One third of Arctic ice cap now missing; Midwestern floods; tropical update

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:46 PM GMT on August 24, 2007

Sea ice in the Arctic continues its record decline, thanks to unusually cloud-free conditions and above-average temperatures. For August 21, the National Snow and Ice Data Center estimated that fully one third of the Arctic ice cap was missing, compared to the average levels observed on that date from 1979-2000. Sea ice extent was 4.92 million square kilometers on August 21, and the 1979-2000 average for the date was about 7.3 million square kilometers. Arctic sea ice has fallen below the record low absolute minimum of 4.92 million square kilometers set in 2005 by about 8%, with another 3-5 weeks of the melting season still remaining. Reliable records of sea ice coverage go back to 1979.

Figure 1. Extent of the polar sea ice on August 21, compared to the average for the date from the 1979-2000 period (pink line). Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

With one third of the Arctic ice cap already gone, and another month of melting to go, we need to consider what effect this will have on weather, climate, and sea level rise. Well, we don't need to worry about sea level rise, since the polar sea ice is already in the ocean, and won't appreciably change sea level when it melts. However, the remarkable melting of the ice cap will likely lead to unusual weather patterns this fall and winter. The lack of sea ice will put much more heat and moisture into the polar atmosphere, affecting the path of the jet stream and the resultant storm tracks. Expect a much-delayed arrival of winter to the Northern Hemisphere again this year, which may lead to further accelerated melting of the ice cap in future years.

Last week, I remarked that the most recent images from the North Pole webcam show plenty of melt water and rainy conditions near the Pole. It turns out that was misleading, since the webcam is on a ship that was headed towards the pole, but had not reached it. There have been rainy conditions at the Pole this summer, and there is some open water there, but this is not uncommon in summer. Shifting ice frequently opens up leads (cracks) with open sea water at the Pole. It was one of these open leads that British swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh swam in for 18 minutes this July to draw attention to global climate change.

Figure 2. Total rainfall from August 10-22 as estimated by NASA's TRMM satellite.

Midwest flooding
To get an idea of the magnitude of the flooding that has hit the Midwestern U.S. during the past ten days, take a look at the total amount of rain from August 10-22 (Figure 2). We can blame Tropical Storm Erin for the rain in Texas and Oklahoma (up to 11 inches), and for the nine flooding deaths that occurred in those states. However, the unbelievable rain amounts in excess of 20 inches in Minnesota and Wisconsin were primarily due to a frontal system--with the help of some copious moisture pumped northwards by the counter-clockwise circulation around Erin while it spun over Oklahoma.

Tropical update
There are no threat areas in the Atlantic to discuss. Two of our four reliable forecast models, the NOGAPS and ECMWF, are predicting that a tropical depression could form off the coast of Nicaragua on Sunday. The models forecast that this system would move inland over Nicaragua and Honduras by Monday.

I'll have an update on Saturday morning.
Jeff Masters

After Hurricane Dean (sprinter)
Bulldozer trying to clear sand and debris from Norman Manley Highway(Airport Road)
After Hurricane Dean
Findlay Ohio flood (prairieview)
The flood is over, now the cleanup
Findlay Ohio flood

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897. ManSaysIgnoreit
5:28 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Skeptik Fool
1.NH batteries when taken out of hybrid vehicles
can be used for smaller power applications.
2.It is over 90% recyclable.
3.NH batteries are OLD news and are NOT planned for future hybrid, plug in hybrid and electric vehicles.
TE Lithium batteries are the reality and will last over 200,000 miles and are not considered hazardous waste.
3.Core readings from ice caps can tell you the CO2, temperature and ice depth from ANY year. The rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap has NOT occurred at its current pace during MANS existence according to these scientific readings.

Politics is corrupt to its core from ANY DIRECTION and is of no value to scientific discussion.
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896. skeptik
5:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2007

Research the toyota Hybrid and look at where the nickle for that car comes from. Then research the environmental reports on that mine that happens to be in canada. Then look at the satellite photos of the mine and the surrounding areas and see the barren wasteland of which I am speaking. Then get off your high horse.

