Climatology: anomalous weather only recently?

Dan Robinson

One of the things that I've noticed more and more is that weird, bizarre, rare, unusual weather events seem to actually be 'normal'. That is, deviations from climate seem to be a regular occurance, and they are surprising me less and less when they happen.

8 years ago, for instance, a thunderstorm in the winter in the northeast USA seemed like a front-page news story. Now I see that they are not rare at all. They happen and have happened most every year within a 100-mile radius of where I live. Devastating floods happen somewhere in my region every 2 to 3 years. Even major (IE, newsworthy) flooding happens several times a year. Each year seems to bring its share of 'surprising' rarities. "10 days in May" of 2003, last year's tornado bonanzas, this year's hurricanes, droughts, severe weather outbreaks, floods, winter storms, etc.

So, are we really entering into a historical maximum of rare weather events, or does climatology indicate that the short-term 'rare' is actually the long-term 'common'? Has there ever been a long continuous time period when the weather was generally 'normal' with little or no anomalies?
 
The only thing normal about the mid-latitudes is that the weather is rarely normal. We live in a transition zone between the tropics and the artic where warm and cold are are constantly clashing. Meanwhile, the media would have us believe "the end" is coming....but this is fear driven not fact based.
 
One of the strangest things I seen was in an ice storm in 2003... The temperature was around 30F, and a light to moderate precipitation (rain/freezing rain) shield was moving northeast. Then, out ahead of it, several heavy looking thundestorms developed and raced northeast, hitting me directly. There was TONS of lightning and VERY heavy downpours, all with subfreezing air. We received around 0.25 inches of rain in about 15 minutes... The saving grace was that the drops were huge and it was raining heavily, and didn't stick much to the trees - but the roads were a mess. In total, we got around 0.50 inches of ice that night... Only to repeat with another 0.50 to 1.00 inch the very next night...
 
My take on this is that, weather depends on the situations around you, and it will be worse some years, than other specifically. But still, the fact remains (To Some People, ‘Allegedly’), that we are inflicting this upon ourselves…by polluting the environment and atmosphere, we are causing anomalous conditions, which lead to disturbances, and then lead to one ‘rare’ event, or another. I will fight to the end with regards to Global Warming, and will not ever change my mind, about certain factors being affected by it. The problem is, there is anomalism going on in the environment…more so than perhaps 60-70 years back, and is concededly creating horrendous condition ‘regularly’. Here in east TN, we have been under a TERRIBLE drought, and rain deprivation for 2-3/12 months. Not to say, there aren’t other ‘natural things causing them, however. I do believe this type of ‘rare’ events will progressively get worse in the following years to come.
 
I think a lot of it is media hype and such. If you realize that a lot of the 'extreme' weather we have had lately isn't all that extreme. Sure there have been droughts and higher than average temperatures/precipitation/etc. but there have been worse droughts and higher temperatures in the 'distant' past. The other thing one has to realize is that weather records only go back about 200 years and detailed records are likely only in the past 30-50 years. Now consider that human history goes back >2,000 years and one starts to realize that we have no clue about long term weather patterns or what 'extreme' really is. People who jump to conclusions that it is human caused or such are just fools caught in the media hype. You don't make money telling people today was just another average day on the news.
 
IMO the only change has been with communications. We now know about every notable weather event (due to the internet, TV, and radio) as soon as it happens and we are ignorant enough to believe that these things didn't happen 50 years ago because we didn't hear about it as often. We also ignore the fact that the earth's climate has always gone through long term cycles of warming and cooling. Yet some people are dead set on the idea that the small increase in average temperature must be a result of burning fossil fuels even though this same thing happened long before we ever used fossil fuels. It doesn't make any sense to me and no I don't think we are reaching a maximum in rare weather events.
 
I don't necessairly think any of the recent Hurricanes or storms are releated. (Or lack of storms). A tornado could hit a city four times in a row in four consecutive days and not hit the city again for another five hundred years.
 
The people who say that the recent events can be attributed to global warming apparently have no historical perspective. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed 8000 people, and this was before the car became widespread and began to contribute to global warming. There have been really bad hurricanes and tornado outbreaks in the past (i.e. pre-WW2) that, as Mike mentioned, went unreported due to lack of communication systems. In addition, we have only been collecting climo data for the last ~50 years so what is to say that what we are experiencing now is actually abnormal?
 
