within three deviations of the average. (average and mean are slightly different concepts as well, but can be interchanged in this case)

Much of this could be better understood if we could just convince our local weathermen/women to adopt such language or be more careful with their language when presenting the weather every night. A simple "the average for this day in June is 72 degrees and our high of 74 was within the normal range of 70-75 degrees." That very simple bit of education by the nightly weathercast would go a long ways. It would begin to urge information consumers to demand that extra bit of contextual information when reporting on climate and weather events across the broader media spectrum, as they came to understand the concepts.