Climate Change Plays ‘Fairly Insignificant’ Role In Current Warm Weather

arctic oscNPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks to Mike Halpert, NOAA’s deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, about the odd weather caused by El Nino and if climate change has a role.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

And I’m here in Washington, D.C., where people have been outside, walking around in shorts and flip-flops. We’ve got Mike Halpert on the line. He’s deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And Mr. Halpert, what temperature should it be in Washington in the middle of December?

MIKE HALPERT: Middle of December, we oftentimes see highs roughly in the mid-40s, lows – somewhere just below freezing.

SHAPIRO: The other day, I saw lilacs blooming.

HALPERT: Well, it certainly a – been a very warm period that we’ve had here in December. I know. I was talking with other colleagues – certainly quite unusual.

SHAPIRO: Well, then, the next question is, why?

HALPERT: There’s a couple of factors at play here. I think everybody’s well aware that we have a strong El Nino that’s kind of started back last spring, and El Nino is known to exert a pattern that oftentimes favors warmer-than-average temperatures. There’s another factor that seems to maybe have been playing even a larger role over the last four to six weeks. It’s something that we call the Arctic oscillation.

SHAPIRO: Explain what the Arctic oscillation is. We don’t hear as much about that as we do about El Nino.

HALPERT: Yeah. It’s an atmospheric pattern, and it relates basically the pressures at the polar regions to the pressures in the mid-latitudes where we live. It becomes much more newsworthy, typically, when we’re very cold here because that’s associated with the negative phase of the Arctic oscillation oftentimes. And what that means, is that the polar vortex, which may be surprising to some but not to a meteorologist – the polar vortex, which is located around the pole, weakens and allows cold air to spill out. This year, we’re seeing the opposite. So we’ve had a strong polar vortex, and it’s cold up at the polls but not really anywhere else.

SHAPIRO: OK. So El Nino plays a roll. The Arctic oscillation plays a role. What about climate change? Is that playing a role?

HALPERT: If it is, it’s probably fairly insignificant at this point. If it were to play a role, it would be more likely if, somehow, climate change is impacting either the Arctic oscillation or El Nino, and we’re not really aware that it is at this point. If you think about, maybe – the high temperature over the weekend was 70, so maybe without climate change, it would’ve been 69. I think it’s a fairly insignificant role, if any role at all.

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  • Avatar

    A.D. Everard

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    So the signs are clear, the tide turns and the long, slow, inevitable backing away from the brink begins. There’ll be a lot more of this in the months and years ahead. There comes a time when keeping one’s skin is more important than funding to lie and cheat. Seems to me they’re running scared and checking the exits – a few now, a stampede later – there’s a lot of entertainment ahead and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. 🙂

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  • Avatar

    GR82DRV

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    [quote name=”A.D. Everard”]So the signs are clear, the tide turns and the long, slow, inevitable backing away from the brink begins. There’ll be a lot more of this in the months and years ahead. There comes a time when keeping one’s skin is more important than funding to lie and cheat. Seems to me they’re running scared and checking the exits – a few now, a stampede later – there’s a lot of entertainment ahead and I wouldn’t miss it for anything. :-)[/quote]
    Well said A.D.. It will be interesting to see many of those who jumped on the climate change band wagon later wagging a finger of indignation at the ringleaders of this fraud.

    I predict that many will try to triangulate their positions into the next nebulous fraud scheme that is surely in the works as we speak.

    My greatest wish is that this era of scientific McCarthyism will be clearly revealed, but for that to happen we would need a media that is willing to put truth before ideology… Not likely any time soon.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Amber

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    NOAA and others have served their political purpose now they will try and salvage their credibility after the horse has left the barn .
    They are going to increasingly get on the record how uncertain and fluid the factors influencing climate really are because when this scam blows up the ring leaders and politicians are all going to point at the scientists who told them climate Armageddon was imminent . NOAA ,IPCC , etc .
    The politicians and circus leaders of the biggest scam in decades have got what they were after, a steady steam of money . Global warming will disappear as fast as the earth ice ball forecasts of the 1970’s .

    Scientists are now free to be as honest as they want but no one is listening anymore .

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Barth

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    Here in Europe there are also record high temps.
    I Live in the Netherlands, There are butterflies seen flying, this week before christmas!
    No El Niño effects here, but of course, we do have effects of the arctic oscilation.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Me

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    [quote name=”Barth”]Here in Europe there are also record high temps.
    I Live in the Netherlands, There are butterflies seen flying, this week before christmas!
    No El Niño effects here, but of course, we do have effects of the arctic oscilation.[/quote]

    Does no one remember how late warm was last summer, seems it didn’t really get warm till August, and about how cold it was the last couple winters? Short memories fer some I guess?

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  • Avatar

    Me

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    The thing is when you have to pay heating bills, to stay warm and look at what is mild weather then you notice.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Barth

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    [quote name=”Me”]
    Does no one remember how late warm was last summer, seems it didn’t really get warm till August, and about how cold it was the last couple winters? Short memories fer some I guess?[/quote]
    Are you talking about Europe? Last two winters were mild here in Europe. And the winter 2013/2014 exceptionaly mild. When the eastern US experienced that very harsh winter, we were one of the regions that had the warmth that was lacking there. With a lot days of record warmth. In 2014 the temps of all months ( exept for august 2014) were higher than normal. Here, 2014 was the warmest year in at least three centuries.
    Nothing wrong with my memories.
    Yes, 2013 had a cold start (here), (but a warm follow up.)

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