As residents of the Upper Midwest cope with the aftermath of devastating floods brought on by the melting of record amounts of snowfall this winter, climatological data from a variety of independent sources continue to belie predictions of a feared warming of the Earth’s temperature.
The most recent data available from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), weather satellites, and weather balloons show no warming trend in the last decade–precisely the period during which greenhouse warming had been predicted to become extreme. The news that ground-based readings and measurements taken far above the Earth’s surface indicate no warming in the planet’s mean temperature will come as no surprise to residents of Europe where, in December and January, over two hundred people from Spain to Russia died of exposure to the coldest weather to hit that region in this century.
The climate models that were the basis for the U.N.’s Framework Convention of Climate Change had forecast a rise in global mean temperature of more than 0.3 degrees Celsius per decade by now. But as readings of actual temperatures consistently showed no such warming, climate model projections have been consistently revised downward. Of particular concern to climatologists were satellite readings, generally considered the most accurate way of measuring the Earth’s temperatures. (Ground-based readings fail to account for water temperatures and are subject to so-called “heat islands.” Most ground-based temperature readings are taken in densely populated urban areas, or heat islands, which are kept artificially warm by the presence of people, buildings, vehicles, etc.)
Satellite readings taken over the last 18 years actually show a slight cooling of the Earth’s mean temperature. An article by J.W. Hurrell and Kevin Trenberth in the March 13 issue of Nature attempted to challenge the satellite readings by saying there is a “hidden” warming in the satellite record. But they reached their conclusions by using climate models of conditions in the middle atmosphere, not records of observed temperature. Even so, their research revealed a “warming” of just one-twenty-fifth of one degree Fahrenheit over the past 18 years. And even this conclusion is scheduled to be challenged in the next issue of Nature.
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