published Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Climate change takes many forms

Today, as the Chattanooga area joins a huge chunk of the country bracing against record-setting cold temperatures, many of us are shaking our heads and wondering what's up with the weird weather.

Some may even be making jokes: So much for global warming.

Don't be fooled. Global warming — more correctly labeled climate change — is not just about warming. It's about extremes. Changing extremes, on both ends of our thermometers and rain gauges.

A University of Tennessee at Knoxville researcher in 2012 completed a first-of-its-kind study to predict heat waves for the top 20 cities in the eastern United States. His findings put the Tennessee Valley in the cross hairs of climate craziness with a likelihood of more intense heat waves and drastically wetter weather. For this region he predicted as much as 17 inches of extra annual rainfall.

In 2013, that's just what we got: our normal 52.5 inches of rain plus another 16.29 inches, to total nearly 69 inches of rain for the year, according to the National Weather Service.

We had a cooler than normal summer, but remember that the study measured the likelihood of "more intense heat waves," and we had a string of 100-degrees-plus days across the region in June.

That was about the same time that Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground, told The Associated Press science and environment reporter Seth Borenstein: "I've been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I've never seen. ... The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I'm not saying we know what it is."

The jet stream is a big river of air high above Earth that dictates much of the weather for the Northern Hemisphere, and it has been unusually erratic the past few years. The Associated Press chronicled the strangeness:

In May, early California wildfires fueled by heat contrasted with more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. Seattle was the hottest spot in the nation one day, and Maine and Edmonton, Canada, were warmer than Miami and Phoenix.

Before that, the winter of 2011-12 seemed to disappear, with little snow and record warmth in March. That was followed by the winter of 2012-13 when nor'easters lined up to strike the same coastal areas repeatedly. Superstorm Sandy took an odd left turn in October and veered straight into New Jersey. We'd also seen one 12-month period with a record number of tornadoes, immediately followed by 12 months that set a record for lack of tornadoes.

Now we're warned of below-zero chills in the heart of Dixie.

Last September, the researchers with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office concluded in a new report that about a half dozen of those wild weather events — including Sandy — occurred because man-made global warming increased the likelihood for them. Another half dozen in the 12 events examined were just the results of the random freakishness of weather.

Their conclusion represented a sea change (no pun intended) to global warming. Scientists used to say that individual weather events — a specific hurricane or flood, for example — cannot be attributed to climate change. But this time, researchers used computer simulations to look at extreme events in a more nuanced way, measuring the influence of climate change on their likelihood and magnitude.

"We've got some new evidence that human influence has changed the risk and has changed it enough that we can detect it," study lead author Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution for the British meteorological office, told international reporters as he released the study.

It's not the warming, folks. It's the extremes. And, yes, we can do something about it. That "something" starts with not denying science.

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nucanuck said...

The warming in the Arctic has been the most extreme and that is a weather nerve center for our hemisphere. We know with certainty that increasing CO2 levels will increase both warming and climate change. We also know that halting or reversing CO2 levels will severely impact how we lead our lives. Self discipline does not seem to be a strong suit for humans. Better to deny climate change than endure life style change, eh?

January 7, 2014 at 1:37 a.m.
conservative said...

Hey nucanuck:

Are you still consuming those 2.3 earths you have claimed?

Have you been in contact with those global warming kooks stuck in ice?

January 7, 2014 at 8:09 a.m.
conservative said...

The caption reads:

"Climate change takes many forms"

No, Liberals are pretty much one form.

January 7, 2014 at 8:42 a.m.
librul said...

Give it up Nuc - these propeller-beanie wearing right wingers won't shut up until you can wear a speedo at the North Pole and snow ski in Cancun. They don't understand science, they don't believe what the vast majority of climate scientists who are not blabbermouths for polluting industries say. They and their brain-dead lackeys in the Congress are freezing our political system but they, their children and grandchildren and generations of the rest of us will suffer in the long run for generations as a result of their ignorance and greed. Water shortages, crop failures, coastal flooding, devastating storms, rampant disease outbreaks, ocean acidification, melting permafrost, massive trapped methane releases causing cascading effects - all will be exacerbated by the climate changes resulting from what open-minded people already accept as human carelessness and denialism -- oh yeah, did I mention GREED?

We no longer have a political system tyrue to its original design - reasoned debate leading to concensus on what is best for the country - it is ideological warfare fueled by infusion of money from greed merchants and selfish billionaires who care nothing for their fellow man - they should all die ....today.

January 7, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.
conservative said...

"Climate change takes many forms"

Maybe her point was that our climate changes every summer, winter, spring and fall.

I thought everyone already knew that, I guess I was wrong.

January 8, 2014 at 8:23 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Denial is not a strategy.

January 8, 2014 at 9:38 a.m.
GameOn said...

Climate change takes many forms... but the most common are lies and deceit.

January 8, 2014 at 2:27 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Perhaps, connie, you should look up the definition of climate. Then you might avoid looking silly.

January 8, 2014 at 2:38 p.m.
conservative said...

I could l keith lu and paste it but would only embarrass you again.

January 8, 2014 at 7:32 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Definition of climate, connie. You can't embarrass me if you tried. But you have already embarrassed yourself.

January 8, 2014 at 9:37 p.m.
RShultz210 said...

All these pseudo-scientists just can't admit that climate comes in cycles like everything else. And when this current little warm bump that has prompted them to act like the earth is going to melt if we don't do everything they tell us to do, ends and it swings the other way which it will, then they will have to scramble to come up with a new pseudo-scientific model to explain why things didn't go the way they were hollering about. I studied meteorology at UT and that's what climate does, it goes through cycles. The Great Gaia doesn't have anything to do with it. Of course you can try sacrificing a child at Stonehenge but you'll get arrested by Bobby Peels boys if you try....ROTFLMAO!! BTW Hi IKE, haven't visited here in a while, hope your doing well. You're never gonna get Connie to trot out a definition of climate until he finds one that he likes.

January 9, 2014 at 5:42 p.m.
librul said...

oooooOOOOOOOoooooo ... Sergeant Schultz studied meteorology (i.e., WEATHER) at UTC ... all bow before Sergeant Schultz! (true to your namesake ... you know N-O-T-H-I-N-G!). Your post would have more substance if you had studied CLIMATOLOGY, Sarge. Sadly, if you had, you wouldn't have propounded such things.

Sure, weather has cycles. That is true. But we're not talking about cycles of weather seen in human lifetimes - we're talking about TRENDS in CLIMATE ... Trends which span centuries. It's too bad climate science has been around such a short time - but that's why CLIMATE scientists extract ice cores from polar ice formed hundreds of thousands of years ago to get data on what atmospheric conditions were like long before people were convinced by their tribal religions that the earth was flat and situated at the center of the universe.

Annual spikes in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are noted by analyzing these cores. Data over 800,000 years show that CO2 has varied between lows of 180 and highs of 280 parts per million every 50 thousand years or so. But, since 1960, atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached levels of over 400 parts per million in a radically steepening TREND of increase that shows no sign of coming back down. THAT is a change in CLIMATE, Sarge and the effects of it are easily associated with a variety of environmental changes called extreme and unprecedented by scientists in virtually all major fields of study.

Looks like it's time for you to do some more appropriate research. You might want to look into what's happening down under in Australia - where it's now mid-summer. You can start here:

http://www.alternet.org/environment/100000-bats-fall-sky-australia-due-extreme-heat-wave

January 9, 2014 at 8:42 p.m.
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