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Snow Melting Earlier

By: Dr. Ricky Rood, 3:12 AM GMT on March 20, 2008

Getting Ready for Spring (3):

The previous blogs started a discussion on spring coming earlier (Getting Ready for Spring (1) Getting Ready for Spring (2)). One of natural places to expect warming to be measured is at the seasonal transitions, and one measure of change would be changes in snow cover. A figure showed in the previous blog was from a single station, Barrow, Alaska. At Barrow, surface observations show that there is a greater than 10 day shift in the melt date over the 60 years of the record. The last 25 years of this record show enormous variability. There is a random aspect to this variability, and after averaging a strong trend is found. The attribution of this trend requires consideration of many other sources of information. The variability and the trends at a single station could be due to many factors.

Figure 1 shows snow trends from visible satellite observations from 1978 to 2006. This is for March-April-May.

Figure 1: Spring duration of snow cover: This map shows trends derived from visible satellite data, 1978-2006. Image by Richard Armstrong and Mary Jo Brodzik, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder. From the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The blue shows areas where the duration of snow cover has decreased; the red is where the duration of snow cover has increased. In northern Alaska and the western United States the duration has decreased up to 3 days. Over much of Eurasia the snow cover has decreased. In the eastern part of North America there has been a small increase; in some of the high mountains of Asia there have been increases on the order of 3 days. Stephen Dery and Ross Brown in Geophysical Research Letters calculated snow trends for each week of the year for the Northern Hemisphere from 1972-2006. (Full paper from Stephen Dery's Web page) In both North America and Eurasia negative trends are calculated, with the trends in North America being larger. The behavior of the snow in North America and Eurasia vary together. The largest decrease of snow cover occurs in spring. There is some decrease in winter, and there is some increase of snow cover in fall. This accumulation of information across large expanses of land, and from different sources indicates systematic changes.

Phil Mote in a 2006 paper in the Journal of Climate examined the melting the western United State more fully. Mote used observations compiled at the United States Department of Agriculture. His analysis separates the changes that are correlated with indices that represent variability in the North Pacific Ocean. About half of the snow trend can be correlated with this variability, and half is related to a warming climate in the U.S. West. Further, Mote analyzed the behavior of precipitation in the west and the snow pack at relatively low altitudes in the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades – this is the transient snow zone. Aside from a general reduction in snow coverage, there is a change in how snow accumulates. Rather than a steady buildup, there is accumulation and melt, accumulation and melt. This profoundly changes stream flow and water availability.

Changes in snow are not an easy signal to extract. Snow and atmospheric warming form a complicated relationship. (Jeff Masters blog on snowy winters.) Snow observations from across the northern hemisphere paint a picture of decreasing snow cover. The decreases are largest in the spring, which is getting earlier.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

I think it is interesting that despite record snowcover in January, snowcover anomalies are currently well below average and even lower than at the same time last year (here is the same graph with sea ice included):

in some of the high mountains of Asia there have been increases on the order of 3 days.

Has anyone analyzed the correlation of all areas of increase with altitude? It seens that would be an indicator of warming also.
I think it is interesting that despite record snowcover in January, snowcover anomalies are currently well below average

relative to a 1996 - 2005 record. Interesting, sure. But what exactly does the resulting anomaly mean then? We had more snow in Jan than a recent 10 year average and we have less now than a recent 10 year average, that is all. If you had a 50 year average we might be able to glean a quality conclusion from it.

The data is far too limited to allow us to draw any real conclusion from except for "it is more or less than a recent 10 year average"...stop there. By inferring anything else we have to make some gross and potentially erroneous assumptions unsupported by the data.

The plot and data Ricky shows are little better, yet still only include 30 years. If the cycles are longer, or even a sum of cycles do not realign for more than that time frame, the work using data since 1972 and/or 1978 is only good for that same conclusion..."XX relative to a XX year average" and to take it much further involves a SWAG without the "S".
Why do I always get the impression that many people (denialists in particular) think global warming has only been occurring for 10-30 years?

Why do I always get the impression that many people (denialists in particular) think global warming has only been occurring for 10-30 years?

I dunno. Could be you are reading between the lines and making too many assumptions. Maybe your impression is incorrect.

If you are referring to myself, I know it hasn't. It has obviously been going on since the Pleistocene epoch. As to AGW, I wouldn't call myself a denialist. More of an unconvinced-ist.

As to your global average temperature plot, I am sure we have discussed the quality of the historical data, it's coverage, and other caveats before. I'll not go into that again for now, but all of that, and conclusions attempting to be drawn from it, are part of the reason I am an unconvinced-ist.
Atmoaggie, are you also unconvinced by the theoretical aspects of the theory?
Caribou, ME breaks their seasonal snowfall record tonight. Could tally over 200" before the season is over.

