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Top Ten Climate Events of 2010

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By Alyson Kenward

View our "Top Ten Climate Events" slideshow here.

It's been quite a year for climate-watchers. To start with, although the official numbers for all of 2010 won't be in until early next month, global average surface temperatures so far have been at record high levels, in keeping with the recent warming trend that scientists say has very likely been caused in large part by human emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). 

This year also featured plenty of extreme events, from crippling snowstorms in the American Northeast to blazing heat and deadly flooding in Pakistan. Many of these events have already been at least partially linked to natural variations that occur in the Earth’s climate system. These kinds of climate oscillations, like El Niño, La Niña, and the North Atlantic Oscillation, influence weather patterns around the globe, and in 2010 all three of these were in action. It is also sometimes possible to attribute extreme events, like some of those in 2010, to long-term global climate change, but this usually takes a few years of scientific analysis.

Climate Central’s scientists, working in consultation with outside experts, have compiled our first annual “Top 10 Climate Events” list based on the events that had the greatest impacts, and which stood out most in the historical record. Here they are, in chronological order:

"Snowmageddon," as it hit New York City in Feburary of 2010. Credit: Sarah_Ackerman, flickr

1. Mid-Atlantic Cities Break All-Time Snowfall Records

The year got off to a snowy start in the eastern U.S., with record-breaking storms along the Mid-Atlantic coast. The Nor’easter that struck in the first week of February — which quickly became known as “Snowmageddon” – dumped so much snow that it helped Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Atlantic City and Washington break all-time records for winter snow totals. For example, Washington’s Reagan National Airport received 56.1 inches of snow during the 2009-10 winter, compared to the average total of just 15.2 inches!

Statistically, each of the storm systems that passed through the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in early 2010 was quite rare. According to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), for example, Philadelphia should expect a 22-inch or greater snowfall only once every 100 years. Yet the winter of 2009-2010 saw two storms of that magnitude. 

Of course, big snowstorms also make people wonder what ever happened to global warming. The short answer is that it didn’t go anywhere, and in fact there is some evidence that warmer global temperatures can lead to heavier precipitation events, including heavy snowfalls. In a warmer world more water evaporates from the oceans and then can fuel more intense precipitation. However, the main contributor to last winter’s extreme snowstorms was a natural climate pattern known as the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO, which influences winter weather in parts of the northern hemisphere.

Typically, low pressure dominates over the Arctic, and high pressure across the mid-latitudes. This pressure difference generates winds that tend to confine extremely cold air to the Arctic. But sometimes these two pressure systems weaken, decreasing the difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes and allowing chilly Arctic air to slide south. This pattern is called a negative-NAO. When the NAO is negative, as it was to an unusually significant and prolonged degree last winter, the odds of a major snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast increase.

2. Flooding in Nashville, Tennessee

Spring typically brings rain showers to much of the U.S., but in 2010 excessive rainfall caused a number of serious floods in the Southeast, the worst of which occurred in Tennessee. On May 1, rain began falling heavily in the middle and western regions of the state. Within 48 hours, between 13 and 19 inches of rain had fallen, and many rivers overflowed. When the deluge finally let up two days later, large areas had been engulfed by floodwaters. At least 33 people died in the Tennessee floods, and the Nashville Planning Department says the state’s capital suffered $1.9 billion in damages — including damage to the iconic Grande Ole Opry Theatre.

Similar but less intense floods also occurred in Oklahoma City and rural Arkansas in early June, but the kind of rainfall that caused the Tennessee floods was so rare that it qualifies as one of the most remarkable climate events of the year.

According to the National Weather Service, the early May storm was a 1 in 1000-year event, which means that in any given year, there is a 0.1 percent chance that it might occur.  

3. Record-breaking Heat Waves and Droughts in Africa and the Middle East

In June 2010, a scorching heat wave in Africa and the Middle East broke a number of all-time temperature records in the region. In fact, between May and June, seven countries broke their previous high temperature records: Pakistan, Myanmar (Burma), Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Chad, Niger and Kuwait. On June 15, Kuwait posted its hottest-ever temperature when the mercury rose to 126.7°F in the city of Abdaly.

