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    Global Cooling : Beyond Parochialism
    By Patrick Lockerby | January 16th 2010 10:49 AM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Patrick

    Retired engineer, 60+ years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics....

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    Global Cooling : Beyond Parochialism

    During the next 10 years, climate science and climate science reporting will, I believe, change the public perception of climate change.  More people will come to understand the difference between parochial weather and global climate.  As more and more people become directly affected by climate change, former deniers will begin to ask why "they" didn't do something about the problem.

    Parochialism is the mode of thinking that expects the whole planet to obey laws of nature modelled on one's immediate locality.  In this information age we have advanced only from village-based parochialism to 'hemispherical parochialism'.  That is to say, the media in the northern hemisphere tends to report news only from the northern hemisphere.  The same is true for the southern hemisphere.

    Parochialism leads people in the north to accept the current nonsense of 'global cooling' based only on their own immediate experiences and what is reported to them in the media.

    As the northern hemisphere undergoes its current winter trials, some people are persuaded to falsely equate local seasonal weather patterns with climate change.  Look: just because it is winter in the northern hemisphere, that does not disprove global warming!  Global warming is made up of averages.  If the cold of a northern winter is combined with the heat of southern summer and the average global temperature is greater year-by-year, then that is proof positive of global warming.  That proof exists.

    Now, we know that records have been broken in the northern hemisphere. For example, the U.K. has been experiencing its worst winter weather for at least 30 years, perhaps 40.

    In the U.K., salt for the roads has run low, as have gas supplies.  Although the U.K. has direct access to gas reserves, there is a limit to the rate at which gas can flow through pipes.  Reserves are stored in gasometers to buffer the grid.  These reserves have run low, leading to power being cut to some industries during the cold spell.

    Much the same sort of thing has happened in China, where power stations have been in danger of running out of coal.  Extreme lows have been recorded in India.
    An 86-year-old woman was killed when her saree caught fire while she
    was warming herself this morning in a Malda village where the minimum
    temperature recorded in the past 24 hours was 9 degrees Celsius.
    Source: The Telegraph Calcutta


    But What Of The Southern Hemisphere?

    New Zealand:
    Forecasts from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) suggest below-normal rainfall for the next three months in areas such as Waikato and The Bay of Plenty and eastern parts of the North Island.
    Source: NZHerald

    The noughties were the warmest decade on record in New Zealand, although last year was cooler than average, latest climate figures from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa) show.

    The years 2000-2009 were slightly warmer than the 1980s, which were previously the warmest decade on record and now ranked second ahead of the 1970s and 1990s.
    Source: NZ Herald



    Australia:

    Melbourne has suffered its hottest night since 1902 as a heat wave grips southern Australia.

    While
    much of the northern hemisphere is suffering from unusually cold
    conditions, night-time temperatures in Melbourne have reached 34C
    (93F).

    Source: BBC

    WATER Minister Tim Holding says people should use as much water
    as they need in hot weather after the equal-warmest night in history. 

    ...

    Mr Holding said Victorians had saved the state’s supplies by dramatically reducing their water use in the past few years.

    Despite rainfall only decreasing by 10% in the past decade, the level of water that flowed into Victorian dams decreased by 25%.

    ...

    power cuts came as Melbourne sweltered through its equal warmest night
    in history, the hottest since February 1, 1902, when the record of
    30.6C was set.


    Source: HeraldSun


    Future trends.

    I well recall Britain's Astronomer Royal denying the possibility of space travel just two weeks before the launch of sputnik 1.  There is always a danger in speculations about the future.  Nevertheless, I am going to stick my head well above the parapet on this issue.  On looking at current predictions by relevant experts, I notice that they are not generally using the latest available data.  They have also tended to avoid being alarmist, giving 'worst-case' scenarios which are decidedly on the optimistic side of the worst-case.  I have taken some of those predictions, such as 'Arctic ice-free by 2020', and modified them in light of current data.  Here, then, are my predictions for the decade 2010 - 2020.

    2010:
    Many hottest weather records are broken in northern hemisphere.
    Summer arctic ice at record low in extent.
    By September the Arctic Ocean is freely navigable by both the northern sea route and the north west passage.

    2011:
    Reduced ice cover affects sea temperatures, in turn affecting Arctic current flows and air movements. Thinner ice, instead of piling up as pressure ridges due to compression effects, cracks into sections due to tension and agitation effects.
    The Arctic is virtually ice-free by late summer: there is open water at the North Pole.

    2012:
    Loss of summer ice in the Arctic addressed by scientific conferences.  General public in U.S. and much of Europe still unconcerned.

    2015:
    Arctic Ocean and surrounding seaways virtually ice-free.
    Southern Ocean significantly warmer than average since direct measurements began.
    Substantial ice loss from Antarctic ice shelves.
    Katrina-style inundation of at least one major northern hemisphere east coast city attributed to global climate change.  Public begins to demand immediate action on climate change in western democracies.

    2020:
    Inundation of substantial amounts of agricultural, industrial and residential land, with loss of millions of lives, seen as wake-up call to humanity.