At 8:50pm Caribou, ME has recored 181.8" of snow thus far this winter after 9.9" from this most recent storm, breaking the old record of 181.1" of snow set during the winter of 1954-55.

It's going to take a looong time to melt off the snow from this winter in Maine. I forsee some flooding problems if this wet pattern continues into the April through June timeframe.

We might also have to deal with some late season frosts here in the Northeast due to the incredible snowpacks over New England and southeastern Cananda. Many area are running 3-6 foot snowpacks with some of the mountainous terrain up to 8 feet. These are snowpacks more typical of western states.

"The fact is that so much money and effort have gone into the theory that mankind is 100 percent responsible for climate change that it now seems too late to turn back. Entire careers (including my own) depend upon the threat of global warming. Politicians have also jumped aboard the Global Warming Express, and this train has no brakes."

Roy W. Spencer

Principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. His book, Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor, will be published this month
Re #13: Spencer's views are rather colored by his fundamentalist religious beliefs. Oddly enough this makes no sense theologically since the presumed restriction on mankind's ability to screw up the planet flies in the face of the Christian dogma of free will. OTOH people like Spencer are constantly on the lookout for the events described in Revelations, which they are quite convinced are imminent, and it seems to be not really possible to shoehorn the symptoms of human-caused global climate disruption into the Revelations template. Spencer's scientific record is also nothing to write home about, but that's no surprise for someone who has allowed his religious views to color his scientific work.

cruc of course is so dull that he actually believes Spencer's stuff.

Re #10: "To bad all that snow has fallen on land. If it falls in the ocean it cools SSTs faster which is what we need." That's not how it works, cb. Among other things, the heat capacity of the oceans is vast.
Re #5: "[Global warming] has obviously been going on since the Pleistocene epoch." No. See the AR4 paleoclimate chapter for a discussion.

Also, until such time as GHG levels rise high enough to melt the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets and overcome the subsequent Milankovitch cooling signal (IOW to shift the climate back into a late Pliocene-like state), really we can't say that we've departed the Pleistocene. The "Holocene" is a bit of a conceit, climatologically speaking.
Re #17: cb, you need to be willing to do some homework yourself. Try an undergraduate climate textbook. But as I said, just bear in mind the vast heat capacity of the ocean compared to the tiny amount contained in even a heavy snowfall. The effect would still be trivial even considering a limited case involving the top few meters of just the area of ocean affected by a heavy snowfall.
15. SteveBloom 3:42 PM CDT on March 21, 2008
Re #10: "To bad all that snow has fallen on land. If it falls in the ocean it cools SSTs faster which is what we need." That's not how it works, cb. Among other things, the heat capacity of the oceans is vast.

The record snowfall is directly related to record precipitation, since all of those areas are normally well below freezing (where I live, snowfall has been above average, but not like rainfall has been; it is warmer here than it is further north). Also, if you have well above normal precipitation in one part of the globe, it must be balanced by below normal precipitation somehwhere else, so overall there is no real change in precipitation (which can and does cool the ocean locally, but the dry areas warm up). As this map shows (see the above average anomalies across the U.S):

Now, that large dry area in the Pacific is cooler than normlal due to cold water upwelling, but this also means that the sun can warm the water unimpeded by clouds; the warm water is subducted beneath the surface in the western Pacific - also a big clue as to what caused the massive global surface cooling in January, and why it has largely reversed as the Pacific saturates with heat - in fact, at record levels; the warming trend is also very interesting, as is also the lack of El Nino-related cooling since 1997-98.

Usually when it's cold enough to snow over the ocean the temperature and dewpoint are relatively warm, eventhough it's cold...and snowing...

Low humidity combined with wind is the most efficient way of cooling a body of water. It also helps when temperatures are low =)
A Tale of Two Houses

House #1: Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every 'green' feature current home construction can provide. The house has 4 bedrooms and is nestled on a high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet holds geothermal heat-pumps circulating water through pipes sunk 300 feet deep. The water (usually 67 degrees F) heats the house in the winter and cools it in the summer. The system uses one-quarter of the electricity used by a conventional system. Rainwater is collected in a 25,000-gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks, then into the cistern, from which the garden is irrigated.

House #2: A 20-room mansion with 8 bathrooms, a pool and poolhouse, and a separate guest house, all heated by gas. In one month this residence consumes more energy than the average American household does in a year. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs to over $2,400. In natural gas alone, this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in the Northern or Midwestern snow-belt. It's in the South.

House #1, near Crawford, Texas, belongs to President George Bush. House #2, near Nashville, Tennessee, belongs to Gore.
is water should do this better than low humidity and wind.

The phase change during copious amounts of evaporation during a scenario of low humidity and a brisk wind take far more heat out of water than snow will.

Remember that the ratio of water in snow against liquid water is about 10 inches (as in 10 inches of snow = 1 inch of water)

Conduction of heat is more effective in water, but doesn't come close to the amount that can be removed by latent heat.
Uhm, well ok.

