Posts Tagged snow

Prat Watch #12: warmest winter makes Ring writhe (and other tales) Gareth Renowden Sep 02

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It’s time for another update on the antics of our favourite climate cranks — and this week’s star is New Zealand’s very own über crank, weather astrologer Ken Ring. He’s been reinventing NZ’s warmest-ever winter to make it fit with his forecasts. Here’s Ken, back in April, in a piece headlined “Severe winter ahead” [WebCite1]:

The closer the moon is to the earth, the more extreme is the weather, and this year’s closest perigee occurs in late June, which will set us up for a very cold July. […] Very cold temperatures may break records at or near both mid July and mid August.

Unfortunately for Ring, none of that happened. Instead, we got record warmth, and a marked absence in July and August of the frigid southerlies from polar oceans that bring NZ its coldest weather. He is so desperate to make this winter appear cold and to justify his forecast that he’s just published a barely coherent article titled White lies in winter [WebCite]. He thrashes around at a number of targets, but his aim is clear: we have to believe that this was not a record-breaking warm winter. Under a list of links to newspaper articles that don’t support his cold contention, he appeals to his reader’s innate weather measuring equipment:

Does the above sound like the warmest winter ever to anyone? […] I am sure we have all felt the winter cold; now we have a cool September and a cold October to get through before a shift to warmer December weather.

Unfortunately, the nation’s real temperature recording devices don’t agree with Ring. The final numbers confirm that this was New Zealand’s warmest winter since data started being collected in the 1860s. But that’s not enough.The moon man isn’t about to give up. He’s noticed there’s a lot of snow around the nation’s ski fields:

Happily this winter has been fantastic for ski operators because all ski fields are lush with snow. That alone should demonstrate that the season has not been too over-warm. The smallest child will know that snow comes in colder weather and thaws when temperatures rise. Winters can have both warm and cold spells but a good snow-base would not be capable of hanging around throughout any “warmest season ever”.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Ring is talking complete bollocks. A “good snow base” can easily linger right through spring and into high summer. This winter, my two local ski fields had a huge dump of snow in late June, and with one or two small top-ups, have been providing wonderful skiing right through the warm winter. There’s so much snow at Mt Hutt, for instance, that they’ve already decided to extend their season by two weeks — and when they do close, it will be because of a lack of custom, not lack of snow.

One other notable point about Ring’s article: he accuses the Prime Minister’s science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, of being a liar.

When even the Chief Science Advisor also goes public with falsehoods about climate, a person the public trusts as much as the Ombudsman, this generates serious distrust in science.

What really sows distrust in science is the nonsense spouted by Ken Ring — a man who wouldn’t know real science if it leaped up and bit him on the bum. I wish it would…

Meanwhile, the head honcho at NZ’s official climate crank convocation, Barry Brill, has been busy penning words that he hopes will pass for wisdom at µWatts. That’s not a very high standard to achieve, but Brill still manages to fall at the first hurdle. He’s taking aim at the forthcoming IPCC launch of the summary for policymakers of the Working Group one report on the science of climate change. Here’s a part of his intro:

The timetable for the global treaty was deferred at the Durban COP because developing countries (particularly China and India) felt that the 2013 SPM was an indispensable input to the negotiations. Governments need an authoritative up-to-date assessment of both the extent and the causes of the climate change threat, present and future.

As is usual in Brill’s commentary on climate issues, he’s simply making stuff up. Agreement wasn’t deferred because of any desire to see more scientific evidence. It was put off because it was impossible to get everyone to agree on a way forward in the time available.

The rest of Brill’s piece is nothing more than a lawyer trying to make a case: that climate sensitivity is overestimated, that the lack of any new global temperature record means that warming has somehow stopped, and that the IPCC is therefore in trouble. In that, he’s about as successful as he was in bringing a suit against the NZ temperature record: prolix and unpersuasive to all but the µWatts faithful.

The science is what the science is, and the people who know it best are the people doing it. They are part of the IPCC process, and their views will be the ones given weight in the WG1 summary for policymakers, due out at the end of the month. Barry Brill is a propagandist — and not a very good one, at that. Perhaps he should take up astrological weather forecasting. He might, at a pinch, be able to do better than Ken Ring.

