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calendar   Wednesday - August 29, 2007

Global Warming Update

First, the headline:
Scorching U.S. heat in 2006 blamed on humans

WASHINGTON (AP)—“We have met the enemy, and he is us,” the comic-strip character Pogo said decades ago. A new analysis of last year’s near-record temperatures in the United States suggests he was right.

Ok, so right off the bat we have an assertion.  What is the back up for that assertion?

Warming caused by human activity was the biggest factor in the high temperatures recorded in 2006, according to a report by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The analysis, released Tuesday, is being published in the September issue of Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.

In January, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reported that 2006 was the warmest year on record over the 48 contiguous states with an average temperature 2.1 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal and 0.07 degree warmer than 1998, the previous warmest year on record.

Wow, pretty compelling stuff.  But wait, I thought I read something about there being an issue with the algorithm they used to calcualte the “warmest year on record”.

In May, however, NOAA revised the 2006 ranking to the second warmest year after updated statistics showed the year was actually .08 F cooler than 1998.

Damn those statistics.  OK, so it wasn’t the warmest year on record, but it can still be blamed on homo-sapiens, right?

At the time the agency said it was not clear how much of the warming was a result of greenhouse-gas induced climate change and how much resulted from the El Niño warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that was under way.

“We wanted to find out whether it was pure coincidence that the two warmest years on record both coincided with El Niño events,” Martin Hoerling of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement.

His study looked at the effects of El Niño in the past as well as the effects of the release of gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by human industrial activities.

The analysis of past El Niño events in the 20th century found that the result was a slightly colder than normal annual average temperature over the 48 contiguous states.

To double check that, the researchers conducted two sets of 50-year computer simulations of U.S. climate, with and without the influence of El Niño. They again found a slight cooling across the nation when El Niño was present.

Then they looked at the effect of the increased greenhouse gases—which are given that name because they can help trap heat from the sun somewhat like a greenhouse traps heat.

Let me see if I understand.  We have actual data to use from the past 50 years, so what they did was run a couple of simulations to see what the computers thought would happen if the situation was different.  Then they looked at the effect of increased greenhouse gases (meaning different than what actually happened) and found:

They ran 42 different tests using complex computer models to simulate changes in the atmosphere under various conditions and concluded that the “2006 warmth was primarily due to human influences.”

Ooooooo.  Complex computer models....I’m impressed.  Are those the same models that can’t accurately predict the weather 15 days from now?  The same ones that, given actual data, cannot predict what actually happened when they test history?

Yeah, I’m up with your conclusion here pal.  Hows about you go back to your complex computer models and try to get them to accurately model reality first, then we’ll give you a shot at predicting the future. 

Mkay?


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 08/29/2007 at 08:50 AM   
Filed Under: • Climate-Weather •  
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