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Science

2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever 782

Posted by kdawson
from the El-Nino-and-humankind-conspiring dept.
kpw10 writes "Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground has a great summary of this year's rather abnormal weather (his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis). The post discusses some of the cyclical climate forces at work this year and compares this year's record temperatures to records from the past. There are some interesting differences, particularly in the extent of the northern hemisphere seeing record highs this year." From the article: "December's weather in the Northeast U.S. may have been a case of the weather dice coming up thirteen — weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago. The weather dice will start rolling an increasing number of thirteens in coming years, and an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summertime by 2040 is a very real possibility..." Here is the The National Climatic Data Center's report announcing the entry of 2006 into the record books.
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2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever

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  • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:59AM (#17536802) Journal
    No, the bulk of the snow is on the eastern side of the divide (i.e. denver). The snow is maybe a bit above average for this time of year (but the snow is nice). If you want lots of snow, try the northwest.

    As to the airport closure, it was actually only closed for 36 hrs for the first storm only. On the second storm, airlines assumed a closure would happen and flights were manipulated. As it was, the airport never closed. The storm hit hard to the south east. Had the storm moved just 41 miles north, then most likely DIA would have been closed for 48 hours or more.

    But in my 25 years of living in Colorado, this is the first time that I have seen this much snow on the ground at this time of year. It reminds me of xmas in south wisc (which actually had no snow).
  • by Yaro (860240) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:02AM (#17536824)
    Could this really be avoided? Is it still time to revert those climate changes?
    Shouldn't we be preparing for the worse yet?
    Instead of deciding whether or not it's really happening ?
  • by locksmith101 (1017864) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:04AM (#17536832) Homepage
    I just watched "An inconvenient truth" yesterday. It was the creepiest film I ever watched, way scarier then "The Shining" or "The Ring". I hope most of you out there, have seen it already... I the film Al Gore shows multiple graphs illustrating the drastic changes in the climate - due to our smoking and scorching of Earth - in the last few decades. 2005 was the warmest year, now 2006 bits that questionable record. Are we all running towards the flames of self-destruction? I would say we are all to blame here - It's true, we can all contribute something to the cause. Drive less, own less - endorse global warming awareness in our community. But that will solve a fraction of the problem - America has to wake the hell up and say no to all those fat corporations and say (in the words of the great wizard) "You Shall Not Pass". I mean - we have the technology to turn into cars and motors running on alternative types of energies - we had that technology more than 20 years. Why is the fat fuck the suit - always louder than the suffering masses? Voice out people - let's start our own revolution here - make our children proud of this spineless generation.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:08AM (#17536862)
    the fact is, C02 isn't capable of producing enough warming to see these changes, and the maths on it shows this. by far the 2 greatest forces that effect our climate are water vapour and solar activity. i always love that they spout about 1998 - 2000 being the hottest on record, yet fail to mention most of that warming came from extra solar flare activity. it makes me wonder about these claims. frankly i think it's pretty concited to think we would be able put much of a dent in the planets atmosphere on a GLOBAL scale.
  • by mwanaheri (933794) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:19AM (#17536926)

    While I will agree with nearly all of it, the one point that MAY be wrong is that this is man-made. It is possible for this to be a natural phenomenon. Now, with that said, I would rather err on the side of caution and assume that this is man-made and at least try to back out our damage.
    The claim that the current climate change may not be man-made always sounds funny to me. I've never heard a scientist over here (germany) claim that in recent years. One difference between the current change and previous changes is that it affects both hemispheres, whereas previous changes (ice-ages, for example) seem to have affected either the southern or the northern hemisphere.
  • by DrMrLordX (559371) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:19AM (#17536928)
    I would have to say yes. After all, global warming may now be unstoppable [slashdot.org]. We need to find ways to survive the coming climate changes, and fast.
  • It's summer here (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:28AM (#17536968)
    weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago.
    Indeed. Southern hemisphere here and this is the first summer I *haven't* had to turn on the chiller on my aquariums to stop my fish from dying - it's been nowhere near as hot as it normally is.
  • Re:Contradictory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tatarize (682683) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:07AM (#17537178) Homepage
    Firstly the hurricanes were dwarfed by the El Nino effect. This wasn't known at the time the predictions were made. As for the question about the deep freezes that's a misunderstanding. Global Warming is a misnomer, a more accurate name would be Global Climate Change. On average the earth is warmer, however in the short term you are going to end up with more extreme weather. You will end up with places that deep freeze, other places that face rather sudden flash floods, as well as extreme winds and drought. On average there will be less rain fall, but when the rain falls it should be extreme and sudden.

    You can expect deep freezes and heat waves, no snow and blizzards. On average it will be warmer and dryer, but you can pretty much get anything day to day.
  • by Dr_Mic (975409) <mrg3@@@psu...edu> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:32AM (#17537312) Homepage

    Exactly correct. Everyone knows that the present of a specific scientific principle is decided by a central committee and then approved by the electorate at large. It's an excellent system, look how the Catholic church managed to keep us at the centre of universe!

