Mike Mann on the Meaning of Boston’s Snowmageddon

February 11, 2015

boston_reanal

Fox News:

More than 2 feet of snow piled up in parts of New England by early Tuesday, breaking records set 37 years ago as forecasters warned still more winter weather was on the way.

The snowfall numbers in the area are staggering. Boston’s Logan Airport measured 72 inches of snow in the last two and a half weeks. In the last two days, the town of Norwell, which is outside Boston, got buried in 30 inches of snow.

Boston’s snowfall surpassed the Colorado ski resort town of Crested Butte.

Atmospheric scientist Michael Mann of  Penn State University weighs in on the meaning of Boston’s SnowmaGeddon event.

Washington Post:

You could treat this as ordinary weather, or, you could think about it in a climate context. Counter-intuitive though it may sound, the fact remains that — as I have noted previously — some kinds of winter precipitation could indeed be more intense because we’re in a warming world.

Consider, for instance, that sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England are flashing red, showing an extreme warm anomaly. That’s highly relevant — because warmer oceans have atmospheric consequences.

“Sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England right now are at record levels, 11.5C (21F) warmer than normal in some locations,” says Penn State climate researcher Michael Mann. “There is [a] direct relationship between the surface warmth of the ocean and the amount of moisture in the air. What that means is that this storm will be feeding off these very warm seas, producing very large amounts of snow as spiraling winds of the storm squeeze that moisture out of the air, cool, it, and deposit it as snow inland.”

Warmer oceans also increase the temperature contrasts that winter storms encounter when they hit the East Coast, notes Mann — and this ups their strength.

“Heavy snows mean the temperature is just below freezing, any cooler and the amount would be a lot less,” adds Kevin Trenberth, a climate expert at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Warmer waters off the coast help elevate winter temperatures and contribute to the greater snow amounts. This is how global warming plays a role.”

Yes, it might sound strange, but it can actually snow more when it’s a bit warmer — not too warm for snow, of course, but not extremely cold, either.

Below, climate denier and expert on all things Pat Robertson, explains that Boston snow proves there is no global warming.

Right Wing Watch:

An exasperated Pat Robertson challenged President Obama and 99 percent of climate scientists over their belief in climate change today since, after all, the televangelist explained, it is snowing in Boston.

Robertson claimed that the Boston snowstorm helps prove that climate change is a myth created by scientists who have been manipulating data, even though climate change has actually been linked to growing storm intensity.

“The president goes in an interview with Vox, whatever that is, and said our real challenge is not ISIS, it’s not terrorists, it is global warming,” Robertson said. “Go to Boston, Mr. President.”

 

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28 Responses to “Mike Mann on the Meaning of Boston’s Snowmageddon”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Oh look! A partial answer from Mann and Trenbreth to OmnoMoron’s question on another thread . Now if Omno could understand high and low pressure areas, why winds blow, the Coriolis effect, and the concept of “fronts”, he would have his full answer.

    (And Pat Robertson is the gift that keeps on giving. If I’m that dumb in another ten years I hope someone shoots me)

  2. omnologos Says:

    I’m still waiting for an answer in fact. The storms bringing snow to Boston don’t even reach the areas with high SST -there’s no lake snow effect. The prevailing winds are westerlies anyway so any additional moisture would move to the open Atlantic. How is the warm ocean connected to the amount of snow then?

    Please avoid hand waving and planetary arguments. Take one storm (eg Marcus) and elucidate the exact mechanism making “Sea surface temperatures off the coast of New England” relevant to its amount of snowfall.

    This would be the perfect exercise and could be linked back for future reference. Note to Dumbold: I’m not saying it’s not true. All I’m looking for is a mechanism for it.

    Thanks. I won’t reply to non substantive answers like the ones posted by the resident bully.


    • It’s actually very simple, Omno, we don’t need details. All you have to know is that there are record setting weather events and weather related events (i.e. wildfires) around the world. This couldn’t be happening by chance. So what’s different in the last 35 years? CO2 levels and global warming. Now you can work out the details.

      A parallel would be child bed fever in the 19th century. No, medical researchers didn’t know about germs, but they did know about statistics, and it seems that doctors were spreading the disease. The details were to be worked out later.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You “won’t reply to non substantive answers like the ones posted by the resident bully”? You’re whining again, and it’s laughable and ironic that YOU of all people speak of anything being “non substantive”.

