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Sunday, February 15, 2009

The headline reads, "Climate warming gases rising faster than expected." But what if we expected them to rise faster than expected? By this point, I know I did.

Incidentally, Kevin Drum has the map explaining why it is you're hearing so much about how cold it is this winter.

This map compares global temperatures from January 2009 to the average temperature 1951-1980. And as Drum artfully explains:

As you can see, there are only two areas in the entire world that are colder than the 1951-1980 average: eastern Siberia and the American northeast, home to virtually the entire national press corps. So naturally cold temps are getting lots of media play. But, in fact, the rest of the world continues to be substantially warmer than in the recent past, and if you look at entire latitudes, even in this chilly month every single one is warmer than in the past. It would be nice if global warming really were taking a break, but it's not.
Take one last look at that chart. Those Arctic temperatures are terrifying.

You can generate your own maps using your own criteria and baselines here. For instance, here's the Jan. 2009 vs. 1981-2008 map, which shows that it was also slightly cooler in most of North America, Europe, and some other places than we've become accustomed to.

But look again at the Arctic, especially Greenland. Almost no change in the intensity of the red. That's not a great sign—it suggests to me the feedback loops may be kicking in—though it's just one month and we should reluctant to draw conclusions from it alone.

Finally, here's the last decade of winters vs. the previous fifty (okay, forty-six) years, followed by the last decade (year-round) vs the previous forty-six.

It's generally warmer all the time, but the effect is more pronounced in the winter, especially at the North Pole. We're just lucky most of that ice was already floating...