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back to article Climate change linked to EXTREME weather surge

A pair of climate scientists has examined the thorny question of whether the cluster of recent extreme weather events has been caused by increasing global temperatures. Their answer? No proof, but it seems likely. Dim Coumou and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research say that the jury is still out …

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Anonymous Coward

As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

... that although smoking may "load the dice" in favour of getting cancer, it is still possibly the case that smoking has never caused cancer and that every single smoker who has died of cancer got it anyway, from other causes. Despite the so-called "evidence" apparently supporting "anthropogenic cancer causation", our opponents still cannot prove in even a single individual's case that their cancer was definitely caused by smoking, and so we feel confident in asserting that smoking-related cancer is a myth, perpetrated by so-called cancer researchers who simply want to obtain more grants and funding and ensure their own perpetual job safety.

Thank you for your attention.

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Facepalm

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

Once again, one of the Faithful is taking a relatively simple biological example and pretending it is similar to the vastly more complex global weather system. We know smoking causes cancer because we can reproduce the exact same effect (cancer) by reproducing the cause (tobacco smoke) in lab animals. The problem with all the screaming around AGW is that no-one can even come close to modelling all the variables that make up the global weather system, which is why we have everyone having to say they think something may happen, but they can't say for sure. Well, that is except for the AGW zealots.

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"a relatively simple biological example"

I'm sorry , but wtf? You think the human body and cancer is "relatively simple"?? Perhaps you should get a job in the pharmceuticals industry , you could make your fortune curing all diseases and become a world renowned scientific celebrity.

Well what are you waiting for?

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

I'd say it's relatively simple. Wife's a cancer scientist. OK - maybe simpler is the wrong word, but it is much more tightly understood. Simply because you can repeatedly observe it in the lab and understand various cancers down to the molecular level. "Curing" it is something else, of course. In contrast climate modelling is a muddle, a tangle of ad hoc mechanisms ( Detect and Attribute is ther jargon for their peculiar methodology ). Little - very little - quantatively and reliably understood at the mechanistic level. "The science is settled" is BS.

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"Little - very little - quantatively and reliably understood at the mechanistic level."

Oh really? Which part of carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light and therefor heats up the atmosphere and hence more of it means more heat retained isn't reliably understood? Perhaps you have a new take on the physics you can share with us?

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WTF?

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

But carbon dioxide is heavier than air, which is why plants evolved to thrive on it. If anything, it's heating the ground. It's the dihydrogen oxide you should be worrying about when it comes to atmospheric heating, Shirley?

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"carbon dioxide is heavier than air, which is why plants evolved to thrive on it. If anything, it's heating the ground"

That'll explain why we're all suffocating in it!

The effect of gravity on CO2 is tiny compared with the effect of air currents. That's why it'll take centuries for the concentration of CO2 to get back to pre-industrial levels, after we stop burning fossil fuels.

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Boffin

@boltar

What about the HFC refrigerants' warming properties? or the various aerosol cooling properties? or solar weather? Saying it is ONLY the carbon is like saying ONLY the nicotine in tobacco kills, not the other chemicals at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"Oh really? Which part of carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light and therefor heats up the atmosphere and hence more of it means more heat retained isn't reliably understood? Perhaps you have a new take on the physics you can share with us?"

First point, the greenhouse effect is about greenhouse glasses allowing sunlight to pass through from space, but then reflecting back heat from below. It isn't about CO2 absorbing infrared light. Secondly, many other gasses are far bigger causes of the greenhouse effect than CO2. Water vapour is about 100x the greenhouse gas that CO2 is. And funnily enough is way more unstable. We can't even decide whether it is a positive or negative feedback on the system. As things get hotter we produce more water vapour which increases the greenhouse effect; but at some point that vapour condenses into clouds which reflect sunlight back into space and reduce the greenhouse effect. If you bother to study the detail of the climate models being used in the research at the moment (and I have) you would notice that our understanding of the effects of water vapour on the cycle is close to zero, but we do know it has a huge effect on the results.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

@Thehealer - Yes, I would be worried about bleach in the atmosphere. Unless perhaps you meant the tediously rolled out by people who want to look clever "di-hydrogen monoxide".