From the London Telegraph:

Britain is enduring its most miserable Easter for 25 years as Arctic winds sweep in, bringing snow, hail and sleet.

Easter Sunday temperatures could drop to as low as -3C at night with a band of snow and sleet forecast to move down from the North. The bad weather is most likely to affect the Midlands but snow could even reach London, forecasters said.

From the Sofia news agency:

Bulgaria Meets Vernal Equinox With Snow, Sun Gleams

From This is London:

It’s Bad Friday: Britain braced for worst Easter weather in 25 years as country is battered by gales and sleet.

From the Stars and Stripes:

Snow hits Germany military bases with more possible for Easter.

From CTV.ca

‘Spring’ weather nasty for Eastern Canada

Also from CTV.ca

Six more weeks of winter, top weatherman forecasts


Snow Advisory In Effect For Parts Of Western Pa

From RedOrbit:

Nebraskans and Iowans heading east for the Easter weekend were experiencing flight delays or snow-covered roads today, and the troubles could continue into Saturday.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Heavy snow across Michigan and points west meant increasing cancellations and delays at Metro Airport today, with things getting worse as snow piled up.

From swissinfo.ch

The Easter break has started with heavy snowfall and strong winds in Switzerland, causing some disruption to traffic.


Spring might have already technically sprung but in reality, winter is not yet releasing its icy grip on the country.

After high winds lashed many parts of the UK yesterday and temperatures plummeted, a band of snow has now rolled in.

Flurries fell in Scotland, north east England and the Midlands during the night and early morning.

Children were delighted at the unexpected chance to build snowmen and dust off their sledge


More than a foot of snow fell Friday in parts of southern Wisconsin and nearly as much blanketed southeastern Minnesota.

Cleveland and Youngstown each had 7 inches of snow and counting by Saturday, while Toledo had 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service. The blast came two weeks after the Cleveland area saw a foot of snow.

"Everyone is pretty tired of the snow but I think most people will agree these types of storms aren't unusual in the spring," National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Davis said.


In Colorado, three resorts —Purgatory, Monarch and Wolf Creek— have extended their seasons into April, and Arapahoe Basin, traditionally open longer than any other in the state, probably won't close until early June.

Oregon's Mount Bachelor, with a 150-inch midmountain base, opened an additional 160 acres of expert bowl terrain this season and is anticipating some of the best spring skiing in years, a spokeswoman says. Lifts will run until mid-May.

In California, Lake Tahoe area ski resorts also have seen abundant snowfall this year. At Alpine Meadows, which stays open well into May, January snowfall was almost double the norm.

And at New Hampshire's Wildcat Mountain Ski Area, where more than 16 feet of snow has fallen thus far, spokesman Thomas Prindle proclaims this season "phenomenal — one for the record books. And we're still in winter." The resort likely won't close until early May.

Don't bury your skis just yet

I think these maps and all look so cool mmm in the late 1970's it was said we were heading into an ice age.To take an about face in 25 yrs sounds like someone is spinning weather for a grant or some funds.
"Britain is enduring its most miserable Easter for 25 years as Arctic winds sweep in, bringing snow, hail and sleet.

Any chance that this could have something to do with the fact that Easter is occurring earlier this year than it has during the past 25 years?
Re #29:

Hi tinnerman! There is an error in your claim that "in the late 1970's it was said we were heading into an ice age." RealClimate has an entry on this claim titled "The Global Cooling Mole", and I urge you to peruse the short entry. However, to re-iterate for other readers of this blog, a study which was published in the Bulletin of the AMS discovered that during the period from 1965-1979, there were 7 papers that could be construed as "predicting" cooling, compared to 44 papers that could be construed as "predicting" warming.

In other words, the idea that a "global cooling was imminent" was a mainstream, widely held belief is nothing but BS. Besides, several important fields related to climatology such as remote sensing and modeling were just being developed, so any predictions made in the 70's that haven't been substantiated with modern research and data are absolutely obsolete and irrelevant to the current scientific discussion.

Furthermore, you must substantiate your claim that "someone is spinning weather for a grant or some funds." As of yet, no skeptic - on this blog or elsewhere, for that matter - has been able to establish that global warming is simply a hoax designed to leech funding. (of course, this claim is bogus in its entirety because it makes the false logical leap that somehow securing grant for a project translates into cash in a researcher's pocket.)
mmm in the late 1970's it was said we were heading into an ice age

I can't believe how many people still bring that garbage up... it was the MEDIA which was hyping about an ice age... here are the facts:

The global cooling myth

Every now and again, the myth that "we shouldn't believe global warming predictions now, because in the 1970's they were predicting an ice age and/or cooling" surfaces. Recently, George Will mentioned it in his column (see Will-full ignorance) and the egregious Crichton manages to say "in the 1970's all the climate scientists believed an ice age was coming" (see Michael Crichton’s State of Confusion ). You can find it in various other places too [here, mildly here, etc]. But its not an argument used by respectable and knowledgeable skeptics, because it crumbles under analysis. That doesn't stop it repeatedly cropping up in newsgroups though.

