Thursday, July 2, 2015

Why is the Northwest so warm?

The last month has been extraordinarily warm over the Pacific Northwest, with several locations experiencing not only many daily records, but all-time records for June.   In many ways, this is a continuation of the amazing warmth of the past year, one that resulted in a record low snowpack. 

Let's take a look at a comparison of the temperatures (yellow lines) on both sides of the Cascades (Sea Tac and Yakima) with the normal highs (red lines) and low (blue lines) for the past year.  You will see a very similar story at both locations.

Both sites have been much warmer with normal, with high temperatures exceeding the normal highs on most days.   It has been crazy warm during the past month, with many days 10-20F above normal. On only a few days did the low temps go below the normal low (with the prime exception occurring early last winter).    Although the warmth is most excessive during the last few weeks, we have been in this torrid state for a long time...and last summer was very warm as well.

So what is going on?   As I mentioned in some of my previous blogs, any reasonable analysis suggests the warmth is predominantly the result of natural variability.  That is, not being caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases.  I know some folks are not happy with me saying this, and some media/advocacy groups are pushing other things, but I think the facts are clear.  Let's talk about it.

Here is a thought to keep in mind:  the more extreme the weather anomaly, the less likely it is to be caused by human-induced (anthropogenic) global warming.   The current situation is mega extreme in terms of our temperatures.  The reason this aphorism makes sense is that global warming due to increased greenhouse gases should warm the earth in a progressive, slow way---not in huge jumps.   Here in the Northwest, temperature increases have been particularly slow (about 1F over the past century) because of the huge thermal inertia of the Pacific Ocean.

And there is something else: the warming influencing our region is localized and does not have the characteristics of the global warming signal seen in climate models.   While the Northwest has been hot and dry, much of the eastern U.S. has been much cooler and wetter than normal.   Even the Rockies have been wetter than normal.   Global warming would warm them as well.  This week I was at a weather conference in was quite chilly there at times.

What is actually going is an amplification of the upper level wave pattern.   Now, drop that at a cocktail party and folks will be impressed.   The upper level flow, where the jet stream is located, can undulate like a snake, with areas where it slithers northward (a ridge) and others where it projects southward (a trough).   During the past year,  we have been stuck in a startling persistent pattern with a ridge over the west and a trough over the east.

Here is the height pattern at 500 hPa pressure (about 18,000 ft) at 11 PM Tuesday.  Think of it like pressure, with the winds following the lines.  Ridge west, trough east.

 Or we can look at the height anomalies (differences from climatology for the past 30 days).  Yellow indicate higher heights than normal (ridging or high pressure).  Unusual ridging over the West Coast.

 Ridges are associated with sinking motion and warmth.  Sunny skies, less precipitation.

And something is amplifying the warmth even more....the Pacific Ocean.

The ridging over the eastern Pacific and West Coast has resulted in warmer than normal waters, something demonstrated in a recent paper by Nick Bond (WA State Climatologist) and others.  It seems like high pressure reduces winds and lessens the mixing of cooler water from below the surface.   Thus, the eastern Pacific has been 3-6F warmer than normal, which warms the air reaching our region.   To demonstrate this, here are the sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (difference from normal) for the past see the reds and orange colors off our coast?  The is warm water.  Nick Bond termed a colorful name for it:   the BLOB.
 The developing El Nino has also contributed to warm water off our coast.

Another way to put this year in perspective is to plot the temperatures over our state for the last 50 years.  Here is such a plot of the monthly  temperature anomalies (differences from a 30-year normal) for Washington through May 2015.   There is overall a weak upward trend over the last 50 years (part of which could be associated with global warming).   We are in a temperature spike and June's temperature anomaly would have been larger than May.   But a spike is much more suggestive of natural variability, not the progressive warming due to increasing greenhouse gases.  The larger the spike, the less likely it is due to greenhouse gas emissions by humans.

The bottom line is that there is no reason to expect that global warming would amplify the upper level wave pattern like this.  In fact, the latest research, including some done by one of my graduate students, Matt Brewer, strongly suggests the opposite.    Furthermore, a paper by Professor Dennis Hartmann of my department suggests the West Coast ridging can be traced to some warm water in the subtropics, associated with a mode of natural variability over the Pacific.

What we are going through IS very, very unusual.   But just because is unusual does not mean humans are behind it.

Will we cool down soon?  Probably not, our long-term computer models suggest a warm summer for the Northwest.  And a very strong El Nino is developing, which should warm us next winter.

At least your heating bills will be low.


Unknown said...

In your post, the map highlights that most of the world's oceans are warmer. The Arctic's warmer, Indian's warmer, Pacific's Warmer, Atlantic's warmer, Mediterranean's Warmer. The North Atlantic is the lone exception. Why couldn't the globally warmer oceans be a result of global warming? Why couldn't the North Pacific's exception warmth be a result of the increasing global ocean warmth? Why couldn't Seattle's warmth, going on 18 months now be a result of global warming?

David Barts said...

"The bottom line is that there is no reason to expect that global warming would amplify the upper level wave pattern like this."

I'm not so sure I can agree with that. There seem to be studies out there which do say that global warming can amplify Rossby waves and make them more stationary, such as the one referenced here:

David Appell said...

There is clear evidence that more temperature extremes are happening as the globe warms. The Economist published this chart just the other day:

Cliff Mass said...

The studies claiming that global warming could amplify Rossby waves have pretty much all been discredited. Simply not true. I have several blogs on this topic...cliff

rainier31 said...

Cliff......I am a very avid reader of your blog, but am not entirely sold on your analysis here. Numerous researchers have pinpointed a potential link between Arctic sea ice decline and more meandering and 'lazy' jetstream patterns. It seems that with the advent of a less intense jetstream, any type of weather pattern, be it a low or a high, tends to become stubborn and just 'stick around' for much longer. We saw this in the past few years in the PNW, when June became 'Juneuary' thanks to low pressure systems that just would not move on out of here. And now, when there is a high pressure ridge, it does the same thing. Why? Perhaps because the jetstream is weaker than usual, a condition that could very well have been precipitated by polar sea ice decline. And what's causing the sea ice decline? It's beyond a shadow of a doubt a manmade cause. It's a simple, yet complex, chain reaction that has been set in motion by excess greenhouse gases melting the arctic ice cap, which in turn puts the brakes on the jetstream, which then results in these totally anomalous entrenched and seemingly unmovable weather patterns. Once again, thanks very much for your awesome blog.

Cliff Mass said...

David Appell,
The fact we will have more warm extremes under global warming is true. But that is besides the point. This warm is event is very large and can not be explained by global warming (which is only very modest at this point). Furthermore, we have clear mechanisms for causing our regional warming. If you were on the East Coast you would be complaining about it being colder than normal. Is that global warming too?..cliff

Cliff Mass said...

