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Weather vs. Climate

If we're so worried about global warming why has it been so cold here in the U.S., in Europe and other parts of the globe? What do weather statistics say has happened during the past 50 years? And how does weather differ from climate (is there a difference)?

Posted by Washington Post Editor on January 13, 2010 6:00 AM
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KCBinBethesda Author Profile Page :
 

Why would the Post establish a panel composed of a scientist on one side of a science-based issue and a lawyer on the other? Admittedly, this is the way the Post tries to "balance" its news stories on climate issues. It quotes scientists who are concerned about climate change and then predictably turns to Heritage or the Competitive Enterprise Institute to get lawyers' insights on why the scientists are wrong about climate change. Go figure. It is interesting, however, that most of those professing to be skeptics of climate science are economists and lawyers working for groups with either economic interests affected by evidence that CO2 emissions are affecting climate or a political agenda. Mr. Lieberman probably falls into both camps, given his affiliation with Heritage.

As the National Academy of Sciences reported to the Bush Administration in 2001, the science behind CO2 emissions as the cause of global warming trends is solid and based not on decades (Mr. Lieberman's preferred unit of time) of data but at least a millenium of data -- and, contrary to Mr. Lieberman's lawyerly musings, this empirical data does not point away from climate change as a crisis. Interestingly, more current data show that as we and Europe have been suffering from a prolonged cold spell this winter, the Arctic has continued its warming trend, a point based on science that Dr. Boesch makes.

The climate trend and its causes are clear. What is not clear is whether our political system can act on the basis of science or will be buffaloed by lawyers like Lieberman and leave us all sitting in our pot of warming water until it is too late and we are cooked in it.

 
cohoneym Author Profile Page :
 

The debate over climate change's existence has come to a close within the scientific community. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences, in tandem with 10 other National Academies of Science, all agreed that the time is now for nations to address climate change. Therefore, while cold weather continues to persist throughout the globe, such a trend does not devalue the fact that climate change remains a pressing and growing threat.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, this past decade ranks as the hottest on record. In turn, climate change has led to the disruption of many ecosystem services, which will impact the American consumer's already tight budget as the prices of agricultural products skyrocket. Moreover, climate change has and will continue to degrade habitats, leading to mass species loss as sea levels rise and ice sheets sink.

Cold weather will continue to persist, but so will the consequences of climate change if the U.S. and other nations fail to engage in proper legislative reform. As one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, America must seek to adopt climate change legislation that curbs unsustainable practices and helps transition the country into a green economy.

 
asticklor Author Profile Page :
 

Global warming was in part renamed “climate change” for the very reason that not all areas of the world will get warmer but rather a general climate destabilization will occur. Just as some areas of the world will experience droughts and others severe rainfall and flooding as a result of climate change, many parts of the world will get hotter while others will cool.

This distinction, while important, has little to nothing to do with the current cold weather trends in the United States and Europe. ‘Weather’ is defined by short term changes in atmospheric conditions while ‘climate change’ is the much longer term, much more consequential change in atmospheric conditions. The current cold weather reflects a short term trend whereas the much larger compilation and averages of these trends defines climate.

The scientific debate is over and has been over for a long time. Climate change is very real and will have very real consequences if we do not act soon to prevent them.

 
asticklor Author Profile Page :
 

Global warming was in part renamed “climate change” for the very reason that not all areas of the world will get warmer but rather a general climate destabilization will occur. Just as some areas of the world will experience droughts and others severe rainfall and flooding as a result of climate change, many parts of the world will get hotter while others will cool.

This distinction, while important, has little to nothing to do with the current cold weather trends in the United States and Europe. ‘Weather’ is defined by short term changes in atmospheric conditions while ‘climate change’ is the much longer term, much more consequential change in atmospheric conditions. The current cold weather reflects a short term trend whereas the much larger compilation and averages of these trends defines climate.

The scientific debate is over and has been over for a long time. Climate change is very real and will have very real consequences if we do not act soon to prevent them.

 
rexreddy Author Profile Page :
 

KILER616 wrote:

maybe cooler waters flowing southward and northward from the melting icecaps contributes to cooler weather.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Maybe you are all about two chromosomes away from eating termites and flinging poo and you don't really have a clue!

 
donnolo Author Profile Page :
 

"If global warming is real, why is it so cold?"

