Monday 29 November 2010

Climate scientists know...

I have often posted a Guardian article from July 2006, here's what I said the last time I posted it - Guardian in normal, my comments in italics:

"Peering into the future is a tricky business, especially for something as volatile as weather and climate. But scientists know a lot about how events will unfold. They use giant computer programs, evolved from those that make weather forecasts, to work out how the atmosphere will react to the blanket of carbon dioxide we humans are steadily wrapping around the planet. As we do, and as more of the sun's heat is unable to escape, the air and the sea warm. But that takes time, which means that whatever we do, our climate destiny is fixed for the next few decades."
So it's a tricky business but the scientists with their clever computers can tell us what will happen, I'm interested and convinced, do tell what the future holds...
"Here, we present a picture of what might happen in Britain over the next century if the world fails to take serious action, and global emissions continue to rise at about the same, or a slightly slower, rate. So what does it reveal?"
Yes, yes go on
"Rainfall will decline in the summer and the increased deluges in winter will struggle to replenish thirsty reservoirs because much of the water will run off the baked ground."
Oh no, I must go and buy water butts and Mediterranean type plants and cut back on water usage because summer rainfall is a thing of the past. Thank heavens this is so because Wimbledon have taken the roof off of Centre Court as they start to build the new movable roof. At least Wimbledon will be unaffected by rain in 2007!

So I was intrigued to read Joanne Nova who found a similar forecast in The Independent in March 2000:
'Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
By Charles Onians, 20th March 2000
Britain’s winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.
Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain’s culture, as warmer winters – which scientists are attributing to global climate change – produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.
However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.
The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain’s biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. “It was a bit of a first,” a spokesperson said.
The chances are certainly now stacked against the sort of heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in “London Snow” of it, “stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying”.'

Do you remember last winter in London? I seem to remember lots and lots of snow and kids sliding down nearby hills on sledges, trays and bits of cardboard but I must have been mistaken because in 200 we were told:
'According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become “a very rare and exciting event”.
“Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” he said.'
Has Dr Viner been approached for his comments?


Katabasis said...

There were lots of critical comments, including one of my own, on that Independent article until they removed the lot.

Gawain Towler said...

Funnily enough he has, in January of this year,

In March 2000, Dr David Viner, then a member of the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, the body now being investigated over the notorious ‘Warmergate’ leaked emails, said that within a few years snowfall would become ‘a very rare and exciting event’ in Britain, and that ‘children just aren’t going to know what snow is’.
Now the head of a British Council programme with an annual £10 million budget that raises awareness of global warming among young people abroad, Dr Viner last week said he still stood by that prediction: ‘We’ve had three weeks of relatively cold weather, and that doesn’t change anything.

'This winter is just a little cooler than average, and I still think that snow will become an increasingly rare event.’
The longer the cold spell lasts, the harder it may be to persuade the public of that assertion.