I should clarify that I'm talking about predictions in the scientific press. There were some regrettable things published in the popular press (e.g. Newsweek; though National Geographic did better).

Furthermore, the "cooling" they refer to was really only a cooling when compared to the temperature peak in the early 1940s (compare the temperatures right before and right after):

30. ouzel 3:01 PM CDT on March 22, 2008
"Britain is enduring its most miserable Easter for 25 years as Arctic winds sweep in, bringing snow, hail and sleet.

Any chance that this could have something to do with the fact that Easter is occurring earlier this year than it has during the past 25 years?

The cold is real - but just because Britain is currently cold doesn't mean that it is cold everywhere (and the fact that Easter comes on the second earliest date possible this year does have a part):

Check out the temps in Antarctica in particular (off the scale, which also goes up to +20*C above normal; curious that I don't see any areas with -20 departures, since temperatures are supposed to balance out globally). Obviously no more worries about cold in China either, which in itself was a freak event as seen below (as was the much colder January globally - the recent cooldown was clearly not a sign of the "end of global warming and the start of global cooling" or whatever, it also last happened in 2000-2001 - because of La Nina, there are signs that a super (1997 type) El Nino may be coming with record heat anomalies in the subsurface, probably next year), particularly in relation to the longer term temperature anomalies (same for just about every other area that has had some form of extreme cold over the last year - which is of course part of weather, not climate; when was the last time you saw a day that was exactly normal?):

I have a new entry on my blog with Antarctic cruise pics posted.

With more than 37 feet of Champagne Powder® snow this winter, the Steamboat Ski Resort will finish the 2007/2008 season in record fashion, breaking its previous season snow record of 447.75 inches set in 1996/1997.

“Despite early forecasts calling for a warmer and drier winter, big snows, often the norm in Steamboat, were a common occurrence and provided a season full of epic powder days,” said Chris Diamond, president & chief operating officer for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. “Powderhounds will have plenty of powder tales to tell for years or at the very least until the cycle begins again with the opening of the 2008/2009 season on November 26th.”

Overnight, a storm blanketed the resort with 4 inches at mid-mountain and the summit resulting in a 74-inch base at mid-mountain and 97-inch base at the summit, moving the season snowfall total to 450 inches, 2.25 inches more than the previous record-breaking season. Currently, the top-three season snow totals for Steamboat include this year’s 450 (& counting); 447.75 in 1996/97; and 447.5 in 1983/84.

In addition to establishing a new all-time snowfall record and registering a “four-wire winter”, the resort hit three key milestones within just a month of each other: surpassing 300-inch mark on 2/1/08; six days later surpassing 350-inch mark on 2/7/08; and on March 2nd surpassing the 400-inch mark. Furthermore, Steamboat-Ski Town, U.S.A. received more than 100 inches of snow for three months (December, January & February) for the first time in resort history.

Since November 21st, snow has fallen 91 out of 122 days (74.5%) with 51 of those days recording four or more inches. This season at mid-mountain, the resort has seen 17 inches in October; 23 inches in November; 126 inches in December (3rd snowiest); 129 inches in January (2nd snowiest) and 104 inches in February (2nd snowiest); and 51 inches in March for a combined total of 450 inches (37.5 feet).

“With each additional flake over the next few weeks, a new snowfall record will be set,” continued Diamond. “With just over two weeks left in the record-breaking snow season, spring skiing/riding in Steamboat should definitely not be missed.”....

Re: 32 Wow, you really rebutted with such hardcore facts…. Not really. The fact is the media could not have a story unless some group of scientists did not make it a public spectacle. The fact is that it appeared in a lot of different pieces of literature, film, books, and has been published in the same manner as today’s “Global Warming” scare. It is eerie how similar the two topics are, and yet people try to deny that it was ever a scientific theory or conclusion.
I have no fewer than three books in my library that explain this wonderful theory of the 70’s, which actually came about in the late 50’s as a theory and was supposedly a proven fact by the early 70’s. The theories read as follows:

Scientists believe that a cooling trend in North America and Europe bringing harsher winters and milder summers has developed because of the vast amounts of dust and pollution particles that man is putting into the Earths atmosphere. A murking veil is being spread around the world from the smokestacks and exhaust of mans growing industries, cities, and transportation vehicles. This layer of pollution particles absorbs and holds some of the suns radiation and reflects some back into space. The net result is that it prevents sun radiation from reaching the Earths surface, hence causing the environment to gradually cool.

That was theory number one.

