October 31, 2005

Hurricanes and Global Warming: Do Not Believe the Hype

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

A series of prominent papers has been recently published claiming a link between global warming and increasing power of Atlantic hurricanes. These papers became very prominent largely because of the large number of strong hurricanes that have hit the United States in recent years. But, is global warming really the cause?

The public is certainly divided on this one. On his blog, Roger Pielke, Jr. reports on a recent Gallup/CNN poll that queried Americans on their beliefs about the relationship between global warming and hurricanes. The question was posed “Thinking about the increase in the number and strength of hurricanes in recent years, do you think global warming has been a major cause, a minor cause, or not a cause of the increase in hurricanes?” 36 percent of the respondents answered “major cause,” 29 percent answered “minor cause,” and 30 percent thought that global warming played no role whatsoever in the upswing in recent hurricane activity (the remaining 5% must not have made up their minds yet).

October 14, 2005

Will 2005 Set a Record For Warmth?

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

According to David Rind from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), 2005 is going to set the all-time record for global warmth. He told Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post (October 13, 2005) only a major volcanic eruption could intervene. Eilperin also interviewed Oregon State Climatologist George Taylor, who told her that Goddard’s findings were “mighty preliminary.”

That’s because there’s more than one history of global temperature. Three receive the most citations. NASA’s record begins in 1880, as does another history from the U.S. Department of Commerce, developed at the Department’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). But the most widely referenced history (and the one primarily used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) is compiled by the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at England’s University of East Anglia. It goes back to 1856.

The vast majority of the underlying temperature observations that go into each of these compilations is the same, but each organization has developed its own techniques for how the raw observations are geographically combined and adjusted for confounding factors such as urbanization, missing values, etc. As a result, annual values in each temperature history differ slightly.

So let’s take a look at where the average temperature is each stands through September 2005, and what the prospects are for setting a record for the year as a whole, given that there are still three months of data to be added.

(Read more at Tech Central Station)

October 10, 2005

Sea Level Rise: How High?

Filed under: Climate Models, Sea Level Rise

Global sea level rise figures prominently in most climate doom and gloom stories. And, not surprisingly, good news is either ignored or mis-reported.

First, a little history. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated, in its Third Assessment Report (2001), that between 1990 and 2100, the global average sea level will rise somewhere between 3.5 and 34.6 inches, with a central value of 18.9 inches. Of course, the values falling near the low end of the range are usually left out of global warming scare stories, while the values near the high end are prominently featured (e.g. see here and here).

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