  1. Because Ken has a history of altering stuff after the fact to make himself look better.

Cold wind to Valhalla: Arctic ice loss brings spring snow to UK and Europe Gareth Renowden Apr 01

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It’s been a cold and snowy end to winter in Britain and much of Europe. The worst March snowfall for 30 years (according to The Telegraph) caused significant disruption to much of the UK, and lead to heavy loss of sheep and lambs in Wales. The UK Met Office reports that March is likely to [...]

The Climate Show #31: Doha! Doha! Doha! Gareth Renowden Dec 07

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It’s the run up to Christmas, and the annual ritual repeats. Diplomats gather in Doha to discuss and debate action on climate change, so Glenn and Gareth talk to their correspondent on the spot, New Zealand climate media strategist Cindy Baxter to find out what’s happening in the oil kingdom’s echoing halls. At the Fall AGU meeting in San Francisco, NOAA has published its 2012 Arctic Report Card (grim reading, it has to be said). Plus Gareth talks about truffles as a bellwether for Europe’s changing climate, and the boys get all enthusiastic about nanophotonics and steampunk.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold.

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Climate Show

Story references


The Fall AGU is on in San Francisco.

Today’s hot news: 2012 Arctic report card released: press release.

Graphics and articles:

French truffles being affected by heat and drought

The bigger picture: European Environment Agency report:

‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2012′ finds that higher average temperatures have been observed across Europe as well as decreasing precipitation in southern regions and increasing precipitation in northern Europe. The Greenland ice sheet, Arctic sea ice and many glaciers across Europe are melting, snow cover has decreased and most permafrost soils have warmed.

Guest interview:

Special guest NZr Cindy Baxter, a climate media strategist who has attended just about every major international climate meeting over the last 20 years. Veteran of the talks, blogs for Hot Topic. In Doha with climate scientists.

And just to underline Cindy’s comments: NZ’s lacklustre statement to COP 18:


Solar steam: Super-Efficient Solar-Energy Technology: ‘Solar Steam’ So Effective It Can Make Steam from Icy Cold Water

The efficiency of solar steam is due to the light-capturing nanoparticles that convert sunlight into heat. When submerged in water and exposed to sunlight, the particles heat up so quickly they instantly vaporize water and create steam. Halas said the solar steam’s overall energy efficiency can probably be increased as the technology is refined.
“We’re going from heating water on the macro scale to heating it at the nanoscale,” Halas said. “Our particles are very small — even smaller than a wavelength of light — which means they have an extremely small surface area to dissipate heat. This intense heating allows us to generate steam locally, right at the surface of the particle, and the idea of generating steam locally is really counterintuitive.”

Steampunk Oamaru

Thanks to our media partners: Idealog Sustain, Sciblogs, and Scoop .

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

High and dry Gareth Renowden Jun 09

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From NASA’s Earth Observatory: yesterday’s Image Of The Day (RSS feed) was this stunning picture of an intense high pressure system over the Great Australian Bight to the southwest of Tasmania, acquired by the MODIS sensor on the Aqua satellite on June 5th. In high pressure systems, dry descending air suppresses cloud formation, in this case punching an impressive “hole” through a layer of stratocumulus clouds. Central pressure at the time was 1040 hectoPascals. According to the NZ MetService 7 day forecast, over the next week the system will move east and set up camp to the southwest of the South Island.

Also from the Aqua satellite last week, a good picture of the midweek snowstorm that hit the South Island. Thursday morning chez nous was as pretty as several pictures.

The Climate Show #17: the end of the peer show Gareth Renowden Jul 27

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Nano electric cars from India, 100 year old electric vehicles, the Petermann ice island floating down towards the Atlantic, heatwaves in the USA and snow in North Canterbury, and a bit of peerless chat about a larrikin Lord on his way to New Zealand. With added vegan cheese and the BFC (big fat cat). Yes Glenn and John Cook wax lyrical, while Gareth’s mind wanders off on his EU and US trip — The Climate Show is back with another rambling but perfectly essential distillation of climate and related news and commentary.

Watch The Climate Show on our Youtube channel, subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, listen to us via Stitcher on your smartphone or listen direct/download from the link below the fold…

Follow The Climate Show at The Climate Show web site, and on Facebook and Twitter.

The Climate Show

News & commentary: [0:01:20]

Our own cold snap & the NZ MetService blog coverage.

