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We’re having a heat wave. New daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June

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"We’re having a heat wave. New daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June"

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How hot is it? So hot that June “breaks the record for the warmest average temperature observed for any calendar month in Miami”

We’re getting a dramatic taste of the kind of weather we are on course to bequeath to our grandchildren,” says Tom Peterson, Chief Scientist for NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

An “excessive heat warning” has been issued this week for parts of the East Coast, home of the status quo media, so please send me examples of coverage — good or bad. Also, drink plenty of fluids and stay cool!

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_oy2DMM6iwUU/TC6fgDgV87I/AAAAAAAABmk/muA8oh0SQks/s1600/temp.records.063010.jpg

I got a call last week from a Florida reporter.  Did I know that it was so hot that Miami set the all-time monthly temperature record in June?  Was all the strange weather part of some longer-term pattern?

No and yes. He directed me to the National Weather Service summary for Miami here.  And I pointed out to him that NASA reported that globally it was easily the hottest spring “” and Jan-May “” in the temperature record (and NOAA, too).

Record-smashing temps are precisely what scientists have been predicting.  As the UK’s Royal Society and Met Office (the UK’s National Weather Service [i.e. meteorological office], within the Ministry of Defence) said in their must-read statement on the connection between global warming and extreme weather:

We expect some of the most significant impacts of climate change to occur when natural variability is exacerbated by long-term global warming, so that even small changes in global temperatures can produce damaging local and regional effects.

So we have the lingering effects of the El Ni±o coupled with the long-term trend of human-caused global warming.  On the other hand, the global record temperatures we’re seeing now are especially impressive because we’ve been in “the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century.” It’s just hard to stop the march of manmade global warming, well, other than by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, that is.  NASA’s 12-month global temperature grew to 0.66°C in May “” easily the highest on record.

Steve Scolnik of Capital Climate put together the U.S. chart above.  For new readers, here’s the caption:

Total number of daily high and low temperature records set in the U.S., data from NOAA National Climatic Data Center, background image © Kevin Ambrose.  Includes historical daily observations archived in NCDC’s Cooperative Summary of the Day data set and preliminary reports from Cooperative Observers and First Order National Weather Service stations.  All stations have a Period of Record of at least 30 years.

I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can’t pin any one record temperature on global warming.  If you want to know how to judge whether the near 5-to-1 is a big deal, here’s what a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study found for “1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States” (see “Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S.“):

temps

Scolnik has lots more records here.  Again, the monthly records are obviously more meaningful than the daily:

The Atlantic City June average temperature of 75.8° broke the old record of 74.9° set in 2008. The number of days with 90° or higher temperatures was 14, which broke the June record of 11 in 1991. Atlantic City records began in 1874….

The average temperature of 78.2° in Philadelphia broke the old record of 78.0° in 1925 and 1994. The 15 days with temperatures of at least 90° tied the record set in 1943. Philadelphia records began in 1872….

June 2010 was the warmest on record at the Charleston airport (83.4°)….

Raleigh [NC] average of 81.5° broke 2008 record of 80.7°.

Washington, DC smashed the record:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_oy2DMM6iwUU/TCwnAiCld9I/AAAAAAAABmc/mYypLfWDiyE/s1600/temp.monthly.063010.jpg

Steve even put together another nice chart to show how off the charts June was in DC.

NCAR puts it this way:

Spurred by a warming climate, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows over the last decade across the continental United States, new research shows. The ratio of record highs to lows is likely to increase dramatically in coming decades if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to climb.

Climate change is making itself felt in terms of day-to-day weather in the United States,” says Gerald Meehl, the lead author and a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The ways these records are being broken show how our climate is already shifting.”

And, of course, meteorologist Jeff Masters reported records are being set globally:

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Chad, Niger, Pakistan, and Myanmar have all set new records for their hottest temperatures of all time over the past six weeks. The remarkable heat continued over Africa and Asia late this week. The Asian portion of Russia recorded its highest temperate in history yesterday, when the mercury hit 42.3°C (108.1°F) at Belogorsk, near the Amur River border with China. The previous record was 41.7°C (107.1°F) at nearby Aksha on July 21, 2004. (The record for European Russia is 43.8°C-110.8°F-set on August 6, 1940, at Alexandrov Gaj near the border with Kazakhstan.) Also, on Thursday, Sudan recorded its hottest temperature in its history when the mercury rose to 49.6°C (121.3°F) at Dongola. The previous record was 49.5°C (121.1°F) set in July 1987 in Aba Hamed.We’ve now had eight countries in Asia and Africa, plus the Asian portion of Russia, that have beaten their all-time hottest temperature record during the past two months. This includes Asia’s hottest temperature of all-time, the astonishing 53.5°C (128.3°F) mark set on May 26 in Pakistan.

And we’ve just had the 500-year deluges in Oklahoma City and China and Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge, and on and on:

As Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told me earlier this month:

There is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.

Or as Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist at the Weather Channel, put it (see “Weather Channel expert on Georgia’s record-smashing global-warming-type deluge“):

Did global warming “cause” the Atlanta flood?Well, the atmosphere is very complex, and with any weather event there’s a combination of factors rather than a single one for an outright cause. Additionally, there’s no way of knowing what would have happened without the climate having changed….