I am from the US and I know more of what Canada's mining is accomplishing than you do. I would be embarressed if I were you.
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894. cirrocumulus
5:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Has anybody noticed the powerful hurricane in the Atlantic in about 300 hours from now?
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893. icepilot
11:24 AM CST on August 25, 2007
Posted By: skeptik at 10:55 AM CST on August 25, 2007.

Every time government gets involved in any aspect of our lives, growth and advancement is stifled.

Sick of hearing this generalized statement...

The Internet (Arpanet) and the thousands of Space Program spin offs are only 2 of the products brought to you by government "intervention". Oh, don't forget weather forcasting....

I don't know the numbers but I'm willing to bet that "The government" funds a significant part of the "pure" and "practical" research in this country through grants and contracts.
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892. Caffinehog
5:17 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: presslord at 5:17 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

Conservatives tend to use anecdotal evidence to support their claims...while this has a certain visceral emotional appeal, it has virtually no mooring in reality...

And liberals tend to use fear and the, "everybody thinks this!" argument.

Politicians don't like to dwell on facts and logic. They do things that get people riled up for their cause. In short, they do things to get their way or to get elected.

Want to know the truth? Educate yourself and think instead of believing everything you hear or following the pack.
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891. boobless
5:23 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: StormJunkie at 5:16 PM GMT on August 25, 2007. ....Anything? Pretty close to land
Wave in BOC-fer sure.
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889. Msuknotmet
5:20 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Caputured on a research site dated 2005:

Oslo - Greenland's ice-cap has thickened slightly in recent years despite wide predictions of a thaw triggered by global warming, a team of scientists said on Thursday.

The 3 000m thick ice-cap is a key concern in debates about climate change because a total melt would raise world sea levels by about 7m. And a runaway thaw might slow the Gulf Stream that keeps the North Atlantic region warm.

But satellite measurements showed that more snowfall was falling and thickening the ice-cap, especially at high altitudes, according to the report in the journal Science.

Glaciers at sea level have been retreating fast because of a warming climate, making many other scientists believe the entire ice-cap was thinning.

"The overall ice thickness changes are ... approximately plus 5cm a year or 54cm over 11 years," according to the experts at Norwegian, Russian and US institutes led by Ola Johannessen at the Mohn Sverdrup centre for Global Ocean Studies and Operational Oceanography in Norway.

We hear so much about global warming and how we contribute towards it in many ways. How is it that governments fail to mention that the polar ice cap is also thickening? of course, in the future we'll all be paying extra taxes on fuel! Conspiracy? Surely that would suggest scientists are in the pockets of politicians!

As a side note, I read somewhere, can't recall where if I find the link I'll post it - that the earth will cool as well in a few years time. Sorry I haven't got more technical information on that one!

I think those that believe they can contribute towards a healthier way to live on the planet to try and conserve and protect, should do so, and get on with it!
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888. snowboy
5:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
heck of a rant, skeptik - too bad you can't spell, can't think clearly, can't articulate coherently, and are too lazy to research the "facts" you're posting..

For example, being from Canada I question your assertion that:
"the nickle is mostly mined in canada in a barren wasteland caused by pollution"
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887. extreme236
5:19 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Posted By: Amystery at 5:19 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

I read somewhere that cows passing gas is contributing more to the problem than Humans...true? If so, what will we do about this problem?

lol. dont know if that is true, but that is interesting
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
885. presslord
5:14 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Conservatives tend to use anecdotal evidence to support their claims...while this has a certain visceral emotional appeal, it has virtually no mooring in reality...
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883. extreme236
5:15 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I am still watching the SW caribbean today near panama. another area of convection is moving off South america and into the caribbean. a few models continue to show development in this area and cant be ruled out.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
882. StormJunkie
5:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Afternoon y'all.

Got a little seabreeze shower here today! You get anything pres?

I am also beginning to wonder what the deal is with this?

Have not looked at anything but sat and radar, so just asking questions here....Anything? Pretty close to land...
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881. boobless
5:08 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
The wave in the BOC extending NE into the GOM still looking healthy. Upper levels here not so healthy.
Windshift line evident in 1652GMT QuickSCAT.
Convection from 20N 95W to 25N 98W correlates.

