Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Global Warming

2010 warmest year on record
LAST year tied with 2005 as the warmest year on record for global surface temperature, US government scientists said yesterday.
The Earth experienced temperatures higher than the 20th-century average for the 34th year in a row, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Washington said. Overall, 2010 and 2005 were 0.62C degrees above the 20th-century average, it said. Those two years were also the highest in temperature since record-keeping began in 1880. "If the warming trend continues, as is expected, if greenhouse gases continue to increase, the 2010 record will not stand for long," said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Early in 2011 newspapers issued this report, but this was nothing new they had been proclaiming this since reports issued in May and July and then in November this gem, “World temperatures in 2010 may be the warmest on record, the U.K. Met Office said, as it plans to calibrate a decade of data to account for newer sensors. The average temperature for the year through October shows 2010 will be one of the two warmest years in a series that goes back to 1850.” This sounds very feasible except that it ignored the Northern Hemisphere’s two coldest months. November and December brought record lows and record snowfalls.

Even if 2010 had been colder than the temperature near the start of the trend period it would not have altered the trend from warming to cooling. Only if the average annual temperature in 2010 was 7 degrees below the 1961-90 average would the rising trend since 1950 have disappeared. Because of the mathematics used, a 2010 temperature of 3.2 degrees below the average, not 3.5, would have halved the rate of warming, and in comparison there's been a range of just 0.9 degrees in annual average temperatures since 1950.

I do not have the resources of these scientists but I can read local (Central Victoria, Australia) records. Our average temperature in 1909 was 20.4ºC and our average temperature in 2009 was 20.4ºC (68.7ºF) an increase over the past 100 years of 0ºC. Now here is the surprise for the first time since records have been kept we recorded more than 200 consecutive days below 20ºC, local records began during the gold rush and commenced in the 1870s. Locally 2010 will be close to or our coldest year on record; it will not show an average above 20.4ºC unless someone fudges the books.

2010 was so cold that for the first time many local fruit trees did not produce fruit. In our backyard is an apricot tree that is usually laden with fruit every summer but this year it produced only about a dozen apricots. The spring weather was so cold that most of the blossom never opened and the buds just froze and died on the tree. Our neighbour’s nectarine tree experienced the same problem. The image shows dead blossom clearly visible among the new growth.

All this adds up to one thing, as an average “man on the street” I have a little trouble with the credibility of scientists who keep telling me warming is going to continue at an increasing rate. Weather is cyclical sometimes hot and sometimes cold, we experience droughts and we experience floods but the planet has a way of balancing conditions. CO2 may be increasing and a large part of that is due to the amount of forest we have cleared and so the best way to correct the situation is to ensure more trees are planted. To encourage the planting of trees we need to ensure that timber and fruit industries are viable and profitable. Farmers will plant trees if it is profitable.