The uncertain legacy of Copenhagen

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:39 PM GMT on December 22, 2009

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The Copenhagen (COP15) climate summit is over, and leaves an uncertain legacy. What was accomplished in Copenhagen was far outweighed by what was not accomplished. While the final Copenhagen Accord affirmed that we must hold the warming of our planet below 2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100 to avert dangerous climate change, no timetable for accomplishing that goal was specified. The promises made by the various nations at the summit would likely lead to a 3.9°C warming of the planet, according to an analysis by MIT's Sustainability Institute. Copenhagen did demonstrate that the hype preceding the talks was not undeserved--the stakes involved are huge, and we have an epic political battle on our hands that will afford high drama in 2010. Probably the best summary of the political battle at Copenhagen was posted by author Mark Lynas on the UK Guardian's web site. The title of the article was, "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room".

The leaders for greenhouse gas reductions
While the Copenhagen Summit made it clear that the coming battle will feature the U.S. and China, the voices of two tiny island nations--Tuvalu and The Maldives--will be important as well. When ranked by percentage of population located near the coast at an elevation of ten meters or less, the top five spots are held by small island nations with more than 90% of their population in this Low Elevation Coastal Zone--the Maldives, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos Islands (McGranahan et al., 2007). The very existence of these island nations are threatened by sea level rise due to climate change. The leaders of Tuvalu and The Maldives brought considerable attention to their plight at the Copenhagen conference, and President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, in particular, has made his tiny country a force to be reckoned with in the coming battle.


Figure 1. President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world's first underwater cabinet meeting on October 17, 2009, in order to dramatize the threat sea level rise poses to their country.

The leaders against greenhouse gas reductions
Canada has joined Saudi Arabia as a leading voice against efforts to control emissions of greenhouse gases. According to The Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), which is published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe, Canada ranks second to last in climate policy and in overall efforts to tackle climate change, among the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. Canada's national statement at COP15 featured no commitments of money or targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and Canada also lobbied to change the "base" year from when emission reductions should be computed from 1990 to 2006. Croatia was the only other country to support Canada's position. The notorious political pranksters The Yes Men dramatized Canada's position by issuing a phony press release during COP15 claiming that Canada had come to its senses and was now going to work toward a 40 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions, the type of cut scientists say is necessary if we are to avoid dangerous warming of more than 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Canadian reporters immediately recognized the news release as a hoax. Canadian politics is heavily dominated by the fossil fuel industry, and Canadian reporters immediately saw the impossibility of the Canadian government performing an about-face on climate policy.


Figure 2. The top ten and bottom ten performing countries on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), published annually by Germanwatch and CAN-Europe to rank the efforts to combat climate change of the 57 industrialized countries and emerging economies that together account for more than 90 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions. The ranking system factors in three scores: the emissions level (CO2 per primary energy unit, primary energy unit per GDP, and primary energy unit per capita); the emissions trend (whether emissions are rising or falling), and a subjective rating of the nation's national and international climate policy. Tall bars indicate a higher ranking, and thin bars represent a poor ranking. None of the 57 countries were doing enough to keep global warming below 2°C, so the top three spots on the list were left blank. Image credit: Germanwatch.org.

Comparison with the battle over CFC regulations and the ozone hole
On June 28, 1974, Sherry Rowland and Mario Molina, chemists at the University of California, Irvine, published the first scientific paper warning that human-generated chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) could cause serious harm to Earth's protective ozone layer (Molina and Rowland, 1974). They calculated that if CFC production continued to increase at the going rate of 10%/year until 1990, then remain steady, CFCs would cause a global 5 to 7 percent ozone loss by 1995 and 30 - 50% loss by 2050.

They warned that the loss of ozone would significantly increase the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet UV-B light reaching the surface, greatly increasing skin cancer and cataracts. The loss of stratospheric ozone could also significantly cool the stratosphere, potentially causing destructive climate change. Although no stratospheric ozone loss had been observed yet, CFCs should be banned, they said. A huge international political battle ensued, one that eerily echoes many of the same themes as the battle over global warming. In a 1984 interview in The New Yorker, Dr. Rowland concluded, "Nothing will be done about this problem until there is further evidence that a significant loss of ozone has occurred. Unfortunately, this means that if there is a disaster in the making in the stratosphere we are probably not going to avoid it." These prophetic words were proved true the very next year with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. Speedy action to save the planet from potentially disastrous loss of the ozone layer was realized with the swift implementation of the Montreal Protocol two years later, though.

