2014 National Climate Assessment: A Few Thoughts

May 9, 2014

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I received 2 emails about Global Warming (or Climate Change) this week, which appear to have been sent to lots of TV meteorologists at one time (a “form” email).  The 2nd one went something like this:

Dear Local Meteorologists;

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) has affirmed the conclusions of the overwhelming majority of the scientific community, that climate change is happening, that humans are the cause, and that increased global temperatures are already having a profound impact on our weather system. (Read the AMS’ Information Statement On Climate here.)  In other words, the debate about climate change is over.
Viewers trust and rely on weather reporters for accurate information about weather and climate. As global warming increasingly changes the weather and places our communities at risk, talking about Global warming is a journalistic responsibility. 

Please consider these facts while conducting future weather news forecasts

 

Of course what prompted those emails was the release of the 2014 National Climate Assessment on Tuesday.  I considered doing a blog post on the Pacific Northwest portion of the assessment.  I put it off for a few days since it was going to be a big pain.  But then UW Professor Cliff Mass saved the day!  He did a posting on his blog Thursday, doing all the work for me.  I strongly suggest you take a look at it here:

http://www.cliffmass.blogspot.com/2014/05/northwest-climate-change-did-2014.html

 

His main points:

1. SO FAR, there has only been very slight warming in the Pacific Northwest, with most of that occurring more than 60 years ago.

2. There have been no significant changes in our precipitation, at least statistically significant changes.

3. Snowpack has declined around 20% in the Cascades in the past 80-100 years and it’s possibly not even related to global warming.

4. Our location right up against the Eastern Pacific Ocean means that there have been very few changes in our climate here SO FAR due to the moderating effects of all that water.

5. In the future, assuming the globe does warm dramatically as models show, we can expect less mountain snowpack and heavier rains/flooding events.

 

Basically we haven’t seen many changes here SO FAR.  THAT would be why I rarely (or never) talk about Global Warming on the air.  What would I say?  By the way the wording “Climate Change” drives me nuts.  It’s all started by a warming globe (thus GLOBAL WARMING) and that can cause a changing climate.

Considering all the other issues humanity is facing, I think a slowly changing climate over the next 60-80 years isn’t at the top of the list.  And I hate to be negative, but it’s obvious that we won’t be slowing down our CO2 output anytime soon.   Take a look at this graph from the Seattle Times:

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Anything we do here to cut our emissions will be dwarfed by massive increases in the developing world.  We’ve made our choices and now we’ll see what happens in the next 30, 50, or 100 years.

By the way, for 7 years I’ve had a web page with a few more of my opinions on the subject…it’s here:  http://www.cascadeaccess.com/~mnelsen/globalwarming.html

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen