Heavy snowfall in a warming world

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:29 PM GMT on February 08, 2010

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A major new winter storm is headed east over the U.S. today, and threatens to dump a foot or more of snow on Philadelphia, New York City, and surrounding regions Tuesday and Wednesday. Philadelphia is still digging out from its second top-ten snowstorm of recorded history to hit the city this winter, and the streets are going to begin looking like canyons if this week's snowstorm adds a significant amount of snow to the incredible 28.5" that fell during "Snowmageddon" last Friday and Saturday. Philadelphia has had two snowstorms exceeding 23" this winter. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the return period for a 22+ inch snow storm is once every 100 years--and we've had two 100-year snow storms in Philadelphia this winter. It is true that if the winter pattern of jet stream location, sea surface temperatures, etc, are suitable for a 100-year storm to form, that will increase the chances for a second such storm to occur that same year, and thus the odds have having two 100-year storms the same year are not 1 in 10,000. Still, the two huge snowstorms this winter in the Mid-Atlantic are definitely a very rare event one should see only once every few hundred years, and is something that has not occurred since modern records began in 1870. The situation is similar for Baltimore and Washington D.C. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the expected return period in the Washington D.C./Baltimore region for snowstorms with more than 16 inches of snow is about once every 25 years. This one-two punch of two major Nor'easters in one winter with 16+ inches of snow is unprecedented in the historical record for the region, which goes back to the late 1800s.


Figure 1. Car buried in Virginia by "Snowmageddon" on February 8, 2010. Image credit: wunderphotographer Brabus Cave.

Top 9 snowstorms on record for Philadelphia:

1. 30.7", Jan 7-8, 1996
2. 28.5", Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
3. 23.2", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
4. 21.3", Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 21.0", Dec 25-26, 1909
6. 19.4", Apr 3-4, 1915
7. 18.9", Feb 12-14, 1899
8. 16.7", Jan 22-24, 1935
9. 15.1", Feb 28-Mar 1, 1941

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Baltimore:

1. 28.2", Feb 15-18, 2003
2. 26.5", Jan 27-29, 1922
3. 24.8", Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
4. 22.8", Feb 11-12, 1983
5. 22.5", Jan 7-8, 1996
6. 22.0", Mar 29-30, 1942
7. 21.4", Feb 11-14, 1899
8. 21.0", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 20.0", Feb 18-19, 1979
10. 16.0", Mar 15-18, 1892

The top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. 28.0", Jan 27-28, 1922
2. 20.5", Feb 11-13, 1899
3. 18.7", Feb 18-19, 1979
4. 17.8" Feb 5-6, 2010 (Snowmageddon)
5. 17.1", Jan 6-8, 1996
6. 16.7", Feb 15-18, 2003
7. 16.6", Feb 11-12, 1983
8. 16.4", Dec 19-20, 2009 (Snowpocalypse)
9. 14.4", Feb 15-16, 1958
10. 14.4", Feb 7, 1936

Heavy snow events--a contradiction to global warming theory?
Global warming skeptics regularly have a field day whenever a record snow storm pounds the U.S., claiming that such events are inconsistent with a globe that is warming. If the globe is warming, there should, on average, be fewer days when it snows, and thus fewer snow storms. However, it is possible that if climate change is simultaneously causing an increase in ratio of snowstorms with very heavy snow to storms with ordinary amounts of snow, we could actually see an increase in very heavy snowstorms in some portions of the world. There is evidence that this is happening for winter storms in the Northeast U.S.--the mighty Nor'easters like the "Snowmageddon" storm of February 5-6 and "Snowpocalypse" of December 19, 2009. Let's take a look at the evidence. There are two requirements for a record snow storm:

1) A near-record amount of moisture in the air (or a very slow moving storm).
2) Temperatures cold enough for snow.