Originally posted by Michael P. Morris
The people who say that the recent events can be attributed to global warming apparently have no historical perspective. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed 8000 people, and this was before the car became widespread and began to contribute to global warming. There have been really bad hurricanes and tornado outbreaks in the past (i.e. pre-WW2) that, as Mike mentioned, went unreported due to lack of communication systems. In addition, we have only been collecting climo data for the last ~50 years so what is to say that what we are experiencing now is actually abnormal?

The Global Warming Phenomenon is real, and needs to be taken seriously, because it a matter of time 80-90 years...life could change drastically...as if it hasn't already...and global warming is a very slow process...but will affect all of us, perhaps our ancestors later on….(Again, allegedly to some people)
 
Originally posted by Andrew Khan+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Andrew Khan)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Michael P. Morris
The people who say that the recent events can be attributed to global warming apparently have no historical perspective. The 1900 Galveston hurricane killed 8000 people, and this was before the car became widespread and began to contribute to global warming. There have been really bad hurricanes and tornado outbreaks in the past (i.e. pre-WW2) that, as Mike mentioned, went unreported due to lack of communication systems. In addition, we have only been collecting climo data for the last ~50 years so what is to say that what we are experiencing now is actually abnormal?

The Global Warming Phenomenon is real, and needs to be taken seriously, because it a matter of time 80-90 years...life could change drastically...as if it hasn't already...and global warming is a very slow process...but will affect all of us, perhaps our ancestors later on….(Again, allegedly to some people)[/b]

How is there enough data to prove that the earth doesn't have large scale climate changes every 10 million years or so? Perhaps there ARE significant climate changes, there isn't enough data to say definitively yes OR no.
 
Originally posted by rdewey

How is there enough data to prove that the earth doesn't have large scale climate changes every 10 million years or so? Perhaps there ARE significant climate changes, there isn't enough data to say definitively yes OR no.

I'm not passing the recent events off as being a result of global warming, but I do believe in global warming. Almost all evidence supports the idea that the world has been warming (in the past 50-100 years) MUCH faster than anything we have documented in the past. Sure, that relies heavily on proxy data (ice core samples, tree rings, etc), but I think global warming is becoming increasingly accepted within the scientific community. Read the IPCC report, or other reports, and it's tough to think that global warming isn't occuring. I didn't give it much thought a few years ago, attributing it off as "natural" occurrences. However, now that Ive learned more about the supporting data, etc, I can't see how global warming isn't being affected by human activities. It's not just that the atmosphere is warming, which was probably going to happen regardless of human events since we're in a natural warming cycle right now anyway. The main argument lies in the rate at which the temperature is icnreasing, and the too-close-to-be-coincidental start of the very rapid rise in average global temperatures near the same time of the Industrial Revolution.
 
There is not. Simply put. There is enough evidence to gather propoganda like this, however, and seems to be what a lot of people believe....it could be what you said though...nothing is 100% sure...
 
It is actually very easy to believe global warming is not occurring if global warming is defined as mankind unnaturally warming the atmosphere.

1) There are at least four scientific articles at space.com about how the climate of Mars is warming rapidly. Hmmm. What could cause the earth and Mars to warm in parallel?

2) There are at least three scientific studies by the well-respected Max Planc Institute that the sun is burning more brightly in recent years.

3) In June, the British House of Lords published an extremely well-researched report highly critical of the IPCC, charging that politics was influencing their results. The well-respected Dr. Chris Landsea resigned from IPCC earlier this year because he believed politics, rather than good science, was influencing their results.

4) The computer models that are used to forecast global warming through 2050 and 2100 CONSISTENTLY overforecast the amount of warming in "pastcast" mode (i.e., 1900-2000 and 1979-2000). They also do not accurately reproduce the global cooling observed from about 1948 to about 1978.

5) The degradation of the NWS cooperative observer network is a major scientific scandal. The placement of "baseline" thermometers next to air conditioners, industrial vents, etc., in the early 1990's MAY contribute global warming through faulty surface temperature readings. See Roger Pielke, Sr's paper in BAMS.

