Hottest January in UAH satellite record

Human-caused global warming easily overwhelms much-hyped “cold snap”


Yes, the mid-Atlantic region appears headed toward an epic snow storm as “amazing moisture feeds into what is already a gigantic system,” according to the Capital Weather Gang.

But while the anti-science crowd will no doubt tout that as evidence we aren’t warming — just as they did with the “cold snap” in early January — in fact, climate science predicts we will see more extreme precipitation events year-round as warming puts more moisture into the atmosphere [see Was the “Blizzard of 2009″³ a “global warming type” of record snowfall “” or an opportunity for the media to blow the extreme weather story (again)?].

Indeed, the January “cold snap” not only didn’t prove the case for (nonexistent) global cooling — it turns out that January was uber-hot around the globe!  As leading anti-science guy Roy Spencer posted Thursday (including the figure above):

The global-average lower tropospheric temperature anomaly soared to +0.72 deg. C in January, 2010. This is the warmest January in the 32-year satellite-based data record….

Note the global-average warmth is approaching the warmth reached during the 1997-98 El Nino, which peaked in February of 1998.

Of course, right now we’re only in a moderate El Nino.  In 97-98, we had a monster El Nino.  And Spencer doesn’t mention that this record is especially impressive because we’re at “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.”

The point is, notwithstanding the all-too-effective disinformation campaign of the anti-science crowd, it’s getting hotter “” thanks primarily to human emissions.

The satellite record itself clearly shows the long-term warming trend, especially when you remove the stratospheric cooling influences.

You can plot the UAH temperature data yourself:

UAH Jan 2010

I’ll blow up relevant part:

UAH Jan 2010 small

Even the supposed record “cold snap” in early January was so localized that the Earth as a whole was relatively quite hot that first week.

While the El Ni±o has started to weaken, it is still “expected to continue at least into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2010,” according to NOAA.  Barring a major volcano, 2010 remains likely to be the hottest year on record.

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77 Responses to Hottest January in UAH satellite record

  1. Wit's End says:

    In New Jersey this winter, daffodils started growing before Christmas. Witchhazel started blooming in January, the forsythia two days ago, and the buds on magnolias and ornamental pear trees are already swelling. This despite the “cold snap” and snow.

    The plants don’t need graphs and models to understand that the climate has changed.

  2. WAG says:

    Joe, haven’t you heard of the impending Snowpocalypse here in DC? Obviously Roy Spencer and company have joined the huge hoax, and these data cannot be trusted!

    Speaking of global warming hoaxes, I think this Calvin & Hobbes cartoon speaks to the childishness of the perpetrators of the real hoax: that the changes required in people’s lives to fight CO2 are too big to justify action:

  3. WAG says:

    Sorry, forgot the link for Snowpocalypse:

  4. Word salad says:

    We don’t have 30 years of satellite records? So we need dozens of 30 year periods for comparison.

  5. Stuart says:

    We are having a nice mild El Nino winter up here on Lake Superior – even the bay is open water. There was a little cold snap in December but it didn’t even hit -20(F) here. I like to ask people here when was the last time you needed to plug in your car block heater – most will say it’s been years.

    Joe has inspired me to put a bet up on my blog – I bet that there will be more daily record highs set than record lows in 2010. So far no takers.

  6. Eric says:

    Why are you allowed to tout an isolated and brief weather event as evidence as warming but others are not allowed to make the opposite argument??

  7. Söve says:

    Great post.Thanks.

  8. Todd F says:

    Joe, Spencer says the Lower Troposphere temperature is in Ch. 05 (not Ch. 04). You can also track the prior (to 1999) 20 year maximum in Ch. 05, which will show how the raw data for February is tracking relative to the hottest daily anomaly on record (pre-1999). Of course, this is before any diurnal adjustments are applied. Thus far, Feb 2010 is outpacing Feb 1998, but we are only 3 days in.

    I also suspect there is a longer lag in the troposphere data for Nino (I calculate roughly 8 months, with exponential weighting). Nino influence on tropospheric temperatures might not peak until mid-year.

    And you’re right about relative Nino strengths. I estimate (using multiple regression) that February 1998 had a Nino contribution of roughly 0.2C more than Jan 2010 in the Lower Troposphere.

    [JR: That is why I made a general statement about correcting the data from the NOAA report.]

  9. Paul Klemencic says:

    Eric, this UAH record monthly high isn’t an isolated weather incident. Here is an excerpt I from a post I made last month regarding the recent monthly history for the UAH anomaly (please note the actual Jan anomaly came in even higher than my forecast for a monthly record at that time):

    January 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    I am interested in the projection that the January ‘10 UAH anomaly will exceed 0.70. I checked the UAH data, and this would be the highest Jan anomaly in the data, beating 0.59 in Jan 07 and 0.58 in Jan 98.

    In addition, the UAH anomaly hit 0.50 last November, the highest Nov anomaly in the records. The runner-up was Nov ‘05 with 0.40 and only two other Nov anomalies exceeded 0.30.

    And the September UAH anomaly hit 0.42, the second highest for that month. The record was Sep ‘98 with 0.43, and only other September reading to exceed 0.30 was Sep ‘05 with 0.35.

    And the July UAH anomaly was also 0.42, the second highest in the record. The record was Jul ‘98 with 0.52, with the third place going to Jul ‘05 with 0.33. Only one other July exceeded 0.30.

    Notice that all the other years were El Nino peak years following the January El Nino, and 2010 will be the El Nino peak year, following this January El Nino peak. The UAH satellite data seem more sensitive to the ENSO cycle than other temperature records, and this could mean 2010 will be a barnburner year.

  10. Andy says:

    Joe: I have a bone to pick with you. I don’t think Dr. Spencer is doing bad science. As long as his data is accurate and complete, as long as he makes corrections to it when errors are found, as long as he makes his methods of collection and processing available to other researchers; then he is practising good science. What comes out of his mouth written or spoken is of no importance.

    I’ve known a few scientists who couldn’t draw a correct or even useful conclusion from their data if their life depended on it. Yet, their data collection was good and their information allowed others to advance the field.

    [JR: Try googling his name at WattsUp. He is doing anti-science. Please read my link. As RC noted, “Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.”

    As I noted, Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide. But I find it hilarious that the deniers and delayers still quote Christy/Spencer/UAH analysis lovingly, but to this day dismiss the “hockey stick” and anything Michael Mann writes, when his analysis was in fact vindicated by the august National Academy of Sciences in 2006.

    Then read this.

    He is an anti-scientist.]

  11. Todd F says:

    7. Eric,

    I think the weather is pointed out more as rebuttal than an argument, though there is a bit of both. There has been plenty of media suggestion that global warming is off the map due to extremely cold weather. It’s not a supportable argument given the global weather.

    Global weather is more revealing than local weather. Long term global climate trends are more important than short term ones.

    Without anthropogenic global warming, without a very strong El Nino, and with solar forcing at its lowest point in several decades, monthly temperature anomalies shouldn’t be approaching record highs. Yet they are. Certainly the high anomalies are largely attributed to El Nino (especially in the lower troposphere). However, the Nino strength of 1998 was about 0.2C (i.e. impact on global temperatures) warmer than today.

    It’s likely that 2010 will be the warmest on record in spite of a cold sun and in spite of a weaker nino than 1998. I don’t think skeptics should find this prediction reasonable, given how much they tend to amplify solar impacts. If you are going to amplify solar impacts, you can’t be selective in doing that during warm phases.

    But, I sense skeptical arguments are shifting. Far less talk is made of the sun these days, except from the far fringe of people who think we are heading into an imminent ice age. It should be clear from the UAH data that we don’t need to fear that.

  12. Tim says:

    All i needed to read was that this website is the most influential climate change blogger. Hum, true science should be done to pursude political parties. True science does not have a pre-determined outcome. Why dont you all stick to real science and not making up data and comparing apples to palm trees.

  13. As far as solutions:

    I just went through the (strangely, unpublicized……hmmmmm)CBO score of the ‘energy-only’ bill

  14. By contrast CEJAPA got a great CBO score!

  15. SecularAnimist says:

    Todd F wrote: “But, I sense skeptical arguments are shifting.”

    It appears to me that the so-called “skeptics” are shifting away from any actual “argument” at all, and are now devoting themselves to slander, defamation, character assassination and intimidation aimed at climate scientists.

    Frankly, all the “skeptical” rhetoric about a supposed “world-wide conspiracy” by “liberal” climate scientists is frighteningly reminiscent of 1930s Germany.

  16. Doug Bostrom says:

    Tim says: February 5, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Tim, did you notice how poor and thin what you wrote was, compared to the vast majority of other comments on this site? Have you noticed, there are people who appear on this site with dissenting views and are able to produce coherent arguments for their disagreement, wrong perhaps but without “making things up” by referring to nonexistent falsifications?

    I guess you did not notice, judging by your shabby effort. Surely you can do better.

  17. espiritwater says:

    SecularAnimist says:

    “Frankly, all the “skeptical” rhetoric about a supposed “world-wide conspiracy” by “liberal” climate scientists is frighteningly reminiscent of 1930s Germany”.
    Your comment reminds me of the Bush years and how they used the fear of terrorism to subtly wrest our civil rights from us.

  18. dhogaza says:

    Joe – the Nick/Cash Survey’s post is a spambot

  19. Chris Dudley says:

    Joe in #11,

    Given a normal distribution of mistakes in data reduction among scientists, with a large enough number of scientists, there should be a few who have mistakes that all fall in one direction without ill motive. In the case of climate science, there are non-scientists sniffing around to take advantage of this and amplify the spurious mistake induced results. This is where anti-science is introduced. You may be correct that Spenser has been corrupted by the attention, but he needn’t have started out seeking it. The first steps may have simply been a result of honest mistakes that happened to fall in one direction where a more fortunate scientist would suffer from compensating errors.

  20. Berbalang says:

    SecularAnimist @ 16, the “skeptical” rhetoric about a supposed “world-wide conspiracy” is pretty much the standard Illuminati conspiracy nonsense that makes the rounds every few years. If you watch the episode of “Conspiracy Theory” on Global Warming, Jesse Ventura follows the trail of who is behind it all the way back to the Rothschilds.

    Perhaps David Icke will get involved in this and we can all hear how Global Warming is a hoax perpetrated by shapeshifting reptilian aliens who drink the blood of babies!

