Thursday, August 30, 2007

Does widespread breaking of weather records mean anything?

Continuing in question mode....well does it???
Planet Ark puts it all into some perspective

The significance of these records is that they are actually occurring in the real world - rather than in the forecasts generated by computer mathematical models of the global climate.

That marks a major shift. For the initial decade of the climate change problem (from the first report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990), the effects of global warming, such as extreme heatwaves and downpours, were seen as future events which the climate models predicted. They were thus much easier for sceptics to dismiss.

But, in recent years, extreme and record-breaking real events, entirely consistent with global warming predictions, have started to mount up - beginning with the remarkable heatwave of August 2003, which caused 35,000 excess deaths in France and northern central Europe.

That episode, the first event whose severity was ascribed by scientists directly to climate change, only just caught Britain with its edge.

But even so, it broke the UK's air temperature record on 10 August 2003, pushing it for the first-time ever over 100F, to 101.3F, or 38.5C. The previous record (set in 1990) was 98.8F or 37.1C. Thus the jump to the new record was 2.5F, or 1.4C - an absolutely enormous leap.

Some of the records of the past 14 months which we detail today are of similar astonishing dimensions. In particular, April 2007 and the summer just ended produced quite unprecedented weather for Britain - with quite unprecedented effects.

April was so warm (contributing to the warmest spring on record) that the natural world was put completely out of sync: swifts arrived (from Africa) a month early, as did the hawthorn flowers - known as May - which prompted suggestions they should be renamed April blossom.

No comments: