Thursday, December 23, 2010

If Weather is not Climate... What is it?

George Monbiot's article: Cold Burn requires a more careful response than "Oh yeah? Is everything caused by global warming?"

In short, Monbiot's article makes the claim that recent cold and snowy weather in the UK and elsewhere is due to warming in the Arctic due to reduced Arctic ice causing the ocean to absorb more heat from the sun, forcing Arctic cold further south. Therefore, severe winters are caused by global warming.

The errors in this in this conclusion are as semantic as they are scientific.

First of all, from the Niggling Small Details Department, the ocean doesn't absorb heat from the sun. Heat does not travel from the sun to the earth. Energy travels from the sun and is transformed to heat by being absorbed in the atmosphere, land and ocean.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Earth is in a cooling phase at the moment (see Akasofu, 2010 Natural Science at http://www.scirp.org/journal/NS/) and is likely to remain so for the next 20 years or so. What Monbiot is referring to is regional warming, not global warming, which is far more important in terms of yearly weather patterns, aka, the white stuff we shovel off our front walk.

As one might expect, it turns out there is more to this story than meets the UK journalist's computer keys. "Everyone" knows that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the Earth, right? NASA says it, James Hanson says it, Monbiot says it.

How do we know this to be true? Who is doing the measuring?

Well, lots of people actually, and one is no surprised to learn that they don't all agree.

There are several databases of global temperature records. The above mentioned NASA and James Hanson have one called GISS. HADCRUT is the database for the Hadley Centre of the Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia, of email fame.

Guess what? They don't agree.

It seems that the GISS database has been manipulated to fill in Arctic and Antarctic temperature records with those from land data sources, while HADCRUT reports only the records from their true sources.

And guess what? GISS reports 3 degrees C warming in the Arctic and HADCRUT reports 2 degrees cooling. Who you gonna believe?

From many winters I spent in the Arctic screwing trees, I learned (at least) one thing: winter temperatures vary wildly from place to place, from hill top to river valley, from land to ocean, from snow to ice. When I rode my bicycle eight miles to work in Fairbanks, the temperature would vary from 20 below zero at home, to 40 below zero as I rode through the river valley, back up to 20 below zero on the hill top overlooking the valley.

Computer manipulation of Arctic temperature records results in an electronic version of Arctic climate variation that bears little relationship to that experienced by the Inuit who live there.

The "Climate Change causes cold air to move south" scenario is a cartoonish attempt to bolster reputations built on global warming alarmism based on a speculation feedback loop forcing the global climate modeling industry.

Weather is not climate, regional climate variation is not global climate change, climate change is not Anthropogenic Global Warming.

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