Showers here in Houston now-GW lawn maintenance tasks re-scheduled. ]

HGX Discussion talks of ULL moving into Tx. Not sure which/where ULL they are referring to. The one off LA coast? It's the only one I see with any resoution.
Keep the faith...
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880. Caffinehog
4:46 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Don't discount these scientists completely. What they say has a basis in truth.
Some true statements:

Humans are causing a dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2. The CO2 concentration will only continue to rise if we continue doing what we are doing. We don't know what effects continued CO2 emissions at this level or higher will cause. It is possible that this could cause major changes, some of which may present human hardship. The energy sources that currently cause the most CO2 emission are nonrenewable, and will eventually run out. Where there is CO2 emission, there is also emission of other harmful pollutants. Limited, concentrated supplies of these energy sources are a major threat to the national security of many developed nations. The money from these resources can prop up tyranny and despotism. Many wars have been fought over these resources.

These arguments alone present a strong case for the need for alternative energy. It is, however, irrational and not feasable to switch overnight. Even if developed nations did, developing nations would not follow immediately, and the problem would not be solved overnight anyways.
Therefore, I believe that developed nations should lead the way by developing alternative energy sources that are both effective and cost effective. We should let market forces drive the switch. When it's cheaper to use alternative energy than it is to use oil or coal, developing nations will also switch!
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879. snowboy
5:00 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
At least we seem to have moved beyond denial that observable warming is occurring (which was common theme a few years back).

What I don't get is why folks work themselves into such a lather trying to find reasons why human might not be the cause of the warming, rather than just biting the bullet and taking sensible measures (that have merit in their own right, in that they'll save money) to try to reduce their consumption (and thus emissions) such as:
- insulating their homes better,
- driving less,
- driving more fuel efficient vehicles,
- purchasing the most energy efficient appliances,
- not eating to the point where weight problems arise,
- not going shopping as a form of entertainment, and buying junk that ends up being thrown out..
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878. extreme236
5:06 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
well skeptik those "enviromental idiots" as you call them can easily call you an idiot for you statement as well. I, personally dont think anyone is an idiot when it comes to talking about the enviroment because no one knows for sure if this is a natural cycle or not. All I know is we should stop polluting crap and believing that everything we do has no effect on the enviroment, and just because I say enviroment, doesnt mean that I am talking about climate, I am talking about the awefully polluted lakes and rivers around the world. We should be working together locally and nationally to help reduce the amount of pollution and all other harmful chemicals. I am sure we can all agree on that. So instead of argueing about global warming, lets fix things that we know FOR SURE are bad
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
877. precipatator
5:05 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Great answer on the ice
and I have read some of the mars warming data
and you make a good point.

What if (non-scientist here) the Earth's atmosphere acts like a giant heat pump providing cooling by building up Ice or melting ice in response to Solar activity?

Unless this is already a theory....
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876. latitude25
4:59 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: precipatator at 4:45 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

How many of you think the SUN is a bigger factor in any warming of the globe verses the activities of MAN although those activities are not without effect."

People reviewing the information about Mars experiencing global warming, have tried to discredit that information based on the "fact" that it is just observational information with no time line data to back it up.

Which is exactly the same way the information on Earth's global warming is presented.
Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
875. presslord
4:57 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
yea...industry and advancement have done a hell of a good job of reducing our oil dependence so far....
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874. skeptik
4:53 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Does anyone have the arctic ice coverage map from 1900 till 1926? You know, the time period from which most of the heat records that are being broken were first being tracked?

Was there more CO2 being produced in the time period from 1900-1926 than there is today?

What about the silver mines and mining towns from the 1800's that have recently been uncovered by melting ice in Iceland showing that there was much less ice back then in those glaciers there there was until recently?

There is simply not enough known about the cyclical nature of temperatures and climate on this great planet we live upon to make decisions that would hinder the technological development of our country.

I've got a great idea, all of you that feel that CO2 is the cause of all our problems, get rid of your cars, walk to everywhere you want to go, stop using anything plastic in your homes including the computer you are typing on since that was derived from petroleum at a refinery , eliminate your carbon footprint and then, after all of you liberal pukes do that, then pass all the regulations limiting mine that you want.

