Global warming a hoax no longer

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:44 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

Are the climate models that form the foundation of greenhouse warming predictions fundamentally flawed? That has been the argument of some scientists and "greenhouse skeptics" over the past few decades. The main issue has been the inability of the climate models to reproduce the relatively low amount of warming observed by satellites and weather balloon instruments in the troposphere (the lower portion of the atmosphere that extends up to elevations of about 40,000 feet.) This discrepancy was a prime argument Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) used in his famed 2003 speech when he referred to the threat of catastrophic global warming as the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Greenhouse skeptic S. Fred Singer, who has probably more Congressional testimony about global warming under his belt than any other scientist, headlines his website with the quote, "Computer models forecast rapidly rising global temperatures, but data from weather satellites and balloon instruments show no warming whatsoever. Nevertheless, these same unreliable computer models underpin the Global Climate Treaty." Michael Crichton also used the tropospheric warming discrepancy to give climate models a bad rap in his State of Fear novel. (Incredibily, Crichton--a science fiction writer--was summoned by Sen. Inhofe in September of 2005 to testify before Congress on the issue of climate change.) However, the arguments of these global warming skeptics were dealt a major blow with the issuance this week of a press release by NOAA's Climate Change Science Program refuting their main argument.

The Climate Change Science Program study, which was commissioned by the Bush Administration in 2002 to help answer unresolved questions on climate, found that it was the measurements, not the models, that were in error. Their report, issued on Wednesday, stated, "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere." They cautioned, however, that discrepancies still existed in some regions, particularly the tropics. Greenhouse skeptics will undoubtedly point to this smaller remaining discrepancy as evidence that climate models cannot be trusted, but the authors of the report thought it more likely that the measurements were flawed. Chief Editor Dr. Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, concluded in the report: "Discrepancies between the data sets and the models have been reduced and our understanding of observed climate changes and their causes have increased. The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases."

The satellite measurements that were found to be in error were taken beginning in 1978 by Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) operating on NOAA polar-orbiting satellites. According to a description of the MSU data available on the web site where the data is archived,

"The instruments in the MSU series were intended for day to day operational use in weather forecasting and thus are not calibrated to the precision needed for climate studies. A climate quality dataset can be extracted from their measurements only by careful intercalibration of the nine distinct MSU instruments."

Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, made a series of efforts to perform the careful intercalibration needed beginning in the 1990s, and for over a decade successfully defended his conclusion that the MSU instruments were showing a much lower level of tropospheric warming than what climate models predicted. Christy was probably the most quoted scientist by the "greenhouse skeptics" during that period, and testified numerous times before Congress about his findings. However, a series of papers published in 2004 and 2005 showed that the satellite intercalibration methods used by Christy were incorrect, and Christy publicly credited the authors of the new studies with finding a real source of error. Christy is also one of the co-authors on the Climate Change Science Program study.

So can we trust the climate models now? That will remain a matter of debate, but now we know that these models have successfully performed at least one major prediction that their detractors thought was wrong. With the climate models validated by the collapse of the greenhouse skeptics' main argument against them, it is apparent that their predictions of possible catastrophic climate change are no hoax and need to be taken seriously.

For further reading: The Economist printed a easy to understand article in August 2005 summarizing the new research exposing the satellite and weather balloon measurement errors, and has a more technical discussion.

I'll be back next week to talk about the demise of La Nina, and other factors that may affect the coming hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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67. ForecasterColby
7:57 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
And here is where the Titanic analogy falls down - this iceberg might hit us even if we do slow down.
66. AZuRe033
7:44 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

The "Big Wigs," as you call them, rely very heavily on the ignorance of the American people. Their number one concern is getting re-elected and if what they do actually benefits people then it's a bonus.

The cost of switching over to new and more energy efficent means of energy is astounding and the American people would have screamed bloody murder if this was done because the short term price of EVERYTHING would have gone up. Now they are screaming because the formerly cheap means of energy is hurting them and blaming corporations and the Government because they haven't provided alternative energy sources. It's a lose/lose situation. The only thing that makes me happy about the current situation is that it is forcing everyone to rethink energy use and it will hopefully have a more possitive outcome in the long run for the country and the environment. The sad and maddening thing is that no one wants to change their usage of energy, they just want to complain that it costs too much.