Nevertheless, there’s a straightforward connection in the way the changing climate “set the table” for what happened this September in Atlanta and elsewhere. It behooves us to understand not only theoretical expected increases in heavy precipitation (via relatively slow/linear changes in temperatures, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture) but also how changing circulation patterns are already squeezing out that moisture in extreme doses and affecting weather in other ways.

While it’s important to consider what may happen in 50 or 100 or 200 years, and debate what should be done about that via H.R. 2454 or other measures, we need to get a grip on what’s happening *now*.

Or as the Royal Academy/Met Office Statement notes of the multiplicity of blow-out extreme weather events were seeing:

These emerging signals are consistent with what we expect from our projections, giving us confidence in the science and models that underpin them. In the absence of action to mitigate climate change, we can expect much larger changes in the coming decades than have been seen so far.

And here’s how the New York Times handled last year’s Australia extreme weather story with “Andrew C. Revkin contributed reporting from New York” — see CNN, ABC, WashPost, AP, blow Australian wildfire, drought, heatwave “Hell (and High Water) on Earth” story “” never mention climate change:

The firestorms and heat in the south revived discussions in Australia of whether human-caused global warming was contributing to the continent’s climate woes of late “” including recent prolonged drought in some places and severe flooding last week in Queensland, in the northeast.

Climate scientists say that no single rare event like the deadly heat wave or fires can be attributed to global warming, but the chances of experiencing such conditions are rising along with the temperature. In 2007, Australia’s national science agency published a 147-page report on projected climate changes, concluding, among other things, that “high-fire-danger weather is likely to increase in the southeast.”

The flooding in the northeast and the combustible conditions in the south were consistent with what is forecast as a result of recent shifts in climate patterns linked to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases, said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the United States National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Lots of different ways to write about it, lots of different climate scientist interview to put it in context.

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64 Responses to We’re having a heat wave. New daily high temperature records beat new cold records by nearly 5 to 1 in June

  1. Sterling Crabtree says:

    NWS at Greenville-Spartanburg, SC recorded June’s mean temperature as being 6.1 degrees above normal.

  2. John McCormick says:

    Joe, you keep topping your best posts. Hard to imagine you putting this piece together on what could be considered a holiday in most circles. Again, a thank you.

    DC does not have a heat wave regulation to assure anyone coming to shelters for overnight accommodations will/must be admitted.

    A story in last week’s WP told of a mother and three children, among them a tiny infant, refused entrance to a shelter because, as the guard told her, DC does not have a requirement to admit people unless the temperature falls below a certain point. Hypothermia is a real life emergency for any person. But, what about a mother and children, with the youngest suffering asthma, being refused shelter because it is too warm?

    Is their inhuman treatment a sign of how civilization will be challenged to adapt to the punishing impacts of climate change? How can this Nation’s capital be so ignorant of the dangers of prolonged, extreme heat upon persons?

    If, in DC, there will always be room to house people on a zero or below night, why cannot those extra beds/room be found for a helpless, homeless mother and her children.

    We are going into unknown territory as we modern, civilized people watch the impacts of climate change unfolding on our streets, neighborhoods and daily lives.

    Climate impacts are constant for ever more. Some may be invisible and go undetected. Others are as obvious as a house fire or accident at the intersection. What we civilized citizens do to report and rectify those impacts on our neighbors will tell us a lot about how we are willing or not willing to protect each other as this chaos becomes ever more visible.

    John McCormick

  3. djrabbit says:

    John said: “Is their inhuman treatment a sign of how civilization will be challenged to adapt to the punishing impacts of climate change?”

    Thanks for sharing this story. I gotta agree, the evidence we’ve seen so far does not inspire confidence in the delay-and-deny position that we can simply adapt to whatever warming may come.

  4. Sterling,
    The Greenville-Spartanburg temp was hot, but not quite a cigar. It was the 2nd warmest, behind only 1952.

  5. caerbannog says:

    In other news…. climatesciencewatch.org has a link to a Guardian piece highlighting the abuse that (mostly American) climate-scientists have been receiving from right-wing loons. Linkies here: http://www.climatesciencewatch.org/index.php/csw/details/climate-scientist-hate-mail-barrage/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/05/hate-mail-climategate.

  6. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Alert, Ellesmere Island, currently 41 derees F. Resolute is a balmy 59 F.
    Temperatures not coductive to a healthy ice cover.

  7. catman306 says:

    A wise sailor never mentions the good weather less it should change. Bad weather will always be a topic for conversation. Haven’t we been just sailing merrily along for the past 50 years?

    More talk of the worldwide bad weather, and how it is related to human caused climate change, may eventually make it into the main stream media. Nature WANTS humans to notice so we’ll stop burning fossil fuel.

  8. Peter Mizla says:

    Just saw on local TV News/weather- 2010 has been thus far the warmest year on record for Hartford CT.

  9. Peter Mizla says:

    The above record by the way was a eye opening 3.8 degrees above normal.

  10. Peter Mizla says:

    Also important are water temperatures in Long Island & Block Island Sounds- they now stand at 70 degrees (which is a month early) Last summer water temperatures here approached 80- seems like they repeat this in 2010.

