NOAA’s CSI explains record snows: global warming not involved

This analysis from NOAA’s Climate Scene Investigators (CSI) shows that there’s no historical signature which would implicate a human fingerprint, or as they say:

Specifically, they wanted to know if human-induced global warming could have caused the snowstorms due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor. The CSI Team’s analysis indicates that’s not likely. They found no evidence — no human “fingerprints” — to implicate our involvement in the snowstorms. If global warming was the culprit, the team would have expected to find a gradual increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region as temperatures rose during the past century. But historical analysis revealed no such increase in snowfall.

We’ve seen the ridiculous pronouncements of global warming = record snow from the Goreacle and his disciples a lot lately. It’s their last gasp since not much else is working out for them. Will Joe Romm offer a mea culpa for his chicken little squawking about deniers, snow, and global warming? Doubtful. (Though, Jeff Masters might). Romm and others, like Gore, will keep on squawking, because they know they can get away with such things on the short term, because it takes science awhile to catch up, producing an analysis, and the public has a short memory. Gore and Romm pay no attention to the science produced afterward, like this, or the article below.

From NOAA: Forensic Meteorology Solves the Mystery of Record Snows

By Martin Hoerling & Katy Human & Barb Deluisi – NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

Introduction

This is the second in a two-part retrospective on the mid-Atlantic’s record-setting snowstorms of 2009-10. For Part 1, please see Can Record Snowstorms and Global Warming Coexist?

Reagan_Airport_Annual_Snowfall

Annual snowfall at Reagan National Airport site for 1888-89 through 2009-2010. The red bar shows the 55.9 inches accumulated through February 11, 2010 that broke the former record from 1898-99. Note that only 3 years of the last 20 have more than the long-term average of 15.2 inches of snow. Data courtesy of NOAA National Weather Service.

Shortly after the third of three major snowstorms brought record-setting snowfall to the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, NOAA’s Climate Scene Investigators (CSI) assembled to analyze why the snowstorms happened. The CSI is a team of “attribution” experts in NOAA whose job is to determine the causes for climate conditions. By distinguishing natural variability from human-induced climate change, they aim to improve decision-making and inform adaptation strategies.

The CSI team was formed in 2007, following chaotic media coverage of the record U.S. warmth in 2006 (see CSI: NOAA Climate Scene Investigators). Here they have been called to the scene again, but now to explain cold, snowy conditions, and to reconcile those with a warming planet. After a series of record-setting snowstorms hit the mid-Atlantic region this winter, some people asked NOAA if humans could somehow be to blame. Specifically, they wanted to know if human-induced global warming could have caused the snowstorms due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.

SnowDepth_20100211

In early February, two weather systems brought record snowfalls to Washington, D.C., and other parts of the U.S. mid-Atlantic region. This image shows the depth of snow that had accumulated at locations across the contiguous United States as of February 11, 2010. (Image by NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory using data courtesy of NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.)

The CSI Team’s analysis indicates that’s not likely. They found no evidence — no human “fingerprints” — to implicate our involvement in the snowstorms. If global warming was the culprit, the team would have expected to find a gradual increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region as temperatures rose during the past century. But historical analysis revealed no such increase in snowfall. Nor did the CSI team find any indication of an upward trend in winter precipitation along the eastern seaboard.

The CSI team turned its attention to natural factors that control the ordinary ups and downs of weather. Many extreme weather events are due to cyclical, large-scale anomalies in air pressure and sea surface temperature across large tracts of ocean. Such fluctuations spawn weather systems that can cause droughts, floods, and massive snowstorms. While El Niño is the most famous, scientists have identified other climate anomalies throughout Earth’s climate system as well. Their names may seem unimpressive — the Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, to name a few — but they can pack quite a punch!

The Suspects

pacific_ssha_jsn_15Feb2010_465

False-color map showing El Niño pattern of sea-surface height anomalies in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on February 15, 2010. Higher areas, shown in red, are warmer than average, and lower areas, shown in blue, are cooler than average. White areas show average heights and temperatures. Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory.

The CSI team focused on two suspects known to be at large this winter — the negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and El Niño. El Niño, with its warming of tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures, may be best known for delivering heavy rains across the southern United States. El Niño events can trigger mudslides in California, floods along the Gulf Coast, and unusual warmth and drought in the Pacific Northwest. The latter should sound familiar: an unusually warm winter from Portland to Seattle was part of the same climate pattern affecting the venue of the Winter Olympics. The CSI Team suspected that El Niño was a conspirator in the United States’ unusual winter weather, and that it had an accomplice.

The North Atlantic Oscillation is a fluctuating air-pressure pattern that alternatively enhances or blocks the storm-steering jet stream over North America. So the NAO is particularly relevant in understanding eastern U.S. wintertime climate variations. The NAO describes the contrast in surface air pressure between Iceland and the Azores as well as the vigor of the jet stream that normally flows between them.

NAO histogram

The winter of 2009-10 witnessed the most extreme negative (blocked) NAO phase since at least 1950. (Graph courtesy of Marty Hoerling, NOAA Earth System Research Lab.)

This winter the NAO was in its negative phase and the jet stream flowed further south than usual, pushed toward the Azores by a massive “block” of high surface pressure over Greenland. It’s an unusual atmospheric circulation pattern, but one that has been implicated before. For example, remarkably cold winters persisted over Europe and Russia in the early 1940s, helping to turn the tide of World War II. The NAO, in a blocked phase, was one conspirator in those cold events. Likewise, the CSI Team suspected the pattern was a co-conspirator in the extreme winter weather conditions this year in the mid-Atlantic region. But could they find the evidence they would need to finger El Niño and NAO?

[Editor's note: There is ongoing discussion among scientists as to which of the climate patterns is a more meaningful description of real-world conditions — the Arctic Oscillation or the North Atlantic Oscillation? While these phenomena are measured using different indexes, their values are so highly correlated that some scientists use the terms interchangeably, referring to them together simply as “AO/NAO.” Both AO and NAO were at record lows this winter. (For more information about the Arctic Oscillation this winter, see Can Record Snowstorms and Global Warming Coexist?)]

