Mother Nature's face is not aging slowly or gracefully

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:49 PM GMT on April 22, 2013

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"Mother Nature's face is not aging slowly or gracefully, the wrinkles and scars caused by accumulating greenhouse gases are already visible. The good news? Extreme weather is also chiseling fissures and gaping holes in the climate deniers' bunker, leaving a crumbling foundation for their arguments. Moving on, it's time to prepare for the unusual weather ahead that is likely to become usual." So writes Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers in her short essay for Earth Day 2013, "The Changing Face of Mother Nature." Dr. Francis' piece is part of a special Earth Day 2013 microsite wunderground has put together, featuring original short essays from seven of the planet's leading climate scientists and climate science communicators. Today is a day to appreciate our planet which sustains all life, a day to reflect on its beauty, and a day to draw attention to the challenges we face to maintain a livable environment for our steadily growing population. Below is a short synopsis of our seven contributors' work.


Figure 1. My favorite wunderphoto of 2012: high-level cirrus clouds containing ice crystals act as prisms, creating this beautiful "Sky Painting" captured by wunderphotographer Doesiedoats over Williams, Oregon on August 7, 2012. As is my tradition on Earth Day, I provide links at the bottom of my Earth Day post to my favorite wunderphotos taken by the wunderground community over the past year. Keep on looking up and sharing your view of the sky!

The Increased Risk of Drought under Global Warming
Drought is the greatest threat civilization faces from climate change, because drought affects the two things we need to live--food and water. Drought expert Dr. Aiguo Dai of SUNY Albany reviews the latest drought predictions from climate models and their "dire projection of increased risk of severe droughts," in his piece, "The Increased Risk of Drought under Global Warming".

The Changing Face of Mother Nature
It seem as though the weather gods have gone berserk in recent years, as nearly every day the headlines report unusual droughts, floods, prolonged cold and snow, heat waves, or unusual weather events happening somewhere around the globe. Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers explains how the unprecedented melting of sea ice and snow in the Arctic may be contributing to this onslaught in her contribution, "The Changing Face of Mother Nature."

My Climate Change
"I used to be very skeptical about global warming, unconvinced that humans had anything to do with it or that it was affecting the weather," writes Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "But then that changed." Find out why he changed his mind in his piece, "My Climate Change."

Closing the Consensus Gap on Climate Change
The general public think less than half of climate scientists agree that humans are causing global warming. The reality is 97%. Dr. John Cook, Climate Change Communication Fellow for the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, explains the challenges of climate science communication in his contribution, "Closing the Consensus Gap on Climate Change."

The Arctic's Shrinking Sea Ice Cover
The emerging view is that the Arctic will lose essentially all of its summer sea ice cover by the end of this century, perhaps as early as 2030-2040. Dr. Mark Serreze, Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, discusses the implications in his post, "The Arctic's Shrinking Sea Ice Cover."

How Do We Know Humans are Responsible for Global Warming?
We know Earth is warming, but how do we know that human activities are primarily responsible? Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State explains the evidence in his contribution, "How Do We Know Humans are Responsible for Global Warming?"

Is This Global Warming?
Lately, whenever there is a severe weather or climate event that causes a lot of damage - like a severe heatwave, drought, hurricane or tornado - scientists are asked some version of the question, "Is this global warming?" Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh of Stanford University explains what climate science can and cannot say about the answer to this question in his piece, "Is This Global Warming?"

Other Earth Day contributions
Wunderground Community member Skyepony has contributed a piece called "Earth Day 2013: Waiting to Get Fracked."

A new documentary called Thin Ice follows scientists at work in the Arctic, Antarctic, Southern Ocean, New Zealand, Europe and the USA.  They talk about their work, and their hopes and fears, with a rare candor and directness. This creates an intimate portrait of the global community of researchers racing to understand our planet's changing climate. Over 100 college campuses and art theaters are hosting screenings this week.

Jeff Masters

Caroline Bruenn Photography (TheBruenns)
dust storm over Alamogordo
Caroline Bruenn Photography
Strange sky.. (PnDspgs)
in Mossy head Fl. I've never seen the clouds quite like this in N. Florida.
Strange sky..
Lighthunt (Altred)
Lighthunt
Odd Cloud (Wyldman)
Odd cloud near Beaver Rim in Wyoming
Odd Cloud
A Little Light... (ceocrocker)
Amazing what sunlight, river debris and a little skim of ice can produce!
A Little Light...
Haboob #7 (nukegm)
Another dust storm rolling into town.
Haboob #7

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A few hail reports tonight, mostly from one supercell that started over KS and has moved south into OK.



