Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Needed: a November 1 blog blizzard that more snow doesn't mean less warming

Things Break beat me to the punch on this issue with a much better post that included some actual science-type material.

It's pretty simple.  Lots of snow doesn't tell you anything about temperature trends.*  If you see lots of recently fallen snow, you could probably derive that temperatures somewhere in the nearby atmosphere had recently been below freezing, but not whether overall temperature trends are neutral, declining, or warming.  As TB points out, the right conditions of warming could actually lead to more snow, and we might get a lot this year.

Record cold, or average temperatures that are significantly below long term averages, are much more relevant.  Of course a single season doesn't tell you a whole lot either, but at least it's a relevant-if-minor data point.

We had plenty of idiocy two years ago when we had lots of snow, but this time we can anticipate it.  November 1 might be a good time for blogs based on the real world to rally around and remind people in advance that snow tells you nothing about warming.

*UPDATE:  okay, it's a little more subtle than telling you absolutely nothing about temps - as usual, see the comments for edification.  Let's say that lots of snow doesn't tell you anything about temperature trends that can be coherently discussed in a 30 second Fox News soundbite or a dismissive tweet.  Increased temps could mean more snow or less snow, depending on circumstances, so if you're trying to understand temperature trends and don't have lots of time to put into it, the better focus would be to look at temperature trends.