    The ocean beaches in all of New England, had record warm water last summer- Even the Gulf of Maine saw temperatures in the low 70s- which was historic.

  11. Peter Mizla,
    Hartford was not alone. Providence also broke a record, Boston tied theirs, and Worcester was second warmest. These are all major climate stations with long histories. Details here.

  12. Bill Waterhouse says:

    I’ve been watching Weather Channel and CNN coverage today and have heard no mention of climate change or global warming, as usual for their coverage. Weather Channel coverage was mostly happy talk – NBC is just ruining this channel. Every once in awhile the regular weather woman on CNN International mentions warming, but haven’t seen their coverage today.

  13. paulm says:

    Its going to be a roast this year.
    I have a feeling the average temp is not going to fall back by much from now on.

    2010 – Welcome to Eaarth!

    [JR: Oh, we'll get coolish years, but this may just be an average year this decade.]

  14. Mark says:

    John /Mcormick said:

    “Joe, you keep topping your best posts. Hard to imagine you putting this piece together on what could be considered a holiday in most circles. Again, a thank you.”

    Yes, A very big thank you from me, for your work.

    The crops here on the Canadian prairies are going to be a wipeout this year due to incessant rain, and flooding.

    The personal costs, and costs to society here are going to be very high.

    It seems as though the changes are happening very rapidly now.

  15. Richard Brenne says:

    Lots to comment on here, starting with a great post by Joe, who’s hotter than record temperatures, and continuing though excellent comments.

    1) It’s important to prioritize what most illustrates global warming. At the top of the list would be global average ocean temperatures, but since those aren’t measured nearly as much as atmospheric temperatures, then global average atmospheric surface temperature rising is the most important statistic for the public to understand. It’s also one they should be able to easily relate to, since most people don’t live in the ocean, at least not yet (see Joe’s Dutch-Sea Level post below).

    2) Since the baseline of atmospheric temperatures is rising, if standard deviation or natural variability stays the same then one would logically expect more heat records than cold records, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing. Again global records would be best, but since the world doesn’t have the records the NOAA’s NCDC has for the U.S., looking at the U.S. list of records as Gerald Meehl has done is most helpful. While the contiguous 48 states make up only about 2 per cent of Earth’s surface, it’s still a large enough area to see this trend.

    Any word about including Hawaii and especially Alaska in those records, because Alaska would have a higher ratio of heat to cold records than any other state because warming is much more dramatic the farther north one goes (my guess would be something more like 5 to 1 for the last decade)?

    Also, any word about doing our best with global heat to cold records, even if they’re far less complete and perfect than the NOAA-NCDC data?

    3) In addition to the number of records, the average amount the records are broken by should also be looked at. My guess is that the average cold record is broken by something like 1.2 degrees (mostly by 1 degree, occasionally by 2 or more), while the average heat record is broken by something like 1.7 or more degrees (often by 2 to even 10 degrees).

    4) Yearly records are best, then six-month, seasonal and monthly records are most meaningful. The larger an area (ideally globally) and longer the time frame is being looked at, the more global warming can be seen most accurately and clearly.

    5) All-time records are also meaningful, so the eight nations setting their all-time records highs means this might be recorded history’s most impressive heat wave ever, with the eight national records coming over a much larger area (from Myanmar to Niger the records were well over 5000 miles apart) than the 2003 European heat wave, which of course got infinitely more publicity among Westerners.

    6) One way to contrast heat to cold records is to ask what the all-time cold records are for each of those countries and how close any recent cold snap has come to them. What one finds is that a much-publicized cold snap like that in the Eastern and Southeastern U.S. this past winter often doesn’t have low temperatures that come within 10, 20 or even 30 degrees of the all-time record lows, while all-time high records are flirted with more closely, often coming within only single digits of all-time heat records.

    7) As Gerald Meehl’s paper that Joe so appropriately refers to often states, with business as usual heat records to cold records could go from their current (slightly over) 2 to 1 ratio to 20 to 1 by 2050 and 50 to 1 by 2100. With this spring being closer to 3 to 1 and this June being closer to 5 to 1 in the 48 states, while there will always be natural variability day to day, month to month, season to season and year to year, this will be the direction of the trend.

    8) One has to wonder (and I’d love your opinions), if natural variability itself might be expanded with 4 per cent more water vapor in the atmosphere since 1970 (the increase is about 4 per cent for every one degree Fahrenheit temperature increase) and the energy equivalent of 190,000 nuclear power plants’ output into the oceans also since 1970.

  16. Peter Mizla says:

    The Media- from TWC- to NBC (one in the same) made no mention of Climate Change or Global warming on their broadcasts this evening.Nor have I heard it mentioned locally or 0n CNN, ABC CBS……….

    What are they afraid of?

    Yes the changes are happening rapidly now as Hansen said as we approach 400ppm —-how much longer will the media fail to inform the public? Any guess or thoughts…..?

  17. Bob Wallace says:

    I wonder if there isn’t an interesting graph that could be made which would illustrate the number of existing record highs per decade?

    As the globe warms we should see daily high records disappear from previous decades.