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65. StormJunkie
7:56 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
I understand your logic pt, but the sad fact is that politics will not change unless the masses absolutely demand. We are their votes. They will only change if we stop electing them and the likes, or if we stop giving money.
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64. pt100
09:57 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
oh btw, if the titanic had not try to turn and had run straight into the iceberg, it would still be floating........
63. ForecasterColby
7:55 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Skye, that's just the point. Mar's climate system is extremely simple, with basically one input - the sun. If Mars is warming, presumably something is going on with the sun, which would also affect us, no?
62. Skyepony (Mod)
7:53 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Many are sipping their martini thinking this ship is too strong to be sunk by that iceburg...
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7:49 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
oh on a side note ... I do my part to be a good steward of our planet... I plant trees every year ( 20 a year ) and I drive a hybrid vehicle... I also belong to many so called liberal organizations locally...and I am non political but lean right on some issues

what do you good people do to help ?

Of all the problems with this world global warming is minor...I would say we need to focus on air quality or we will choke ourselves to death soon....

very similar issue but never talked about...

or how about protecting our water supplies...

global warming huh????

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60. pt100
09:46 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
Dont agree with you storm, Political awareness is as equal important. Example? why did we ban the Ozone consuming gasses? Not because you and me didnt want them anymore, but because politics, due to good evidence. was aware of the fact that things were going wrong.
Same with this problem, if the thread of an economical impact is clear the problem will be solved, not earlier
59. StormJunkie
7:51 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Desert, your analogy is good, but the turning thing is not really what this is like. It is more like we know we are in iceberg laden waters and yet to impress everyone we plow ahead full throttle. So again, the Titanic anology is good.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 17164
58. Skyepony (Mod)
7:50 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Mars has no magnetic force field or atmosphere. It takes a harsh bombardment from space. To compare it to earth is like comparing an orange to a rotten apple.
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57. desertdisaster
7:43 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
The situation is a bit like the Titanic, We see the iceberg. We know we need to turn…We try… We hope we won’t hit… but the machine is too big…
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56. Skyepony (Mod)
7:35 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Lets review NOAA's stance on human induced global warming~

NOAA's globial Monitoring Division~
To slow the rate of anthropogenic-induced climate change in the 21st century and to minimize its eventual magnitude, societies will need to manage the climate forcing factors that are directly influenced by human activities, in particular greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions.

neat graph created in 2001~The global mean radiative forcing of the climate system for the year 2000, relative to 1750.

Credit NOAA (obtained from link above)
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55. StormJunkie
7:38 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
pt the problem is that money needs to be spent to do the research and then the research needs to be made number one public knowledge. I mean news coverage like that of the OJ trial.

Then and only then, when the masses are aware and the big wigs know the masses are aware will we begin to change things.
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54. rwwhot
2:30 PM CDT on May 05, 2006
Cregnebaa, it all boils down to whether the climate activists want a treaty that is ratifiable, or whether they want an issue. If they want one ratified, it will have to bind China, India, and the US to the same date based cap on total emissions, fair or no, that is reality. If they just want the issue to ramble along about, then the current discourse should serve them well for decades to come.

To those on the right, Kyoto doesn't look like a climate change solution, it looks like an excuse to create an obligation for increased foreign aid payments. To those on the left that aren't absolutely green, it looks like a way to decimate the last strongholds of union membership if the US.

Basically, if they want something ratified by any Senate elected by the people of the US, they are going to have to start over completely. Kyoto was every bit as dead on arrival as a Reagan administration budget proposal.

The thing that makes me the maddest, is that I believe Gore and his team knew they were creating something that even the most liberal in his party might be a bit squeemish about. They built something knowing and hoping it would fail in the Senate.

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53. Pecos1680
7:23 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Two sides to Martian Global Warming:

"And for three Mars summers in a row, deposits of frozen carbon dioxide near Mars' south pole have shrunk from the previous year's size, suggesting a climate change in progress."

Also, comparisions (admittedly difficult) using 1960's and 1970's images show even more shrinkage from that time to now.

