NOAA data for February shows cold European winter, warming world

  • 15 Mar 2011, 16:51
  • Christian

The US government research centre the National Atmospheric and Atmospheric Association provide a monthly assessment of surface temperatures around the world. It's a useful resource - although pretty detailed, it gives a picture both of what temperatures are doing around the world, and how they're changing over time.

The overall conclusion for the month was:

The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for February 2011 was 0.40°C (0.72°F) above the 20th century average of 12.1°C (53.9°F). This ties for the 17th warmest such value on record.

As part of the report, NOAA have graphed February temperatures over the past 130 years -

Noaa -4

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New profile: the International Policy Network

  • 15 Mar 2011, 15:09
  • The Carbon Brief

The International Policy Network (IPN) is an influential UK thinktank which "aims to bring down barriers to enterprise and trade, in order to achieve a world of opportunity, peace and prosperity."

The IPN founded and co-ordinates the Civil Society Coalition on Climate Change, a worldwide network of right-wing thinktanks opposing action on climate change. Amongst their UK member organisations are The Taxpayers Alliance and The Adam Smith Institute. Julian Morris said when setting up the coalition: "Interest groups exaggerate the threat of climate change in order to support their call for urgent global and national regulation of carbon emissions."

The IPN received at least $50,000, from ExxonMobil's "climate change outreach" programme, the Daily Telegraph reported in 2004. In August 2010, the IPN produced a document titled "seven myths about green jobs". The report draws on work which was originally funded by the Institute of Energy Research, which in turn has received funding from ExxonMobil.

Read more about the IPN in our full profile.

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Climate change in Uganda: “The biggest unreported story of our times”

  • 14 Mar 2011, 00:00
  • Guest post from Adam Corner

This is a cross-post - this article was originally published on Adam Corner's blog Hidden heat: climate change in Uganda.

The African continent has had more than its fair share of major disasters. Some, like the Rwandan genocide in 1994, captured the attention of the world media, and have become embedded in many Westerners' concept of 'Africa'.

Others receive sporadic attention but drop off the news agenda because they are not easily explainable in a two minute news item. Millions of people have been killed in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the past decade, although few outside of Africa could give you a detailed explanation of these events.

Given Africa's battle-scarred recent history, you might expect the lack of stories on African conflicts to be the most glaring omission in international media reporting. But according to Daniel Kalinake, the Managing Editor of the Daily Monitor, Uganda's leading independent newspaper, climate change has now surpassed conflict as the most unreported issue facing Africa.

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New profile: global temperature datasets

  • 11 Mar 2011, 14:08
  • The Carbon Brief

There are four principal global temperature datasets. Three use surface temperature measurements taken at land and sea, and record a clear warming trend over the past century. One is collected by the Met Office Hadley Centre jointly with the Climatic Research Unit (HadCRU) in the United Kingdom. Two datasets are collected by organisations in the United States: the NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) and NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC).

The final dataset uses satellites to measure the troposphere - the lower part of the Earth's Atmosphere. It is collected by the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), started in 1978, and also records a clear warming trend.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) of the United Nations uses the datasets kept by GISS, NCDC and HadCRU to calculate a single world average. These datasets are also quoted in the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).

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Flood, drought, fire = extreme weather = climate change?

  • 11 Mar 2011, 12:50
  • Robin

The United States based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released research on Wednesday which found that the 2010 Russian heatwave was primarily due to a natural atmospheric process called "atmospheric blocking". It suggested that while a contribution from climate change could not be ruled out, natural variability played a much larger role.

The study was the latest to have examined the relationship between a specific extreme weather event and increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Climate scientists are well aware of the pitfalls inherent in this kind of work - and the statement that "a single event cannot be attributed to climate change" is almost axiomatic in the public discussion around climate science. As the science blog Real Climate put it in 2005, following Hurricane Katrina:

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The 2011 4C awards

  • 10 Mar 2011, 17:28
  • Luke

"Excellence deserves acknowledgment." That's the premise behind George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication(4C) awards. Every year the university "honor[s] one person and one organization for their excellence as climate change communicators."

The shortlist for 2011 has been announced and includes six nominees in each category. Members of the public can vote for their favourites until the 15th of April. The individual nominees have backgrounds in climate science, campaigns and media; they include Naomi Oreskes, Joe Romm and the UK's Tom Crompton.

Naomi Oreskes, celebrated academic and co-author of Merchants of Doubt, is the awards' most high profile nominee. Her scientific credentials are impressive but she is unique in climate change communication for another reason. It is her knowledge of the "historical evolution of the scientific, political, social, and economic narratives in which climate change research is embedded" that makes her outstanding, according to 4C. Oreskes is also described as a champion of climate scientists and "a colleague who exhausts superlatives".

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Plants and climate change: Positive or negative?

  • 09 Mar 2011, 17:40
  • Verity

New results from the University of Utrecht suggest that plants will lose less water as carbon dioxide levels rise, and the warming effect of plants as temperatures go up may be smaller than expected.

But looking at the wider scientific picture shows that this result doesn't mean vegetation won't be contributing to extra temperature rise. 'Carbon dioxide is good for plants' is a well-worn climate sceptic argument. But as is often the case, the situation is not that simple, and the scientific literature shows that there's still uncertainty and fierce debate within the scientific community about how plants will respond to global warming.

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US Navy Chief Oceanographer: I Was Formerly a Climate Sceptic

  • 07 Mar 2011, 16:22
  • Christian

It's interesting to hear someone say 'I used to be a climate sceptic, but the science persuaded me'. There's also a great analogy - his comparison of CO2 levels in the atmosphere to alcohol levels in the blood. (0.04% blood alcohol is around 387 parts per million - a small amount, but it makes a difference).

Via Climate Crock of the Week

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New profile: James Hansen

  • 07 Mar 2011, 15:00
  • The Carbon Brief

James Hansen is one of the world's most prominent and influential climate scientists, chief climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, and adjunct professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

The main area of GISS' scientific research is the prediction of atmospheric and climate change during the 21st Century, combining analysis of global datasets with modelling of atmospheric, land surface, and oceanic processes. Hansen has led GISS since 1981.

He was educated at the University of Iowa, where he obtained a BA in physics and mathematics, an MSc in astronomy and in 1967 a PhD in Physics focusing on cloud formation on Venus. After university, he went directly to work at GISS.

Hansen's main research area is the development of global climate models which simulate current climate patterns and create projections of human impacts on future climate. He has published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers on climate science.

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Did Christopher Booker read the study he was attacking?

  • 03 Mar 2011, 17:00
  • Christian

Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker recently celebrated his 21-year anniversary of writing for the paper. Booker, who has labeled global warming " the greatest scare of them all" has been criticized in the pastfor misrepresenting the science of climate change.

His most recent article was published on Sunday under the headline "Unscientific hype about the flooding risks from climate change will cost us all dear", but it leaves me wondering if he actually read the scientific paper he's criticising.

The "unscientific hype" in question is a paper in Nature by a group of academics, including Oxford physicist Myles Allen. The research used computer models to examine whether a single historical event - the UK flooding of 2000 - had been made more likely as a result of climate change.

When the paper was published, climate science blog Realclimate gave a rundown of what it was about:

"[examining] a specific event - floods in the UK in Oct/Nov 2000. … Pall et al set up a very large ensemble of [climate model] runs starting from roughly the same initial conditions to see how often the flooding event occurred. … Then they repeated the same experiments with pre-industrial conditions (less CO2 and cooler temperatures). If the amount of times a flooding event would occur increased in the present-day setup, you can estimate how much more likely the event would have been because of climate change."

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