Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Is the planet on track for a very warm year?

This catch-up tweet is ironic, coming on a morning when there is a skiff of snow on the ground, but planet Earth appears to be on track for one of its warmest years  ever. But Britain’s the Met Office has been wrong in its predictions before.

From the BBC (posted Nov. 26):

This year is heading to be the hottest or second hottest on record, according to the Met Office.

It says the past 12 months are the warmest recorded by Nasa, and are second in the UK data set, HadCRUT3.

The Met Office says it is very confident that man-made global warming is forcing up temperatures.

Until now, the hottest year on record has been 1998, when temperatures were pushed up by a strong El Nino – a warming event in the Pacific.

This year saw a weaker El Nino, and that fizzled out to be replaced by a La Nina cooling event.

So scientists might have expected this year’s temperatures to be substantially lower than 1998 – but they are not. Within the bounds of statistical error, the two years are likely to be the same.

“It’s a sign that we’ve got man-made global warming,” said Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate science advice at the Met Office.

The article notes that the Met Office has made predictions before about a new record — and been wront.

It quotes a skeptic:

Professor John Christy, a climate sceptic from the University of Alabama in Hunstville, said global temperature had plunged in the past two weeks, so 2010 was likely to remain in second place.

He challenged the Met Office conviction that greenhouse gases were to blame for the warmth.

“The cause of the warmth is speculation. There are numerous feedbacks at work (many of which are poorly modelled if at all), and it seems to me unimaginative to conclude that greenhouse gases are the dominant cause,” he said.

Sat, November 27 2010 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page