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

The Evidence

archetypical patterns for positive and negative phases of the NAO

This rendering shows climate conditions and weather events associated with extreme phases of the North Atlantic Oscillation. Based on scientific reanalysis, the NAO index is the difference of normalized surface pressure values between grid points closest to the stations Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, and Stykkisholmur/Reykjavik, Iceland. During a positive phase (left), surface pressure in the Azores is much greater than in Iceland (data from May 1992 shown). During a negative phase, that difference is much weaker (data from July 1993 shown), resulting in different circulation patterns (Schematic adapted from AIRMAP by Ned Gardiner and David Herring, NOAA.).

Evidence: Negative Phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation
By January, scientists worldwide were already abuzz about the extremely low values for the NAO index. The NAO, first discovered by British atmospheric scientist Sir Gilbert Walker in the 1920s, has been extensively studied, and its affect on U.S. snowfall is clear: When the NAO index is negative, or “blocked,” snow can pile up along the East Coast. At the atmospheric steering level for storms, high-pressure systems develop over Iceland and Greenland while low pressure builds over the central North Atlantic. This situation redirects the tracks of surface weather systems that are conducive for cold and snow toward the mid-Atlantic coast. Winter precipitation along the eastern seaboard is often in the form of rain, but in a blocked NAO pattern, temperatures can drop low enough to create snow instead.

Historical snowstorms affirm the link. In Baltimore and Washington, D.C., thirteen of the fifteen heaviest snowstorms since 1891 occurred when the NAO index was negative. And case studies of infamous Northeast U.S. storms over the last century, summarized in a Monograph of the American Meteorological Society, have discovered a link to blocked NAO conditions.

The CSI team took its analysis a step further, mapping out historical climate conditions associated with the ten snowiest Decembers, Januaries, and Februaries since 1891. The 30-month composite map of jet stream level and surface conditions revealed a textbook picture of a blocked NAO pattern over the Atlantic Ocean.

Evidence: El Niño
But the negative NAO didn’t act alone. By fall of 2009, a NOAA network of ocean buoys in the tropical Pacific Ocean picked up a moderate El Niño, which strengthened a bit by winter. El Niños typically influence North American climate by displacing the track of wintertime storms across the Pacific Ocean southward, often delivering heavy precipitation into a belt from Southern California through Texas and into the Southeast. The weather pattern also generally cools the eastern seaboard, though not as significantly as a blocked NAO pattern can.

The top 10 heaviest snowstorms for Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. Snowstorms occurring in years when there was a negative NAO and/or an El Niño are indicated. The shaded boxes highlight the storms from this past winter. (Table produced using data courtesy of Jeff Master, Weather Underground, and Klaus Wolter, NOAA ESRL.)

Historically, El Niños are associated with more winter snowfall along the East Coast. And many of the biggest snowstorms in mid-Atlantic cities occurred during El Niño years. Of the top ten storms in Washington, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, more than half have coincided with El Niño events. Yet not all El Niños yield heavy mid-Atlantic snowstorms. Notably, there was no statistically significant increase in snowfall during 1997-98, when one of the strongest El Niños of the century occurred.

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Co-conspirators

ElNino_NAO

These maps are centered on the North Pole to show near-surface temperature anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere. Asia is at the top of the map and North America is at the bottom. The top pair of maps are long-term composites (from 1951-2010) illustrating typical winter-time influence of El Niño (top left) and the NAO (top right). The bottom pair of maps shows a composite of the combined influence of El Niño and the NAO (bottom left) compared to the real-world observation from December 2009-February 2010 (bottom right). (Maps courtesy NOAA Climate Prediction Center.)

Combing through historical records dating back to the late 1800s, the CSI team identified the separate “fingerprints” of wintertime climate conditions related to El Niño and the NAO. They deduced that NAO conditions alone could explain Europe’s extreme winter and the large-scale cold temperatures in the United States, but not the remarkable occurrence of record-setting snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region. They also found that while El Niño conferred additional risk of storms for the mid-Atlantic, these conditions alone didn’t always result in snow. The team then compared the combination of these fingerprints with the 2009-10 conditions. Using a mathematical model to combine the characteristic climate patterns related to El Niño with those of a negative NAO, their reconstructed winter conditions agreed with real-world observations.

Wintry Weather in a Climate Context
The CSI Team found abundant historical evidence of heavy mid-Atlantic snowstorms whenever an El Niño and a negative NAO acted in concert, further supporting their conclusion that the record-setting snowstorms were the result of natural causes. But could global warming have elevated the potency of this dynamic duo? Again, the CSI Team didn’t find a connection.

While the U.S. shivered this winter, ranking 18th coldest since 1895, the planet’s average winter temperature ranked as the fifth warmest on record. Sea surface temperatures ranked second warmest this winter when averaged over the world oceans, according to preliminary data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

The observed variations of winter precipitation in the Washington, D.C., area (left) have been very different from what models predict would occur if only human-induced emissions of greenhouse gas and aerosols (right) were taken into consideration. This evidence suggests the mid-Atlantic’s trends in precipitation are mainly due to natural variability, not human influence. (Graph courtesy of Marty Hoerling, NOAA ESRL.)

But the extreme blocked-NAO of this past winter was opposite to the trend toward more positive phases of the NAO since 1950, and also opposite to projections for a positive trend in the NAO during the 21st Century due to greenhouse gas increases.

Attribution is often in high demand when climate behaves in unusual or extreme ways as it did this past winter. NOAA’s ability to respond with the best possible science is critical so that society can anticipate and respond to climate and its impact. For a more detailed science assessment of the causes for this winter’s snows, please see Understanding the Mid-Atlantic Snowstorms During the Winter of 2009-2010.

End_Symbol_465

Do you have feedback to offer on this or another ClimateWatch article?
Let us know what you think.

Martin Hoerling is a senior climate scientist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), where he leads the Climate Scene Investigators team. Katy Human and Barb Deluisi are science writers at NOAA ESRL.