It's not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow. The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture. Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events--the ones most likely to cause flash flooding--will also increase. This occurs because as the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, water vapor in the global atmosphere has increased by about 5% over the 20th century, and 4% since 1970. This extra moisture in the air will tend to produce heavier snowstorms, assuming it is cold enough to snow. Groisman et al. (2004) found a 14% increase in heavy (top 5%) and 20% increase in very heavy (top 1%) precipitation events in the U.S. over the past 100 years, though mainly in spring and summer. However, the authors did find a significant increase in winter heavy precipitation events have occurred in the Northeast U.S. This was echoed by Changnon et al. (2006), who found, "The temporal distribution of snowstorms exhibited wide fluctuations during 1901-2000, with downward 100-yr trends in the lower Midwest, South, and West Coast. Upward trends occurred in the upper Midwest, East, and Northeast, and the national trend for 1901-2000 was upward, corresponding to trends in strong cyclonic activity."

The strongest cold-season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent for the U.S.
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606), which called for "a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change." This program has put out some excellent peer-reviewed science on climate change that, in my view, is as authoritative as the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. In 2009, the USGCRP put out its excellent U.S. Climate Impacts Report, summarizing the observed and forecast impacts of climate change on the U.S. The report's main conclusion about cold season storms was " Cold-season storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent".

The report's more detailed analysis: "Large-scale storm systems are the dominant weather phenomenon during the cold season in the United States. Although the analysis of these storms is complicated by a relatively short length of most observational records and by the highly variable nature of strong storms, some clear patterns have emerged (Kunkel et al., 2008).

Storm tracks have shifted northward over the last 50 years as evidenced by a decrease in the frequency of storms in mid-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, while high-latitude activity has increased. There is also evidence of an increase in the intensity of storms in both the mid- and high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, with greater confidence in the increases occurring in high latitudes (Kunkel et al., 2008). The northward shift is projected to continue, and strong cold season storms are likely to become stronger and more frequent, with greater wind speeds and more extreme wave heights".
The study also noted that we should expect an increase in lake-effect snowstorms over the next few decades. Lake-effect snow is produced by the strong flow of cold air across large areas of relatively warmer ice-free water. The report says, "As the climate has warmed, ice coverage on the Great Lakes has fallen. The maximum seasonal coverage of Great Lakes ice decreased at a rate of 8.4 percent per decade from 1973 through 2008, amounting to a roughly 30 percent decrease in ice coverage. This has created conditions conducive to greater evaporation of moisture and thus heavier snowstorms. Among recent extreme lake-effect snow events was a February 2007 10-day storm total of over 10 feet of snow in western New York state. Climate models suggest that lake-effect snowfalls are likely to increase over the next few decades. In the longer term, lake-effect snows are likely to decrease as temperatures continue to rise, with the precipitation then falling as rain".


Figure 2. The annual average number of snowstorms with a 6 inch (15.2 cm) or greater accumulation, from the years 1901 - 2001. A value of 0.1 means an average of one 6+ inch snowstorm every ten years. Image credit: Changnon, S.A., D. Changnon, and T.R. Karl, 2006, Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States, J. Applied Meteorology and Climatology, 45, 8, pp. 1141-1155, DOI: 10.1175/JAM2395.1.

More heavy snowstorms occur in warmer-than-average years
Another interesting result from the Changnon et al. (2006) paper (Figure 2) is the relationship between heavy snowstorms and the average winter temperature. For the contiguous U.S. between 1900 - 2001, the authors found that 61% - 80% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters with above normal temperatures. In other words, the old adage, "it's too cold to snow", has some truth to it. The authors also found that 61% - 85% of all heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches occurred during winters that were wetter than average. The authors conclude, "a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches than in 1901 - 2000. The authors found that over the U.S. as a whole, there had been a slight but significant increase in heavy snowstorms of 6+ inches between 1901 - 2000. However, a separate paper by Houston and Changnon (2009), "Characteristics of the top ten snowstorms at First-Order Stations in the U.S.", found that there was no upward or downward trend in the very heaviest snowstorms for the contiguous U.S. between 1948 - 2001, as evaluated by looking at the top ten snowstorms for 121 major cities.

