Business-as-usual climate change temperature increase graph: AGU
We've all seen it, and at times perhaps have been guilty of it ourselves: Using a short term trend or series of events as examples of why global warming is or is not taking place. From the climate change denial position, this often takes the form of using a relatively short period of cooling or steady temperatures to back up claims that global warming is a hoax. Well, a new paper to be published in Geophysical Research Letters shows how these variations are perfectly normal and consistent with the greater trend of a warming planet. Dot Earth sums it up:The paper is titled "Is the climate warming or cooling?" and its authors David R. Easterling of the National Climatic Data Center and Michael F. Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say that,
We show that the climate over the 21st century can and likely will produce periods of a decade or two where the globally averaged surface air temperature shows no trend or even slight cooling the presence of longer-term warming. It's easy to 'cherry pick' a period to reinforce a point of view.
Andy Revkin asked Dr Easterling why the paper was produced:
To show, in a peer-reviewed scientifically defensible way that there is no reason to expect the climate to warm in a monotonic type fashion, that there is natural variability along with anthropogenic forced warming and we shouldn't expect each year to be warmer than the next or even a run of 10 years always to show warming. That we can get a 10 or even 15-year period with no real change in globally averaged temperature even though in the end we have strong global warming.
Can We Just Put This One To Rest Now?
Climate change skeptics (and Matt Drudge) stop trying to point out that since the past (insert number) winters were colder than normal that the planet isn't warming. And every time I write about cherry blossom season starting earlier in Japan for x number of years (or whatever anecdotal report re: climate), I'll be sure to include a sentence about how, though the long-term trend is decidedly towards a warmer planet, this trend in itself doesn't validate the point as it's of too short a period.
via: Dot Earth
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