As was the case with the battle over the CFCs and the ozone layer, I expect it will take a obvious imminent climate change disaster to motivate governments to take strong action. I believed in September 2007 that such an event had occurred, when the Arctic ice cap lost more than half of its area, compared to levels observed in the early 1950s. I was astounded at the nonchalance the event earned in the press and among politicians. But, in hindsight I should not have been surprised, since the stakes are very much higher than the battle to ban CFCs--now we are talking about the fossil fuel industry, the very basis for our modern industrialized society. A very big, very obvious disaster in the making will probably be needed to motivate strong enough action to make a major difference in CO2 emissions. Our climate is certainly capable of generating such an event in the coming decade. Unfortunately, if we wait until a disaster is obviously imminent, we will have far less time to prevent a climate disaster than we had for the ozone depletion crisis. The lifetime of CFCs in the atmosphere is 50 - 140 years, but a substantial portion of the CO2 put in the air stays for thousands of years. According to the 2007 IPCC report, "About 50% of a CO2 increase will be removed from the atmosphere within 30 years, and a further 30% will be removed within a few centuries. The remaining 20% may stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years."

References
McGranahan, G., D. Balk, and B. Anderson, 2007, "The rising tide: assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones", Environment & Urbanization, 19(1), 17-37.

Molina, M.J., and F.S. Rowland, "Stratospheric Sink for Chlorofluoromethanes: Chlorine Atom-Catalyzed Destruction of Ozone", Nature 249, 810-812, 1974.

Next post
Have a great Christmas, everyone, and I'll be back with a new post on Monday (at the latest).

Jeff Masters

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Quoting charlottefl:
A black and white photo taken on January 19, 1977 of a woman named Yvonne Berry cleaning snow off of the windshield of her car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center

The wide lapels were a dead give-away.
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A black and white photo taken on January 19, 1977 of a woman named Yvonne Berry cleaning snow off of the windshield of her car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Photo credit: Courtesy of the Special Collections Department, University of South Florida. Digitization provided by the USF Libraries Digitization Center
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Quoting Chicklit:

okay, i'll keep track of the clothes.


BWAHAHAHAHA! Smart gal. Whatcha' going to do with Press's thong?

I had a bad poodle perm in 1977, looked a lot worse like the lady in the pic.

Can't stay, just wanted to pop in and say hi.
Also afraid to turn the channel back to the 'skins-cowboys game..."Pawn Shop" was a lot interesting and less depressing.

Have a good night; hope Monday won't be too dreary.

ADD...uh oh, that really might be a guy.
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1585. Grothar
Quoting Patrap:



Thats a Guy in the Pic..LOL



OMG, have I gotten that old!
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting Patrap:



Thats a Guy in the Pic..LOL

No offense, but I think the name is 'Pat.'
And it's concensus.
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1583. Patrap
Quoting Grothar:


Pat, the bigger problem is not all the data; it just seems most people do not fully understand the meaning of the word "consensus".


U betcha,

..but some can See Russia from their Porch.

Amazing ,Huh?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
1582. Grothar
Quoting Patrap:
Where do all the Millions of tons of Emissions from Coal,Fossil Oil fuel,and Exhaust,..and runoff,..actually go as its pumped into a closed ecosystem..?

Never seem to get that answered?

I think its the Methane Pixies,and Co2 Fairy's..


But them Guys and Gals falling behind as the PPM's increases.And any student or PHD easily knows the warming is occurring. What the Barking is about is the root cause,or cause and effect percentage.

Not Many Deer Building Coal Fired Plant or Possums driving SUV's and Diesel Burners 24/7/365 either.


Were all Rat's in a Large Scale Planetary Experiment that,to Quote a Phrase of a Good FLick...,that will,

"...change the Face of Iracus..."














Pat, the bigger problem is not all the data; it just seems most people do not fully understand the meaning of the word "consensus".
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
1581. Patrap
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, the woman in your picture looks just like the woman in my picture. What a coincidence.