The "lazy jetstream" hypothesis has been disproven. Really. I provide many references to peer reviewed articles about this in my previous blog. Plus, I have been doing the analysis myself (with PHD student Matt Brewer). The waves in the jet stream DEAMPLIFY under global warming...cliff

richard583 said...

.. Top of the bubble, as opposed to being more just "outside" of it. With significantly cooler air, if only more relatively, flanking the main warmer air high pressure. ?

The Drennans said...

Indeed--- our furnace has not been burning anything for weeks!

CheesyBeef said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason Jablonski said...

I guess the ending question is then: when will this trend end? As you state it will go into the winter, but past that? Is next spring and summer to be hot as well?

JewelyaZ said...

Come on, Cliff, I think the world of you but you are being disingenuous! When you ask us if we would consider cooler weather back east to be caused by global warming, I can "hear" you in my head as you corrected people ~18 months ago on this very site... it's "global climate CHANGE, not necessarily global climate WARMING."

Richard Gauder said...

The "lazy jetstream" hypothesis has been disproven." Are you telling me that the Arctic amplification work done by Dr. Jennifer Francis has been disproven? Here is a recent paper which reinforces rather than disproves. Please send evidence to the contrary. Much appreciated.

Fredrick Saupe said...

Your post has been linked on HackerNews

Seems that a lot of people take issue with your reasoning that the recent warm anomolies are not soley due to anthropological climate change, and it is irresponsible to claim as much. The added argument of cooler temperatures elsewhere isn't well received either. Maybe a blog post or a response on their thread would be worthwhile.

Mal Adapted said...

Cliff: "The fact we will have more warm extremes under global warming is true. But that is besides the point. This warm is event is very large and can not be explained by global warming (which is only very modest at this point)."

Amplifying David Appell's comment, I think your concept of causation is too narrow. While individual weather events occur within a range of probability that's set by specific regional patterns, that probability range is influenced by global climate. Tamino has compared the distribution of temperature anomalies prior to 1980, to those since 2000. His results make it clear that while mean annual high temperatures are only slightly higher now, the frequency of extreme events, above 2-sigma and especially above 3-sigma, is much higher. IOW, it's not that the current heat wave in the PNW was directly "caused" by anthropogenic global warming, but that AGW has made it much more likely to occur.

Just as an individual death from lung cancer can't be proven to have been caused by the deceased's cigarette habit, individual extreme high temperature events can't be directly attributed AGW. Regardless, the statistical argument was good enough that tobacco companies were forced to pay billions to their victims. With that in mind, it shouldn't surprise us that proposals for a carbon price are gaining support from fossil-fuel companies hoping to avoid the same fate.

Cliff Mass said...

Richard Gauder,
Yes...the Francis hypothesis has been disproven. That is quite clear..cliff

Cliff Mass said...

I don't understand your point. Global warming has expected signatures (changes if you like) as suggested by climate models
This event does not fit the expectations...cliff.

Cliff Mass said...

Mal Adapted,
You are only partially right. It is certainly true that global warming will tend to shift the distribution of temperature variability, so that one is much more likely to beat previous records. Certainly true. But magnitude counts. This event is MUCH larger than the shift of the probability distribution. To put it another way, the 1-degree shift of the probability distribution does not explain a 10-20F anomaly. Yes, perhaps a degree of it is associated with human-induced global warming. But with or without increasing greenhouse gases there would have been a huge heat wave.

Think of the Fukashima disaster. Global warming induced eea level rise contributed slightly, but with the tsunami disaster would have happened anyway...clif

LadyHawke said...

You are saying that climate change is a slow linear progression while everything I've read is that climate can be a chaotic system, and can jump states quickly, sometimes on the order of decades. Please explain why anthropomorphic CO2 emissions will cause a gradual linear change while natural emmisions in the past caused chaotic changes, especially when anthro emmisions are building up faster than any previous natural emmisions.
You also seem to imply that climate change will bring completely unnatural variation, and again, everything that I've read is that during rapid climate shift, the natural variation gets amplified until a new state is reached. This certainly seems to be amplified natural variability, as opposed to the "old normal".

David Appell said...

Cliff wrote:
"This warm is event is very large and can not be explained by global warming (which is only very modest at this point). Furthermore, we have clear mechanisms for causing our regional warming. If you were on the East Coast you would be complaining about it being colder than normal. Is that global warming too?"

The relevant East Coast question is, are their cold spells getting warmer? Less frequent? Are they affected by any forced changes, say, in the jet stream?

Regional fluctuations are always going to have meterological underpinnings -- your "clear mechanisms." Natural variability still exists in a warming world, but there is more energy in the system. That energy means fluctuations can be warmer, and others less cold. Hence you get results like this -- more record highs than record lows:

Ed Sobey said...

What is the source of your 500 hPa pressure chart? Thanks. Ed

Cliff Mass said...

Ed Sobey...the 500 hpa map is from my department webstie:
David Appel: you just can't hand wave this "more energy in the system" It is much more complicated than that. We have climate models and theoretical expectations based on a knowledge of the climate system that provide predictions of what additional greenhouse gases will do. This event does not fit. The statistics are all wrong too.

Lady Hawk: climate models do not suggest sharp radical shifts in climate as greenhouse gases increase. Some folks suggested that early on, but that climate community does not expect that to happen. The movie, dav after tomorrow, pushed such ideas...cliff

Cristian Petrescu-Prahova said...

Cliff, thanks for your continuous effort to communicate climate research to the general public. I agree, magnitude counts. Feed the Pacific Ocean with enough heat to grow the temperature uniformly by 1 degree, then have that extra energy concentrate in one blob for whatever reasons. The heat in the blob will be off by the ratio of blob area to Pacific area. Looking at figure 5, Pacific is big, the blob is relatively small, the extra heat caused by global warming could be a reasonable explanation for the exceptional magnitude of the temperature anomaly of the current event.

It's like the Fukushima tsunami, only with a small additional mass displacement occurring continuously from North Pacific to South Pacific and funneled by a natural resonance chamber into the ill-fated city of Fukushima.

Karl Fredrickson said...

Dear Cliff, thanks for the great blog as always. I think the point of Mal Adapted, and Tamino's graph, is that if we assume weather events have a bell curve type distribution, even a small shift upwards in the average temperature makes extreme heat events far more likely than they were before. The average temperature might only go up by a degree or so, but we see a dramatic increase in the relative likelihood of getting something extreme like 10 degrees above normal. (This is because of the nature of the shape of bell curves... assuming that the standard deviation remains the same, even a small shift to the right will make values at the tail end of the curve jump to many times their previous value.) So while it wouldn't be possible to pin a single summer like this on global warming, if we get summers like this 2x or 3x more than before (or whatever the exact number would be), that would be consistent with global warming even if average temperatures only go up a couple degrees. I think it's pretty well documented now that globally, we're seeing far more heat records broken than cold records. For example: Since 2010, 45 nations or territories (out of a total of 235) have set or tied all-time heat records, and four have set all-time cold temperature records (source

Ed Sobey said...