Commentary
One can "load the dice" in favor of events that used to be rare--or unheard of--if the climate is changing to a new state. It is quite possible that nature's weather dice have been loaded in favor of more intense Nor'easters for the U.S. Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, thanks to the higher levels of moisture present in the air due to warmer global temperatures. It's worth mentioning that heavy snow storms should be getting increasingly rare for the extreme southern portion of the U.S. in coming decades. There's almost always high amounts of moisture available for a potential heavy snow in the South--just not enough cold air. With freezing temperatures expected to decrease and the jet stream and associated storm track expected to move northward, the extreme southern portion of the U.S. should see a reduction in both heavy and ordinary snow storms in the coming decades.

The CapitalClimate blog has a nice perspective on "Snowmageddon", and Joe Romm of climateprogress.org has some interesting things to say about snowstorms in a warming climate.

References
Changnon, S.A., D. Changnon, and T.R. Karl, 2006, , "Temporal and Spatial Characteristics of Snowstorms in the Contiguous United States", J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 45, 1141.1155.

Groisman, P.Y., R.W. Knight, T.R. Karl, D.R. Easterling, B. Sun, and J.H. Lawrimore, 2004, "Contemporary Changes of the Hydrological Cycle over the Contiguous United States: Trends Derived from In Situ Observations," J. Hydrometeor., 5, 64-85.

Kunkel, K.E., P.D. Bromirski, H.E. Brooks, T. Cavazos, A.V. Douglas, D.R. Easterling, K.A. Emanuel, P.Ya. Groisman, G.J. Holland, T.R. Knutson, J.P. Kossin, P.D. Komar, D.H. Levinson, and R.L. Smith, 2008: Observed changes in weather and climate extremes. In: Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate: Regions of Focus: North America, Hawaii, Caribbean, and U.S. Pacific Islands [Karl, T.R., G.A. Meehl, C.D. Miller, S.J. Hassol, A.M. Waple, and W.L. Murray (eds.)]. Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3. U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Washington, DC, pp. 35-80.

Congratulations, New Orleans!
Congratulations to everyone in New Orleans, for the Saints' Super Bowl victory! It's great to the see the city celebrating after enduring so many years of hardship in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Jeff Masters

Holly Berry (DocBop)
Holly Berry
Wintry woods (photomaniac10)
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


I guess you haven't looked at the global picture. Link

Are we trying to draw some useful conclusions from winter storms during an El Nino from a wiki page? I gotta get out of here before y'all draw me into the foolery.

And I guess you haven't seen what amounts to the single largest one day snowfall rankings at places from Oklahoma to Beaumont, TX to Nashville.

None recent...

I did just pick on the middle of the country for now...will look more soon.
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Quoting AstroHurricane001:


Notice the 20C-line is essentially flat. The North Atlantic Gyre has mostly stalled and we WILL see storms in unusual locations this year.



Yes, but the 26C+ zone only invaded the La Plata mouth several days ago, and now the warmth is producing humid weather in a place where a hot airmass upstream combines with the warm anomaly in the South Atlantic.



That was in March 1993. This was followed by floods in spring and summer of 1993 due to the melting snow and saturated land after three years of weak El Ninos: Link



NASA: "That graph only goes to 1980, stupid!"



References on this page: Link



So I take that to mean that we could see a 1993 like storm still this year...
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809. Skyepony (Mod)
P451~ doesn't say 2013..says between 2013 & 2030. Do you realize 10 years ago the NW passage was forecast to open where a ship could sail through 2050 at the earliest? That opened a few years back.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 161 Comments: 37319
803:


I posted why, your glasses didn't let you see it.
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Quoting atmoaggie:
One more thing.

The AGW/snowfall thing? Well, what about the rest of the country?

When were the highest snowfall totals on record for many places? For the west gulf coast, Mississippi, Tennessee, NC, Missouri, etc.

The peak snowfalls were in 1880s through the 1920s, the 50s, and the 70s...

I said a few days ago that the link was tenuous...so a portion of the east coast gets extra snow this winter. So what? Most of this country totaling what? 1/30th the area of the surface of the planet shows a AGW/snow storm link and we get all excited about it? It does not show much of anything anywhere else...really, look it up.


I guess you haven't looked at the global picture. Link
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So after record-breaking Oli, here's Pat:



More storms like this are likely to form directly within the ENSO warm pool.
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One more thing.