If terrorism is a real threat to America, why has it been so long since al-Qaeda struck?

 
donnolo Author Profile Page :
 

"If global warming is real, why is it so cold?"

If earthquakes are real, why has it been so long since California had a big one?

 
oracle2world Author Profile Page :
 

I like warm weather.

 
jameschirico Author Profile Page :
 

Man's damage to nature is evident everywhere across the globe. Dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, acid rain lake and rivers (especially China), burnt rain forest and clear cutting destroying millions of acres of the land based co2 cleaners and soil conservators. Greenland's glacier melting, Antarctic sea ice so reduced the krill population is down 20%. Melting Arctic Ocean permafrost releasing 1000x the heat trapping gases of mankind. Nature has it's defenses, but one wonders if a pathogen that wipes mankind from existence is one of them. The Ozone hole in Antartica I believe causes cold ionosphere air to filer down to the continent. I wonder if the melting permafrost has anything to do with the changed airflow in the arctic that froze parts of the northwest passage a week earlier than the previous decade. Increased Antarctic seawater temperatures while melting sea ice sheets has put more snowfall on the continent. Melting glaciers and ice sheets have lowered tropical water temperature (reducing hurricanes) but the less salinity does cause storms to form at slightly lower temperatures.

 
krankyman Author Profile Page :
 

There can be no debate because of Climategate.

I also note WAPO has done a great job of stifling any dialog. When every member of the panel is a warmer how can one expect anything other than a warmer lovefest?

 
labman57 Author Profile Page :
 

It is important to understand that climate change is not the same as daily local weather phenomena. You may be experiencing an unusually cold day where you live--that is irrelevant. The issue is the pattern that has emerged when looking at GLOBAL AVERAGE temperatures taken over many, many years.

 
B2O2 Author Profile Page :
 

My God. The provincial, ignorant premise for this very panel is ridiculous, and moreover indicative of the poor excuse for science literacy we currently have in our national media.

"IT" HASN'T EVEN BEEN COLD! It is only "cold" if you have geographical myopia, which unfortunately all too many Americans, and our media, suffer from.

From SteveT at the Post's own Capitol Weather Gang:

"But those predictability compelled to read the recent cold as undermining the case for global warming ignore the fact that satellite based measurements show globally December was .28C (.50F) above average. In fact, although it means nothing except to those who wish to exploit the most recent cold as something it’s not, the first week of January globally was .56C (1.00F) above average."

I recommend every last person reading this thread to read this entry from the CWG blog. Fascinating expose of the Arctic Oscillation, which is doing some very strange things right now.

Bottom line: Europe, North America and parts of Asia are freezing their rear ends off. Meanwhile, it is WARMER THAN NORMAL in Africa, Australia, the middle east, parts of Asia, and in the world's oceans.

It is only "cold" if your consciousness is limited to what is right in front of your nose. Right now it is COLD in my fridge, WARM in my kitchen oven, but the house is set at 68F. Closed system theory, anyone? It's really not that difficult.

 
crm1951 Author Profile Page :
 

Phony "debates" like this are the reason the climate issue has destroyed my (once considerable) faith in journalism. Why are these scientists debating with know-nothing yahoos who get their scientific information from Fox News? Come on, Washington Post, you can do better than this.

 
johnnyd2 Author Profile Page :
 

@MORPHEX, you can start here:

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, American Meteorological Society, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, American Statistical Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, Science, American Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Biological Sciences, American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Plant Biologists, Association of Ecosystem,Research Centers, Botanical Society of America, Crop Science Society ofAmerica, Ecological Society of America, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Organization of Biological Field Stations, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, Society of Systematic Biologists, Soil Science Society of America.

 
morphex Author Profile Page :
 

Who are the proponents of doom? I have never met or even heard of one before now. Where can I find one? Where do they publish? Or am I just overreacting to the overheated rhetoric of a lover of cold spells?