If you're going to make your point by patronising people and trying to make them look foolish, best to get your own patronising correct.

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Re: We know smoking causes cancer...

Actually, most scientists THINK we know what causes lung cancer, Mesothelioma, etc. And while the experiments are repeatable and have statistically similar outcomes, I'm not so sure we do.

I don't think we've exposed the actual mechanism by which the chemical mutates the cells to cause the cancer. And more importantly, we don't have the means to control for one of the variables in the problem: the cutting of the cell walls from the small sharp pieces. It may be that cancer is simply a low probability biological event given a cut of the cell membrane. Increasing the number of cuts increases the probability of a cancer event. Then there's another healing probability complex to repair things, and increasing cancer events reduces the probability of the repair function stopping it. And therefore we will eventually see the same results for the allegedly benign fiberglass we now use for insulation.

Now there is a certain sense in which that means cigarettes still cause cancer, but not the sense the anti-smoking nazi's mean. (And yes, I'm the obnoxious one wearing the Cancer Cures Smoking button, but that doesn't mean I want the government imposing that restriction on you.)

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Black Helicopters

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"Which part of carbon dioxide absorbs infrared light and therefor heats up the atmosphere and hence more of it means more heat retained isn't reliably understood? "

The part where it has a clear, measurable effect that can be correlated directly with CO2 concentrations. Looking at the graph, the've quite accidentally started their graph in the depth of the LIA, consequently accidentally biasing their trend data. They should be looking at the last 10,000 years to protect themselves from such problems.

The history of AGW "science" consists of a laboratory observation - CO2 absorbs LWIR, followed by a reasonable hypothesis - increased atmospheric CO2 will warm the atmosphere, followed by a complete - not partial but complete failure to confirm. There is no empirical field data that supports the validity of the hypothesis, and pertinent geological and paleoclimatic data are available spanning more than half-a-billion years. There absolutely no evidence of an increase in atmospheric CO2 that was followed by a consistent warming pattern. The best real paleoclimatic data shows quite the opposite: that temperature drives atmospheric CO2 concentrations, an effect that is not only just as well supported in the laboratory, but has just as well understood physics behind it.

The most reasonable conclusion to draw is that we do not have a clue about how climate works (or if it even exists for that matter, since it is consistently derived from an average of weather observations or weather proxies). It is quite possible, even likely, that until we understand weather, we will not understand climate.

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

In fact, experimentation demonstrated over 100 years ago that the GHE was actually the result of limiting convection. The glass allows the interior of the GH to warm, but limits the effects of cooling through convection.

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Re: @boltar

Which straw man are you talking to? Nobody has said "it is ONLY the carbon". Ever.

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Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"First point, the greenhouse effect is about greenhouse glasses allowing sunlight to pass through from space, but then reflecting back heat from below. It isn't about CO2 absorbing infrared light."

Wrong - it is exactly that. Infra red that would have escaped back to space after being reflected (or as a result of visible or UV being converted into IR) gets absorbed by the atmosphere instead. Back to physics 101 for you.

"Secondly, many other gasses are far bigger causes of the greenhouse effect than CO2. Water vapour is about 100x the greenhouse gas that CO2 is."

Oh FFS , why does this old chestnut keep cropping up as if its the answer to everything?

"As things get hotter we produce more water vapour which increases the greenhouse effect; but at some point that vapour condenses into clouds "

And there you have it - it condenses out of the atmosphere. Left to its own devices it would completely preciptate out of the atmosphere and we'd have snowball earth. CO2 doesn't precipitate out , it remains - its a constant force.

"our understanding of the effects of water vapour on the cycle is close to zero, but we do know it has a huge effect on the results."

That is complete and utter total bollocks.

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WTF?

Re: As a representative of the tobacco industry, I would like to point out...

"There is no empirical field data that supports the validity of the hypothesis, and pertinent geological and paleoclimatic data are available spanning more than half-a-billion years. "

There is no reliable climatic data going back that distance in time, either CO2 concentrations or temporature. They're guesses at best +/- quite a large error percentage.