A counterpoint article:

"In 2001, Malin et al published a short article in Science (subscription required) discussing MGS data showing a rapid shrinkage of the South Polar Cap. Recently, the MGS team had a press release discussing more recent data showing the trend had continued. The shrinkage of the Martian South Polar Cap is almost certainly a regional climate change, and is not any indication of global warming trends in the Martian atmosphere. Colaprete et al in Nature 2005 (subscription required) showed, using the Mars GCM, that the south polar climate is unstable due to the peculiar topography near the pole, and the current configuration is on the instability border; we therefore expect to see rapid changes in ice cover as the regional climate transits between the unstable states. Thus inferring global warming from a 3 Martian year regional trend is unwarranted."

Hmmm... sounds like handwaving. The last two sentences could easily be applied to "regional" glaciers and polar caps on earth.

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52. pt100
09:29 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
I'm not insulted, at least 49,99% of the American voters agree with me.
You are right creg, in this divers world it's hard to get something done, Kyoto was a hard bargain and a start for a global approach to a enviromental problem, whatever might be the cause of it. Not ratifying it is a neglect to the rest of the world, im sorry to say.
51. Skyepony (Mod)
7:25 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
whirlwind~ Was it this one? Also comes in 2-D (that's 3-D) or zoomed different degrees of zoomed out.

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50. Cregnebaa
2:17 PM EST on May 05, 2006
HAARP, the Kyoto was never meant to be the be all and end all, but a start. The European nations who signed may not achieving the limits set, but at least they are moving towards alternative energy.
As for the cost to industry and the US the kyoto will cause, the US people could gradually increase fuel economy and reduce, may be eliminate the need for foreign oil imports, thus keeping US money in the US, reducing the trade deficit.
I always love the 'if China and India don't do it we should we' argument. How about if the people in those countries decided that thaey should be allowed to produce as many emmisions per capita as the US, Global emssions would triple, if we aren't affecting Global climate now, I dare say we will be then.
As for the "all this hate goes out to americans ", it seems the only one who is insulting nationalities is you with the term Eurotrash.
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49. StormJunkie
7:20 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Well stated gcain.
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48. StormJunkie
7:17 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Go back to that site whirl and select the Gulf Stream link at the top left (I think) and then select year and date and so on. It think that one shows a small portion of the gulf an all of florida up to say canada.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 17164
47. gcain
7:08 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
F.Colby: Yep, its all about $$. Although, I believe that every problem has a hypothetical "critical mass" point where the need for action becomes so apparent that businesses, governments, scientific institutions, etc. converge on least that is the way history plays out--so far. Of course, maybe its already too late, maybe that moment in time was 100 years ago...whose to know? How do you get the general public to care enough to demand change. Sort of like we really worry before or after the levee breaks? Do we really worry before or after the storm surge? Do we worry now or after the sky darkens forever? Tough questions, I think.
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46. StormJunkie
7:16 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Just in case you missed it whirlwind
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45. whirlwind
7:14 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
hey stormjunkie how u been? long time...

that link is great...but there was another one that showed the gulf current going around FL. It was crazy looking, just a red band outlining FL. Ill keep looking for it...
44. pt100
09:13 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
were the measurements right on mars????????????
43. StormJunkie
7:10 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
whrlwind. It is also on my site.

Just select the region the year and then most recent with thumbs.

Good SST maps
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42. Pecos1680
6:54 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Global warming on Mars

It is downplayed in news releases but it created a stir in the Mars science community. It is always characterized as "Mars coming out of an ice age," or "Mars sees climate change." They are very careful not to say "Mars has global warming too."
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41. whirlwind
7:03 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
hey all-
there was a link posted showing a close up of the loop current temp around florida. Ive been searching but cant find it, can someone post that link again... thanks
40. StormJunkie
7:03 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Sorry HAARP. I'll pay closer attention next time.

