July 25, 2011

2011 Temperature Watch

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Halfway through 2011, the year-to-date (January-June) average temperature for the United States is just 0.15°F above the long-term (20th century) average. Although it is certainly too soon to say for sure (especially considering that a good portion of the country has been stuck in an extended heat wave), there is a good case to be made that when the final numbers are in at the end of December, that 2011 will go down as another in a recent string (which now stands at three years and counting) of rather unremarkable years when it comes to the national annual average temperature. The current run of near-normal years is growing evidence that the collection of relatively warm years experienced in the U.S. from 1998-2007 neither represented a new climate state in the U.S. nor a sustained uptick in the rate of warming which could be reliably extrapolated into the future.

Over at MasterResource.org, Chip Knappenberger elucidates why this is the case—catching us up on the temperatures thus far in 2011 and reviewing the recent behavior of the U.S. annual average temperature record.

The bottom line is presented in Figure 1 (below). Figure 1 includes a projection of the 2011 final end-of-the-year temperature placed in the context of the full U.S. temperature history from 1895-2010, and shows that the warm period from 1998-2007 in the United States appears to be over.


Figure 1. Projected value for the U.S. annual temperature for 2011 based on data for the first six months of the year. The blue dot at the end is the current year-to-date (January through June) temperature anomaly. The grey bar represents the region where there is about a 2/3rds chance that the 2011 annual temperature will end up being. The hash marks above and below the grey bar indicate the region where there is about a 95% chance the 2011 annual temperature will ultimately fall, and the vertical line represent the limits of the 2011 annual temperature, based on observations from 1895-2010. The elevated temperatures from 1998-2007 are circled—this warm period now seems to be over. (Data source: U.S. National Climatic Data Center)

Knappenberger concludes:

“If 2011 ultimately turns out to come in in-line with the central projections in Figure [1], it will strengthen the suggestion that the unusually high temperature that characterized the 10-yr period from 1998-2007, were just that, unusual, and do not best represent either the expected trend or the climate state of the U.S. for the next several decades to come.”




July 19, 2011

Earth Getting Greener, not Browner

Filed under: Adaptation, Plants

A new study in Scienceexpress (Science magazine’s pre-paper-publication outlet) by Yude Pan of the U.S. Forest Service and colleagues finds that the net carbon sink in terrestrial forest systems across the globe has been expanding, taking up ever more carbon dioxide from the earth’s atmosphere. (A “sink” is a place where something—carbon dioxide, heat, water, etc…winds up.)

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July 15, 2011

Arctic Species Prefer Warmer Climate?

Filed under: Adaptation, Animals

Let us imagine someone who suddenly gets interested in climate change and the Arctic. They conduct an internet search on “Climate Change and Arctic” and over 11,000,000 sites are identified. If a person spent one minute looking at each site, it would take them 20 years to visit every site. Of course, over the next 20 years, millions of sites will undoubtedly be added – no person could ever get to the end of these sites proclaiming that the Arctic is ground zero for climate change, the ice is melting, permafrost is being destroyed, habitats of everything and anything living there are highly sensitive to even the smallest change in climate, the whole place is fragile beyond belief, and on and on.

Several articles have appeared recently in leading journals with news that fails to get coverage in the millions of sites assuring us that our actions are destroying pristine Arctic regions.

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July 8, 2011

SEX! SEX! SEX!*

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

[* This title recycles an item from World Climate Report from November, 1995 (yes, we have been at this for a while). To wit:

“In an article intended to raise public consciousness about the threat of global warming, environmental writer Bill McKibben mentioned reports that, in northern Russia, “venomous snakes had appeared for the first time…” Well, venomous snakes will certainly get people’s attention. (This is reminiscent of the old college poster ploy—SEX SEX SEX! Now that I have your attention, my Western Civ textbook is for sale.)

Much to our dismay, McKibben never did expand on the global warming/snake connection…”]

Back in the end of May, we ran a piece titled “No Long-term Trend in Atlantic Hurricane Numbers” that described the results of research conducted by a team of researchers made up of Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel Vecchi, Thomas Knutson, and James Smith. The Villarini gang examined the observed Atlantic hurricane record and determined that the apparent upward trend in the annual number of hurricanes observed between 1878 and 2008 was being driven by an increase over time in the number of “shorties”—that is, hurricanes which lasted two or fewer days in duration. And, they determined that the increasing number of shorties was an artifact of the changing observational systems that had been in place over the years, rather than an actual secular change in the true number of events. In other words, after accounting for changes in observing practices and technologies, there was no long-term trend in Atlantic hurricane numbers (a result that is hard to blame global warming).

That finding was just another in a long string of similar papers that had been published in the scientific literature in recent years and covered here at World Climate Report on the topic of global warming and tropical cyclones.

Now, yet another paper has come to our attention that concludes that there has been no long-term trend in Atlantic hurricane numbers. Since readers may simply skip over our summary of this new paper, with a “yeah, yeah, I know that already” if we titled our piece something like “No Long-term Trend in Atlantic Hurricane Numbers—Even More Evidence”, we decided to spiced up the title a bit to try to grab your attention. If you’ve read this far, it must have worked, and we should apologize for the content to come—there is nothing sexy involved, just more evidence, as you may have guessed by now, that there has not been a long-term trend in Atlantic hurricane numbers. Sorry.

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July 1, 2011

Extreme Precipitation Update

Filed under: Climate Extremes

We definitely have seen some impressive and destructive storms across the United States this spring, and to no one’s surprise, the greenhouse crusade is claiming more evidence of global warming. A web search for “Extreme Precipitation and Global Warming” yields nearly 200,000 sites almost all proclaiming that heavy rain, hail, heavy snow, or even no extreme precipitation at all should all be blamed on global warming.

We have addressed this issue many times in the past, but recently, more articles have appeared in leading journals with news that might surprise global warming advocates.

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