This year's record-setting temperatures, and their corresponding country. Credit: Climate Central

The incredible heat did more than just shatter temperature records. In Saudi Arabia, a sandstorm that accompanied the extreme heat led to a number of power-outages in parts of the country. In Pakistan, temperatures climbed as high as 128.3°F, the highest temperature ever recorded in the continent of Asia, according to Weather Underground.

4. Russian Heat Wave

Another region struck by intense heat during the summer of 2010 was western Russia, and Moscow in particular. On June 29, the mercury rose above 100°F in Moscow for the first time on record, and such abnormally high temperatures lasted for well over a month. According to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters, Moscow experienced 26 consecutive days with temperatures above 86°F this summer and then, on August 6, records broke again when Moscow hit 102°F. Elsewhere in Russia, temperatures climbed as high at 111°F, the highest temperature ever recorded in that country (not including the former Soviet Republics).

A Climate Central analysis put the high average temperature in Moscow in the 2010 summer (during June, July and August) in the context of the city’s long-term climate record using data since 1950. The analysis showed just how exceptional this past summer was in Russia.

This image shows that the average temperature in Moscow for the summer of 2010 (the months of June, July and August) was significantly hotter than any year since 1950. Credit: Climate Central

The persistent heat wave had a devastating impact on the country. Wildfires spread across western portions of Russia, and the combination of smoky air and unusually warm weather led to at least 10,000 deaths in Moscow alone. Authorities estimate that during some stretches in early August, as many as 700 people were dying each day. Furthermore, the intense heat damaged wheat crops, leading the Russian government to halt exports of that valuable food staple, causing price spikes in global grain markets.

Scientists are investigating the Russian heat wave to try to determine if global climate change was partly to blame. A 2005 study showed that longer-term climate change made similar extreme events more likely, including the deadly 2003 European heat wave, but there aren’t yet any conclusions on the connection between global warming and the 2010 Russian heat wave.

 5. U.S. Summer Heat Waves

The United States was not spared from the year’s record heat events. Across the East, the summer was marked by several episodes of extreme heat and humidity. Delaware, New Jersey and North Carolina experienced their warmest June on record, as did several cities, including New York, Washington, and Philadelphia. 

On July 6 and 7, an intense heat wave struck the Northeast, from Maine down to Pennsylvania. Parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were hit with temperatures above 100°F. Overall, the month of July was the hottest on record in Rhode Island and Delaware and it ranked amongst the 10th warmest for each state along the East Coast.

August was another scorcher in the U.S.. According to NCDC, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hundreds of cities broke their daily maximum temperature records. In fact, August was the eighth consecutive month with above average temperatures in the Northeast. The Southeast also felt the late summer heat, with 20 locations reporting their warmest-ever month of August. Among them: Gainesville, Fla., Columbus, Ga., Greenville, S.C. and Charleston, S.C..

Even though the West Coast didn’t experience the same intense heat through the summer – and in fact was in some cases quite chilly – the period of June to August 2010 was the fourth warmest on record for the entire country.

6. Pakistan Monsoon and Flooding

The monsoon season was particularly cruel in Pakistan. In late July, unrelenting torrential rains battered the eastern part of the country, triggering severe flooding. Within just four days after the rains began, the Associated Press reported nearly a thousand people had been killed. The floods continued well into September. According to the United Nations, floodwaters drove millions of people from their homes and affected a total of 20 million people. In addition to destroying homes and livelihoods, the flooding caused extensive damage to Pakistan’s infrastructure, including power plants and thousands of miles of roads, railways, and public buildings. Labeled as the worst natural disaster in Pakistan’s history, the death toll has reached nearly 2,000.

The Asian Monsoon happens every year when cool humid air from over the Indian and Pacific Oceans washes over the land, warms and then rises, cools and condenses, causing the moisture in the air to fall as heavy rains. But in 2010, the presence of La Niña in the Pacific may have intensified the process. During La Niña years, the waters in the Western Pacific are warmer than average, and the air above the ocean is more humid. This especially humid air may have increased the amount of rain that pounded Pakistan.