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h/t to Joe D’Aleo at ICECAP

Note, this analysis if for winter 2009/2010. The 2011 report can’t be completed yet because snow season is not over. I expect when it is complete, a similar analysis will be produced.

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UPDATE: Steve Goddard points out inconsistency in some NOAA employees who claim that there is a human signature, he posts these two duel opinions from James Overland:

NOAA announced last year that the snow had no human fingerprint, two weeks ago James Overland at NOAA said just the opposite.

Is severe winter weather related to global warming?
Monday, February 7, 2011; 2:56 PM

Over the past two years, the polar vortex has been strikingly unstable, according to meteorological data. James Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cites a couple of measures in particular: One, called the Arctic oscillation, tracks air pressure and related atmospheric variables over the North Pole. The other, the North Atlantic oscillation, takes into account similar variables in the neighborhood of Iceland. Both indexes are reliable indicators of the strength of the polar vortex.

Last winter, both indexes reflected higher air pressures and therefore less vortex stability than scientists have ever recorded. This year, both were again seriously off-kilter.

Any number of meteorological factors contributed to those anomalies. Some were undoubtedly random, Overland says. But he and other experts suspect climate change is contributing to the unusual pattern, and if they’re right, things could get a whole lot worse in the years ahead.

The root of the problem, Overland says, is melting sea ice. Sea ice forms in the Arctic Ocean during the cold, dark days of fall and winter and hangs around, melting slowly but not completely vanishing, throughout the summer. In recent years, more sea ice has melted during the warm months than can be replenished during the chillier ones.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/

In 2004, Overland blamed the lack of snow on global warming:

When scientists trained their analytical tools on the North Pole and its environs, they quantified the local knowledge: The polar ice cap is 40 percent thinner and millions of acres smaller than it was in the 1970s.

What happens at the North Pole can affect the rest of the planet, potentially altering the course of the Gulf Stream, which moderates climate from the East Coast of the United States to the British Isles. Closer to home, the jet stream that dictates much of Seattle’s weather can be diverted when the polar vortex speeds up.

“It’s probably contributing to the fact that it’s warmer and we’ve been getting less snow,” Overland said.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2001910590_northpole23m.html

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88 thoughts on “NOAA’s CSI explains record snows: global warming not involved

  1. So, are they trying to pretend warmcold isn’t real? If warmcold isn’t real, how does this affect the drywet leg of the theory?

  2. Thanks for putting this up. This is good to know when talking with those who are convinced that more snow means a warming planet.

    My only complaint is that while the graphics were good, there should have been at least one photo of Marg Helgenberger. (Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good rule for just about anything.)

  3. I would like to thank Martin Hoerling & Katy Human & Barb Deluisi of NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory for their honest and untainted work. It’s refreshing.

    p.s. Didn’t you three get the memo from James Overland?

  4. If the modelled precipitation correlates so poorly to the actual precipitation, what is going on with the modelled vs actual cloud cover (albedo)?
    The game of curling is, at the professional level, one of “inches”. CAGW is one of +/- 2 W/m2, and +/- 0.3K over the last 60 years, the equivalent of “inches” in climatology. If this model vs actual comparison for precipitation is similar to others in the CAGW discussion, then it looks like Hansen, Gore, Mann and Jones are a few rocks short of a winning end.

  5. Something to remember when looking at East Coast snowfall records is the influence of the Atlantic Ocean. Storms often track up the coastline and, due to the influence of relatively warmer ocean temperatures, a rain-snow line forms which affects the amount of snow measured on the ground. Some years the storms tend to track inland and the snowfall is depressed because it has melted into rain by the time it hits the ground; some years they track seaward and the snow amount is increased, particularly as light fluffy snow instead of wet and heavy slop. Fifty miles can mean the difference between an historical snowstorm and a routine event at any particular location along the coast. Furthermore, there are no measurements of snowfall over half of the coverage area — the ocean part. Have massive snowfalls been missed merely because they dumped most of their snow at sea?

    Maybe these caveats are less important for Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC, but they sure make a difference for Southern New England.

  6. El Niño conditions abruptly abated in the NH winter and spring of 2010. By July, we were headed into La Niña conditions which continued to form rapidly for the rest of the year.

    Mid to Late November showed fully formed sea ice in the Arctic (80N) and the strong La Niña introduced typical changes to the jet stream. The dip in the jet stream brought increased Arctic air which in conjunction with Gulf and Pacific water vapor produced snow and ice.

    Basically, we enjoyed lots of weather but why isn’t La Niña mentioned in the article?

  7. NOAA reports:
    “But the extreme blocked-NAO of this past winter was opposite to the trend toward more positive phases of the NAO since 1950, and also opposite to projections for a positive trend in the NAO during the 21st Century due to greenhouse gas increases.”

    Lets get rid of NASA and keep NOAA. NOAA understands multi decadel cycles in the oceans and atmosphere. Good work.

  8. One other thing,(putting on rumpled overcoat and lighting cigar) what about better detection of the ups and downs? You could argue that some of the earlier record years might be equal or better than current but we just don’t know…

  9. The great snow storms and floods of Jan-Feb 2011 are caused by an (unfortunate) timing of events:

    1. There has been an unusually long El Niño, during which ocean circulation stagnated.
    2. This caused a build-up of warm water in the tropics, while at the same time cooling mid-latitudes because less warmth was transported poleward.
    3. The cooling caused droughts, bush fires and heat waves at mid-latitudes. It also caused an unusually cold beginning of winter in the northern mid-latitudes and a hot and dry spring in southern mid-latitudes.
    4. Once the oceans began circulating again (the onset of a La Niña), an unusually large pool of unusually warm water went poleward towards unusually cool mid-latitudes.
    5. This combination of unusually warm water and unusually cool land caused unusual snow precipitation in northern mid-latitudes and floods combined with tropical cyclones in southern mid-latitudes.

    No global warming is involved; just timing.

  10. Of 30 record snowfalls cited 18 have occurred since 1979 and they couldn’t find a pattern?

    REPLY:
    Like rainfall records associated with mesoscale thunderstorms, snowfall can also fall into “streets” of intensity.

