Winter 2010: cold in places, exceptionally hot in others

Northern hemisphere winter, that is — we’re still in a nice warm autumn down here. Before I disappear for a couple of days of hectic activity (vintage 2010 tomorrow, bottling the ‘09 on Monday), I just wanted to draw attention to a couple of articles I read over my Saturday morning toast (fine bread from the farmer’s market). The first is the review of the northern hemisphere winter by Bob Henson at UCAR: an interesting overview of how El Niño and the Arctic Oscillation combined to bring cold and snow to the US and Europe, but record breaking warmth to Canada, Greenland, North Africa and the Middle East. Henson draws on a fascinating statistical analysis of the winter by Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Netherlands Meteorological Institute(KNMI), putting the combination of cold, snow and warmth into the context of a changing climate.


Van Oldenborgh assesses the the likelihood of the various temperature and snowfall anomalies in the context of an unchanging climate, and on the change that current trends indicate has already occurred. The map above left (click to see the original via KNMI) shows how often winters as cold as 2010 would be expected in the current (changing) climate: 10-50 year return periods are common, stretching out to 100-500 years in parts of Siberia. The map at right shows the warm extremes. Even in a warming climate, winter 2010 was a 10,000 year event — extremely unusual — in parts of the Middle East. Egypt’s winter, for instance, was a full 1ºC above the previous record, and 3ºC above the mean. Southern Greenland was also exceptionally warm. Compared with an unchanging climate (assuming that the probabilities for 1971-2000 still apply), the cold anomalies are less extreme because cold events were more common in the past, and the heat extremes were greater. But however you analyse the situation, the warmth experienced in Canada and the Middle East was more unusual than the US and European cold spells. It’s well worth reading van Oldenborgh’s article, even if you’d rather be eating chocolate eggs.

PS: Also noteworthy: David Appell takes a look at why current sea ice extent/areas don’t tell us the ice is “back to normal”, as some would have us believe. In the words of the old joke, sceptics are asserting “never mind the quality, feel the width.”

May all your buns be cross, and hot. Happy Easter.

46 thoughts on “Winter 2010: cold in places, exceptionally hot in others”

  1. A simple question: In view of the record cold winters in the northern hemispher over the last few years, do you guys still think the Earth is too hot? Honest answer please. Yes or no.

    1. Yes AGW denier that is a simplistic question.

      The record cold winters are not evidence that the earth is not absorbing more of the sun's energy. The increased energy creates a more volatile climate including colder winters and warmer summers. Your question may seem simple to a simpleton but there are several reasons why it is an extremely stupid question:

      1. It doesn't matter what people think. The climate is becoming more energetic and thus less stable – leading to greater weather extremes.

      2. There is no 'Too hot' it will get as hot as it will get and we will suffer the consequences. Is Venus too hot? It is for Humans to live there.

      3. The current levels of energy in the atmosphere are not the reason why rationally minded folk are concerned about climate change it is the huge increases that will come about in the next thirty-fifty years as a result of our emissions in the next few years.

      4. You really obviously know nothing at all about climate change and refuse to engage with or even look at the science.

      1. "There is no 'Too hot' it will get as hot as it will get and we will suffer the consequences. Is Venus too hot? It is for Humans to live there."

        The point of my question was to pin you loonies down on what the actual issue is. For some strange reason you seem to think the planet is getting too hot. Yet the northern hemisphere has experienced record COLD winters for the past three years in a row. Yes yes I know Mr. Renowden counters by saying some places are also very hot, like the Sahara, but the fashion was all about GLOBAL WARMING, with emphasis on GLOBAL! Warming in some places is obviously not evidence for global warming because that’s what we call weather believe it or not. Besides which it is very evident that areas of the planet experiencing high temperatures are more than balanced by areas experiencing low temperatures so the warming you guys insist on is clearly not global.

        Of course since there isn’t any global warming to speak of, it is now referred to as “Climate change” so that you can put a dollar each way. Then no matter what happens, you still have your hobgoblin to cling to.

        And further, when someone points out that temperatures are in fact declining, you say it’s not a matter of the planet being too hot! Eh? What is it about then?

    2. You didn't bother to read the post, did you? The point is that the cold extremes or much less unusual than the warm extremes observed at the same time. That's why this last NH winter was not cold overall, but fifth or sixth warmest in the record, depending on which data series you use.

            1. I think you will find that != is the symbol for not equal to i.e. the opposite of what you have taken his statement to mean.

