Cold Weather in Denver: Climate Change and Arctic Oscillation (8)

By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 6:25 AM GMT on December 08, 2013

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Cold Weather in Denver: Climate Change and Arctic Oscillation (8)

I’ve been living with this cold weather in Colorado this week. If you look around at the Wunderground personal weather station sites, we’ve seen a lot of about -10 F at nights. It’s been causing a lot of grief for homeless people, animals and pipes. There have been a few record lows set. The whole Arctic air mass is starting to move east, which means it will get a lot more press. According to Jeff Master’s blog 80% of the country will be below average.

I thought I had finished my series of blogs on the Arctic Oscillation a couple of weeks ago, but this cold air out break takes me back. It that series I wrote about cold air in the Arctic that is isolated because of barriers caused by streams of rapidly moving air that flows around polar latitudes. I described wobbles in the streams that caused cold air to move south and warm air to move north. Here is one of the figures that I used.



Figure 1: This figure is from the point of view of someone looking down from above at the North Pole (NP). This represents a weak, wavy, wobbly vortex displaced from the pole. The vortex encloses cold air, represented as blue. The line surrounding the cold air is the jet stream or the edge of the vortex. (definition of vortex)

Figure 1 shows an idealized schematic of the North Pole as viewed from above. This is the weak vortex case, when there is a large wobble. In this case, the point X is cold and the point Y is warm. In a case of a stronger, more circular vortex, then the case would be reversed, with point X warm and point Y cold.

Here is a figure from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), that I have marked up a bit. The colors are the temperatures at the 850 hecto-Pascal surface, which is about 1.5 kilometers above the surface. The 850 hecto-Pascal temperatures are a good indicator of where it is hot and cold at the surface.


Figure 2: This figure is from the point of view of someone looking down from above at the North Pole (NP). The contour lines on the figure are the height of the 500 hecto-Pascal surface, which is between 5 and 6 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. The colors are the temperatures at the 850 hecto-Pascal surface, which is about 1.5 kilometers above the surface. The 850 hecto-Pascal temperatures are a good indicator of where it is hot and cold at the surface. Figure from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF)

I drew a blue arrow showing that the cold air at the pole has wobbled off of the pole and it is pushed towards Colorado. To the west there is warm air, red arrow, pushing up towards Alaska. So while it has been cold in Colorado, it has been quite warm in much of Alaska. Though a less prominent signal, there has also been warm air moving up the East Coast of the U.S. The Alaska – Colorado contrast is a nice real-world example of what I showed in Figure 1. For completeness with my example, the big, black dashed line is the jet stream of air flowing around the pole.

There were several points in my series on the Arctic Oscillation. The first important point is that even in a world that is getting warmer, the polar latitudes become isolated as the Sun goes down for the winter and jet stream intensifies. In this isolation it gets cold, because there is no heating from the Sun and the polar latitudes have a barrier between themselves and the warmer lower latitudes. The second important point is this wobble, the pushing of air off of the pole in some direction. In this case the coldest air is over Greenland, Canada and the U.S. If there is sufficient wobble to push the air far to the south or if it gets pushed to some place it did not get pushed before, then it is even likely to have record cold. These points are all work together and are not correctly viewed as independent events. (I was recently annoyed by the parenthetical dismissal of global warming in this otherwise nice prediction of early strong lake effect snow in Michigan. The statement was essentially pockets of cold Arctic air should not exist.)

I will finish with the Arctic Oscillation. The Arctic Oscillation Index from the Climate Prediction Center is shown in Figure 3. The discussion in my Arctic Oscillation series focused on the positive and negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation Index. Much of the attention was on the eastern U.S. The negative phase was when it is likely to be very cold in the eastern U.S.



