View Full Version : Why Harsh Winters Help Prove Climate Change

Lauren Johnson
01-21-2014, 09:53 PM
It's about the polar vortex:

Is global warming behind the polar vortex? (http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/194520-arctic-warming-may-be-to-blame-for-severe-cold-snap)

Global warming may be contributing to the "polar vortex" causing frigid temperatures across most of the nation on Monday, according to some climate change researchers.

While it seems counter-intuitive, the research argues that plunging temperatures could come from changes in the jet stream caused by climate change.

Rutgers University climate scientist Jennifer A Francis has released a number of papers about changes in the jet stream brought about by warming Arctic temperatures.

Her conclusions suggest that warming Arctic air caused by greenhouse gas emissions has caused changing to the jet stream that is pushing colder Arctic air further south, causing temperatures to plunge from the High Plains to the Deep South.

The jet stream shift has sent frigid air across the central part of the country, and deeper into the south than normal.

Alaska, meanwhile, is being hit by unusually warm conditions and California is facing record-breaking drought, Francis said.
She said the strange weather is becoming more likely because of climate change.

"We can't say that these are extremes are because of climate change but we can say that this kind of pattern is becoming more likely because of climate change," Francis said.

NASA analysis has also drawn a link between the jet stream, climate change and colder temperatures.

A 2010 NASA analysis (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/coldweather-2009.html) tied colder temperatures over the course of 2009 to an event similar to the wavy jet stream, called "Arctic oscillation" — a see-sawing pressure system over the North Pole. That oscillation pushed cold air to the south.

The NASA analysis also said that despite cold snaps, and other weather changes being a part of naturally occurring patterns, they are still in line with a "globally warming world."

According to Francis, big fluctuations in the jet stream cause extreme weather conditions to hang around longer.
She argues greenhouse gas emissions are a key factor.

"The process of warming the Arctic is intensified due to greenhouse gas emissions," Francis said. "The Arctic is warming two to three times faster than the rest of the Northern Hemisphere."

MIT atmospheric scientist Kerry Emanuel said long-term climate change can only be seen by looking at detailed statistics.
“It's certainly plausible, at lease for awhile that a changing jet stream, may cause colder winters,” Emanuel said.

But he added that it is difficult to tie a direct link between individual events like the cold snap occurring in the Midwest and East Coast to global warming.

Emanuel added that that doesn't mean you can disregard global warming.

“If you cherry pick you can always find an excuse to go against [global warming,” Emanuel said.



Albert Doyle
01-21-2014, 10:03 PM
Otherwise known as "amplitude" because more energy in the atmosphere causes more extreme reactions and amplification of troughs.

Marlene Zenker
01-21-2014, 11:51 PM
Another asinine reaction of the MSM - on the Today Show a few days after the "Polar Vortex" Al "Poopy Pants" Roker was absolutely appalled that people would accuse the liberal media of making up the term "Polar Vortex" so he showed some report he did 30 years ago or so referring to it. Note he was not in any way appalled that no one in the MSM, or weather people or he himself don't associate anything with global warming.

Albert Doyle
01-22-2014, 02:44 AM
Another asinine reaction of the MSM - on the Today Show a few days after the "Polar Vortex" Al "Poopy Pants" Roker was absolutely appalled that people would accuse the liberal media of making up the term "Polar Vortex" so he showed some report he did 30 years ago or so referring to it. Note he was not in any way appalled that no one in the MSM, or weather people or he himself don't associate anything with global warming.

Well, at least Roker didn't attack it like CNN:


Dawn Meredith
01-26-2014, 03:00 PM
I sent this article to my old friend Joel who works at NOAA for his comments:

Hi Dawn -

Just a quick reply. Been fighting exhaustion so just got to your
email. Haven't had any opportunity to research the topic in depth, or
to look up the Jennifer Francis papers, but, it turns out that about a
week ago I did speak to the program manager who oversees our Arctic
Research Program in my office to ask her about the very same topic.
What she told me, as I recall it, was more or less the following.

