Friday, April 26, 2013

When Weather Becomes Climate

Note: It has been a busy three weeks which included a week of much needed vacation.  Much has happened in the interim.  I am working on a number of posts which will be rolled out in May.

Meanwhile, many people often confuse weather with climate.  You have heard the refrains like it is so cold, how could the earth be warming?  Or how can we be in a drought when we’re having a flood?  Just when does weather become climate?  Good question!  Meteorologists at the European Space Agency have produced an answer to that question.

The following video is about 12 minutes long, but it is well produced and worth the time to view it.  They have a wealth of information with which to determine climate change and it is interesting comparing weather in the early 1800’s to weather today.  I hope you enjoy this production.

Click on the image for a larger version.  Image Credit: Climate Central.
This past Monday was Earth Day, the environmental-awareness event inaugurated 43 years ago, just three years after the Super Bowl was born. Earth Day I in 1970 represented a massive change in the world’s consciousness about the environment, and arguably led to the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The strange notion of “recycling,” which only a few oddballs had even heard of, suddenly entered America’s consciousness as well.

With all of that attention to the environment, though, nobody was talking back in 1970 about a bigger threat to the planet than air and water pollution: at the time, climate change wasn’t even a blip on most environmentalists’ radar. But annual average temperatures have been on an upward trend ever since — more in some places, less in others — thanks in large part to our emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

It’s true if you look at the United States as a whole (see below), and it’s also true if you focus in on any specific state. The graphic above shows the trend for South Carolina: thanks to the natural variability of weather, some years have been warmer than average, others cooler. Overall, though, the trend is steadily up — by 0.41 degrees per decade for South Carolina since 1970 — and climate scientists are convinced that without action to limit greenhouse gases, that trend will continue.

Click on the image for a larger version.  Image Credit: Climate Central.