Arctic temperatures the warmest in 2,000 years; 2009 Arctic sea ice loss 3rd highest

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:32 PM GMT on September 04, 2009

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It's time to take a bit of a break from coverage of the Atlantic hurricane season of 2009, and report on some important climate news. The past decade was the warmest decade in the Arctic for the past 2,000 years, according to a study called "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling" published today in the journal Science. Furthermore, four of the five warmest decades in the past 2,000 years occurred between 1950 - 2000, despite the fact that summertime solar radiation in the Arctic has been steadily declining for the past 2,000 years. Previous efforts to reconstruct past climate in the Arctic extended back only 400 years, so the new study--which used lake sediments, glacier ice cores, and tree rings to look at past climate back to the time of Christ, decade by decade-- is a major new milestone in our understanding of the Arctic climate. The researchers found that Arctic temperatures steadily declined between 1 A.D. and 1900 A.D., as would be expected due to a 26,000-year cycle in Earth's orbit that brought less summer sunshine to the North Pole. Earth is now about 620,000 miles (1 million km) farther from the Sun in the Arctic summer than it was 2000 years ago. However, temperatures in the Arctic began to rise around the year 1900, and are now 1.4°C (2.5°F) warmer than they should be, based on the amount of sunlight that is currently falling in the Arctic in summer. "If it hadn't been for the increase in human-produced greenhouse gases, summer temperatures in the Arctic should have cooled gradually over the last century," Bette Otto-Bliesner, a co-author from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said in a statement.

The Arctic melt season of 2009
Arctic sea ice suffered another summer of significant melting in 2009, with August ice extent the third lowest on record, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. August ice extent was 19% below the 1979 - 2000 average, and only 2007 and 2008 saw more melting of Arctic sea ice. We've now had two straight years in the Arctic without a new record minimum in sea ice. However, this does not mean that the Arctic sea ice is recovering. The reduced melting in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2008 primarily resulted from a different atmospheric circulation pattern this summer. This pattern generated winds that transported ice toward the Siberian coast and discouraged export of ice out of the Arctic Ocean. The previous two summers, the prevailing wind pattern acted to transport more ice out of the Arctic through Fram Strait, along the east side of Greenland. At last December's meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the world's largest scientific conference on climate change, J.E. Kay of the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that Arctic surface pressure in the summer of 2007 was the fourth highest since 1948, and cloud cover at Barrow, Alaska was the sixth lowest. This suggests that once every 10 - 20 years a "perfect storm" of weather conditions highly favorable for ice loss invades the Arctic. The last two times such conditions existed was 1977 and 1987, and it may be another ten or so years before weather conditions align properly to set a new record minimum.

The Northeast Passage opens
As a result of this summer's melting, the Northeast Passage, a notoriously ice-choked sea route along the northern Russia, is now clear of ice and open for navigation. Satellite analyses by the University of Illinois Polar Research Group and the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that the last remaining ice blockage along the north coast of Russia melted in late August, allowing navigation from Europe to Alaska in ice-free waters. Mariners have been attempting to sail the Northeast Passage since 1553, and it wasn't until the record-breaking Arctic sea-ice melt year of 2005 that the Northeast Passage opened for ice-free navigation for the first time in recorded history. The fabled Northwest Passage through the Arctic waters of Canada has remained closed this summer, however. An atmospheric pressure pattern set up in late July that created winds that pushed old, thick ice into several of the channels of the Northwest Passage. Recent research by Stephen Howell at the University of Waterloo in Canada shows that whether the Northwest Passage clears depends less on how much melt occurs, and more on whether multi-year sea ice is pushed into the channels. Counter-intuitively, as the ice cover thins, ice may flow more easily into the channels, preventing the Northwest Passage from regularly opening in coming decades, if the prevailing winds set up to blow ice into the channels of the Passage. The Northwest Passage opened for the first time in recorded history in 2007, and again in 2008. Mariners have been attempting to find a route through the Northwest Passage since 1497.


Figure 1. Sea ice extent on September 2, 2009, with the Northwest Passage (red line) and Northeast Passage (green line) shown. The Northeast Passage was open, but the Northwest Passage was blocked in three places. The orange line shows the median edge of sea ice extent for September 2 during the period 1979 - 2000, and this year's ice extent is about 19% below average. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Commercial shipping begins in the Northeast Passage
This year's opening marks the fourth time in five years that the Northeast Passage has opened, and commercial shipping companies are taking note. Two German ships set off on August 21 on the first commercial voyage ever made through the Northeast Passage without the help of icebreakers. The Northeast Passage trims 4,500 miles off the 12,500 mile trip through the Suez Canal, yielding considerable savings in fuel. The voyage was not possible last year, because Russia had not yet worked out a permitting process. With Arctic sea ice expected to continue to decline in the coming decades, shipping traffic through the Northeast Passage will likely become commonplace most summers.

When was the Northeast Passage ice-free in the past?
People have been attempting to penetrate the ice-bound Northeast Passage since 1553, when British explorer Sir Hugh Willoughby attempted the passage with three ships and 62 men. The frozen bodies of Sir Hugh and his men were found a year later, after they failed to make it past the northern coast of Finland. British explorer Henry Hudson, who died in 1611 trying to find a route through Canada's fabled Northwest Passage, (and whom Canada's Hudson Bay and New York's Hudson River are named after), attempted to sail the Northeast Passage in 1607 and 1608, and failed. The Northeast Passage has remained closed to navigation, except via assist by icebreakers, from 1553 to 2005. The results published in Science today suggest that prior to 2005, the last previous opening was the period 5,000 - 7,000 years ago, when the Earth's orbital variations brought more sunlight to the Arctic in summer than at present. It is possible we'll know better soon. A new technique that examines organic compounds left behind in Arctic sediments by diatoms that live in sea ice give hope that a detailed record of sea ice extent extending back to the end of the Ice Age 12,000 years ago may be possible (Belt et al., 2007). The researchers are studying sediments along the Northwest Passage in hopes of being able to determine when the Passage was last open.

References
Belt, S.T., G. Masse, S.J. Rowland, M. Poulin, C. Michel, and B. LeBlanc, "A novel chemical fossil of palaeo sea ice: IP25", Organic Geochemistry, Volume 38, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 16-27.

Darrell S. Kaufman, David P. Schneider, Nicholas P. McKay, Caspar M. Ammann, Raymond S. Bradley, Keith R. Briffa, Gifford H. Miller, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Bo M. Vinther, and Arctic Lakes 2k Project Members, 2009, "Recent Warming Reverses Long-Term Arctic Cooling", Science 4 September 2009: 1236-1239.

Howell, S. E. L., C. R. Duguay, and T. Markus. 2009. Sea ice conditions and melt season duration variability within the Canadian Arctic Archipelago: 1979.2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L10502, doi:10.1029/2009GL037681.

Tropical Weather Outlook
The remains of Tropical Storm Erika are bringing heavy rain to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands today, and this activity will spread to the Dominican Republic on Saturday. Radar-estimated rainfall shows up to three inches of rain has fallen in eastern Puerto Rico from the storm. Long range radar out of Puerto Rico shows no surface circulation or organization of the echoes, and redevelopment of Erika over the next three days is unlikely to occur due to high wind shear of 25 - 30 knots. By Monday or Tuesday, shear may drop enough to allow redevelopment, depending upon the location of Erika's remains. Redevelopment is more likely if Erika works its way northwestward into the Bahamas.

A large tropical wave with plenty of spin is located a few hundred miles southwest of the Cape Verdes Islands, off the coast of Africa. Heavy thunderstorm activity has increased slightly in this wave over the past day, and it has the potential to gradually develop into a tropical depression by early next week. NHC is giving this wave a low (less than 30% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Sunday. The GFS model continues to predict development of this wave into a tropical depression early next week.