Thats a Guy in the Pic..LOL
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
1580. Grothar
Quoting charlottefl:
Tampa FL (1977):



Hey, the woman in your picture looks just like the woman in my picture. What a coincidence.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting AstroHurricane001:
PS. I will not have my blog entry ready by today.

what blog. you don't have a blog.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1578. Patrap
Where do all the Millions of tons of Emissions from Coal,Fossil Oil fuel,and Exhaust,..and runoff,..actually go as its pumped into a closed ecosystem..?

Never seem to get that answered?

I think its the Methane Pixies,and Co2 Fairy's..


But them Guys and Gals falling behind as the PPM's increases.And any student or PHD easily knows the warming is occurring. What the Barking is about is the root cause,or cause and effect percentage.

Not Many Deer Building Coal Fired Plant or Possums driving SUV's and Diesel Burners 24/7/365 either.


Were all Rat's in a Large Scale Planetary Experiment that,to Quote a Phrase of a Good FLick...,that will,

"...change the Face of Iracus..."












Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Tampa FL (1977):



Haha.. You know what they say "great minds think alike"
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Quoting presslord:
...let's start a poker game...

okay, i'll keep track of the clothes.
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1575. Grothar
Quoting weatherbro:


The I-4 corridor in Orlando received 6" accumulations that day. Though shockingly OIA missed the brunt of that once in a lifetime snowfall as they only received a dusting. Many in Tampa and Orlando had to brush snow off of their cars before heading to work.



Here is a stock photo from Tampa 1977 for you.

Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting Grothar:


I was born on Long Island, but lived in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Greenland (after it was green), Italy and a few other places. I studied mostly in Europe but also attended high school on Long Island and some Universities here as well. My mother's family moved to Florida in 1923 and we always maintained a home here. Never like the cold. I settled in Miami-Ft.Lauderdale permanently years ago, but still travel quite frequently.


I was born in West Palm Beach and moved to Lake Worth. God I am boring.
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1573. Grothar
Quoting weatherbro:


The I-4 corridor in Orlando received 6" accumulations that day. Though shockingly OIA missed the brunt of that once in a lifetime snowfall as they only received a dusting. Many in Tampa and Orlando had to brush snow off of their cars before heading to work.


Where were you at the time?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
1572. Grothar
Quoting AstroHurricane001:


That sounds like you're suited only to warm temperatures. By your handle I thought you lived in Norway, but evidently not, are you from New England/Eastern CONUS? High 80's Farenheit for me would be almost uncomfortably hot if it's humid.


I was born on Long Island, but lived in Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Greenland (after it was green), Italy and a few other places. I studied mostly in Europe but also attended high school on Long Island and some Universities here as well. My mother's family moved to Florida in 1923 and we always maintained a home here. Never like the cold. I settled in Miami-Ft.Lauderdale permanently years ago, but still travel quite frequently.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting Grothar:
Jan. 19, 1977: The day it snowed in Miami
Thirty years ago today, it snowed in South Florida. To some, that was the equivalent of hell freezing over. Many still remember the day.
BY LUISA YANEZ
lyanez@MiamiHerald.com
(This story was originally published January 19, 2007.)

Forecaster Ray Biedinger looked at the screen of his trusty weather radar in the wee hours of Jan. 19, 1977, and knew what he had to do.

The bitter cold front barreling south across the state during his midnight shift at the old National Weather Service office in Coral Gables left him no choice but to hold his breath and issue one of Miami's most unusual forecasts:

"Cold with rain showers and the possibility of snow, " Biedinger wrote.

"I didn't put snow first, if you notice, " he said recently. But he got it right.

Thirty years ago today, snowflakes briefly dusted palm trees, windshields and people from Miami to West Palm Beach -- a freak but brief winter wonderland and the only South Florida snowfall on record in the 20th century.

Shivering South Floridians, young and old, looked up into the sky in total amazement as flakes landed on their faces.

In those early-morning hours, snowflakes fell as far south as Homestead and daytime temperatures for the region dipped in the low 30s. But by 9:30 a.m., South Florida's big snow show was over, melted by the sun's rays.


