Video: Global Warming Goes to the Dogs or the Difference Between Weather and Climate


Even the Koch-funded Berkeley study found recent surface warming “on the high end” and speeding up.  And scientists have long known that the overwhelming majority of human-caused warming was expected to go into the oceans, which just keeps heating up pretty darn steadily (see graph below).

But there is certainly a lot of natural variability (aka noise) in the long-term trend for surface warming, which the deniers doggedly exploit to confuse the public.  This short video by Ole Christoffer Haga is a great visual explanation of the difference between climate and weather:

There are various ways to remove the short-term “noise” of natural climate variability from the temperature record to reveal the true global warming signal.

One recent study simply calculated and removed some of the best understood sources of the noise, “the estimated impact of known factors on short-term temperature variations (El Niño/southern oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability)” — see Sorry, Deniers, Study of “True Global Warming Signal” Finds “Remarkably Steady” Rate of Manmade Warming Since 1979.

If you remove the natural influences and then average the 5 major surface temperature and satellite-based lower-atmosphere estimates, you get this:

The authors of the study note the “adjusted data show clearly, both visually and when subjected to statistical analysis, that the rate of global warming due to other factors (most likely these are exclusively anthropogenic) has been remarkably steady during the 32 years from 1979 through 2010.”  They conclude:

Its unabated increase is powerful evidence that we can expect further temperature increase in the next few decades, emphasizing the urgency of confronting the human influence on climate.

Sadly the noise from the deniers also continues unabated.

Finally, whatever slight slowing in global warming some groups may have observed in the past decade, not only was it driven by this “noise,” it was primarily in the surface temperature data set.  The oceans kept heating up:

Figure 1:   Revised estimate of global ocean heat content (10-1500 mtrs deep) for 2005-2010 derived from Argo measurements. The 6-yr trend accounts for 0.55±0.10Wm−2. Error bars and trend uncertainties exclude errors induced by remaining systematic errors in the global observing system. See Von Schuckmann & Le Traon (2011).  Via Skeptical Science.

A 2009 NOAA-led study, “An observationally based energy balance for the Earth since 1950” concluded, “since 1950, the planet released about 20 percent of the warming influence of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to outer space as infrared energy. Volcanic emissions lingering in the stratosphere offset about 20 percent of the heating by bouncing solar radiation back to space before it reached the surface. Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating. Only the remaining 10 percent of greenhouse-gas warming actually went into heating the Earth, and almost all of it went into the ocean.

So the warming continues just where scientists expected it.

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22 Responses to Video: Global Warming Goes to the Dogs or the Difference Between Weather and Climate

  1. Mark Shapiro says:

    OT, but your President needs a good phrase, a good sentence, a good paragraph, to address global warming and help lead us toward clean energy.

    We Climate Progress folks share Joe’s sense of urgency and his disappointment that our President does not address this enough. So how can he do it? What are the best words? Joe loves rhetoric dearly and speaks of it often. And today is Martin Luther King Day!

    So let’s create a gift for our country: words that our President — and all of us — can use.

    What are those words?

  2. publius2012 says:

    Re: “Cooling from the lower-atmosphere aerosols produced by humans balanced 50 percent of the heating.”

    Question: Does anyone have an estimate for the amount the global average temperature would rise if humans stopped emitting aerosols? (I’m thinking of an “end civ.” scenario.) thanks.

  3. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Love the one minute video. Posted to FB. A snarky friend chimed in “oh, so weather leads climate then?”

    It’s a funny and unintended part of the metaphor that doesn’t work, and it hadn’t occurred to me because it was beyond the scope of the main point, which does work. My snarky friend was right. I hope nobody mistakes that part of it.