I'll have an update Saturday or Sunday, depending upon developments in the tropics.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting Ossqss:
Hummm, the only thing missing here today is a Nuclear proliferation post ! :)



The cure to global warming: nuclear winter...
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Quoting Floodman:
Do you guys think that Doc M. wrote the entry he did today to enjoy the carnage that would certainly follow?


I am amazed that Dr. M bothers with his blog at all anymore given the amount of crap that gets posted.
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Hummm, the only thing missing here today is a Nuclear proliferation post ! :)
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


oh please...no.


why not!! if affecting global warming..
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322. Murko
Quoting tornadodude:


well, what do you want to know about the aforementioned storm? where are you located?


Well, obviously if it's heading my way and is going to strengthen. I'm on Eleuthera, Bahamas.

M
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Quoting amd:


partially true, but not in the case of the United States. In a true representative democracy, elected leaders could be kicked out at any time due to any transgression (instead of waiting for his/her term to end). Also, these elected leaders would have the explicit power to do ANYTHING they want, as long as he/she had the support of the people. However, this power is limited by a constitution, which itself is a restriction on the power of both the people and the elected officials.

Therefore the United States is a constitutional representative republic.

Is it really though? ;)
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I rather talk about a little swirl in the GOM than politics, CO2, etc.
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Quoting justalurker:
lets talk about health care in the U.S., ANYBOBY?

Might as well right..


oh please...no.
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no harm, no foul...see post 299...
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Quoting justalurker:
lets talk about health care in the U.S., ANYBOBY?

Might as well right..


omg no LOL
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Quoting rareaire:
Hey Flood: Why is it so many neophites on here are attempting to talk politics with an extremely smart retired hippy? lol~


The dude abides
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Quoting bradbarry27:
I see that I wont be spending too much time here today. I hate global warming debates. We cant even predict current weather, and we think we can long term? The earth has been warming since the 1800s before we started producing so much CO2. I think we are just aiding in a natural cycle, as the globe has, in the past, been far warmer then it is now. However, if it is that important that we 'stop' global warming and that CO2 is the main culprit, there really are only two solutions: Kill off most of our livestock and kill off as many humans as possible and limit birth rates, or kill off industry (which in the long run would have a similar affect as the first one). There is no way that we can magically change everything in a couple of years to be more 'green'. Hell, half the 'solutions' end up causing as many problems as they solve. Right now, hybrids take more resources to build which causes more pollution, and have batteries that can cause very adverse conditions to the Earth when they all start breaking down or need replacing. It would take decades, maybe even a century to stop what we have started. If many are correct, we dont have that long (which is bull) But they still keep living the same as the rest of us. Go figure.


Yep.The government loves us in a state of fear. has for some time now. Global warming is the latest. If you think there isn't big business and money to be made and is being made and exchanged over "global warming" you're fooling yourself.
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Quoting presslord:
I don't care how slowly you say it...you're still wrong...


Ok. lets see if we can find some common ground (BTW - totally respect your opinions, sorry for being rude before). From wikipedia:

"Although conceptually separate from democracy, republicanism included the key principles of rule by the consent of the governed and sovereignty of the people. In effect republicanism meant that the kings and aristocracies were not the real rulers, but rather the people as a whole were. Exactly how the people were to rule was an issue of democracy – republicanism itself did not specify how.[13] In the United States, the solution was the creation of political parties that were popularly based on the votes of the people, and which controlled the government. Many exponents of republicanism, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were strong promoters of representative democracy. However, other supporters of republicanism, such as John Adams and Alexander Hamilton, were more distrustful of majority rule and sought a government with more power for elites. There were similar debates in many other democratizing nations..."
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Hey Flood: Why is it so many neophites on here are attempting to talk politics with an extremely smart retired hippy? lol~
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Do you guys think that Doc M. wrote the entry he did today to enjoy the carnage that would certainly follow?
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Quoting Murko:


Cos there's a storm heading my way and, even if it's dying, I want to get some info on it without having to wade through loads of football posts.