"It is quite possible, even likely, that until we understand weather, we will not understand climate."

Thats a bit like saying because you can't predict the second by second patterns in a pan of boiling water you won't be able to predict that if left long enough on a fire it will boi.

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Oooo Look!

Look a hockey stick!

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While it is PROBABLE that I will be alive after a nights sleep, it is not certain.

Nothing is certain.

Now, what was the degree of global warming for the last 150 years ?

Nearly one degree centigrade ?

Barbeque time ?

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Alien

Re: Stefan Rahmstorf

I think this comes under the heading 'playing the man not the ball'. What's the german equivalent of that english idiom?

Disinterested? I imagine only those scientists not from this planet are disinterested.

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They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

The question is NOT : is the climate warming up. This can be easily substantiated with relevant statistics.

The questions ARE, however : do we humans have anything to do with it, if so how much and can we influence it in a significant way by modifying our general behaviour. What would be the result we wish to achieve and is it at all possible.

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Re: They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

"The questions ARE, however : do we humans have anything to do with it"

This question has been answered repeatedly, regardless of how many times people say there are no forthcoming answers. Nice overviews are available (as normal) here

http://www.skepticalscience.com/its-not-us.htm

and if you're a back-of-the-envelope sort of person, you could do worse than have a look at some of the stuff on

http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/

Whether you choose to listen to answers, or choose to disagree with them, is entirely your prerogative - although former would rather exclude you from any reasoned debate.

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Re: Re: They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

Did someone forget to tell you that clouds (or the lack of) have a much more pronounced effect on both weather and local temperatures? In effect, water vapour is by far the biggest contributor to "global warming", not CO2. But the really fun bit is the scientists are still struggling to understand how clouds and the weather system interact, quote : "....Changes in clouds result from changes in the distribution of water vapor, temperature, and winds. The effects of global warming on these factors are complex and not well understood....." Marian Koshland Science Museum of the US National Academy of Science.

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Re: They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

"Did someone forget to tell you that clouds (or the lack of) have a much more pronounced effect on both weather and local temperatures? In effect, water vapour is by far the biggest contributor to "global warming", not CO2. "

http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-warming-35-percent.htm

http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-stratosphere-global-warming.htm

"But the really fun bit is the scientists are still struggling to understand how clouds and the weather system interact"

Indeed - it's a bloody complex system which a lot of work is being expended on. Do the scientists know it all ?... of course not, but they have some ideas how parts of it fit together and most of the very short-term, extreme feedback mechanisms can be discounted.

"quote : "....Changes in clouds result from changes in the distribution of water vapor, temperature, and winds. The effects of global warming on these factors are complex and not well understood....." Marian Koshland Science Museum of the US National Academy of Science."

Well put that man - you'll notice he didn't say "these factors are complex and not understood at all" or "Aieee !! We know bugger all and never will !!!! Run and hide under the bed, it's just intractable !!!".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

@Matt - A lot of work is being carried out in this area and "Not well understood" is not the same as "Not understood at all" which is what you are trying to represent. The scientific meaning of "Not Well Understood" is basically along the lines of, "we don't understand everything about this subject."

You also can't make simplistic comments about clouds like "...have a much more pronounced effect on both weather and local temperatures" it's vastly more complex than that there are feedbacks all over the place.

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Facepalm

Re: Re: They keep repeating themselves, so I will reciprocate.

"......"Not well understood" is not the same as "Not understood at all"...." Yes, which means even you will have to admit the matter is not settled, the science is advancing but is in no way complete. Why is the Faithful can ignore any science that ge

ts in the way of their doom'n'gloom gig by saying "it's incomplete", but cannot seem to grasp the simple fact that cuts both ways.

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Trollface

Cue a response article by the black hats of El Reg pointing out that any level of uncertainty means we should ignore the issue entirely.