Figure 3: Arctic Oscillation Index for early August 2013 until December 7, 2013 from the Climate Prediction Center

In this measure of the Arctic Oscillation Index, the most recent times have been weakly positive, tending towards negative. (Perhaps suggesting movement of the cold air towards the U.S. east coast?) Perhaps more important Figures 2 and 3 together show that large undulations with warm air pushing far northward and cold air displaced off the pole can occur in other parts of the world when the index is weak. As pointed out many other times over the years of this blog, what goes on in the U.S. is not good instantaneous editorial content for climate change.

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Previous entries:

Climate Change and the Arctic Oscillation 2

Climate Change and the Arctic Oscillation 1

Wobbles in the Barriers

Barriers in the Atmosphere

Behavior

Definitions and Some Background

August Arctic Oscillation presentation

CPC Climate Glossary “The Arctic Oscillation is a pattern in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between negative and positive phases.”

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Quoting 16. Cochise111:
[blather] [blather] it's cold somewhere [blather] [blather]
Yes, the US is cold this week. But even the densest and dullest of denialists--a title for which there appears to be an overabundance of contestants--can look at the following temperature anomaly map and see that the blue blob over the middle of North America is in no way representative of the globe as a whole, and it's especially not representative of the Northern Hemisphere. (Note, too, the >20C anomalies in northern Alaska. On the Arctic Coast. Where the sun isn't even shining.)

cold?

So, yes, it's cold in Texas. But you should know that Texas comprises roughly 1/800th of the planet's surface.
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Logical fallacies in assessing risks from climate change

Fallacies of risk

We, humans, are not very good at estimating and weighing risks. Looking at the definition of risk, this is not so strange:

Risk = Probability * Effect

Most of us will have some understanding of both elements ‘Probability’ and ‘Effect’, but the combination of the two is rather abstract. In judging risks, we tend to focus on one of the two elements, and more or less neglect the other one. The figure below shows the difference between our perception of certain risks and their actual magnitude.



The definition of risk might suggest that it is always possible to calculate it, or give a quantitative estimate. But often, it’s not that easy. Sometimes, it can be difficult to define the exact “Effect”, and the parameter that can be used to quantify it. Effects can go from economic or financial costs to damage to nature, from a small decrease in well-being, to large numbers of casualties. Our judgment of risks depends a lot on the type of effect.

To make things even more complicated, the debate on risk often takes place at the border of science and politics, of logical reasoning and subjective judgment. Whatever we do to try and find objective parameters and criteria to assess and weigh risks, decisions what we do and what we do not find acceptable depend to some extent on value judgments. There are no 100% objective criteria to make these types of decisions.

It’s obvious that many fallacies can come up in this minefield for logic. Last week, Judith Curry blogged on the article “Fallacies of risk” by Sven Ove Hansson, trying to identify the fallacies in the debate on climate. In his article, Hansson seems to mainly focus on risks of (new) technologies, especially the ones with a low probability and large effects. Applying the same fallacies to the debate on climate is not as straightforward as it might seem. Curry seems to be making some mishaps. She ends up making quite a few comments on Hansson that totally miss the point. Here’s my attempt to improve on hers.

Read more at My view on climate change ...
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A new paper by Trenberth and Fusullo:

An apparent hiatus in global warming?

Abstract

Global warming first became evident beyond the bounds of natural variability in the 1970s,
but increases in global mean surface temperatures have stalled in the 2000s. Increases in atmospheric
greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, create an energy imbalance at the top-of-atmosphere (TOA)
even as the planet warms to adjust to this imbalance, which is estimated to be 0.5–1 W m−2 over the
2000s. Annual global fluctuations in TOA energy of up to 0.2 W m−2 occur from natural variations in clouds,
aerosols, and changes in the Sun. At times of major volcanic eruptions the effects can be much larger. Yet
global mean surface temperatures fluctuate much more than these can account for. An energy imbalance
is manifested not just as surface atmospheric or ground warming but also as melting sea and land ice, and
heating of the oceans. More than 90% of the heat goes into the oceans and, with melting land ice, causes
sea level to rise. For the past decade, more than 30% of the heat has apparently penetrated below 700 m
depth that is traceable to changes in surface winds mainly over the Pacific in association with a switch
to a negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) in 1999. Surface warming was much more in
evidence during the 1976–1998 positive phase of the PDO, suggesting that natural decadal variability
modulates the rate of change of global surface temperatures while sea-level rise is more relentless. Global warming has not stopped; it is merely manifested in different ways

Emphasis sdded
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Quoting yoboi:

blah, blah, blah, Solar 25, blah, blah, blah...