    Personally, I think if there is an Illuminati composed of reptilian aliens, then they are far more likely to be behind the Deniers. Then again it would explain Monckton’s lizardlike eyes.

  21. carrot eater says:

    El Nino kicks up outliers from the trend. So once this El Nino passes and the surface temperature goes down a bit, they’ll start saying that global warming stopped in 2010. Just like they said global warming stopped in 1998. And they’ll say it again, after the next outlier above the trend. All the while totally ignoring the long term trend.

    JR, it’s really better to just highlight the long term trend. Highlighting month-month and year-year variations is how the sceptics get away with missing the forest.

    [JR: Nah. You can’t build your arguments around worrying what disinformation the anti-science folks will spew in response. The point is, January wasn’t evidence of global cooling. Quite the reverse.]

  22. Rob Mac says:

    Personally, I think if there is an Illuminati composed of reptilian aliens, then they are far more likely to be behind the Deniers.

    This is actually pretty close to the plot of the 1996 movie “The Arrival.” Lizard-like aliens (who are good at disguising themselves) have infiltrated the highest levels of society and are purposefully warming the atmosphere to a temperature they will find more tolerable when their real invasion begins.

  23. 18. espritwater says:

    Your comment reminds me of the Bush years and how they used the fear of terrorism to subtly wrest our civil rights from us.

    My apologies if I’m just being gratuitously dense here, but please tell me you were being ironic with the “subtly” modifier in the above …

  24. Leif says:

    Sometime I get the feeling that the trolls are just “cannon fodder” thrown out there to keep us busy while the capitalistic system ties up the last dime. I say we should ignore the trolls for the most part but focus on the jugular of the opponent. Follow the money. The Right say we cannot have “class war” and I say why not? 1% of the population control the vast percentage of the wealth… That group invests predominately in corporations that have low to no respect for the environment that supports the humanity of earth… They actively spend large amounts of money clouding the scientific knowledge pool and integrity when wise men attempt a discussion peril and solutions. Their rallying cry, “Don’t harm the GDP.” They far out pace the spending of citizen activist groups when it comes to bending the ear of a politician. (It obviously pays, who has all the money?) Well if that ain’t “CLASS WARFARE” I do not know what the hell is.

    Humanity First, Status Quo, NO!

  25. MarkB says:

    Hottest January in RSS MSU as well (0.64). Here’s the global map (click on Anomaly):

    I tend to agree with carrot eater’s comment #22, but it’s useful to note record anomalies, in the face of an extended solar cycle lull and an el Nino clearly much weaker than 1998 (the tropics are warm but well short of the 1998 numbers).

  26. Leif says:

    El Nino. Where does all the warm water come from to make up the El Nino? At one time I thought it might be a thin place in the earth’s crust that heated the water from below. (Big Yellowstone like area.) The water warmed and pulsed out. If that were the case it seems like someone would have noticed by now. That, IMO, leaves a pooling of warm surface water driven by heat buildup or Pacific currents and “deposited” there. Sort of like the North Pacific Gyre. So, if we have multi-year pulse pooling of warm water getting warmer as ocean temperatures rise, then I would expect increased vigor in future El Nino events.

  27. Lore says:

    Chris Dudley #20

    You’re being far to kind to Spencer. Everyone deserves an opportunity at redemption, rather he has continued to court his cadre of followers that are looking for some semblance of science to support their position. In other words, he enjoys playing in the land of the blind where the one-eyed man is king. His actions can only lead a person to suspect that he has fallen victim to hubris over integrity and substance.

  28. WAG says:

    For anyone thinking Snowmageddon is proof that global warming has stopped, keep in mind that this is EXACTLY the middle of winter: Feb. 5 is 45 days since Dec 21, 43 days until March 21. So I guess not exactly the middle of winter, but one day off.

    Of course that’s not news for anyone on this site, but I figured it’s a good talking point: Snow in exactly the middle of winter does not disprove global warming

  29. And, as a minor supplement to #28, WAG:

    A large or even “unprecedented” amount of snow (that is, a “high precipitation event”) is exactly the kind of event that AGW climate change predicts will become more likely.

  30. So.... says:

    Wag #29…..How do I respond when we say – “lack of snow proves global warming?”

  31. It just doesn't end.. says:

    Netherlands adds to UN climate report controversy
    Feb 5 08:36 AM US/Eastern

    The Netherlands has asked the UN climate change panel to explain an inaccurate claim in a landmark 2007 report that more than half the country was below sea level, the Dutch government said Friday.
    According to the Dutch authorities, only 26 percent of the country is below sea level, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be asked to account for its figures, environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart told AFP.

    The incident could cause further embarrassment for the IPCC, which recently admitted a claim in the same report that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035 was wrong.

    IPCC experts calculated that 55 percent of the Netherlands was below sea level by adding the area below sea level — 26 percent — to the area threatened by river flooding — 29 percent — Vallaart said.

    Correcting the error had been “on the agenda several times” but had never actually happened, Vallaart said.

    The spokesman said he regretted the fact that proper procedure was not followed and said it should not be left to politicians to check the IPCC’s numbers.

    The Dutch environment ministry will order a review of the report to see if it contains any more errors, Vallaart said.

    The IPCC’s 938-page Fourth Assessment Report spurred politicians around the world to vow action with its warning that climate change was on the march, but the body has faced fierce criticism over the glacier mistake.

    Glaciologists have discredited the Himalaya claim, which is being withdrawn, and the controversy has given fresh ammunition to climate sceptics.

    No evidence could be found to show the claim had been published in a peer-reviewed journal and reports in Britain have said the reference came from green group the WWF, who in turn sourced it to the New Scientist magazine.

  32. 31. So…. says:

    How do I respond when we say — “lack of snow proves global warming?”

    I’m not WAG, but I hope you’ll permit me to ask the obvious questions:

    (1) Who is “I”?
    (2) Who is “we”?
    (3) Who is making that claim about “lack of snow”?

    Per #3, I am not aware of anyone suggesting such a thing, but I am clearly not an authority on such matters. As has been pointed out here by Dr. Romm in his posts on the “Great Blizzard” (I could look up the links, but they should be easy enough to find on your own) precipitation is not the same thing as temperature. And as I noted previously, high precipitation events are a prediction of AGW.

    Perhaps, to be completely accurate, I should have added that the distribution of such events is also a matter of both prediction and concern. So the absence of show in one area vs. the buckets of it in another place does work toward the confirmation* — or, at the very least, the absence of refutation — of AGW.

    *Dude, seriously, who in the scientific community says “proves”?

  33. Leif says:

    How to respond? Weather is not climate. Even in the winter. If you want more . Extreme hot events now out pace extreme cold events two to one.

  34. It just doesn't end.. says:


    Anonymous comments are not allowed. I’m gonna crack down on this. You don’t necessarily have to use your full name, but if you don’t, either link to your website or include real contact info where it is requested.

  35. carrot eater says:

    Well JR, it’s your site and your message. I agree that this data point should be emphasized to drive home the point that the cold weather some people have been experiencing is strictly regional weather, and has nothing to do with climate.

    And for all the denier’s obsession with solar activity and their predictions of an ice age, it’s good to point out that it’s quite warm (and will continue to be warm, even after the El Nino passes).

    I’m just wary of the wording in the headline, especially knowing that the numbers will dip from the El Nino heights, sooner or later.

    [JR: The deniers make up stuff, so it doesn’t matter what the facts are. This is likely to be the hottest year on record — it’ll take a lot of repetition to drive that point home.]

  36. espiritwater says:

    Logic Deferred, I was thinking of “sneakily”, or “craftily”. But maybe you’re right. Days without sleep makes it difficult to write! The point is, there seems to be a pattern of right wing repression, tactics taken out of Nazi’s playbook or whatever… something sinister and vile going on. (In some cases, it has been pretty blatant!)

  37. espiritwater says:

    Beautiful post, Leif. I keep thinking there has to be a way we can out-fox them. There are websites on sustainability groups. Maybe we need to go in that direction… simply stop using their d___ fossil fuels! Hit them on their soft underbelly– their purse strings!

  38. Leif says:

    Joe: I was looking at your graph header and the thought came to mind that at least a half oval “record low solar output” highlight like what you have for El Nino and the volcano would be warranted. The down date side of the oval.

  39. Leif says:

    espiritwater: Hard to stop using their fuel in any meaningful fashion without alternatives and they control the money supply. I keep looking to the courts lately. (Before this, it was financing.) Now that the Supreme Court decided that corporations have individual rights to petition congress, I would think that responsibilities follow as well. I would think that some kind of a class action suit, ( kind of a Scopes Trial, instead of Science against the Church an God, it would be Science against Capitalism. A formidable opponent for sure. The press would love it.) on behalf of humanity, and the long term survival there of, and our new neighbors that make gobs of money at humanities expense. The facts are there for the picking.
    The U.S. just made a statement today to absolve Haitian debt. That is a good thing. However the better part of the original debt was very likely paid in full if you discount interest. The people are still poor. If you do not have a capitalistic system that is charged with the sustainability of humanity, first and foremost, then you have a failed capitalistic system. If you have a capitalistic system actively engaged in policy clearly detrimental to not only humanity but the fish in the seas, wildlife and trees, then I would say take them to court and take their money and make GREEN HAPPEN.

    Revolution is societies method of dealing with compound interest!

    If your neighbor treated you like corporations treat humanity you would sue them and WIN! Now that they are one of us???? I believe that the Golden Rule should apply!

  40. Leif says:

    “Frankenstorm” Last month, “Snowmageddon” this month, Hummmm, Another disproportionally large weather system. Does two in a row make a pattern?

  41. Randy says:

    I certainly agree that it is ridiculous to think that just because it’s snowing in DC that global warming is not occurring.

    However, to be consistent we also cannot claim that every heat wave, forest fire, or hurricane proves that the climate is warming.

    I’ve seen that claim in some websites, and it hinders efforts to convince people that long-term climate is the key factor, not the short-term weather forecast.

    [JR: No, you haven’t seen that claim in any website.]

  42. Richard Brenne says:

    Randy (#42)-

    You’re right that not “every heat wave, forest fire, or hurricane proves that the climate is warming.”

    But I think we can say that “The likelihood of dramatic heat waves, drought, forest fires, extreme precipitation events (including snow where it is cold enough to snow) and Category 4 and 5 hurricanes appears to be increasing due to global warming caused mostly by CO2 increase caused by human fossil fuel burning.”

