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NASA Scientist: Heat Waves Really Are From Global Warming 605

mdsolar writes with a tidbit from the New York Times on global warming: "The percentage of the earth's land surface covered by extreme heat in the summer has soared in recent decades, from less than 1 percent in the years before 1980 to as much as 13 percent in recent years, according to a new scientific paper. The change is so drastic, the paper says, that scientists can claim with near certainty that events like the Texas heat wave last year, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and the European heat wave of 2003 would not have happened without the planetary warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases. Those claims, which go beyond the established scientific consensus about the role of climate change in causing weather extremes, were advanced by James E. Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, and two co-authors in a scientific paper published online on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 'The main thing is just to look at the statistics and see that the change is too large to be natural,' Dr. Hansen said in an interview."
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NASA Scientist: Heat Waves Really Are From Global Warming

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  • Re:Hansen again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:31AM (#40903989) Homepage

    Apparently in your (and his) worlds:
      * Global warming predicts that every location on Earth will increase in temperature at roughly the same rate and roughly the same time
      * A region cannot have statistically anomalous warmth driven by an external forcing unless *every* region on earth has statistically anomalous warmth driven by an external forcing.
      * Marble Bar, Australia = Earth
      * Heat wave = high temperatures in absolute numbers, instead of the standard definition, relative to an area's baseline average.

  • Re:Hansen again? (Score:3, Informative)

    by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:32AM (#40903995)

    I don't get it. What does a heat wave (consecutive days over 100F) in the 1920s in one corner of Australia, that lasted 160 days in an area that normally gets 154 days over 100F each year, have to do with it?

    The basic claim Hansen made is that these recent heat waves are so far out of the ordinary that it would be virtually impossible* for them to have occurred without global warming. I'm not sure how "there was a heatwave in the 1920s in Australia" proves the claim is false.

    * Less than 0.1% probability

  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:35AM (#40904017)

    The conservatives need to change their stance on global warming. The reason they are always "against" it is that all the political solutions to global warming that are proffered by the left represent the left's statist wet dream. But as I have come to realize, the only real way to solve global warming is through advancements in science and engineering to give us cheap reliable sources of green energy.

    The left may say that their statist utopia and an all powerful communal government would solve this, but they'd be just as wrong as they were every other time they've gotten that chance in the past.

    We need to find the next Einstein or Tesla to think up solutions to global warming, not the next Mao or Lenin.

  • by Coriolis ( 110923 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:38AM (#40904041)
    I'm not assuming Hansen is correct, but your analysis is flawed. You are comparing studies of local conditions with a study of global conditions. Just because a single heat wave is not anomalous locally, it does not mean that a series of distributed heat waves is not anomalous globally. In case that's not clear, consider an extreme example : A hurricane in Florida in a year is not anomalous. Each major coastal city in the world being hit by a hurricane in the same year would be.
  • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:48AM (#40904127)

    what I'm asking, where the fuck is this summers heatwaves? there hasn't been a single good heatwave in Finland all summer now.(just couple of days every now and then).

    Well, unless the Arctic ice starts to recover, there's a pretty good chance that you won't be seeing many hot summers in Finland in the near future. The warming of the Arctic has weakened the air currents and made "blocking patterns" far more likely, those blocking patterns are keeping warm air over most of North America and preventing it from flowing east to Europe like it used to. The net result may be that some of Europe (particular the northern parts like Norway and Finland) will experience temperatures that are significantly below your previous normal temperatures while the southern parts experience temperatures significantly above normal.

    Oh, and it's so unlikely that the Arctic ice will recover, that the posters at Watts Up With That (WUWT), one of the big climate denial blogs, seems to have finally stopped predicting that the Arctic ice will recover "next year". It looks like seeing how very, very wrong they were in previous years has tempered their predictions a bit.

  • by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:54AM (#40904173)

    /We/ are not dumping that energy into the system. The sun is. All we are doing is stopping a tiny fraction of the energy that the sun dumps on the earth from escaping.

    Given that turning the sun "up" and "down" (the seasons) can make differences of many tens of degrees, the idea that changing the effective reflectivity can change the average temperature by a degree or two does not seem to me unreasonable. What we are doing is painting the earth blacker in the infra-red. And anybody knows how much more a black surface heats up compared to a white one in strong sunlight.

  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:56AM (#40904199)
    The point was that the energy to raise global temps doesn't come from human activities, it comes from the sun. The difference is now in the process by which the sun's energy is radiated back into space.
  • by docmordin ( 2654319 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:58AM (#40904229)

    Another paper [], published in the same journal, concluded that "the heat wave falls within the realm of natural variability ... [and] appears not to be the product of long-term climate changes"

    That quote neither appears in the paper you reference (M. Matsueda, "Predictability of Euro-Russian blocking in summer of 2010", Geophys. Res. Lett. 38: L06801, 2011) nor the NOAA press release.