Scientists disagree as to whether we are existing in the last stages of an ice age, or in a temporary interglacial cycle of a great glacial epoch.

That was theory number two.

Solar output has dimmed causing a cooling affect over the Earths surface. This is similar to an event known as the “little ice age” that occurred from A.D. 1400 to 1700 some scientists believe.

That was theory number three. Of course there were others that were similar, and then of course one that had a combination of all three thrown into it. They were not in media publications, they were in resource books, classroom materials, and various other notable sources. But like all things as time goes on they were replaced and the revised and unless you were old enough to have interest during that period and collected some of those books you could easily say they did not exist.
Furthermore they were not looking at global temperatures in the same context as your pretty little graph. They did not have the same data that was used to put that graph together, they were more focused on North America and Europe because this was where the majority of data existed. Much like today, we have limited data to make such wild claims that the Earth has entered a warming trend due to mankind’s existence as the sole driving force. Much like today we still lack the volume of data necessary to make future predictions of climate change. We may have gained more, but it pales in comparison to what is needed to make accurate predictions.
RE #32

Dr Stephen H. Schneider, Greenhouse Superstar until eclipsed by Al Gore, had been with the Institutes of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Boulder, Colorado, and attended the Greenhouse Conference in Melbourne in 1988 as a major proponent of carbon dioxide being responsible for global warming. That made me suspicious, since Schneider had co-authored a paper with S. Ichtiaque Rasool, "Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols---Effects of large Increases on Global Climate", Science, vol. 173, 9 July 1971, pp. 138-141, which began with this abstract:

"Effects of the global temperature of large increases in carbon dioxide and aerosol densities in the atmosphere of the Earth have been computed. It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the exponential dependence of backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content. An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg.K. If sustained over a period of several years, such temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age."

In this 1971 paper, Dr Schneider showed that he was aware of Planck's Law (AD 1900), which is supported by the earlier Stefan-Boltzmann Law and by the Wien Law, all basic laws of the physics of thermodynamics. By 1981, just ten years after his "ice age" paper, Dr Schneider had seemingly determined that he could attract more funds by ignoring rigorous science. He became a protagonist for apocalyptic global warming through blaming the carbon dioxide molecule, which contributes so little, and even then to a rapidly diminishing extent, to the greenhouse effect That change has been attributed to advances in atmospheric science, yet the laws of thermodynamics have not changed.

Unhappily, climate change speculation has penetrated lofty realms of public scientists in search of fame and funds. In the Third Lowy Lecture on "Australia in the World---Relations among Nations on a Finite Planet" in Sydney on 19 November 2007, Lord Robert May, said (page seven of the re-print of his lecture), that "....CO2 is of course the principal 'greenhouse gas' in the atmosphere...." Lord May, a theoretical physicist with an honours degree from Melbourne University, had been President of the illustrious Royal Society, from 2000 to 2005, following his service as Chief Scientific Advisor to the British Government from 1995 to 2000. Lord May is obviously aware of Planck's Law and its ramifications, including the role of water vapour.

However, that Lecture reminded me of the statement by another former President of the Royal Society, Lord Kelvin of Largs, who said in 1895 that heavier-than-air-craft cannot ever fly. That was probably because the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright were developing such craft across the Atlantic Ocean.

Climate change is now commonly discussed with evangelical fervour, and the biblical quotation said to be by St. Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe", is sometimes invoked, as it was by Lord May in Sydney last November. In fact, it was Jesus who said that (Paul, Chapter 20, Verse 29) to the Doubting Thomas. When it comes to the carbon dioxide molecule, its minimal contribution to climate change should not be attributed to its inability to follow biblical injunctions. Real science and sceptical scientists have moved on.

Last month I was asked: "Who paid for the research showing that CO2 cannot be the principal culprit responsible for climate change?". The answer is: the same sources that funded individuals such as Galileo (solar system) and Isaac Newton (gravitation) and Clerk Maxwell (electromagnetism) and Wilhelm Roentgen (x-rays) and Max Planck (thermodynamics) and Albert Einstein (relativity) and Erwin Schroedinger (quantum mechanics), etc. to meet the challenge of their imaginations in their quest for truth in the natural world with scientific rigour. Such quests can only be pursued and realised by querulous sceptics; in the past, they were able to do their work without so-called 'commercial' support, except for livelihoods from their respective research institutions, usually universities.

In an interview with Discover magazine, October 1989 issue, Dr Stephen Schneider, said: "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest." I do not believe the public should be told lies, because it suits some politicians to win votes under false pretences, because it benefits academics vying for research funds, or because it profits brokers promoting carbon trading schemes without proven, measurable benefit to the environment.

From here
JER there are two problems with what you just posted. First, pollution controls in coal-fired plants are increasingly scrubbed out. Aerosol pollution is far more serious in India and China, to which anyone visiting there can attest due to their murky skies.