    And it really seems that we should be plotting nightly highs. After all, the gas blanket should be trapping a lot of heat when the sun goes down. Increasing nightly highs are what is moving agricultural zones toward the poles.

    Here’s how planting zones shifted northwards in the US between 1990 and 2006…

    http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm

  18. paulm says:

    Could 35C be a tipping point….

    Fire causes Toronto blackouts and disrupts royal dinner
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/us_and_canada/10517809.stm

    It happened when temperatures in Canada’s largest city rose to 34C, Canada’s CBC reports.

  19. Deborah Stark says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Firstly, thank you for the work you’re doing, Joe.

    Here is the Boston Globe’s current update on the heat situation in Massachusetts:

    7/5/10
    Think it’s hot today? Just wait…
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2010/07/think_its_hot_t.html

    Excerpt:

    …..There have been eight days of 90-plus degree days in Boston this year, including June 28-29. Average temperatures in June were about two degrees above normal…..

  20. Deborah Stark says:

    Is anyone else here keeping an eye on this:

    AIR MAP New England
    http://airmap.unh.edu/

    At the Pack Monadnock and Thompson Farm 2 stations, local atmospheric CO2 concentration is measured every 15 minutes around the clock, 365 days a year. Archived plots for each month can be viewed here.

  21. Ernie Harper, CSP DABFE says:

    This is a follow up to Number 19 above.

    Don’t go crazy folks over a simple average month especially with the Bias built into thermometers and growth (Buildings and placement effect). We aren’t causing Global warming and CO2 is NOT THE CAUSE of warming. A few more facts and my opinion as follows.

    From time-to-time, a subject will have legs (be persistent) raising concerns about its potential to negatively affect our work and profession (I am a Safety and Forensics professional). Examples include Birth Defects from VDT’s, cancer from power lines or brain tumors from cell phone use. All of these have faded in the spotlight of new data and science, yet these fears still return from time-to-time. One arms themselves by reviewing the actual studies or research papers to become better informed on behalf on our workforce and employers. Carbon Dioxide is one such subject with its recent demonization as a pollutant (EPA) to Global Warming to Carbon suppression, taxing and controls (Cap n’ Trade) through congressional mandate. Due to its controversial nature and my personal interest and technical review over many years, this primer is solely the opinion of mine and includes factual data with some conclusions.

    What is CO2? – It is a solid below – 78 C/- 108.4 F and becomes a liquid if compressed at a pressure of 870 psi (lbs/in2) at room temperature (20C/68F). From its solid form (Dry Ice) it sublimates directly into a colorless, odorless gas once above – 78 C/ – 108.4 F. It is about 1.5 times as dense as air and tends to collect in low or confined locations and may become an asphyxiation hazard. (Example: Storing Dry Ice in a small space. A combination of reduced O2 and increased CO2 could be fatal.)

    See # 19 above for details on why CO2 IS NOT causing Global Warming.

    I hope you buy the factual data here or you WILL BE sorely embarrassed in time. AL GORE Has never been right on this subject! Period!

    Ernie H.

  22. Sheik Djibouti al Nayt says:

    Thanks for the tip, Ern.

  23. And don’t forget about the significant flooding going on in Iowa right now. Just had the flood control reservoir for Des Moines over-top for the 3rd time in it’s existence. The other times were 1993 and 2008. The only major reason that there has not been more mention of it is that there have been substantial improvements near the river to reduce flood losses.

  24. Artful Dodger says:

    Bumping against 100 here in NYC according to some thermometers.

    Little else to add but a bit of thread music courtesy of the muppets.

  25. barry says:

    @Ernie Harper,

    Water vapour is more abundant than CO2 in the atmosphere, true.

    As a percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere, humanity’s contribution is 27.5%. Pre-industrial CO2 was ~280 ppm, so we’ve added 107 ppm. That aint 3%. The proportion of volume say much about the relative effects of GHGs – that also depends on absorptive ability, relative saturation and other physical properties. You can’t determine how much the planet is kept warm via CO2, or how much it may warm just by calculating relative volume.

    It is worth noting that most supporters of global warming leave out water vapor when charting GHG’s.

    But they include it in the calculations. You’re talking about forcing charts. Water vapour responds to temperature (and pressure), and so is considered a feedback. The amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is determined by the structure of the biosphere – atmos and surface.

    The Carboniferous… Ordovician Period

    The structure of the biosphere was completely different 100s of millions of years ago. Land masses were differently arranged and Earth’s albedo was different. Heat transport was different. Solar output was less (the sun is slowly getting hotter).

    Take an extreme example as a simple thought exercise. Imagine the Earth covered in snow (“snowball Earth”). The albedo is so high that it reflects most incoming solar radiation. Water vapour is much thinner in the atmosphere. Under these conditions we could have much more CO2 in the atmos and still be cooler. And keep in mind the logarithmic heating effect of CO2, where the an increase of 280 ppm has a much greater heating effect than an increase of, say 3000 ppm to 4000 ppm.

    IOW, you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    Here’s a brief page on geologic past and CO2.

    All historical data to date supports a finding that increasing atmospheric CO2 can lag temperature by as much as 100 – 800 years but consistently shows it as a lagging, not a leading indicator of Global warming.