Yes, there is a good deal of thinking that our current cold weather
reflects Arctic warming. It's a well-known fact that the Arctic is
warming at an alarming rate (causing, for example, melting sea ice). As
a consequence of the fact that the Arctic is warming faster than other
places, the temperature gradient, which is the difference between the
temperatures at polar and mid-latitudes (e.g., between the Arctic and
the continental US) has become smaller. Some people think that
temperature gradient helps confine the polar vortex to the Arctic, but
that the lessening of the temperature gradient leads the polar vortex to
wobble or wander about; in other words, because of global warming the
polar vortex is no longer kept in place above the pole. When it wanders
the jet stream moves with it, and that is what is causing all that
frigid air to be rerouted south at the moment. I'm not a meteorologist,
so I hope I'm grasping and repeating this correctly. Perhaps this is
what Jennifer Francis is writing about.

I just googled Jennifer Francis and found this rather nice video; maybe
this will help:

It's distressing that some people think that a cold winter casts doubts
on climate change or global warming, and even more distressing that some
people feel that this "debunks" the thousands of research papers written
by scientists worldwide about the alarming rate of warming of the earth
... as if all those scientists are too dumb or too dishonest to take
into account occasional cold spells in coming to the conclusion that the
planet is warming. All I can say is that the earth's climate is a
complicated system, filled with variability. Think of it as a giant
"slinky" walking down a staircase; things oscillate and fluctuate, and
sometimes some of the springs in the slinky seem to go backwards ...
even while the slinky in bulk is going down the stairs. It seems to me
that claiming that a cold winter debunks global warming is akin to
claiming that just because some individual stays healthy after smoking
two packs of cigarettes a day for thirty years debunks the fact that in
general smoking is terrible for people's health. But for that matter,
while the insane right wing accuses all the world's scientists of
participating in a giant conspiracy to ... do what? ... drive capitalism
out of business ...? ... (really? do they really believe that that is
why scientists get out of bed in the morning ...?) ... I wonder that
they don't also accuse all the scientists who claim that smoking is bad
for the health of participating in a conspiracy to drive tobacco
companies out of business ....

Anyway, I don't recall anybody attacking my views ... but then again,
maybe as a climate professional I hear so many off the wall attacks on
climate science that I just ignore them ... :-)

Gotta go to sleep. Hope all is well. Thanks for allowing me to comment
on the article, which I think is really quite interesting. Cheers -
-- Joel

Magda Hassan
01-26-2014, 11:02 PM
Funny he should mention smoking. There are a lot of the same money and players in the CC denial that pushed the 'smoking is not harmful' line. Sad to know that already some Heartland PR is out poo pooing the artic vortex as more proof not to do any thing and some people think it is credible.

Magda Hassan
01-27-2014, 01:49 AM
23 January 2014, 6.40am AEST An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable…

Author Jim Salinger

Honorary Research Associate in Climate Science, School of Environment at University of Auckland


Disclosure Statement Jim Salinger does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.
The Conversation is funded by CSIRO, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT, UTS, UWA, ACU, ANU, Canberra, CDU, Curtin, Deakin, Flinders, Griffith, JCU, La Trobe, Massey, Murdoch, Newcastle, QUT, Swinburne, Sydney, UniSA, USC, USQ, UTAS, UWS and VU.

