Global warming not over despite bad weather
11 Feb 2009
A weekend of snow-filled fun for some, cold misery for others. Is it all related to global warming?
RAY BATES, adjunct professor of meteorology at UCD. He was formerly professor of meteorology at the University of Copenhagen and a senior scientist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre. He was a contributor to the 2001 IPCC Report as a nominee of Denmark
COMING AFTER the mild Irish winters of recent decades, the frequent frosts, widespread snow and unusual sea ice of our current winter have led many to wonder if something contrary to expectation is happening to our climate.
Figures recently released by Met Éireann confirm that the number of ground frosts in January was considerably greater than normal and February has so far shown no sign of milder conditions. In addition, 2008, though considerably warmer than the climate norm, was the coolest year of the present century so far in Ireland.
Data released by the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies similarly show that 2008, though ranking as the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, was the coolest year since 2000 globally.
These facts have been taken by climate sceptics as grounds to question the predictions of continued global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions, a frequently heard claim being that "there has been no global warming since 1998". William Reville has argued more than once in his weekly column in Science Today in The Irish Times that ignoring the climate sceptics is bad science and has called for a more open debate on the global warming question.
I will here present some considerations that are relevant to this issue.