    Speaking of strawmen, never mind that the lack of observable stellar parallax made stationary earth models scientifically more tenable. See the discussion of Tycho's observations here: http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/history/br ahe.html [utk.edu]
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:35AM (#17537336)
    which would remain stable were it not for our interference.
    But of course, it would! On a human scale. The entire point with global warming is, that while naturally occuring changes do happen, they don't treaten us because we can adapt over the long periods of time the change is happening, but with global warming the paradox is that 40-50 years is FAST even compared to human standards, because 40-50 years mean reorganizing the economy on large scale, which can't be done if the issue of GW is ignored in the sense of doing nothing about it.

    Personally, I never subscribe to the "we can't possibly understand it" argument. That also explains my deeply atheistic beliefs.
  • Re:Contradictory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Splab (574204) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:25AM (#17537578)
    Not to mention all sorts of fun deceases you are not used to. Warmer weather means some of the insects will migrate carrying fun stuff like malaria or sleeping sickness.

    It's going to be real fun trying to survive in a few decades if we don't deal with the problems right now.
  • by pnewhook (788591) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:12AM (#17537950)

    Well the attitude I've heard from several creationists is why worry about the environment when God is coming down to destroy it anyway and take us away to heaven?

    Morons...

  • Ever? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:25AM (#17538082) Journal
    The Earth is 4 Billion years old. This talks about the weather over the last 120 thousand years.
    That is 0.003 percent of the age of the Earth.

    Maybe they should look a little farther back. Maybe 4 Million years. Of course, if we want to look at the last 1% of the age of the Earth, we would have to look back 40 Million years.

    The fact is, the climate over the last 120 thousand years could be the exception and not the rule.
  • by hsoft (742011) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:31AM (#17538170) Homepage
    This "economy vs environment" debate is full of shit. Ever heard of the term "dysfunctional production"? Let's use an example:

    Some company builds a house in a foreign country. Jobs created, lotsa money. good. Then, the weapon industry lobbies another country to go to war with the other foreign country. Lotsa money, lotsa jobs. good. End result? House is destroyed, bombs are consumed, nothing *useful* have been created in the end, but in the balance sheet, everything is positive, GP is raising (and everyone likes it when GP is raising). All it did is to redistribute some capital from the taxpayers to the weapon/housing industries, for a nil end result.

    We have to change the way we see economy.
  • by RancidBeef (412397) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:40AM (#17538290) Homepage

    The jury is in, we know what is causing climat change and its us.

    I don't know what jury you're listening to... perhaps the one that found O. J. not guilty. No, actually I think you're listening to the jury that has convicted capitalism to be guilty of every crime imaginable. While we might be having some impact on climate, it is by no means a certain thing that we're causing climate change to any large degree.

    I'm certainly willing to look at unbiased evidence, but so far that's been scarce. In most cases the "evidence" is tainted by the anti-U.S., anti-capitalism, anti-progress political beliefs of those presenting it.

  • by Pentagram (40862) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:42AM (#17538332) Homepage
    Just to address a couple of points in your ill-informed confused rant:

    We're putting a LOT of heat out, as well as large amounts of CO2. So anecdotally it seems credible to me.

    The amount of heat we produce is negligible. The major concern is the CO2 we are producing which is trapping the sun's heat.

    But the earth is a BIG system. Almost inconceivably big. Larger shifts in CO2 and temp have occurred historically, and just as quickly, long before humans showed up.

    This is completely wrong. This is, to the best of our ability to measure it, the fastest increase in CO2 levels (and, not conicidentally, temperature) in the history of the Earth.

    There seems to be a common theme in arguments against taking action against climate change: Just Making Shit Up.
  • by matt328 (916281) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:43AM (#17538334)
    Yeah, I'm from western Pennsylvania. Normally we're snow-covered for 5 months out of the year, but so far we've had two dustings that haven't lasted more than 3 days. Our temperatures have also not even been cold enough to allow the ground to totally freeze like it usually does in October.

    No snow for Halloween, we were happy. No snow for Thanksgiving, weirded out, but pleased. No snow for Christmas, just depressing. Then on the 5th of January (when we're usually buried under a foot of snow) it was 67 degrees. I never thought I'd grill hamburgs and hot dogs in January.

    If its this warm now, I'm really not looking forward to the heat this summer.
  • You missed the point (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:13AM (#17538690)
    The atmosphere of Mars is mostly carbon dioxide, if I remember correctly. The melting of the polar ice caps of Mars and the melting of the polar ice caps of Earth are unrelated.

    You missed the point the Anonymous Coward was making ...