    Also, some researchers in Germany analyzed the data and published a paper, entitled "Large scale flow and the long-lasting blocking high over Russia []", which says that the heat wave "appears as a result of natural atmospheric variability".

    The quote taken from (the abstract of) that paper, by Schneidereit et al., was in reference to R. Dole, et al. ("Was there a basis for anticipating the 2010 Russian heat wave", Geophys. Res. Lett. 38: L06702, 2011). Schneidereit et al. also mentioned, citing a study by Schar et al. ("The role of increasing temperature variability in European summer heatwaves", Nature 427: 332-336, 2004), that a long-lasting blocking high could occur more often with climate change and the expected change in the year-to-year variability.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @08:59AM (#40904235) Homepage

    (1) global warming isn't uniform
    (2) read the paper again—that's not what it says. It compares what was normal in the past to what is normal now, and shows that the statistical probability of such a change occurring due to random variation is too small to take seriously. It's actually a really good argument, unless you are determined that its conclusion is unacceptable.

  • by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:10AM (#40904353) Homepage

    It requires ENERGY to raise TEMPERATURES. 1 calorie (unit of energy) is required to raise 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.

    However to keep that water at 1 degree celcius above it's surroundings will require continuous energy input since any item hotter than it's surroundings will constantly lose heat to it's surroundings.

    This means in the long term there are TWO ways to increase the temperature of an object. You can increase the rate at which heat is supplied to the object or you can make it harder for the object to lose heat to it's surroundings. The greenhouse affect does the latter.

  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:16AM (#40904419) Homepage

    The idea usually tossed around regarding CO2 emissions is a cap-and-trade system, modelled after the system created for SO2. That approach was to use market incentives rather than lots of regulations to get companies to reduce their emissions, and it's generally been a success in reducing acid rain. It was conceived of by civil servants at the EPA, but became law only in 1990 with the support of that well-known liberal George H.W. Bush. How exactly is that a "left's statist wet dream"?

  • Re:I assume... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcupitt65 ( 68879 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @09:53AM (#40904815)

    The Mauna Loa CO2 record goes back 50 years: []

    Obviously that's CO2 at a particular spot on the planet --- there are plenty of other records though. Here's a great animation from NOAA showing global CO2 distribution and putting recent changes in the context of the last million years or so. It takes a few minutes to watch, but it's worth seeing to the end, in my opinion. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:13AM (#40904991)

    "And what are the Republicans in China and India doing?"
    per capita emissions, in metric tons:
    USA - 17.5
    china - 5.3
    India - 1.5

  • by DamonHD ( 794830 ) <> on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:38AM (#40905269) Homepage

    "... and not even the most progressive American or European voter would be willing to make the kinds of sacrifices necessary to make meaningful reductions in carbon emissions."

    Complete nonsense: speaking for myself and many others I know we've more than halved our carbon footprint (for example we're carbon negative at home for primary energy now, in suburban London) with relatively little effort, and we're probably just about sustainable even if our consumption was adopted by every one of the ~9x10^9 humans that the UN thinks that global population will peak at. And I don't know if I count as "progressive" with whatever meanings you attach to that, good or bad.

    No, we don't own a mansion, SUV or plasma TV(s), nor do we take multiple holidays by jet each year or leave all our lights and appliances on BecauseWeCan(TM), but we are living comfortably and happily as a family of four. We do own our house, etc, BTW.

    Are you prepared to alter your sweeping statement given my counter-example(s)?



  • Re:Hansen again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lockejaw ( 955650 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @10:51AM (#40905419)

    and then research a bit about sun activity, sunspot-cycle

    Now show that this warming trend is really just the upward half of a fluctuation that's been repeating every eleven years.

    Oh, you didn't know the sunspot cycle was only eleven years long? Maybe you should have researched a bit about sun activity.

  • Re:Hansen again? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Razgorov Prikazka ( 1699498 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @11:23AM (#40905767)
    That is not how science works. Please go and read some books by Sir Karl Raimund Popper, and specifically about the intricate workings of the "scientific method". I think you will find it highly enlightening.
  • Re:Hansen again? (Score:5, Informative)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @11:47AM (#40906021)

    The guy in the 1850's was John Tyndall who quantified the absorption of IR by CO2 and the Swedish guy was Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

  • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @11:48AM (#40906035) Homepage Journal

    where the fuck is this summers heatwaves?

    Most of the US. Springfield, IL had the hottest July on record, and more record breaking high temperatures this year than any other year. And we had an incredibly mild winter last winter, no sub-zero (farenheight) temperatures at all iirc and no snow to speak of, only an inch or two a few times.

    Here, this year is unlike any other in recorded history.

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