The Climate Change Storm

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:14 PM GMT on April 06, 2007

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Significant climate change is already occurring, will grow dramatically, and will cause serious disruptions to natural ecosystems and the lives of billions of people world-wide over the coming century. We need to better prepare for the inevitable changes--and attempt to lessen the magnitude of the these changes by reducing greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible. That's the take-home message from today's latest report from the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Every six years, the IPCC releases a huge, influential study detailing the state of Earth's climate. Part 1 of the 2007 report, summarizing the science of climate change, was released in February. Today's summary, titled "Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" addressed the likely impacts of climate change on Earth's ecosystems and people. Not all of the expected changes will be harmful--the IPCC emphasizes that "impacts of future climate change will be mixed across regions" for temperature rises of 1 to 3 �C above 1990 levels, with the big losers being the poor developing countries. However, if global warming exceeds 2 to 3 �C, the IPCC states it is very likely that all regions of the globe will suffer increased costs or declining benefits. I believe it is the responsibility of every citizen of the planet to take the 30 minutes needed to read the IPCC summary and familiarize themselves with what the world's top scientists say about the likely impacts of climate change. The scope and severity of the Earth-shaking changes that lie ahead present a breathtakingly formidable challenge for humanity.


Figure 1. Locations of significant changes in physical systems (snow, ice and frozen ground, hydrology, coastal processes) and biological systems (land, ocean, and freshwater) from 1970 to 2004. Between 90% and 100% of these changes are consistent with warming global temperatures, due in large part to human-emitted greenhouse gases. White areas are where not enough data existed to determine a temperature change. Figure 1 is a simplified form of Figure SPM-1 of the 2007 IPCC document, "Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability--Summary for Policy Makers."

Observed impacts of climate change to date
The IPCC report begins by summarizing observed changes in physical systems (snow, ice and frozen ground, hydrology, coastal processes) and biological systems (land, ocean, and freshwater) reported in 577 papers in the scientific literature between 1990 and 2004 (Figure 1). They conclude, "Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases." Examples for which they are highly (80% chance) or very highly confident (>90% chance) of include:

Earlier bird migrations and leaf unfolding
Poleward shifts in the ranges of various plant and animal species
Shifts in the ranges and numbers of ocean species near the poles
Earlier migrations of fish in rivers
Earlier and increased peaks in spring run-off from glacier- and snow-fed rivers
Warming of lakes and rivers
More and bigger glacial lakes
Melting permafrost

Medium confidence effects (50% chance of being true) observed in the Northern Hemisphere include:

Earlier spring planting of crops
Increases in forest fires and pest damage to forests
Heat-related deaths in Europe, spread of disease in some areas, and changes in allergenic pollen
Hunting and travel by humans over Arctic snow and ice

Future impacts
This is where the IPCC report gets very sobering. Keep in mind that the predicted future impacts may be understated, given the cautious nature of scientists--and the fact that the final version was edited by government officials, who changed the original conclusions of the scientists. I'll present just of few of the more mind-boggling impacts (in blue, with my comments in black), and leave the rest for the interested reader to discover:

The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution, over-exploitation of resources) (high confidence).
In other words, some ecosystems will collapse, putting the people who depend on these ecosystems in grave peril.
Many millions more people are projected to be flooded every year due to sea-level rise by the 2080s. Those densely-populated and low-lying areas where adaptive capacity is relatively low, and which already face other challenges such as tropical storms or local coastal subsidence, are especially at risk. The numbers affected will be largest in the mega-deltas of Asia and Africa while small islands are especially vulnerable (very high confidence).
Expect damage and human suffering from hurricanes to greatly increase in coming decades, thanks to higher seas levels.
There is medium confidence that at least partial deglaciation of the Greenland ice sheet, and possibly the West Antarctic ice sheet, would occur over a period of time ranging from centuries to millennia for a global average temperature increase of 1-4 �C (relative to 1990-2000), causing a contribution to sea level rise of 4-6 m or more.
Along with drought and ecosystem collapse, sea level rise is my big concern. Sea level before the most recent ice age was about 4-6 meters (13-20 feet) higher than today, at global temperatures that we expect to match by 2100. The IPCC states that a sea level rise of 0.6-1.9 feet (0.18-0.58 meters) is expected by 2100, and a 4-6 meter rise is not likely for centuries. However, our understanding of the response of glaciers to climate warming is poor. An unexpected rapid partial disintegration of the Greenland or West Antarctic ice sheets later this century raising sea levels by 2 meters (6 feet) has at least a 1% chance of occurring, in my opinion.