Low Solar Activity Won't Slow Climate Change, Study Says

Some solar physicists have suggested that prolonged low solar activity [the coming Solar 25 cycle] could offset the effects of anthropogenic global warming.

But a new Grand Minimum of solar activity would decrease the rise of global mean temperature caused by human greenhouse gas emissions by at most 0.3 degrees Celsius until the end of the century, according to a recent study in Geophysical Research Letters.

The projected temperature drop is less than ten percent of the rise projected under “business as usual” scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The observations of sunspots, visible signs of increased solar activity and irradiance, show that the Sun has been in the deepest and longest activity minimum for almost a century. Satellite measurements confirm that solar radiation has never been weaker since records started in the 1970s. Some scientists have suggested this could indicate the beginning of a new Grand Minimum comparable to the Maunder Minimum in the late 17th century. The Maunder Minimum is connected to the Little Ice Age with markedly lower temperatures.

To explore the effect of a 21st-century Grand Minimum, researchers used a coupled climate model that consists of models for the oceans, the atmosphere and the land surface. They studied greenhouse gas emission paths corresponding to the A1B and A2 scenarios of the IPCC with intermediate and strong growth of emissions during the 21st century. The authors also accounted for volcanic eruptions, which are unpredictable, by randomly spreading the same eruptions as in the 20th century over the 21st century.

They performed three simulation experiments with different solar forcing: one without a Grand Minimum, repeating the last 11-year solar activity cycle until 2100, and two with the Sun entering a new Grand Minimum lasting till the end of the century. In these minima, solar irradiance is reduced by 0.08 and 0.25 percent of its value in 1950, the former value corresponding to the reconstructed reduction of solar irradiance during the Maunder Minimum.

With an 11-year solar activity cycle continued until 2100, global temperatures are modelled to rise 3.7 or 4.5 degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average level, depending on the emission scenario. These results agree well with recent projections, the authors report. For the reconstruction of the Maunder Minimum under the two IPCC emission scenarios, the temperatures in 2100 lie about 0.1 degrees Celsius lower. For the experiment with a stronger reduction of solar irradiance of 0.25 percent of the 1950 value, the difference is 0.26 degrees Celsius under both emission scenarios.

“Most likely, a new Grand Minimum of solar activity would diminish global mean temperatures in the year 2100 by about 0.1 or 0.2 degrees Celsius,” says Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth System Analysis at PIK. Even taking into account all uncertainties in the temperature reconstruction, the forcings, and the model physics, the overall uncertainty is estimated to be at most a factor of three, so the solar cooling effect would very likely not exceed 0.3 degrees.

“A new Maunder-type solar activity minimum cannot offset the global warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions,” the authors conclude. Moreover, any offset of global warming due to a Grand Minimum of solar activity would merely be a temporary effect, since solar minima typically last for several decades to a century at most.

“Current temperature data also confirm that the effect of low solar activity on the climate is very small”, notes Rahmstorf. The current minimum has not noticeably slowed down global warming. Over the past 30 years temperatures have increased at a steady rate of 0.16 degrees Celsius per decade.

According to the surface temperature analysis by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the year 2009, despite the solar minimum, was the second-warmest year on record globally, beaten only by 2005, and by far the warmest in the southern hemisphere. The month of January 2010 was the second warmest January on record globally, beaten only by January 2007.

Citation: G. Feulner, S. Rahmstorf, 'On the effect of a new grand minimum of solar activity on the future climate on Earth', March 2010, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L05707; doi:10.1029/2010GL042710.
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Quoting 26. yoboi:



All of that really does not matter.....It's bitter cold and with Solar 25 coming it will be the new norm.....Enjoy what little heat there is while ya can.....