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WTF?

still going?

i don't get it, why are we still debating wether the planet is heating up or not?

i was quite convinced that we reached consensus on this matter. It doesn't matter wether we're responsible for any issues, but it's a good idea to take care of the planet if we want to remain on here for the long run. Who cares if it's an incident or not and who cares what can be proven at this point, we need to take care of this big blue marble regardless.

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Ru
Meh

Re: still going?

We're not.

This article is about climate change being linked to recent weather extremes. The debate is about whether the changes are natural, or due to human activity.

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Re: still going?

Of course it matters. If we cant identify if/how we are impacting it, how the hell do you expect us to fix/mitigate it?

Or should we just piss money away on the off chance we might fix something?

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Meh

Re: still going?

There's tons of things you can start doing without knowing what the exact cause is. put more focus on renewables for example. If you think that's "pissing money away" then that's quite sad imho.

As i said before, it doesn't really matter if the planet is heating up, it doesn't matter if we're responsible for something like that and it doesn't matter what the cause is. We're using tons of things that will eventually run out and it makes sense to do something about that, regardless of climate change. if the end result also takes care of climat change, then that's an added bonus.

Finding alternatives for stuff that will eventually run out makes sense.

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Re: still going? (@Ru)

"The debate is about whether the changes are natural, or due to human activity."

You state this like it's an either / or question with a simple digital answer: "Nature did it" or "Man did it".

The most likely answer is that it's going to be a bit of both.

However, if Climate Change is mostly natural—and, given the past few million years' worth of evidence, that would seem to be the most likely—I'd like to ask another question: "Should we do anything about it?"

If we interfere with what is primarily a natural process, we would, by definition, turn it into an unnatural process. From that point on, the responsibility for the entire climate of this planet rests on our shoulders as we might divert it too far from its natural course for it to return there on its own without serious consequences during the transitional phase.

I have no quarrel with reducing our species' footprint on this planet wherever possible—pollution isn't exactly fun to breathe, but it is also an indicator of inefficiency in a process. Good businesses generally abhor process inefficiencies and try to keep them to a minimum, so a focus on these aspects makes far more sense than the endless cries of "Wolf!" (Note: probably NSFW).

We don't need these extreme exhortations to get things done. It's incredibly patronising and wins you no friends.

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Re: still going?

When you got a significant portion of the population that believes in an invisible sky fairy and that a undead zombie from 2000 years ago is their savior its not surprising really no consensus can be reached on virtually anything. The type of people that deny natural selection occurs (evolution) are ironically usually the first in line for antibiotics. Many people hate everything about science except often the results.

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Re: still going? (@Ru)

Hilarious, how can you say digging centuries worth of dead dinosaur carbon from deep underground storage and burning it is not "interfering with the natural processes of the planet". Doing something ABOUT global warming us out for you because it is "unnatural" but burning coal and oil in the first place isn't. Ahh deniers, never change.

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Boffin

Meanders in the northern jet stream

I understood that recent torrential rain storms and heat waves etc were largely due to meanders in the northern jet stream, becoming temporarily static, and the jet stream itself moving further south than is usual.

Weren't two meanders shown to be responsible both for the heat wave in Russia a couple of years ago (sucking hot air up from north Africa) and the Pakistan floods (drawing moist air off the Indian Ocean and causing precipitation when that same air cooled over mountainous regions).

Only asking.

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Boffin

Re: Meanders in the northern jet stream

Why has the jet stream been meandering in this unusual way?

Only asking.

Actually, NASA has just launched their Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment, to help them understand this phenomenon. Unfortunately, research by the "boffins" at NASA is only a good thing on El Reg if it's about other planets, not our own.

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Re: Meanders in the northern jet stream

One place to look is here:

http://www.sciencentral.com/articles/view.php3?type=article&article_id=218393120

A quick précis of their theory is that the atmosphere in the sub-tropics is heating and expanding, and this is pushing the jet streams progressively towards the poles.

I have also seen suggestions that the ice cover on the Barents Sea has disappeared and this means that instead of reflecting the sun's IR it is now being absorbed, and the relative heat from this is affecting the course of the jet streams.

Either way these are effects of the climate warming.

