I went looking for global warming facts because of the heated debate on the causes of global climate change.
Who, or what, is to be held accountable for it?
Strong disagreement has erupted within the scientific community on this question.
To better understand the global warming VS climate change issue, you have to understand how the earth's atmosphere works. You also have to understand what climate change means. To that end, I highly recommend two outstanding courses ...
If you follow the news at all, it is beginning to look like half the world's scientists are pointing their finger at mankind, as being responsible for this phenomenon … while the other half is pointing its finger skyward, at the sun!
Enough of this!
I decided to look into the matter myself, instead of being used as a passive spectator of a dubious sport. As an experienced meteorological information specialist, I am fortunate to have enough scientific and technical know-how to find the information I need, and to evaluate any global warming facts I might find.
Any evidence of a "global warming" is bound to show up as weather trends in Canada in the climate data archives, or so I thought!
I share my findings with you on this page. See the "global warming graphs" below … if you can call them that.
Fact Finding Mission
Therefore, I went looking for representative climate samples of global warming facts, in the form of statistics, at the trustworthy National Climate Data and Information Archive Of Canada.
A funny thing happened to me while going through the data archives. I did not find the proof I was expecting to find.
Instead, I found surprising and thought provoking facts. Details below.
Odd Heat Transfer
At first glance, there appears to be more heat in the debate … than in the actual climate data!
Before I present the "global warming facts" I found, let me explain how I proceeded, and why.
I decided to look at the January mean temperatures. Surely, any global warming would be easier to detect in the cold month of January, than in warmer July.
I elected to take widely dispersed data samples across the vast Canadian territory. I expected all data samples to show evidence of global warming, to a degree (pun intended!).
I chose sites well away from any possible local sources of heat, such as industries, and large urban agglomerations. I was looking for global warming facts, not local effects.
The data used for this study is public and freely accessible at www.climate.weatheroffice.ec.gc.ca.
It is important to point out here that any data that becomes part of the official National Climate Data set, has been thoroughly verified, and is certified as such.
Also, please note that the charts below are mine. They were drawn using available data on March 19, 2007, when I did my research for this article. In most instances, the January 2007 verified data had not yet been released.
Alert, is located deep into the Canadian portion of the Arctic Circle. We have climate records going back to 1950 for Alert.
As you can see on the graph, the January mean temperature has been swinging, at times wildly, both above and below an average of roughly -32 Celsius, since 1950.
The reddish line is the 30 year moving average. Obviously, the January 2006 "warm" temperature of -27.1 Celsius is still well within the observed departures from the average of the past.
In fact, it is interesting to note that, whenever the January temperatures strayed this far from the average … they immediately swung back the other way to colder values. It happened three times in the past (for which we have records):
temperatures swung from -27.1 in January 1950, down to -36.4 the very next year!
From -25.3 in 1958, down to -31.6 in 1959!
From -26.3 in 1977, down to -32.8 in 1978!
I was expecting a warming trend to show up. Instead I found temperature swings within the norm. These are intriguing global warming facts, are they not?
Not satisfied with my findings on Alert, I went further south to investigate Churchill, Manitoba, deep in the heartlands of Canada.
The January mean temperatures swing above and below an average of about -27 Celsius. Admittedly, the 30 year moving average has crawled up from a value of -28 to near -26, since the mid 70s. Is this enough to be considered among global warming facts?
However, the average has topped out on the cold side of -26, largely reflecting the deep cold spike down to -31.9 in 2004!
Please note that, here too, each time the temperature went up to -22 or warmer, it immediately swung back to below average the very next year!
Honestly, I would not be inclined to conclude that this graph can be presented as global warming facts, or evidence.
By the way, did mankind turn off its global warming activities in late 2003, to let temperatures plunge to -31.9 Celsius in January 2004?
Incredible … but true. Right in the midst of a reputed "global warming period", St. John's Newfoundland's 30 year moving average is … lower (colder) now, than before 1990!
What's going on?
Is Newfoundland somehow protected from the effect of mankind's global warming activities?
Notice, again here, that the January 2007 mean temperature has immediately retreated from the January 2006 peak of -1.5 Celsius. The latter was well within past observed departures from the average, anyway.
Three failed attempts in a row at finding evidence of global warming were beginning to make me doubt I would ever find hard global warming facts.
But, there is always an exception to the "rule", somewhere, if one looks for it hard enough.
And, sure enough, I found a warming trend. More than once in fact. Port Hardy, British Columbia, is a typical example of what I discovered on Canada's Pacific west coast.
Here the graph shows clear, unequivocal evidence of a warming trend. It began in the late 60s, and is still going strong. But, can it be considered among "global warming facts"?
Why would the Canadian West Coast be so spectacularly different from the rest of the country? Why should it be getting warmer there, and not elsewhere in Canada?
The effect of ocean waters of coastal climates are well known to climatologists. Not only do oceans:
warm the coastal areas, but they also
have a smoothing effect on temperature variations, preventing large departures from the average, and
the ocean waters transfer large quantities of moisture into the lower atmosphere.
Could it be that the Pacific ocean waters are warming up … thus accounting for the rise in temperatures as measured by the Pacific coastal weather stations? I also checked out Quatsino, on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The January mean temperatures rose there also, in step with those observed further north up the coast at Port Hardy.
You might remember that the Atlantic ocean did not have the same warming effect on St. John's Newfoundland's January temperatures. So, the Atlantic ocean does not appear to be warming, as the Pacific ocean appears to be.
Hmmm! How to fit this last find in "global warming facts"?
What Should We Conclude?
My investigation leaves me with more questions than answers. In summary,:
"Where are the supporting global warming facts, in Canada"?
The evidence examined shows a warming trend on the west coast of Canada, but nowhere else in the country! It is not clear why this is so.
Just from the news media, I was expecting the kind of evidence I found in the Port hardy climate data, to be similar at Alert, Churchill, and St. John's.
Such was not the case. It "looks like" much of Canada has been spared from global warming effects, somehow.
From the deep Arctic regions, to the Canadian heartlands, to the far eastern tip in the Atlantic ocean waters … no clear evidence of global warming!
I am not concluding that there is no global warming! All I'm saying is that, for layman … and politicians, it is not easy to tell, especially given the facts above … if one takes them into consideration, of course!
The graphs above are based on observed verified, and well known facts, at least within the scientific community. The graphs are not computed projections, using complex theoretical models of the atmosphere.
The reported global warming trend is based on the latter models, however.
If the scientific community can be so divided on the issue of global warming, then I feel quite comfortable looking for hard, verifiable facts … and keeping an open, critical mind, while analyzing my findings.
More than thirty years as a meteorological information specialist has not rendered me skeptical … just prudent!
I sincerely hope this article has been of help to you in sorting out the "global warming facts" that are presented to you in the news media, almost daily.