            2. So then we are back to square one. Temperatures are regional and since regional is not global, there is no global warming to speak of. Ipso facto no problem.

  2. My question was about whether the Earth was too hot. That seems a simple enough question. But diessoli, bless him, answers by saying "Nobody is really saying that it is currently too hot. It's the positive trend that people are concerned about"


    If I pulled him over for speeding, he'd say "It's not about whether I was going too fast. It's about the positive velocity trend!"

      1. But that's the whole point you duffer! I'm not the one saying the earth is too hot, or that it is getting hotter. You guys are saying that. I’m saying there is nothing odd or unusual in either positive or negative temperature trends because to assume otherwise is to believe the planet’s biosphere is by nature rock-steady and stable as though locked in place.

        On the contrary. The Earth's "temperature" (a misnomer if ever there was one) is constantly changing and non-uniform. The planet and all its elements are in a state of flux. Change is normal so get over it.

        But this is also the point I was trying to make to Gareth… it’s hot one place but cold in another. Clearly it’s not “global”. But he comes back and says “Regional = global”.

        So since you guys seem to think there IS a global temperature issue – amounting to a trivial 0.6oC over an entire century (big bloody deal!) – I’ll turn your own question back on you:

        What temperature do you think the planet should be? You seem to think there’s a problem here so what’s a good temperature then for the planet to be?

        Hence my original question.

          1. There is nothing wrong with the question. It's just that you don't like it because it cuts through all the obfuscation and specious theorizing that stems from your psycological need to "believe" and gets to the actual point: GLOBAL WARMING.

            Is it or isn't it global? Is it even warming? If it is, then why is it necessarily unnatural as though it's never happened before in the planet's entire history?

            1. But the planet has been through many warming and cooling periods before, with higher and lower CO2 levels than today (regardless of whether it was warmer or cooler at the same time), which obviously was natural. So why are temperature trends today NECESSARILY the consequence of so-called fossil-fuel burning just because there has been the occasional correlation?

              Note I said "occasional".

            2. Physics. The radiation behaviour of CO2 has been understood for 150 years. To pretend that it has no effect you have to rewrite physics – down to the quantum level. Good luck with that…

            3. Yes indeed. Except for one tiny flaw in your argument: the effect of CO2 on temperature is utterly minuscule. It's so tiny, it's almost impossible to detect. This was understood by Tyndall over 100 years ago. The IPCC are just slow to catch on.

            4. Content-free trolling, as someone else has observed. You clearly don't understand what you're talking about. Go and read Spencer Weart's Discovery of Global Warming — the link's in the sidebar — and read the real story.

        1. Please note I have never stated anything in regard to what I feel is is too hot or too cold. I am merely attempting to find out if you feel that there is anything that would equate to 'too hot' considering you seem to have brought it into the debate.

          1. You are being obtuse. The question is related to GLOBAL temperatures since the argument is over "GLOBAL warming"!

            Obviously it is possible for temperatures to exist somewhere in the universe that are either too hot or too cold for life. However the issue is that since you alarmist types seem to believe the entire planet is warming too much too fast (hence the fashionable term "global warming"), what do you think is "normal" and why do you think anything other than a steady-state is abnormal? Why do you think change in Nature is bad or strange?

            1. I think you are severely misrepresenting my views on this topic as I have never expressed an opinion about whether or not the planet is warming too fast.

              I have stated that I have yet to see any persuasive evidence that the scientific consensus on climate change is incorrect and that AGW is a highly probably factor in this. whether or not this is something that threatens civilisation in the immediate to medium term future is something I have yet to be convinced of.

              I would hardly call myself alarmist, although I would like people to investigate options a little more seriously than they are at the moment. You do think we should look at options don't you?

            2. Options for what? Frankly no. I don't think we should "look at options" until there is a problem to be dealt with. There is no evidence a problem exists. People say (even insist!), there is a problem of some presumed looming catatastrophe, but it is based on supposition and computer models.

              Where is the actual empirical, undeniable evidence that global temperatures are rising catastrophically and that they are doing so as a result of CO2 emissions?

              Answer: There isn't any. Therefore no need for "options".

            3. There is evidence that average Global temperatures are rising since the last part of the 20th Century. Whether or not they rising catastrophically is a matter of debate involving a multitude of unknown factors.

              The evidence is also that CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have also been rising. Perhaps there is no relationship between average Global temperature rises and increase in CO2 levels. The broad Scientific consensus seems to be that there is some link between the two. However the Scientific consensus has been wrong before and could be wrong again.