The AGW/snowfall thing? Well, what about the rest of the country?

When were the highest snowfall totals on record for many places? For the west gulf coast, Mississippi, Tennessee, NC, Missouri, etc.

The peak snowfalls were in 1880s through the 1920s, the 50s, and the 70s...

I said a few days ago that the link was tenuous...so a portion of the east coast gets extra snow this winter. So what? Most of this country totaling what? 1/30th the area of the surface of the planet does not show a AGW/snow storm link and we get all excited about this little piece? It does not show much of anything anywhere else...really, look it up.
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Quoting CaneWarning:
That SST map is very interesting. We could see a very active hurricane season in the Atlantic if those numbers hold up.


Notice the 20C-line is essentially flat. The North Atlantic Gyre has mostly stalled and we WILL see storms in unusual locations this year.

Quoting doabarrelroll:


Uruguay is in Summer now. Hot and Humid are normal


Yes, but the 26C+ zone only invaded the La Plata mouth several days ago, and now the warmth is producing humid weather in a place where a hot airmass upstream combines with the warm anomaly in the South Atlantic.

Quoting CaneWarning:
Could we still see a 1993 type super storm from this El Nino?


That was in March 1993. This was followed by floods in spring and summer of 1993 due to the melting snow and saturated land after three years of weak El Ninos: Link

Quoting mrnicktou:


Image and video hosting by TinyPic


NASA: "That graph only goes to 1980, stupid!"

Quoting Ossqss:


Did you notice what was wrong with your graph posted in 763 yet? :)

Better yet, did anyone?

Oh, gotta go. Have fun. L8R


References on this page: Link
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Quoting atmoaggie:

The chart ends when the proxies do. Most cannot tell us about individual years, but have a temporal resolution on the order of decades.

Here are each of them:


These plots do not have the instrument record at the end of them. That would be assuming that everything from coral reef proxies, ice cores, sediment cores, and all surface obs are perfectly calibrated against the same baseline, when it is difficult to claim that about all of the thermometers in the state of Rhode Island...

Today, I made the conscious decision I wouldn't be around to talk about this blog post because I knew it would not be a pleasant experience...see comment number one.

And I am still of that opinion...L8R.

THIS grafic just uses data till 1935
http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/AGW/Loehle/LoehleMcC.txt
Thank you so much Atmo for posting your 1935 data chart.

75 years are missing here, no wunder that atmo refuses to discuss his denial posts.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Yeah that makes sense at least now, it could change down the road shoot if climate could change water levels could underneath the earth as well. I just did my research and we're ranked in the 75th percentile in streamflow as oppose to NYC which is ranked in the 25-74 range.

http://waterdata.usgs.gov/fl/nwis/rt
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ny/nwis/rt
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Quoting Bordonaro:
Latest HPC short range forecast maps today through Th 2/11/10:


Looks like about 4 inches from the main storm and 1 inch from lingering snow showers. By no means a major storm but it's better than nothing!
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Quoting GTcooliebai:

So they can't build below the water table I guess because it reaches too deep or am I missing something here??


There's a reason we don't have basements in Florida too. :)
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Quoting JFLORIDA:


Just a bit more.

BTW - I used to take H alphas' on the roof of the science building at FCCJ when I was in the navy. Back in 89! That is a large group. BTW - unusually so.


It's also pointed directly at Earth, capable of M-class solar flares, and there is a coronal hole near it from which a solar wind stream will reach Earth around Feb. 10 (get that SDO up quickly and ready for solar maximum)!

SpaceWeather.com
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Quoting doabarrelroll:


You cant build subways in Florida the water table is to high. That is why Miami has the metrorail above ground Link

So they can't build below the water table I guess because it reaches too deep or am I missing something here??
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Quoting drg0dOwnCountry:
Atmo your chart just goes till around 1940. You might want to adapt to the current timeframe, when makeing your claims.


Did you notice what was wrong with your graph posted in 763 yet? :)

Better yet, did anyone?