(http://jobs.theconversation.edu.au?utm_source=theconversa tion.com&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=article_call_to_action) https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39494/width668/3wg35tb8-1390268706.jpg Stormy weather hits New Zealand’s capital, Wellington. Flickr.com/wiifm69 (Sean Hamlin) A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss (http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/9600410/Failed-doubters-trust-leaves-taxpayers-at-loss) – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand.
It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, USA and elsewhere around the world.
But if you’re not a scientist, and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears finally to be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science.
From number crunching to controversy In 1981 as part of my PhD work, I produced a seven-station New Zealand temperature series (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/nz-temp-record/review/changes/seven-station-series-temperature-data), known as 7SS, to monitor historic temperature trends and variations from Auckland to as far south as Dunedin in southern New Zealand.
A decade later, in 1991-92 while at the NZ Meteorological Service, I revised the 7SS using a new homogenisation (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/nz-temp-record/seven-station-series-temperature-data/references) approach to make New Zealand’s temperature records more accurate, such as adjusting for when temperature gauges were moved to new sites.
https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39364/width237/fs9j5gfb-1390183067.jpg (https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39364/area14mp/fs9j5gfb-1390183067.jpg) The Kelburn Cable Car trundles up into the hills of Wellington. Shutterstock/amorfati.artClick to enlarge
For example, in 1928 Wellington’s temperature gauge (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/nz-temp-record/why-climate-data-sometimes-needs-to-be-adjusted/combining-temperature-data-from-multiple-sites-in-wellington) was relocated from an inner suburb near sea level up into the hills at Kelburn, where - due to its higher, cooler location - it recorded much cooler temperatures for the city than before.
With statistical analysis, we could work out how much Wellington’s temperature has really gone up or down since the city’s temperature records began back in 1862, and how much of that change was simply due to the gauge being moved uphill. (You can read more about re-examining NZ temperatures here (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/nz-temp-record/why-climate-data-sometimes-needs-to-be-adjusted).)
So far, so uncontroversial.
But then in 2008, while working for a NZ government-owned research organisation, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) (http://www.niwa.co.nz/), we updated the 7SS. And we found that at those seven stations across the country, from Auckland down to Dunedin, between 1909 and 2008 there was a warming trend of 0.91°C.
Soon after that, things started to get heated.
The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Climate_Science_Coalition), linked to a global climate change denial group, the International Climate Science Coalition (http://www.climatescienceinternational.org/), began to question the adjustments I had made to the 7SS.
And rather than ever contacting me to ask for an explanation of the science, as I’ve tried to briefly cover above, the Coalition appeared determined to find a conspiracy.
“Shonky” claims The attack on the science was led by then MP for the free market ACT New Zealand (http://www.act.org.nz/) party, Rodney Hide, who claimed in the NZ Parliament (http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1002/S00101.htm) in February 2010 that:

NIWA’s raw data for their official temperature graph shows no warming. But NIWA shifted the bulk of the temperature record pre-1950 downwards and the bulk of the data post-1950 upwards to produce a sharply rising trend… NIWA’s entire argument for warming was a result of adjustments to data which can’t be justified or checked. It’s shonky.
Mr Hide’s attack continued for 18 months, with more than 80 parliamentary questions being put to NIWA between February 2010 and July 2011, all of which required NIWA input for the answers.
The science minister asked NIWA to re-examine the temperature records, which required several months of science time. In December 2010, the results were in. After the methodology was reviewed and endorsed by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, it was found that at the seven stations from Auckland to Dunedin, between 1909 and 2008 there was a warming trend of 0.91°C.
That is, the same result as before.
But in the meantime, before NIWA even had had time to produce that report, a new line of attack had been launched.
Off to court In July 2010, a statement of claim against NIWA was filed in the High Court of New Zealand, under the guise of a new charitable trust: the New Zealand Climate Science Education Trust (NZCSET). Its trustees were all members of the NZ Climate Science Coalition.
The NZCSET challenged the decision of NIWA to publish the adjusted 7SS, claiming that the “unscientific” methods used created an unrealistic indication of climate warming.
The Trust ignored the evidence in the Meteorological Service report I first authored (http://www.niwa.co.nz/our-science/climate/information-and-resources/nz-temp-record/seven-station-series-temperature-data/references), which stated a particular adjustment methodology had been used. The Trust incorrectly claimed this methodology should have been used but wasn’t.
In July 2011 the Trust produced a document that attempted to reproduce the Meteorological Service adjustments, but failed to, instead making lots of errors.
On September 7 2012, High Court Justice Geoffrey Venning delivered a 49-page ruling (http://nzclimatescience.net/images/PDFs/nz%20climate%20science%20v%20niwa.pdf), finding that the NZCSET had not succeeded in any of its challenges against NIWA.
https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39482/width237/3sv3jty6-1390266868.jpg (https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39482/area14mp/3sv3jty6-1390266868.jpg) The NZ weather wars in the news. The New Zealand HeraldClick to enlarge
The judge was particularly critical about retired journalist and NZCSET Trustee Terry Dunleavy’s lack of scientific expertise (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10834154).
Justice Venning described some of the Trust’s evidence as tediously lengthy (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10834154) and said “it is particularly unsuited to a satisfactory resolution of a difference of opinion on scientific matters".
Taxpayers left to foot the bill After an appeal that was withdrawn (http://www.niwa.co.nz/news/niwa%E2%80%99s-climate-science-vindicated-in-court-of-appeal) at the last minute, late last year the NZCSET was ordered to pay NIWA NZ$89,000 in costs from the original case, plus further costs from the appeal.
But just this month, we have learned that the people behind the NZCSET have sent it into liquidation as they cannot afford the fees, leaving the New Zealand taxpayer at a substantial, six-figure loss.
Commenting on the lost time and money involved with the case, NIWA’s chief executive John Morgan has said (http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9600968/Failed-doubters-trust-leaves-taxpayers-at-loss) that:

On the surface it looks like the trust was purely for the purpose of taking action, which is not what one would consider the normal use of a charitable trust.
This has been an insidious saga. The Trust aggressively attacked the scientists, instead of engaging with them to understand the technical issues; they ignored evidence that didn’t suit their case; and they regularly misrepresented NIWA statements by taking them out of context.
Yet their attack has now been repeatedly rejected in Parliament, by scientists, and by the courts.
The end result of the antics by a few individuals and this Trust is probably going to be a six-figure bill for New Zealanders to pay.
My former colleagues have had valuable weeks tied up with wasted time in defending these manufactured allegations. That’s time that could have profitably been used investigating further what is happening with our climate.
But there is a bigger picture here too.
Merchants of doubt Doubt-mongering (http://www.merchantsofdoubt.org/) is an old strategy. It is a strategy that has been pursued before to combat the ideas that cigarette smoking is harmful to your health, and it has been assiduously followed by climate deniers for the past 20 years.
One of the best known international proponents of such strategies is US think tank, the Heartland Institute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Heartland_Institute).
https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39200/width668/4d6rwhyz-1389858850.jpg (https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39200/area14mp/4d6rwhyz-1389858850.jpg) The first in a planned series of anti-global warming billboards in the US, comparing “climate alarmists” with terrorists and mass murderers. The campaign was canned after a backlash. The Heartland InstituteClick to enlarge
Just to be clear: there is no evidence that the Heartland Institute helped fund the NZ court challenge. In 2012, one of the Trustees who brought the action against NIWA said Heartland had not donated anything (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10834154) to the case.
However, Heartland is known to have been active in NZ in the past, providing funding to the NZ Climate Science Coalition and a related International Coalition (http://nzclimatescience.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogsection&id=1 2&Itemid=45), as well as financially backing prominent climate “sceptic” campaigns in Australia (http://www.canberratimes.com.au/environment/climate-change/web-leak-shows-trail-of-climate-sceptic-funding-20120217-1tegk.html).
https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39199/width237/dp3ws6g7-1389856528.jpg (https://c479107.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/39199/area14mp/dp3ws6g7-1389856528.jpg) An extract from a 1999 letter from the Heartland Institute to tobacco company Philip Morris. University of California, San Francisco, Legacy Tobacco Documents LibraryClick to enlarge
The Heartland Institute also has a long record of working with tobacco companies (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/heartland-institutes-corporate-shilling-is-nothing-new-20120222), as the letter on the right illustrates. (You can read that letter and other industry documents in full here (http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/jvy82i00/pdf). Meanwhile, Heartland’s reply to critics of its tobacco and fossil fuel campaigns is here (http://heartland.org/reply-to-critics).)
Earlier this month, the news broke that major tobacco companies will finally admit they “deliberately deceived the American public” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/deal-reached-on-tobacco-firm-corrective-statements/2014/01/10/bc960eca-7a47-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html), in “corrective statements” (https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1004256-proposed-consent-order-on-corrective-statements.html) that would run on prime-time TV, in newspapers and even on cigarette packs.
It’s taken a 15-year court battle (http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/with-1200-deaths-a-day-tobacco-companies-finally-agree-to-publish-ads-admitting-they-lied-about-dangers-of-smoking-140115?news=852174) with the US government to reach this point, and it shows that evidence can trump doubt-mongering in the long run.
A similar day may come for those who actively work to cast doubt on climate science.

