As we head into spring, it’s natural to take a look back at the winter of 2007-2008.
This was a cold winter, both for those of us on the ground on the West Coast, and, unsurprisingly, for atmospheric measuring instruments. Variability in weather is of course still with, as is the chill associated with La Nina. But what did come as a surprise was a story by Richard Harris on National Public Radio, called “The Mystery of Global Warming’s Missing Heat,” about the lack of warming detected in the oceans over the last four or five years,
This has brought on a flurry of climage change denier claims that somehow, global warming is over.
To quote Chris Horner, of The National Review: “What’s global warming without the warming called?”
The Harris story itself suggested the possibility the oceans might be transferring heat to the atmosphere more quickly than expected. And a broader look at the question from The Oregonian repeatedly raised the point that a cold winter, connected to La Nina, drops temperatures without reversing the trend.
In the short window of a few months, routine shifts in
weather such as the one the Northwest is experiencing now —
driven by a well-known climate cycle known as La Nina —
easily overwhelm whatever trends might be gripping the globe
over years or decades.
The cool resurgence is fueling arguments by global warming
skeptics that natural forces, not human factors such as
greenhouse gases, dominate the climate.
But Northwest climate scientists say it’s a matter of
short-term versus long-term perspective. The cool winter
doesn’t mean there’s no warming trend, they say.
Any trend remains subtle and is simply hidden for the time
James Hansen made the same point, with three graphs and some sharp comments. In an entry posted to his site called simply Cold Weather, he said about these graphs:
The reason to show these is to expose the recent nonsense that has appeared in the blogosphere, to the effect that recent cooling has wiped out global warming of the past century, and the Earth may be headed into an ice age. On the contrary, these misleaders have foolishly (or devilishly) fixated on a natural fluctuation that will soon disappear.
Down here in SoCal, the spring has already turned “unseasonably hot. ” Two deer appeared on our property, cautiously but curiously appearing out of the streambed, and nosing around the vinca. Puppies and dogs have gone missing — coyotes are suspected. A afternoon wedding was beautiful to look in a hot sun.
We had a good winter for rain — better than many of us expected, given the La Nina condition. Could there be a connection to increased levels of water vapor? Could this heating have already be transferred to the air, as hinted in the Harris story? Further research needed…