M


well, what do you want to know about the aforementioned storm? where are you located?
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Quoting WeatherStudent:
StormW, can future pre-95L be another fish spinner in the long halt of things?


Obviously you haven't taken english 101 yet
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Quoting amd:


partially true, but not in the case of the United States. In a true representative democracy, elected leaders could be kicked out at any time due to any transgression (instead of waiting for his/her term to end). Also, these elected leaders would have the explicit power to do ANYTHING they want, as long as he/she had the support of the people. However, this power is limited by a constitution, which itself is a restriction on the power of both the people and the elected officials.

Therefore the United States is a constitutional representative republic. While Great Britian, for instance, is a representative democracy (In Great Britian, there is no explicit constitution, and there are no specific terms for its elected leaders).


Bingo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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307. Murko
Quoting TreasureCoastFl:

really, football and global warming etc .. we're just talking. the tropics are kinda quiet right now. What's the harm in friendly banter? sheese.


Cos there's a storm heading my way and, even if it's dying, I want to get some info on it without having to wade through loads of football posts.

M
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Quoting TreasureCoastFl:
I was backing ya up ;)


ha thanks :)
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Quoting WeatherStudent:
StormW, can future pre-95L be another fish spinner in the long halt of things?


No, it's not possible...it will intesify rapidly, defy all steering and head directly for you, no matter where you are; WSJFV, this storm has your name on it. You can run, but you can't hide...
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well...actually reading Dr. Masters entry might clear up a lot for you...
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Quoting tornadodude:


the cause of global warming, assuming that it is us as humans, has nothing to do with weather, it has to do with our consumption of fossil fuels. now global warming by its self is weather related, but not the cause.



oh i agree, but you cant pick on just football haha
I was backing ya up ;)
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Quoting cajunmoma:
One thing is for sure. If you go and ask someone that is let say 80 years old, if there is any difference in the seasons from when they were younger, I am willing to bet they would say yes.

I have heard stories of how cold it use to get here in South Louisiana, sometimes it snowed, others it didn't, but the temperature use to get and stay below freezing for quite some time, so the older generation says.

My point, it is not that hard to figure out things are changing, the problem is what is it that is having such an effect?? As my grandfather use to say..."Opinions are like a holes, and everyone has one, some even have 2!"



According to my parents, in their 80's and my Dad was born on the farm where they still live, seasons have changed in New England. They contend that Spring and Fall the last 10 to 15 years are completely different - shorter seasons by far than when they were in their prime. A neighbor of their's who is 92 says the same thing. I have seen some studies on birds and insects in the region that would seem to support their observations.
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299. amd
Quoting mikatnight:


I'll say it again, read it slowly so you'll understand:

Republicanism is a form of democracy.


partially true, but not in the case of the United States. In a true representative democracy, elected leaders could be kicked out at any time due to any transgression (instead of waiting for his/her term to end). Also, these elected leaders would have the explicit power to do ANYTHING they want, as long as he/she had the support of the people. However, this power is limited by a constitution, which itself is a restriction on the power of both the people and the elected officials.

Therefore the United States is a constitutional representative republic. While Great Britian, for instance, is a representative democracy (In Great Britian, there is no explicit constitution, and there are no specific terms for its elected leaders).
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Quoting TexasHurricane:
Checking in this morning...man for a minute I though I was on the wrong blog.....I thought I was on a weather blog and it was more on politics. What is going on tropic wise? Anything expected from the 2 yellow circles??


i agree. i have no idea why people use a weather blog to have their private conversations..
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Quoting CycloneOz:


Okay...you want to do something about it...great.

1) Lose the gas-powered car and make sure your new electric one is solar only and make sure that the solar only materials, as well as the rest of the car parts are made without the use of fossil fuels.
2) Take your home off the grid and do not heat your home by burning wood.
3) Quit buying (supporting) food that is produced using machinery / or meat products. In fact, stop buying anything that requires the use of fossil fuels to either create it or transport it.
4) Finally...influence the developing nations and the rest of the civilized world to do the same thing that you have chosen to do (China, India, Indonesia, South America, Africa.)