 
12thgenamerican Author Profile Page :
 

one big strike against climate change advocates is their association with the united nations. they are the most corrupt organization on earth. the u.s. congress being second. any copitulation to the united nations needs to be met with huge resistance by america.

 
maphound Author Profile Page :
 

I became aware of climate change back in about 1975. It was not until about the year 2000 when I searched the Internet and discoved how bad the situation actually is. Even in the year 2000 scientists were seeing glaciers throughout the world receding. My hunch was that the Artic and Greenland would melt by 2020. The experts were predicting that the Artic will melt by the year 2100. A few years later they were predicting by the year 2050. And now they are finally realizing that the Artic will be gone within 5 to 10 years. Green will melt within 10 years.
This is very serious!
this has never happened for hundreds of thousands of years that it took to create the Artic ice and Greenland.
We have serious droughts throughout the USA. Our continent and many others will be a dust bowl within 10 to 20 years.
Many people are in denial because there is lots of rain and snow in the NE USA. Yea, enjoy it while you can because once all of the fresh water melts in the Artic and Greenland their will be no more. The fresh water is diluting the oceans and will eventually destroy all of the marine life and stop the oceanic escalator.
My hunch is that the underlying problem is that the severe air pollution and water pollution is preventing the snow from sticking. Most of our fresh water comes from melting snow. As the drought progresses it dries up vegetation and forests that disappear in wildfires. As the artic and antartic ice melt we lose millions of square miles of sunlight reflection which warms the ocean and the warmer water eccelerates ice melting. Most marine life is very sensitive to even minimal increase in water temperature. Every time a species dies it kills another species that is dependent upon it for life sustanence.
The artic melting ice releases methane that is 100 times more heat producing than CO2.
I live in California and we are in a severe drought that is drying up the entire central valley where all of the agriculture is. It won't be long before we have to decide where to ration water: Agriculture of millions of lawns and golf courses.
Rivers are drying up in many parts of the world that vast populations are dependent upon.


 
E_Swanson Author Profile Page :
 

The latest blast of colder weather has been compared with the winters of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Perhaps there is also a repeat of the cause of those earlier cold winters.

In the 1970's a feature in the Atlantic Ocean called the Great Salinity Anomaly was tracked as it progressed from the Labrador Sea around the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas. A few years later, measurements indicated that there was little or no formation of bottom water in the Greenland Sea. The bottom water is the result of the sinking of cold, salty surface water in winter as part of the Thermohaline Circulation (THC). some model experiments have indicated that Global Warming will result in a weakening or stoppage of the THC, which has been a matter of some concern in the scientific community.

Recent measurements have indicated that the waters on the surface of the Nordic Seas have freshened considerably. The cause of this freshening may be increased precipitation and runoff into the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas, as well as the export of sea-ice and fresh water from the Arctic into the Nordic Seas. For the past 3 winters, satellite evidence suggests that the THC sinking in the Western Greenland Sea may have weakened considerably or even stopped.

If so, the warm waters branching from the Gulf Stream may also have been reduced, thus cooling the surface waters of the North Atlantic and Nordic Seas. Without the THC, the models project colder conditions for Northern Europe.

I submit we may be seeing the impact of this weakening of the THC in today's weather. One can only hope that the THC has not completely shutdown, as that might result in a return to Ice Age conditions, as occurred during the Younger Dryas episode some 12,800 years ago...

E. S.
---

 
johnnyd2 Author Profile Page :
 

Yes, INGORNORANCE is bliss, as you clearly demonstrate.

 
ignoranceisbliss Author Profile Page :
 

Thats funny. Weather doesn't count when it doesn't support the hyped false hypothesis of Global Warming now morphed into "climate change".

I thought that the weather showed a warming trend. That is from the extremely limited amount of data over only about 100 years.

Now that these so called "scientists" don't have data that supports a warming trend, the ignorant excuses start to flow.

There is no Global Warming. CO2 from people breathing, Animal Flatulence, and SUV's is not doing anything to change the Weather or the Climate.

Weather, and Climates are intertwinned despite what these lame brained fools are saying.

The Weather and Climates around the earth change just like the seasons. CO2 doesn't cause the earth to warm and cool, the earths relationship to the Sun does.

Most of these so called scientists / global warming apologists, are still waisting money stolen from the taxpayers and citizens from around the world.

Just think what would be accomplished if they would be looking into something worthwhile like cancer research.

CAP AND TAX and Global Warming is solely a ploy to control and tax the masses. Global Warming is a complete myth.

 
raschumacher Author Profile Page :
 

You want predictions? Sure:

Starting in 2015 there will be no summer ice in the Arctic. Deniers will hold that this is not significant and not evidence of global warming.

 
ignoranceisbliss Author Profile Page :
 

Thats funny. Weather doesn't count when it doesn't support the hyped false hypothesis of Global Warming now morphed into "climate change".