    I think we need to agree about the language and then all of us should say what we agree about millions of times in every medium there is. This afternoon I spoke with a Daily Show producer and recommended they get Joe on the air to say just this kind of thing (this might be a process that takes months or even years – we’ll see).

  43. From Peru says:

    And temperatures are still going up:
    See the warming in the first days of january!

    If this doesn’t change, it will be the hottest year on record, but…
    … if a strong La Niña develops in the second part of the year, it could offset the early year warming.

    This happened before, in 2007. Yes, the 2009-2010 El Niño was well stronger than 2006-2007, so this is less likely, but short-term climate variations are hard to predict.

    If 2010 results to not be a record-warm year, the deniers will claim victory …(it will be a total pyrric one, but they don’t care about medium-long term stuff)

  44. Nancy Botoxi says:

    “Joe Romm wrote in his web log in December that the December blizzard in DC was “exactly like the climatologists predicted with extreme weather.”

    The hysteria that often accompanies paranoid schizophrenia is not funny to witness.”


  45. Ben Owens says:

    This snow really looks great 32 inches

  46. Ben Owens says:

    Several Chinese scientists who have gone over the IPCC report believe that the IPCC may have overstated the link between global temperature and CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Kev Trenberth, 2002:

    “We’ll never see winter as we once knew it again

  47. Leif says:

    Ben Owens: “Several Chinese have gone over the IPCC report…” I am sure that the Chinese have nothing to be gained by the West continuing to support the fossil industry. After all China just invested $200 billion in renewable and of course still gets access to the West’s drilling technologies on the world market for oil.
    And of course you want to trust the Chinese scientists above our very owe NOAA or universities, etc.

  48. Nancy Botoxi says:

    It just get better and better!!!!

    Feb 05, 2010
    Barrasso Calls for U.N. Climate Chief’s Resignation

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., called on Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to resign after revelations of ongoing scientific fraud under Dr. Pachauri’s watch. Senator Barrasso delivered the following statement on the Senate Floor:

    “Every day, new scandals emerge about the so called ‘facts’ in the UN reports. The integrity of the data and the integrity of the science have been compromised.

    “Concrete action by world leaders is needed. Government delegations of the UN’s general assembly and UN Secretary Moon must pressure Dr. Rajendra Pachauri to step down as head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    “It is time to conduct an independent investigation into the conduct of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The scientific data behind these policies must be independently verified.

    “Administration policies relating to climate change will cost millions of Americans their jobs. We need to get this right. To continue to rely on these corrupted U.N. Reports is an endorsement of fraudulent behavior. It is a signal to the American people that ideology is more important than their jobs.”

  49. Nancy Botoxi says:

    It seems like the IPCC is the more likely culprit to “making up stuff!” What utter morons believe the crap they spew! Ummmmm! It also seems NASA, NOAA, et al are also guilty of “cooking the books” so your “hottest year” BS exists only in Joe’s delusional paranoid schizophrenia!

    [JR: The deniers make up stuff, so it doesn’t matter what the facts are. This is likely to be the hottest year on record — it’ll take a lot of repetition to drive that point home.]

  50. Chris Dudley says:

    Lore (#28),

    I was looking at a natural explanation for the beginning. What is happening now may be a different matter. One of the most satisfying definitions of doing science that I know of is to be wrong in an interesting way. So, we need room for mistakes just as much as we need rigor once we strike something interesting.

    Because of this, we should expect some cases of mistakes that all tend in the same direction without bias being the reason.

  51. Richard Brenne says:

    Anyone know the name of the asylum that just let their patients on-line? Sheesh. (Not you, Chris or Leif)

  52. PSU Grad says:

    I think we need to keep our eye on the ball here. Yes, this is a major snowstorm for the northeast. But locally, the climatological normal low is 23F. The temperature during this snowstorm has never gone below 25F. Granted, it will no doubt go into the low teens during the next few days as this storm system drags colder air down from Canada.

    But so far as I know, the Winter season hasn’t been repealed.

  53. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    If the hottest decade ever was cooled by a decrease in stratospheric water vapour (Solomon)what lies ahead?

    So much change is now unavoidable but will we get ready in advance, or wait until disater after disaster before we respond?

    Our planning so far is little more than; is too, is not, is too, is not.

  54. espiritwater says:

    Answer: Wait until disaster after disaster before we respond. My ex-friend used to say, “people don’t act until they have to”. Unfortunately, in the case of climate change, when people realize we have to act, I think it will be too late, from what I’ve read.

  55. espiritwater says:

    who the heck is Barrasso (#49)?

  56. Wit's End says:

    The storm story on the front page of HuffPo is headlined: “Epic Snowstorm Batters East Coast: Trees Are Starting to Come Down”

    Please note, trees are not supposed to fall down because it is snowing. Trees evolved to survive much worse snowstorms than this (note the very last excerpt below). If it was normal for them to fall down because of snow, they would have all fallen down by now and we wouldn’t have any left.

    There are many areas of untouched woods, where there are more trees lying on the ground than there are standing up. Why? We are poisoning them with toxic greenhouse gases. They cannot breathe (photosynthesize) in the atmospheric anarchy of our fuel emissions.

