Scientists flummoxed by snowstorm

As fate would have it, no sooner does a disengenous commenter here point out the unusual cold and snow falling on my hometown of Vancouver, Canada than I come accross this amusing comic from Jen Sorenson:


More like this

But... it's hot where I live. You're not fooling me with your global cooling hoax.

Its over 60 degrees F here in most of Connecticut but its less than 40 degrees F in my refrigerator.

Is it magnets?


Well, magnets _are_ part of the reason.

By Rick Pikul (not verified) on 24 Nov 2010 #permalink

It's snowing where I live, therefore global warming is a hoax!

It's getting dark outside, therefore the sun is dying!

It's raining in Italy, therefore drought in Australia is a lie!

I'm full, therefore there is no global hunger!

Brian - the sun is not dying, it's just that the boat the sun rides in is going under the earth, to travel through the underworld. It will return...until the day it is eaten by a crocodile, or a mutant star goat, something like that.

Every winter for 150 years the various railway systems that eventually became the Southern Region of British Rail were brought to a stand-still by snow on the line.

And every winter it came as a complete surprise.

By Keith Harwood (not verified) on 24 Nov 2010 #permalink

But now spring has come early to Vancouver! Back on the bike for today's commute.

Someone eventually has to say it so here it is:

AGW does not mean hot weather all the time. It means disruptions in climate patterns that can lead to unusual weather events. In particular it calls for increased precipitation in some areas, and droughts in others. In summer this can mean larger wetter hurricanes (as in 2005 hurricane season) in winter it can mean bigger snow storms because snow is (who woulda thunk it?) precipitation.

Get it, Homer?

AGW can also cause heat disruptions similar to the European heatwaves of recent summers, and the prolonged drought in southwest Texas and Arizona over the past few years.

AGW predicts no specific event, but it does predict overall climatic patterns that can be verified over the years by careful measurements and comparison to decades or centuries past.

And...climate is not weather. Climate is better measured on timescales of decades, centuries or millenia, whereas weather can change daily or weekly.

On computer modeling: Whereas computer modeling may have inaccuracies due to phenomena in nature that are not properly accounted for in the models, or due to simple human error in creating a model, the fact is that hundreds of computer models have been developed over the decades, so there is an overall trend towards the modelling becoming more accurate and less controversial. Mistakes are located and corrected, computing power becomes greater, and more and more accurate measurements are coming in over the years to feed into the models.

What's important here is that as the decades pass, and the models get better and better, they tend to come closer into agreement with each other about the reality of AGW, and even the amounts that the overall temperature of the globe has risen, and all more or less predict similar changes in climatic patterns for future decades and centuries.

As a layperson, not a scientist, this is my basic understanding of AGW. I learned it by reading blogs by actual scientists, books by actual scientists, and watching online presentations by scientists doing research in the field (such as UC-TVs many excellent lectures on the subject, all free on youtube).

To do that I had to shut out the oil companies, question people like James Inhofe, investigate who the Cato Institute really is, and so forth.

Yes, I saw Al Gore's movie, but for me it was inconsequential. I already knew all the points he was making, and for me (even though I was in basic agreement with him) it was just more politics. But it was good that some politicians have chosen to fight the denialists, for that he gets a big hurrah. Both senators (and the governor) in my state understand that AGW is real, and for that I am also grateful.

Overall, however, you will not be able to understand AGW by listening to politicians, editorialists, pundits, news anchors, or network TV (with the exception of a few NatGeo specials that at least try to follow the story of the scientific investigation into AGW).

The longer I looked at it, the less sense the denialists made, and it became easy to see that the denialists were demogogueing and using political tactics. I also noted that the denialists, and in particular the Cato Institute do no original research, are not scientists, and therefore don't know what they are talking about. This combined with a study of how the money flows in the denialist movement pretty much seals up the case against them.

The fact that the original professional denialists were the same lawyers and pols that swore in congressional testimony that they believe smoking cannot cause cancer didn't help booster their case any, either.

Naomi Oreskes pretty much lays it out FTW:

The American Denial of Global Warming

We don't need this to be complicated.
Volume of snow ~moisture in atmosphere, as long as it's cold enough to snow. Overall warmer climate means more water in the atmosphere.

So, other things being equal, warmer climate means *more* snow, up to the point where it is no longer cold enough to snow. Then, it's just more rain.

Any experienced skier knows that they are likely to get bigger snow dumps or more frequent snow slightly below freezing, than when it's really cold. Skiers of course want it to be a little colder so the temperatures do not get above freezing, even if we get a little less snow that way. Melt, and even worse, rain are really bad.

So, +3C, for example, will eliminate some ski resorts nearer Equator and/or at lower altitude. It will shorten ski-season, but when it is cold enough, it will snow more.

By John Mashey (not verified) on 26 Nov 2010 #permalink

I'd like to know what you guys think of this video.
(I just posted it on the "global and seasonal thread summary and continuation" thread.
(I am trying to get everyone's opinion)
(please watch part two as well)

I am an AGW sceptic.
With this video, I feel my scepticism is justified.
Please give me your honest opinions.