I thought that the weather showed a warming trend. That is from the extremely limited amount of data over only about 100 years.

Now that these so called "scientists" don't have data that supports a warming trend, the ignorant excuses start to flow.

There is no Global Warming. CO2 from people breathing, Animal Flatulence, and SUV's is not doing anything to change the Weather or the Climate.

Weather, and Climates are intertwinned despite what these lame brained fools are saying.

The Weather and Climates around the earth change just like the seasons. CO2 doesn't cause the earth to warm and cool, the earths relationship to the Sun does.

Most of these so called scientists / global warming apologists, are still waisting money stolen from the taxpayers and citizens from around the world.

Just think what would be accomplished if they would be looking into something worthwhile like cancer research.

CAP AND TAX and Global Warming is solely a ploy to control and tax the masses. Global Warming is a complete myth.

 
ignoranceisbliss Author Profile Page :
 

Thats funny. Weather doesn't count when it doesn't support the hyped false hypothesis of Global Warming now morphed into "climate change".

I thought that the weather showed a warming trend. That is from the extremely limited amount of data over only about 100 years.

Now that these so called "scientists" don't have data that supports a warming trend, the ignorant excuses start to flow.

There is no Global Warming. CO2 from people breathing, Animal Flatulence, and SUV's is not doing anything to change the Weather or the Climate.

Weather, and Climates are intertwinned despite what these lame brained fools are saying.

The Weather and Climates around the earth change just like the seasons. CO2 doesn't cause the earth to warm and cool, the earths relationship to the Sun does.

Most of these so called scientists / global warming apologists, are still waisting money stolen from the taxpayers and citizens from around the world.

Just think what would be accomplished if they would be looking into something worthwhile like cancer research.

CAP AND TAX and Global Warming is solely a ploy to control and tax the masses. Global Warming is a complete myth.

 
ronjaboy Author Profile Page :
 

I think we closed the hole in the ozone layer and now it's trapping all the CO2 andnmethane that was seeping out.

 
ronjaboy Author Profile Page :
 

Part of the problem is the scientists and the activists have been changing the terminology and the symptoms as the weather stops supporting their position.

First, it was global warming and everything is going to get too hot. This was a particularly popular position in July-August timeframes. This means warmer temps and more and stronger hurricanes. Whoops! Didn't happen. So now it's time for . .

Climate change! Perfect! Since the climate changes all the time we can perpetuate this hoax into perpetuity. And now it's not going to be characterized by warmer temps and bigger hurricans, it's going to be shown by changes in the climate! And the weather! It's the self-licking ice cream cone for the People Who Love to Tell Other people What to Do! No hurricanes? Climate change! Weather extremes? Climate change! More snow and colder in winter? Climate change! Little snow and warmer a bit? Climate change! Hotter/colder/wetter/drier summers? Climate change! The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

 
johnnyd2 Author Profile Page :
 

Earth Science 101:

Climate: the long-term prevalent weather conditions of an area.

Weather: The state of the atmosphere at a given time and place

'Nough said. Next question?

 
therube Author Profile Page :
 

I'm still waiting for the explanation on cloud formation and the subsequent discussion about the earth's albido.

Also waiting on the "experts" on soapboxes to put some real skin in the game. How about making a prediction with some actual consequences for once?

 
therube Author Profile Page :
 

I'm still waiting for the explanation on cloud formation and the subsequent discussion about the earth's albido.

Also waiting on the "experts" on soapboxes to put some real skin in the game. How about making a prediction with some actual consequences for once?

 
aeast Author Profile Page :
 

Global Warming means more energy in the earth's weather system. More energy allows for more extremes in weather, so summers can be hotter AND winters can be colder. The overall warming also changes patterns of air and ocean current flows. This means where before these patterns caused the U.S. weather to be what we were used to, now the patterns may include more extensive movement of cold air from Canada. This arctic air moves farther south than it used to, resulting in much lover temperatures.

 
jjj141 Author Profile Page :
 

Contrary to the Right wing's comments, weather has little to do with global warming. Global warming is the temperature of the earh itself, which when it increases melts ice caps, thus raising the water levels. What warming does do is creates unpredictible weather, which we are seeing.

 
dotellen Author Profile Page :
 

Back in 1998 I read an article in the Atlantic Monthly that clearly described what is going on. The weather is getting more UNPREDICTABLE as established patterns are disrupted by the excess moisture in the air, I think higher wind velocities are being experienced because of the extra energy in the atmosphere too.