    The fact is that no one knows what is causing Global Warming on Mars but we know for sure that it is not caused by Martians driving around their SUVs. There are several theories and some speculate that recent solar activity (the high levels of sun-spot and solar-flares) are having an impact on Mars even though there has been no increase in irradiance; being that Mars is further away from the Sun than Earh is it would be foolish not to assume that any impact from Solar activity on Mars would impact Earth.

    The fact that you didn't even look into this before you dismissed it as "unrelated" demonstrates a blind faith which should never be associated with science.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:18AM (#17538762)
    "Almost inconceivably big. Larger shifts in CO2 and temp have occurred historically, and just as quickly, long before humans showed up."

    This we simply do not know. There is no way we could get 40-50 year resolution on prehistoric CO2 or temperature levels.

    How are we to believe anything you say if you are willing to pass on your guesses as facts, when it suits you? This can hardly be an honest mistake.
  • Here in Maine... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:31AM (#17538934)
    This has been one of the weakest winters on record. Simultaneously, last Spring was one of the wettest on record. Don't know if there's any correlation between the two of those, but I do know that it's been in the 50s (F) for a few days this week, which is simply insane. We've had perhaps two miserly snowfalls (less than a couple of inches accumulated). The average temperature for December was up 10 degrees from the average.

    From the National Weather Service:

    The average temperature of 34.5 degrees tied 1996 as the second warmest December on record. The warmest December was 34.8 degrees in 2001. In contrast, the coldest December was in 1989 with an average temperature of 14.1 degrees. Normally December has as average of 27.6 degrees.
    [...]
    The average high temperature for the month was a record 43.3 degrees. The old record was 42.8 degrees in 1953. The coldest high temperature was 24.7 degrees in 1989 and the normal December average high temperature is 36.4 degrees.
    [...]
    The average low temperature for the month was 25.6 degrees, warm enough to be the 3rd warmest on record. The warmest average low temperature was 27.8 degrees in 1996 followed by 26.8 degrees in 2001. The coldest average low temperature was 3.4 degrees in 1989 and the normal December average low temperature is 18.7 degrees.
    [...]
    The temperature never got below zero degrees in December. In fact, the coldest reading was only 9 degrees and that didn't occur until the last day of the month.
    [...]
    The warmest temperature for the month was 61 degrees on the 1st.
    I'm going to have to move to Canada if I ever want to see a white Christmas again.
  • The moral zeitgeist (Score:1, Interesting)

    by quixoticsycophant (729112) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:38AM (#17539036)
    The reminds me of last Sunday when happened to drive by the church that my family attended when I was a kid. (I haven't attended in my adulthood years; I never bought into the whole religion thing, but that is a different story.)

    To get to the point, there was a Hummer parked in front of the church during the service. It made me realize that I have a different set of moral standards than that person with the Hummer. I don't know what it will take to push the moral zeitgeist along to include crimes against posterity. Perhaps the Pope or someone could put forth a modern moral position with regard to global warming, but I'm sure he's too old to understand the gravity of the situation.

    Sam Harris often talks about how 44% of the American people believe Jesus is coming back in their lifetime or their children's lifetime (or something like that). I don't know what it will take to convince these people that it's not true. Even if Jesus is indeed coming back, it would be necessary to assume that he wasn't. It is clear to me that the Second Coming is merely a license to not give a flying fuck.
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:31AM (#17539810)
    Gasses become less soluble in warmer water. That's why you get bubbles when heating a pot of water even before the water reaches boiling. Those bubbles are O2, N2, and CO2 (among other gases) that were dissolved in the water.
  • by scdeimos (632778) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:46AM (#17540084)

    Venus' atmosphere [nasa.gov]:

    • CO2 by volume: 96.5% (965,000ppm)
    • Average temperature: 464C

    Earth's atmosphere [nasa.gov]:

    • CO2 by volume: 350ppm
    • Average temperature: 15C

    Mars' atmosphere [nasa.gov]:

    • CO2 by volume: 95.32% (953,200ppm)
    • Average temperature: -63C (yes, minus)

    You can't infer any correlation between CO2 and temperature with the limited dataset provided above. From general knowledge we know that electromagnetic (and thermal) fields fall off with an inverse-square of distance, so we can assume that Mars would be receiving less heat input from the sun than Earth, and Venus more.

    My point is that there are more factors affecting temperature than the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    There might well be factors other than CO2 affecting the temperatures here on Earth, such as: a possible shift in our orbit around the sun; a possible weakening of the Van Allen Radiation Belts (allowing more radiation input); deforestation (trees help to cool things as well as absorb CO2 and product O2); Urban Heat Islands (ok, I don't buy this one myself since satellite measurements do actually show increases in some places away from urbanized areas and cooling over some others); and probably a whole bunch we haven't identified yet.

    All we know for certain is that the global average temperature is increasing, but we don't actually know for 100% certain what's causing it. CO2 is just the most-likely suspect at the moment.

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