NOAA and 97 percent of the scientists say different....

Energy from the Sun Has Not Increased

The amount of solar energy received at the top of our atmosphere has followed its natural 11-year cycle of small ups and downs, but with no net increase. Over the same period, global temperature has risen markedly. This indicates that it is extremely unlikely that solar influence has been a significant driver of global temperature change over several decades.





Global surface temperature (top, blue) and the Sun's energy received at the top of Earth's atmosphere (red, bottom). Solar energy has been measured by satellites since 1978.



Link












.
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Quoting 7. Cochise111:

Joanne Nova

Joanne "Jo" Nova (real name Joanne Codling) is an Australian writer, speaker, former TV host, anti-science presenter and a professional wingnut.[1] She maintains a blog which regularly regurgitates debunked climate denial myths, making her the poor Aussie's Ian Plimer or Andrew Bolt.[2] The site also has on its header the highly ironic phrase "Tackling tribalist groupthink." She has also written a handbook called "The Skeptic's Handbook," a brief pamphlet that reads like it was copy-pasted from another denialist site without the slightest whiff of actual research and peppered with pretty pictures.[3] The handbook concentrates on a few of the greatest hits, including: Satellites and weather balloons showing no warming (they do); the Oregon Petition "debunking" the scientific consensus (it doesn't); carbon dioxide lagging, not leading temperature change (ignoring Milankovitch cycles and feedbacks); the carbon dioxide effect being saturated (it isn't); and bad weather station siting (relying on the self-debunked work of Anthony Watts)[4]

In between regurgitating debunked climate myths, she often posts non-sensical fiscal arguments; then breaks into a general bitching session about anything including the denial crowd pleaser, the Gore bash fest.

She downplays the funding she and other denialists receive from the Heartland Institute and the Science and Public Policy Institute.

-----

Nova "Science"

Joanne Nova’s approach to climate science is to cast doubt on what we do know, rather than present facts that would counter the scientific concensus. It’s a tactic used by tobacco companies, and now climate denialists are doing the same.

On Nova’s website are posts of political nature, now and again she will present science in an attempt to mislead her readers into thinking that warming is not happening, or that it’s happening but it’s not greenhouse gases, or that it’s happening but nothing to be concerned about. Below are a number of contradictions, cherry picking examples and finally a list of Nova’s topics that I am slowly working my way through and providing the rebuttal.

Contradictions

Nova’s attempts to cast doubt on the science of global warming and in doing so presents many contradicting theories. Some say it’s not warming, some say it’s warming and it’s the sun, some say it’s warming and it the oceans, some say it’s just all a hoax.

Read on.

Cherry Picking

Nova misleads her reader by only selecting small bit of science or data that supports her political position. This results in a contrived position that becomes all too obvious

Read on.

Nova’s "Science" Posts

Amongst her myriad of politically motivated posts, Joanne Nova occasionally will slip one in about the science. Unfortunately, as we’ll see, Nova’s science is founded more on web-blogger do-it-yourself, rather than on the peer-reviewed process which has been fundamental to bringing science to where it is today. I’ll continue to debunk Joanne Nova and her brand of science. Check back here over time – I’ll continue to grow this list.
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Quoting 25. Daisyworld:


Climategate: A Case Study in the Intersection of Facticity and Conspiracy Theory

Abstract: In 2009, the Climate Research Unit had over 1,000 private e-mails stolen and made publicly available. Quickly, several of the e-mails were widely reported in the media: supposedly providing proof of conspiracy among scientists supporting the Anthropogenic Climate Change hypothesis. Despite the inaccuracy of the accusations, the charge of conspiracy stuck. In this essay, I argue that a set of interrelated variables (existing anti-elitism, the consistency of the charge with existing ideology, the perceived accuracy of the narrative, and the poor rhetorical response by the accused) caused the Climategate conspiracy to resonate even after the charge was proven false. This essay adds to contemporary rhetorical theory about conspiracy theory by considering variables beyond paranoid style and accuracy of the charge.

