Scientist sees doubtful data
FARGO, N.D. — A weather expert from Omaha, Neb., thinks some of the of global warming data is based on bad science.
Art Douglas, professor emeritus and former chairman of the Atmospheric Science Department at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., spoke on Sept. 23, at the annual meeting of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association in Fargo.
While Northern Hemisphere temperatures are warming, this is balanced by a cooling in the Southern Hemisphere.
"From northern Australia to South America, it's cold," Douglas said. "Look at all of the ice we have around Antarctica, and it's surrounded by very cold water," he said, noting that even though the Northern Hemisphere is warm, but the "Southern Hemisphere is cold — redistributing energy across the planet."
Douglas says people focus on ice shelves breaking off of Antarctica, but "if you study glacial geology you know that if it's cold and snowy in Antarctica, it develops more snow," he said. "It puts weight on the snow. And guess what that snow does? It pushes out toward the sea."
Further, Douglas says temperature histories in the world are short and instrumentation has changed in ways that are not fully accounted for. About 75 percent of the globe is covered with water, he said, and American founding father Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s discovered that ships traveling on particular routes traveled faster because they were on the gulf stream.
Merchant marine vessels were ordered to take water temperature data since the 1800s.
They did that by throwing a bucket overboard, lifting it up and putting a thermometer in it to take the temperature.
After World War II, most of the fleets in the world were replaced. Since the 1950s, the temperature of the water was recorded in engine rooms, where the water came in to cool the engines. Temperatures went up.
Further, the National Weather Service changed the maximum-minimum thermometers to 12 feet above the ground, instead of the 4 feet where they'd been in the past.
"They didn't want any comparison," Douglas said. "They just said this is the new system: live with it. And guess what? We have global warming because of this change of instrumentation."
The result is that global temperature change in the United States was "primarily at night," he said. "Twelve feet up in the daytime doesn't mean much, because you heat the ground and the hot air rises, right? The air temperature in the daytime hasn't changed much but he temperature at night is a lot warmer," he said. "This is something they did. This is the crux of bad science."
Douglas says the majority of the world's scientists still see global warming because "they say they've corrected" for the instrumentation issue.
"But the problems are seasonal," he says. "In the ocean the impact of going from bucket to interior" is exaggerated because the "interior temperatures are much much warmer in the wintertime." In the summer, the difference is smaller.
Waters still remain warm north of the equator after an "exceptionally long" El Niño effect from 2014, 2015 and 2016. "Normally an El Niño lasts 12 to 14 months. This one lasted 38 to 40 months. That's why we're seeing a lot of hurricanes, and it's also the reason the moisture has been more over the ocean than over the continent," he said. The years 2008, 2009 and 2013 are the best analog years to compare with current conditions and offer insights into weather moving forward, Douglas said. Here is what he is expecting:
* Gulf of Mexico moisture will stay farther north than normal with anomalous southeast flow. Expect above-normal precipitation from the Gulf to the Dakotas, improving prospects for winter wheat production.
• Expect wet conditions through the mid-section of the country in October, becoming warm and dry again by November, as well as warmer-than-normal temperatures. "Overall: not bad for a harvest situation," Douglas says. "If there is some delay in October because of the moisture, it'll be made up for in November with considerably warmer, dryer weather."
• In December, expect "a lot of cold fronts coming down" and a snowy winter across the north central states, with the heaviest snows in the early winter. The north central states can expect average winter temperatures two to three degrees below normal but with a January thaw.