Monthly Archives: April 2013

Juneau Snow Record

I am ever amazed by my local papers efforts to fill space with local news.   Today I found this little gem on page A-4 column 1 of the Anchorage Daily News:

Snowfall break record by 3.3 inches

A Spring storm has brought record snowfall to parts of Juneau.  The National Weather Service said a snowfall record for the day was broken at the airport, where forecaster Richard Lam said 3.5 inches of snow had been reported as of 10 a.m. Friday.  Lam said the prior record for the day at the airport was 0.2 inches, in 1964.

The article goes on to say that parts of town got rain instead of snow and it was expected to stay wet in Juneau through the weekend.

Why is any of this newsworthy?  Parts of the city got a little wet snow and it set a record.  Give me a break.  Juneau is a very wet place.  Sure it rains more than it snows and snow this late in April is a bit unusual, but the surprise is not that a record was set, but that the old record was so low.

Weather records seem to be broken all the time.   It didn’t used to be that way.   A record snowfall had to be the biggest ever or at least the biggest in the month involved, but not anymore.  Today we have daily records, which give us lots of opportunity to set new records.

30 snowfall records for April alone.  Juneau began as a mining town in about 1880.  Record keeping began some time after that so  the probability that Juneau will have a daily snow record in April is 25% (30/120).  And we have records for high and low temperature, rain and wind.

We keep so many records, that it is virtually impossible not to break old records with regularity.  Juneau’s old record was a trace of snow and now the record is 3.5 inches or about a quarter inch of rainfall equivalent.  By Juneau standards both are low numbers.

Juneau had managed to not have any snow for over 100 years on April 26th, and then it snowed on that day in 2013.   Where is global warming when it’s needed?

And while I’m grousing about weather silliness….what’s going on at the weather channel.   Who gave them permission to start naming winter storms….and who picked the names?  When I was a kid only hurricanes got names, now the Weather Service names all tropical systems.  Storm names are here, there, everywhere.

So many records broken, so many named storms; it’s easy to conclude that the world’s weather must to be getting worse.  Perhaps the only thing that has changed is the way we talk about the weather.  Today we are better at making “much ado about nothing”.

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A Cold April in Alaska

I woke up this morning, went down to the kitchen and brewed a pot of coffee.  While waiting for the drip coffeemaker to do it’s thing, I glanced at my outdoor thermometer….and it said 5….that’s 5 degrees F…..on April 10th in Anchorage, Alaska.

Yup, Alaska is a cold place….but not this cold.   A month ago we had almost no snow and balmy weather.  We all had dreams of an early Spring and then it started snowing and got cold.   Where is global warming when you really need it.

If you are looking for someone to blame…it’s me.   My gasoline powered snow blower broke in February and I didn’t get it fixed.  I’m sure if I had paid to fix the thing, we’d be watching grass grow in my backyard.   But no, it’s snowed three times in the last week, totaling about 15, perhaps as much as 18 inches of new snow.   I’ve had enough shoveling.   OK Alaska, you win….bring on Spring.

I’ve lived in Alaska for 40 years and I’ve never seen an April like the one we are having right now.   Every day is 10 to 20 degrees below normal.   Anchorage has almost 15 hours of daylight right now, and it’s cold.

I must fight the temptation to use the recent cold in Alaska and the Northeastern USA and in Europe to rail against global warming.   And it is tempting, but it would be an error.  There is no way for me to know why it is has been so cold.   It could be  air pollution from China is causing the cooling….or it might be some form of normal climate variation. Wild variation in regional climate is normal.

All I really know is…..I’m ready for Spring.

Statistical Shenanigans — A global climate story

Today I thought I’d offer a primer on statistical manipulation.  I am going to take reputable data, cherry pick information and “prove” that global warming since WW II began has been less than advertised.   Here we go.

Let’s begin with the East Anglia University World Temperature Graph

Compare the warming between 1942 and 1991 (or 1878 if you prefer).  The change has been about .1 degree C increase in 50 years.  The climate change shown in this chart before 1950 is presumed by climate hawks to be natural warming (or cooling).

Now lets look at the latest UAH satellite climate data:

Now compare the data for the period beginning in 1991 and ending with the current data (March 2013) as shown on the UAH data set.   No net change.  So the world warmed about .1 degree C. in the 50 years from 1941 to 1991 and there has been no net change since then.  A world that is supposed to be warming isn’t.

Wow.

I started at a high point.  The answer would have been quite different if I had chosen 1976 as my starting point.   Or 1910 or 1965.  But if I had chosen to begin in …..say…. 1878, I could have shown even slower warming.  Statistical misrepresentation is all about data selection.

The IPCC knows how to select data and present it to their advantage. My last post quotes the IPCC’s 2007 Climate Synopses.  I’ll repeat one of my favorite paragraphs here:

Since the IPCC first report in 1990, assessed projections have suggested  global temperature increases between 0.15 and 0.3  degree C per decade from 1990 to 2005.  This can now be compared with with observed values of about 0.2 degree C per decade, strengthening confidence in our near-term projections.

The statement appears not to match data.  Conveniently the IPCC doesn’t quote a source.  I wonder what data they used?  Not UAH or East Anglia.  Perhaps they didn’t start in 1990. The only way that I can get the arithmetic to match is to start in 1992.   1992 was a very cold year because of the eruption of Mt Pinatubo.  World temperatures dropped about .2 degree C in 1992 because of the volcano.  If there is any year that should not be used as a starting point when calculating climate data, it is 1992.

When I use 1990 or 1991 or 1993 the increase is much less than the .2 degree C stated.  The increase is between .1 degree C and  .15 degree C, depending on the temperature source used and start date selected.  If I had started in 1998 instead, the data would have shown very slight net cooling.  Clearly the IPCC cherry picked data.

The IPCC appears to have ignored temperature variability shown in the East Anglia data that they call natural climate variation in their 2007 AR4 report.  If natural climate variation can produce lower temperatures (and higher temperatures too) for long periods of time, how can you assume any specific set of values supports any specific position?

The IPCC cherry picked data…and then assumed that data proved they were right.  Sloppy science and arrogance displayed in a single paragraph at the most quoted climate document ever produced, the 2007 AR4 Climate Synopses Report, section 3.2.

A few years ago NASA direct temperature data started in 1860 and it showed rapid warming and rapid cooling in the 1870’s.  Today NASA data begins in 1880, while East Anglia still begins in 1850. Why did the NASA data change.

I suspect data manipulation….and SWAG.