Conclusion
The language of the 2007 IPCC climate report is couched in uncertainly, but the broad picture is clear: future climate change may rival or exceed a World War in its effect on society. Steps to lessen its impact and adapt to it need to be made as soon as possible. The cost in lives, dollars, and human suffering will be far greater if we do not.

In his 2006 book, The Revenge of Gaia, philosopher-scientist James Lovelock writes, "I am old enough to notice a remarkable similarity between attitudes over sixty years ago towards the threat of war and those now towards the threat of global heating. Most of us think that something unpleasant may soon happen, but we are as confused as we were in 1938 over what form it will take and what to do about it. Our response so far is just like that before the Second World War, and attempt to appease. The Kyoto agreement was uncannily like that of Munich, with politicians out to show they do respond but in reality playing for time...Battle will soon be joined, and what we face now is far more deadly than any blitzkrieg."

The climate change storm is coming, and the wind is already starting to rise.

Next blog
My next blog will be Monday afternoon or Tuesday. I've got several topics in mind--tornadoes in Chicago, Greenland glaciers, or hurricane model improvements.

Jeff Masters

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691. TheCaneWhisperer
7:55 PM GMT on April 09, 2007


Make sure the picture is not too big, otherwise you will blow the margins on the blog.
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690. TheCaneWhisperer
7:44 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Knowing that the evaporation transfer during a cool period is less (less heat transfer). The recent warming off the coast of Central America could be another visible sign of the coming La Nina!
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689. DocBen
7:50 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Is that blob lifting northwards?
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688. Hellsniper223
7:45 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
What is the bloody code for inserting an immage here?
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687. hurricanic
7:39 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Too bad it's just a blob...

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us
Member Since: August 9, 2006 Posts: 7 Comments: 130
686. TheCaneWhisperer
7:10 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
In my reading! This evaporation transfer in central america plays a big role in the North Atlantic. So I would think that if the Gulf Stream were shut down, it would affect the transfer of dense salt water, thus increasing the impact in the North Atlantic. Also a build-up salty, warm ocean water. Creating a dead sea, if you will, in the Carribian.
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684. Fl30258713
7:05 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
California group's answer to climate puzzler improves the accuracy of global climate data (8/11/2005)

A curious puzzle in the study of climate science has been solved, and that solution is helping scientists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) make the satellite record of global climate change more reliable than it was previously.

Research published this week by Carl Mears and Frank Wentz of Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) in Santa Rosa, Calif., identifies a problem that kept the UAH group from accurately correcting one error caused by NOAA satellites drifting in their orbits over the past 26 years.

The net result of changes in how the data are analyzed added about 0.09 C (about 0.16 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming over the past 26 years, with most of that previously unreported warming occurring in the tropics.


More at: http://www.uah.edu/news/newsread.php?newsID=60

There are bunch of other articles about improvements they have made with satellite data related to reading atmospheric temperatures from After Aug '05.
There are lots of wrong assumptions prior to this time from the bad data.
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683. Fl30258713
6:55 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
SatBeachFL,

That chart only gooes to 2002 so I'm guess it was one of those reports made from bad data from satellite drift.

11 Aug 2005
Et Tu LT?
Filed under: Climate Science Climate modelling Instrumental Record gavin @ 2:20 pm
In previous posts we have stressed that discrepancies between models and observations force scientists to re-examine the foundations of both the modelling and the interpretation of the data. So it has been for the apparent discrepancies between the Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) lower tropospheric temperature records (MSU 2LT), radiosonde records and the climate models that try to simulate the climate of the last few decades. Three papers this week in Science Express, Mears et al, Santer et al (on which I'm a co-author) and Sherwood et al show that the discrepancy has been mostly resolved - in favour of the models.

It is worth encapsulating exactly what the problems have been and why they have taken so long to resolve. The MSU records are derived from a series of satellites that have been in orbit since late 1978. Each satellite has had different calibration problems (due to orbital decay, sensor issues etc.) and stringing them together has been fraught with difficulty. Different groups have made different decisions about how to do this and this has lead to quite some differences in MSU products particularly between the UAH group (Spencer and Christy) and the RSS group (Wentz, Mears and colleagues) . The differences have been mostly seen in the trends, rather than the monthly or interannual variability, and so have been more difficult to validate. Incidentally, it is a clear sign of 'cherry-picking' when people only report their favorite one of the groups' trends instead of the range.