Michael Fagin said...

Great job Cliff!!

Andrew Lincicome said...

If the Arctic is warming, then why is the sea ice extent considerably recovering right now?

Muchas G said...

I'm happy that Cliff finally agrees that some percent of this heat wave is likely due to emissions. Five years from now we'll have the data to prove it even further. I saw a headline today about how now they're scientifically certain Europe's heat waves are emissions driven. Likewise, we couldn't make that claim 5 years ago.

Time to start thinking outside of the box a little more though Cliff, or when we look back you'll have been the only one left outside in the cold.

p.s. I wonder what Steve Pool has to say about all this....?

John Bower said...

My only issue with what you write about this being a natural anomaly and not being influenced by climate change is that it is presumptuous to think we understand what the mechanisms involved in climate change will be, and how they will play out in terms of weather dynamics. In many sciences early predictions about how mechanisms work are often wildly wrong. Think medical related sciences for instance where we regularly identify a phenomenon such as cancer and even learn how to treat it before we fully understand the mechanisms behind the cancer. Scientists have only been studying climate change for about 30 years - in fact, I remember an environmental science class in the 1980's where our reading consisted of one paper predicting global warming and one paper predicting global cooling, and the meteorologist who visited that class admitted that there was no good consensus over whether the earth would warm or cool.

Being a scientist myself, I have also seen many a good and respected scientist passionately and even convincingly defended a position only to be proven wrong in the future. So, the reality is that maybe fifty years from now we will know whether this year is a result of natural variability or human induced climate change. Until then, the scientifically prudent position is to be a little less certain about your stance on this issue.

David Appell said...

Andrew Lincicome,

1) Arctic sea ice extent isn't going to set a record every year -- natural variability still exists. The deep minimum in 2012 might not be surpassed for many years....

2) According to UAH v6.0beta data for the NoPol lower troposphere, it's actually cooled by 0.02 C there in the last 10 years. 10 years ago the warming was over 0.5 C in 10 years.....

David Appell said...

John Bower wrote:
"So, the reality is that maybe fifty years from now we will know whether this year is a result of natural variability or human induced climate change. Until then, the scientifically prudent position is to be a little less certain about your stance on this issue."

What's scientifically prudent is not necessarly environmentally prudent or policy prudent. Waiting around another 50 years to analyze today's heat wave could mean the heat waves then will be all that much worse, and policies that are 50 years too late. As Stephen Schneider often pointed out, we will have to make policy decisions about climate change in the face of considerable uncertainty....

Cliff Mass said...

David...we don't have to wait 50 years to know whether this year is natural variability. There is science and modeling that give us great insights. Should we turn our back on all this information? And you might know I worked with Steve Schneider and wrote several papers with him He would support me now..cliff

David Appell said...

"There is science and modeling that give us great insights."

I agree. But their ability to attribute specific events is weak, and may never get much better -- there simply isn't enough computing power to definitely attribute the NW heat wave to natural variability alone or NV+AGW or AGW alone, i.e. to know if this event would have occurred in a world that wasn't perturbed by AGW. It's *influenced* by AGW, but we simply don't whether it would have occurred without AGW, or not.

It's pretty easy to show that for a normal distribution, the probability of an event at temperature T increases exponentially with the change in the background temperature. (See the Tamino graph referenced above.)

Ray Smith said...

Just as you can't convince climate change "skeptics" that it exists, neither can you convince climate change "believers" that it doesn't result in weather like we are seeing currently. i just saw some research that showed that paper authors routinely "hype" their results in press releases which the media picks up and headline writers amplify it more. Anyone who believes what the media presents without skepticism is a fool IMHO.

JewelyaZ said...

I appreciate all the discussion. The science is beyond my grasp (well, enough of it to keep me from reading all the papers all the way through, and really understanding them). What IS clear to me, though it's not the point of Cliff's blog, is that we all have to work to influence policy makers and corporations to change fuel habits. My buying green power and driving an electric car are good things but they are two buckets of water in a tidal wave... fossil fuel consumption has to be massively reduced across the board and we need to stop pulling it out of the ground. (Does fracking remind anyone else of a lung cancer patient smoking a cigarette through a tracheotomy?) SMH

It's also obvious that stopping global warming in its tracks is likely impossible now. Maybe, if we're lucky AND make many drastic changes in how we do things, how India and China do things, and in our global consumption habits, we can reduce the impacts, but 2070 looks pretty hot and bleak to me.

Theo Haugen said...

There are an awful lot of stories about icy places melting: Greenland, Antarctica, the Arctic Ocean, glaciers in Alaska and Montana. Lots of news sources suggest that global warming is the cause of the melting. Are they correct? There also seems to be a lot of really hot weather in various places. Is none of that hot weather due to global warming?

caveat emptor said...

At some level every single weather event is "natural variability".

Dry today, raining tomorrow - that's natural variability. Warm winter, cold winter - more natural variability.

At the same time climate change has already moved the envelope within which the natural variability occurs. That's why we see so many more record high than record low temperatures globally.

Tom Butler said...

Cliff if this is due to natural variability what is the statistical probability of 18 months of these above average temperatures in a row based on historical records? If they continue for another 6 months? 12 months?

tabitha206 said...

Let's talk about disingenuous.

I don't own a car, haven't flown in a decade, and purposely live in a space the size of a closet so I can walk to work. I inconvenience myself for the environment way more than most.

Yet what do I see everyday?

Drivers and airline patrons wringing their hands over Climate Change.

Fine, I'm convinced. You’ve all convinced me that manmade climate change is the cause of everything that is happening around me. Got it. Now log off, have your car compacted to scrap metal, cancel your vacations, and sell your houses to people who work nearby (or level them if there are no jobs within walking distance).

We believe you. You're ruining the planet. What do you think should be done to you?

Should you pay a fine? Be banished? Is prison too extreme? Or, as I suspect, is it someone else's fault?

That's what we're talking about, isn't it? Other people. The thems and the theys. It's always the other guy who isn't doing enough, right? Even though some of them … some of us are doing way, way more than you are.

Do you think people like Cliff are the reason that Climate Change skeptics exist?

No. People like Cliff are the reason that Climate Change skeptics are converted to Climate Change believers. For once, they see someone attempting to be intellectually honest about the issue. Cliff is one of the few people in this country that garners respect from both sides of the issue. Since Cliff doesn’t call everything Climate Change, when he finally does call something Climate Change, people will listen.

I own Cliff’s book, and he has an entire chapter devoted to the dangers of Climate Change. He’s hardly a non-believer.

Want to know what creates more and more skeptics? “Do as I say, not as I do” nonesense that we see each and every day from the Climate Change proponents. Humans have a natural aversion to that. Knee-jerk reactions, and the ascribing of everything and anything to Climate Change. People criss-crossing the planet in private jets to warn of the evils of Climate Change.