      You want US to “elucidate the exact mechanism” for lazy little you? I’m a firm believer in “teaching a man how to fish” rather than just feeding him fish. So, read my lips and LOOK SOME STUFF UP! I for one will answer intelligent questions about what you may not understand. Look up and understand:

      high and low pressure areas
      why winds blow
      the Coriolis effect
      and the concept of “fronts”

      You show the level of your confusion by saying things like “the storms bringing snow to Boston don’t even reach the areas with high SST”. Could it be that the “storm” arises at the interface of the collision of air masses of different pressures-temperatures-moisture content and with different wind speeds and directions? And that one of those air masses is in fact pulled in from the southeast?

      And are you sure “there’s no lake snow effect” (or rather its near equivalent) in the Boston scenario?.

      “The prevailing winds are westerlies anyway so any additional moisture would move to the open Atlantic” is another statement that shows your ignorance. There are winds other than “prevailing” involved in any storm system.

      “How is the warm ocean connected to the amount of snow then?” Some hints. Maybe by heating the air over the water, allowing it to hold more moisture to be later dumped over land? Maybe by pumping more energy into the storm, and thereby affecting the dynamics of the storm?—-size, wind speeds, movement?

    • ubrew12 Says:

      The atmosphere is chaotic enough so that hot, humid maritime air East of Boston can still get entrained by passing cyclonic activity, and travel West over land, even though the general air movement is West to East. Last week, of course, the storm that threatened NYC was travelling South to North, pretty much, so no difficulty figuring out where all of its moisture came from.

      “Take one storm… and elucidate the exact mechanism” Is the subject still Climate on this website? That’s your short answer. And Meteorology hasn’t elucidated an ‘exact mechanism’ for ‘one storm’ since it gave birth to chaos theory.

      • omnologos Says:

        Actually Peter understood the gist of my question. I’ll look at the appropriate weather maps when I have the time. The question arises from Mann’s words quoted in the post.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Actually, you have NO idea what Peter, ubrew, and I are talking about. If you had half a brain, you would have folded and left this game long ago.

          When you “have the time”, don’t bother “looking at the appropriate weather maps”. You won’t understand them either. Instead look up “All Hat, No Cattle”, a description that fits you well on this topic.


  3. What is the slope of global atmospheric humidity over the last 100 years?

  4. redskylite Says:

    Trenberth outlines the simple physics of snow and warming atmosphere very well in “The Conversation”. As for climate change doubters, if events in the high latitudes (Grouse Mountain ski resort, Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races, drunken trees, subsiding cabins, Inuit villages, measured temperature rises etc etc) don’t convince you I’m not sure what will.

    “The physics behind this phenomenon is governed by a basic law that tells us the maximum amount of moisture in the atmosphere increases exponentially with temperature – that is, the warmer the atmosphere, the more moisture the air can hold and thus, the more potential for precipitation.”

    http://theconversation.com/does-global-warming-mean-more-or-less-snow-36936

    • omnologos Says:

      the issue that makes it all unconvincing is the hand waving indeed. It does not matter to a storm if the atmosphere in general holds more or less water than before…what matters is if where the storm formed or passed through, there was more or less atmospheric water than before.

      Otherwise no attribution is possible, just generic statement that cannot be linked to any specific phenomenon. Since Mann and others have made precise claims about Marcus and its “friends”, we can and ought investigate those claims specifically.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        This bit of craziness rates a resounding double WHAT-WHAT????

        Omno, I will say it again, go away until you have learned enough meteorology to comment intelligently. You embarrass yourself.

        Will you please look up these things? Your comment shows you haven’t yet.
        high and low pressure areas
        why winds blow
        the Coriolis effect
        and the concept of “fronts”

        A “fish” for you. There’s some relevant info here that may help you understand.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nor%27easter

        • omnologos Says:

          A break in my radio silence vs the bully to clarify that words have meaning and a salad of weather names can’t do. The point isn’t that a Nor’easter might or might not bring the moisture from the ocean to the Boston area. The point is if a Nor’easter or any other phenomenon brought moisture from the high anomaly ocean waters off the coast of Massachusetts to a high snowfall winter storm like Marcus in February 2015. I’ve actually found a NOAA satellite image from Feb 8 1245am EST and no Nor’easter can be spotted. More, a stationary front was channeling all storms towards New England thereby making pretty much impossible for the moisture to move towards Boston. The search continues.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I give up. Omno’s willful ignorance is insurmountable. I am done feeding the troll on this thread .

            Omno, I did not say that it was a nor’easter, just that the info in that link was relevant and might help you understand—-it was simple and clear, and thought that IF YOU COULD UNDERSTAND IT, might be helpful. You didn’t get it.

