Climate and weather are very different things

Policy makers and the public need recognize the difference between weather and climate, the latter is the average state.

Objection: Scientists can’t even predict the weather next week, so why should we believe what some climate model tells us about 100 years from now?

Answer: Climate and weather are very different things, and the level of predictability is comparably different.

Climate is defined as weather averaged over a period of time — generally around 30 years. This averaging smooths out the random and unpredictable behaviour of weather. Think of it as the difference between trying to predict the height of the fifth wave from now versus predicting the height of tomorrow’s high tide. The former is a challenge — to which your salty, wet sneakers will bear witness — but the latter is routine and reliable.

This is not to say it’s easy to predict climate changes. But seizing on meteorologists’ failures to cast doubt on a climate model’s 100-year projection is an argument of ignorance.

By The Way

Be aware that a cold winter does not mean Global Warming has been canceled. The climate may cool for a decade due to internal resonance of the climate, including factors such as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning circulation. After making that point, that article goes on to:

‘No distraction’

The projection does not come as a surprise to climate scientists, though it may to a public that has perhaps become used to the idea that the rapid temperature rises seen through the 1990s are a permanent phenomenon.

“We’ve always known that the climate varies naturally from year to year and decade to decade,” said Richard Wood from the UK’s Hadley Centre, who reviewed the new research for Nature.

“We expect man-made global warming to be superimposed on those natural variations; and this kind of research is important to make sure we don’t get distracted from the longer term changes that will happen in the climate (as a result of greenhouse gas emissions).”

Note that the warming trend exists whether or not the ocean forcing is included:

If you consider yourself a skeptic worth your salt, actually read the scientific publications, don’t just search for and select aspects to remove from context to attempt your debunking.

Yours sincerely,

Jason Box, Climatologist