The wandering interests of JamaOwl

Climate and Weather part 2

More from “The Weather of the Future”, By Heidi Cullen, Harper, 2011

“Numerical analysis looks for ways to find approximate solutions to problems that are too complicated to solve” (p. 32)

“… there are two types of climate model runs that test the impact of global warming on the climate system: transient runs and equilibrium runs.   In a transient run, greenhouse gases are slowly added to the climate system and the model simulates the impact of the additional CO2 at each time step.  In an equilibrium run, the atmospheric CO2 level is instantly doubled, and the model is run with the higher CO2 level until the climate has fully adjusted to the forcings and has reached a new equilibrium.” (p. 39)

“The climate sensitivity estimated by the top global climate models ranges from 3.6°F to 8.1°F for an atmosphere going from about 300 to 600 parts per million (ppm) of CO2.  This is not far different from Manabe’s estimate of 6°F in 1975 or Arrhenius’s calculation of 8°F in 1896.” (See previous post.) “It raises the question: how many more times do we have to do this experiment before we believe the answer?” (p. 43)

“In the United States, spring now arrives an average of ten days to two weeks earlier than it did twenty years ago.  Many migratory bird species are arriving earlier.  … (A) study of northeastern birds that migrate long distances found that birds wintering in the southern United States now arrive back in the Northeast an average of thirteen days earlier than they did during the first half of the last century.  Snow cover is melting earlier. Plants are blooming almost two weeks earlier in spring.” (p. 43)

“When you take us out of the calculations, you take out all the greenhouse gas emissions human activities have caused since the industrial revolution…”  “If a climate model, run with only natural forcings, cannot re-create the strong warming since the 1970s, then the real world is currently doing something Mother Nature cannot do on her own.” (p. 44)

“There isn’t a single computer model simulation, called a control run, that exhibits a trend in global temperature as large or sustained as the observed temperature record.” (p. 44)

“With hind-casting, scientists can use climate models to isolate the physical fingerprint of human activity and figure out where the heightened levels of carbon in the atmosphere are coming from.  Here’s how it works. Different forcings – such as changes in solar radiation, volcano eruptions, or fluctuations in greenhouse gas concentrations – imprint different responses, or fingerprints, on the climate system.” (p. 45)

“In 1784, Benjamin Franklin spoke of a constant dry fog all over Europe and North America that prevented the sun from doing its job and kept summer temperatures much chillier than usual.  Franklin correctly attributed the dry fog to a large Icelandic volcano, called Laki, that erupted in 1783. In North America, the winter of 1784 was the longest and one of the coldest on record.  There was ice-skating in Charleston Harbor; a huge snowstorm hit the South; the Mississippi River froze at New Orleans; and there was ice in the Gulf of Mexico.” (pp. 45-46)


I find this utterly amazing – ice in the Gulf of Mexico!  Apparently it really did happen, only it wasn’t a freeze-over as I first thought.

12 February 1784 Ice flows were spotted in the Gulf of Mexico after passing from the Mississippi River. Ice actually blocked the river at New Orleans, LA. This was only 1 of 2 times that this has ever occurred, the other was during the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899. Storm Track, Fog, and Ice Charts of the North Atlantic Ocean, and Hurricane Track Charts of the Gulf of Mexico (Google eBook) Front Cover John P. Finley 1889

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