In my mountain home in New Mexico, we had one week of heavy snow, I got nearly 50 inches, more than I had seen in the 5 years I have lived here, and the next week heavy winds, estimated at 80-90 mph, never experienced that before, I had three trees down on my 2.5 acres, our county was declared a disaster area.

IN BETWEEN these events we have had temperatures in the 40's and 50's! The most recent prediction of two days of snow has come up empty as the wind pattern obviously shifted unpredictably. (OK, this has happened before.) Predicted weather the next 4 days--no snow and highs in the 40's and 50's.

Worldwide the oceans HAVE experienced a 0.5 degree C increase in temperature. That's a massive amount of water heating up there, and anyone with a bit of science education knows that the specific heat of water is very high, that is, it takes a LOT of energy to raise its temperature.

Compare images of the snows on Kilamanjaro for 1993 and 2000: see
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=3054. The difference is striking.

 
raschumacher Author Profile Page :
 

Next summer, with each new record high temperature, deniers will suddenly remember the difference between weather and climate.

Air temperatures are only part of the story. In the past decade much of Earth's extra retained heat has been warming and melting polar ice and warming the cold water of the deep ocean. When the ice is gone or when ocean circulation patterns change, atmospheric global warming will come roaring back and cause climate change obvious to everyone. Then it will be too late to prevent some nasty consequences.

 
ItsOver2 Author Profile Page :
 

notzocool :

Answer the questions put forward, not only the one that suits you, please.

#1 If global warming is real, why is it so cold?

** It's not cold. It's warming.

#2 If we're so worried about global warming why has it been so cold here in the U.S., in Europe and other parts of the globe?

** It's not cold. It's warming.

#3 What do weather statistics say has happened during the past 50 years?

** It got much warmer.

#4 And how does weather differ from climate (is there a difference)?

** I said it's warming!


** Brought to you by the Scientists Lie To Get Grant Money Foundation.


 
lalo60 Author Profile Page :
 

"Global warming" implies a sustained, provable, data-backed trend. If enough data exists to back the conclusion, someone please share it; otherwise, drop the phrase. Speaking of 50 years in the life of the planet simply emphasizes the foolish choice of words.

 
notzocool Author Profile Page :
 

Answer the questions put forward, not only the one that suits you, please.

#1 If global warming is real, why is it so cold?

#2 If we're so worried about global warming why has it been so cold here in the U.S., in Europe and other parts of the globe?

#3 What do weather statistics say has happened during the past 50 years?

#4 And how does weather differ from climate (is there a difference)?

 
edbyronadams Author Profile Page :
 

Until voters' direct perceptions, the weather, meet scientists predictions, the climate, getting any real action to suppress ghg production is a non-starter in a political sense.

 
oracle2world Author Profile Page :
 

No one has defined the dividing point between weather and climate. For starters.

Depending on the time interval you choose, today's climate is:

a. nothing unusual

b. going to h***** in a handbasket


Most people like warm weather, it is easy to adapt to. Cold weather (aka extensive glaciation) leads to the end of civilization as we know it.

So asking people to lower their standard of living, pay more for heating, for COLDER weather ... is a political non-starter.

 
mikie4761 Author Profile Page :
 

Oh, I get it now! If it's cold it's WEATHER, and if it's warm it's CLIMATE.

 
mikie4761 Author Profile Page :
 

Oh, I get it now! If it's cold it's weather and if it's warm it's climate.

 
ItsOver2 Author Profile Page :
 

Actual observed global temperatures have nothing to do with the temperature of the globe. The only reliable temperatures are those derived by tree rings, ice cores and the size of the grants you're receiving to "hide the decline". And if someone shows you the facts, hit them with your "hockey stick".

 
kiler616 Author Profile Page :
 

maybe cooler waters flowing southward and northward from the melting icecaps contributes to cooler weather.

 
 
 
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