    That’s not quite true, the PETM event is one example.

    But say that it is always true for the natural cycle that CO2 lags temperatures. Let’s compare apples to apples, as you’ve done with the late quaternary ice ages. Deglaciation occurs over ~5000 years, and is accompanied by a rise of ~100 ppm CO2. We’ve just had the same amount of increase over 200 years (actually, 100 years, but let’s be conservative and start with the beginning of the industrial revolution). That means that the rate of CO2 increase over is 20 times faster than natural processes. The current temp rise is also 20 times faster. As we’re adding about 2 ppm a year on average for the last decade or so, the current CO2 rise is now 80 times faster than during deglaciation periods. Furthermore, the planet warmed by ~6C over that 5000 year climb out of the glacial periods with the concurrent 100 ppm CO2 increase. Not even the skeptics’ version of the MWP matches that amount of warming, and the MWP wasn’t sustained.

    In any case, I’m not sure what argument you’re trying to make with the CO2 lag during glacial transitions. We know CO2 is a GHG and we know we’re the cause of its increase in the atmos. According to physics, heating will ensue – Pielke, Spencer, Lindzen and other scientifically qualified skeptics agree. (Some of them disagree on the amplitude)

    On one point I agree with you. One month’s worth of anomalous warmth in one city or region, while okay to use as an example of what may come, shouldn’t be treated as climatically significant. However, consistent warm anomalies over time can be. Here then, is a list of record breaking hot and cold days culled from ~1600 locations on the Earth. You’ll note that since 2002 (the start year of this record), every year has had more hot record-breakers than cold.

    http://www.mherrera.org/records.htm

    As it happens, I used the same reference a couple of days ago at a AGW skeptical website to point out the problem of hanging a climatic hat on record-breaking (cold) weather in Sydney recently. Perhaps you might help me out there.

  26. barry says:

    My bad typo:

    “The proportion of volume say much about the relative effects of GHGs”

    Should be:

    The proportion of volume doesn’t say much about the relative effects of GHGs by itself

  27. Ron Broberg says:

    Welcome Ernie Harper, CSP DABFE, to Climate Progress.

    It seems your education in radiative physics has been a bit weak.

    If you really want to hang out here a while
    I strongly suggest you take some time to review this (in 8 parts):
    http://scienceofdoom.com/2009/11/28/co2-an-insignificant-trace-gas-part-one/

  28. Deborah Stark says:

    Ernie Harper wrote:
    …..Don’t go crazy folks over a simple average month especially with the Bias built into thermometers and growth (Buildings and placement effect)…..

    ***
    Could you point me to a reference or two regarding the “bias built into thermometers”? Thanks very much.

    ***
    In addition to AIR MAP I’ve been keeping an eye on this for the last eight years:

    Sea Surface Temperatures
    http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/sst/

    And this:

    Recent Greenhouse Gas Concentrations
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

  29. Jim Eager says:

    Ernie, when it come to science you might want to stick to the facts and skip the opinion as frankly opinion doesn’t count for squat in science.

    Here’s a CO2 fact you failed to note: CO2 is a very strong absorber of infrared light centered on the 15 micron wavelength, right at the peak of the IR emission spectrum, and is in fact a far stronger absorber at that wavelength than H2O is at any point in the IR emission spectrum. Strong enough that CO2 accounts for around 20% of the natural greenhouse effect, despite there being ten times more water vapour in the atmosphere.

    Here’s another one: CO2 only exists as a gas at ambient Earth atmospheric temperatures and pressures, while H2O exists in all three phases. That alone means that H2O can not act as a forcing, but only as a feedback to an initial forcing, while CO2 when added directly to the atmosphere in the absence of an initial forcing — as we are presently — will itself act as a direct forcing.

  30. caerbannog says:


    Ernie Harper, CSP DABFE says…

    Ernie, let’s add four more letters to your title and make it sound even more impressive: DKPC

    That stands for “Dunning Kruger Poster Child”. Google up Dunning Kruger for more information.

  31. MapleLeaf says:

    Ernie @21,

    The regulars here are well informed, I’m afraid that you are going to have to do better than trot out a list of common myths sourced from contrarian and “skeptical” blogs.

    In addition to the excellent resources and science here, you will also find much useful information and science at SkepticalScience.

  32. Charles says:

    Ernie, thanks for your post. You make a good point about not going crazy over a simple monthly average. Fair enough. But the long-term trend–and that is what counts in climate–is up, significantly, as I am sure you know from reading the available research studies.

    You wrote: “One arms [oneself] by reviewing the actual studies or research papers to become better informed on behalf [of one's] workforce and employers.”

    Good advice! I heartily endorse what you wrote. But the physics and chemistry of atmospheric CO2 and its role as a greenhouse gas have been understood and developed for many decades, and there is an abundance of published research on this, going back over 100 years. Surely you’re aware of this research, yes? Jim Eager has provided you with some of the basics.

    The factual data you provide about CO2, while interesting, are not themselves directly relevant to CO2′s role as a greenhouse gas.

    With regard to “placement effect” of thermometers, you are surely aware of the recent NOAA review of the data, right?

