Former Vice President Al Gore used a temporary spike in high Arctic temperatures as evidence for man-made global warming, conflating a short term weather phenomenon for climate.
This is the exact sort of thing scientists and reporters attacked President Donald Trump for just before News Year’s Eve, when the commander in chief joked the eastern U.S. could use some “good ol global warming” amid a cold snap.
Trump’s tweet set off a media firestorm. Numerous pieces went up quoting prominent scientists on how cold weather in the U.S. did not disprove global warming over time. But will Gore’s comments get the same sort of scrutiny?
Probably not, but Gore is also using a weather event as evidence of man-made global warming.
It’s concerning how warm the Arctic is right now, with record temps and low sea ice. As @thinkprogress says, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. https://t.co/R3URlMrAE3
— Al Gore (@algore) February 27, 2018
High Arctic temperatures hit record levels in late February. Climate scientists were described as “aghast” and “stunned” at the spike in polar temperatures that started about one week ago and has now ended.
Of course, their “shock” at above freezing Arctic temperatures came with dire warnings about global warming. But these sorts of temperatures spikes happened in the past and at pretty regular intervals.
University of Missouri climate scientist Anthony Lupo said there are similarities between the recent blocking event and one in early winter of 1987 that was centered over Great Britain.
“This has happened in the more distant past, the comparability of the heights indicates the total column energy is similar, and not due to to anthropogenic global warming,” Lupo said.
Ironically Gore’s tweet came after temperatures in the Arctic started to fall again.
The “heat wave” at the North Pole is over. Temperatures -25°C for the next several days. ECMWF 12z forecast model update (https://t.co/XcmEbEJxko) pic.twitter.com/AVeh8XnZok
— Ryan Maue | weather.us (@RyanMaue) February 27, 2018
Climate scientist Zachary Labe told the Atlantic a “blocking pattern” over Scandinavia “played a significant role for this warm air to intrude into the Arctic.” Warm, moist air from the Pacific Ocean also came through the Bering Strait, contributing to a decline in regional sea ice cover.
Like in 1987, a blocking pattern over Europe forced warm air northward over Greenland and the Arctic, leading to a spike in polar temperatures. Lupo recently published a study projecting no changes in jet stream character due to man-made warming.
“If the arctic temperatures are warmer (and I don’t doubt they are), it is not by that much,” Lupo said in an email. “It is a leap to go from record arctic warmth to humans are responsible. This would happen no matter the climate change mechanism.”
“There is nothing special about warming due to CO2 versus most natural mechanisms,” he said.
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