Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Donít throw away your skis just yet

If you read the Associated Press story “In weather, 2012 another record-setter” in the Dec. 26 issue, don’t throw away your skis just yet—snow is definitely not going to vanish from Sun Valley or other ski areas in the world because of global warming.

The global warming from 1978 to 1998 is over, there has been no warming since 1998 and four of the past five years have set records for high snowfall in the Northern Hemisphere. Four of the five snowiest years on record occurred in the last decade. The winter of 2009-10 had the second highest snow extent recorded in the past 45 years; 2010-11 had the third highest recorded snowfall; 2007-08 had the fourth highest; and 2002-03 had the fifth highest.

The average U.S. winter temperature in the U.S. in the past 10 years is down 4.2 degrees, and in most of the northern U.S., the average winter temperature is down from 5.8 to 8.7 degrees. 

In fact, you can’t believe much of anything in this story, including the notion that recent extreme weather is increasing because of global warming.  The claim that “unprecedented extreme weather will become the new normal in a matter of decades” flies in the face of scientific data to the contrary. Tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, floods, and seasonal warm weather are all weather phenomena, not long-term climate. Data clearly show that these events occur all the time and what we have seen in recent years is well within normal natural variation. (Yes, weather does change!)

A 2012 study, “Current weather is neither historically unprecedented, nor unusual: Extreme weather events are ever present, and there is no evidence of systematic increases,” showed that there has been no increase in extreme weather events over many decades. 

So, enjoy skiing and have no fear that we will run out of snow any time soon.

Don J. Easterbrook

Professor of geology



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