    And this study: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2008JD009916.shtml

    And this study: http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI3730.1

    And this one: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/wmo/ccl/rural-urban.pdf

    And the efforts of climatologists to compensate for any UHI, as outlined in this paper: http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2001/2001_Hansen_etal.pdf

    And last, but certainly not least, this aforementioned, definitive study from NOAA: http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/ushcn/v2/monthly/menne-etal2010.pdf

    Thanks again for your admonition that we read the research!

  33. Colorado Bob says:

    Ernie @21 -
    What’s your views on germ theory ? I mean I can’t see them, and they’re really small, how could they possibly harm humans ?

  34. Colorado Bob says:

    WASHINGTON — A sobering new report warns that the oceans face a “fundamental and irreversible ecological transformation” not seen in millions of years as greenhouse gases and climate change already have affected temperature, acidity, sea and oxygen levels, the food chain and possibly major currents that could alter global weather.

    The report, in Science magazine, brings together dozens of studies that collectively paint a dismal picture of deteriorating ocean health.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/04/96966/report-oceans-deteriorating-health.html#storylink=omni_popular

  35. From Peru says:

    Look at the heat wave in SIBERIA:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/fnl/sfctmpmer_01b.fnl.html

    almost TROPICAL temperatures in the Arctic Coast!

  36. Peter Mizla says:

    I have been having a civilized argument with a climate change denier over at the Huffington Post–

    routine MO for them.

    Deny the facts- and bring up data that is cherry picked by other ‘notable deniers’

    Bring Al Gore up! What Is the obsession with him?

    In any case agricultural zones have shifted north across the nation- most places are a zone milder then in 1990. I went from a zone 5-6-to now a zone 6-7–

    Most winters here are now are a zone 7 (0-10F lows) The Connecticut shoreline is a zone 7- and that line is edging north by about 2 miles a year. I should be a solid zone 7 in 10-15 years.

    My trachycarpus fortunei (windmill palm) is thriving here in my inland Connecticut garden- I saw this palm for sale recently at a local discount chain- first time ever here- not even seen at Lowes or Home Depot.

  37. john cragar says:

    2% of the globes land mass is not enough to guage world weather patterns. To look at climate from such a narrow perspective is not “science”, it is politics. Full of sound and fury (and self-importance I might add) signifying nothing.

  38. Berbalang says:

    Peter Mizla @ 36: Amazing! I was given a windmill palm last year and have been considering planting it outside. We have gone from a Zone 5/6 to a solid 6 here, but last Winter didn’t go below 0°F. Obviously will need some Winter protection for a few years until the climate warms enough.

    I was channel surfing over the weekend and tuned passed FOX spews, which was giving all out coverage of the woman who claims that Al Gore sexually harassed her. They had a bunch of women on from the Clinton affair to discuss it. Something bad must really be happening to the climate for them to put that much effort into distracting people.

  39. mike roddy says:

    My advice to CP regulars responding to obviously poorly informed deniers like Ernie is to ignore them, or politely send them to their rooms for some real science education. If you argue with them online, it will drive you crazy, and they will never change their minds, even about a single bad piece of data.

    Trust me, I went through this on Dot Earth for a long time. As Dano there said, “Don’t feed the trolls!”.

  40. BBHY says:

    Sorry Ernie, but once you bring up Al Gore I am not going to pay any attention to anything you have to say.

    The Earth is getting hotter. The Earth doesn’t care a hoot about your obsession with Al Gore.

  41. PSU Grad says:

    @Mike Roddy #39:

    My wife is nearly finished with her CSP certification process, and I was “privileged” to assist her in exam prep for those subjects on which I had some experience. I can assure one and all that having CSP certification does not make one, in any way, shape or form, an expert in atmospheric chemistry. If I told my wife she was such an expert, she might stop laughing…..in a few days.

    I’m far more interested in the Neil Cavuto’s of the world who made such a big deal of a snowstorm in February “it’s really cold outside!!!”. I’d like to know what comments they have now. In fact, I’ve asked a local reporter to contact a local far right “think tank”, as the tank’s “director” wrote a letter to the editor in February about the “18 inches of global warming” he was going to have to shovel. I’m curious what comments he has now that the temperature is approaching 100F, some 15F degrees above normal. Think about it…if you’re going to assert that 18 inches of snow destroys the case for global warming, then you have to say something when the temperature hits 100F.

    You can’t just say it’s a “normal” summertime heat wave, indicative of nothing. Because if it is, then what was that non-record cold/snow we got in February?

  42. Ben Lieberman says:

    The phenomenon that dare not be named: more perky local feature reporting on heat waves with no mention of connections to underlying causes:http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/06/new_englanders_try_to_play_it_cool/

    It would be such a downer to introduce climate change into hard-nosed analysis of ice cream and beaches.

  43. Health News says:

    I was reading an article on how using the body’s own cooling mechanisms can keep you safe during hot weather. It really is a scorcher out there, so any sort of tips are good tips.

  44. Jim Eager says:

    Mike Roddy, I completely agree with you that arguing with deniers like Ernie is a total waste of time. However, countering a few of their key assertions for the benefit of those coming to a popular public website like CP to learn more about climate change is well worth a bit of effort. When replying try to talk to those people, not to the denier.

