The Climatic Skeptic In Me

Wednesday morning on CNN, Miles O’Brien and meteorologist Chad Myers, chatting.

O’BRIEN: Let’s check the forecast now. Chad Myers, you’re a little bit of a skeptic on global warming, I know.

MYERS: No, I absolutely believe that CO2 is heating the atmosphere, but also, some of these thermometers that we’ve had out in the plains for years or in the cities for years are getting surrounded by more buildings. So you get more buildings, you get more asphalt, you get more heat, so the thermometers are different. The whole — metro areas are getting warmer, where, in fact, maybe you just see — if you put that same thermometer out in the middle of a cornfield in Nebraska, maybe it wouldn’t be too much different. We’ll have to see. You know, I know that this is happening; it’s just a matter of how much it is, that’s all.

O’BRIEN: So, there’s a little bit of global paving, too, along with global warming?

MYERS: Well, there you go.

Myers comments got a quick rebuke on and spilled over to a weathercaster bulletin board I often read.

Like Chad Myers, I’m “a little bit of a skeptic on global warming.”

Here’s what I posted in the conversation after someone said, “This is a scientific issue, not a political one.”:

That one sentence cuts to the core of this controversy. Of course it’s a political issue. If it were a scientific discussion, we’d be hearing positive as well as negative implications to warming. Even in dire global warming scenarios, there are many beneficiaries.

If this were a scientific discussion, not political, graphs of CO2 levels would start at 0 ppm, not 310 ppm&#185. Starting high on the graph makes the increase look much more severe.

It seems, based on my limited contact with colleagues, that operational forecasters tend to be skeptics on the long range implications of additional CO2 in the atmosphere. I first noticed it at the “Million Meteorologist March,” when many of us were invited to the White House (excellent baked goods) to hear Al Gore speak about global warming. Most of the operational mets I spoke with that day were skeptical.

If you forecast the weather on a daily basis, you’re likely skeptical about the worst of the global warming predictions, because you’ve been burned by models and then chastised by viewers. Research mets don’t get that dose of forecast reality.

Last year I flew to Florida to see my folks. The plane stopped in Tampa on the way to PBI. As I looked out the window, I noticed the sky covered in cirrus clouds. As I looked closer, I realized they were contrails which had become diaphanous. They just hadn’t mixed out under the very weak upper flow.

I picked up my cellphone and called a friend – my expert on NWP. How, I asked, are these man made clouds taken into account in the models? They aren’t.

In fact all our short range models and certainly the multidecadal climate models, make assumptions, guesses and estimates. There’s just not enough data to properly initialize everything.

Tonight, based on the 12z runs, the models will have over predicted much of Connecticut’s temperatures by 5-10 degrees. And that’s just a 24 hour forecast!

In the meantime, I’m sure tonight many people in Fairbanks are saying of global warming, “Bring it on.”

PAFA 270653Z 00000KT 1/4SM R01L/3500V4500FT FZFG FEW001 BKN004 M43/ A2981 RMK A02 SLP123 T1433

That’s -45f with .25 mile visibility in freezing fog.

&#185 – Here’s the graph I was talking about.

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