Blame Climate Change for Increasingly Extreme Summers, Says Leading Climatologist

By Sophie Bushwick | August 7, 2012 5:01 pm

spacing is important

Even ignoring the wildfires and drought this season, the sweltering heat itself is proclaiming this an intense summer. And unusually hot summers are becoming not so unusual, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers averaged the summer and winter temperatures for multiple locations across the globe during the years from 1951 to 1980, establishing a baseline for each season. Then they measured how much the temperature varied from this average over the years. They found an increasing number of anomalies in the past 30 years. We no longer have equal odds of the summer temperatures being unusually hot, or unusually cool. Instead, as the researchers phrase it, we are dealing with loaded dice: we are now much more likely to have a hot summer than an average or cool one. And hot temperatures have become both more frequent and more intense. In the time period from which the researchers drew their average, less than one percent of land on Earth suffered from extreme hotter-than-usual temperatures (more than three standard deviations above the average) at any one time. Now, these temperature hotspots cover 10 percent of the land.

And one of the paper’s authors, climatologist James Hansen, not only claims that the climate dice have been loaded, but also that we can blame global warming for loading them. In an op-ed for the Washington Post, he writes, “Our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change. The deadly European heat wave of 2003, the fiery Russian heat wave of 2010 and catastrophic droughts in Texas and Oklahoma last year can each be attributed to climate change.” His explanation: Global warming was the only thing that changed during the same time period when this increase in extreme heat events occurred. Other frequently blamed heat wave culprits like natural variability and El Niño remained unchanged, and thus cannot be viable explanations for these weather events.

Some scientists disagree with the study, saying it doesn’t convey any new information, while others think that he has exaggerated the clarity of the connection between climate change and heat waves. “This isn’t a serious science paper…It’s mainly about perception, as indicated by the paper’s title. Perception is not a science,” one government researcher said.

Image of cracked earth via Shutterstock

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment, Physics & Math
  • aedge

    Funny thing is that while we are having quote record heat no one ever seems to notice it goes in cycles. And actually in the 1970’s it we had a couple of blistering summers hotter than this year followed unusual wetness.

    We have weather cycles which our scientists chose to ignore in their ignorance of long time history look at the ice ages. The cyclic volcanic periods! Man may have sped up the cycles but no matter what they say we can not slow it or reduce it without massive die offs in populations! In the past disease, plagues, etc. reduced the populations when they became to large!

  • arrowrod

    Darn. I was going to have a picnic.

    Who pays these peoples salaries? At least they should have put some complicated calculus equations in the paper, with some fractal formulas. Then the critics would have been impressed, because nobody reviews the math.

  • http://churchofsmoke.org Jose

    Hurricanes dissipate a lot of energy and there hasn’t been anything of significance so far this year. That is going to responsible for some of the heat waves.

  • Ralph Lockhart

    It shouldn’t be surprising that a change in climate may be underway on an earth several billion years old with a known history of changes ranging from ice-ages to extreme heat and arid winds. But a comparison of 30 years is fundamentally meaningless, especially if the conclusion is that any changes in that period can be attributed to man!

  • Tony Mach
  • Pete1215

    It should be noted that we are at the start of a journey. Since global warming is for real, things will most likely get worse.

  • Clark Griswold

    And the climate groupies that made pseudo-scientific nitwits like Hansen what he is never mention the influence that the emerging solar maximum certainly has on these trends.

    Remember, Warmists, when temps go down, it’s weather. But when they go up, well, that’s climate!

  • Daniel J. Andrews

    Clark…solar activity has declined and was stuck in an extended minimum yet temps still increased.
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm (basic version, be sure to click on Intermediate for more info).

    Incidentally, why would you call Hansen, a man with numerous scientific achievement awards and a history of being right before most others joined him, a pseudo-scientific nitwit? Especially when your post has two factual errors, one strawman argument and demonstrates you lack credentials to distinguish between science and pseudo-science.

  • Daniel J. Andrews

    We have weather cycles which our scientists chose to ignore in their ignorance of long time history look at the ice ages.

    Erhm….no. That is like saying scientists ignore the gravitational effects of the sun when sending a probe to Mars. A ten second google search should enlighten you. See AMO, El Nino/Nina phases, Milankovitch cycles, just for starters. If you’re feeling brave, check out Raymond Bradley’s Paleoclimatology textbook.

    Incidentally, based on the rest of your post, I’d recommend you not rely on wherever you’ve been getting your information. It is making you look very foolish. If you wish to remedy that start here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm

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