            Yeah, you really “clarified that words have meaning and a salad of weather names can’t do”. And “…might or night nor bring moisture…” and “…making pretty much impossible for the moisture to move towards Boston”. Those “points” rate another WHAT? (I need a dedicated WHAT key on my keyboard for Omno). I will only say that YOU throwing out a “salad” of BS that you don’t understand “can’t do”. Up your game.

            (And “words have meaning”? That from OMNO, the master of words WITHOUT meaning? Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-!!!!!!!)

          • omnologos Says:

            You’re just devoid of an answer, that’s all. Too bad, all you need is to show me the Nor’easter that fed Marcus. Simple, uh?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Omno, I said I was done feeding you. Go away. You are devoid of a brain. How do I know that? You keep doubling down on your stupidity.

            Do you ever fully read (and fully comprehend) ANYTHING we say to you? Did you miss this?

            “….I did not say that it was a nor’easter, just that the info in that link was relevant and might help you understand…”

          • omnologos Says:

            And I asked for a mechanism for the warm waters to feed the storm that just happened in New England, as per Mann’s words.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Did you miss Mann’s words in this article? As “per” Mann…..

            “….this storm will be feeding off these very warm seas, producing very large amounts of snow as spiraling winds of the storm squeeze that moisture out of the air, cool, it, and deposit it as snow inland.” That’s the “mechanism”!

            If you weren’t so freaking oblivious (or dumb), you’d put that together with—-

            high and low pressure areas
            why winds blow
            the Coriolis effect
            the concept of “fronts”

            This is actually below the Meteorology 101 level. I have seen 7th. graders grasp the concepts here better than you seem to be able to.

          • omnologos Says:

            FFS stop the verbiage and show that the above happened in this particular instance. All the maps I’ve seen so far point to winds blowing West to East and no way for moisture to move against them -not even considering where the storm originated. I have not done an exhaustive search so I might be missing something. Find it or STFU.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            What is wrong with you? I call you OmnoMoron with tongue half in cheek and disparage the workings of whatever it is that fills your skull (composted horseshit?, damp sawdust?) in the same manner, but you are starting to make me think that there really IS something REALLY “wrong” with you.

            “FFS”?, you say? You nasty little toad! That is no way to speak to your elders and intellectual betters. You’re lucky an ocean separates us or I’d smack your bottom and make you sit in a corner!

            “…stop the verbiage and show that the above happened in this particular instance….”, you say? Why do I or anyone else have to show YOU? We have given you many hints. All the VERBIAGE that Peter and the rest of us have put out here speaks to what “happened in this particular instance”. Where do you think all that freakin’ snow came from? It’s a winter coastal storm, moron, just like many hundreds of others that have hit the east coast of the U.S., and if it had been summer, they’d be getting heavy rain instead of snow. We all know that—-any smart 7th. grader knows that—-why don’t you? Because you refuse to educate yourself is why (or you’re too stupid to comprehend the science if you tried).

            You say, “All the maps I’ve seen so far point to winds blowing West to East and no way for moisture to move against them -not even considering where the storm originated. I have not done an exhaustive search so I might be missing something”. Why are you looking at MAPS when you obviously don’t know enough to interpret them? What the hell “winds” are you talking about, anyway?

            And you have the balls to close with “Find it or STFU”. Lord love a duck!! Yes, you ARE a nasty little toad, giving orders like that. After sitting in the corner, you’re going to bed without your evening porridge.

          • omnologos Says:

            Still no map. Congrats.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I won’t say it again. Find it yourself and STFU.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      A good link. OMNO! Read it as many times as needed until it sinks in.

  5. anotheralionel Says:

    Specially for omno, some stuff from Geoff Masters and NOAA that he may learn from:

    Snow-Gripped in New England, Wet in the West, and Toasty in Between

    and

    What Do the Latest Climate Assessments Tell Us about Nor’easters?.

    Oh! Look Nor-easters and atmospheric rivers, nothing to see here, move along. But wait, with those Nor’easters in mind look at these and think what this could mean:

    Current Operational SST Anomaly Charts For the Year 2015

  6. redskylite Says:

    Omni’s handwaving is a martial art trick practiced by such stars as Steven Seagal. I wonder if Omni has a similar suspicion and distrust of the certified tutors who taught him how to get around in relational databases and perform robust code to the best and latest industrial practices. I hope so for his users’s sake.

    How about radars and doppler effects as illustrated by the National Science Foundation, no hand waving there …..

    http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_id=134156&org=NSF&from=news


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