Thanks for the link.
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39. StormJunkie
6:53 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
That being said Gcain. It brings up something I have struggled with for a long time. The human race, although brilliant, is also extremely stupid. It is plainly obvious to me that one day we will not have this planet anymore. No one currently knows when that day will be. That being said I do not understand how we can continue along our same path day after day. It is as if we are all just willing to accpet the fact that our race is gone when this place is gone. Why have we not landed on Mars yet, we are CAPABLE. Why am I still putting gas in my car, when we COULD have changed that 20 years ago? The answer to these question and others like them is-MONEY. Money will not buy our way out of here when the earths ability to support human existance.

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38. rwwhot
1:39 PM CDT on May 05, 2006
It doesn't take much to reinforce a skeptic on any topic, and one that is as ephermeral as global warming, thats just asking for trouble.

As to fiction authors testifying before congress, its no worse than having holyweird actors and actresses testifying based on roles that they have played, and the left does that all the time.
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6:53 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
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36. StormJunkie
6:50 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Pecos, can you give me a link to the mars ice caps thing. I would like to post it on my site.

Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 17164
6:48 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

"Another important data point is that NASA has found that the polar caps on Mars have been receding significantly over the past 40 years, and especially over the last 20 years. This indicates that Mars is undergoing global warming with much the same timeline that we see on the earth.

Dont say that they may actually look to investigate a cause as oppossed to trying to prove a theory...

There is the problem all unto itself...flawed scientific thinking
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34. gcain
6:39 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
F.Colby: I agree that the "warming" can't be denied by too many people (scientist or layperson) usual, the devil is in the details. Why the warming, how long the warming, what's causing the warming, and can we manage the warming by making changes?? These should become the foci of our efforts. Personally, the thing that scares me the most is that it is such a "long term" delimma that few politicans (or scientists) will have the foresight or the fortitude to handle it (kind of like social security and medicare)'s hard to get anyone too excited about what might happen in 2040 or 2100 much less hundreds of years in the future. If we are real "custodians" then we will care to do something...if we are just here for the short haul, then not much will happen anytime soon. I guess that's the real delimma.
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33. StormJunkie
6:46 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

As for wannabe, you have to understand that is the nature of the wannabe. She can tell you the real truth about global warming. The dreaded Bush's caused it. LOL.

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32. Pecos1680
6:34 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Solar activity is a significant contributor to global warming.

I took some monthly sunspot data dating back to the 1700's, ran a moving average filter on it to reduce the 11-year periodicity, and produced a chart that shows an unprecedented increase in solar activity since the mid-20th century. I compared this with a NASA global warming chart covering the last 50 years and found a significant correlation.

Another important data point is that NASA has found that the polar caps on Mars have been receding significantly over the past 40 years, and especially over the last 20 years. This indicates that Mars is undergoing global warming with much the same timeline that we see on the earth.

This may not totally exorerate CO2 emissions, but it does show that the effect may be much smaller than that caused by natural variations in solar output.

Since the correlation between solar output and its effect on the earth is not well characterized (there has not been a lot of data to work with in the absence of other disturbances), I doubt that current models properly consider it.


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6:41 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
um pt...

look man, Please tell me what the kyoto protocal is going to accomplish if EVERY nation does not sign it...

your snide remark..."rwwhot, the thing you were afraid of allready happened!!.... is just childish... If you have some time maybe you should do your research about why amarica hasnt signed the document and they open your trapper...

Oh did you know that the euro countries have already "failed" to live up to their treaty...but thats prolly because the USA too right?

Please keep politics of this blog... i beg you people

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30. StormJunkie
6:42 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
GReat buster I am sure it will be good for mother earth to spew all of her water in to space. Wonder what the long term implications of that would be.

The near future...alternative fuels??? LMFAO. We could have done this 20 to 30 years ago, but again it is all about the MONEY. That is the only reason that we have not moved away from energy sources that we utilize.
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29. AZuRe033
6:17 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
The debate does not stem from the belief or disbelief that the Earth is warming. The debate is in the cause of Global Warming as Dr. Masters correctly termed those who do not believe the Earth is warming due to Greenhouse gas emissions, ie Human induced global warming.