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Re: Meanders in the northern jet stream - Reactive Systems

And yet, if warming increases the amount of fresh melt-water from glacial reduction in the Arctic, does this not increase the chance of the North Atlantic Oscillation (Conveyor thingy) breaking down, thus plunging Britain into a mini ice-age, as opposed to an area of increased BBQ'ness ?

Is this great big system (Earths climate et al) not just going through phases of adjustment all the time in order to balance (relatively speaking) its temperature. And we are all tiny tings that will just have to adapt. And will that regulatory system of adjustment ultimately adjust our humin population as well, thereby reducing any impact from our own emissions n'that.

So should we care at all - just how much impact could all these climate protocols (nobody seems to give a sh*t about probably cos there eat into profit margins) actually have ?

I'm pretty sure it's not our private cars and patio-heaters that do the most damage if any, but rather the industrial processes that make the shiny shiny we are told we must have all the time.

mmmm ......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Meanders in the northern jet stream

Meanders in the northern jet stream, eh? And is Eddy in the space time continuum?

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Re: meandering in this unusual way

More important question:

Given the short time for which we have known about, and therefore been able to study the jet stream and its affect on the weather, IS this unusual?

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Unhappy

Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

.... is looking likely given the current weather patterns and low rainfall we've had. Apparently this is due to the jet stream moving north (though no one ever says why , the jet stream is just another reactive system, its not the atmospheres prime mover). I really hope not but I suspect in britain the records of the summer of 1976 may well be broken.

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Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

I am also suspecting a very hot summer this year. no science just a hunch

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Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

hej, you probably live in UK?

Here in Northern Europe, Denmark, the precipitation levels for 2011 were, "normal" according to DMIs yearly report.

I am just pointing this out to you, because your single data point proves exactly nothing, as does mine. Your prediction is equally unfounded by definition.

I have not seen aggegated Norther Europe numbers and I don't care enough to find them.

philip

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Meh

Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

> I am also suspecting a very hot summer this year. no science just a hunch

I tell you what, I'll book a camping holiday. That usually does the trick in guaranteeing me torrential rain, high winds and knee-deep mud.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

I wouldn't put too much money on that.

For the last 5 years or so in Britain the weather pattern has been for decent springs followed by rubbish summers. These rubbish summers seem to be associated with a southward shift of the jet stream. I contacted the Met Office last year and they confirmed that this was not a expansion of the JS radius but it had shifted southward in the Atlantic reion and northwards in the Bering Sea region.

And this coincides with ice loss in the Bering Sea region whilst the ice mass of Greenland remains.

Looks more like a slight shift in the summer thermal pole.

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WTF?

Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

"Here in Northern Europe, Denmark, the precipitation levels for 2011"

Newsflash - its 2012

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WTF?

Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

Newsflash, unless the OP was basing his prediction on the past 10 weeks of casual empricism, the 2011 data are relevant. Why don't you go look up the data for Jan-Feb 2012?

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WTF?

Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

"Newsflash, unless the OP was basing his prediction on the past 10 weeks of casual empricism, the 2011 data are relevant. Why don't you go look up the data for Jan-Feb 2012?"

I was talking about the weather so far this year numbnuts , wtf has that got to do with rainfall totals in denmark for LAST year??

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Re: Whatever the reason , another heatwave in europe this summer...

hey numnuts,

I fucking live in Northern Europe - check out a map.

My original points are still valid and logically unassailable.

a) It hasn't been drier in Northern Europe (sample space a country in N. Europe)

b) A single point is invalid as a basis for prediction.

From Danish Meteorological Institute DMI:

I gennemsnit ud over landet faldt der 79 millimeter nedbør i januar 2012. Det er 22 millimeter eller 39 % over normalen for 1961-90

I gennemsnit ud over landet faldt der 31 millimeter nedbør i februar 2012. Det er 7 millimeter eller 18 % under normalen for 1961-90 (normal 38 mm).

So the 110mm of rain puts Denmark 15mm ABOVE average (average being calculated 1961-1990 - dan't ask I don't know why DMI uses this period for "normal") for 2012 so far.

p

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