7. Third Lowest Arctic Sea Ice Extent

Every summer, as the Northern Hemisphere warms up, the amount of sea ice in the Arctic begins to shrink back. It usually reaches its minimum extent in September, then starts to refreeze as temperatures begin to drop. The 2010 minimum came on September 19, 2010 — and this year’s was the third lowest ever recorded by satellites since such records began in 1979.

Average sea ice extent for September 2010 was 1.89 million square miles, about 830,000 square miles less than the average September extent between 1979 and 2000. The minimum this year, however, was still 230,000 square miles more than in 2007, which had the lowest Arctic sea ice coverage ever measured. For only the second time since satellite records began, the U.S. National Ice Center declared both the Northwest Passage above Canada and the Northern Sea Routes above Scandinavia and Russia open for a period in the late summer. 

Thanks to satellite observations, we know Arctic sea ice has declined dramatically over at least the past thirty years, and scientists have attributed this in large part to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

8. Lake Mead Record Low

The Hoover Dam (originally known as the Boulder Dam) was erected in the 1930s, and by 1943 Lake Mead had risen out of the Colorado River to a height of 1,220 feet above sea level. But this year, on October 18, Lake Mead reached a record low, dropping down to just 1083.9 feet, having lost about 12 stories of height. Though still about eight feet above the designated point of a critical water shortage, the low water levels are a warning signal to the millions of people in Southwest states who rely on this resource for drinking water and irrigation.

Lake Mead in 1985 (top image), as compared to Lake Mead in 2010. Drought has brought the reservoir to all-time lows this year. Credit: NASA

The level of Lake Mead has been steadily falling since 2000, with the exception of a slight rise in 2005, reflecting the drought that has afflicted the American Southwest over the same period. In the past ten years, a particularly dry and warm climate has lingered in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Southern California, leading to reduced flow along the Colorado River. In fact, scientists have already shown that the stress on the water resources in the Southwest region is consistent with the effects of a warmer climate, and that increased emissions of heat-trapping gases are linked to recent changes in river flows and winter snow pack. In addition to this ongoing drought, cities that draw water from Lake Mead, like Las Vegas, have grown in recent years and are further taxing the water supply.

The drought outlook through the winter does not look encouraging, as a strong La Niña event has taken hold in the tropical Pacific Ocean. La Niña conditions, which are characterized by colder than average waters off the coast of South America and along the equator, tend to be associated with drier than average winters in the American Southwest.

9. Amazon Drought

For the second time in five years, the Amazon River basin in northwestern Brazil is in severe drought. Brought on by a particularly arid dry season through April and May, the drought has extended through to November. One of the primary Amazon tributaries, the Rio Negro, dropped to its lowest level since records began in 1902, according to the Brazilian Geological Service. As water levels along the Rio Negro dropped severely in October, water temperatures in the river also began to climb, killing millions of fish and contaminating the water supplies for thousands that live in the region.

While droughts along part of the Amazon are not very unusual (during the 20th century they occurred about once every twelve years on average), they have typically occurred in years that featured El Niño conditions. The warmer water temperatures in the Pacific associated with El Nino tend to rob the Amazon of rainfall. However, the intense drought late this year has been unexpected since La Niña has brought cool waters to the Pacific.

10. Final Annual Temperature Ranking

The latest numbers from NOAA are in, and January to November 2010 is tied with 2005 for the dubious honor of “The Warmest Year on Record” (records date back to 1880). As for November 2010, it was officially the second warmest on record, even with the cooling effect of La Niña in the mix. The global oceans ranked only 10th warmest, whereas the land surface made up the difference and came in more than 0.3ºF warmer than the previous warmest November. The full year is expected to finish up as the hottest on record, or close behind, once the statistics for December are averaged in.


Comments

By Traciatim
on December 17th, 2010

Since when are weather events climate? I guess weather is climate when it supports your agenda, but not when it doesn’t.

