A blast from the past

Two years ago I took part in the World Peace Summit: Climate Change – What To Do? in Wellington, at the Westpac St James Theatre. I blogged about it at the time (before and after), and promised to link to the video of my talk when it was available. Of course, I then completely forgot to check, and so when I stumbled upon myself on Youtube earlier today, I thought I’d finally keep my promise. Given that I was talking in 2008, I think my comments stand up quite well (I’m rather pleased with my remarks about warmer winters being snowier winters), though my technological optimism is now tempered by pessimism both about the state of the climate system and our ability to come up with policies to reduce emissions. If you follow the “more from” links on the Youtube page, you can also watch David Wratt, Pene Lefale, Rod Oram, Andrew West, and Rachel Brown’s presentations.

9 thoughts on “A blast from the past”

  1. I agree with the sentiment that a high snow fall winter does not prove global cooling. But I am interested by your assertion that global warming will create increased snowfall. Do you have any academic studies that explain this link between increased temperatures and increased snowfall?

    Particularly in lower latitudes such as Dallas Texas, as it is easy to understand how in an extremely cool place such as Antarctica increased temperature could increase precipitation, however in places which don’t usually get snow, such as Reporoa, I struggle to see how increasing temperature would increase snowfall. So I would like to see the academic papers before I give too much weight to your assertion.

    “The Southern snowstorm disrupting travel along the I-10 and I-20 corridors today dumped heavy snow across portions of the southern Plains, including northern Texas, Thursday. Following the storm, snowfall this winter in places like Dallas and Oklahoma City are keeping up with the seasonal snowfall in Toronto! Dallas got 11.2 inches of snow from the storm Thursday, shattering the old daily snow record of 1.4 inches, set in 1988. The 11.2 inches of snow, just from this one storm, already ranks this February as the second snowiest on record. February 1978 still stands as the snowiest February with 13.5 inches of snow.”

    1. If you follow the link under “snowier”, you’ll find a discussion of the subject by Jeff Masters, and several references there. See also AR4 Chap 3, section for water vapour increase, and for precipitation increases (all refs at back of chapter).
      As the planet warms, the atmosphere can hold more water vapour. This acts as “fuel” for weather systems (moves heat around), leading to more intense storms and therefore increases in precipitation (think of tropical rain versus typical NZ rain, for instance). As long as there are places where its cold enough to snow (and there will places cold enough for that for the foreseeable future), you will get increases in heavy snowfall. Jeff Masters has posted a lot on the subject recently (unsurprisingly, given the snow in the NE USA) — worth following what he has to say.

      1. Yeah I understand the theory and logic. I was just wondering if you could link me directly to the paper that proves the theory. I don’t have time to follow the links now but will look later.

        In the second part of your response you ignore the part in my post where I say it is easy to understand how increased temperatures will increase snow fall in very cold places, but hard to understand how they would increase snowfall in warm places, and just explain to me what I already understand. I hope it made you feel smart to do so.

        But even this logical theory is only a theory until proven through data and study. Do you have an academic study that shows increased storm activity due to recent warming?

        Again please reference directly to the study rather than through AR4 as this section of AR4 is one of the sections under criticism for linking to non-peer reviewed material.

        Until you show me the study proving the relationship pointing to one event and saying you are proven right is a little hypocritical given you criticise others for using this one cold event as evidence global warming has stopped.

        1. Again please reference directly to the study rather than through AR4 as this section of AR4 is one of the sections under criticism for linking to non-peer reviewed material.

          Rubbish. I’m referring to WG1. Point me at the non-peer reviewed material in Chapter 3, please. All of it.

          And read this: http://bit.ly/bTiaUL

  2. Uh oh, while Kiwis sleep there comes news of big trouble on the East Siberian Shelf. Melty, melty. What’s not clear to me is whether the new data account for the global methane spike of the last couple of years (announced at the AAAS meeting).

    1. This kiwi’s awake. I’m reading the paper at the moment, and will have something later. I’ve just emailed “Mr Methane” Ed Dlugocencky for his view on your question.

  3. It just goes to show you can take the boy out of the GMT but you can’t take the GMT out of the boy. 🙂

    Any details you can post will be appreciated. Of course part of the answer will be to wait until next year to see if the trend continues.

  4. The NYT article is interesting, mainly for repeating a couple of times that this couldn’t be the first signs of really big trouble. Of course it could. It’s probably not a good sign that their reporters managed to confuse teragrams and petagrams.

    From the sound of it Shakhova had been warned to say nothing alarming, in contrast to her comments of last year.

  5. Don’t miss the podcast. I think I detect a bit of alarm creeping out around the edges. Of particular interest is that the current paper doesn’t include 2009 data, which she says have some important implications but won’t be released prior to publication. She also says that the methane numbers in the paper are low since they consider only dissolved methane and ignore bubbling that breaks through to the surface.

    I wonder if any climate modeler has taken a stab at what would happen with a big release. I assume we’d be talking about some pretty substantial decadal-scale effects. Would there be significant added Arctic amplification due to locally high methane?

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