However, aerosol pollution is different in two ways from the injection of aerosols into the stratosphere by a volcanic eruption. First of all a smokestack or car exhaut pipe does not inject aerosols into the stratosphere. Mostly, the aerosols hang around as a particulate haze.
Second, the way aerosols cool the lower levels of the atmosphere when they are in the stratosphere is indirect. Aerosol particles, especially black soot, absorb heat. In the stratosphere, they absorb heat and keep solar energy from reaching the surface. In the thin air up there, it radiates to space easily.

Aerosols in the lower atmosphere, generated by pollution, absorb heat there. The smog clouds can and do limit insolation at the surface, and can reduce surface heating, but they do most of their absorbtion in lower levels, and the lower atmosphere does warm as a whole.

Second, aerosol pollution is not global. Aerosols are particles, not gases. And generated at the surface, they tend to hang around. Asia has massive air pollution problems, but we do not here in the USA. San Francisco does not have air pollution like Shanghai. Particles in the lower atmosphere settle, and are easily rained out. So aerosols mostly have a regional, not global impact.

Third, aerosols are not all the same. Sulfur compounds can be very reflective and cooling. Soot is dark black, and absorbs heat very well. We all see it. And soot particles darken surfaces where they settle also. Most of the aerosols generated in pollution are soot, or carbon black particles (same thing) In the 1970s and 1980s, sulfur scrubbers in coal plants were widely adopted, to combat acid rain. After falling from the 1940s to 1970s, temps have risen rapidly since then. I'm just sayin'

Other thing is this quote from your article:

An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg.K. If sustained over a period of several years, such temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age."

Well, what if we increase CO2 by a factor of 4 over the next two centuries? That would send CO2 to over 1500 ppm. The increase in world average temp would be more than 3.5 C. A lot more. All models agree on that. Several even go completely nuts, and bring the earth to near the boiling point of water and set up a runaway greenhouse.

No one is expecting 1500 ppm concentrations of CO2 anytime in the 21st century. But increasing CO2 fourfold would remake the world in a way that increasing aerosol concentrations would not.

St Simon

I was no way arguing that the papers by this guy Schnider were credible at all. I was responding to Michaels post #32 that the 70's hype about global cooling was all media driven. The fact is that many scientist were promoting that at the time. My post was not about the scientific aspect but the political and media hype. Thank you for making my case though since all of that was put forth by a NOAA scientist. Just goes to show how wrong they can be :)

Re #40

Jer, there is no evidence that "many scientists were promoting that at the time." There was a recent paper in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society attesting to this fact. Would you kindly provide some evidence to support your claim?
Happy Easter to all

Air Steadily Leaking from Climate Change Models

Global warming may be happening, and we may be partially responsible. I have generally believed both things for some time. I have criticized the global warming theology on other grounds, such as there's no way we can do anything about it, and it's not clear that its going to be bad.

But a solar wind of bad news has been hitting the basic climate models used to track and predict climate change. Consider this, from the International Journal of Climatology:

We have tested the proposition that greenhouse model
simulations and trend observations can be reconciled. Our
conclusion is that the present evidence, with the application
of a robust statistical test, supports rejection of this
proposition. (The use of tropical tropospheric temperature
trends as a metric for this test is important, as this region
represents the CEL and provides a clear signature of the
trajectory of the climate system under enhanced greenhouse
forcing.) On the whole, the evidence indicates that
model trends in the troposphere are very likely inconsistent
with observations that indicate that, since 1979, there
is no significant long-term amplification factor relative to
the surface. If these results continue to be supported, then
future projections of temperature change, as depicted in
the present suite of climate models, are likely too high...

The last 25 years constitute a period of more complete
and accurate observations and more realistic modelling
efforts. Yet the models are seen to disagree with the
observations. We suggest, therefore, that projections of
future climate based on these models be viewed with
much caution.

Now that's pretty serious stuff. The models that predict climate change must be viewed with caution. That means that they are unreliable. And then there is this from NPR:

Some 3,000 scientific robots that are plying the ocean have sent home a puzzling message. These diving instruments suggest that the oceans have not warmed up at all over the past four or five years. That could mean global warming has taken a breather. Or it could mean scientists aren't quite understanding what their robots are telling them.

According to the same climate models mentioned above, the ones that the entire global warming case is built on, the oceans should be warming. But they ain't, at least not for the last five years. We know this because of the 3,000 little temperate sensitive robots that have been crawling under Poseidon's tongue and taking his temperature. Instead, the ocean is cooling. Now how big a deal is this? It is a really big deal, if it continues.

Josh Willis at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory says the oceans are what really matter when it comes to global warming.

In fact, 80 percent to 90 percent of global warming involves heating up ocean waters. They hold much more heat than the atmosphere can. So Willis has been studying the ocean with a fleet of robotic instruments called the Argo system. The buoys can dive 3,000 feet down and measure ocean temperature. Since the system was fully deployed in 2003, it has recorded no warming of the global oceans.

