Well, that record cooling trend in January, which was solid evidence (to some) that human-caused global warming was at an end, melted away as fast as the summer ice in the Arctic. Not only did February begin a frighteningly unsustainable warming trend for this year, it saw a record number of tornadoes.
Climate change is making a comeback! In your face, delayer-1000s! And as Jon Stewart — or the Pope — might say, damn you, polluters! But where is the news coverage? This is just more proof (as if we needed it) that the media is fundamentally conservative.
Let’s start with the temperature. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has their monthly global temperature dataset out through Feb. 2008 (it starts in Jan. 1880). January was only 0.12 degrees C above the 1951-1980 mean (for that month) and a full 0.74 degrees C colder than Jan. 2007 (the warmest January record).
But Feb. 2007 was 0.26 degrees C above the monthly mean, and a mere 0.37 degrees C colder than Feb. 2008. The “legitimate science writer” David Appell explains the staggering implications (if we used the same reasoning as typical delayers):
… the world is warming up at 0.14 degrees C/month, or 3 degrees F per year, or a dramatic 30 degrees F per decade! By 2018, Fairbanks Alaska will be like Atlanta was this year. Atlanta will be … well, like Hell …
More seriously, this February ripped the tornado record books to shreds as if they had been caught in a giant whirlwind whose intensity had been amplifed by global warming. The country suffered through a stunning 232 tornadoes — almost triple the previous record, a mere 83 tornadoes in 1971. (Reliable records go back to 1950.)
There is some recent research by NASA that “the most violent severe storms and tornadoes may become more common as Earth’s climate warms.” More interestingly, the famed blogging nonalarmist meteorologist Jeff Masters explains:
Each of the past three years has seen an unusually early start to tornado season. One would expect to see a shift in tornado activity earlier in the year in a warming climate, along with an earlier than usual drop off in activity in late spring. We can see that in both 2005 and 2006 that tornado activity dropped off much earlier than usual, and it will be interesting to see if 2008 follows a similar pattern. Note that there is a very high natural variability in tornado numbers, and the record for fewest ever January and February tornadoes was set just six years ago in 2002, when only four twisters occurred. It will be at least ten more years before we can say with any confidence that a warming climate is leading to an earlier peak in tornado season.
That spin is a tad nonalarmist for me, especially given that we were just in a brutal one-month regional global-warming-is-over-and-global-cooling-has-begun trend (at least over land in North America). Let’s just say that the party is over, delayer-1000s — you know who you are.
Hopefully we can get back to serious discussions about how we will avoid quadrupling carbon dioxide concentrations from preindustrial levels, and maybe even move on to discussing how we can avoid doubling them to 550 ppm.