Those things create Climate Change skeptics by the ton. It’s the very thing that turned me away from passionate environmentalism.

The rest of you are so worried about what other people think, instead of what you yourself do, that it's turned millions off to the notion of man made climate change. It’s always the other guy who doesn’t fret enough about the issues of the day. Always. You’ve never, ever, not once, heard anyone say, “sure, I could criticize those other people, but since I could do far more myself to fix the problem, I’m not going to."

Oh no. No no. Not in 2015. These days, it’s full-bore finger-wag from jump street. “Rev up the outrage machine, Ethel, I’m takin' 'er for a spin!"

Why do we do this?

Because it makes us forget that we are the problem. Not the other guy, but us. These days, worrying about Climate Change is more of an ego trip than concern about the planet, and people are burned out from all the extreme hypocrisy.

The affluent are far more responsible for climate change than are the poor or the working-class. The people decrying Climate Change are the ones most responsible for it. If they, and they alone, did everything they could to remedy it, it would go a long way toward fixing the problem.

This being the case, why do they care so much about who else believes in it? Why don’t they stop trying to convince others, and instead, put all of that effort into making the dramatic life adjustments it will take to remedy Climate Change, assuming it’s even possible to remedy at this point?

We all know the answer to that question.

So, don’t blame Cliff for the number of Climate Change skeptics. That’s all on us.

Some of us more than others.

cre8ton said...

Have you seen the Paleo map project on there is a great Climate section that shows how our planet is usually much warmer that we've been experiencing. Humans happened during an unusual ice age on this planet. Using their temperature graph one may predict a return to much warmer temps than we are used to.

David Young said...

Cliff, Just wanted to point out that the official record at Sea Tac you are using is very short even for Washington State, going back only 30-40 years or so. One would presumably have to use Seattle downtown records to see how this heat wave compares with previous ones. Even then, the record would be relatively short I suspect and I'm sure there are big adjustments required for UHI etc. as the city grew so dramatically.

Mark said...

Hi Cliff,

All I can say for certain is when NOAA reports the mean global temperature for June, 2015 that number might be the highest of record of any previous June. The above normal June temperatures reported from Seattle will contribute to the global record regardless if it's determined to be the result of global warming or natural variability.

What I understand from Cliff's blog is rising global mean temperature is the result of global warming not natural variability. However, record regional temperature anomalies are the result of natural variability not global warming. It seems like a contradiction.

A simple example: a 30 foot sea swell in 1970 does not over-top a sea wall. But a 30 foot sea swell in 2070 does over-top the same sea wall because the mean sea level is higher.

Natural variability atop a rising global mean temperature is going to produce record heat.

I don't believe sensible temperature is as simple as the sea swell example. That is, a global increase of 1.0 C is not going to make every temperature on the planet exactly 1.0 C warmer every hour of the day. Some regions could be +5 C while an equal area might be -4 C.

Apparently, atmospheric physicists don't have the tools or techniques required to parse a record warm event into its natural variability and anthropogenic warming parts. It's either one or the other but not both.

One of my science heroes is Dr. Alfred Wegener. In 1915 he published, "The Origin of Continents and Oceans" where he proposed the theory of "Continental Drift". He based his theory on observations and reason. For a couple decades his theory was discredited by many geologists. Today we call Wegener's Continental Drift, "Plate Tectonics". Simple observation and reason are powerful tools too.

Tony said...

Thanks, Cliff, for always writing honest commentaries!

John Marshall said...

I really enjoyed Tabita206's post. I've been on-board with the likelihood of anthropogenic climate change since I first read up on it, a long time ago. But given the almost religious desire by activists and true believers to blame everything in weather trends on climate change, I often paradoxically find myself arguing against climate change, at least as regards to specific phenomena. Very uncomfortably.

Belief and certainty belong in church. Skepticism is a far more useful tool when searching for truth.

Justin said...

Cliff, keep up the good fight. I am amazed at the individual attention that you give different responses. People act as if they know more because they read stuff on the internet than someone who has spent an entire lifetime studying weather and has access to reliable data and things we don't even know about. Google has made us all meteorologists. Thank you.

Gary Gehling said...

Right on tabby

JP said...

Thank you Cliff for being a breath of very cool, fresh air.

Cliff is explaining climate science, untainted by popular politics.

I am hot today however. (I say this knowing Seattle used to be under a mile of ice..)

M&M said...


When are we going to have normal temperatures?

Fred Rogers said...

I'm not quite sure what the factual basis of your statement that "the more extreme the weather anomaly, the less likely it is to be caused by human-induced (anthropogenic) global warming" is. Here's the way I'm thinking about it: suppose you look at temperature from a probabilistic point of view, and you assume that temperature variation is normally distributed for a given date around some mean value with some standard deviation. If you then shift that mean by a small amount, if you do the math you will see that the ratio of the probability of an extreme event with climate change to the probability of an extreme event without climate change increases as the deviation from the mean increases.

Have you seen Gavin Schmitt's response to this (@ClimateOfGavin on Twitter)? It's not much different from what I'm saying here.

Cliff Mass said...

I am afraid that you and some others are missing a key point here. Yes, if you pick a specific threshold, by shifting the distribution you will increase the number of events exceeding that threshold. No doubt about it. But that is not the issue here. The distribution is shifting only slightly at this point and then we get a very, very usual event of unprecndented magnitude whose basic physical nature is extremely different from what we expect from global climate change. Furthermore, it is an event that we can explain with a mode of natural variability. To go back to the Fukashima analog, global warming made it slightly worse (higher sea level) but this event would have been terrible without it....cliff

Cliff Mass said...

David...that is not correct. Sea Tac goes back to 1948--over 65 years. If you can back farther, one finds another period of warmth in the 1930s...cliff

Bill Wise said...

Cliff, I can only hope your fact-based analysis that "this incredibly warm winter, spring and now summer is not anthropogenic" is correct. And when it comes to next summer and the summer after that and we are looking at even further depleted reservoirs, will we then we say... not human caused? (Or more subtlely, we don't have the reserach in place or are lacking funds to do the research) Well, whatever. We will be losing our salmon and our resident orcas, our water supplies, our BPA power... and all due to an anomoly that we should consider "just normal".

Sorry doesn't pass the "sniff test" (i.e. an unscientific sampling)

Dalton said...

I think the issue some folks have is that you come off a bit too strong on asserting that this weather has nothing to do with global climate change. Absent another planet, identical in every respect to ours, except the "control planet" has carbon dioxide levels that are what they would be without humans, you simply can't conclude that there is absolutely no effect or influence from the greenhouse effect. Of course, nor can you conclude that this weather is caused by climate change. I think in your comments you've done a better job of saying that the climate change effect is probably a minor contributor.