I support industry and the advancement of technology because that is the only thing that will ever decrease our reliance on oil. Every time government gets involved in any aspect of our lives, growth and advancement is stifled.

The Spirit of America is based upon innovation and discovery and has been for over 200 years and that spirit will advance us to the next level of our society if all of the naysayers would put their minds into something positive rather than the negativity of the global warming/CO2 conspiracy.

Oh and by the way, anyone who owns a hybrid and thinks they are helping the enivironment should do a little research and realise the ecological destruction you are causing with your nickle hydride batteries that have to be replaced avery 80 - 100k miles. Just to give you a hint, the nickle is mostly mined in canada in a barren wasteland caused by pollution, shipped to china where it is refined to a gas and then shipped to taiwan where it is condensed to a liquid where it is then shipped back to china and made into a battery which is shipped to japan to be configured into the proper shape and design and then is shipped to the US for you environmental idiots to buy and be smug about.

Guess why all of these highly polluting proccesses that are used to make these batterys are not done in the US. the EPA wont allow it due to the pollotion. SO go kill a few more chinese workers, pollute a little more of Canada, expend all those fossil fuels shipping the batteries on their world tour, and then keep trying to feel smug about how much you are helping the environment.

Have a nice day.
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873. mississippiwx23
4:46 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
The arctic ice is in the water it was already contributing to sea levels and thus doesnt lead to any sea level rise. Dr. Masters mentions this in his blog entry above.
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872. extreme236
4:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
just curious, but i noticed there is a large extratropical low pressure in the north atlantic, and a powerful one too. I also noticed the nhc sfc map showing a low pressure moving south near the same area. if this low pressure moved south, couldnt it gain tropical/subtropical characteristics?
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
871. precipatator
4:43 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
How many of you think the SUN is a bigger factor in any warming of the globe verses the activities of MAN although those activities are not without effect.
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870. presslord
4:42 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Thanks again Storm...I think we're likely to get wet next Th and Fri...but I'm not seeing anything that makes me feel like we need to saty at the dock...
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869. mississippiwx23
4:35 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
You can see the tops of those clouds being ripped off in the gulf of mexico. No way that has any chance before it moves into mexico. The ULL is killing it, thankfully.
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868. precipatator
4:38 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
It's too bad we don't know what the Polar ice
numbers were in 1879 and 1779 etc.
btw, lots of folks thought they would be underwater with this much ice melting....

What gives....

If the other 2/3 melted in another 45 days
what effect would that have on coastal florida for example?

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867. extreme236
4:36 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
hmm that is interesting. the sfc map on the nhc site showed the low pressure off the east coast at 1016mb and dissipating. now it shows it at 1015mb and it doesnt show it dissipating
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
865. extreme236
4:32 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
at 52W area there is rotation at the lower lvl
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
863. mississippiwx23
4:30 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I think the best thing about Dr. Masters talk about global warming is that he never says we are all doomed. He just states what is happening, the facts. He may say some concequences of what is occuring, but no doomsday least from what I have seen.
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862. thelmores
4:30 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
looks like there is some rotation at Latitude= 10.12░ N Longitude= 52.70░ W.....

looks to be at the mid-level, but atm, only game in town!
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861. Weather456
4:28 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
If you look at this loop u will see the ull ne of the leeward silands is moving northeastward and this loop shows where it is forecast to go.
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860. MrRight
4:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Dr. Masters

I love your weather web-site. But I don't fall for all of the Global warming hype. I don't deny the may be warming a bit but I don't believe we are the cause. To use data from 1979 to 2000 to say the Artic is melting and then blame it on humans is a bit short sighted. It could be that 5000 years ago the same thing could have happened. The Earth goes through ups and downs in temputure averages. I am willing to listen though. I am not an expert on weather. I will bet you some great Kansas City BBQ that this winter will be very harsh and early as opposeed to mild and late.

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859. mississippiwx23
4:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I, not being latitude25, wouldnt mind if the GLOBE warmed...however the Earth might be a different question.


A globe is a spherical map on a stick, basically.
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858. NASA101
4:24 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Oops...Sorry! HEre are the correct links for the feature that I was talking about...


