Teresa Audesirk: Global warming
July 11, 2010
Steamboat Springs — When record snows blanketed Washington, D.C., in February, climate change deniers gleefully used this as evidence to debunk global warming. Now, as the same region endures a record-breaking heat wave, these skeptics are conspicuously silent. The fact is, no weather event can prove or disprove that global warming is occurring. When thinking about climate change, it is crucial not to confuse climate with weather, which changes on a daily basis. Climate and weather are linked, however, as the climate of a region is determined by its average weather over long periods of time. Satellite measurements over the world's oceans, combined with data from more than 6,000 land-based sites throughout the world, tell us that decade by decade, Earth is inexorably warming.
Experts from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration now have concluded that the 2009 mid-Atlantic snowstorms resulted from natural factors independent of global warming. However, a trend predicted by climatologists — and supported by weather data throughout recent decades — is that as the world warms, the frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, rains of a magnitude to cause flooding, and high-intensity hurricanes will increase. Weather-wise, global warming assures that we will live in interesting times.