State of the Climate

Virga and Undulatus Asperatus clouds in Eagan Wednesday. Photo Roger McDonaldson

We’ll have to keep an eye on trail conditions as rain chances continue through Thursday.  Most trails will only receive a few tenths of an inch of rain while others may see as much as a half inch with any thunderstorms.  Skies will clear by Friday and great riding weather sets up for the weekend.  Temperatures are looking to stay in the 70s and slightly below normal.  A few storms may drift through the metro Saturday night but the weather overall looks pretty good for the weekend.

CycleCast

Thursday: Morning showers, mostly cloudy and cool. H: mid 70s

Friday: Sunny, comfortable dewpoints.  Great day for riding. H: mid 70s

Saturday: Mostly sunny.  Thunderstorms rumble through the metro Saturday night. H: mid 70s

Sunday: Lingering showers, mostly cloudy. Coolest day of the week. H: low 70s

Monday: Mostly sunny and warmer. H: near 80°

Mom and Dad celebrating the 4th of July, 2012

I’m breathing a sigh of relief that the Minnesota weather will behave itself, for the most part, this weekend because my parent are coming to town.  They are visiting from Pennsylvania where the winters aren’t as harsh.  I’ll never forget it, their first visit to Minnesota was in the dead of winter, December 2008.  The low temperature on their first night in the Twin Cities was -13°.  Needless to say, that was the last time they experienced a Minnesota winter.  No wonder they only visit me in the summer.

 

 
State of the Climate

Big news today coming from the National Climate Data Center.  Turns out last July wasn’t just the hottest July on record but it was the hottest month in U.S. history!  So far, the nation has had the warmest 12-month period since records began in 1895.  The global warming pot has been stirred.

Dr. James E. Hansen

NASA scientist, James Hansen, recently released a study, “Perception of Climate Change”,  that says extreme global heating events are becoming more common.  In this study, Hansen shows that from 1951-1980, heat waves only covered .2% of the earth but from 2006-2011 heat waves spread over as much as 14% of our planet.  This dramatic increase, they say, is too large to be natural and, therefore, the only plausible explanation has to be human-induced global warming.  Of course, it’s very hard to tell if one particular heat wave is linked to global warming.  Skeptics and critics have come to question Hansen’s findings.  “This isn’t a serious science paper.  It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title. Perception is not a science.” says Dr. Hoerling, a researcher with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  I have to agree with Dr. Hoerling .  One cannot confuse daily weather events with climate events.  Weather and climate are two totally different things.

This new study, however, also comes on the heels of another climate change development.  A once global warming skeptic has now become a believer.  Richard A. Muller, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, writes “Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.”  This is a shocking statement considering Muller’s study was funded by the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation.  The Koch brothers are known for being staunch skeptics of human-induced climate change.

So? What did Muller find that made him change his mind?

His full report has recently been published online at BerkeleyEarth.org.  Muller’s research agrees with other climate scientists in that the land on Earth has warmed 2.5° over 250 years.  Muller further adds, “What has caused the gradual but systematic rise of two and a half degrees?” Muller writes. “We tried fitting the shape to simple math functions (exponentials, polynomials), to solar activity and even to rising functions like world population. By far the best match was to the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, measured from atmospheric samples and air trapped in polar ice.”

The good news?  Our Earth is still able to absorb about half of the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere by humans.

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