    Have a look here: http://www.nasaimages.org/luna/servlet/detail/nasaNAS~10~10~73054~178473:Lake-Effect-Snow-in-the-United-Stat
    and this: http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/archives/595

    Note the swaths of snow.

    So, since the theory is that water vapor overall is increased due to AGW, what you have to search for in tying AGW to increased snowfall is TOTAL seasonal snowfalls, not individual records which can be broken by a single “thundersnower” or lake effect event. – Anthony

  11. Gore speaks!
    Aspen, Colorado

    The Vail Times–‘Gore told the standing-room-only audience that his remarks on global warming, and the presentations throughout the half-day symposium, should not be taken as merely “interesting” or “an intellectual exercise.”…’

    All raised their heads to look at the heavens…

  12. ej clairm: The NEGATIVE phase of the NAO is exactly what brings exceptional cold to Scandanavia and Northern Europe – just as the maps in this post show. It’s been in a Positive phase for the last several years, but began to change to Negative around 2007/8.

    Thanks Anthony, it is indeed refreshing to see some real science coming from one of the “Climate Change” agencies at last.

  13. [scratches head]

    The other aspect of this that simply doesn’t make any sense to me, the IPCC doesn’t project human induced climate change until about 2060 [Curry]. Everything prior to 2060 is assumed to be natural change.

    If NOAA supports the IPCC consensus, why aren’t they simply telling the world the obvious?

  14. James Sexton says:
    February 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

    “So, are they trying to pretend warmcold isn’t real? If warmcold isn’t real, how does this affect the drywet leg of the theory?”

    My models of the behavior of AGW promotors indicates that the cold effects of the warmcold will freeze the wet part of the drywet leg and stiffen it into a steeply rising hockey-stick-like slope that will still take considerable forcing to correct.

    Making matters worse, due to the political warming the legs of the AGW pants seem to be getting wetter by the day.

  15. I remember the Feb. 1979 snowstorm in DC. Everything shut down for two days. Had to cross country sky to the grocery store. Not enough snow trucks to move the snow. I was there for hurricane David and that one was a monster too. The sun heats and cools the earth.

  16. Would these findings refute those in the paper published in Nature discussed by Willis Eschenbach earlier, or is there a difference between extreme rain and extreme snow events?

  17. “If NOAA supports the IPCC consensus, why aren’t they simply telling the world the obvious?”

    Invest in one rhetoric, shift to another and the year’s accreditation would be brutal at best with a chance of turning into a monetary bloodbath. Every year the best salesman or woman has to take up the clipboard and make that funding pitch. If you ever get the chance, sit in on one (governmental branch is irrelevant as it always plays out the same) and prepare to be dazzled by Jedi like verbiage. “These are not the budget cuts you were looking for…”

  18. if human-induced global warming could have caused the snowstorms due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.
    =============================================
    First they tried to claim that global warming made the air warmer, and the warmer air holds more moisture….

    ….then they realize that 12-24 inches of snow, is only about 1-2 inches of rain

    …then they have to admit that actual precipitation as water is down

    Then they try to explain how global warming made the air warmer, but the warmer air didn’t hold more moisture…..

    …..it was just colder, and the colder made the less moisture in the air snow, instead of more rain if the air had been warmer

    It’s the warmcold, wetdry, flooddrought, snowrain and is consistent with all of the climate computer games……….

  19. Good to see NOAA showing the link some of the IPCC brigade have been making between severe snow and climate warming is false.

    I think the link between a weaker, loopier jet stream and colder NH winters is down to our quiet sun. I wonder if this can lead to a change in mid-latitude albedo, with more snow and ice nearer to the equator, and it is this that amplifies the changes in solar output to cause a change to a colder weather regime. Should the sun choose to remain quiet for a prolonged period, perhaps long term changes will occur which will push climate into ‘cool’ mode?

  20. Latitude says:
    February 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Good summary. I would add calmstorms and a new term, “creasing.” Thus hurricane frequency, or whatever, is creasing, with both increasing and decreasing fully compatible with the models.

    And by the way, due to the extreme sensitivity of the models, we can never say they are wrong or have failed because that would effect their self esteem.

  21. On other posts on record floods over time, I suggested the idea that if the record highs are random, then the number of records to be expected over time is equal to Ln”n”, where “n” equals the number of years and the first year in the series is treated as a record (sometimes other time units – eg seasons). The basis for this is if you have a series of numbers from 1 to “n”, a random permutation of these numbers will give (approximately for a small number series) Ln”n” progressive new records starting with the first number of the permutation as a record.

    Lets see what we get from the snowfall graph above from 1889 (season 1888-89) to 2010 (2009-10). Counting the records progressively we have 1889, 1891, 1892, 1900, 2010, five records. Number of years “n”=122. What is Ln (122)? Why it is 4.80, approximately 5.0!! Are we likely to break this record in the next 100 years? Lets see: Ln (222) =5.4, hmm … possible. What about in the next 200 years: Ln(322)=5.77. Surely in the next 300 yrs: Ln(422)=6.04, whew… Well with randomness one can’t be sure of when the next one will occur but I’m betting I won’t live to see the next record. Mark me down as having made this climate prediction. Interestingly, the 2010 record was essentially due to arrive at about this time.

  22. _____
    The Vail Times–’Gore told the standing-room-only audience that his remarks on global warming, and the presentations throughout the half-day symposium, should not be taken as merely “interesting” or “an intellectual exercise.”…’
    _____

    Don’t worry, Al. We don’t take it as “merely” either.

  23. What the world needs now is an NOAA CSI for the planet to help crush instant Warmist speculation. They have reduced themselves to using weather as evidence of global warming – something they have told us not to do regarding cold and snow.

  24. The House is going to start asking to see the evidence for the pronouncements.
    It is time for the climate scientologists to get their affaris in order.
    If the data does not support warmcold, hotfrost, dryrain, sunnyclouds or calmstorms then the people making these claim will be looking for work in the private sector.

    Czars are gone, budgets are shrinking, time to focus on your day job.

    Elections have consequencs.