But...after you've done all that, make good and well sure that me, as an American and a free-market consumer...can do just as I please when it comes to such things, or you'll have a negative impact on my freedoms and liberties.

Chances are, you're not willing to do any of those things.

But if you are, please show me pictures and other proof so I might believe that someone living today in a civilized society is really crazy enough to do things like that.
Man, I would LOVE to live off the grid. It's just too damned expensive getting there. One of my clients, a builder here in Florida, just converted all of their floorplans Energy Star rated plans and their sales more than tripled in the last month since it went into effect. I told them to start offering solar-powered homes in their next planned community.

Sadly, my only contribution to protecting the environment has been to leave the RX7 in the garage for the last two years. :(
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ABNT20 KNHC 041146
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 AM EDT FRI SEP 4 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

THE REMNANTS OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION ERIKA ARE LOCATED JUST SOUTH OF
PUERTO RICO AND ARE MOVING SLOWLY WESTWARD AT 5 TO 10 MPH. WHILE
SHOWER AND THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY HAS INCREASED OVER THE PAST FEW
HOURS...UPPER-LEVEL WINDS ARE NOT CURRENTLY FAVORABLE FOR
RE-DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM. REGARDLESS OF ANY DEVELOPMENT...
HEAVY RAINFALL IS POSSIBLE OVER PUERTO RICO AND THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
TODAY. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS
SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THIS SYSTEM CAN BE FOUND IN HIGH SEAS
FORECASTS ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE...UNDER AWIPS
HEADER NFDHSFAT1 AND WMO HEADER FZNT01 KWBC.

A BROAD AREA OF LOW PRESSURE ASSOCIATED WITH A TROPICAL WAVE IS
LOCATED NEAR AND TO THE SOUTH OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. WHILE THIS
SYSTEM HAS CHANGED LITTLE IN ORGANIZATION DURING THE PAST SEVERAL
HOURS...IT STILL HAS THE POTENTIAL FOR SLOW DEVELOPMENT OVER THE
NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS AS IT MOVES WESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH OVER THE
FAR EASTERN TROPICAL ATLANTIC. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...LESS THAN 30
PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BRENNAN/ROBERTS

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Quoting CycloneOz:


Okay...you want to do something about it...great.

1) Lose the gas-powered car and make sure your new electric one is solar only and make sure that the solar only materials, as well as the rest of the car parts are made without the use of fossil fuels.
2) Take your home off the grid and do not heat your home by burning wood.
3) Quit buying (supporting) food that is produced using machinery / or meat products. In fact, stop buying anything that requires the use of fossil fuels to either create it or transport it.
4) Finally...influence the developing nations and the rest of the civilized world to do the same thing that you have chosen to do (China, India, Indonesia, South America, Africa.)

But...after you've done all that, make good and well sure that me, as an American and a free-market consumer...can do just as I please when it comes to such things, or you'll have a negative impact on my freedoms and liberties.

Chances are, you're not willing to do any of those things.

But if you are, please show me pictures and other proof so I might believe that someone living today in a civilized society is really crazy enough to do things like that.


Only the far greens advocate for a complete cessation of all the emissions...much you seem to be for "business as usual, let the next generation deal with it" they're for taking the brunt now, like ripping off a bandaid...most people that know the truth and are realists know that it won't be overnight...the situation didn't happen in a decade, it's taken centuries to get here and will take a comarable timeframe to get rid of the problem. The issue, like alcolholism, Oz, is to first admit you have a problem. Most people are still denial and for all my admiration of you I'm afraid I have to put you into the group. First you have to think about who profits by turning a blind eye on something that is rapidly becoming a consensus (and yes, I said a consensus)...
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StormW...Is it remotely possible that monkeys can fly out of my....