Looking chilly at Gareth’s house

Petermann ice island off Labrador.

Meanwhile… US East Coast heat wave — humidity was the stunning hallmark plus Climate Central & Jeff Masters.

Europe’s melting glaciers and summer river flows.

Lamb worst offender at generating greenhouse gases in US? ’A report by the US Environmental Working Group suggests lamb, beef and pork generate the most greenhouse gases, use the most fertiliser, water and feed in the production process, and also tend to be higher in fat.’

’Green’ and ’Sustainable’ coming back into fashion?

Climate Change and the media — BBC about to bite bullet on climate BS.

Debunking the sceptic, with John Cook of Skeptical Science [0:35:00]

The Breivik manifesto and the Monckton connection, & Norway terrorist is a climate change denier.

Monckton’s curriculum vitae at the UK Independence Party.

Monckton refuses to accept challenge from Barry Bickmore to debate in written form.

Solutions [01:10:00]

A Marlborough wine producer has slashed its annual heating bill by choosing to burn its own vine prunings to produce heat.

India is making electric cars… who knew?

A century of electric vehicles

New documentary: Revenge of the electric car.

Japanese home fuel cell.

Thanks to our media partners:, Scoop and KiwiFM.

Theme music: A Drop In The Ocean by The Bads.

Catch a fire (worst year since 1816) Gareth Renowden Jun 26

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The extraordinary sequence of extreme weather events during the last 18 months is probably the worst run of natural disasters since 1816, when a huge volcanic eruption at Mt Tambora cooled the earth enough to cause the famous “year without a summer“, according to a powerful blog post by Weather Underground founder Jeff Masters. He runs through the list, giving details of each:

  • Earth’s hottest year on record
  • Most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record
  • Arctic sea ice: lowest volume on record, 3rd lowest extent
  • Record melting in Greenland, and a massive calving event
  • Second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña
  • Second worst coral bleaching year
  • Wettest year over land
  • Amazon rainforest experiences its 2nd 100-year drought in 5 years
  • Global tropical cyclone activity lowest on record
  • A hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season: 3rd busiest on record
  • A rare tropical storm in the South Atlantic
  • Strongest storm in Southwestern U.S. history
  • Strongest non-coastal storm in U.S. history
  • Weakest and latest-ending East Asian monsoon on record
  • No monsoon depressions in India’s Southwest Monsoon for 2nd time in 134 years
  • The Pakistani flood: most expensive natural disaster in Pakistan’s history
  • The Russian heat wave and drought: deadliest heat wave in human history
  • Record rains trigger Australia’s most expensive natural disaster in history
  • Heaviest rains on record trigger Colombia’s worst flooding disaster in history
  • Tennessee’s 1-in-1000 year flood kills 30, does $2.4 billion in damage

Masters argument is straightforward:

…it is highly improbable that the remarkable extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011 could have all happened in such a short period of time without some powerful climate-altering force at work. The best science we have right now maintains that human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like CO2 are the most likely cause of such a climate-altering force.

There’s more heat accumulating in the system, and more water vapour in the atmosphere to drive weather events.

A naturally extreme year, when embedded in such a changed atmosphere, is capable of causing dramatic, unprecedented extremes like we observed during 2010 and 2011. That’s the best theory I have to explain the extreme weather events of 2010 and 2011–natural extremes of El Niño, La Niña and other natural weather patterns combined with significant shifts in atmospheric circulation and the extra heat and atmospheric moisture due to human-caused climate change to create an extraordinary period of extreme weather.

However Masters doesn’t think that this sort of weather is the new normal — at least not yet — but it does suggest where we may be heading in 20-30 years time:

…the ever-increasing amounts of heat-trapping gases humans are emitting into the air puts tremendous pressure on the climate system to shift to a new, radically different, warmer state, and the extreme weather of 2010 – 2011 suggests that the transition is already well underway.

You don’t have to be an alarmist to find that alarming.

[Update: 30/6: The Guardian turns Masters' list into a slideshow of compelling images.]