Animate the link below upto the previous several hours and notice the vigorous ciculation al 10W-10N!!!

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857. latitude25
4:21 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: snowboy at 4:19 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.
latitude25, do you doubt the globe is warming or just that human activities are the casue?"

Right now, no one knows.

It has been warming, a little, not enough to create all this hysteria. CO2 levels have increased along with it.

No one knows if one caused the other, or even if they really have a connection to each other at all.
Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
856. presslord
4:18 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
StormW...Would you please send me a link to your blog...I'm planning an offshore (sailing) passage from Chas to Sav end of next week..would like to plug your info into our thought processes...Thanks!!
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855. NASA101
4:19 PM GMT on August 25, 2007

Surface analysis shows something might come off Africa, currently this 1008 Low is at 10W-10N.
Click on:
and and the click on Animate for the last seceral hours and you'll clearly see a vigorous circulation....
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854. Weather456
4:20 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I'll have more updates around 5 pm this afternoon
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853. snowboy
4:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
latitude25, do you doubt the globe is warming or just that human activities are the casue?
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852. latitude25
4:12 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: Caffinehog at 4:07 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.

(Extra CO2 can disrupt many ocean ecosystems.)"

I can tell you that has not been shown to be true at all.
The problem with this field of study is the peer review process.
You don't pick your worst enemy to do it, and anyone publishing it in the first place is doing it because they think it has merit.

Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
851. latitude25
4:05 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
"Posted By: Caffinehog at 4:03 PM GMT on August 25, 2007.
But claims that, "The earth will warm X degrees over the next century!" are dubious at best."

You are 100% correct.

Notice that they never take the models to their logical conclusion and every model comes with the caveat - "if the trend continues". Talk about CYA.

The logical conclusion would be that the earth will continue to heat until it catches on fire. None of the models factor in negative feedbacks and no one presenting the models will take them to the logical conclusion because it would make them look stupid.
Member Since: August 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3654
850. Caffinehog
4:06 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I do want to say, though, that CO2 reduction is in our best interest, regardless of global warming. (Extra CO2 can disrupt many ocean ecosystems.)

I do believe that the future of energy in the US will be coal, with CO2 sequestration technologies, and eventually this will be replaced by solar.
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849. Weather456
3:56 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Tropical Disturbance Summary (3)
Based on 1500 UTC Surface Observation
Based on 1515UTC Satellite Imagery

A tropical wave near 81-82W south of 15N moving west near 12 knots. The wave's passage is enhancing convection along the EPAC monsoon trough which is spreading showers and isolated t-storms from NW Colombia to Costa Rico and surrounding waters. An area of interest is near 8.51N/86.87W where an area of convection is showing some spin on visible images/loops, though recent quikscat showed the distrubed area embedded within southwesterly flow. The area lies in an area only marginally favourable for development but most of the models are forecasting this area to move northwestward along with the wave and develops something in the EPAC. Meanwhile, most of the models are still predicting some development in the SW caribbean but nothing yet looks promisary.

by W456

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848. extreme236
4:04 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
Im thinking this year may be similiar to 2001 as to when the storms will form. there season started out similiar to ours, then in august they only had a few storms, but in september, things began to ramp up. they even had 4 storms in october and two in november.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
847. Caffinehog
3:41 PM GMT on August 25, 2007
I want to comment on the global warming issue:

I am a scientist. (chemist)

A model is only good if it very closely fits previous observations.
For most of these models, we have only a very short window of observations, that may or may not reflect normal occurrences.

A model is only good if your assumptions about what you are predicting are correct.
All the global warming predictions are models based on assumptions. Some of them are probably wrong.

Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that the earth is warming, and I suspect that we may have something to do with it. But claims that, "The earth will warm X degrees over the next century!" are dubious at best. And claims that, "We can stop X degrees of warming if we quit emitting CO2 now!" are simply laughable. Even the world's most brilliant and informed men don't really know.

Also, know that most scientists truly think that they are correct! It's pretty hard to dedicate your life's work to something that you know could be wrong or could fail. Without that bit of ego, most great minds would have given up long before they achieved their great discoveries.
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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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