oh....nevermind...
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I see that I wont be spending too much time here today. I hate global warming debates. We cant even predict current weather, and we think we can long term? The earth has been warming since the 1800s before we started producing so much CO2. I think we are just aiding in a natural cycle, as the globe has, in the past, been far warmer then it is now. However, if it is that important that we 'stop' global warming and that CO2 is the main culprit, there really are only two solutions: Kill off most of our livestock and kill off as many humans as possible and limit birth rates, or kill off industry (which in the long run would have a similar affect as the first one). There is no way that we can magically change everything in a couple of years to be more 'green'. Hell, half the 'solutions' end up causing as many problems as they solve. Right now, hybrids take more resources to build which causes more pollution, and have batteries that can cause very adverse conditions to the Earth when they all start breaking down or need replacing. It would take decades, maybe even a century to stop what we have started. If many are correct, we dont have that long (which is bull) But they still keep living the same as the rest of us. Go figure.
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Quoting Cotillion:
No matter how much you dislike it... politics is a part of everything. Including the weather.


As is football
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Quoting WeatherStudent:



Take it to a politics blog, bud.


Attention all hands!!! Please be clear on this: I am NOT this clowns' "bud"...
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No matter how much you dislike it... politics is a part of everything. Including the weather.
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Frankly, it is just a roundabout way of continuing the oligarchies that have existed since the middle ages while bamboozling the masses with false ideas of freedom and less government all the while sticking their hand in your pockets

yuppers
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Checking in this morning...man for a minute I though I was on the wrong blog.....I thought I was on a weather blog and it was more on politics. What is going on tropic wise? Anything expected from the 2 yellow circles??
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Quoting Murko:
"then say the same thing to those who are debating the cause of global warming"

How is that not weather related?

M


the cause of global warming, assuming that it is us as humans, has nothing to do with weather, it has to do with our consumption of fossil fuels. now global warming by its self is weather related, but not the cause.

Quoting TreasureCoastFl:

really, football and global warming etc .. we're just talking. the tropics are kinda quiet right now. What's the harm in friendly banter? sheese.


oh i agree, but you cant pick on just football haha
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Erika doesn't look dead.

Big wave off Africa looking impressive.
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Quoting mikatnight:


A representative republic is a form of democracy...get real.

While this is true, it is based on the idea of democracy. The way republicans self-servingly use this fact baffles me. It's almost like you use the idea that we aren't truly democratic as a source of pride. Frankly, it is just a roundabout way of continuing the oligarchies that have existed since the middle ages while bamboozling the masses with false ideas of freedom and less government all the while sticking their hand in your pockets and having a camera trained on you to keep you in line in this minimum security prison we call America. That is all I will say about politics.

On to weather, some are saying the season is a dud because of the troughiness this year, but what about the end of September and October when storm form off of dying fronts ala Wilma and Mitch. Florida may think it is shielded now, but wait until we get the backdoor storms.
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Quoting LUCARIO:
goodbye, all

I was sent to this blog to foreward people about hurricane season, see I got the power to know the future. but everyone so fat and happy won't listen to me. This season is going to be Bad! Atleast one storm will be bad, and it will hit Florida or texas. There is nothing we can do to stop it. It will come in late Sept, when its all so calm. It will be alot stronger then Katrina and Wilma. I have told Y'all its gonna happen, it will be large as gilbert. But no one wants to listen. This storm is going to be huge, I'm like Noah of the ark. I have already got everything ready all I need is more water. I am very scare of this monster. Guess no one has heard of calm before the storm. So, I'm leaving with a few more warnings


1. The world is overpopuled. so many humans, it takes 30 mins to get your food at a fast food place.\

2. this season is going to be strong. the big one will knock wilma off her socks.

erika will make a come back

bye yall

be careful FLORIDA AND TEXAS.

Im praying for you

i try to warn yall
Soylent Green is People!
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I don't care how slowly you say it...you're still wrong...
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Quoting tornadodude:


then say the same thing to those who are debating the cause of global warming

really, football and global warming etc .. we're just talking. the tropics are kinda quiet right now. What's the harm in friendly banter? sheese.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.