Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Breaking News: Winter Is Cold

All those who had December 14 in the pool: raise your hands!

That would be the only real pool that counts, the one to predict on what date the nation's leading conservative and Republican Party head, Rush Limbaugh, would make a startling discovery: It's winter. And it's cold!

That would, of course, be the basis of Limbaugh's newest "proof" that global warming is a hoax. As much of the the nation suffered through an exceedingly hot summer, and autumn, being autumn, provided little in the way of temperature extremes, Rush was fairly quiet on the climate change front. But no longer! On December 14 he carefully laid out his argument based on extensive analysis of worldwide climate trends:

We set an all-time record. Well, West Palm Beach did. That is across the river. It's always a little warmer here on the ocean. West Palm Beach set an overnight low record, all-time low of 32 degrees. I got a note from a friend of mine this morning. "You've been down there since 1997. Has it ever been this cold?" I said, "Nope, and certainly not even close this time of year".... Now, for all the hangers-on on global warming, this is it. You know, you don't need to tell 'em that there isn't any global warming. This has been going on two years. This is the second or third winter in a row now where it's been winter before winter even comes.

With apologies to all of you who live in the central portion of Florida's east coast, your weather may not be a proxy for the weather of the planet's six continents. Or seven continents. And the record low temperature on December 14, 2010 may not portend global ocean and land surface cooling.

And no doubt does not, given that the rate of warming worldwide is "accelerating." Research scientist and paleoclimatologist Lonnie G. Thompson observes:

Our best models predict a temperature rise in this century of between 2.4u and 4.5u C (4.3u and 8.1u F), with an average of about 3u C (5.4u F; Meehl et al., 2007; Figure 1). But these models assume a linear rise in temperature. Increasingly, computer models have underestimated the trends because, in fact, the rate of global temperature rise is accelerating. The average rise in global temperature was 0.11u F per decade over the last century (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2009). Since the late 1970s, however, this rate has increased to 0.29u F per decade, and 11 of the warmest years on record have occurred
in the last 12 years. May, 2010, was the 303rd consecutive month with a global temperature warmer than its 20th-century average (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2010).

Not only the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but also the World Meteorological Association, the Climactic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, and NASA concluded that the last decade, 2000-2009, was the warmest on record worldwide. That replaced the 1990s as the warmest decade on record. That replaced the 1980s as the warmest decade.

This last year, 2010, will be either the warmest, or within statistical error tied for the warmest, year (though colder than average in the U.S.A. and Canada). All ten of the warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. Anyone see a pattern here?

You don't if you are Rush Limbaugh, who continued

Around the world record snowfalls in the UK, and this is one of the reasons why these people have changed their name to "climate change." But it's all falling apart. We know, you and I who have studied it, we know the whole thing was from the get-go a fraud. We know it's a hoax.

Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. Joe Romm quotes two researchers at the NASA's National Climactic Data Center who observed in 2006

Results for the November–December period showed that most of the United States had experienced 61%– 80% of the storms in warmer-than-normal years. Assessment of the January–February temperature conditions again showed that most of the United States had 71%–80% of their snowstorms in warmer-than-normal years. In the March–April season 61%–80% of all snowstorms in the central and southern United States had occurred in warmer-than-normal years…. Thus, these comparative results reveal that a future with wetter and warmer winters, which is one outcome expected (National Assessment Synthesis Team 2001), will bring more snowstorms than in 1901–2000. Agee (1991) found that long-term warming trends in the United States were associated with increasing cyclonic activity in North America, further indicating that a warmer future climate will generate more winter storms.

It's not only Rush Limbaugh. According to an October analysis by the Center for American Progress, none- zero- of the 37 Republican nominees for the U.S. Senate both accepted the reality of climate change and favored efforts to address it. Rush decrees it, and the Stepford Wives and Husbands of the Republican Party follow.

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