Climate is the playground for misunderstanding

Cold weather in Riga

During all the years the climate debate has flourished, misunderstandings and conspiracies have often stood in line. It has been almost a rule that an opinion from a scientist has been contradicted from other side. The media have not made the debate easier when they often debate with equal numbers on each side of a given question.

Now I would like to take a discussion in advance, because in the coming days parts of Europe will be hit by cold weather – some places even very cold. I would expect comments that now global warming has been canceled, giving mor fuel to the climate debate. I hope the media will be wise enough to counter such allegations – and if they lack arguments, they can only take mine here.

The most important thing is that global warming should be seen – precisely – globally, because as it gets cold in a larger area around us, it does not tell anything about the global temperature. The United States experienced extreme cold weather around New Year, where the American president stated that he could then use more global warming. But he did not understand that we are talking about global temperatures.

Anomaly 24. feb
Figure shows where it is warmer or colder than the mean 1979-2000. The picture shows both colder and warmer areas

The figure shows that the very cold area is just east of Denmark, while it is similarly very hot across Greenland and around the North Pole. In the USA it is very hot in the east and cold in the west – elsewhere in the world it can be seen that the red color dominates. So because we are just hit by a cold period for a short period of time, we should not turn it into a denial of climate change.

The other factor to be considered is the abnormal distribution of cold and heat. Normally we would expect it to be cold around the North Pole and also across the larger areas of Siberia, Greenland and Canada. But as the picture shows, that’s not the case. One of the reasons is likely to be found in the weaker jet stream, which is approximately 10 km above the earth’s surface about 60 degrees north. It is getting weaker because the Arctic under global warming is heated faster than the areas further south. A weaker jet stream is unable to maintain the cold where it usually is and accordingly the hot air will move abnormally. This means that we see the cold draw south and the heat north – exactly as we see it at the moment.

The unusual temperature conditions we can experience right now can therefore be seen just as a result of global warming. But actually it is not that cold! Over Denmark DMI does not expect temperatures below minus 10 degrees. This is partly due to the lack of snow-covered surfaces, but we just feel it very cold, because we are not used to low temperatures in recent winters.

Having said that, it is nice to see that after all it is possible to build a stable high pressure over Scandinavia. This weather type has been quite absent for many many months and given unstable wet weather throughout 2017.

5 thoughts on “Climate is the playground for misunderstanding

  1. Dejligt at se du er forberedt på de argumenter benægterne bruger, hvis de i det hele taget følger med globalt 👍

  2. True, climate change is not the cause of global warming, it – most likely – will become a result of global warming,
    as other factors influence the global or even the local climate.
    You can only change or prevent “climate change” by changing the factors that constitutes the climate.
    Less confusion of ideas would be beneficial to the debate and understanding.

  3. Maybe what we are observing also has a connection with this (cf. articles below). The headline in the first article below is too dramatic probably: there is no immidiate collapse, but a slowing of parts of the Gulfstream-system. From a human perspective these processes are slow. But compared to natural climate changes they are very fast. Could be that we are now in the beginning of something comparable to what happened around 8200 BP when the northernmost parts of the Gulfstream system closed down for some hundred years due to sudden meltwater discharge(s) from the last remnants of the canadian ice sheet from the last (the weichselian) ice age. The fresh meltwater is lighter than the salty ocean water and therefore sits on top, preventing the physical pump mechanism driving the northernmost sling of the great ocean conveyor. This is known to have happened several times during the last phase of the last ice age. Most well known during the Younger Dryas event around 11600 years BP when the ice age conditions returned for around 600 years following the warming during Older Dryas.

    Especially this one I find interesting:

    Maybe we are here looking at a new feedback mechanism enforcing the already known?

  4. I am somebody who accepts the scientific evidence for global warming and environmental change. You clearly understand much of the science but your exposition is not as good as it could be. I sometimes understand what you are saying, but find you don’t explain yourself clearly. For example you criticize the media with the sentence:
    The media have not made the debate easier when they often debate with equal numbers on each side of a given question.
    You need to add to that 90% (or whatever the number is) of scientists working in the field support this position therefore if a news program has one from each side they need to give less time to the deniers and make it clear that the deniers are a tiny minority, and as time goes by their arguments are getting weaker. (or words to that effect)

    You refer to the Jet Stream. Most people may have heard the name but do not know what it is and or what it does, or why it is important. A phrase like ” A weaker jet stream is unable to maintain the cold where it usually is and accordingly the hot air will move abnormally ” is difficult for such people to understand – I am not sure I fully understand your argument. In this case you have to be more specific, possibly naming countries and comparing with 20 years ago or 50 years ago.

    I hope this has been helpful

    Keep up the work
    Jeffrey Frankel
    P.S: “About us” does not say anything about you apart from “communicating the weather for more than 40 years” which could mean you presented the weather on CNN and do not have any scientific background, or knowledge of the scientific literature.

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