You and others keep talking about climate change as a shift in the mean temperature. Is there any evidence or model that suggests that climate change will also alter the variability of weather phenomenon? Are extremes on either end just as likely as without climate change?

Fred Rogers said...

It's not that you just increase the number of events -- the probability p of a given extreme event in the warmer regime increases more rapidly than p in the pre-warming regime as the extremity of the event increases. For example, if you assume an increase in surface temperature of 0.6C, and that the standard deviation of the normally distributed temp anomaly in Seattle is about 3.7C (which is what I calculate), then a 5C event (relative to the cooler regime mean) is 30% more likely in the warm regime than the cooler regime. A 10C event, however, is 60% more likely in the warm regime. So, the non-linearity of the distribution causes extreme events to increase more rapidly then one might expect at first glance. This is the opposite of what you claimed: that extreme events are less likely to be caused by anthropogenic warming.

One final point: since extreme events are probabilistic in nature, you can never say, for a given event, whether it was man-made or not. It's like rolling a 7 with a pair of loaded dice; all you can say is that the 7 was more likely because the dice were not fair, not that the loaded dice "caused" the 7. So for anyone to state that the heat wave was or wasn't generated by human activity is nonsense. But I think there's a good case that greenhouse gases made it much more likely.

Cliff Mass said...

Folks...getting too many comments to reply to. But most of them are quite similar saying they believe this summer is the result of anthropogenic global warming. I believe the commenters do not understand that atmospheric scientists DO have tools to allow us to separate the human-caused global warming signal from natural variability. They do not understand the power of climate models and simulation. And then don't understand the statistical issues regarding climate change. They mean well and are worried. But facts and science are important and this very anomalous year is predominantly the result of natural variability. It does provide an idea what conditions expected later in the century will be like..cliff

Scholastor said...

Hi Cliff,

Happy 4th to you, and thanks for your analysis.

What is causing the amplification of the upper level wave pattern?

And also, what's the best place to look for a forecast for the remainder of the summer?



Rrrnay said...

Cliff, Thanks for taking the time to answer everyone. Hope you have time for just one more. Any ideas when we might see some rain?

Mal Adapted said...

Thanks to Karl Fredericksen for his amplification of Tamino's statistical argument. I'm sufficiently DK-aware not to claim expertise in climate statistics myself, but Cliff's understanding of their role in attribution of extreme weather events is at odds with that of recognized experts like Tamino (whose peer-reviewed publications are under his real name, Grant Foster). In any case debates like this one aren't resolved on blogs but in refereed scientific venues (see for example

JewelyaZ and tabitha206 raise the appropriate topic of our shared personal responsibility for AGW. tabitha206 says "I don't own a car, haven't flown in a decade, and purposely live in a space the size of a closet so I can walk to work. I inconvenience myself for the environment way more than most." That's admirable, but individual efforts like hers won't be enough, because AGW is a tragedy of the commons: as long as the costs of climate change aren't included in the prices we pay for energy from fossil fuels*, "greenhouse" gases will accumulate in the atmosphere. Collective action of some kind (I favor Hansen-style "fee", i.e. tax, and dividend proposals, myself) is required to internalize climate-change costs in energy prices, so that market forces can drive the transition to alternatives. We should all do what we can to reduce our personal carbon footprints, but we should also be calling for carbon-pricing legislation. That's how I'm directing my own efforts currently.

* Other greenhouse-forcing sources like cement making and beef production shouldn't be ignored, but they're minor compared to fossil fuels.

Cliff Mass said...

Mal Adapted,
Grant Foster (aka Tamino) is NOT an atmospheric scientist. He blogs about climate, but he clearly does not have a substantial knowledge of atmospheric circulation and modeling. That is a big part of the problem...folks that think they know much more than they do. I agree with you that we need to deal with anthropogenic climate change, but I think it is important to stick to the best science, rather than hype natural variability...cliff

Mal Adapted said...

Cliff: "Grant Foster (aka Tamino) is NOT an atmospheric scientist. He blogs about climate, but he clearly does not have a substantial knowledge of atmospheric circulation and modeling. That is a big part of the problem...folks that think they know much more than they do."

Hmm, to avoid the Dunning-Kruger effect, a non-expert needs to recognize genuine expertise in others. Foster considers himself a statistician first and foremost, but as such he has contributed to multiple refereed publications in climate-related journals, several of which have been cited repeatedly by later authors. He meets my criteria for a climate-statistics expert, but YMMV as we said on the old Usenet. Ultimately, though, expertise is conferred by the peer community of experts, and my understanding is that your opinion of Foster is on the low side within that community.

Thankfully, you and I need not settle the question.

Theo Haugen said...

My mother, now age 93, told me, a few years ago, about going to a summer camp on Whidbey Island when she was a girl and how terribly hot it was. This was probably during the warm period in the 1930s that Cliff mentioned in his comment above. She still remembered that heat at least seventy years later. At this remove we can be pretty sure it was just natural variability. I always remember this whenever I encounter what seems like unusual heat on my visits to Washington.

Lori said...


David Stage said...

What about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation? Hasn't it recently shifted from negative to positive? Couldn't that, together with El Nino, account for much of the extreme warming in the Pacific NW?

David Appell said...

Dalton wrote:
"Are extremes on either end just as likely as without climate change?"

I put up a blog post with a little calculation showing the probability of a certain temperature extreme increases exponentially with the difference in background temperatures:

It only assumes that temperatures are normally distributed about the background temperaure.

Cliff Mass said...

You are entirely missing the point. Let me explain in more detail. OF COURSE, as the earth warms you will get more extremes. That is obvious. But the larger the extreme (and we are in a very large one now), the smaller is the contribution of global warming induced by humans. In other words, without global warming we would STILL HAVE a heat wave and fires today.

The Northwest has warmed about 1 F over the past 80 years. Let's assume that is ALL due to human influence (it probably isn't, but lets assume so). Western WA has been 8-15F above normal the past week or so. Eastern WA 10-20F above normal. Take away the 1 F warming due to global warming. YOU STILL HAVE A MAJOR HEAT WAVE WITH VIRTUALLY THE SAME IMPACTS.

So the aphorism is quite correct...and I am not the only climate scientist saying this....for example, Martin Hoerling of NOAA ESRL has said the same thing.


Tom Butler said...

Cliff could you comment on the paper just published in Nature:

Contribution of changes in atmospheric circulation patterns to extreme temperature trends

Daniel E. Horton, Nathaniel C. Johnson, Deepti Singh, Daniel L. Swain, Bala Rajaratnam & Noah S. Diffenbaugh

Nature 522,465–46 (25 June 2015)

Karl Fredrickson said...

I understand Cliff's argument.. if we treat global warming as simply adding a base warming of 1F to normal weather patterns, then any heat wave we have like this would still have occurred, just 1F lower. The extra 1F does make it a lot easier to break previous records, but it would still be a very uncomfortable heat wave, and would require some unusual weather pattern in addition to just the base 1F warming.