Communication Studies, Volume 64, Issue 2, 2013



All of that really does not matter.....It's bitter cold and with Solar 25 coming it will be the new norm.....Enjoy what little heat there is while ya can.....
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Quoting 17. Cochise111:


Climategate: A Case Study in the Intersection of Facticity and Conspiracy Theory

Abstract: In 2009, the Climate Research Unit had over 1,000 private e-mails stolen and made publicly available. Quickly, several of the e-mails were widely reported in the media: supposedly providing proof of conspiracy among scientists supporting the Anthropogenic Climate Change hypothesis. Despite the inaccuracy of the accusations, the charge of conspiracy stuck. In this essay, I argue that a set of interrelated variables (existing anti-elitism, the consistency of the charge with existing ideology, the perceived accuracy of the narrative, and the poor rhetorical response by the accused) caused the Climategate conspiracy to resonate even after the charge was proven false. This essay adds to contemporary rhetorical theory about conspiracy theory by considering variables beyond paranoid style and accuracy of the charge.

Communication Studies, Volume 64, Issue 2, 2013
Member Since: January 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 850
Quoting 16. Cochise111:
Let's not forget the new cold temperature and snow records being set in Texas. I guess warming does cause cooling:

Link


It does if you release it to a lower pressure...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
Quoting 19. Daisyworld:


Thanks for the clarification, Chris. I've sifted through the news wires, and there's not one mention of this startling temperature record; it's all just about the snow and ice storms that are pelting the east coast today.


So what we get with the graphics I posted in 18 is a large open area of ocean that should have ice on it but does not. The warmer ocean waters modify the air temperature in the area and so now we get record highs because of lack of ice on ocean waters....Same thing happens down near Miami in the winter where it can get cold sometimes but the ocean modifies the air near the coast and can prevent a hard freeze.... Inland some of the crops may freeze because they are further from the ocean....
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
Antarctica
Area 14,000,000 km2 (5,400,000 sq mi)


Greenland
Area
- Total 2,166,086 km2 (12th)
836,109 sq mi


Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
Quoting 20. Cochise111:


No mention of the Southern Hemisphere. Wonder why?


To much land mass/area down there...
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Quoting 18. cyclonebuster:



No wonder why this is happening....Thanks fossil fuel GHG's...







...


No mention of the Southern Hemisphere. Wonder why?
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Quoting 12. weatherhistorian:


Actually, the temperature peaked at 39° at Deadhorse last night. The warmest December reading ever measured at any site on the Alaskan Arctic Ocean coastline.


Thanks for the clarification, Chris. I've sifted through the news wires, and there's not one mention of this startling temperature record; it's all just about the snow and ice storms that are pelting the east coast today.
Member Since: January 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 850
Quoting 12. weatherhistorian:


Actually, the temperature peaked at 39° at Deadhorse last night. The warmest December reading ever measured at any site on the Alaskan Arctic Ocean coastline.



No wonder why this is happening....Thanks fossil fuel GHG's...







...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
Quoting 9. Daisyworld:


That's a lie, Cochise111.

The 4-year old hacked e-mail controversy was a fabrication by the conservative media and politicians bankrolled by billionaires who are attempting to make it seem as if there was a scientific cover-up when there was none:

FROM DR. MASTER'S BLOG: The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy

The e-mails you cite were innocuous, and the scientists involved were absolved of wrongdoing by no less than 4 independent panels.

Regardless, the Manufactured Doubt industry keeps this lie alive as a pathetic attempt to discredit climate science by sowing disinformation at every chance they get. Despite the reality there is no scientific conspiracy, climate scientists are constantly being harassed by people like yourself, with some even submitting death threats, threats against their families, and intimidation, all because the Manufactured Doubt industry is funding propaganda, and usurping the scientific reality with lies.