    Here are excerpts from the article. We can expect much more of this as the dying trees fall:

    “A blizzard battered the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday, with emergency crews struggling to keep pace with the heavy, wet snow that has piled up on roadways, toppled trees and left thousands without electricity…

    “Things are fairly manageable, but trees are starting to come down,” said D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer, whose agency responded to some of the falling trees.

    “Maryland Transit Administration spokeswoman Jawauna Greene said the underground portion of the Metro could reopen later Saturday but it depended on the weather conditions.”

    “We have trees on the overhead wires, trees on train tracks. We can’t get anything out,” she said.

    “Hundreds of thousands of customers across the region had lost electricity and more outages were expected to be reported because of all the downed power lines.”

    “The biggest snowfall for the Washington-Baltimore area is believed to have been in 1772, before official records were kept, when as much as 3 feet fell, which George Washington and Thomas Jefferson penned in their diaries.”

  57. espiritwater says:

    I’ve never known it to be like this before– where trees just fall down from a snow storm or a rain storm (which has been happening here in my area). It’s crazy.

  58. espiritwater says:

    Where I live, there were several trees which had just fallen over one day after it rained. They were all along this one street and several in our developement. They didn’t have limbs broken off or have cracked trunks. They simply fell over after a rainy spell. And it wasn’t even windy. Everyone was talking about it.

  59. Wit's End says:

    espiritwater, that is why I’m trying so hard to find answers to the questions I asked in this thread:

    It is well documented that ozone and acid rain kill vegetation. But both have been around, at even worse concentrations, for decades. So why, so suddenly, are trees (and all other plants I might add) universally showing symptoms of severe atmospheric poisoning? Wilted and scorched leaves, stippling indicative of damaged stomata, peeling bark, dropped limbs, a lack of terminal (which means new, young tips) growth, increased susceptibility to insects, fungi and disease, and an accelerating incidence of complete collapse are all documented effects of ozone exposure, which can be episodic and/or cumulative.

    I don’t know the answer as to exactly what part of the chemical soup might be the main cause, or if it is a synergy of many influences. I only know for sure a couple of things: 1. it’s definitely something in the air, as opposed to acid rain or long-term climate-change lowered precipitation (although that will eventually kill trees as well) otherwise plants in pots, irrigated stock, and aquatic plants wouldn’t be showing the same damage; and 2. something must have changed to make such a dramatic impact lately.

    And what has changed lately on a broad enough scale to account for this widespread disaster? The EPA mandated that ethanol be added to gasoline.

    Just sayin’.

  60. Eli Rabett says:

    WRT ozone, more NOx from combustion. WRT acid rain, more SOx from combustion.

  61. Richard Brenne says:

    Gail (Wit’s End) and espiritwater (recent posts):

    I’ve been asking bio-climatologists like Ron Neilson (US Forest Service and Oregon State) and Jeremy Littell (University of Washington) and top generalists like Kevin Trenberth (NCAR) and pine beetle experts like Jeff Mitton (University of Colorado Evolution and Population Biology Department Chair) about trees for a while and I’ll try to ask them about this. You could also google them, get their contact info and ask them yourselves.

    I also ask arborists and other tree experts, and of course their knowledge tends to be localized. But in addition to knowledge going from the scientists to the public I think in some cases like this one it can go from super-observant folks like you and arborists working on the ground who tell scientists what they’re observing so that the appropriate studies can be done.

    I encourage all super-observant, educated, conscientious and caring people such as yourselves to contact universities forestry, biology and other departments and relay your observations. If you can, attend talks in those areas, befriend the Department Chairs (who can tell you what professors are experts in what areas and those who might be interested in your crucial observations), the professors and the graduate students. Ask those in PhDs programs if they’ve chosen their doctoral dissertations yet, and then suggest this as a possible dissertation topic.

    My wife published her doctoral dissertation in Science and thus moved understanding in her area. I’d like to see people exactly like you involved in that process.

    More knowledge needs to flow in all directions, not just one way, and you are the perfect people to do this.

    Please let us know here what you find in peer-reviewed papers and from conversations and I’ll do the same – and Climate Progress is the perfect place to share crucial information.

    This sounds like a case where drought, acid rain, trees stressed from these and other factors getting diseases, pest migrating north, soil issues and other factors could all possibly be factors (along with others).

    What I try to do in the panels I produce is to get the best experts I can in each area, put the list up on a PowerPoint screen and then discuss what these experts feel the most important factor is, then the second-most, with their relative weights of importance and how confident they are about this list, finding out what is known for sure, what is unknown and how we might go about learning what is unknown.

    Then of course you’re constantly upgrading your knowledge and changing the order of the list and weightings as new evidence comes to light.

    But I just always find that starting with the best current assumptions and then improving them covers more ground than starting with no assumptions at all.

    Then my ultimate dream is get a bolder version of the IPCC to form such consensus more often, continually update them and communicate this consensus to the public with one voice. This is the mission statement of the IPCC but the process of unanimity is so cumbersome that quicker and more agile adjuncts to the IPCC need to be developed.

  62. Wit's End says:

    Richard, thank you for your encouragement and your advice has much merit.

    I will adhere to it, and continue to strive to meet those standards, because it is the only correct approach.