There have been three principle MSU products: Channel 4, Channel 2 and the 2LT records. MSU-4 is a record of lower stratospheric temperatures, MSU-2 is mainly mid-troposphere combined with a significant chunk of the lower stratosphere, and MSU-2LT is an attempt to use more viewing angles to try remove the stratospheric influence from MSU-2 and leave a lower-tropospheric record. (Recent upgrades to newer satellite instruments with more channels have lead to the 2LT record being renamed the TLT record).

The disagreement with the models related mainly to the MSU 2LT record. Models do quite well at matching the history of MSU-4 (whose variability is a function mainly of ozone depletion and volcanic aerosol effects), and models also match the lack of significant trend in MSU-2 (which is affected by stratospheric cooling and tropospheric warming which cancel out to some degree) (i.e Hansen et al 2002). So the problem has been principally with MSU 2LT, which despite a strong surface temperature trend did not seem to have been warming very much - while models and basic physics predict that it should be warming at a slightly larger rate than the surface.

In the first Science Express paper, Mears et al produce a new assessment of the MSU 2LT record and show that one of the corrections applied to the UAH MSU 2LT record had been applied incorrectly, significantly underplaying the trend in the data. This mistake has been acknowledged by the UAH team who have already updated their data (version 5.2) so that it includes the fix. This correction (related to the drift in crossing times at the equator) mainly affects the tropics, and was most important for one particular satellite (NOAA-11). Interestingly, Fu and Johansen (2005) singled out this same satellite and this same correction as being the source of divergence between the different records, though without being able to say exactly what the problem was. The fix leads to an increase of about 50% in the UAH global mean trend (0.086 to 0.12 deg/decade). The new RSS version of the 2LT record still shows a higher trend (0.19 deg/decade), with the difference being due to the methodology used to splice the different satellites.

more at : http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/08/et-tu-lt/
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682. DocBen
6:54 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
True - but that is a bit different from warm water migrating. In fact, evaporation from the Atlantic should cool it; not warm it (thus the NADW production)

Your second post clarifies.

Now for an interesting supposition: what happens if fresh water discharge into the N Atlantic shuts down the Gulf Stream? We have read about a sort of "Younger-Dryas" cooling in the north but what happens in the Gulf/Carribean? Warmer? More "fertile" for storm intensification?
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681. sunlakedude
6:57 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Ok, SickOfDumbQuestions: On Earth fossils of tropical plants such as ferns & palms have been found in high latitude locations but that is believed due to continental drift. You know, plate tectonics and all that? Continents aren't static but actually very slowly drift around. So those tropical plant fossils were laid down when that land area was in a low latitude location. Yes, the Earth was warmer in the past and also much colder at times. I guess you could say that we know the Earth is warming and we believe our burning of fossil fuels is largely the culprit because it makes sense that it would. These fossil fuels were formed when large amounts of CO2 were removed from the atmosphere millions of years ago and now we're putting that CO2 back into the atmosphere very rapidly. And CO2 is a very efficient greenhouse gas. There's no need for mass panic right now/ today but we really need to start doing something to change this.
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680. TheCaneWhisperer
6:54 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Less evaporation from the Atl to the Pacific would lead to higher SST's in the Carribian and eventually carried through the gulf stream.
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679. TheCaneWhisperer
6:53 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
It actually does DocBen! By process of evaporation. The evaporation actually is from the Atlantic to the Pacific via Central America. It is a fairly new discovery, MichaelSTL is the one who informed me about it! He posted some maps on the subject! I did some searching but could not find them. Next time you see him, or I, I will see if he can do a blog on the subject. From my research so far, this process is slowed during cool periods and sharply increases in both warm and cold periods in response to the North Migration of the ITCZ. I am not well versed on the subject yet, but it looks like latent heat transfer, evaporation and ocean salinity all play roles.
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678. thelmores
6:47 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
geographerguy, I did indeed read the whole article.... but I did not want the "discussion" to be degraded by discussion of cow and pig farts and belches! LOL

Oh..... and don't count Volcano's either! ;)

I really don't want to get into a back and forth on the topic..... (been there and done that on this blog already!).