You are being a very deceitful person, Cochise111, to be bringing up this so-called "Climategate" controversy after it has been proven wrong time and time again.


You're going to tell me it's a lie when it's documented? You might as well put your head back in your hiding hole. IF you even took the time to look at the link I posted, you can see the IPCC's own graphs where they disappeared the Medieval Warming Period. That is also how Mikey Mann invented the infamous (and fraudulent) hockey stick graph.

Edit: Check out this link from US Senate testimony:

Link
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Let's not forget the new cold temperature and snow records being set in Texas. I guess warming does cause cooling:

Link
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This supposed AGW is killing the Pacific Northwest:

Link
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Mr. Burt what a remarkable record! Thank you and Daisyworld for making note of it.
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Quoting 2. Daisyworld:
Dr. Rood,

Thank you for re-visiting your Arctic Oscillation series. As you mentioned, this unusual cold snap has certain people scoffing at the notion of global warming, with some using it to reinforce the (incorrect) notion that human-induced climate change isn't happening.

In discussion with colleagues, I've used your explanation of the weakened polar vortex causing greater undulation of the jet stream further south than normal, as well as warm air intrusions further north. While the US midsection is frozen in below zero temperatures, I find it interesting that Deadhorse, Alaska (59 ft ASL in elevation at 70°N latitude) reached a record high of 37°F on Saturday, a full 10 degrees higher than the previous record of 27°F in 2007. In comparison, the high temperature in Houston, Texas (46 ft ASL in elevation, but 30°N latitude) was also 37°F on Saturday, a full 29 degrees below the average of 66°F.

We live in interesting times...


Actually, the temperature peaked at 39° at Deadhorse last night. The warmest December reading ever measured at any site on the Alaskan Arctic Ocean coastline.
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Thanks fossil fuel GHG's business as usual...
















...
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20393
Quoting 7. Cochise111:


That's a lie, Cochise111.

The 4-year old hacked e-mail controversy was a fabrication by the conservative media and politicians bankrolled by billionaires who are attempting to make it seem as if there was a scientific cover-up when there was none:

FROM DR. MASTER'S BLOG: The Manufactured Doubt industry and the hacked email controversy

The e-mails you cite were innocuous, and the scientists involved were absolved of wrongdoing by no less than 4 independent panels.

Regardless, the Manufactured Doubt industry keeps this lie alive as a pathetic attempt to discredit climate science by sowing disinformation at every chance they get. Despite the reality there is no scientific conspiracy, climate scientists are constantly being harassed by people like yourself, with some even submitting death threats, threats against their families, and intimidation, all because the Manufactured Doubt industry is funding propaganda, and usurping the scientific reality with lies.

You are being a very deceitful person, Cochise111, to be bringing up this so-called "Climategate" controversy after it has been proven wrong time and time again.
Member Since: January 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 850
The "Top Ten" Toxic Ingredients used by the "Fossil Energy" Industry

Fossil Fuel's "other" legacy (besides Climate Change)



1. Benzene

2. & 3. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)

4. Petroleum Coke (Pet Coke)

5. Formaldehyde

6. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH)

7. Mercury

8. Silica (Silicon Dust/Fracking Sand)

9. Radon

10. Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) / Hydrogen Fluoride


RawStory.com

although benzene is mentioned in the article - toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene were not - but should be.

wiki on BTEX
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When considering scientists at the forefront of AGW policies, one merely has to examine how they have completely distorted the historical temperature record to see that they are driven by politics, money, and ideology. There is no way that any reputable scientist can explain away how these supposed climate scientists totally disregarded the MWP, and, according to their internal email, wished it didn't exist. They can no longer be considered credible. They were guilty of outright fraud.

Link
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# 5

Er, where did this come from,..Zoolander?

LoL

Its like-a diz, when the ponderousness amount of evidence falls into the Majority of Scientists regime,that being 97%, the burden to show otherwise is on the one bringing the claim,..dat being yous, and Eyes don't see no linkie, or no thinkee, jus jibberish Son.