              What you need is more evidence from your side of the debate that will swing the scientific consensus to the view that CO2 levels and Climate change are not linked. I have yet to see much persuassive evidence of this. If there was then the broad rage of scientists, (not just those involved in climate) wouldn't be supporters of the AGW theory.

              In short produce the persuassive Scientific evidence backing your theory up and then you will have won the scientific as well as the social debate. At the moment all I see is you attempting to win the social debate.

              What you are attempting to do is no different to what people who are anti-GM crops or anti-vaccines do. You would agree that these people are missing a serious part of their argument if they fail to sway the scientific debate don't you?

  3. "What you need is more evidence from your side of the debate that will swing the scientific consensus to the view that CO2 levels and Climate change are not linked."

    First of all the so-called scientific "consensus" is a myth. There may be a political consensus, but there is certainly no scientific one. In case, what does it matter? Since when is science done by a show of hands?

    Secondly, why should the sceptics provide the evidence that the alarmists are wrong? That is back-to-front. The alarmists have come up with the theory, so the onus of proof is on them! You say it's true, so you prove it!

    The sceptics are saying the hypothesis is flawed simply because it confuses correlation with causation, and even then the correlation is weak. The empirical evidence is lacking, but the theory has now become something of an entrenched religion which is why the alarmists resort to name-calling of anyone who "denies" it, likening them to Holocaust Deniers as though to imply some moral connection (I of course refer to myself as a "Denier" because I am thumbing my nose at you guys!).

    So if the alarmist case was strong enough, it would stand on its own merits and not require such methods to intimidate people into accepting it. This is precisely how the Church enforced acceptance of its own religious dogma, ultimately inventing the concept of Infallibility in order to deal with the ugly truth that it was a load of bollocks: Hence if the Pope said so, it was necessarily true because he's infallible. End of story.

    Scientific dogma is indistinguishable from religious dogma. Both are dangerous and counter-productive.

    1. So, in short, you are unable to offer real and convincing evidence for your opinions. That’s not surprising, as there is no body of valid and convincing scientific evidence for your position, as anyone with half a clue knows. That’s why denialists like you are are becoming more shrill and aggressive, and sinking to ever dirtier tricks and slimier propaganda from month to month. You’ve got nothing else, have you?

      But you’ll be able to rationalise all that, because your comments have little to do with facts and information, and a great deal to do with your ideology and belief system.

      Your posts are a waste of space and a waste of time. You’re trolling, and have no interest in a rational discussion, so I’ll leave you to your games and nonsense.

      1. You were obviously looking in the mirror when you typed that. I believe that argument applies to you Chicken Little alarmists who think the sky is always falling. You really need to get over CO2 and global warming. CO2 is lovely stuff and global warming would be brilliant if it were true.

  4. LMAO!!! The hockey stick again!! Is that all you could come up with in terms of "plentiful" empirical evidence?

    I thought you wallies were over that. Obviously not. So you get an F for fail.

    So again, other than Mann's thoroughly discredited hockey stick joke and a few computer models, where is the empirical evidence linking man's CO2 emissions to global temperatures? That means more than just coincidental occasional correlation between CO2 and temperature.

    Waiting waiting…

    1. The page I linked to doesn't even mention a hockey stick. The physics of radiation transfer in the atmosphere is far more than "occasional correlation". Your aggressive ignorance is very telling. And becoming very trying. Please attempt to a) read the references provided, b) understand them, and c) engage in a substantive debate.

          1. Oh right climate scientist Roy Spencer is wrong. So says Gareth Renowden who is what exactly? I guess that means Richard Lindzen is also wrong for the same reason.

            1. Goodness, you're a unpleasant character, aren't you?

              Nice range of insults, and still no substance.

              Looks like we're up to dropping in references to some of the little stable of denialists with some scientific credentials. Spencer, Lindzen..not a lot more to go.

              Would you mind detailing the temperature data coming out of UAH, posted on Spencer's site, BTW?

  5. Warning: That's enough rubbish. If you want to take part in the conversation here you have to show willing. If you aren't you will go on auto-moderation, and I will only pass comments of yours that I deem add to the discussion. Content-free trolling does not meet that criterion.

    1. Oh I get it. That only applies to me then, not to RW1 or johnmacmot whose hysterical outbursts added nothing of value. In other words, you want me to agree or I'll be "moderated".

      There's clearly no point arguing the toss with you morons then is there?

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