  25. Playin devil’s advocate here:

    CO2 induced change, chaotic system, extremes, unexpected, not gradual, tipping points, out of balance, disruption, storms, droughts, blood, frogs, boils, death of the firstborn.

  26. Considering it is coming from NOAA, it is not that bad.. they finally dig into AMO/NAO/ENSO without attribution it to CO2 ;)

    But see the reasoning “positive NAO, which was caused by greenhouse gases” – [snip] Again, cherrypicking based on the 1975-2005 trend, whether it is warm PDO, AMO, NAO or the rising part of the hockey stick.

    NAO went up and down before and no GH were needed for that

  27. So, since the theory is that water vapor overall is increased due to AGW, what you have to search for in tying AGW to increased snowfall is TOTAL seasonal snowfalls, not individual records which can be broken by a single “thundersnower” or lake effect event. – Anthony
    ======================================
    Anthony, wouldn’t you just measure precipitation/water?

    Measuring snow would not really tell you whether there was more moisture or not. Depending on temperature, snow can be wet or powder, and be really different on how much water is in it.

    This is what tricked them all up, and they are climatologists! They saw what looked like a lot of snow (water) and invented that story about warmer air holding more water.

    It did not hold more water, that’s the whole point.

  28. Al Gored says:
    February 21, 2011 at 11:33 am
    Good summary. I would add calmstorms and a new term, “creasing.”
    ==============================================
    noted, I like “creasing” LOL

  29. Good job from NOAA on this one. Notice the patterns generated a lot of COLD air transport into and west of the Apalacians that INCREASES the temperature gradients for MORE potential energy availablity and storm development for the increased precipitation and snowfall. Completely consistent with my article.

  30. And a ‘fingerprint’ means only that the model agrees with reality – after much torturing of the data!
    Calloo! Callay! Most frabjous day!

  31. Of course, the irony is this: If global warming really did lead to increased snowfall, this would yield a powerful “negative feedback” due to the ice/albedo effect. And we have consistently been told that a positive ice/albedo feedback effect is one of the amplifying factors that multiplies the effect of CO2 itself into something worrisome.

  32. NOAA nearly getting it right. This current NH winter showing a larger U.S. snowfall with a strong La Nina. What they are missing is the stronger planetary waves created by low solar EUV (Baldwin et al) that flow to the north pole (only) and disrupt the polar vortex thereby influencing the AO/NAO and the jetstream.

    This graph showing the strong neg AO during low EUV while the AAO not affected.

    For those thinking less solar ice influences the AO/NAO….what happened in 2007 when it was at it lowest. Also the greatest warming happened from 1980-1998, increased water vapor not affecting snowfall records?

  33. Can any one shed some light on what they mean by this statement.
    “Last winter, both indexes reflected higher air pressures and therefore less vortex stability than scientists have ever recorded. This year, both were again seriously off-kilter.”what do they mean by “off kilter”
    ————————————————————————————–
    I particularly like this statement made in 2004
    It’s probably contributing to the fact that it’s warmer and we’ve been getting less snow,” Overland said.
    And this one..
    Overland says. But he and other experts suspect climate change is contributing to the unusual pattern, and if they’re right, things could get a whole lot worse in the years ahead.
    Note the words “suspect, if, and could, and the grandiose.. expert,
    ————————————————————————————–
    Now they are all saying its because its getting warmer that we are getting colder and snowier…don’t you just love these guys

  34. If I understand correctly 2009/2010 heavy snow is due to a NAO/El Nino combination.

    Now what about 2010/2011 more heavy snow ? still a by product of the former NAO / El Nino, or now due to the present NAO / La Nina combination ?

    We are waiting for the next report of NOAA’s forensic team ! What a suspense !

  35. Alan F says:
    February 21, 2011 at 11:05 am
    “If NOAA supports the IPCC consensus, why aren’t they simply telling the world the obvious?”

    Invest in one rhetoric, shift to another and the year’s accreditation would be brutal at best with a chance of turning into a monetary bloodbath. Every year the best salesman or woman has to take up the clipboard and make that funding pitch. If you ever get the chance, sit in on one (governmental branch is irrelevant as it always plays out the same) and prepare to be dazzled by Jedi like verbiage. “These are not the budget cuts you were looking for…”

    ==========
    LOL, “prepare to be dazzled by Jedi like verbiage”

    Very good points — bottom line if I’m following, NOAA and other US governmental agencies do not openly support the IPCC consensus beyond a generalized concern related to Climate Change.

    So, if the US pulled the plug on UNFCCC/IPCC support, it will not have any impact on US Science agencies.

  36. This is very encouraging for two reasons. Firstly there are a significant group of NOAA personnel who are looking at the real data to find an explanation of climatic events instead of assuming CO2 and massaging data and models to fit. Secondly they clearly have enough courage and strength of conviction to go against the prevaling politics in NOAA.

    All we can ask for is an open and unbiassed examination of the data, for if climate scientists do this then the CAGW meme will be overturned.

  37. sorry about my post at 12;12 pm above bad link

    Al Gore was in Aspen, pounding his fist and yelling, I found the story in the Vail Colorado News paper.

    I’m sure the msm / google has picked it up and covered the earth in Al’s wisdom by now.

    sorry

  38. Just a clarification:

    1) There has been global warming since 1650 until 2005, due to the Sun. Not due to man.
    2) The Sun has gone quiet since 2005.
    3) The upper atmosphere is becoming cooler from 2005 until now.
    4) The heat in oceans will be absorbed by a cooler atmosphere. This will cause evaporation and atmospheric warming.
    5) The land masses will be cooler due to the quiet Sun. Moisture and heat will transfer from the oceans to the land.

    I expect lots of comments, but this is the way it is.

  39. Interesting that in our area, the “official” total NOW is about 85 inches.

    My neighbor and I have been keeping our own “unofficial” total, we are at 105 inches.

    We think the local weather bureau is desperately trying to “under report” as at this rate, by end of march, we’d be at about 120″, (10 feet for those without calculators), and that would be a 140 year RECORD for Minnesota.

    Also, does colder mean less snow? Well, the local power company says, “Jan. Average Temp. 11 F”, and then notes: “Jan. Ave. Temp. last year (2010): 21 F.”

