Joe Bastardi / February 28, 2013

The Difference Between Climate and Weather

In every weather debate, it’s almost impossible not to see the other guy’s opinion. In what is turning out to be Endless Winter, there was a big debate before the season as to whether we would have another non-winter like last year. At Weatherbell.com we were confident this would not be the case, and in fact would turn much colder. It tried for about 10 days around the holidays, backed off, but since January 21 – which is the midpoint of the 3 month coldest period of the year (December 5-March 5) – the nation has been slipping deeper and deeper into winter, and now we may be facing the coldest March since 1996. The Ground Hog, who forecasted an early end to winter, is *Rodent non grata* in many circles, and not because he digs up your back yard.

In every weather debate, it’s almost impossible not to see the other guy’s opinion. In what is turning out to be Endless Winter, there was a big debate before the season as to whether we would have another non-winter like last year. At Weatherbell.com we were confident this would not be the case, and in fact would turn much colder. It tried for about 10 days around the holidays, backed off, but since January 21 – which is the midpoint of the 3 month coldest period of the year (December 5-March 5) – the nation has been slipping deeper and deeper into winter, and now we may be facing the coldest March since 1996.

The Ground Hog, who forecasted an early end to winter, is Rodent non grata in many circles, and not because he digs up your back yard.

But I can see the other guy’s points and in fact was painfully aware of them at times as winter stopped and started and did invoke memories of last winter for a time. The point is, the crucible of everyday competition makes you acutely aware of forecasts and results. This is HUGELY different from the climate fight, where people who will not forecast, but try to make a living by telling you why something happened after it did, seem to populate the scene. It’s very strange to me. Take, for example, the ice caps: One of them, the Southern Hemisphere, is at near record high levels for the time of the year:

(See yellow line for current. In 2012 it broke the record high during the high point of the season!)

The ice cap that should be melting because we are in the warm cycle of the Atlantic, is almost smack dab in the middle:

There is even a chance that the much talked about Island of Greenland may experience record cold temperatures for so late in the winter within the next 10 days.

I present once again the graphic of CO2 vs ocean and air temperatures:

I guess reading that as CO2 is causing warming would get you a D in class.

In the tropical upper atmosphere, no trapping hot spots have shown up. The theory being this would be the tell tale sign that heat would be trapped and our doom was sealed:

Then there is the matter of the busting temperature forecasts from the IPCC:

Yet on we go! No accountability. And by the way, the cooling that has started will continue as the oceans cycle back to where they were at the start of the satellite era, the late 1970s. The solar cycles have some say in it, and in fact there is a lot of concern that my forecast for a simple return to where we were at the start of the warm oceanic cycles in the late 1970s is very conservative. There are people worried that because of the solar cycles similar to the Victorian Era, our temperatures return to that level.

While I can see my rival’s point in the weather, I can’t see why there is a climate debate, yet alone why we are committing economic suicide as a nation.

There is a big difference between weather and climate. In weather, we make forecasts that are tested DAILY and we certainly can see how the other guy says what he says. In the climate fight, apparently no forecast is ever tested and policy will be implemented even when it’s wrong.

In my job, if I am not right enough, people fire me. That’s life in the competitive private sector. I pay for my mistakes. With the climate fight, WHEN they are wrong, policy is implemented anyway. And guess who pays?

All of us!

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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