Overall though, this is an extremely quiet severe weather pattern. No big events in sight.
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Quoting nymore:
I agree they have a good idea but as Masters shows the underlying signal shown is not the actual underlying signal.

The way I see it is the graph and conclusions should not be used until this is sorted out.


I would say that if someone wants to use the F&R paper they should include a warning that someone has questioned part of their findings. The Master's paper hasn't undergone adequate review as far as I can tell. It could also be the case that he has made the mistake.

That aside, the recent slow down in surface temperature increase is meaningless. Annual global temperature measurements are so "noisy" that it takes several years to determine if there has been an actual change in warming rate. I think the number is somewhere around 15 (+/-3) years. For now the apparent slowing is "interesting" but nothing more until we get several years more data.
Member Since: September 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
325. SLU
Quoting Gearsts:
And we need to watch the steering pattern for this year as well.


It could favour more westward moving storms according to the UKMET and CFS.
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324. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


Also the tripole causing most of the energy to concentrate on the MDR instead in the subtropics.


Yes I meant to mention that too.
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Quoting DoctorDave1:
The continuing snowstorms, the dearth of tornadoes, all totally expected consequences of climate change.
Extremes in weather are, indeed, an expected consequence of a changing climate. Remember,
"extreme" neither always nor necessarily means "a whole bunch of". With precipitation, "extreme" ranges from deep and prolonged drought to sustained, flood-producing rainfall; with tornadoes, "extreme" ranges from many more than average to far fewer than average. And so on...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13611
GFS Ensembles aren't bullish about any warmth across the East or Central USA in general for the first few days of May as they had been the past few days.



Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
The continuing snowstorms, the dearth of tornadoes, all totally expected consequences of climate change.
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Quoting SLU:


Lifting ITCZ, increasing instability in the MDR, lowering pressures in the MDR, warming SSTs, increasing likelihood of a neutral or even cool biased ENSO, lowering wind shear in the MDR, slower than normal trades.....
And we need to watch the steering pattern for this year as well.
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1960
Quoting SLU:


Lifting ITCZ, increasing instability in the MDR, lowering pressures in the MDR, warming SSTs, increasing likelihood of a neutral or even cool biased ENSO, lowering wind shear in the MDR, slower than normal trades.....


Also the tripole causing most of the energy to concentrate on the MDR instead in the subtropics.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14568
317. SLU
Quoting SLU:


Lifting ITCZ, increasing instability in the MDR, lowering pressures in the MDR, warming SSTs, increasing likelihood of a neutral or even cool biased ENSO, lowering wind shear in the MDR, slower than normal trades.....
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316. SLU
Quoting SLU:


You can actually see how all the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together ...


Lifting ITCZ, increasing instability in the MDR, lowering pressures in the MDR, warming SSTs, increasing likelihood of a neutral or even cool biased ENSO, lowering wind shear in the MDR, slower than normal trades.....
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315. DDR
Quoting Levi32:


That's probably because the last 3 years have all been either spring La Ninas or rapidly falling El Ninos. That atmospheric state combined with a warm AMO in the Atlantic tends to force the ITCZ closer to the Caribbean.

Thanks Levi
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1711
314. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
For the first time in 2013 the vertical instability is above average in the Tropical Atlantic.



You can actually see how all the pieces of the puzzle are slowly coming together ...
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Quoting nymore:
It is hard to not understand this

Note that by pause in global warming I am specifically referring to a near-halt in the underlying low-frequency signal of surface temperatures (not ocean heat content), a signal not influenced by the typical exogenous factors of ENSO, volcanoes, or solar activity. This has been recently attempted in Foster and Rahmstorf (2011), from which they conclude that from the removal of these three factors via multiple regression they have isolat[ed] the global warming signal and that there is no indication of any slowdown or acceleration of global warming, beyond the variability induced by these known natural factors. Rahmstorf et al. (2012) proceeds to compare this adjusted temperature evolution to model projections, which I think is particularly dangerous if what you get after this multiple regression approach is not the underlying signal.

I see some are still in denial. I find it funny when alarmist turn into denialists


It's funny when you misrepresent what he was investigating. He actually makes the statement that the multiple regression technique "can" lead to misleading results, he makes no claim that Foster and Rahmstorf's result are indeed misleading. There's a fine line there that you should look into. Master's paper is interesting from a methodological standpoint on regression analysis and did not prove/disprove anything in regards to Foster and Rahmstorf.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
For the first time in 2013 the vertical instability is above average in the Tropical Atlantic.