    Stay tuned for more “gandy dancing” on the AWG/extreme weather mime.

    Meanwhile, I’m digging out.

    Max

  40. All the buzz over at Gavin Schmidt’s RealClimate right now is about those very snowstorms. People are complaining about their flowers getting killed. Lady, you should have tried growing up where I did: Edmonton, Alberta, where late May blizzards are as common as the stink of patchouli at an AGW protest.

    Slightly off-topic, I tried an example post there. I was told I was out of my depth, that there is an obvious explanation of Phil Jones’s “no warming in 15 years” comment but that I wasn’t going to be given it, nyah nyah – and my IP has been banned from entering further comment. Yes, THAT’S the way to win friends and influence people over to the alarmist camp: condescend, tell them you have the real goods but won’t share them, cut ‘em off from further participation. Not impressed, NEXT!

  41. APACHEWHOKNOWS says:
    February 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    “better link to Al Gores latest”

    I guess it was too good because now it says that is an ‘invalid story’ (some irony there) and shows nothing.

  42. Well, if Gore, Trenberth and Romm are convinced that AGW is causing climate extremes and food price hikes, which are causing the unrest in Arab nations., then AGW must be causing the fall of dictators in the Arab world.

    So explain once more what is wrong with AGW? From where I’m sitting it looks like AGW CAUSES DEMOCRACY.

  43. OT but Tips & Notes doesn’t seem functional at the moment. Just found this in the Aspen Times:

    “CARBONDALE — One of the more unique applications in renewable energy could find its way to a dog-friendly park in Carbondale.

    Laurie Guevara-Stone of Carbondale-based Solar Energy International recently approached the Carbondale parks and recreation commission about installing a gas lamp in one of Carbondale’s dog parks that would be fueled by methane from dog waste.

    If the project proves to be feasible, and if grant funding can be obtained, it would serve as yet another renewable energy demonstration project in green-savvy Carbondale.”

    http://www.aspentimes.com/article/20110202/NEWS/110209960/1007&parentprofile=1058

  44. Here in the Midwest, I have been intrigued by this NWS News story on 50 inch snowfall seasons in Chicago and Rockford:

    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/news/display_cmsstory.php?wfo=lot&storyid=63726&source=2

    I looked at the record of Chicago and Rockford and both places have a 50 inch seasonal snowfall year around 1 in 5 years. To get 4 in a row (based off this .2 chance) would be 1 in 625.

    But for both cities to get 50 inches in the same year, the chance drops to 1 in 10. So I figure the chance to get 4 in a row at 1 in 10,000.

    I’m highly doubtful that this 4th year of 50+ inch snowfall in Chicago and Rockford is a 1 in 10000 chance. (Although maybe I should be playing the pick 4?)

    So my next thought is that each winter is not an independent event which besides ruining my math above, would indicate some other driving event. (NAO/PDO/El Niño or something else?)

  45. To all those wondering about the warm air’s wetness, WUWT disposed of that prevarication already:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/02/17/regarding-thermodynamics-and-heat-transfer-why-al-gore%E2%80%99s-comments-to-bill-o%E2%80%99reilly-at-fox-news-are-wrong/

    Mr. Gore and any other scientists are wrong when they claim warm air masses “soak up moisture like a sponge” as we determined that the differential vapor pressure between the air and a body of water are what determines evaporation, and larger differential vapor pressure is NOT generated in the tropical environment as Gore seems to think. It is actually generated with COLD and very dry continental arctic air overrunning a body of warmer water, such as when arctic air spills out over the ocean or when it runs over the Great Lakes and produces lake effect snow.

    As usual, Gore and the Warmies have it 100%, 180° wrong. Quelle surprise!

  46. John from CA:

    Strangely speaks only Yoda. Other Jedi reasonably articulate are. Yoda from a German his English learned he did.

  47. Dr. Lurtz said: “Just a clarification:

    1) There has been global warming since 1650 until 2005, due to the Sun. Not due to man.
    2) The Sun has gone quiet since 2005.
    3) The upper atmosphere is becoming cooler from 2005 until now.
    4) The heat in oceans will be absorbed by a cooler atmosphere. This will cause evaporation and atmospheric warming.
    5) The land masses will be cooler due to the quiet Sun. Moisture and heat will transfer from the oceans to the land. I expect lots of comments but that’s the way it is.”

    Dr. Lurtz: We are not finished here. Here is number 6,7 and 8 to follow your order:

    6. The ocean will then cool as a result of transfer of heat to the atmosphere and its vapor pressure will then lower DECREASING evaporation.
    7. The decreased evaporation will then lower the optical depth of the atmosphere and increase surface emission of infrared radiation to space, causing a further cooling cycle.
    8. The further cooling will cause glacier growth and increase ice and snow cover, reflecting more short wave energy from the sun and causing additional unspooling of global temperatures.

    There now. That about covers it.

    Chuck Wiese
    Meteorologist

  48. Al Gored says:
    February 21, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    “CARBONDALE — One of the more unique applications in renewable energy could find its way to a dog-friendly park in Carbondale.

    Laurie Guevara-Stone of Carbondale-based Solar Energy International recently approached the Carbondale parks and recreation commission about installing a gas lamp in one of Carbondale’s dog parks that would be fueled by methane from dog waste.

    If the project proves to be feasible, and if grant funding can be obtained, it would serve as yet another renewable energy demonstration project in green-savvy Carbondale.”

    They must be counting on having a lot of dog poop.

    The real question, however, is when they’re going to change their name from Carbondale. That’s got to be embarrassing for a green-conscious community.

  49. A very warm November is good for pushing the NAO negative. Winter precipitation occurs on the temperature uplifts, if its cold enough beforehand {example} say in December, then you get snow instead of rain at warming spurts in January/February. If it stays cold, then it will be dryer. The peak conditions for record snow falls are a product of the external short term forcing of temperatures at key points during the season.

  50. I’m just an armchair weather geek. I’ve no degree in this area. Yet I have said many times on this blog that natural drivers could and do easily explain WEATHER PATTERN VARIATION trends, oscillations, swings, dips, and extremes within climate zones. So I am left with two conclusions, take your pick.

