“The line must be drawn here! This far and no further!”
He comes out swinging right away: “A big winter snowstorm provides more fodder for the global-warming skeptics. But they’re wrong“
Oh really? Bryan, if you can find any (credible) scientist that wants to go on record supporting your contortionist logic with respect to this holiday blizzard, please quote them directly on the record, and do not cherry-pick their blog postings or opinion-editorials. Is this the type of new “green journalism” expertise that we can expect from the vaunted and much lauded Climate Science Rapid Response Team? Preemptive straw man arguments that would make the master blush? This article is just another in a long line of really speculative pieces that reek of scientific ignorance. Enough of it, please!
Before getting to this year’s Time Life installment of “blizzards gone wild”, let’s go back to February 10, 2010 and Snowmageddon when Bryan Walsh authored this gem:
Indeed, what happened to that climate change — perhaps a follow up on that Virginia state GOP campaign strategy (Tsunami warning).
We’re braced. Semi-interested readers will see from that February Time piece that Bryan Walsh relies on Dr. Jeff Masters‘ blog posting to rationalize the blizzard and global warming saying that warmer air carries more moisture — true. However, intense baroclinic cyclones such as blizzards also rely on Arctic-cold air for their fuel which is usually provided behind dynamically-positioned midlatitude troughs. I haven’t read any peer-reviewed literature lately linking an increase in moisture being responsible for that blizzard’s intensity or existence, specifically. That reasoning is essentially a thought experiment extrapolated to the situation at hand. Walsh finishes up:
Fast forward to December 28, 2010 and the most recent blizzard. Everyone that participated in our sarcastic peremptory analysis of the blizzard journalism-to-come had some jolly holiday laughs conjuring up what was expected to be written by the liberal media. Time Magazine does not disappoint!
First off, let’s get our time-scales right. Decadal-time-scale, mean-global warming on the order of tenths of a degree is not an event. The blizzard is an event. Who is coming out saying that “climate change” is a myth? The climate is always changing — I’d be surprised and alarmed if it stayed the same. Alas, I thought you weren’t supposed to conflate a singular weather event to climate change/global warming/disruption/something. There are two main arguments that are cobbled together to form a scientific thesis:
(1) A warmer Arctic will lead to colder and snowier winters in the middle-latitudes due to the “continued Arctic sea-ice meltdown”. The loss of ice will make the surface darker, absorb more heat, and change pressure patterns leading to a weakening of the jet stream, which allows cold-air to seep into Europe. This is called the Warm Arctic – Cold Continents theory by NOAA and operates exclusively in the fall months. Dr. Jeff Masters’ calls it “leaving the refrigerator door open” to cool your house.
(2) Dr. Judah Cohen’s theory about Siberian snow-cover early in the fall leading to a dome of cold air forming near the mountains which in turn “bends the passing jet stream”. This affects the middle-latitude waveguide and results in a highly amplified pattern. Thus, more meridional flow exchanges of cold-air equatorward. This is an appeal to the negative Arctic Oscillation phase.
Okay, these theories are not in dispute but their applicability to the current blizzard is. Dr. Cohen’s scholarship on Arctic climate dynamics is top-notch. Conversely, his recent NY Times op-ed was not received well. But, what does this have to do with a singular event like a blizzard which has happened many, many times in the past? The Arctic Oscillation has been negative before. Look at this time-series graphic. To establish a causal chain that links these theories to the situation at hand requires a leap of faith:
How are autumn sea-ice or snow-cover changes supposed to affect the winter circulation three-months later when the troposphere has such a short memory?
See the aforementioned Pielke, Sr. posting for additional science reasoning. I’m just going to throw something out there that the Climate Rapid Response Team might want to discover: El Nino and La Nina (ENSO) in that potentially important body of water known as the Pacific Ocean. Have you heard anything about this driving our current climate/weather in the media lately? Crickets…
No objective person will disagree that Time Magazine or the NY Times’ “green journalism” is liberal in nature and fits perfectly in with the political agenda of the Democrat party. So, why did Bryan Walsh go from correctly stating in February that one storm or event isn’t proof of anything to unabashedly blaming global warming for the most recent blizzard? Open question…
While Dr. Oppenheimer talks about “loaded dice” with respect to global warming and extreme events, Walsh and the drive-by media are putting their cards down too soon, and are in effect overplaying their hand in a reflexive manner. They are looking for theories hidden in the tapestry to make the world’s weather fit a narrative. In doing this, “green journalism” ends up being science fiction, unsupportable, reflexive, and only worthy of watermelons.
In the meantime, the line is drawn here, no more of this type of article, please. Blow up the damn ship!