The I-4 corridor in Orlando received 6" accumulations that day. Though shockingly OIA missed the brunt of that once in a lifetime snowfall as they only received a dusting. Many in Tampa and Orlando had to brush snow off of their cars before heading to work.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
maybe its not climate change but climate shift remember newtons law for every action expect a reaction

It doesnt really matter if its "change" or "shift", the AGW crowd cant comprehend Newtons 3rd law very well for some reason...Since they think ONE meteorological variable(temp) can perpetually increase, due to a TRACE gas, in which, only part of this trace gas, man is responsible...Such a fairy tale! And all that keeps them afloat are those unreliable climate models.....garbage in=garbage out....

Consensus? No way! link

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Being one of those "native born" Floridians, I enjoy a cold spell or two. This winter season appears it will easily outdo last winter.
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1568. Patrap
In NOLA in Aug thru Sept,one can actually see Tourist Melt right out in Jackson Square.

Nothing usually left but a puddle,a cell phone,Burmuda Shorts..lil Hats and shoes.

Sometimes a tour Map too.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127702
Quoting aquak9:
back in the day, eh hydrus? nowadays- no fires, no rums, just aimless wanderings of drunk teenagers and homeless folks on the local beaches at night.

Bordonaro- I do remember the late 70's, early 80's winters here as being brutal..


If the Computer model run in #1513 is correct Arctic/Siberian air eill be drawn down to the Central Plains on 1-5-10. It will spill down the front range of the Rockies!
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
You get used to the humidity.. 80's here is comfortable especially when you compare it to upper 90's with high humidity that we get in the summer. Guess it's all relative, compared to what you're used to.
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PS. I will not have my blog entry ready by today.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks Keeper, but that is too cold for me. Any way you can adjust those colors? I don't function well below 70 deg.


That sounds like you're suited only to warm temperatures. By your handle I thought you lived in Norway, but evidently not, are you from New England/Eastern CONUS? High 80's Farenheit for me would be almost uncomfortably hot if it's humid.
Member Since: August 30, 2008 Posts: 8 Comments: 2835
Quoting Grothar:



I bid two spades.


how's Florida?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1562. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
i got six of them on the roof i see what i can do

lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1561. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
you want snow for fla hang on i will point the tubo's s se for awhile
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1560. Grothar
Quoting tornadodude:


all in



I bid two spades.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting Drakoen:
30s (yellow) all the way down to the Dade County:



U.S.A next week Sunday morning minimum temps:



It's still early, but this has the potential to be like what your graph shows. The high is of polar origin, and those are the ones that can give southern florida very cold temps. We'll see how the models do over the next few days.

Adrian
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1558. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting presslord:
...let's start a poker game...

SURE
how about a hand of blind man's bluff
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Quoting presslord:
...let's start a poker game...


all in
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Grothar:
Jan. 19, 1977: The day it snowed in Miami
Thirty years ago today, it snowed in South Florida. To some, that was the equivalent of hell freezing over. Many still remember the day.
BY LUISA YANEZ
lyanez@MiamiHerald.com
(This story was originally published January 19, 2007.)

Forecaster Ray Biedinger looked at the screen of his trusty weather radar in the wee hours of Jan. 19, 1977, and knew what he had to do.

The bitter cold front barreling south across the state during his midnight shift at the old National Weather Service office in Coral Gables left him no choice but to hold his breath and issue one of Miami's most unusual forecasts:

"Cold with rain showers and the possibility of snow, " Biedinger wrote.

"I didn't put snow first, if you notice, " he said recently. But he got it right.

Thirty years ago today, snowflakes briefly dusted palm trees, windshields and people from Miami to West Palm Beach -- a freak but brief winter wonderland and the only South Florida snowfall on record in the 20th century.

Shivering South Floridians, young and old, looked up into the sky in total amazement as flakes landed on their faces.

In those early-morning hours, snowflakes fell as far south as Homestead and daytime temperatures for the region dipped into the low 30s. But by 9:30 a.m., South Florida's big snow show was over, melted by the sun's rays.


I was in high school that day...and I still remember one of the headlines in the Palm Beach Post...Our local K Mart mistakenly received an order of snow shovels!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1555. Grothar
Jan. 19, 1977: The day it snowed in Miami
Thirty years ago today, it snowed in South Florida. To some, that was the equivalent of hell freezing over. Many still remember the day.
BY LUISA YANEZ
lyanez@MiamiHerald.com
(This story was originally published January 19, 2007.)