Reply to this comment

By J, de Vos
on December 17th, 2010

It is all nonsense. This 10 events has nothing to do with climate.

Reply to this comment

By Heidi Cullen
on December 17th, 2010

We see our job at Climate Central as working to provide the climate context to newsworthy weather events. Our weather does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is the daily atmospheric expression of our large-scale climate system - which consists of both natural variations and a long-term warming trend. When we selected the 2010 Top 10 list, we were careful to choose events - including an epic snowstorm that was heavily influenced by a large-scale natural climate pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation - that were extraordinary and required a deeper look at the overall climate context.

Reply to this comment

By Bill Marsh (Washington, DC)
on December 17th, 2010

Still, the events you describe are more representative of ‘weather’ than climate. The huge snowstorm that hit the Eastern US Mid-Atlantic region in February was a ‘perfect storm’ of weather patterns, not a ‘climate event’ .

I think the title of the piece is one that will engender controversy because the word ‘climate’ has become associated (rightly or wrongly) with Anthropogenic Global Warming, AGW. To be honest i don’t think that is what you intended, but, it is what people do now. So you might think about a different title, like top weather/climate events.

Reply to this comment

By Gareth Phillips (Ynys Mon, Wales)
on December 17th, 2010

I’m suprised to see a website such as this which I would imagine prides itself in giving unbiased information on climate change confusing weather with climate. Even when the weather is catastrophic it’s still weather. It is the distillation of many years of data which produces an understanding of climate. Have a look at this amusing clip, it explains the difference. There is a lot of disinformation banded about with regard to climate change, nonsense like this list just muddies the water.

Reply to this comment

By Jack Hughes (Halifax UK)
on December 17th, 2010

I love this line from your blog:

“although the official numbers for all of 2010 won’t be in until early next month”

Why not give us a sneak preview of the next 2 weeks right now ?

Reply to this comment

By StyleDoggie (New York, NY, 10019)
on December 17th, 2010

Hmm - everywhere else they’re called ‘extreme *weather* events’.  I guess weather is the same as climate when it supports AGW theory but not when it doesn’t.  By the way, how many extreme weather/climate events were there in 1910, or 1946, or 1975?  What’s the rate of increase in these events.  How are you defining them?

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By R. Gates
on December 17th, 2010

Interesting summary.  You know you’re going to get a lot of AGW skeptics coming on here and bashing you because you used the word “climate” when talking about these extreme weather events of 2010.  What they’ll agrue is that weather is not the climate, and so you should have called these “weather related” events etc. What they want to imply is that weather is just a random walk and any single storm, heatwave, etc. can’t be related to climate.  What they really don’t want is to try and have any single extreme weather events connected to Climate CHANGE, (i.e. anthropogenic global warming).  So thankfully, you did not call this post the Top Global Warming Related Events of 2010.

Your title as it stands is quite correct, as any weather event is certainly part of the climate, the way a small ripple in the ocean is part of a larger wave.  Any single storm or heat wave is indeed a climate related event, but the danger comes in trying to say that any particular event happened or was worsened because of anthropogenic global warming.  It is only the FREQUENCY of severe events that could be traced to global warming.  Thus, if there were an average of 20 major heat waves somewhere in the world the 10 year period from 1990-2000, and a decade after that it the number jumped to 40, and a decade after that, the number jumped to 60, then you make a case that some factor (i.e. anthropogenic global warming or something else was causing that shfit.

Reply to this comment

By Gareth Phillips (Ynys Mon, Wales)
on December 17th, 2010

By Heidi Cullen
on December 17th, 2010
We see our job at Climate Central as working to provide the climate context to newsworthy weather events. Our weather does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is the daily atmospheric expression of our large-scale climate system - which consists of both natural variations and a long-term warming trend. When we selected the 2010 Top 10 list, we were careful to choose events - including an epic snowstorm that was heavily influenced by a large-scale natural climate pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation - that were extraordinary and required a deeper look at the overall climate context.

