Saturday, February 27, 2010

East Coast Snowstorms Predicted By Climate Change

I am currently ploughing through Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, which is a comprehensive 188 page report from June 2009, and produced by a set of government agencies in the US, headed up by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, looking at the likely impacts of climate change on the U.S.  I'm kind of going through it in a spirit of "How bad is this going to be?" if we make fairly pessimistic assumptions of very high emissions in future, which certainly seem warranted at the moment.  More on that later.

However, I note that climate sceptics have been doing a great deal of crowing lately about how the heavy snowstorms on the East Coast prove global warming must be wrong (eg see here or here).  And so it was interesting to come across this prediction from p38 (written last summer, recall).

So more big East Coast snowstorms to come, apparently.


Heading Out said...

Actually Stuart, being a little more curious after my first post, I had a little bit closer look at precipitation patterns and both the data that I looked at for Missouri, and that which NOAA looked at for global precipitation have shown an insignificant change.

Heading Out said...

Oh, and if you had read further into the post that you cited, you would have come across this paragraph:
"By the way, while some have blamed this on the changing climate, it is more likely just to be one of these occasionally aberrant events that occur in systems where there are a wide variety of conditions that can occur and change the weather, and at this time that roll of the dice had come up with heavy snow in DC, and not enough in Vancouver, where the Olympics start this week. (Yay, Rigger! – I’ll be watching). Dr. Pielke Snr. explains that this is not the case, and why the press has it wrong. " I don't think that this is crowing about anything.

Stuart Staniford said...

Actually, HO, since you are here, - would you mind emailing me your annual series for Missouri precipitation from that post?

Stuart Staniford said...

Oh, and while you are at it, please send me the Kansas temperature series too. "For our purposes an r-squared value of less than 0.05 is considered not to be significant" is an incorrect approach to the question you are trying to address. At some point, I'd like to demonstrate a couple of more statistically correct ways to do this analysis.

Heading Out said...

You should have them, if I have the right e-mail address, if not send me a note and I send them to the correct one.

Unknown said...

The question of denialism is one that interests me quite a bit. There is no doubt that for some in our society there is a great deal of fear that reducing CO2 output will adversely affect the economy. And there are people that will go to extraordinary lengths to try and block changes that will hurt their economic well being.

There is a historical example. In the days before mechanization and before industrialization, some economies effectively used slave labor as a form of cheap energy. Gradually as time went on, this was viewed by many as an abhorrent practice, and yet up until the Civil War in the United States, there were people who somehow continued to rationalize it - and yet some of the writing of the time suggests that people recognized that abandoning slavery would effectively kill the economy of the South.

My point isn't to compare slavery and the use of fossil fuels, but to make the point that when people have a fear that a change make adversely affect their well-being, that they may go to extraordinary lengths to rationalize and defend the practices despite the evidence that is in front of them.