TV Weathercasters and Global Warming And Current Weather

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There were several comments regarding my blog on TV Weathercaster and Global Warming that suggested I didn't express myself clearly enough, so let me try here.

I am NOT saying that one MUST have a higher degree in atmospheric sciences or meteorology to understand the issue of global warming, although such backgrounds surely help. The climate system is quite complex and to really understand the issue takes a real dedication to mastering the basic physics and interactions. Anyone can gain such knowledge with a little effort, and I know many without technical degrees that have (including a number of amazing retirees that attend atmospheric sciences classes here at the UW). Reading a few web articles and watching Climategate coverage on TV just won't do it. We live in an era when too many people think they understand something based on superficial study and are unwilling to put in the hard work to master the subject. And this is isn't limited to climate.

Regarding TV folks, what I WAS saying is just because someone is a TV weathercaster does not mean they have the necessary knowledge in the climate arena, since a majority of them don't have a basic academic background in the material. And some of the denier TV weathercasters are making arguments that are simply in error technically.

There IS substantial uncertainty in the magnitude of global warming and the local implications of the changes. And yes, some scientists have overhyped things at time. But the essential science is very solid and mankind will substantially change the earth's environment if we follow the current route.

Another point that should be stressed is that there has been a fixation by the scientific and political communities on global warming, when that is only a small part of the overall problem of sustainability. Mankind needs to adapt so that we can live with our planet in the long haul...and we are not doing it. A big issue is overpopulation...there are simply too many people on this planet using too many resources. If the population was 1/4 of the current, we probably would not be worried as much about global warming. But it is funny how no one likes to talk about population issues.

Irrespective of global warming, we should be doing the right things anyway for many reasons. More recycling, more conservation of energy, more renewables, reduce population growth, protecting our soils, preventing the collapse of our fisheries, emitting less toxins into atmosphere and water, etc. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is about giving our species a future in the long term. Are we smart enough to do this?

Back to weather.

Take a look at plot of temperature and precipitation over the past four weeks (compared to normal highs and lows and usual daily precip). The past month has been wetter than normal and the last two weeks colder than normal. No day in the last two weeks has gotten warmer than normal. No surprise. And the result has been a major improvement in our snowpack and reservoir levels. And quite frankly this break in the El Nino warmth and dryness was not forecast ahead of time.

Today and tomorrow the main action goes to our south, as a low pressure center heads into California (see image). Bands of clouds are circling around to its north, producing the high clouds that we will see today. It should be dry today over Washington and relatively warm, with temps rising into the low 60s. There is easterly flow aloft that produces warming and drying on the western side of the Cascades.

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