Yes, the preponderance (not all) of the evidence says the earth is getting warmer. The evidence that humans are the primary cause is very weak.
 
1. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a real phenomena.

2. Global warming research is largely connected to sattelites so the skewing of a couple of ASOS stations next to an air conditioner won't make a difference.

3. All climate models predict a rise in average tempature.

4. Infrared Spectrometers in the last thirty years have observed increases in CH4, CO2, ozone (O3) and CFC 11 and 12.

Im not sure what other smoking gun their could be for this arguement to be settled but as far as the research community is concerned a large majority do believe that global warming is occuring.

-Scott.
 
Originally posted by Scott Olson
1. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a real phenomena.

2. Global warming research is largely connected to sattelites so the skewing of a couple of ASOS stations next to an air conditioner won't make a difference.

3. All climate models predict a rise in average tempature.

4. Infrared Spectrometers in the last thirty years have observed increases in CH4, CO2, ozone (O3) and CFC 11 and 12.

Im not sure what other smoking gun their could be for this arguement to be settled but as far as the research community is concerned a large majority do believe that global warming is occuring.

-Scott.

I think over all, most do believe it is occuring... The cause is what's in question. When I hear "global warming", it makes me think of human cause... Versus if someone just said a "warming pattern". I really like Mike Smith's post, as it basically conveys my thoughts.
 
Originally posted by Andrew Khan
What is the 'natural warming cycle'?

I was referring to the natural oscillations that have occurred throughout history -- the swings between "ice ages" and warm periods. More often than not, Earth has been quite warm (warmer than now), and many paleoclimatologists believe that the earth has been "warming" for many many centuries. The dispute seem to lie in the fac that the RATE at which the Earth has been warming in the past 100 years is remarkable compared to the centuries past.

Larger versions of the grahpics below can be found at http://www.ipcc.ch/present/graphics.htm

05.16.jpg


02.01.jpg


05.24.jpg
 
Scott,

If you were replying to my post, I would respectfully suggest you attempt to refute the points I raised...

1. Scientific consensus is often wrong. As "The Wall Street Journal" reported on October 4, the scientific consensus on ulcers 30 years ago was that they were caused by stress. When Dr. Barry Marshall reported that his research indicated ulcers were caused by bacteria his papers were laughed at ("preposterous" said one critic). Dr. Marshall received the Nobel Prize for Medicine earlier this month.

2. I never mentioned ASOS and my comment had nothing to do with ASOS. Read the published literature on the point I raised.

3. So? If they don't work in "pastcast" mode, why do we think they are accurate predicting the future? Elsewhere in "Weather Lab" there are ongoing back and fourth discussions about the varying model solutions at 5 days over the Plains. The models can have huge errors in five day forecasts. Do you really trust a 36,000 day forecast?

4. I agree. But, that hardly refutes my points.

Please read the references cited.
 
Originally posted by Mike Smith
Scott,

If you were replying to my post, I would respectfully suggest you attempt to refute the points I raised...

1. Scientific consensus is often wrong. As \"The Wall Street Journal\" reported on October 4, the scientific consensus on ulcers 30 years ago was that they were caused by stress. When Dr. Barry Marshall reported his that his research indicated ulcers were caused by bacteria his papers were laughed at (\"preposterous\" said one critic). Dr. Marshall received the Nobel Prize for Medicine earlier this month.

2. I never mentioned ASOS and my comment had nothing to do with ASOS. Read the published literature on the point I raised.

3. So? If they don't work in \"pastcast\" mode, why do we think they are accurate predicting the future? Elsewhere in \"Weather Lab\" there are ongoing back and fourth discussions about the varying model solutions at 5 days over the Plains. The models can have huge errors in five day forecasts. Do you really trust a 36,000 day forecast?

4. I agree. But, that hardly refutes my points.

Please read the references cited.


The data really speaks for itself in this case with over 7 million recordings of ocean tempatures, sattelite data, etc. The rate of gain seems to suggest a human influence and not a warming recovering from an ice age. Also, my point was that most of the data is derived not from ground stations so your arguement that ground stations are dramatically skewing the data doesn't hold up IMO. As for the modeling of increasing green house emissions and its effects I hardly think that compares to modeling where an upper level low will be 36,000 days from now.
 