Oh, gotta go. Have fun. L8R
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Could we still see a 1993 type super storm from this El Nino?
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mother nature keeps trying to top the blizzard of 78 and hasnt come close yet that was one great storm
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That SST map is very interesting. We could see a very active hurricane season in the Atlantic if those numbers hold up.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
772

And again we should only be looking specifically form the 1800 - on - knowing solar dimming (on the whole/when stated in terms of flux) occurred form 1950 on. But then the average would change and that graph wouldn't be.

What happened to you today?

The chart ends when the proxies do. Most cannot tell us about individual years, but have a temporal resolution on the order of decades.

Here are each of them:


These plots do not have the instrument record at the end of them. That would be assuming that everything from coral reef proxies, ice cores, sediment cores, and all surface obs are perfectly calibrated against the same baseline, when it is difficult to claim that about all of the thermometers in the state of Rhode Island...

Today, I made the conscious decision I wouldn't be around to talk about this blog post because I knew it would not be a pleasant experience...see comment number one.

And I am still of that opinion...L8R.
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Kudos to you guys who live with the snow. I'm not sure I could do it. Give me a good old fashioned hurricane any day over a bad snow storm.
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Latest HPC short range forecast maps today through Th 2/11/10:
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
for us here in se mass this storm will just another good old fashion nor easter bring it on
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America's Worst Winter Weather Cities
Tim Kiladze, Forbes.com
Feb 8th, 2010

These areas get the most snowfall and rain, and experience the coldest annual temperatures, of the 50 measured.

Washingtonians might not want to put away their snow shovels just yet. That's because a second storm is expected to head their way later this week.

Though blizzards along the mid-Atlantic occur most every winter, strange weather patterns are happening in unlikely places across the U.S. Late last month Arizona got hit by record snowfall and rain, and Floridians suffered through an unusually cold and wet January.

For those bracing for a snowstorm, it can be useful to remember that other cities more often have it worse than your own. Those likely include Detroit, which each year gets an average of 41 inches of snow; Minneapolis, with an annual average temperature of 45 degrees; and rainy New York City. Its residents deal with just under 50 inches of rain a year.
(article continues...)
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918


South Pacific warm anomaly bulge drifting east, and warm anomalies now preside over the strongest part of the Humboldt. Warm water at the mouth of the Rio Plata is feeding into the warm/cold collision zone in the South Atlantic, and two days ago a town in southern Uruguay recorded a humidex of 52C (126F). With heavy anomalies along the Gulf Stream, enhanced by storms and diverted west of Greenland, I blame this sudden shift of ocean currents influenced by El Nino Modoki on global warming.
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Wow, need my sunglasses...bright light!
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Reconstructions are usually based on thousands of proxies.

The Hated IPCC report lists the references of such work.

(The IPCC BTW was incorrectly referenced here today as being a source of data. The mostly generate reports form climate scientists.)

For Instance:



is a graph whose data comes form a study.


Lets put it in perspective as to why it is disputed. :)

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2009/9/29/the-yamal-implosion.html

Quite a bit different......



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Quoting GTcooliebai:
I know this is kinda off topic, but imagine if they built a subway line linking downtown Tampa to Pinellas County. I would imagine it going underneath the Tampa Bay, that would be so wicked awesome.


That's never going to happen. They may build high speed rail over the bay, but never under. I can't imagine how much it would cost to do either one.

I am excited about the high speed rail from Tampa to Orlando though!
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
And again we should only be looking specifically form the 1800 - on - knowing solar dimming (on the whole/when stated in terms of flux) occurred form 1950 on.
And Mt. Pinatubo ... and guess why he chooses 1940 ...


http://climateprogress.org/2010/02/05/hottest-january-in-uah-satellite-record-roy-spencer-global-wa rming/
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Quoting TampaTom:


Tu-We-geddon?

What concerns me is this storm is going to rapidly intensify or "bomb" right off of the VA/DE coastline, as the energy from the L over the Midwest gets added into the coastal L.

