CLIMATE CHANGE: THE COLD spell Ireland and the rest of northern Europe has been experiencing may, paradoxically, be the result of global warming, rather than evidence it is not happening, according to the most recent scientific research.
The Journal of Geophysical Research suggested a link between diminishing levels of sea ice in the Arctic and an increased probability of harsh winters across Europe, saying these “do not conflict the global warming picture, but rather supplement it”.
As HSBC Global Research noted in its latest report, If the World is Warming, Why is it so Cold?, “climate change involves profound disruptions in global average temperatures. But as individuals we only experience local weather.” And “coming on the back of the unusual cold winters of 2009-2010, this cold spell has caused some commentary that global warming is over”. The explanation they offer is that the “warming trend is not uniform, and northern Europe has shown considerable cooling this winter”.
Despite the cold spell here, “almost all the areas of the world have shown considerable warming . . .”
According to the British Met Office, “although La Niña has stabilised, it is still expected to affect global temperature through the coming year. This effect is small compared to the total accrued global warming to date, but it does mean that 2011 is unlikely to be a record year.”
Last week, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) published the global temperature figures for January to November 2010, showing that this 11-month period has been the warmest since instrumental records began 131 years ago.
“High temperatures in 2010 have also been matched by a series of extreme weather events across the world, including droughts and floods in China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the US,” the HSBC report noted. “But are these driven by man-made global warming?
“Nasa’s James Hansen is clear: ‘Would these events have happened if atmospheric carbon dioxide had remained at its pre-industrial level of 280 parts per million?’ His answer is ‘almost certainly not’.”
Essentially, the sequence of events this year matches the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.