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Deniers Ignored IPCC Predictions; Draw Wrong Conclusions About Big Snowstorms

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I doubt this is going to surprise anyone in this reality-based community: Republicans are trying to use the record-setting snow accumulations along the East Coast to conclude that climate change isn’t occurring. Unfortunately, a number of Democrats are choosing to pursue short-term political expediency rather than long-term societal stability.

So I’ll start with my own conclusion: this winter’s precipitation fulfills key predictions made by climate scientists.

The climate doesn’t care if legislators make excuses to not work on climate safety. The climate doesn’t care if they do work on it. Absent aggressive, immediate action, the effects of climate change, like this winter’s snow storms, will continue to pile up on all of us. Doing something about it, like clearing feet of snow over hundreds of square miles, repairing broken power lines, etc., will only cost us more and more as time goes on.

The climate will have the last laugh. We might not find it so funny, however.

Below, I provide evidence that these snowstorms are likely to become more common for the East Coast.

Count Sen. Jim DeMint (Shill-S.C.) among the denier extremists unfortunately more interested in proving just how little the government can do for his constituents than how much he could do.

It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries “uncle,” the conservative Senator tweeted on Twitter.

I’m sure we all appreciate how classy guys like DeMint somehow manage to get elected. Unfortunately, he’s exactly wrong about what’s going on. You see, record snow seasons is among the phenomena we’re more likely to see in a world where human-forced climate makes its effects felt.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided such a prediction, among many others, in their 2007 4th Assessment Report (4AR).

Here is the IPCC’s Precipitation prediction portion of the Working Group I Report. They have a panel of plots at that link that I’ll discuss below.

First, a little context: the panels are for temperature and precipitation changes over North America from the A1B set of model simulations. As you can see at this link, the A1B set considers a moderately high greenhouse gas pollution scenario until the middle of the 21st century. It is not the worst-case scenario. I say that for a very good reason: our actual emissions profile has already exceed that of the A1B, A2 and A1F1 scenarios. So the trends that are shown in A1B results, as in the IPCC’s Precipitation predictions, will very likely be exceeded in the real world in the future.

Now, onto those predictions.

The middle row of plots show the fractional change in precipitation from 1980-1999 to 2080-2099 – so they’re forecasts averaged over 20 years. The East Coast of the U.S. can be expected to see 5-10% more precipitation annually and 10-15% more precipitation in December-January-February (DJF on plots). That portion of North America should therefore see more winter precipitation than they did from 1980-99. Make sense? If it does, then you understand more about climate change than most Republican Senators are willing to publicly admit. I know, that’s not saying much.

Since the results are from moderate-pollution model simulations, and our actual pollution record has been higher, what does that mean with regard to those precipitation plots? Well, the change in precipitation could be greater over the same area. Or, the same change in precipitation could happen sooner than the A1B set predicted for AR4, and there might not be any more additional change.

This points to a glaring weakness of the IPCC process. In their attempt to relay the most conservative information they possibly could to get every party to agree to its language, they didn’t discuss the extreme pollution scenario results very much. Since our real-world pollution has outpaced the moderate cases for AR4, in a way, the IPCC will have no choice but to consider more extreme possibilities for AR5, the model simulation for which are being run right now.

Moreover, the IPCC noted that the occurrence of extreme precipitation events is likely to increase in a climate system forced by human pollution. That squares pretty well with what the East Coast has witnessed this winter: very large snowstorms that are rare, but becoming slightly less so.

Since CorporateDems sided with Republicans in 2009 in halting all progress in the Senate, every major piece of legislation that this country was demanding be passed continues to sit idle. Chances are growing that issues like climate safety and energy independence will not be considered in this session of Congress. As I said at the beginning, the climate doesn’t care one way or the other. People will care, but by the time it climbs higher on more Americans’ priorities, it will be too late to do anything inexpensively. Every solution will cost much more than it would have in prior years and will need to be accompanied by ridiculously expensive adaptation efforts.

Of course, if Republicans actually believed their b.s. talking points, they would go head up insurance companies and show State Farm and others that insuring sea-side property won’t be any more expensive in 10 years than it is today. Insurance companies have run the numbers and have come up with the same conclusion that climate scientists have (for very different reasons): risk will grow along the coasts first.

Republicans and CorporateDems are negligently endangering the American public. The dysfunctional Senate needs immediate reform.

Cross-posted at SquareState.


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