The NW winds along the coast of 15-30MPH+ gusts, the heavy snowfall of up to 2-3"/hr, plus the 10-30+" on the ground is a recipe for a blizzard/whiteout over the coastal regions from VA, Balt/DC, Philly, NYC, LI and coastal CT, RI into parts of MA.
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785
I know this is kinda off topic, but imagine if they built a subway line linking downtown Tampa to Pinellas County. I would imagine it going underneath the Tampa Bay, that would be so wicked awesome.
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Again. Again. Again.
Atmo your chart just goes till around 1940. You might want to adapt to the current timeframe, when makeing your claims.
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
atmo has to be one of my favorite bloggers here. He not only uses reason, but he can back it up with facts.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
Reconstructions are usually based on thousands of proxies.

The Hated IPCC report lists the references of such work.

(The IPCC BTW was incorrectly referenced here today as being a source of data. The mostly generate reports form climate scientists.)

For Instance:



is a graph whose data comes form a study.

Again. Again. Again.

Without the tree rings, those reconstruction proxies from all over the globe look like this:


This report was challenged by realclimate as the authors had the timing of one (or more, don't remember) proxy off a bit. Since corrected. No one has since found a way to discredit the work. And funding, or journal source matters not, so long as it is good science and verifiable.

And it is a collection of 18 proxies from independent studies. (we do not have thousands of proxies, unless one counts every tree...maybe not even then)

Hey, look, all data and methods fully detailed: http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/AGW/Loehle/

Lurk back on.

Looking at the storms currently in the golden triangle area of TX and whuuuuut? we have snow in our forecast for Thurs and Fri in SE LA!
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Just when we thought the earthquakes were starting to settle down some! I hope there is no damage from this one. A 5.7 is nothing to sneeze at.
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Thx Aussie.

Mexico Earthquake: 5.7 Magnitude Quake Strikes Oaxaca, Mexico


A strong earthquake struck Mexico at 6:47 local time this evening, registering with a 5.7 magnitude, according to the USGS.

The Mexico earthquake struck in the Oaxaca region in southern Mexico, 285 miles southeast of Mexico City. It had a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 before being revised to 5.7.

Reuters reports that the epicenter of the earthquake was Miahuatlan, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Some Twitter users in Mexico City reported feeling the quake, though others said they did not. One witness in Mexico City said his building shook for approximately 30 seconds.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

This is a developing story.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/08/mexico-earthquake-57-magn_n_454405.html
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Wow, the blog is still going on the AGW GW issues tonight. Gather many people don't want to talk about the next 10-20" snow event?
Member Since: August 25, 2009 Posts: 20 Comments: 6785


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Link
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P451 as you seemed to missed alot, check out these Co2 reconstructions. Just ask i will provide you more insights into climate science.

Last time carbon dioxide levels were this high: 15 million years ago, scientists report
You would have to go back at least 15 million years to find carbon dioxide levels on Earth as high as they are today, a UCLA scientist and colleagues report Oct. 8 in the online edition of the journal Science.

"The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland," said the paper's lead author, Aradhna Tripati, a UCLA assistant professor in the department of Earth and space sciences and the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences.

"Carbon dioxide is a potent greenhouse gas, and geological observations that we now have for the last 20 million years lend strong support to the idea that carbon dioxide is an important agent for driving climate change throughout Earth's history," she said.

By analyzing the chemistry of bubbles of ancient air trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists have been able to determine the composition of Earth's atmosphere going back as far as 800,000 years, and they have developed a good understanding of how carbon dioxide levels have varied in the atmosphere since that time. But there has been little agreement before this study on how to reconstruct carbon dioxide levels prior to 800,000 years ago.

Tripati, before joining UCLA's faculty, was part of a research team at England's University of Cambridge that developed a new technique to assess carbon dioxide levels in the much more distant past — by studying the ratio of the chemical element boron to calcium in the shells of ancient single-celled marine algae. Tripati has now used this method to determine the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere as far back as 20 million years ago.

"We are able, for the first time, to accurately reproduce the ice-core record for the last 800,000 years — the record of atmospheric C02 based on measurements of carbon dioxide in gas bubbles in ice," Tripati said. "This suggests that the technique we are using is valid.

