climate vs. weather

I’ve heard a lot of talk on the cold, icy streets of the upper Midwest this winter, relieved voices: So much for that global warming, eh?

Yep, we’ve had a humdinger of a winter, a real, old-fashioned, over-the-river-and-through-the-woods kind of winter.

But there’s a difference between one year’s weather and the climate of a region. Here are some excerpts from the New York Times:

“Climate skeptics typically take a few small pieces of the puzzle to debunk global warming, and ignore the whole picture that the larger science community sees by looking at all the pieces,” said Ignatius G. Rigor, a climate scientist at the Polar Science Center of the University of Washington in Seattle….

“I will admit that we do not have all the pieces,” Dr. Rigor said, “but as the I.P.C.C. reports, the preponderance of evidence suggests that global warming is real.”  As for the Arctic, he said,  “Yes, this year’s winter ice extent is higher than last year’s, but it is still lower than the long-term mean.” 

Dr. Rigor said next summer’s ice retreat, despite the regrowth of thin fresh-formed ice now, could still surpass last year’s, when nearly all of the Arctic Ocean between Alaska and Siberia was open water.… 

“It’s all in the long-term trends. Weather isn’t going to go away because of climate change. There is this desire to explain everything that we see in terms of something you think you understand, whether that’s the next ice age coming or global warming,” explains Gavin A. Schmidt, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan….”

It is very much a relief to see the regulation of climate and know how incredibly complex it all is. I look around at all this snow and ice and think, gee, maybe it won’t be so bad … maybe we’ll have more time…

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