Let's see how this goes in the next few months.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
For the first time in 2013 the vertical instability is above average in the Tropical Atlantic.

Is about time!
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1960
For the first time in 2013 the vertical instability is above average in the Tropical Atlantic.

Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14568
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1960

I LOVE Florida pop up summer storms! This was taken from my house last August with my citrus trees in view.

Is it just me or do these storms seem to be starting unusually early in South Florida this year?
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Quoting BobChecks:


Thanks, but I think you misread the Masters paper.

Here are the take-aways for me...

"First, I will note that the influence of ENSO is diagnosed extremely well."

"Second, we see that the solar influence is largely over-estimated."

"However, the biggest error here comes from an underestimate of the volcanic influence. Whereas the regression “removal” essentially sees the influence of the exogenous factor end after the forcing ends (plus whatever lag is diagnosed), the energy balance model used here shows a continuing influence through the last decade as part of the recovery."

None of that refutes Forster and Rahmstorf paper, it's more of a "fine tuning" unless further work shows that they made a major mistake with the volcanic part.

Going to be interesting to see how this works out.
I agree they have a good idea but as Masters shows the underlying signal shown is not the actual underlying signal.

The way I see it is the graph and conclusions should not be used until this is sorted out.
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305. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


And I would say ominous pattern shaping up for us.


I'd agree and say that persons in the Caribbean and by extension the US mainland will need to listen closely to their local weather reports his hurricane season.
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Quoting nymore:
Sure

Skeptical Science Link

Skeptical Science has another one on another article to but it says the same thing so will not link here, if you want though you can still find it at their site.

The new info is here Link

You can click on top of the page to go to his homepage and read parts 2 and 3


Thanks, but I think you misread the Masters paper.

Here are the take-aways for me...

"First, I will note that the influence of ENSO is diagnosed extremely well."

"Second, we see that the solar influence is largely over-estimated."

"However, the biggest error here comes from an underestimate of the volcanic influence. Whereas the regression “removal” essentially sees the influence of the exogenous factor end after the forcing ends (plus whatever lag is diagnosed), the energy balance model used here shows a continuing influence through the last decade as part of the recovery."

None of that refutes Forster and Rahmstorf paper, it's more of a "fine tuning" unless further work shows that they made a major mistake with the volcanic part.

Going to be interesting to see how this works out.
Member Since: September 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
nice red color off the east coast!!
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Quoting SLU:


Very much in line with some of the seasonal forecasts for April/May from the computer models. Things are starting to fall into place nicely....


And I would say ominous pattern shaping up for us.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14568
It is hard to not understand this

Note that by pause in global warming I am specifically referring to a near-halt in the underlying low-frequency signal of surface temperatures (not ocean heat content), a signal not influenced by the typical exogenous factors of ENSO, volcanoes, or solar activity. This has been recently attempted in Foster and Rahmstorf (2011), from which they conclude that from the removal of these three factors via multiple regression they have isolat[ed] the global warming signal and that there is no indication of any slowdown or acceleration of global warming, beyond the variability induced by these known natural factors. Rahmstorf et al. (2012) proceeds to compare this adjusted temperature evolution to model projections, which I think is particularly dangerous if what you get after this multiple regression approach is not the underlying signal.

I see some are still in denial. I find it funny when alarmist turn into denialists
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What's the difference if someone interprets the Dr's blogs to say it's 32/70 or 12/70? Why even debate the matter? It's obvious that the Dr. is 70/70 in his desire to spread his thoughts.....and it seems to me that he's got every right to try his best to expound his views so others can understand as he sees things...it is his blog. I think he does a good job with the only caveat being that I missed his more detailed analysis of tropical cyclones last season as opposed to previous seasons...and I would like to see if possible more on this front.
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299. SLU
Quoting Levi32:


Both Week 1 and Week 2 are forecasted to see an anomalous intrusion of ITCZ moisture into at least the southern islands.





Very much in line with some of the seasonal forecasts for April/May from the computer models. Things are starting to fall into place nicely....
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Quoting BobChecks:


I'm not aware of that. Can you furnish a link?
This was discussed at length in Dr. Rood's blog forum just a few days ago, with the determination not that Foster and Rahmstorf were wrong, but that some denialist types were having trouble understanding the work and wording of Troy Masters. It appears as though that's till the case...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13611
Quoting DDR:
Levi whats your take on the copious amounts of moisture over the eastern caribbean islands,seems like a pattern every April for the last 2 or 3 years?