Now this may be a temporary period of cooling, and the world may start warming again any day now. Still, as our observations have been based on better and better technology, they have consistently failed to support the global warming models. We don't know what is going on.

OK it is time to put this "global cooling" consensus of the 1960s and 70s out of its misery. Here is a link showing in detail what the consensus was---but the short version is as follows:

Between 1965 and 1979 research papers predicted:

7 papers predicted global cooling
44 predicted global warming
20 were neutral.

In other words, paper in the 1965-1979 period were predicting global warming by a margin of over 6 to 1!

Yes there were some articles in magazines playing on fears of a colder world. But the scientific consensus, even 30 and 40 years ago, was that global warming would be a reality.


Apologies to counters, I just realized you posted the same thing earlier, and better.
48. cyclonebuster 9:38 PM CDT on March 23, 2008
Computer modeling may prove "Tunnels" effect Jet Stream patterns

Oh, come on... what we are seeing right now is likely due to normal weather patterns (La Nina does often mean heavier than normal precipitation over the Ohio Valley and surrounding areas and a shifed and stronger jet stream, perhaps not normally quite as wet though, but then maps of "typical" effects are just averages of all La Ninas, some may have been dry instead). Really, the reason why there are flooding problems is because people build houses in places that can get flooded and build levees (which constrict flow when rivers flood, resulting in much higher levels; the 1993 flood was a good example of this, it was the highest flood on record but had a relatively low volume - this also means that floods like that are likely more common than you might expect since past floods with similar peak flow rates are relatively common (as opposed to crest heights, which have been artificially increased by levees), like in 1951 and 1973, which were incidently both La Nina years, although 1993 wasn't).

I still think your tunnels are a very bad idea...
As I keep saying...

Why drastically change the regional climate here with 'tunnels' to advert our weather related disasters if it's going to cause climate upheaval elsewhere.

It's a selfish endeavour.
Which will happen first this spring?

Tanana River ice break up in Fairbanks?

OR the 'snow out' date in Madawaska, Maine?

These towns might actually be in competition this spring season
Re 56:

Your 'tunnels' will shut the Gulf Stream down, buster.

According to your little theory, you want to cool off the Gulf Stream waters at the Florida Straits from it's normal temperatures (in the 80's) to 72°F.

If the normal climatological pattern is to have the Gulf Stream running why would shutting it down be benefical?
Actually, buster...

What drives the Gulf stream is wind currents and density changes of the water due to temperature and salinity.

If tunnels pump the amount of water from the ocean depths to the surface, as you suggest, that would effectively do the job of substantially slowing it down, or shut it down completely.

I'm not too sure the folks over in Europe would be too pleased if their climate suddenly got colder because we wanted to weaken a hurricane on this side of the pond.

The Gulf Stream is merely a component of the thermohalene circulation.

Things like the thermohalene circulation doesn't get named 'temperature/salinty wind/coriolis current' because of tides...


Why are you debating the Gulf Stream with me? Shouldn't you be covering your plants?
You southerners are lucky!

I'm still waiting for the temperature to get to 60...

I'm sick of the winter and got the spring fever...
Hey Sully,
WU says we are getting a cold shot tonite!!
Predicting wind chill of 33-39. I am just hoping the cloud cover lifts by around 9 p.m. We are getting a ISS passover then & I have been getting nothing but clouds for the previous ones. Starting to really piss me off man.... lol

Luckily, this years' March wasn't nearly as warm as last years (2nd warmest on record behind 1910). In fact, this years' March might turn out colder than normal countrywide.

Also, last years' freeze was ridiculous. It rivaled the coldest April cold snaps on record.

Last year was just a nightmare.
Reminded me of 2002.

We had 4 straight 90 degree days from April 14-17th (I believe) then had 4 straight nights of freezes from May 17-20th, including a measurable snowfall on the morning of the 18th. Killed off much of the apple harvest here in New York that year.
I think we need to snub out those fluctuations somehow?? Any ideas??

We can start by being in a dream where physics dont apply.....LOL
If we don't start on them soon that dream will turn to a nightmare.

I have nightmares occasionally especially when external stimuli affect my sleeping...The thing is that nightmares cant hurt you!
Sould someone please explain what happened in the 1940's? there were scary trends in sea level rise and global temperature too. It looks alot like or worse that what we are seeing now.


Antarctic ice shelf 'hanging by a thread'
Movie Camera

* 18:08 25 March 2008
* NewScientist.com news service
* Catherine BrahiLink
From left to right it's in the middle of the image.

From top to bottom it's about 2/3rd the way down.

Good, they discovered that the hysterical hype from the past few years
was just that
hysterical hype

"Although researchers agree the disintegration of the Wilkins ice shelf will not contribute to rising sea levels, they say it may help them understand what triggers such events in order to predict when they are likely to happen again.

