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"Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16)

"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own fact." - Sen. Daniel Patrick “Pat” Moynihan [D-NY] (1927-2003)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snowstorms and Climate Change

It always happens this time of year. A major snowstorm and the climate change deniers start braying like jackasses.

If there's heavy snow, then all this talk of “global warming” must be a myth! Right?


Meteorologist Jeff Masters, on his blog Weather Underground, pointed out that the two major storms that hit Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., this winter were among the 10 heaviest those cities have recorded. The chance of them happening in the same winter (as they did)? Highly unlikely.

The 2009 U.S. Climate Impacts Report finds that over the past 50 years, large-scale cold-weather storm systems have gradually tracked to the north in the U.S.. As the climate had warmed, the frequency of storms in the middle latitudes has decreased while the intensity of those storms has increased. Hotter air holds more moisture, so storms release more snow. By contract, cold air is drier. If we were in a cold snap, we would not see so much snowfall.

The diminishing Arctic Sea ice speeds the warming of the northern atmosphere, due to the Albedo effect. White ice reflects sunlight back into space and cools the air. Dark ocean water absorbs the heat, warming the air and altering wind patterns. This weakens the jet stream and allows more cold air out of the Arctic and into the eastern USA as well as Europe.

Jeff Masters made this analogy to explain the effect: If you leave the refrigerator door open, the house cools, but the refrigerator gets warmer.

To quote the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's own website: “The data showing that the world as a whole has been warming on the average are unequivocal, and over time this means there will be fewer (but not zero) cold spells and more (but not constant) hot spells. In the 1950s, the number of record hot days was about the same as the number of record cold days, but in the 2000s we saw twice as many record highs as record lows.“

Anthropogenic climate change is science, friends, not faith. Faith involves belief in something that can't be scientifically proven, like the Earth is only 6,000 years old and was created in 6 days, or that all land creatures are descended from single pairs of breeding specimens that were on an ark built by a 600 year old man.