    However, I have to tell you that I have personally repeatedly contacted the USDA, the Forestry Service, the EPA, and the DEP, at state and federal levels, as well as NOAA, NASA, FACE, the GRACE satellite program, and at least a hundred academics, to little avail.

    The very tiny minority who have had the courage to respond to my queries and appeals have uniformly told me that they have been discouraged from any inquiry as to the damage provoked by burning fossil fuels and more recently, biofuels – by methods ranging from de-funding to lawsuits and various other nefarious intimidation techniques.

    I’m on the outside of this world and am only reporting what I have been told.

    I no longer expect those whose mandate is to manage, protect, and enhance our forests to be honest about the prospects they expect, given unabated rising concentrations of toxins in the atmosphere. There is no benefit for an individual to acknowledge the problem, because it is so intractable, and the implications, so severe.

    As Upton Sinclair observed, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”

  63. espiritwater says:

    I don’t know, Wit’s End. The only thing that comes to mind is what I read years ago by Senator Mitchell in his book, “World on Fire”. And that is–

    “…the die back of forests will start to be noticeable after a rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees, then come with a rush… warmer temperatures could set a host of migrating pests on forests that have up until now been out of reach.” (1991, p.79).

    I think we have around 1.3 degrees rise in temperature at present. Years ago, when I read in National Geographic that millions of acres of pine trees in Alaska had been killed off by bark beetle because of GW, I thought they had made a mistake and couldn’t possibly be millions of acres. Now, of course, it’s spread and the same thing is occurring here in the U.S. and Canada. (And it IS millions of acres!!)

  64. Wit's End says:

    ewpiritwater, on so many levels, Heartbreaking.

  65. Todd F says:

    UAH Ch. 05 is heading toward new peaks the last few days.

    Feb 4, 2010 was the hottest day recorded in the NH winter (Dec-Feb), slightly surpassing the record set on Feb 16, 1998.

    That record lasted a day.

    Feb 5, 2010 is the new record, which is .04C warmer than the old 1998 record.

  66. Dan B says:

    Richard Brenne, espiritwater, Leif, Joe, Wit’s End, etc;

    20 years ago I was one of 300 gardeners who attended a day-long seminar on Global Warming. My family is thick with scientists trained at Harvard, University of Illinois, Rennsalaer, and MIT. The gardeners in attendance at the seminar were well off, successful, educated, people with acreage. They all nodded in agreement at the data presented. They’d seen their gardens change by 1990 and knew that something earth changing was at stake. They’d read the Journals of the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain. Who had arrived at the same conclusion.

    In “The Evergreen State” 10% of our trees are dying. Imagine if 10% of the trees in New York State were dead or dying?

    Here’s more:


    by Stephen Leahy

    Unknown How World Forests Will Adapt to Warmer Climate

    (IPS) — Our trees are dying. Throughout the western United States, cherished and protected forests are dying twice as fast as they did 20 years ago because of climate change, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science.

    Fire did not kill these trees, nor did some massive insect outbreak. The trees in this wide-ranging study were “undisturbed stands of old growth forests,” said Jerry Franklin, a professor of forest resources at the University of Washington and one of 11 co-authors of the report. (Please note: The University of Washington Forest Resources department is supported by big lumber money – Weyerhaeuser, and many many more.)

    “The data in this study is from our most stable, resilient stands of trees,” Franklin told IPS.

    What this means is that the United States’ best forests are getting thinner.

    It is like a town where the birth rate is stable but the mortality rate for all ages doubled over the past two decades. “If that was happening in your hometown you’d become very concerned,” said Nate Stephenson, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

    This dramatic increase of in tree mortality applies to all kinds, sizes, ages and locations of trees. In the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia, the rate of tree death in older coniferous forests doubled in 17 years. In California, doubling mortality rates took a little longer at 25 years. For interior states it took 29 years.

    Mortality has increased in lock-step with rising temperatures of about 1 degree C in the last 30 years. Air pollution and ground level ozone were investigated and eliminated as the cause of the increased mortality, Stephenson told IPS.

    Warmer temperatures in the west have meant the summer drought period is longer. The mountain snow pack contains less snow and melts much earlier in the spring. Warmer temperatures also favour insects like tree-damaging beetles. The combination of trees suffering moisture stress and a few more insect pests appears to be enough to tip the balance, said Tom Veblen of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

    “We’re seeing continental-scale evidence of warming,” Veblen said. “It is very likely tree mortality will increase further as temperatures continue to rise.”

    Previous research has shown global warming is largely responsible for the enormous increase in forest fires in the west and the massive insect outbreaks like that of the mountain pine beetle, expected to kill 80 percent of the pine forest in Canada’s province of British Columbia by 2013.

  67. Andy says:

    Trees falling down? My guess is that the ground is saturated and unfrozen to any depth; therefore there is lots of windthrow. No real mystery there. However, repeated heavy snows alternating with heavy rains: that has El Nino written all over it with perhaps some extra moisture added on by global warming. All of these storms have been originating as low pressure areas drifting across N. Mexico and then blowing up somewhere off the Texas coast. Classic El Nino type storm. Also the worst flooding in N. Mexico they’ve had in a long time. I imagine that the Washington DC area is going to be seeing some serious flooding late this winter and early spring.