  45. Mark says:

    Have any of you sent a letter of support for this man?:

    A 60 year-old environmental activist who hung two banners in a government building will be sentenced Tuesday — and faces up to three years in prison.

    Bloomfield, NJ resident Ted Glick will be sentenced Tuesday for unfurling two banners saying “Green Jobs Now” and “Get to Work” from the Hart Senate Office Building’s 7th floor into the atrium on Sept. 8, 2009, the day the Senate returned from its summer recess. Glick and approximately 30 demonstrators were attempting to pressure the Senate to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House in June 2009.

    Despite entering the building legally and following all security requirements, including providing identification and having the banners and other items scanned, Glick was convicted of two misdemeanors—disorderly conduct and unlawfully assembling on Capitol Grounds—on May 13.

    Glick, who has been married for 31 years and has a 26 year-old son, says he entered the situation fully cognizant of the possible outcomes. Glick has been arrested more than two dozen times for non-violent protests.

    Mike Tidwell, founder and director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) where Glick is Policy Director, said CCAN is hoping Weisberg will suspend Glick’s sentence and that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will pursue those “who are the real problem.”

    Tidwell, said “we’re astonished that a principled, non-violent staff member such as Ted Glick is facing a jail sentence while we are simultaneously witnessing violence in the current coal and oil catastrophes that has not resulted in any action.”

    “The contrast couldn’t be more profound in the country’s energy priorities,” said Tidwell.

    The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded in 2001 is dedicated to global warming issues in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

    According to the CCAN website, the mission of the organization is “to educate and mobilize citizens of this region in a way that fosters a rapid societal switch to clean energy and energy-efficient products, thus joining similar efforts worldwide to halt the dangerous trend of global warming.”

    I saw a photograph of a person armed with an automatic rife patrolling the street near an Obama speech. Strange days.

  46. Peter Mizla says:

    Berbalang

    on Trachycarpus (there are several varieties)

    Planting them in a zone 6 is a marginal proposition- they need winter protection- not so much from cold- but water getting into the crown- and then it begins to rot.

    Make sure the source of the palm is from Georgia, South or North Carolina- perhaps Texas or northern CA.

    Remember that at this point in time the 2 top palms for temperate climates are Trachycarpus ‘fortunei’ and ‘Takil’.

    Plant in an optimum position -facing south-on a slight slope.

    I have two in the ground- the oldest one has huge fan leaves now-beautiful exotic aspect to a garden in temperate latitudes.

    I am a weak zone 7 now- lowest temps here now are about 0 F.

    These palms are now becoming more common in the nursery trade as the further north as our climate warms.

  47. Chris Winter says:

    Some observations about post #21 by Ernie Harper CSP DABFE:

    1) It appears to confuse fact with opinion: “Due to its controversial nature and my personal interest and technical review over many years, this primer is solely the opinion of mine and includes factual data with some conclusions.”

    2) Its dismissive mention of Al Gore is often a sign of people who mistakenly believe science proceeds by the argument from authority.

    3) Something new to me is its attempt to claim that another post (#19) proves its author’s point that CO2 does not cause warming: “This is a follow up to Number 19 above.”

    and later, “See # 19 above for details on why CO2 IS NOT causing Global Warming.”

    The referenced post says nothing about CO2, and neither does the article it links to.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Mark, #45

    Out of state gun permits from Utah are skyrocketing:

    “In 2004, Utah received about 8,000 applications for the permits. Last year, 73,925 applications were submitted — with nearly 60 percent coming from nonresidents.”

    The theory of cognitive dissonance explains that for most people as their ideology is increasingly challenged by the facts (facts like humans are causing dangerous global warming, and the American economy is in a death spiral), their tendency is to cling ever more desperately to their fantasies and make stuff up to explain away reality..

    The sad thing is, they can be dangerous.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/06/us/06guns.html?hp

    Best wishes for Ted.

  49. jyyh says:

    #35 From Peru: if that’s correct, look for similar things happening elsewhere in the Arctic too, can’t think of anything else but methane causing that one if it persists. 20 degrees CELSIUS over long time normals?! Of course there was one day of 22 degrees during my trip in N Norway (not very abnormal) but it went away and the more normal 8 degrees returned the next day.

  50. Bill W says:

    Richard at #15, re your point 4, you’re absolutely right that global temperatures are what matter, but we can’t deny that what people relate to most is their own local weather (e.g., look at last winter’s eastern snowstorm). Local anomalies may actually convince some people of the reality of climate change.

    But as you rightly point out, there’s a danger in doing so. Today, for example, here in San Diego we’re still experiencing what we call “June Gloom” well into July, wherein we have a heavy marine layer overcast, with lower than normal temperatures. This is somewhat anomalous (it ain’t called “July Gloom”), and it may be the case that this is due to climate change (more moisture in the air, higher ocean temps, maybe? I dunno), but try convincing the average citizen of that.

    So, the local anomaly angle may be worth pointing out on the east coast, but it won’t play here.