    Related / further reading:
    Ice-Free Arctic - TimesOnLine

    Recommended: Discover Magazine Blogs/80 Beats

    More on climate from the chatter_box
    Global Cooling: A Good Story, If Only It Were True.
    Global Cooling : How Wrong Can You Get?
    Join The Navy : See A Nuke
    Himalayan Hype : Reading Between The Lines
    Post Glacial Eustatic Sea Level Rise
    GMST : Discovering Trends
    How To Model A Smoking Gun

    Comments

    Benno Hansen
    Exclusive: 2009 Hottest Year on Record in Southern Hemisphere ;-)
    "Science has obtained exclusive data from NASA that indicates that 2009 was the hottest year on record south of the Equator. The find adds to multiple lines of evidence showing that the 2000s were the warmest decade in the modern instrumental record."
    logicman
    Many thanks for the link, Benno.
    briantaylor
    This is the most impassioned I've seen you, (read you,) Patrick.
    You must feel quite strongly about GW and the ~GW movement.
    This is also your scariest thread...
    I'd be curious to know your thoughts on the Solar System Warming idea....
    logicman
    Thanks for the comment, Brian.
    I'd be curious to know your thoughts on the Solar System Warming idea....
    In brief, for now:

    Every planet has its own orbital idiosyncracies, and the sun goes through well-known cycles.  Taken together, it can be shown that all planets have 'global warming' cycles.

    The major difference with planet Earth is this: we continue to modify the diurnal heat input cycle with excess heat, 24/7.  All planets, planetoids, moons and asteroids warm up during their day, and cool during their night. The night-time cooling is not subject to artificial heat input, except with the case of Earth.

    Diurnal temperature ranges for objects in space depend on the rotational speed, orbital path and atmospheric shielding.  The Earth's atmosphere shields us from excess heat in the daytime and from excess heat loss during the night.  All human activity with fossil fuels and radioactives can be equated to heat inputs into the planet both day and night.  In plain language, the effect of human activity on the Earth's diurnal heat cycle is higher temperatures both day and night.  I am convinced that our 24 hour fuel-burning activity is more detrimental to the Earth than it would be if we would just switch back to a natural human diurnal cycle.  This does not imply 'going back to the stone age'!

    Perhaps the solar system as a whole is warming.  This does not detract in any way from the simple fact that a welter of reliable observations shows that the Earth shows a trend of ever-increasing average surface temperature, a trend that has a strong component specifically attributable to human activity.
    (Comment revised) Very well written, Patrick. I would have to say from what I know of the data that your time table seems pretty accurate to me.

    What the general public doesn't seem to be able to understand is that the higher the global temperature becomes, the more erratic regional, or as you put it, parochial weather will become. To put it simply, they don't understand the difference between weather and climate, especially global climate!

    When you mentioned the "Katrina-style inundation of at least one major northern hemisphere east coast city attributed to global climate change" it reminded me that some scientists would like to add a category 6 hurricane to the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. I know that Robert Simpson thinks there is no reason to create a category 6 hurricane in the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale, since the scale is based on the destructive force on man-made structures. And if the wind speed of a hurricane exceeded 155 mph, according to Simpson, then any man-made structure would be destroyed, regardless and the distinction would be pointless given upon what the scale is based. But, I disagree with Simpson. Statistically it would be significant in monitoring changes in global climate. In the past, there have only been a handful of hurricanes which would fit into the hypothetical category 6 hurricane, based on wind speed, such as Typhoon Tip in 1979 with wind speeds that reached 190 mph. An increase of the frequency of these hypothetical category 6 hurricanes would be a good barometer (pun intended) as to the stability of our global climate. Can you imagine if New York city got hit with a category 6 hurricane (I entered the wrong URL earlier, so I have revised this link; it was the best I could find, unfortunately, since this is a controversial issue)? We know it can happen. There's a reason why they call Canal Street in New York city 'Canal Street'. Because of the singular topography around Hudson Bay, the last hurricane to hit NYC turned Canal Street quite literally into a canal, and for about six hours NYC was divided into two cities.

    The bottom line is the higher the global temperature becomes, the more unstable the global climate will become. And that's the message that needs to be understood by the world populace.

    Thanks for a terrific article, Patrick. : )

    Eric
    logicman
    Eric: thank you for your comments, compliment, observations and insights.

    Can you imagine if New York city got hit with a category 6 hurricane?
    Yes, I can.  Mutatis mutandis, your scenario is also applicable to London, which approximates to an east coast city by virtue of its being vulnerable to inundation through the Thames estuary.  I mentioned this risk in Global Cooling : How Wrong Can You Get?

    You may be interested to read two pdfs, reports by the Institution of Civil Engineers, on the topic of rising sea levels and flood risk:

    Flooding: Engineering resilience


    Facing Up to Rising Sea Levels Document Final.pdf.