Response.
Heidi, It’s important not to “choose” data which supports your stance. It the bane of quantitative research and attempts to prove a firmly held hypothesise. For your list to have any meaning you would have needed to randomly select all areas and include those who did not experience wild weather at all. Currently I am snowed in in an area where snow is almost unheard of. However, that does not mean the climate is cooling or warming, or doing anything. It’s just that weather events will happen somewhere in the world at some time.Many years of observation via good selection methodology would be needed before such observations or lists contained any scientific validity. I would imagine there are many people who could demonstrate an unchanging, warming or cooling climate by the careful selection of data. Hopefully we avoid such results!

Reply to this comment

By altostratus (11201)
on December 17th, 2010

Traciatim & J, de Vos - would be great if you could provide actual, fact-supported rebuttal, and not just deny the whole piece. weather, last time i checked, was part of a larger climate context, as pointed out above.

Reply to this comment

By Charles Reichert PhD (Lake Country, BC V4V2N1)
on December 17th, 2010

Is that “climate” events or weather events ?????????

Reply to this comment

By Mike (midwest)
on December 17th, 2010

There is certain denier blog that is sending people here to complain that these are weather events and hence not climate events. But many of the events are actually a series of events over a large region. Now just where the boundary is between weather and climate is not absolute. But these events are more than “just weather”. The Arctic sea extent isn’t weather or climate, but it is relevant to climate. Same with the Lake Mead record low. I don’t see any problem using the term climate event broadly. But be prepared for a flurry of such posts. They are zombies.

Reply to this comment

By Mike Mangan (Comstock Park)
on December 17th, 2010

None of these events have anything to do with CAGW.  It looks like your site is nothing more than another propaganda organ for True Believers.  If you want an exciting decade to scare children with, the 1930’s is a much better choice.

Accumulated Cyclonic Energy, the measure of worldwide hurricane and typhoon activity, is at historic lows and that’s NOT mentioned?  I have to assume that this post is about the top ten climate events that support your odd little religion.

Reply to this comment

By Andrew
on December 17th, 2010

Mike Mangan -

We’re aware of that post on a skeptic blog.

You make a good point about how these list items were not single one-off weather events (otherwise they wouldn’t have been included here). The Russian heat wave, for example, lasted more than one month, the SW drought leading to the Lake Mead record low has gone on for years, the Amazon drought has lasted for several months, and the East Coast snows last winter characterized the entire winter season.

We were very careful not to call this a “Top Climate Change Events” list, due to the major uncertainties involved with attributing extreme events, and it would’ve been inaccurate to call these events strictly “weather” events.

Thx for seeing through the spin being offered on that website.

-Andrew

Reply to this comment

By Bill Garote (Valencia, Spain)
on December 17th, 2010

Is weather climate?  Are all warm events due to global warming?  Are all cold events due to global warming as well?  Is a one month heat wave an indicator of climate change.  Is the current cold spell also an indicator of the same change?  Record cold days used to be “weather, not climate”, but now record cold periods seem to be atributable global warming as well.

Knowing that skeptics are just waiting for something to pounce on and bash, could you not be a bit more carfefull not to provide such ammunition to them?  We know the skeptics aren’t geniuses, but please think before you write.

Reply to this comment

By Paul (London, UK)
on December 17th, 2010

Sorry, but I have to add my voice to the many who have said that climate <> weather.

Climate is the cumulative picture built over a 30+ year period. Weather is the ebb and flow of short-term events.

Get a grip.

Reply to this comment

By Jon Jermey (Blaxland)
on December 17th, 2010

These are pretty obviously weather events rather than climate events. But here are a few you missed:

—Coldest December ever in Britain
—Millions of cattle die in cold South American winter
—Antarctic sea ice reaches record extent
—Australian drought breaks; floods occur instead
—Ten times more cold records than hot records recorded in the USA

Why didn’t those make it in?

Reply to this comment

By Roger Gladstone (Calgary/AB/T3B2Y8)
on December 18th, 2010

When is weather climate? 

According to NASA, “The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere “behaves” over relatively long periods of time. “

I agree with the concept of climate change.  It has changed every year, year over year since the beginning of time….A similar list like the one published here could be published every year from the beginning of time.