I'm not really convinced that anyone knows enough at this point to say that the jet stream pattern, and the related warm-water blob, is or is not due to global warming. It certainly seems like it could be related to the steep declines in arctic sea ice, which is worrisome.

Cliff Mass said...

You are simply incorrect about this...let me take it one level further. Non-linearities can go either way: they can increase OR decrease the signal from an input. There is no need to speculate about the feedbacks here in the NW...we have many model simulation, which I assume you have not examined. These runs do NOT suggest a positive feedback from the non-linearities, in fact JUST THE OPPOSITE. The warming is moderated in our region by the there is key effect, lessening the warming compared to other locations. So speculating about some unknown feedbacks that will cause our summers to warm if not helpful, when our simulations suggest that reality is far different. There are other negative feedbacks for our area and in fact I have a student working on this exact issue, so we have thought about it quite deeply...cliff

ga said...

Any idea what the record is for the number of consecutive days above 90 degress is for Seattle? Seems like we've had a long hot spell than usual.

Fred Rogers said...

So what precisely is wrong with the statistical issues mentioned by David, Tamino, and me? It's a really simple argument: if the temperature is normally distributed and the mean is shifted without changing the standard deviation, then the likelihood of extreme events in the warmer regime increases faster than the likelihood of the same event in the cooler regime. This is just a statistical fact. Now, if the models show that the distribution of temperature changes substantially (i.e. standard deviation changes with warming, or that the distribution is something far removed from a normal distribution), then that changes the argument. But I haven't seen that here.

And, BTW, Hartmann's paper is agnostic as to whether climate change has driven 500mb/SST anomalies in the NE Pacific. And there do seem to be differing opinion on the issue as related to the California drought: Hartmann cites Wang in 2014 GRL that finds a anthropogenic basis while Seager finds otherwise. So, at the very least, the issue is still up for debate and not quite as clear cut as described here in your blog.

Fred Rogers said...


I believe the record is 5 days (at Seatac), starting 8/7/81. We're at 4 after today, and it looks like we will certainly tie the record and most likely break it after Monday, if the forecasts pan out.

argolouse said...

What about the 'Blob' in the Pacific Ocean?

Cliff Mass said...

Fred Rogers
I will tell you precisely what is wrong. You are thinking about frequency and not magnitude. If you assume a gaussian distribution (PDF), consider a specific threshold, and then shift the mean of the distribution, you will get much higher frequency of events exceeding that threshold, particularly if it on the extreme end. No doubt about it. But that is really not the issue. The issue is how MUCH of a specific extreme event is caused by human emissions. That is an entirely different question...that is the one I am dealing with. And the truth is that very little of the current event is caused by additional greenhouse was almost entirely natural. So PLEASE think about magnitude and not frequency above a threshold and you will understand what I am trying to say...cliff

Karl Fredrickson said...

@ Fred Rogers: what you are saying and what Cliff is saying are not inconsistent. The bell curve argument is true, but assuming the base warming is 1F, any +10 degree events would still have to come from +9 degree events. The reason the likelihood increases so much is just that with a bell curve distribution, probabilities decrease so fast at the tail end that a +9 degree event is a lot likelier than a +10 degree event. (Of course the actual numbers all depend on what the standard deviation is.)

Cliff Mass said...

You are simply incorrect on a number of levels. Let me explain. First, I am not saying the atmosphere is is not. You and others were claiming that the probability distribution is simply moving over, thus producing more extremes. That is essentially a linear argument.

I use GCM output and run regional climate models. Highly nonlinear models. They do not show an amplification of GW over the region compared to global temp change. Why? The Pacific warms more slowly than land. You like non-linearities? Fine. They are major ones that produce cooling over the coastal region. As the continent warms up, pressure falls, sucking more cool air and low clouds into the region. High resolution regional climate models HAVE all the nonlinearities you like.

So the bottom line is clear. Based on highly nonlinear, high resolution, complex climate models it is clear that this summer could not be the result of greenhouse gas forcing but natural variability.


David Appell said...

Cliff: In your linear conceptions of heat waves, the world should be having just as many as 100 years ago, but they are all warmer by 1 C.

But that's not what the data show -- they show that the world is having more heat waves, that the number and duration of heat waves worldwide has increased.

This is proof the situation is not linear.

Mal Adapted said...

Cliff and Tamino may actually be in vehement agreement. The Nature Climate Change article I cited yesterday at 8:09 provides more context for Cliff's argument. The issue seems to be just how global probabilities can be used in the attribution of regional events:

"The study of Fischer and Knutti [on the increased probability of extreme weather events globally] does not directly address the attribution question asked by individuals facing the brunt of a specific damaging storm or heatwave. While the authors do provide maps of how probabilities of extreme temperatures and precipitation have changed across the globe, the framework they use means that such probabilities cannot be applied to specific individual extreme weather events. The effects of natural and human-induced climate change can vary from place to place and from year to year, increasing or decreasing the FAR ["fraction of attributable risk"] relative to the averaged global numbers calculated in this study. Further work is therefore needed to refine regional estimates and to unpick the effects of anthropogenic influences on climate from natural influences, such as changes in solar output and internal variations in the climate system (the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, for example).

verdeviewer said...

I looked at temperature records for Bellingham, Chelan, Chief Joseph Dam, LaCrosse, Saint John, Spokane, Wenatchee, and Yakima. Despite the spike in average temperatures in 2014, only Yakima's was a record high. And the trend of extreme yearly maximums over the last decade is downward for all but Yakima.

Here are the all-time record high temperatures for these stations (°F), and the year(s) they occurred:

Bellingham, 96°, 2009
Chelan, 105°, 1977, 1998, 2003
Chief Joseph Dam, 110°, 1994, 1998
LaCrosse, 113°, 1961
Saint John, 107, 1994
Spokane, 108°, 1928, 1961
Wenatchee, 110°, 1941
Yakima, 110°, 1971

The 100+ year records for Spokane and LaCrosse show warmer averages in the 1920s and 30s.

I see no dire trend here. Isn't it odd that more records aren't being broken?

Cliff Mass said...

You got this all wrong...sorry. First, there are more heavy waves and this WOULD be true in a linear world. If the natural variability remains the same and you warm the world, there will be more events exceeding any threshold...thus MORE heat waves. The world is nonlinear. The atmosphere is non-linear. I love non-linearities. I can name a dozen on both sides of the fence...positive and negative. But the non-linearities do not always amplify the signal in a certain this case, the pacific northwest...and that is the case, as shown by climate models. This is what the best science we have shows.

I think we should probably end this exchange....I think our viewpoints are clear..cliff

Tom Butler said...

I really enjoy your blog and applaud your attempt to communicate issues like this with people like me who have a superficial understanding of climate. That being said and with all due respect it would appear that there are climate scientists who think that recent increases in extreme temperature events are due to anthropogenic causes:
Anthropogenic Contribution to Global Occurrence of Heavy Precipitation and High Temperature Extremes, Nature Climate Change 27 April 2015.
I'm not qualified to judge either position but it is confusing to me that there is such basic disagreement with both positions citing climate models as confirmation. I had thought that climate models were converging not diverging?

Michael said...

I am curious as to what extent geoengineering has had on the weather here in the NW this year; specifically, the release of stratospheric aerosols coupled with the heating of the ionosphere.

Laura Dean said...

I'm impressed with your patience and ability to address all of these questions and comments. Thank you!

Robert M Blevins said...

Hello Cliff,
Two quick points here. Could the ocean be warming because of the melting of the ice caps? Second, are you worried for the North Atlantic Current? I have read reports indicating dire results for weather on the East Coast and in Western Europe should it stop running.

Sincerely, Robert

Meerkat said...

Let's call it "unnatural variability" and then we can agree. Repeat it like a broken record: "unnatural." Our climate has indeed changed measurably, caused by greenhouse gas pollution and actions such as cutting down vast forests. Of course weather varies... this variability is integral to measures of climate. Just don't call it "natural" anymore -- it's really not. Translating the mathematics to common language should be clear and kept free of fallacy.

ccolose said...

Mal Adapted,

Sorry, but I cannot see how Tamino would agree with the logic of the bolded statement, because it's wrong or at best not a useful framing. A corollary to Cliff’s sweeping bolded statement– suppose we retain some fixed climatology (e.g., 1951-80) and remain in the fixed distribution limit at your favorite geographic location, such that the probability of exceeding some (positive) threshold temperature anomaly increases. Then, according to Cliff’s argument, less and less anomalous events are being “caused” by the changing climate…

On the issue of magnitude vs. threshold frequency-

Obviously any 3-sigma event is caused by some interesting synoptic setup. Any framing of extreme events that requires Earth to enter an Eocene hothouse climate (some 50 million years ago) for the shift in mean to be comparable to the (historical) 2-3 sigma anomaly is simply not useful, and really leads to obvious absurdities when attempting to make contact with what people care about.

-- Chris Colose

Stephan Michaels' Rant said...


Isn't this essentially the same climate denying rationale you employed when you discounted the Seattle Times multimedia series"Sea Change", which delved into the acidification of Pacific Northwest waters? A masterfully researched and reported story that garnered many honors, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for best multimedia reporting. The Columbia Journalism School praised, “This far-reaching and illuminating report skillfully integrates video, slideshows, graphics and text to explore a rarely discussed consequence of global warming — the acidification of the ocean."

Yet, then as again now, you essentially asserted that the problem was actually more "the result of natural variability" — overshadowing any human-caused emissions.

This paper published in the journal Science on Friday would suggest that you were wrong in your critique then. —

Leads one to view your current statements about warming in the PNW with a measure of skepticism.

harkin said...

Tabita - Absolutely LOVED your post in regards to the "do as I say, not as I do" crowd. That so many of the AGW Chicken Littles continue to maintain an energy budget equal to multiple familes or a medium size business

I just read an opinion piece in The Nation where they recommend that all presidential candidates decline to accept political donations from petrochemical sources. Right alongside this piece is an ad for tickets to The Nation Cruise featuring a mega ocean liner. I am assuming that this floating hotel/amusement park/spa is NOT sail or solar-powered.

While I applaud your efforts to minimize your carbon footprint, I think you are ignoring the main point of the AGW crowd, to seize and control wealth and distribute it as they see fit (aka to political allies). Science has very little to do with it.

David Appell said...


The solution to climate change is not living in tents. It's generating the energy we need in ways that do not emit carbon.

In today's society one has little choice about energy usage -- fossil fuels are baked into the infrastructure that powers society. That's what needs to change.

Even if you don't own a car or fly much, you are still using large amounts of fossil fuels -- for heating, for A/C, for lighting, for your work place, for the vehicles you do use for transportation, for the products you buy (those travel on airplanes, ships and trucks), and more.

You're fortunate, because not everyone can afford to live in a city where they can walk to work -- that unfortunately isn't how our cities are built. But as an urbanite, you, like almost all of us, can't grow your own food, and it takes power to grow, transport and sell them to you.

Two weeks ago I calculated that my carbon footprint was 64% of the average American's. ( ). I live a fairly simple life -- almost all my power comes from hydro or wind, I buy 100% green offsets for the rest of it (avg cost: $2.20/month) and $5/month towards construction of 500 kWh/month of clean power. (I used an average of 286 kWh/month in the past 12 months.) I drove 5,970 miles in the last 12 months, at an average of 27 mpg. [Several years ago I lived in a city for a few years, but it became too expensive for me, and I didn't like the noise.) I work at home. I flew once last year, for work to a conference, which emitted 0.35 tons of CO2. I rent, so don't have many options about installing solar, and I can't afford a hybird or electric car. I didn't go on a vacation last year, but will this year, driving a round-trip of 210 miles with four other people. My trash is about 3-1 recycling vs trash bags, by volume.

Americans -- all of them -- are the world's energy hogs. The real environmentalists of the world are the poor, who desperately need more energy.

There simply aren't many other options to reduce individual carbon footprints in today's US. That's why we need systemic change.


scrubjay93 said...

"There simply aren't many other options to reduce individual carbon footprints in today's US."

The best option of all has not been brought up--don't reproduce. If you do reproduce, all the sacrifices you make to reduce your carbon footprint are for naught. Having a child doesn't just double your footprint. That child and all of its descendants may also reproduce. "The single child adds from 136 (Nigeria) to 470 (U.S.)
person years to the ancestor’s legacy."

Cliff Mass said...

Stephen's Rant,
Climate denying rationale? Come on...that is nonsense. The ocean acidification hype is very similar...very small human signal compared to large natural variability. The experts (e.g., Washington State Dept of Natural Resources, Department of Ecology) agreed with me. I talked to the experts...they could find no fault with my technical analysis. Awards on multi-media reporting mean nothing...these are not scientists. But fluffy, media-heavy stories that are PC get awards. That means nothing...facts mean everything...cliff

tabitha206 said...


Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, it was somewhat expected.

First, you rationalized your own polluting, going so far as saying that the noise of the city was too inconvenient for you. Well, tough, that’s what sacrifice is. It’s inconvenient. And if climate change is really that big of a problem, a pair of earplugs a rather small sacrifice to make, no?

Sacrifice is always for the other guy, though. Never us.

Then, you completely glossed over my actions, and minimized their relevance. I walk everywhere and don’t have AC. This is quite a sacrifice, especially this summer. My footprint is 1/1000th that of those who drive, fly frequently, have AC, etc if not less. Your position was that, since I still have a carbon footprint, this was not terribly important.(!?)