[Bob Marley]

Thundersnow is go! (for weather geeks) Gareth Renowden Feb 04

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It’s been snowing in America. It snowed quite a lot in Chicago. They even had thundersnow, which is rare enough to have excited Weather Channel presenter Jim Cantore quite a lot. I’ve never experienced thundersnow. I’m almost jealous. Almost. The ripe peaches at Limestone Hills are some compensation… ;-)

More on American snow at Jeff Masters’ blog. Hat tip to Barry Brook, who tweeted this Daily Mail assemblage of blizzard pictures.

[Update Feb 5: Jeff Masters provides this memorable description today: The most extraordinary hourly observation I've ever seen in a U.S. winter storm came at 9:51pm on February 1 at Chicago's Midway Field: A heavy thunderstorm with lightning, heavy snow, small hail or ice pellets, freezing fog, blowing snow, visibility 300 feet, a wind gust of 56 mph, and a temperature of 21°F. Welcome to the Midwest! My kind of town...]

The 2010 Climate B.S. of the Year Award Gareth Renowden Dec 31

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This a guest post by the Climate BS Awards committee.

Welcome to the 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award. 2010 saw widespread and growing evidence of rapidly warming global climate and strengthening scientific understanding of how humans are contributing to climate change. Yet on the policy front, little happened to stem the growing emissions of greenhouse gases or to help societies prepare for increasingly severe negative climate impacts, including now unavoidable changes in temperature, rainfall patterns, sea-level rise, snowpack, glacial extent, Arctic sea ice, and more. These physical impacts will lead to sharply increased disease, military and economic instabilities, food and water shortages, and extreme weather events, among other things. Without appropriate risk management action, the United States will be hit hard. There is no safe haven. Yet confusion and uncertainty about climate change remain high in the minds of too many members of the public and Congress.

Why? In large part because of a concerted, coordinated, aggressive campaign by a small group of well-funded climate change deniers and contrarians focused on intentionally misleading the public and policymakers with bad science about climate change. Much of this effort is based on intentional falsehoods, misrepresentations, inflated uncertainties, and pure and utter B.S. about climate science. These efforts have been successful in sowing confusion and delaying action — just as the same tactics were successful in delaying efforts to tackle tobacco’s health risks.

To counter this campaign of disinformation, we are issuing the first in what may become a series of awards for the most egregious Climate B.S.* of the Year. In preparing the list of nominees, suggestions were received from around the world and a panel of reviewers — all scientists or climate communicators — waded through them. We present here the top five nominees and the winner of the 2010 Climate B.S.* of the Year Award.

Fifth Place. Climate B.S. and misrepresentations presented by Fox ’News.’

There are many examples of bad science, misrepresentations, omissions of facts, and distortions of climate reality coming from Fox ’News’ (far too many to list here, but we note that Joe Romm just gave Fox his 2010 Citizen Kane Award for ’non-excellence in journalism’ for their misrepresentations of climate science). It seems that Fox has now made it their policy to deny the reality of climate change and has told its reporters to misreport or cast doubt on the science. This policy of disinformation was implemented by Fox News executive Bill Sammon, who ordered staff to cast doubt on climate data in a memo revealed this month. Fox’s political commentators have long used this tactic in their one-sided and biased discussions on climate change but Sammon’s memo seems to direct News staff to slant reporting in direct contradiction to what the scientific facts and scientists actually say.

Fourth Place. Misleading or false testimony to Congress and policymakers about climate change.

While Congress held more hearings in 2010 on climate change than in other recent years, these hearings elicited some astounding testimonies submitted by climate deniers and skeptics filled with false and misleading statements about climate science and total B.S. Examples?

Long-time climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels testified before the House Science and Technology Committee and misrepresented the scientific understanding of the human role in climate change and the well-understood effects of fundamental climatic factors, such as the effects of visible air pollution. Including these effects (as climate scientists have done for many years) would have completely changed his results. Michaels has misrepresented mainstream climate science for decades, as has been noted here, here, and elsewhere, yet he remains a darling of the skeptics in Congress who like his message.

A newer darling of Congressional climate change deniers is Christopher Monckton, who claims to be a member of the British House of Lords (a claim rejected by the House of Lords). Monckton testified before a Senate committee in May and presented such outlandish B.S. about climate that experts (such as John Mashey, Tim Lambert, John Abraham, and Barry Bickmore, to name a few) spent uncounted hours and pages and pages refuting just a subset of his errors.