I think you will find that most skeptics are skeptical because of our limited understanding of the Globe and the weather combined with the very small amount of reliable records for a relatively short period of time. The more we understand and the more accurate we become, the less of a debate this will be in time. As a skeptic, I am elated that the measurments were wrong. Why? Because that means we can hopefully fix the problem and start taking more accurate measurements so we can improve our understanding of what is really going on and hopefully find an end to this debate one way or the other. I want real data and real science as opposed to squewd data and twisted articles that are more about spouting political rhetoric rather than presenting accurate findings, regardless of what "side" it comes from. These new findings will not change my stance on human induced global warming. It will, however, make me a little less skeptical.

In regards to the Kyoto Proticol...Most have absolutely no idea of the negative consequences to the US would be if we did sign on. In it's present form, it is simply a noble concept, but a bad idea.

weatherwannabe...throwing around terms like "neocon" and "corporate hacks" are useless rhetoric. Do you have something useful to contribute to the discussion, or are you content resorting to infantile name calling?

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28. StormJunkie
6:30 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Good to see you wannabe.

Double, I do not think the real debate is about if global warming exists, but more what is causing it. To say that it is soley caused by human interaction with out having data to support that is crazy and narrow minded. While this may be the case in would take an inordinate amount of data to prove this, let's say the last million years or so worth of data.

The real problem is that money makes the world turn and as long as there is a profit to be turned on fossil fuels and the like we will not be able to get a way from them. This, to me, is part of the ignorance of the hunman race.

Please visit and leave any feedback you may have in my blog.

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27. pt100
08:24 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
rwwhot, the thing you were afraid of allready happened!!
26. RL3AO
1:27 PM CDT on May 05, 2006
I look at it this way. The way we have advanced with technology over the past 125 years is astonishing. It's only a matter of time before clean energy will be availible very cheap for everyone. The Earth will be able to take care of the high CO2 levels.

Over the past 100 years we have found other ways of power. Natural gas, coal, solar power, nuclear energy, and ethonal. Soon (30-50 years) we will be getting high levels of energy from hydrogen.

I'm not going to say global warming doesn't exist, but during the history of the Earth, it has had much higher carbon dioxide levels.

Look at nuclear energy. 500 years ago, people were certain that atoms didn't exist. Now we can split them for massive energy(for good and bad). At this rate, who knows what energy we will have in 50 years. I'm sure it will be cleaner than what we have now.
25. ForecasterColby
6:29 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
*wraps duct tape securely around head to prevent cyclonebuster-induced cranial explosion*
24. ForecasterColby
6:28 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
The issue, primarily, is how fast the change is going, if it's a natural process, and what it will be in the future - the warming is occuring, that's pretty much agreed.
22. doublexposure
6:12 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Permafrost is melting, Glaciers are receding, reefs are dying, and storms are getting stronger, What do these people have to measure to be able to see this?
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6:08 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Ok ... I love that everytime the good Dr posts about global warming or any does actually...all this hate goes out to americans by all this it goes again...

First off there still is not a hint of a word that is spoken about whether or not this is a naturally occuring phenomenon...

Dr Masters...please address for me how long our planet has been warming... also address how much we know about the past rates of warming and warming trends accuratly if you can...

How does our relationship in regards to the sun relate to global warming? Can it be measured...we have seen more and more large solar flares the past 5 years and yet nobody has eluded to the fact that this may warm our planet as well...

Global Warming is obviously occuring but to say that america and the kyoto protocal ( or lack of signing) is causing it is absolutly absurd...

Do the people that hate america for not signing the kyoto protocal also dispise china with the same ferver?

It amazes me that even scientists think they know the answers without having ANY accurate data from the past ... Are you going to tell me that with accurate data from only the last 50-100 years you know that humans are the cause of global warming...get a grip people

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20. ForecasterColby
5:31 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Uh. Now we're saying the measurements were wrong? Weren't those the measurements used to MAKE the models? Good lord.
19. pt100
07:19 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
So... when do you Americans think you will ratify the Kyoto protocol? Isn't there a lobby for that?
18. fredwx
12:06 PM EST on May 05, 2006
K Street is a major thoroughfare in the United States capital of Washington, D.C. known for the numerous think tanks, lobbyists, and advocacy groups that exercise influence from this location.

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17. kerneld
4:58 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
It is where the lobbyists and think tanks reside in Washington DC.

See: the wikipedia article
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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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