    The bottom line is the higher the global temperature becomes, the more unstable the global climate will become. And that's the message that needs to be understood by the world populace.
    And as weather patterns become more unstable they will become more unpredictable.  Weather forecasting depends on the basic supposition that chains of events observed in the past will continue to be broadly replicated in the future.  There are already signs that weather patterns in many places are changing, no longer following historical patterns.  Long-term forecasts will be of little, if any, value in a rapidly-changing future climate.
    logicman
    Eric: while I was writing, you were editing, so this is an additional link in response to what you added.

    Researchers forecast more hurricanes for US in 2010
    http://dscriber.com/home/764-researchers-forecast-more-hurricanes-in-201...
    Thank you, Patrick. Yeah, I have a tendency to do that....editing, I mean. After I've written something and am away from it for awhile, I'll remember something that I forgot to put in or realize a mistake I made, and I make a lot of them! LOL So, I do a lot of editing post facto until I get it right. ;-)
    Thank you for the links to the two pdfs, Patrick. I will definitely download them to hard drive and read each very carefully.


    And as weather patterns become more unstable they will become more unpredictable. Weather forecasting depends on the basic supposition that chains of events observed in the past will continue to be broadly replicated in the future. There are already signs that weather patterns in many places are changing, no longer following historical patterns. Long-term forecasts will be of little, if any, value in a rapidly-changing future climate.

    That is absolutely correct, Patrick. There are a great many instantiations of this happening around the globe. For example, I remember a few years back that in the arctic circle in January, caribou were dying from starvation because the temperatures one day reached the 40s and then dropped the next day below freezing, thus icing over the lichens that the caribou eat during the winter. I think like 60,000-70,000 of them died as a result of this thaw-freeze cycle which has become a serious problem in Greenland. That's just one of many examples how weather patterns have become unstable.

    Here in Indianapolis, IN, right now, we're experiencing temperatures in the 40s with fog and rain. Very unseasonable weather for this time of year. And yet no one questions it. Prior to that we had extremely cold temperatures with 8-10 inches of snow. And this kind of pattern has been going on for the last 4 years. It entails that there is greater thermal energy from the Gulf of Mexico. The winds have been steadily coming from the south. So you don't have to go very far from home to see the changes, if you know what you're looking for. : )
    As I was downloading the pdf on Rising Sea Levels another thing came to mind. What a lot of people don't realize is that the ice mass in the arctic ocean isn't what's going to have an affect on sea levels, because the vast majority of that ice is already underwater; the water has already been displaced. What is going to have an affect on sea levels is the breaking apart of the ice sheets on land masses such as Greenland and Antarctica. Most people are unaware of just how much ice has already broken away from these ice sheets and are now in the oceans. I remember one case where a chunk of ice the size of Manhattan broke away from an ice sheet a few months back. The image was captured by satellite, and I wish I could remember where I saw it so I could show it to you. But, I'm sure you're well aware of this kind of thing happening as we speak.

    Best,
    Eric
    logicman
    What a lot of people don't realize is that the ice mass in the arctic ocean isn't what's going to have an affect on sea levels
    I have to disagree, Eric.

    The mass of ice that most people think of as polar ice is anchored to the coast.  Any anchored ice is partly supported by buoyancy and partly by grounding.  Where contiguous it is mainly in cantilever mode.  If it all melts, sea levels will rise.  I covered this in an article a while back: Sea Level Change and Semi-Buoyant Ice.

    The grounding point tends to move inland with rising sea levels.  Think of a ship aground on a sandbar: rising and falling tides together with waves pound the ship to pieces.  As the grounding point moves inland at the mouth of a glacier, the glacier becomes ever more vulnerable to increased flow.  As less ice-shelf protects a grounding point from wave action, more ice is broken off as separate bergs or floes.  As soon as a berg calves off from grounded ice and floats away it displaces more water than it did when grounded.

    Related article: Antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point.
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18383-major-antarctic-glacier-is-p...
    Okay, I'll split the difference with you, Patrick. I see your point, and it is well taken. Can we a least agree that the ice from Greenland and Antarctica will have a significantly greater impact on sea levels than the ice in the northern polar region?
    logicman
    Can we a least agree that the ice from Greenland and Antarctica will have a significantly greater impact on sea levels than the ice in the northern polar region?
    Yes Eric, by all means!   Loss of all grounded Arctic sea ice might add up to a 1 meter sea-level rise.  Loss of the most at-risk parts of the Greenland and Antarctic ice over the course of the next 30 years could well add up to a 10 meter rise.

    Don't forget that the poles make the weather - substantial polar ice loss could well cause, indirectly, substantial loss from equatorial and tropical glaciers.  My 10 meter figure allows for this.  There are, of course, many unknowns.
    Yes, I've heard estimates of sea-level rise in the next 30 years as high as 15 meters.

    Glaciers in the equatorial and tropical areas in mountainous regions have already started retreating and mountain snow caps have begun to shrink in those areas as well. Some have even formed mountain lakes which pose a threat of flooding to villagers that live in the mountain valleys below. It's a serious situation that's only going to get worse, especially if as a species we don't wise-up and change are current way of doing things on this planet rapidly!