Spikes & Slopes

by Jo Abbess
3 December 2009

One Hot Year

1998 was a very hot year. Worldwide, the land and sea surface temperatures spiked sharply upwards. Scientists said it was supposed to get hot, but not this hot. Yet by the year 2000, things had cooled back down again. In fact, they were a little cooler than 1995. [1] The detailed analysis made it seem like a murder mystery – who killed the heat ? What happened to Global Warming ?

Part of the forensic evidence came from analysis of Mount Pinatubo. On 15th June 1991, it experienced massive volcanic eruption causing an enormous plume in the sky, easily visible from space. [2] [3] The sulphur dioxide in the plume deflected the sun’s heating rays from Earth, and temperatures on the ground plummeted around the world. Yet, despite this cooling effect, land and sea surface temperatures were back to normal by around 1995, just in time for the sizzle of 1998. [4]

It seemed likely that spikes and slumps were just natural cycles; the climate systems moving from one stable pattern to another. For years, big loops of wind will rotate in one direction, and weathermen know what the temperatures and rainfall will look like. And then the whole setup will flip and change, and temperatures, rainfall and winds will all be different. [5]

Research showed that the El NiƱo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) created drought weather conditions in 1997, causing massive forest fires in Indonesia that helped drive up worldwide temperatures in 1998. [6]

A “nuclear winter” from the occasional volcanic eruption, or a “fry up” from flip-flops in big climate circulations only have a short-term impact on global temperatures. [7] The Climate is always changing. There are ups, and there are downs, but no permanent changes. Don’t believe the spikes.

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Glaciers Melting in the Himalayas

Video Credit : Asia Society

The satellites and cameras do not lie : glaciers in the Himalayas are melting, and the loss of any part of this “third pole” ice cover threatens the freshwater supply for billions.

This weekend’s Media clamour on the subject focuses on the trail of a mis-attribution of a claim regarding the complete meltdown of the mountain glaciers.

Just because somebody’s got their references wrong, doesn’t mean that the glaciers have magically not been melting after all.

Yes, the IPCC process has failed to pick up this prediction error. No, it doesn’t throw the whole of the IPCC reports into the trash can.

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The Burn Goes On

At the turn of every month, I check the websites of the agencies charged with collecting and analysing the available data on Global Warming, to find out what the latest position shows.

Some agencies update their online resources faster than others. For example, as of today, the Hadley Centre of the Meteorological Office has produced a summary of the Central England Temperature (HadCET, or CET) for both December 2009 and the whole of 2009 :-

http://hadobs.metoffice.com/hadcet/cet_info_mean2009.html

And so has the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – finally :-

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/?report=global&year=2009&month=13&submitted=Get+Report

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