Let's just "agree to disagree".... and leave it there.

Bottom line, NOBODY has conclusive evidence one way or another.... I will repeat from my original post.....

We do have global warming, and we do need to reduce pollutants in the atmosphere....... we ought to at least be able to agree on that! :)
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677. Tazmanian
11:48 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
the loop eddy in the gulf is doing a un oh thing and it this off of FL oh one more thing we now have a loop eddy in the Carribean

lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
676. geographerguy
6:35 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Thelmores, sounds like you didn't read the second page of the article.

By the way. In earlier warming periods, while CO2 may have gotten things started, the release of large quantities of Methane caused a great deal of warming. Methane is 23 times as harmful as a greenhouse gas. Long before the dinosaurs, the Permian extinction was such an event and wiped out 98% of all life on earth at the time.

We use 84 million barrels of oil per day. Half of that is burned, the rest goes to making plastics, fertilizers, pesticides and more. Our atmosphere becomes more rarified as you go up in altitude. Half of the actual molecules are contained in the bottom 3 miles of our atmosphere. Certainly, we'd like to go on without making changes, but it seems to me pretty obvious that if we don't make changes, they will be made for us, or at least for our children.
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675. SatBeachFL
6:33 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
solar Irradiance

The Sun is not heating up. Here's the data. In the 90's the argument was "there is no such thing as global warming". Now that the evidence is piling up, the argument is "Humans aren's doing it".
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673. thelmores
6:03 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
great link SickOfDumbQuestions, that was "exactly" my point.... but trust me it will be "ignored" because it does not fit the template!

""Man-made greenhouse warming has made a small contribution to the warming seen on Earth in recent years, but it cannot compete with the increase in solar irradiance," Abdussamatov said."

hmmm.....
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672. ewebie
5:57 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Can anyone point me to a study or some other source of information that has real evidence that CO2 is causing global warming? Proof of "cause and effect" is what I'm after.

I've seen lots of charts that show how global temperatures and CO2 are trending up in similar patterns. Looking at these charts, anyone can see what appears to be a relationship between global warming and CO2, but that relationship by itself isn't proof positive that CO2 is the cause of global warming. Without proof, one might just as well be saying "heat is caused by smoke". This line of thinking leaves out the one major ingredient that could be the cause of both global warming and CO2, (the combustion process). CO2 and waste heat created by thousands of automobiles burning gasoline as they race along roads around the world. More CO2 and waste heat from electric power plants and the thousands of devices which use that electricity. And more recently announced is the discovery that other planets in our solar system are warming as well.

I may be way off base, but this is what I'm thinking, and this is why I'm asking for something more than predictions and trending charts showing relationships between what could be effects rather than causes.

So, anyone have a link?

Thanks,
ewebie
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671. SickOfDumbQuestions
5:52 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
I'm sick of this doom and gloom crap. Did anyone happen to read about the "global warming" on MARS? God knows that we humans are causing great changes over on Mars and are causing that planet to warm up.

The earth will warm, humans or not. Tropical plant fossils have been found very far north of where they are currently at.

What I failed to see on any major sites, was the research carried out and CONFIRMED by independent scientists that the suns output of radiation (not heat persay) has a direct result on lower level cloud cover in the earth atmosphere.

Now given that Mars is warming, earth is warming, doesn't it seem possible that maybe we humans aren't making as big an impact as Al Gore and company say. Sure we contribute a little, but come on people. If Earth and Mars are warming, then that pretty much helps to convince me that we are probably looking too much in the wrong place.

Wow even National Geo has something to say.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/02/070228-mars-warming.html
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669. DocBen
5:46 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
"THE BLOB THAT ATE COSTA RICA"?

Or will it curve ... ?
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667. Inyo
5:33 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Posted By: DocBen at 5:21 PM GMT on April 09, 2007.
Cane - I don't think warm water can actually migrate from the EPAC to the Carrib. The water just has to be warming on its own.


maybe it's forcing its way through the Panama Canal! :)
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665. thelmores
5:20 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Posted By: Inyo
"the mars thing is a load of poop. So one planet out of the 7 or 8 other planets we have is warming. Maybe mercury, venus, jupiter, saturn, uranus, neptune, and pluto (planet or not) are cooling. No one bothers to mention that. Besides , the mars polar caps expand and contract greatly based on their seasons (which are twice as long as ours). We

the 'medieval climate optimum' was when Greenland was settled (although it wasnt optimum for everyone - for California, if i recall, it was a frigid 50 year long severe drought. )

We DO know that the earth is being warmed by our CO2 emissions, and that is at least part of the warming we see now. That is what 99%of the scientists who aren't paid off agree on. If you don't want to believe the scientists and want to believe Dubya instead, go right ahead... but it isn't too hard to find out who's smarter there."