Third Place. The false claim that a single weather event, such as a huge snowstorm in Washington, D.C., proves there is no global warming.

In February 2010 a big winter storm dumped record piles of snow on the mid-Atlantic U.S., including Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, prompting climate change deniers to use bad weather to try to discredit the reality of global warming. Limbaugh said, ’It’s one more nail in the coffin for the global warming thing.’ Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe got attention with an igloo on the national mall and labeled it ’Al Gore’s new home’ (combining bad science with a personal attack). Senator Jim DeMint said, ’It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle.’’

Record snowfall is not an indicator of a lack of global warming, as has been pointed out in the scientific literature and many, many rounds of Congressional testimony. It merely means that there was a storm and temperatures were close to or below freezing. Indeed global warming can contribute to greater snowfalls by providing extra moisture. Many scientists testifying before the Senate and House of Representatives have explained the difference between a steadily warming planet and occasional extreme cold events in particular spots. But we can expect to see more examples of this kind of B.S. when it gets cold and snowy somewhere, sometime, this winter.

Second Place. The claim that the ’Climategate’ emails meant that global warming was a hoax, or was criminal, as Senator Inhofe tried to argue. In fact, it was none of these things (though the British police are still investigating the illegal hacking of a British university’s computer system and the theft of the emails).

Global warming deniers used out-of-context texts from the stolen emails to claim that global warming was a hoax or that scientists had manipulated data or were hiding evidence that climate change wasn’t happening. These claims are all B.S. A series of independent scientific and academic investigations in the U.S. and the U.K. unanimously concluded that nothing in the stolen emails made any difference to the remarkable strength of climate science (see, for example, the Penn State vindication, the independent Muir Russell and Lord Oxburgh reviews, a British Parliamentary Panel review, and other assessments). Unfortunately, the media gave far more attention to the accusations than to the resounding vindications, and climate deniers continue to spread B.S. about this case.

The bottom line of ’Climategate?’ As a letter in Science magazine signed by 255 members of the US National Academy of Sciences said in May 2010: ’there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change.’


First Place goes to the following set of B.S.: ’There has been no warming since 1998’ [or 2000, or…], ’the earth is cooling,’ ’global warming is natural,’ and ’humans are too insignificant to affect the climate.’ Such statements are all nonsense and important for the general public to understand properly.

The reality is that the Earth’s climate is changing significantly, changing fast, and changing due to human factors. The reality of climatic change can no longer be disputed on scientific grounds — the US National Academy of Sciences calls the human-induced warming of the Earth a ’settled fact.’ The evidence for a ’warming’ planet includes not just rising temperatures, but also rising sea levels, melting Arctic sea ice, disappearing glaciers, increasing intense rainfalls, and many other changes that matter to society and the environment. The recent and ongoing warming of the Earth is unprecedented in magnitude, speed, and cause.

This winning set of B.S. appears almost daily in the conservative blogosphere, like here and here and here, consistently in the statements of climate change deniers, and far too often in real media outlets. Actual science and observations from around globe have long shown the opposite (for example, here and here are nice rebuttals with real science). The planet continues to warm rapidly largely due to human activities, and average global temperatures continue to rise. The most recent decade has been the warmest decade on record and 2010 will likely go down as either the warmest or second warmest year in recorded history.

Associated B.S. argues that the famous ’hockey stick’ graph has been disproved. This graph shows the extraordinarily rapid warming of the twentieth century compared to the previous 1000 years. The graph and analysis have been upheld by subsequent researchers and numerous scientific assessments, including one from the US National Academy of Sciences.

To the winners: congratulations, it is long past time your B.S. is recognised for what it is — bad science.

And to the public and the media: be forewarned: all of these and similar bad arguments will certainly be repeated in 2011. It is long past time that this bad science is identified, challenged, and shown to be the B.S. that it is.

The 2010 Climate Bad Science (B.S.) Detection and Correction Team

Peter Gleick, Kevin Trenberth, Tenney Naumer, Michael Ashley, Lou Grinzo, Gareth Renowden, Paul Douglas, Jan W. Dash, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Brian Angliss, Joe Romm, Peter Sinclair, Michael Tobis, Gavin Schmidt, John Cook, plus several anonymous nominators, reviewers, and voters.

[* ’B.S.’ means ’Bad Science’ -- doesn’t it?]

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