"There now remains just a narrow beam of ice, roughly 6 km wide, which is bracing the rest of the shelf," says Scambos. "If that beam breaks up, about half of the ice shelf will probably very quickly break apart."

However Scambos says this is not likely to happen this year, as the southern winter is settling in.

The break up is already helping researchers understand what triggers the disintegration of ice sheets. They now know that waves generated by storms over the open ocean are just as important as air and water temperature."

Looks like another "yes" for the GW crowd in the debate.

That should crush some spines..LOL
Hey Gang,
My brother just called about the ice shelf collapse Came on to see if it was true lol
Hey Pat,
You gearing up for tonites passover??
Finally clear skys here in Miami! I cannot wait...
3 spacecraft in One pass, minutes apart tonight.

Heavens-Above Home Page.Link
These times will work for Houston,approx too.

New Orleans ATV pass, groundtrack and times Link

Shuttle Pass 5 minutes later,same plane. Link

ISS pass Link
90. cyclonebuster 7:55 PM GMT on March 25, 2008
89. latitude25

Different ice shelves have different properties!!Therefore, forces act upon them different.I dought we will ever understand them totally.

Buster, did anyone say "them"?

The link that Pat posted said this, you take it from there and make anything out of it you want to.

"The break up is already helping researchers understand what triggers the disintegration of ice sheets. They now know that waves generated by storms over the open ocean are just as important as air and water temperature.""


Did you see it in the image?
Just zoom the image out CB. Using the zoom feature on the image. Try 1 Kil vis.

Tell you what.

I'll save a smaller image of it and hilight the collapsed area. Then you can go to the big image to figure it out.

I saved a large image, but it's too big a file for the pucket to let me upload. So I have to make a smaller one, but it should allow you to get your bearings straight on the image.
New Mississippi delta would limit hurricane damage

* 13:20 18 February 2008
* NewScientist.com news service
* Phil McKenna
Story: Link

Diverting parts of the Mississippi would create up to 1000 square kilometres of new wetlands between New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf of Mexico, forming a vital storm surge buffer against hurricanes, researchers say. The formation of new delta lands could also help stem ongoing coastal erosion without disrupting important shipping traffic.

"The scientific and engineering barriers are easily overcome," says Gary Parker, a geologist and engineer at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, who developed the plan with colleagues. "The big issue is political will".

Details of the scheme were unveiled on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, US.

This is the 4km resolution image showing where the collapse is

Here's the 250m resolution image

It's because it was a very small collapse.

It looks even bigger in the image than it really was because it had about 10 days to spread out from its original collapse point.

It will be very interesting to see if the whole ice shelf collapses. It may not, right away, because it is getting deep into the fall and it may freeze in place for the winter. Even so, I bet next summer the whole 6,500 square mile shelf will be gone.
Still it is a much bigger shelf than Larsen B was, and is in fact bigger than all the ice shelves that have collapsed in the Antarctic in the past 30 years combined. So it is a big deal!
An interesting story Link
#47 That analysis was flawed.

Ocean Cooling, Not.

A lot has been made of a paper (Lyman et al, 2006) that appeared last year that claimed that the oceans had, contrary to expectation, cooled over the period 2003-2005. At the time, we (correctly) pointed out that this result was going to be hard to reconcile with continued increases in sea level rise (driven in large part by thermal expansion effects), and that there may still be issues with way that the new ARGO floats were being incorporated into the ocean measurement network. Now it seems as if there is a problem in the data and in the latest analysis, the cooling has disappeared.

Funny how these cooling claims, always end being premature.

Nice post. Great to have all that information complied in one place.
Hey Ricky, I lurk a lot but don't post.

It's a great blog =)

Count Michigan out of snow melting early.. it's snowing right now LOL
117. streamtracker 12:27 PM CDT on March 27, 2008
#47 That analysis was flawed.

Ocean Cooling, Not.

This may not be respresentative of the entire ocean, but a strong warming signal is present in the western Pacific subsurface, currently at record levels by a large margin (the recent weakening of La Nina is a direct result of the warm anomalies undercutting the cool near-surface anomalies, resulting in warming of the upwelled water):


The rash of El Ninos over the last few decades may have something to do with that (especially the way they have been occurring every two years since 2002; I wouldn't be surprised if 2008 continues the pattern, the graph above also shows that they have not been able to remove as much heat from the ocean as they used to).

Michael look at the global anomalies as of yesterday. Your area of anomalous heat is minute globally

if yellow means near the same, ther is a lot of blue in the global oceans compared to orange and reds.

If you notice all of the tornadoes are happening in states where blue collar Caucasian Americans live. These are the people who say they will not vote for Obama just because he is African-American. This is why they are having so much bad weather. They have to change their attitudes before they have no place to call home.