    1. The experts are that bad.

    2. I’m that good and am in the wrong profession.

  51. Douglas DC says: at 10:06 am
    One other thing,(putting on rumpled overcoat and lighting cigar)

    It doesn’t appear that anyone cared to note the cleverness of the above statement by D – DC; so here are the necessary links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbo_(TV_series)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Falk

    ————————–

    Meanwhile, western Pennsylvania, where I grew up, had more snow prior to CAGW :

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ussc/USSCAppController?action=snowfall_topten&state=36&station=CLARION%203%20SW&coopid=361485&param=10

  52. Chuck Weise, I have a mechanism for internal drivers of recent warming and cooling. What is your mechanism for solar drivers of the recent oscillations? My mechanisms hold true for any period we would like to discuss. Your solar drivers lose correlation easily. Your list is less than scientific in my opinion and is the other side of the same coin of nonsense I hear from AGW scare pronouncements of Earth as a CO2 cloistered fire ball.

    When will solar proponents offer a mechanism strong enough to affect weather pattern variation (which some insist on calling climate change) on the ground? Mathematically, there just isn’t enough solar energy variation to drive that change. Plain and simple. We must continue to try to understand how Earth’s atmosphere is driven to change internally. Only in this swirling mass of changing and oscillating pressure and oceanic systems will you find the energy necessary to drive weather pattern variations within climate zones (aka climate change).

  53. John from CA says:
    February 21, 2011 at 9:59 am
    El Niño conditions abruptly abated in the NH winter and spring of 2010. By July, we were headed into La Niña conditions which continued to form rapidly for the rest of the year…. [W]hy isn’t La Niña mentioned in the article?
    – – – – – – – – – –
    This article and its part-one predecessor were published March 25 – 26, 2010 – too early to mention La Niña.

    Can Record Snowstorms & Global Warming Coexist?
    Forensic Meteorology Solves the Mystery of Record Snows>

    I mention the first article only so I can say that the collective authors were Herring, Higgins, Halpert, Hoerling, Human, … and Deluisi.

    To get La Niña mixed in, you want An Assessment of 2010 North American Temperatures (pdf) by Hoerling, Easterling, Perlwitz, Eischeid, and Pegion.

  54. Pamela Gray: No, that is incorrect. There is a near perfect correlation mathematically with solar magnetic and temperature unlike CO2 and temperature.

    Not every mechanism is understood that triggers cooling, but I suspect the loss of total radiance as the sun gets quieter and disk size becomes smaller, there is a decrease in solar infrared at the wavelengths of between 1-3 microns that is absorbed by distinct water vapor bands in that range. And we know now there has been a significant loss of ultraviolet radiation that is also absorbed by ozone in the troposphere and straosphere, and although UV is diminished in intensity as it reaches the surface , it still has a shorter wavelength than visible light and IS an extra heating mechanism to the ocean in addition to visible light.

    If there is less solar radiance, at these wavelengths from .4 to 3 microns, the sun is FAR more energetic than infrared emission from the ground, and especially up at 15 microns, where CO2 is absobing and emitting. The comparisons there aren’t close by a long shot. Solar radiance is at lesat 4 times greater than infrared emission from the ground.

    If you cool the ocean from a quieter sun, the steps I added are not a guess, they are a logical conclusion to how the earth would cool.

  55. Natural oscillations bring about pressure differences that bring about weather pattern changes. Do you know what kind of energy is needed to scrub out a pressure system in exchange for another one, just within a 24 hour period? And then how much energy is needed to continue the oscillatory “flip”? Way more required than the energy generated in minute solar changes. Sorry. Solar doesn’t pass the “energy needed” reasonable test nor the mechanism test and has been thoroughly debunked many, many times.

    As for CO2 related changes, a slightly warmer day does not an oscillation make either. IMO, the increased warmth that can be relegated to anthropogenic CO2 increases is buried in the much stronger natural day to day variation, as can the small variations in solar output. Our own atmospheric/oceanic systems trump solar and CO2.

  56. I note that the date on the NOAA article is March 26, 2010. Did it just get published on the website? Is there some other reason that the discussion shows up now on WUWT?

    Followup and background on the recent Nature article?

  57. Pamela Gray: Well then I guess our earth must have a huge source of undiscovered geothermal energy that we don’t know about here.

    Perhaps you could enlighten us with where it all might be coming from and show everyone how the energy is transformed into “flipping” atmospheric systems without vaporizing the entire earth.

  58. I see Pamela is caught up in the same old TSI only argument that Leif projects.

    A combination of low EUV that influences the Northern Vortex along with ocean cycles could be the key. Some research into planetary waves could also help.

    Can I suggest a good hard read of this paper by distinguished authors that may enlighten those that can’t get beyond the TSI flaptrap.

  59. Some one once said.” Be careful what you wish for, for it may come true” The warmanistas have been wishing for the Arctic to become ice free to prove their point. Perhaps some one more educated than I can research the fact, that when the five mile deep ice sheets advance on the Northern hemisphere continents, the poles become some what ice free. It is a warm arctic ocean that causes the huge snow falls that create the ice ages. Investment in coal futures is possibly a prudent choice.

  60. “On other posts on record floods over time, I suggested the idea that if the record highs are random, then the number of records to be expected over time is equal to Ln”n”, where “n” equals the number of years and the first year in the series is treated as a record (sometimes other time units – eg seasons). ” Gary Pease

    Nice post. I learned something I’m too slow to work out for myself.

    However, I think the last line is incorrect. I believe that there is no due date for the next record, just a probability of any given year setting a new record. The probability of a new record should be the same for 2012 as it is for 2160 — for all practical purposes 1/150 =0.00667

  61. Of course you’re unlikely to find a human fingerprint! In snow you’re more likely to find footprints. Any fool knows that :-)

  62. A post last week stated that it is cold air that can draw more water due to saturation levels. So warm air has nothing to do with it.