Forecaster Ray Biedinger looked at the screen of his trusty weather radar in the wee hours of Jan. 19, 1977, and knew what he had to do.

The bitter cold front barreling south across the state during his midnight shift at the old National Weather Service office in Coral Gables left him no choice but to hold his breath and issue one of Miami's most unusual forecasts:

"Cold with rain showers and the possibility of snow, " Biedinger wrote.

"I didn't put snow first, if you notice, " he said recently. But he got it right.

Thirty years ago today, snowflakes briefly dusted palm trees, windshields and people from Miami to West Palm Beach -- a freak but brief winter wonderland and the only South Florida snowfall on record in the 20th century.

Shivering South Floridians, young and old, looked up into the sky in total amazement as flakes landed on their faces.

In those early-morning hours, snowflakes fell as far south as Homestead and daytime temperatures for the region dipped into the low 30s. But by 9:30 a.m., South Florida's big snow show was over, melted by the sun's rays.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
...let's start a poker game...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe its not climate change but climate shift remember newtons law for every action expect a reaction


I agree this is a natural cycle...but I also agree man is somewhat contributing to the slow expedience of the cycle.
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1552. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
there are billions of actions
but only one reaction
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1551. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Record lows across the country...record snowfalls across the country...record snowfalls across globe...yes, there is global warming Virginia. It's just the planet is going through a major climate change. You GW believers make me laugh!
maybe its not climate change but climate shift remember newtons law for every action expect a reaction
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1550. Grothar
Quoting presslord:
I'm pretty sure WPB recognizes my twisted sense of humor...


I'm sure he does. I always did. It takes a twisted mind to recognize another. That is why I enjoy your posts so much.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting presslord:
I'm pretty sure WPB recognizes my twisted sense of humor...


Yes...I am being an arse tonight. The sad thing is...some bloggers are shaking their head yes, that makes sense.
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1548. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Global Warming??? Hah!!!! The way the climate is currently changing around the world drastically proves all you GW believers wrong!
its called nino and my self is awaitin severe season and see how all the nums add up these are all clues to other seasonal patterns yet to come i will not lied when i say i expect an active severe season how active remains to be seen and along what lines this activity will be
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1547. hydrus
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Global Warming??? Hah!!!! The way the climate is currently changing around the world drastically proves all you GW believers wrong!
There are so many opinions about GW. I believe Mother Earth would still be getting warmer regardless of our existence here. Are we speeding it up? Who really knows.
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Quoting presslord:


please pass the Vicodin...I'm getting a headache...


Record lows across the country...record snowfalls across the country...record snowfalls across globe...yes, there is global warming Virginia. It's just the planet is going through a major climate change. You GW believers make me laugh!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm pretty sure WPB recognizes my twisted sense of humor...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
1544. Grothar
Quoting presslord:


please pass the Vicodin...I'm getting a headache...


He is just injecting a little sarcasm into the conversation!....... I hope. LOL
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
1543. Grothar
Quoting presslord:
I don't function well below 70 deg.

me either Gro...


Now you know why the Vikings were always on their little ships looking for new places to live; they just wanted out!!! Hey, press, too bad they didn't go a little further south.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


Global Warming??? Hah!!!! The way the climate is currently changing around the world drastically proves all you GW believers wrong!


please pass the Vicodin...I'm getting a headache...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting hydrus:
Lol. This is only the beginning Press. Nor-Easters, blizzards, ice-storms and squall lines. Should be interesting to see how this winter evolves. This is not a doomcast, I call them as I sees um>:)


Global Warming??? Hah!!!! The way the climate is currently changing around the world drastically proves all you GW believers wrong!
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I don't function well below 70 deg.

me either Gro...
Member Since: August 13, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10479
Quoting Grothar:


Thanks Keeper, but that is too cold for me. Any way you can adjust those colors? I don't function well below 70 deg.


That explains a lot! :)
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1538. Grothar
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:



gfs-mrf
global forecast system/medium range forcast


Thanks Keeper, but that is too cold for me. Any way you can adjust those colors? I don't function well below 70 deg.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25542

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