Magda Hassan
01-27-2014, 07:39 AM
And this isn't helping the national IQ and scientific literacy at all. Great infographic at link (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_mon ey_supports_alternatives.html)

Map: Publically Funded Schools That Teach Creationism

Thousands of schools in states across the country take taxpayer money to cast doubt on basic science.

By Chris Kirk (http://www.slate.com/authors.chris_kirk.html)

A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_texas_public_schools_undermining_th e_charter_movement.html), Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/09/texas_science_textbooks_creationists_try_to_remove _evolution_from_classrooms.html), as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs. As the map below illustrates, creationism in schools isn’t restricted to schoolhouses in remote villages where the separation of church and state is considered less sacred. If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as “God did it.”

Tax-funded creationism
Green: Public schools in states where state law permits creationist instruction.
Orange: Private schools that teach creationism and accept tax-funded vouchers or scholarships.
Red: Responsive Ed charter schools using creationist curricula.


State-by-state breakdown

Arizona: As many as 15 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2013/01/04/creationist-voucher-schools-in-arizona/) that teach creationism may be participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program for disabled children or children attending underperforming schools. (Arizona has not released a list of private schools that have received students on this scholarship.)

Arkansas: Responsive Education Solutions operates two campuses in Arkansas that use creationist curricula.(See Texas.)

Colorado: At least eight schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-colorado/) in Douglas County teach creationism while participating in the Douglas County Scholarship Program (https://www.dcsdk12.org/legal-counsel/choice-scholarship-program).

Florida: At least 164 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/11/30/creationist-voucher-schools-in-florida/) teach creationism while participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship programs for disabled children and children from low-income families.

Georgia: At least 34 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-georgia/) teach creationism while participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program for disabled children.

Indiana: At least 37 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-indiana/) teach creationism while participating in the state’s voucher program (http://www.doe.in.gov/choice) for children from low-income families.

Louisiana: The Louisiana Science Education Act of 2008 (http://ncse.com/files/pub/legal/aflegislation/08_la_sb733-amend.pdf) allows teachers to use “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner,” specifically theories regarding “evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning”—in effect, allowing creationist material inside classroom. It’s no coincidence that the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank (http://arstechnica.com/science/2008/05/evolution-whats-the-real-controversy/) that provides such “supplemental textbooks,” helped write the bill, which the American Association for the Advancement of Science described as an “assault against scientific integrity.”

Ohio: At least 20 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-ohio/) teach creationism while participating in a tax credit scholarship program (http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Other-Resources/Scholarships/EdChoice-Scholarship-Program) for children in underperforming public schools.

Oklahoma: A (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-oklahoma/)t least five schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-oklahoma/) teach creationism while participating in a tax credit scholarship program for disabled children.

Tennessee: A 2012 state law (http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/107/Bill/HB0368.pdf), like Louisiana's, permits public school teachers to teach the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of theories that can “cause controversy,” specifically citing evolution, global warming, and cloning, thereby providing legal cover (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/04/11/tennessee-passes-law-allowing-creationism-in-the-classroom/#.UuKOJJQo5FQ) for teachers who want to forward creationist pseudoscience.

Texas: The state’s largest charter program, Responsive Ed, receives $82 million in taxpayer money each year, but that hasn’t stopped its schools from adopting a creationist curriculum (http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_texas_public_schools_undermining_th e_charter_movement.html) that seriously misrepresents the science of evolution. These materials wrongly portray the fossil record and the age of Earth as scientifically controversial, assert that there is a lack of “transitional fossils,” and claim evolution is untestable.

Utah: At least five schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/utah/) teach creationism while participating in a tax-credit scholarship program for disabled children.

Washington, D.C.: At least three schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-voucher-schools-in-d-c/) teach creationism while participating in a tax-credit scholarship program (http://www.dcscholarships.org/) for children from low-income families.

Wisconsin: At least 15 schools (http://creationistvouchers.com/2012/12/01/creationist-vouchers-in-wisconsin/) teach creationism while participating in a Milwaukee or Racine voucher programs.

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2014/01/creationism_in_public_schools_mapped_where_tax_mon ey_supports_alternatives.html