Weather Post by Dr. Ryan Maue
Those reading the San Francisco* Chronicle on Wednesday were treated to a front page story on California’s Climate: Warmer interior leads to cooler coastline.
“Fair weather fans who believe global warming will bathe San Francisco’s Sunset District in sun or one day prompt residents of Daly City to don bikinis may be in for a rude awakening.”
Peter Fimrite, Chronicle Staff Writer, in his attempt to impart levity on the very serious climate crisis issue, highlights the apparent disappointment of his readers who were expecting the Bay Area to become a tropical paradise. He describes an important new study by meteorologist Jan Null which examined the new “1981-2010 climate normals” issued July 1 by NCDC and found proof of global warming, or something.
Jan Null holds a Masters from San Jose State University and is a certified consultant meteorologist. He clearly has the expertise necessary to perform climatology studies, which this article demonstrates. However, Null’s quotations and conclusions are not buttressed by the limited data sample he provides. Indeed, the article is not particularly well-written as evidenced by Null contradicting himself within the span of several paragraphs. Perhaps we should heed his parting words: “this is such a small sample that it really needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Null performs a simple comparison analysis for 8-stations of annual temperatures and precipitation, as shown in the map. This analysis must have taken the better part of 10-minutes. It simply shows the difference between the period of 2001-2010 and 1971-1980, since the period 1981-2000 is common to the most recent two “climate normals” (1971-2000 and 1981-2010):
“…average temperatures have increased since 1981 in only two of eight California cities surveyed compared with the 30 years starting in 1971. The information, compiled using National Climatic Data Center statistics, shows more annual rain has also fallen everywhere except in Southern California.
The data may appear to bolster the arguments of global warming skeptics, but Null said the findings actually fit in with the predictions of scientists who believe the climate is changing as a result of human-caused carbon emissions.
“People say, ‘Wait a minute, what about global warming? Shouldn’t it be warmer?’ ” Null said. “Well, if you have more warm days in the Central Valley, you are going to have a stronger sea breeze so you will cool off the coastal areas. That certainly does not contradict any of the models about global warming. This is what is to be expected.“
Okay, let’s follow this straw man argument to its logical conclusion. Some unnamed “global warming skeptics” may use this result to bolster their case, yet the “findings” do no such thing. Instead, this is exactly what’s expected with global warming. Unfortunately, this conclusion is woefully unsubstantiated with the very limited data sample, as Null states later in the article. Yet, there it is.
“All the Northern California sites have seen a slight increase in rainfall, on the order of 3 to 6 percent,” Null said. “Ultimately, if you have a warmer atmosphere, that gives you more precipitation.”
Actually 4 of the 6 stations that have precipitation increases had a decrease in temperature. So the connection between local rainfall must be associated with non-local changes in temperature, or due to the “warmer atmosphere”.
There is no mention of any natural climate influences on California climate. There is a mighty large puddle of water nearby that is affected by a lot of alphabet soup: ENSO, PDO, PNA, NPGO, AO, etc. I’m willing to bet that the climate of the 1970s and the 2000s is quite different due to a change in the second (PDO). Null almost gets there:
He found significant change. Rainfall increased in every city, and annual temperatures were higher everywhere except in Fresno when the 1961-to-1990 period was compared with the 1971-to-2000 period. He did not include Eureka and Redding in that analysis.
Null said he believes the big storms that pounded the state between 1995 and 1998 may be causing the differences in average rainfall between the different 30-year periods.
“This decade we are losing some incredibly dry years in the 1970s and we have picked up some wet years in the ’90s,” Null said. “That may be just the randomness of climate rather than anything that is going on on a larger scale.”
Wait, how can the big storms of the 1990s result in the differences in average rainfall between the periods 1971-2000 and 1981-2010? Face palm? It’s really not clear what’s being compared anymore.
The next couple paragraphs are Pulitzer quality, and were likely inspired by the recent commissioned series in Scientific American:
Still, climatologists have long said that a warmer atmosphere would mean more rainfall in certain areas, and studies have shown that the Earth has warmed at least 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900. The world’s foremost scientists, about 2,500 in all, agree that this increase in global temperatures is responsible for the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, acidification of the ocean, sea level rise and habitat destruction.
Scientists say habitats will change over the next century so fast that some plants, trees and less tolerant species will undoubtedly go extinct if nothing is done. The predictions have nevertheless done little to quell the drumbeat of skepticism about global warming, particularly among politicians whose constituents stand to lose money if environmental regulations are imposed.
Well, that’s why it’s the Chronicle. Propaganda.
Null said his study should not be used to support either position, given that information from only eight of the thousands of cities in the database was included and snowfall levels and other factors were not analyzed.
“You see these subtle changes – warmer temperatures inland, slightly cooler temperatures along the coast, and an increase in precipitation – but this is such a small sample that it really needs to be taken with a grain of salt.” Null said. “But I think what we’re seeing is probably what we would see if we looked at a bigger sample.”
I look forward to reading the manuscript of this new study.
*San Francisco is known as the city where liberal politicians go to collect money for Presidential election campaigns by threatening to close down or bankrupt the coal industry.
Former Senator (currently indicted) John Edwards: March 27, 2007: “He called Monday for a ban on new coal-fired power plants in the country, unless they could recapture the greenhouse gases they create. There are 150 coal-fired plants now on the drawing boards in the United States, he said, and they can’t be allowed to harm the country’s efforts to control the spread of greenhouse gases.”
(Then and now Democrat candidate for) President Obama: January 2008:
…and for completeness, Vice President Joe Biden explaining his coal policy in Ohio in 2008… YouTube video…
…and what could have been…very excited & pro-coal Hillary Clinton from 2008 West Virginia campaign stop…