Also note in my above the lack there of, of the word "Politics" or other.

Fresca?
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127512

Remaining Climate Blame Believers,

You can still believe climate change WILL be a crisis all you like but you cannot tell our children a crisis WILL happen until science also says it when they agree on something beyond just "could be" a crisis as they do now.
Find us one single IPCC warning that says as you say; that it WILL be a crisis and find one that says "inevitable" or "eventual".
Do as science has done for 30 years; NEVER say it WILL be, only "could be".
Prove us former believers wrong and prove to us that science agrees it WILL be a crisis as YOU believe it will be.
And get up to date:
*Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians.
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Reason #1 why the deniers have nothing:

And then there%u2019s the energy imbalance


There are a few things I have been considering writing about, but since I%u2019ve renamed the blog to be more explicitly physics orientated, I thought the first should at least reflect that change. There%u2019s a recent paper by James Hansen %u2013 and 17 co-authors %u2013 called Assessing %u2018%u2018Dangerous Climate Change%u2019%u2019: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. It%u2019s an interesting paper because it discusses both the scientific evidence for global warming/climate change and considers various policy options (violating what many would regard as a fundamental rule %u2013 I don%u2019t though). The paper%u2019s been discussed in a number of other places already (here, and here for example), but I was going to discuss one very basic thing that I think it covers very well.

Probably the most fundamental aspect of global warming is the existence of an energy imbalance. If the earth is in energy deficit (i.e., it is gaining more energy than it loses) global warming, by definition, is happening. As the paper says :

At a time of climate stability, Earth radiates as much energy to space as it absorbs from sunlight. Today Earth is out of balance because increasing atmospheric gases such as CO2 reduce Earth%u2019s heat radiation to space, thus causing an energy imbalance, as there is less energy going out than coming in. This imbalance causes Earth to warm and move back toward energy balance. The warming and restoration of energy balance take time, however, because of Earth%u2019s thermal inertia, which is due mainly to the global ocean.


(Emphasis added)

Read more at And Then There's Physics ...
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Dear Dr. Ricky Rood,
Thank you for posting this information on Climate Change and the Arctic Oscillation graphs. I have found this info very interesting and educational.
The weather this week in Santa Clara county has been quite cold with snow on the higher mountains, so this looks like the year for snow to fall down to the valley floor in Central California.
Sincerely,
DaveFive
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Dr. Rood,

Thank you for re-visiting your Arctic Oscillation series. As you mentioned, this unusual cold snap has certain people scoffing at the notion of global warming, with some using it to reinforce the (incorrect) notion that human-induced climate change isn't happening.

In discussion with colleagues, I've used your explanation of the weakened polar vortex causing greater undulation of the jet stream further south than normal, as well as warm air intrusions further north. While the US midsection is frozen in below zero temperatures, I find it interesting that Deadhorse, Alaska (59 ft ASL in elevation at 70°N latitude) reached a record high of 37°F on Saturday, a full 10 degrees higher than the previous record of 27°F in 2007. In comparison, the high temperature in Houston, Texas (46 ft ASL in elevation, but 30°N latitude) was also 37°F on Saturday, a full 29 degrees below the average of 66°F.

We live in interesting times...
Member Since: January 11, 2012 Posts: 6 Comments: 850
Thanks for the blog!

Seems like mass balance would require the warm air goes north part. The question is at what altitude the air moves north since some air from the stratosphere can sink over the arctic. (I read somewhere that it in fact does to some extent or else the arctic air would be even colder than it is.)

So the waviness of the jet allows air to move north-south within the troposphere. But if warmer air moves north, does it ever cross the boundary of the jet stream? (Jet stream reforms further south?)

Does the volume of the air (and the area it covers) on the cold side of the jet stream decrease once a blob spills southwards? Seems like the cold air that moves southwards never retreats, just mixes out eventually and the jet stream reforms further north.
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About RickyRood

I'm a professor at U Michigan and lead a course on climate change problem solving. These articles often come from and contribute to the course.