Lets see, the mars thing, you dismiss without doing "any" research on your own....congrats. And you readily admit you have no idea what the other planets are doing..... congrats.

"We DO know that the earth is being warmed by our CO2 emissions" We... exactly who are you referring to here?? And what caused the earth to warm BEFORE man's CO2 emissions???

"That is what 99%of the scientists who aren't paid off agree on." pure propaganda friend.... congrats.

"If you don't want to believe the scientists and want to believe Dubya instead, go right ahead..." Another slap at the president..... your true colors shine through.... congrats.

Now, if you want to go back and re-read my post, you will find that I acknowledge global warming, and I acknowledge we need to reduce pollution. But that is not nearly good enough for some who think "the sky is falling". :)

Posted By: thelmores

"i would like for somebody to acknowledge that the earth has warmed before...... and man "was not" the cause.........."

hmmm, you didn't want to touch that one either.... imagine that! ;)
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664. weatherboykris
5:30 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
check my blog guys.If you've got time.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
663. cajunkid
12:27 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
Taz,I just put it up b/c I like that site
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662. Tazmanian
10:25 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
cajunkid you cant tell from that photo
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
661. cajunkid
12:22 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
another look Link
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660. Tazmanian
10:21 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
from what i can tell from her it has a nic spin to it but like i said be for it will be runing out of time be come it will be runing in to land her soon + it is under 20kt of wind shear

Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
659. DocBen
5:18 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
Cane - I don't think warm water can actually migrate from the EPAC to the Carrib. The water just has to be warming on its own.
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658. cajunkid
12:16 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
you could be right Taz,
kinda looks like Meatwad right now LOLLink
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657. Tazmanian
10:15 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
that Blob down there is geting biger
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
656. Tazmanian
10:14 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
hello cajunkid



i think what evere we are watching has a ch of be comeing 90L
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
655. cajunkid
12:12 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
anyone have a better Panama radar link?
Link
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654. TheCaneWhisperer
5:13 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
In the past 3 weeks, the warm water migration from the EPAC to the Carribbian began. There are some rather warm SST's that moved into the area recently.
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653. cajunkid
12:11 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
hello Taz,
sorry, I linked the same site
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652. Tazmanian
10:11 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
but it will be runing it to land her soon so it dos not give it march time
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
651. Inyo
5:11 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
maybe the blob will go way west and get sucked into a low and rain on me. (not likely)
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650. cajunkid
12:07 PM CDT on April 09, 2007
JFLORIDA, yea thats a big pop down thereLink
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649. Tazmanian
10:10 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
that Blob we are watching looks like it has a little spin to it from what i can tell from the loop
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
648. Tazmanian
10:07 AM PDT on April 09, 2007
could this Blob be come are 1st 90L it dos seem to be get biger and doing more well has time gos buy


Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115239
647. ClearH2OFla
1:04 PM EDT on April 09, 2007
Hello all any news on the bermuda high moving?
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645. Inyo
4:41 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
the mars thing is a load of poop. So one planet out of the 7 or 8 other planets we have is warming. Maybe mercury, venus, jupiter, saturn, uranus, neptune, and pluto (planet or not) are cooling. No one bothers to mention that. Besides , the mars polar caps expand and contract greatly based on their seasons (which are twice as long as ours).

the 'medieval climate optimum' was when Greenland was settled (although it wasnt optimum for everyone - for California, if i recall, it was a frigid 50 year long severe drought. )

We DO know that the earth is being warmed by our CO2 emissions, and that is at least part of the warming we see now. That is what 99%of the scientists who aren't paid off agree on. If you don't want to believe the scientists and want to believe Dubya instead, go right ahead... but it isn't too hard to find out who's smarter there.
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644. cajunkid
11:41 AM CDT on April 09, 2007
its still interesting to watchLink
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643. thelmores
4:35 PM GMT on April 09, 2007
I think we should give the storm off Panama "Blob" status! :)

not a hint of development in any model.... but I never say "never" :)
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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.