  4. Leif says:

    Climate has no effect on weather. If you have wetter, colder, hotter, dryer weather on average than I, you live in a wetter, colder, hotter, dryer climate than I. Climate is the average of the weather in your area. The only thing you can say is that if you live in an area that is say drier than I, then you can expect on average to get less rain fall. Rising the global temperature can change the local forcing to another pattern by shifting jet streams for instance, so that on average you receive perhaps more rain or sun than you normally expect, thus changing your climate. Even the south side of a hill can have a different climate than the shady side. The windward side of mountains get more rain than the down wind side. A climate conducive to forest and corn on one, wheat and grass on the other. Change the average wind patterns you can change the climate. Weather changes climate by definition, not the other way around. Climate defines what you can, on average, expect not what you get on any given day.

  5. Joe Romm says:

    They shall listen and not hear, see and not understand.

  6. riverat says:

    Leif, I have to disagree with you.

    First, the reason that weather “leads” climate in the video is because as you say, climate trends are the average of weather so if you’re using a 10 year moving average for the climate trend then your climate trend ends 5 years before the end of the weather record.

    But to answer why I disagree, climate as I see it is the envelope within which the chaotic weather operates. Weather stay’s within that envelope. As the climate envelope changes weather moves along with it. Because of the way we define it and study it we can’t necessarily specify exactly what the climate is today but it’s still there. By the definition of climate the weather can’t stray outside the bounds of climate and any weather that appears to have done that is simply an indication that the climate has changed.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    Weather is climate on the micro layer, hence climate the macro – big picture (weather trend). Both react to the planets energy budget.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    Oh, the subtleties of life….

  9. Leif says:

    I understand what you are saying, but on the same token how do you explain micro climates? My side of the hill gets more sun and around the corner it is shady and cool and damp. Different climate, not different weather. Climb a mountain from jungle to ice and snow. Same weather, different climate.

  10. Leif says:

    One other point if I may. Many species have a board weather tolerance but on the other hand a very small climate tolerance. Coral comes to mind but frogs, lizards, trees, and insects as well.

  11. riverat says:

    We’re using different scales which if I had read your original post more carefully I would have seen. I was looking at climate from a global perspective.

    Your side of the hill does have different weather than around the corner, it gets warmer there because the Sun shines more directly on it. Depending on the size of the hill there could be rain shadow effects too. When you look at the climate on that scale then you need to look at the weather on the same scale.

  12. Leif says:

    You can grow tomatoes in the front of your house but not the back. You say the “climate is suitable” not the “weather is suitable”. In addition I would go so far as to say that sunshine is not “weather,” it is a major driver of weather to be sure, but whether you get sunshine is dependent on the weather and other local conditions, (forcing), that drive climate right down to the micro-level. Whether it is the shade of a tree, or the clouds of a storm.

  13. riverat says:

    Clearly lack of clouds and a clear sky are weather. Otherwise why would they say “sunny” in the weather report. I think we’re just arguing semantics here.

  14. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    I think my point was that the man is the actual *forcer* in this story, but the animation may accidentally lead someone to think that the dog was the forcer because the poor chap has such a hyperactive dog with a taught leash. It’s a secondary consideration though, because the main point is so well made.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    RealClimate now too..

    The dog is the weather

    A TV series that ran on Norwegian TV (NRK) last year included a simple and fun cartoon that demonstrates some important concepts relative to weather and climate:

  16. Leif says:

    Sunshine is defiantly NOT weather, riverat. If you see it is a product of weather. It rises and sets each day in a predictable manor. I can give you sunrise time a thousand years in the future for any place on earth to a fraction of a second. Do that for weather. It shines if you see it or not. Its appearance to you is a function of the forcing in your area and as I stated earlier does have a major forcing on weather events just as a tree or a house has on your personal climate. Semantics is as semantics does. I apologize for belaboring a point but semantics are important.

  17. Kev C says:

    We in Britain have weather. Everyone else has climate. Its as simple as that. And yes the temperature is rising and the seasons are all screwed and we are to blame. :)

  18. Richard Miller, Ph.D. says:

    Interesting research on soils and climate change:

  19. riverat says:

    Precisely, the dog (weather) wanders around somewhat chaotically at the end of its leash (climate envelope) while the man (climate) maintains it’s path. The dog’s path is constrained by the length of its leash.