The U.S. Postal Service has joined the fight against global warming by introducing a stamp depicting the projected warming of the world’s oceans.
The stamp series is called “Global: Sea Surface Temperatures.” It features a single snapshot of how the world’s oceans will warm as more greenhouse gases fill the atmosphere. Researchers take the data and create stamps that represent “one day in the life of the virtual Earth.”
The Post Office notes that the images on the stamps are not based on real world observations but modeled scenarios. The Post Office says the “model isn’t absorbing ongoing, real-time truths from the Earth, per se, through a satellite or weather balloon like some might suspect.”
“Rather, it’s using general conditions — such as the composition of land and water, and how the Earth revolves around the sun — in tandem with the great laws of physics to mimic the climate’s behavior,” the Post Office continues. “Millions of grid boxes tell a story about what’s happening in a particular space, interacting with each other in a dance of physics to tell a greater global narrative.”
“The reason we need to do this is we can’t perform real experiments,” said Keith Dixon, a scientist with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in New Jersey which helped develop the images for the stamps. “We don’t have a twin planet Earth.”
“The field [of climate study] is really moving toward trying to understand how climate change will impact weather on very regional and local scales,” said Tom Delworth, another GFDL scientist, “and how it will impact extremes like storms, droughts, and floods that cause society a tremendous amount of damage.”
Delworth noted that a consensus has been developing in the last 10 to 15 years that global warming was being driven primarily by human activity, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels. But ironically, during this time global temperatures remained flat, with no warming trend occurring in the last 17 years and 9 months.
Meteorologist and climate blogger Anthony Watts also noted that the temperatures depicted on the stamps were misleading since they showed modeled forecasts and not current ocean temperature.
“You’d think they would use one that depicts reality, not a model projection,” wrote Watts. “Our current SST image looks a lot different than the stamp – no reds, lots of blues, which show our current reality to be cooler than the modeled one.”
Watts posted this image of current sea surface temperatures (SST) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
“On the plus side, the stamp is $1.15, so it won’t get much circulation, it might be a collectors item though in a few years,” Watts added.
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