  63. @Pamela Gray: yes, the experts are that bad. They use computers to predict that which provably cannot be predicted at all, never mind by biased mathematics grads who run simulations based on biased data.

  64. Mister Ed says:
    February 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm
    John from CA says:
    February 21, 2011 at 9:59 am
    El Niño conditions abruptly abated in the NH winter and spring of 2010. By July, we were headed into La Niña conditions which continued to form rapidly for the rest of the year…. [W]hy isn’t La Niña mentioned in the article?
    – – – – – – – – – –
    This article and its part-one predecessor were published March 25 – 26, 2010 – too early to mention La Niña.

    Can Record Snowstorms & Global Warming Coexist?
    Forensic Meteorology Solves the Mystery of Record Snows>

    I mention the first article only so I can say that the collective authors were Herring, Higgins, Halpert, Hoerling, Human, … and Deluisi.

    To get La Niña mixed in, you want An Assessment of 2010 North American Temperatures (pdf) by Hoerling, Easterling, Perlwitz, Eischeid, and Pegion.

    ============
    Thanks Mister Ed,
    I should have reviewed the NOAA article before posting and thanks for the link.

  65. This analysis on the NOAA web page is old. It is about the winter of 2009-2010. The science was not settled when that was written. There is a new theory to explain what is going on. It is well worth a read.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/opinion/26cohen.html

    The article says, because of added moisture in the air over the Arctic Ocean as fall temperatures have risen, and the freezing of the Arctic starts later, there is added snow cover in Siberia. This creates a pocket of cold air in Siberia which affects the global air circulation pattern, and sends the Arctic Oscillation into negative territory. The result is cold in the upper midwest US and the huge snow storms in the mid Atlantic.

    The author has supported his theory with simulations which successfully predicted this winter’s weather.

    REPLY: Sorry, not even wrong. There’s no new 2011 analysis because the 2010-2011 snow season is not over yet. And FYI, the science is never settled. – Anthony

  66. REPLY: Sorry, not even wrong. There’s no new 2011 analysis because the 2010-2011 snow season is not over yet. And FYI, the science is never settled. – Anthony
    Judah Cohen claims that he has used this phenomen as part of his winter forecasts very successfully.

    http://community.nytimes.com/comments/dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/27/wintry-weather-and-global-warming/?permid=36#comment36

    He writes:
    I make real-time forecasts based on these ideas. The best way to validate a scientific hypothesis is to make a successful prediction. The forecast model uses Siberian snow cover as one of its main predictors and I have been posting those forecasts to the National Science Foundation website:

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/autumnwinter/model.jsp

    http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/autumnwinter/predicts.jsp

    You can see this winter’s forecast and examples of previous forecasts on the site. Those forecasts have consistently outperformed other publicly available forecasts. Finally, I was invited to a prediction workshop in October where I presented a forecast for December-February 2010/11. The forecast was for a cold winter in Northern Europe and the Eastern US (a similar forecast was provided to my clients but that is not public and therefore not verifiable). I will not declare success one month into a three month forecast, but I think that your readers will agree that since the severe weather so far this winter is consistent with my forecast, makes the ideas that I expressed more compelling than if I had not made a forecast.

    REPLY: And again, you miss the point, this is NOAA, not Judah Cohen or Punxatawney Phil. Clearly, you are simply citing what you believe in, rather than waiting for all the data to come in. It is a common MO of AGW proponents to make early pronouncements in the slimmest of correlations, and then later we see that when analysis comes in from others, the arguments gets shifted.

    However, that said, and since you raised the issue, I’m willing to have a look at your forecast you presented. Please post it. – Anthony

  67. eadler says:
    February 22, 2011 at 11:59 am

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/26/opinion/26cohen.html

    The article says, because of added moisture in the air over the Arctic Ocean as fall temperatures have risen, and the freezing of the Arctic starts later, there is added snow cover in Siberia. This creates a pocket of cold air in Siberia which affects the global air circulation pattern, and sends the Arctic Oscillation into negative territory. The result is cold in the upper midwest US and the huge snow storms in the mid Atlantic.

    The author has supported his theory with simulations which successfully predicted this winter’s weather.

    I think we should look at the detail of this claim and evaluate its worthiness to science.

    To begin with the article makes no mention of the Eurasian snowfall having any effect on the AO/NAO. It only states the “cold dome” over Siberia bends the jetsream which is hardly credible. The AO/NAO is the major driver of the jetstream changes. The negative phase of these oscillations is controlled by the power of the planetary wave and the phase of the QBO. The “cold dome” is at its strongest from now until April but we have witnessed the AO/NAO turning strongly positive in recent weeks. This is a major flaw with Cohen’s theory as the jetstreams have moved away from their cold position over the U.S. in recent weeks bringing slightly warmer weather.

    Perhaps you could provide the Eurasian snow data for the last 40 years so we can dig a little deeper?

    I also predicted the massive winter for the NH back in July. My Logic was based on the neg PDO, the strong La Nina that would result from the very positive AAO at the time and the expectation of the AO/NAO going strongly negative because of reduced EUV. The AO is generally not affected by planetary waves after Feb.

  68. This was an interesting bit from the article:

    “While the U.S. shivered this winter, ranking 18th coldest since 1895, the planet’s average winter temperature ranked as the FIFTH WARMEST on record. Sea surface temperatures ranked SECOND WARMEST this winter when averaged over the world oceans, according to preliminary data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

    Granted, this was a quote referring to the entire globe and didn’t mention the small part of the US that was so snowy so sCeptics can feel free to disregard it as unimportant.

  69. From the third illustration:

    “False-color map showing El Niño pattern of sea-surface height anomalies in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on February 15, 2010. Higher areas, shown in red, are warmer than average, and lower areas, shown in blue, are cooler than average. White areas show average heights and temperatures. Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory”

    The image states “Sea Surface Height Anomaly (mm)” But the caption refers to the colors as temperature. Is someone’s bias showing? The height correlates with temperature so they are the same? Temperature causes the elevated sea levels alone so they are height/heat? Why didn’t any one catch that? Are we so programmed that mixing units in an illustration misses that many eyes or am I missing something very obvious?

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