—Roger

Reply to this comment

By bobby valentine (Pueblo, CO 81004)
on December 18th, 2010

More moisture? Warmer weather? What’s not to like about that?  If only alarmists were right…

Reply to this comment

By Jim
on December 18th, 2010

Since we are discussing the record events of 2010 I wonder why the record breaking cold spells of Australia and South America were not even mentioned. Also the record blizzards of Europe and UK that occurred not only last January but seem to be starting even earlier this year.

Reply to this comment

By Gareth Phillips (Ynys Mon, Wales)
on December 18th, 2010

I guess what would resolve this debate is if the poster stated that the extreme weather events were part of a climate change, the implications of which are so far not conclusive. It can be accepted that weather is part of climate ( Hot days tend to occur in tropical climates), but it is the interpretation of more extreme weather events that is under question. Currently I am snowed in in temperatures not seen for 50 years. It’s the 3rd year we have had bad winters in Europe, this is similar to the colder winters preceding the mediaeval cold period. On the face of it I could say the climate is cooling, because my observation is local and subjective. If I lived in Russia this summer I would say the opposite, but such conclusions could not be defined as scientific. That is why I believe this posting is unwise to suggest these extreme weather events are symptomatic of one type of global climate change. They may well be symptomatic of something, but to assign them one cause sounds like bias and is an open goal for criticism.
ps This is the amusing link I meant to post earlier.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-F8EO3qOVk&feature=player_embedded
Nadoleg LLawen!
( Merry Christmas to the Non-Celtic speakers)

Reply to this comment

By R Woodhouse (Brighton, UK)
on December 18th, 2010

So let me see now, when it’s hot it;s AGW, when it’s cold, it’s AGW. When it’s wet, it;s AGW and when it’s dry, it’s AGW. Just one question: when it it NOT AGW?

Reply to this comment

By Chuck
on December 18th, 2010

Why pick Artic sea ice extent and not show that The Antarctic Sea extent is above the long term normal and total sea ice extent is normal. Arctic decrease is balanced by Antartic increase to give a global normal. Is that so unusual a climate efect???????????????????????????????????????????

Reply to this comment

By Al G. (Ottawa/Ontario/K2M1L1)
on December 18th, 2010

“We see our job at Climate Central as working to provide the climate context to newsworthy weather events.” 
Is this code for: ‘you feel your job is to cherry pick all the extreme weather events and “spin” them as climate’?

“Our weather does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is the daily atmospheric expression of our large-scale climate system - which consists of both natural variations and a long-term warming trend.”
If you are saying that weather is natural variation plus a 0.7C offset (or 0.5C or 0.2C no one seems to agree on the current number at the moment) then fine, I won’t argue.  With the current science, anything else but that is probably conjecture.

I’m 50 Years old.  I remember the weather as a child, and I know what I have seen over the years.  For me - weather is radical. It always has been and always will be.

Reply to this comment

By Alpha Tango (UK)
on December 18th, 2010

2010 was the year CAGW became unfalsifiable, and therefore lost any claim to being science.

Reply to this comment

By Peter Czerna
on December 19th, 2010

Let’s calm down and take this nice and slowly…

It’s been quite a year for climate-watchers. [yeah, we’ve been hanging around since the Pliocene waiting for a year like this] To start with, although the official numbers for all of 2010 won’t be in until early next month, [this statement is beyond ridicule] global average surface temperatures so far have been at record high levels, in keeping with the recent warming trend [P. Jones: ‘There has been no warming this decade’] that [some? all? most? a few?] scientists say has very likely [bit of wriggle room there] been caused in large part [think of a number, any number will do] by human emissions of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) [glad to see that CO2 is just one example].

Oh, I give up with this rot. [and so should YOU].
And, yes, I did come here via the denialist site whose name cannot be spoken. Grow up.

Reply to this comment

By C. Abel (Boston, Mass, 01760)
on December 19th, 2010

Almost all of these all WEATHER events, and not climate related.

