Lately the big rage among climate change shruggers is that global warming might have been real, but it died about ten years ago. Therefore full, fossil-fueled steam ahead and take that you pinko treehugging would-be assassins of capitalism as we know it!
A few outlets however, chiefly in the UK, have perked up over the last week to a new report, in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological society, by researchers at the University of York over there and the University of Ottawa in Canada. After using satellite data and other records to fill in gaps in the record of surface air temperatures due to scant weather station coverage - chiefly in polar regions (and mostly the Arctic part) plus some in Africa - they replotted the temperature record for recent decades. Bam, the recent trend put itself back in close alignment to the previous and unmistakeable long term rise in temperatures, a tilted baseline that had been well in accord with what computer models say ought to happen due to acceleration of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Specifically, the study looked at temperature plots released by the UK's Met Office based in turn on what the climatological in-crowd calls the HadCRUT4 database.
Seems like a big deal. The paper was published Thursday last week. You'd think a lot of reporters would have jumped on it. But, not so much.
Stories thus far:
- Guardian (Nov. 13) John Abraham, Dana Nuccitelli: Global warming since 1997 more than twice as fast as previously estimated, new study shows / ... fills in the gaps missed by the Met Office and find the 'pause' is barely a speed bump;
- Independent (Nov. 17) Steve Connor : Gaps in data on Arctic temperatures account for the 'pause' in global warming ; Trenchant lede here: "It was the evidence that climate change sceptics loved to cite." Also, one finds, Connor's piece has legs, running in the Times of India as well.
- Mother Jones (Nov. 15) Chris Mooney: Recent Warming May Have Been Dramatically Underestimated ; It's good to see Mooney writing breaking news. He gets a quote from Michael Mann who is not surprised the heat was out there somewhere (most guesses have been that it somehow started taking a deep sea detour).
Very interesting. I didn't notice this news till this morning. The Daily Climate aggregator- to which I subscribe by email - included a link to Connor's story in the Independent. Hmmm, I thought, where are US media? That was before I noticed Mooney's Mother Jones story. Nonetheless, there really has not been much response. I was late to that game, however. Another journalism watchdog outfit was already on it. It is the first story listed below, with the best hed seen so far on this:
- Media Matters (today) Shauna Theel : Faux Pause: Media Ignore Study Finding Globe Is Warming Twice As Fast As Thought;
- RealClimate - Stefan Rahmstorf: Global Warming Since 1997 Underestimated by Half ; Also linked in the Media Matters analysis.
If the report gains general acclaim from experts one expects it will have reverberations that go far and last a long time. Reporters who decide to jump in have plenty to do. Here's just one hypothesis I'd like to see bounced off the likes of Kevin Trenberth at NCAR or the always-available Michael Mann. Which is to assess this new report's conclusions in light of another hypothesis making the rounds - the one positing that the shrinking Arctic sea ice pack is behind recent, occasional bouts of harsh, cold weather in North America and Eurasia. Some say the ice has led the Northern Hemisphere's polar jets stream to jump its rails. It seems to some to be wobbling all over the place in big north and south excursions away from its more usual, strongly west to east course around the Earth's axis. So it acts like a big atmospheric blender, shooting frigid air south while hauling warm air toward the poles on its return path. The temperature gradient would get shallower. Warming in the high Arctic would shoot ahead while mid-latitudes stall or even cool a bit. And if one only measures southern temperatures one would swear the whole thing cooled off.
That's what I'd ask about.
Not that a round of new facts would change the timbre of climate policy discussion among people who do not have the chops to be appointed by national academies of science to summarize climate science. For example, and also to give your brain a chance to blow the carbon off its sparkplugs, one supposes this fellow is sure he is dead right no matter what anybody says otherwise:
- Heartland Institute/Policy and Commentary Blog - Alan Caruba: It's Not Just Winter, It's a New Ice Age ; While reading this, be sure to notice that while it cites a story by Robert Lee Hotz at the WS Journal, it does so only to try to knock it down. Hotz did a good job reporting about the sun's recent, wimpy cycle.