"We then applied this technique to study the history of carbon dioxide from 800,000 years ago to 20 million years ago," she said. "We report evidence for a very close coupling between carbon dioxide levels and climate. When there is evidence for the growth of a large ice sheet on Antarctica or on Greenland or the growth of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, we see evidence for a dramatic change in carbon dioxide levels over the last 20 million years.

"A slightly shocking finding," Tripati said, "is that the only time in the last 20 million years that we find evidence for carbon dioxide levels similar to the modern level of 387 parts per million was 15 to 20 million years ago, when the planet was dramatically different."

Levels of carbon dioxide have varied only between 180 and 300 parts per million over the last 800,000 years — until recent decades, said Tripati, who is also a member of UCLA's Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. It has been known that modern-day levels of carbon dioxide are unprecedented over the last 800,000 years, but the finding that modern levels have not been reached in the last 15 million years is new.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the carbon dioxide level was about 280 parts per million, Tripati said. That figure had changed very little over the previous 1,000 years. But since the Industrial Revolution, the carbon dioxide level has been rising and is likely to soar unless action is taken to reverse the trend, Tripati said.

"During the Middle Miocene (the time period approximately 14 to 20 million years ago), carbon dioxide levels were sustained at about 400 parts per million, which is about where we are today," Tripati said. "Globally, temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer, a huge amount."

Tripati's new chemical technique has an average uncertainty rate of only 14 parts per million.

"We can now have confidence in making statements about how carbon dioxide has varied throughout history," Tripati said.

In the last 20 million years, key features of the climate record include the sudden appearance of ice on Antarctica about 14 million years ago and a rise in sea level of approximately 75 to 120 feet.

"We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in carbon dioxide levels of about 100 parts per million, a huge change," Tripati said. "This record is the first evidence that carbon dioxide may be linked with environmental changes, such as changes in the terrestrial ecosystem, distribution of ice, sea level and monsoon intensity."

Today, the Arctic Ocean is covered with frozen ice all year long, an ice cap that has been there for about 14 million years.

"Prior to that, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic," Tripati said.

Some projections show carbon dioxide levels rising as high as 600 or even 900 parts per million in the next century if no action is taken to reduce carbon dioxide, Tripati said. Such levels may have been reached on Earth 50 million years ago or earlier, said Tripati, who is working to push her data back much farther than 20 million years and to study the last 20 million years in detail.

More than 50 million years ago, there were no ice sheets on Earth, and there were expanded deserts in the subtropics, Tripati noted. The planet was radically different.

Co-authors on the Science paper are Christopher Roberts, a Ph.D. student in the department of Earth sciences at the University of Cambridge, and Robert Eagle, a postdoctoral scholar in the division of geological and planetary sciences at the California Institute of Technology.

The research was funded by UCLA's Division of Physical Sciences and the United Kingdom's National Environmental Research Council.

Tripati's research focuses on the development and application of chemical tools to study climate change throughout history. She studies the evolution of climate and seawater chemistry through time.

"I'm interested in understanding how the carbon cycle and climate have been coupled, and why they have been coupled, over a range of time-scales, from hundreds of years to tens of millions of years," Tripati said.
http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/last-time-carbon-dioxide-levels-111074.aspx
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032
Haven't been on here in a while, so hope everyone had a nice weekend, wish the colts could've won, but congrats. to the Saints they weathered the storm and won their 1st SB in franchise history :)) on the flip side, interesting that the world has witnessed a lot of extreme weather lately starting with the Tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina, Haiti Earthquake, and DC Blizzard, hmm... wonder what's next hope not a Volcanic Eruption like the one in Thera that sent the world into the Dark Ages.
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P451 you post this out of context.
Here again. And stop with your accusation.

Quoting vcastle61:
I really wish people would put all of this in perspective...you keep talking about the warmest weather in the last 100 years. Why is it that global warming proponents never compare todays temperatures with the last 2000 years, based on geological and historical evidence? When you extend the time line back 2000 years you find that during the Roman Empire the average temperatures were 10 degrees warmer than now
You might want to check back the facts.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2000_Year_Temperature_Comparison.png
Member Since: September 22, 2005 Posts: 11 Comments: 2032

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.