Scott,

Appreciate your comments and your belief, but you have not cited a single reference.

Actually, "global warming" theory is primarily driven by surface temperature readings. Satellite and rawinsonde readings have not confirmed the warming shown by surface thermometers. However, "Science" (March, 2005) has an article by Mears and Wentz attempting to answer why satellite temperature readings have not shown the warming indicated by the surface record. Their theory is that it has to do with the slight orbit degradation of the satellites in between orbital path corrections. However, some have questioned their research. Not being an expert in remote sensing, I don't have an opinion on this one way or another. Rawinsondes do not confirm the rapid rate of warming. That is why problems with surface thermometer exposure (in particular with "baseline" stations) are important.

With regard to the accuracy of the climate models, go to: www.warwickhughes.com/hoyt/scorecard.htm It is a "scorecard" of the predictions made by the climate models. In sports terms: 3-27-5. Not a very impressive performance.

In the words of Dr. Bill Gray (Sept. 9, 2005), "I am convinced myself that in 15 or 20 years, we’re going to look back on this and see how grossly exaggerated it [global warming] all was. The humans are not that powerful."

Again, please read the scientific articles I have cited and explain where they are wrong.
 
There was an article in Scientific American that cast doubt onto a lot of the graphs that Jeff Snyder linked too. Something about the maker refusing to release the raw data that he used to create the graphs. And the fact that going from fuzzy data to real data may naturally force the hockey stick shape to appear in the graphs.
 
Originally posted by Mike Smith
Scott,

Appreciate your comments and your belief, but you have not cited a single reference.

Actually, \"global warming\" theory is primarily driven by surface temperature readings. Satellite and rawinsonde readings have not confirmed the warming shown by surface thermometers. However, \"Science\" (March, 2005) has an article by Mears and Wentz attempting to answer why satellite temperature readings have not shown the warming indicated by the surface record. Their theory is that it has to do with the slight orbit degradation of the satellites in between orbital path corrections. However, some have questioned their research. Not being an expert in remote sensing, I don't have an opinion on this one way or another. Rawinsondes do not confirm the rapid rate of warming. That is why problems with surface thermometer exposure (in particular with \"baseline\" stations) are important.

With regard to the accuracy of the climate models, go to: www.warwickhughes.com/hoyt/scorecard.htm It is a \"scorecard\" of the predictions made by the climate models. In sports terms: 3-27-5. Not a very impressive performance.

In the words of Dr. Bill Gray (Sept. 9, 2005), \"I am convinced myself that in 15 or 20 years, we’re going to look back on this and see how grossly exaggerated it [global warming] all was. The humans are not that powerful.\"

Again, please read the scientific articles I have cited and explain where they are wrong.

Didn't know citing references was required. But just to make sure that I didn't make it up you can read the articles below.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-...1489955,00.html
http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/fcons.asp
http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

"The amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons present in the air today are significantly higher than their "pre-industrial" levels--that is, the amount that was present, naturally, before the intensive use of energy that began with the Industrial Revolution about 200 years ago. For example, the amount of carbon dioxide that is measured in the air throughout the world today is about 30 percent greater than that found in years before about 1800, as determined from the chemical analysis of air trapped in well-dated, polar ice cores. Similar findings apply to methane (which has increased by more than 100 percent) and to other greenhouse gases, with the possible exception of water vapor. The increases can be tied directly to human activities that include fossil-fuel burning (as for heating, or in internal combustion engines), the burning of trees to clear land, and certain agricultural and industrial practices." Dr. Brian P. Flannery

I guess to me it is very unlikely that such a spike in global mean tempature and greenhouse gasses which cooreleate quite well with a worldwide boom in fossil fuels. This seems unlikely that they are unreleated.
 
Originally posted by jaybarnsmith
There was an article in Scientific American that cast doubt onto a lot of the graphs that Jeff Snyder linked too. Something about the maker refusing to release the raw data that he used to create the graphs. And the fact that going from fuzzy data to real data may naturally force the hockey stick shape to appear in the graphs.

Even the real data shows a dramatic increase in greenhouse gasses espically in the last twenty years. I don't think its the only research that shows that 'trend' in fact im quite positive. A google search for 'global warming graph' should turn more information up.
 
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