That's probably because the last 3 years have all been either spring La Ninas or rapidly falling El Ninos. That atmospheric state combined with a warm AMO in the Atlantic tends to force the ITCZ closer to the Caribbean.
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Levi have you ever experience a hurricane before?


Nope, but I want to really bad. Maybe if I get accepted to FSU I will get to.



I moved to the FL panhandle in 2000 and lived there till 2004 right before the hurricanes. While living in Illinois for 3 years, I became very interested in hurricanes. Moved back to the panhandle in 07, and of course, nothing yet.

I really want to experience one for the meteorological aspect of it though!
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Quoting BobChecks:


I'm not aware of that. Can you furnish a link?
Sure

Skeptical Science Link

Skeptical Science has another one on another article to but it says the same thing so will not link here, if you want though you can still find it at their site.

The new info is here Link

You can click on top of the page to go to his homepage and read parts 2 and 3
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I watch this when I get bored.

Nature is scary.

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32528
292. DDR
Levi whats your take on the copious amounts of moisture over the eastern caribbean islands,seems like a pattern every April for the last 2 or 3 years?
Member Since: April 27, 2007 Posts: 14 Comments: 1711
Quoting SLU:


It seems the ITCZ could drift even further north in the coming days and end the extreme dry spell in northern South America too.


Both Week 1 and Week 2 are forecasted to see an anomalous intrusion of ITCZ moisture into at least the southern islands.



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Quoting nymore:
New information has recently come to light about the study from Foster and Rahmstorf questioning the conclusions. The graph you posted is questionable at best and much more than likely wrong. Skeptical Science has even acknowledged as much.


I'm not aware of that. Can you furnish a link?
Member Since: September 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
288. whitewabit (Mod)
Quoting Levi32:


Nope, but I want to really bad. Maybe if I get accepted to FSU I will get to.


be careful of what you wish for !!!
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Just to mention where I stand. I believe that humans are most likely affecting the climate to some degree, I just personally believe that at this point it is very hard to know to what degree of impact there is. I think that it could have barely any effect on the climate, or it could be as close to as what blogs like Dr. Master's are saying.

And to close out, I would like to say that whether we are barely having any impact on this climate or if we are destroying it alarmingly as some say, we should always try to keep it as pristine as possible given the circumstances, and be good stewards of this world we live, benefit, and breathe the very air from.
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286. SLU
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


It looks like they forecast it to start moving NE pretty quicly. Notice the ITCZ a little more north than it was in the past few weeks.


It seems the ITCZ could drift even further north in the coming days and end the extreme dry spell in northern South America too.
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Quoting BobChecks:


That's an interesting take.

You think Jeff should post the anti-science as well as the science?

How would he go about doing that?
Scientists: 1 + 1 = 2

Denialists: 1 + 1 = 3

What some would have Dr. Masters write: 1 + 1 = 2.5
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13611
Quoting BobChecks:


I don't understand your question.

Are you talking about recent year surface temperatures before they are adjusted for solar, volcanic and ENSO inputs? If so, yes, one would think that temps were running on the low side.

If you take out the solar, ENSO, volcanic inputs as Foster and Rahmstorf (2011) did then you see that we're continuing to cook ourselves very effectively.

New information has recently come to light about the study from Foster and Rahmstorf questioning the conclusions. The graph you posted is questionable at best and much more than likely wrong. Skeptical Science has even acknowledged as much.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
Anybody believe it?

What does the data say about this part?

"An active sun warms the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere through ozone absorption of additional ultraviolet (UV) radiation."

If it does warm the upper troposphere, then there would seem to be a mechanism, and it would be believable. Whether it happens in fact is another question.

Edit: Other factors might exert a greater influence, too.
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Quoting bjrabbit:
There seems to be a lot of preaching to the choir by Dr. Masters on this blog....I wonder why?

Back in the day, it was vogue to present both sides of an argument and then let the informed reader decide. I realize this is Dr. Master's blog...but, you will never see anything counter to the GW pack mentality.




That's an interesting take.

You think Jeff should post the anti-science as well as the science?

How would he go about doing that?
Member Since: September 18, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 134
Quoting Gearsts:
Levi have you ever experience a hurricane before?


Nope, but I want to really bad. Maybe if I get accepted to FSU I will get to.
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Quoting Levi32:


Thanks for spoiling the surprise lol.
Levi have you ever experience a hurricane before?
Member Since: August 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1960



Tropicsweatherpr that gos too show that no one nos how too keep ther mouth shut
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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.