Let me ask you something, do you think climate change folks ever say “hey thanks for making the sacrifices that you do”? Nope. Never. Not once. They only care that I agree with their positions. About what I say, never about what I do. If I’m already doing more than 99.99% of people, though, who cares what my opinion is? It shouldn’t matter at all.

Yet, it’s the only thing that matters to climate change proponents. See, with them, so long as I agree with their premises about the cause of global warming, I can drive as much as I want. That’s how this thing works. That’s why it’s so obviously insincere.

Private autos put out some 10,000lbs of CO2 emissions/year. EACH! Yet, you’re minimizing walking everywhere because said walking doesn’t service the agenda talking points. You want to talk, and you want people to agree with you. Action and saving the planet are actually secondary concerns. So long as one says the correct things, one can evade criticism from the climate change crowd.

Cliff didn’t say the correct things, and even though (in my opinion) he cares more about this topic than anyone here, he gets criticized. Like certain groups being obsessed with calling every violent act “terrorism”, there are groups obsessed with calling every weather deviation, be it cold or warm, “climate change”.

I don’t think either agenda strikes the average person as particularly honest, and this is why skepticism will probably increase as time goes on.

I’ve seen Cliff rock the boat and go against the popular opinion when it was in his best interests not to. I cannot say the same for either side of the climate change commenting machine. That’s why I trust him. BTW, What kind of person would say he denies climate change? Did you guys even read his book? You’re making yourselves look silly with those claims. You folks are not fostering confidence in your judgement with that nonsense.

Bottom line, if it’s that important to you that I understand that you’re killing the planet, then fine. Shame on you. Earplugs are $1.00, and you couldn’t even get a pair to keep NYC above water.

Much like the $.05 walker's tax recently implemented in Seattle, my guess is that the people last responsible for causing climate change, will be the ones most expected to atone for it. That's how it usually works. The tragic irony is that those most responsible for climate change have the political clout to make others pay for their sins. I'm sure that's what they have in mind this time as well. You can’t blame people for being wary. Rather, you shouldn’t blame them. You should have some empathy and understand and realize that the moral panic machinations have lost the trust of the people, and it’s not the people’s fault that this happened.

Instead of pounding one’s fist and demanding acquiescence, it’s long past time to start earning the people's trust by speaking less and leading by example. By doing before demanding of others. The people have lost faith in their institutions, and if you want their agreement, you’re going to need to win their confidence.

You can start by disagreeing more respectfully with the few people they still do trust.

Guy Nevada said...

The Seattle PI used your analysis, and no other, when explaining the warm weather in their article about hiking Mt Rainer.
Welcome to the ranks of the climate change deniers. How could you possibly know for sure that this weather is not climate change related when this has never happened before? Maybe it's time for some new models.

Cliff Mass said...

Guy Nevada,
Why do you have to call me names? Seriously. I am not a "denier".... if by that you mean I doubt the impacts of CO2 and greenhouse gases. The planet will warm...big time...from human emissions. You need to read my blogs to understand my arguments....please do so. ...cliff mass

Cliff Mass said...

Guy Nevada,
Why do you have to call me names? Seriously. I am not a "denier".... if by that you mean I doubt the impacts of CO2 and greenhouse gases. The planet will warm...big time...from human emissions. You need to read my blogs to understand my arguments....please do so. ...cliff mass

Mark said...

Dear Cliff,

In 1997, I was working on an air quality permit for Dutch Harbor, Alaska. I was using U.S. Navy weather observations taken in the 1950s as input to the ISCST model. The Alaska Department of Ecology (ADEC) rejected the data set citing global warming had made it non-contemporaneous. I laughed. It wasn't until 2000 when the WMO announced that Earth had indeed warmed that I re-examined my understanding of global warming.

I have nothing but respect for you and I understand your not a climate change denier. However, I understand Guy Nevada's frustration too. With regards to the RRR and its companion the warm water blob your blog could be interpreted as climate change denial.

In my opinion, all "natural variability" has been impacted in some way by global warming. Metaphorically, it has loaded the dice to come up sixes and snake eyes, feast or famine, floods and droughts. The lucky ones get a one and a six.

I have no statistics, but if one portion of the atmosphere is affected by global warming then the whole system is affected by global warming. If the Arctic regions are warming then I expect it will impact the entire planetary atmosphere not just the Arctic. The Arctic is not atmospherically isolated.

Alfred Wegener demonstrated the power of good observation and common sense with his theory of "Continental Drift". For a couple decades, geologists used analysis to disprove his theory but in the end Alfred was more right than wrong.

I enjoy and very much appreciate your PNW blog but that doesn't mean I always agree with the analysis.

The politics of fossil fuels and the spectre of large scale extinction have emotionally charged the discussion. I was practicing energy conservation in the 1970s. I didn't do it to mitigate global warming but for economics and clean air.

In the 1970's, my meteorology professor (Dr. Glen Cobb)argued against global warming as did the majority. Climate was stable, feed back loops made it stable, the oceans were an infinite sink for CO2, the temperature data was skewed by urban heat islands and natural variability accounted for all extreme weather. The Arctic sea ice would last for another 500 years. Twenty-five years later, the analysis flipped.

Cliff Mass said...

One can not throw around "loading the dice". You need hard proof. Global warming could do JUST THE OPPOSITE than you are suggesting...and, in fact, a lot of research has shown that synoptic variability DECLINES under global warming. This is not simple stuff and simplistic ideas may not be correct..cliff

Meerkat said...

It seems this blog discussion is a case study:

Unknown said...

If you can't relate this to man-caused climate change: no grant for you!

Meerkat said...

"Unknown," you got it backward-- the fossil fuel industry invests in disinformation to delay the policies that will solve the problem:

As recently as February 2015, a New York Times exposé revealed that a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who routinely casts doubt on widely accepted climate science had “accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers.” This included funding from ExxonMobil and “at least $230,000 from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.”

glacierchange said...

In terms of climate science the comment that Jennifer Francis has been demonstrated to be wrong, is far from the truth. Three studies have come out this year in support of the general premise. The discussion is not over, but it is looking more likely that arctic amplification has a role in extreme events. One example was in Science in March.

Cliff Mass said...

glacierchange (Mauri Pelto)
You are not correct. There are a number of peer reviewed articles that have disproved her claim. I and a grad student have been working on the CMIP5 climate models and confirmed these results....the amplitude of synoptic disturbances in the mid-latitudes decline under global warming. This is a very robust result..cliff

Larry Pierce said...

The weather is unusual because we have entered Earth's 19th Little Ice Age. If you read up on the history of the last one, the weather today is identical, and solar science tells us that it has started. For more, see this page:

Hill said...

"I want to believe that Global Warming is real, so in that, I must believe that everything bad or abnormal is the result of Global Warming... because that fits more comfortably into my confirmation bias."