  51. Esop says:

    Browsing several several denialist sites, I read that the temperature records being set these days are perfectly normal. Curious then why less than 15 months ago they predicted rapid cooling and not the warming that we are seeing. Could famous denialist scientists really have been so wrong. How strange.

  52. In case you missed it — there was a 24-inch deluge in northeastern Brazil a couple of weeks ago that destroyed 40,000 homes and left over 100,000 homeless — the rain fell in a 24-36 hour period, as I understand it.

  53. Berbalang says:

    Peter Mizla

    What about Rhapidophyllum hystrix (Needle Palm)? I did plant one of those this year since I had read that they were even more cold hardy and a friend had a spare one.

    I had read about water getting into the crown, perhaps I should re-read PALMS WON’T GROW HERE to refresh my memory on its recommendations. I did make a side trip over to Ohio to see where the author had been growing palms and bananas. The banana plants had been cut down, but they had been HUGE! I was inspired to try a couple of banana plants outside this year.

  54. Prokaryotes says:

    Is Global Warming Causing the Heatwave?
    http://news.discovery.com/earth/is-global-warming-causing-the-heatwave.html

    Ironical Flag On /

    Could this really be a possibility?

    / Ironical Flag Off

    [JR: Hey. Give him a break. He cites CP!]

  55. Windsong says:

    I thought we had a few more years to prepare before things got really bad. Lately however, I’m thinking perhaps our time is up. It wasn’t just one event; it’s been the continuous warnings from Mother Nature…

    The really bad floods occurred, the shocking forcaste for hurricanes this year, the never-ending heat waves since June 13 (or before), “the fall that wasn’t”: we had summer weather during fall months! and the eerie January days which seemed like mid-day in July instead of an early morning in January!

    It seems like we no longer have just climate change; it seems we’ve entered the beginning stages of catastrophic climate change. Hopefully I’m wrong; I’m not a scientist. But this is what appears to me.

  56. Prokaryotes says:

    “Hey. Give him a break. He cites CP!”

    True. I thought more in a broader way (all media). At least someone is discussing this – that’s progress!

  57. Windsong says:

    It was 103 degrees in my car today, with the windows partially down and the A/C on full blast. Even 15 minutes down the road, it was still 101 in my car! What really gets me though, is the fact that it no longer cools off in the evening like it did when I was a child. In fact, it is even hotter in the evenings. At home, (no A/C), it doesn’t begin to cool off until around midnight! (Newark, Delaware).

  58. @Prokaryotes: Indeed. Actually an excellent article. Even the title deserves praise–does what so many media have failed to do: link the heat wave and global warming.

  59. Deborah Stark says:

    Windsong wrote:
    …..What really gets me though, is the fact that it no longer cools off in the evening like it did when I was a child…..

    ***

    YES.

    I was going to bring that up last night. I’m glad you mentioned this.

    I’m not one to whine and complain about the occasional brutally hot and humid day. BUT, I have noticed over the last 4-5 years in particular that it indeed does not seem to cool down at night like it used to. Therefore it is very difficult to recover from a day like today here in Boston where the temperature hit 100 degrees at around 1:00pm and is not forecast to go below mid-70′s overnight tonight.

    We are not getting the nighttime thermal cooling we used to.

    It is so hot currently (7:00pm) that I will need to shut down here in a few minutes as I don’t want to overheat my processor.

    What a lot of deniers seem to overlook is that easily 70% of the living creatures (including us) on this planet do not have access to air conditioning, cold baths and showers, cold water, ice, fans and other amenities which make it possible to get through a day like today without collapsing from heat stress. The kind of heat we have here today (abnormal for this region) also puts stress on vegetation generally, not to mention food crops.

    It reached 100 degrees in Wolfeboro, NH today. The heat index was 109 at around 2:00pm.

  60. Prokaryotes says:

    The Northeast Heatwave

    Figures 1 and 2 show how warm the highs and lows are compared to 30 year averages. Unless you were at the Great Lakes, the Midwest and Northeast have highs well above normal, with 10-15+ degree F differences over the coastal cities of the Northeast. Using my gridded temperature data, the low for New York City was 6 degrees F above normal, which should happen 30% of the time (1.1 standard deviations away from normal). The high was roughly 20 degrees above normal, which should happen only 0.29% of the time (3.04 standard deviations away from normal). This is an unusually strong heat wave.
    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1537

  61. Zan says:

    Absolutely beautiful, comprehensive piece, Joe! Boston sure isn’t acustomed to heat,
    and in NYC the heat in the subways felt a bit dangerous to me, if you were to stay
    underground without AC for too long.

  62. Wisdom says:

    Remember all you global warming researchers, your first half of 2010 data must also consider all the tons of Methane CH4 (20 times more greenhouse effect than CO2) belching from the Gulf of Mexico since perhaps as early as February 13th 2010. I am inclined to believe that this sudden enrichment of atmospheric Methane, Hydrogen Sulfide and other Hydrocarbon gas, combined with the Arctic Ocean CH4 emissions which are rapidly increasing; would be the cause of this latest surge of peak/average monthly temps on the East Coast.

    [JR: Uhh, no. 1) Rather trivial amounts of methane from Gulf and 2) warming from current emissions is delayed -- it takes time to equilibrate the system.]