At his wissenslogs blog, sister blog of Real Climate, Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research has a post attempting to find an explanation for Europe’s heavy snowfalls and cold from last month.
Part of Rahmstorf’s problem is his habit of not asking to the right questions, which is a prerequisite for getting the right answers. Or maybe it’s more him purposely asking the wrong questions to avoid getting the right answers.
He reminds me of a fly bouncing off a window. Instead of asking “How do I get through the glass?”, the fly ought to ask: “How do I get on the other side?” Flying away and out through an open door certainly works a lot better than repeatedly ramming into the glass until dropping dead.
In his post he describes the snow and cold of December and poses the question:
Is it because of global warming, or does it have nothing to do with it?”
First he says straight out that the cold December is by no means an indication that global warming has ended or that it is taking a break, citing 2010’s high global temperature from GISS. He then asks:
In the globally warmest year since measurements began in the 19th century, we have [in Potsdam] the most amount of snow since measurements began in the 19th century. Meanwhile the Arctic sea ice cover this December is at a record low. Do these records have anything to do with each other, or is it just a coincidence?“
The fly bouncing off the window now comes to mind, and expect the bouncing to continue. He then presents the following graphic:
It shows Potsdam maximum snow depth with a 15 year-smoothing. Note the outlier high of 41 cm recorded last month. From this graph he concludes:
The year-to-year fluctuations are very large, and show no noticeable trend.
Especially over the last 40 years, during a time the global temperature rose significantly, there is no trend in the December snow depths.”
And then asserts:
These are hefty indicators that there is no relation between this year’s snow record and global warming and that it is only a coincidence.”
(That applies for snow in Europe.) Now at least he’s headed in the right direction. So what’s the cause? Rahmstorf probes further, and glances at solar activity and quickly dismisses it, saying:
Just eyeballing the the graphic, it is obvious this is not a factor of influence – an 11 year cycle cannot be detected.”
Rahmstorf aversion to the sun is obvious, and he really has a way of selecting graphics. With that scale one can hardly discern 100 years, let alone 11. That’s the graphic he linked to: Schwabezyklus.
He then adds that it can’t be the sun because the Lockwood und Fröhlich (2010) correlation of winter temps in Europe and solar activity is too weak (correlation coefficient 0.23).
And not only that, the record warm winter of 2006/2007 came at a time when solar activity was near a low. And the currently weak sun is similar to a stituation before 1925, at a time when there were hardly any cold winters in Germany. So it can’t be the sun, he resons. Here we see that Rahmstorf has gone back to bouncing off the window.
So what could it be, he asks?
Rahmstorf suggests that it has to be “a very non-linear mechanism” causing the unusual snow and cold, like the one suggested by Petoukhov and Semenov (2010), i.e. a connection between ice cover in the Barents-Kara-Sea and the European winter weather.
Rahmstorf does point out that one has to be cautious here because Petoukhov and Semenov is the result of model calculations with one single climate model. Rahmstorf adds:
Indeed before I would consider such a mechanism as robust, it needs to be confirmed by other independent models and ( or observation.
Indeed Petoukhov and Semenov did not make any projection for any winter in particular, rather they presented the idea of winters associated with cold Arctic air could occur more frequently. If that turns out to be the case, it cannot be seen with two or three winters, rather we have to wait for a significantly greater number of winters.”
Not long ago, a number of PIK scientists embarked on a media blitz selling it all as everything but fact in the German media. The past can be also checked out to see if there is any correlation.
Rahmstorf sums it up:
Its quite possible that this month’s extreme snowfall is just a coincidence of the weather. But on the other hand there are indications that the boundary conditions in the Arctic have changed due to the ice melt over the years that could significantly change the weather statistic in Europe. Whether this December remains an outlier or whether more of this will occur in the future cannot be said. It’s an open research question.”
I think it should be a simple matter showing the lack of robustness of the Barents-Kara-Sea / European winter weather correlation. After that we will be able to say it’s time for the warmists to stop bouncing of the window.
Time to look for that open door.