  68. Richard Brenne says:

    Gail (Wit’s End) #63 and others:

    I’m sorry all those institutions haven’t come through for you yet, Gail. They probably won’t at the institutional level, but with enough persistence and creative approaches probably will at the individual level where most meaningful things develop.

    There’s very little money to be made from the dying of trees and other negative or depressing scenarios and so these things go under-funded, under-studied and under-reported.

    You seem like a very personable, intelligent person Gail and I’m sure many scientists would respond to you on an individual level after they’ve given or attended a talk or conference, etc. Express your concerns and when getting to know someone you can say something like “Off the record, what do you think might be going on?” Of course whenever you say that you cannot then quote them as a source, but off-the-record sources let journalists and anyone else like you know what’s going on and then while continuing to learn all you can, you try to get people to go on-the-record and allow themselves to be quoted.

    Of course you need to understand where everyone’s funding is coming from, what their individual psychology is and where they are in the hierarchy of their institution. What you’re working to find is those rare individuals of courage and candor who in certain cases can become whistle-blowers if need be. All these candid and courageous folk are our society’s heroes – Joe here is a primary example, also Jim Hansen, Gavin Schmidt, Michael Mann, Richard Alley, Stephen Schneider, Kevin Trenberth, Susan Solomon and of course many others.

    These folks and others like them need to be supported in every way possible.

    And Gail I don’t suppose you’re interested in a doctoral program or publishing as a scientist yourself? You sound like you’d have everything important – especially the passion – to become the world’s leading authority in this area.

    And about pine beetle kill, the list there is probably lack of cold snaps to kill the beetles at the two critical stages in their development, drought stressing trees that weakens their ability to fight off pine beetles, logging and suppression of forest fires that when they do burn then burn hotter, causing a monoculture of same-aged (pine beetles prefer mature lodgepoles) lodgepole pines easy for pine beetles to infest, more severe heat waves stressing trees further, and lastly just the chance (not seen yet according to Jeff Mitton who’s my ultimate authority so far on pine beetles) of longer summers allowing two breeding cycles of pine beetles.

    But again, I want the experts in each area to be the ones to determine the order of the list and weighting of each category.

    Lastly my friend at SETI Laurence Doyle has said that if aliens could (theoretically – SETI is about real, not UFO science) visit Earth and we’d say, “Here we are! Here we are!” the aliens would ignore us, study our trees and leave.

  69. Nick Barnes says:

    For what it’s worth, the monthly sea-surface temperature records for January 2010 were released by NOAA this morning, so I was able to run the ccc-gistemp code and calculate the monthly global anomaly: +0.72K. It is sheer coincidence that this is exactly the same as the UAH number. This is the second-warmest January number in the ccc-gistemp dataset (after January 2007 at 0.87, a statistical tie with January 2005 at 0.69), and the fourth-warmest number for any month.
    I expect GISS will turn the GISTEMP handle this week, and we’ll see whether they agree with the ccc-gistemp number. I’d be surprised if they differ by more than 0.01K.

  70. Sun Spot says:

    Can anyone at this blog tell me what the man made CO2 climate forcing factor is and the Natural CO2 climate forcing factor is ? I have never seen these numbers anywhere and was wondwering if these numbers are even known to science !!

    [JR: Had you spent 10 seconds googling “CO2 climate forcing factor” you would have find all you need to know.]

  71. Sun Spot says:

    JR: I have googled and the plethora of hits are all equally obtuse in answering what the forcing factor is for man made CO2 and natural CO2 emissions (a wikipedia forcing factor graph is useless and meaningless)!! Even more obscure is the effect of feedback factors on climate, like cloud cover, ocean CO2 interactions etc. !! If mankind is going to attempt engineering climate factors you better have precise math or in our stumbling around using our emotions we will do some real damage.

  72. Chad Czajkowski says:

    I would just like to point out that the term “global warming” dropped out of the collective consciousness a few years ago and was replaced with “climate change”. Use your brain folks. The climate changes all the time, regardless if people are involved or not. If humans are so bad for the planet, how is it we’ve survived this long? Have we really become so powerful in the last 200 years? The real agenda has been to convince us down here at the bottom that we’re the problem and we should completely alter our lives to somehow save the planet. We exhale CO2 to live. If countries are expected to reduce their emissions by 80-90% over the next 30 years, where do you think those cuts will come from? Money corrupts everything in this world and science is not immune to that power. Please wake up!

  73. Paul Descartes says:

    Considering the earth is circa 4.5 billion years old, why would one try to draw drastic conclusions from 32 years of satellite data?

  74. Dr. Kris says:

    1) 32 years of data does not make a climatic trend. Come talk to me when we have 200+ years of data.
    2) Please cite the journal in which this data was published. I would like to read the primary source.
    3) Was the data “corrected” or are these raw numbers?
    4) Your website is funded by the Center for American Progress. I may as well go get a second opinion from the Heritage Foundation.
    5) There is NO way that anyone can attribute the current cold snap/snow storms to global climate change. Conversely, this cannot be used to disprove climate change.

  75. Global warming is a con – the leaked UAE emails proved it.

    Pity nobody told the planet……………..

  76. George says:

    76 – Again, those emails do not contradict AGW or contain anything to support your claims.