May
23
2010

Climate science is hard

2010 (Jan - April) sets record for global warming
2010 (Jan - April) sets record for global warmingCourtesy NASA
Why can't scientists agree whether we are experiencing "global cooling" or "global warming" (Science Buzz covers both)?
I just spent a couple hours reading articles and comments about NASA's predicting that a new record global temperature will be set this year. Even though I have a degree in science education, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of the information.

  • Do temperatures taken down to 2000 meters below the surface give better results than down to 700 meters deep?
  • Are the thermometers used located too near the heated buildings?
  • How are large areas without temperature taking stations factored in?
  • One commenter questioned whether the heat contained by the ocean is measured in Joules per meter squared or joules per meter cubed (or should we use Watts per meter squared)?
  • What is the best way to measure a trend on a graph?

NASA scientists have this to say

Global warming trend: Anomaly means how much the temperature was above or below average.
Global warming trend: Anomaly means how much the temperature was above or below average.Courtesy NASA
NASA scientists just published a report on trends in global warming. Here is a link to a 34 page Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis of global surface temperature change Here is their conclusion and a graph from page 28.

Climate trends can be seen clearly if we take the 60-month (5-year) and 132-month (11-year) running means, as shown in Figure 21 for data through January 2010. The 5-year mean is sufficient to minimize El Nino variability, while the 11-year mean also minimizes the effect of solar variability. We conclude that there has been no reduction in the global warming trend of 0.15-0.20°C/decade that began in the late 1970s. pg 28

What I think

We have just had an extended period of minimum solar activity which should have had a cooling effect on the Earth (see our post Link between sunspots and weather explained). Increased solar activity will probably add even more energy. Warmer water means increased evaporation. Warmer air holds more moisture. So expect more extreme rainfalls (my sister experienced the Nashville flood of 2010) High temperatures mean higher energies so expect more violent weather (tornadoes and hurricanes).

Want more information?

Source article: Climate Progress

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