At least most laymen realize the difference. Now if only we could get the scientists to understand the concept….

Reply to this comment

By John Taznar
on December 20th, 2010

Just wondering how a record cold in South America, killing hundreds of people, thousands of livestock and devastating local wildlife populations failed to make the “Top Ten”...

Reply to this comment

By Barry N Heimlich (Hollywood/FL/33021)
on December 22nd, 2010

It strikes me that AGW theory predicts more extreme weather events, but one commentor made a good suggestion: to analyze the frequency and types of extreme events over the historic record.

It was striking to me that at the same time South Florida was experiencing record low temperatures in the 30s last January and February, temperatures in Greenland was experiencing record highs in the 40s and 50s. I.e. ice was melting in Greenland in the dead of winter. Very scary.

Reply to this comment

By Jon
on December 22nd, 2010

Also of note: the worst global coral die-off in human history, and the third in 13 years. Also, the discovery that phytoplankton - the lifeform upon which ALL other life relies to one degree or another - have declined 40$ since the 50s and their die-off is accelerating. (Meaning they will mitigate less warming, provide less metabolic energy for animal life, and provide less oxygen for our atmosphere).

And now warm water is melting the WAIS from below. If the WAIS goes, and it looks like it will, we’re gonna see a fairly quick 5-foot sea level rise and New York, London, Miami, and Beijing (etc, etc, etc) are history. That’ll be expensive. Miami alone will cost about a trillion. People can always look at that as a ‘we-shoulda-had-a-carbon-tax’ tax. Either way, the people will pay. Delaying action merely increases the monetary damages the people will suffer. But since that’s what the people want, okie doke.

Reply to this comment

By Ray Saracino (California)
on December 22nd, 2010

Thank you for this excellent synopsis. 

I’m saddened by the vigor of those who never miss an opportunity to deny anthropogenic climate change.  I wonder if they will apologize to their children/grandchildren on their deathbeds for their role in contributing to the chaotic world which we will leave to future generations?

The scientific evidence of anthropogenic warming will continue to increase as the years pass.  But when will it be sufficient to silence the naysayers?

Here’s a synopsis of 24 indicators of climate change, for those interested in the science:  http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/indicators.html

Reply to this comment

By James Crowley (Sunnyvale, CA 94087)
on December 22nd, 2010

Thanks Climate Central for an informative list of the top 10 climate events.  I’m amazed at the comments from the “deniers”.  We don’t need to specifically define a “climate event” nor do we need to define a “extreme” weather event.  This is a general interest article and I for one am interested in learning how weather patterns are being influenced by climate change.  Climate is always changing - even you deniers argue that.  The fact that you only understand sustainability in terms of economics is sad.  Our current existence does not appear sustainable and I somehow doubt an expensive iPad app is going to fix it.  Your children and their children’s children will not love you for the legacy you are leaving them no matter how rich you feel you now are or hope to be.  Think about how your unsustainable existence affects the lives of others across the planet this Holiday season - assuming you can still think outside of a box.

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By steven corcoran (el paso/ texas/ 79924)
on December 25th, 2010

And now, we can sit through the usual ill thought out denials of the “no such thing as global warming” cult, sponsored by Koch Industries.  Here are the results of global warming being rubbed in their faces and they still deny it.  At this point, i would advise not even responding to the fools, it would be a waste of mental energy.

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By Doxienan (Boston, MA 02124)
on December 26th, 2010

There are powerful forces spending their enormous wealth to confuse the public about their role in climate change.  The fossil fuel industries are spending millions on spreading lies,  so they can continue to sell their dirty products. 

Thank you, Dr. Cullen and staff, for providing the facts we need to move into the future.  It’s clear to millions around the globe that the climate is changing right before our eyes.

I see climate change as a risk scenario.  The chances that the climate will change enough to harm civilization appear great enough that we must act swiftly to move away from burning dirty fuels.  If it turns out that excess CO2 in the atmosphere doesn’t cause global warming, then the outcome is that we have a new clean energy economy that provides jobs and results in cleaner air and water.

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