Commentary: Sunspot theory a no-go for warming skeptics

Despite low solar activity, global temperatures continue to spike in recent months.

April 2010 the warmest ever, despite low solar activity


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By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming skeptics who rely on sunspot theories to explain warming atmospheric and ocean temperatures may have to go back to the drawing board. The latest figures from NASA show that April 2010 was the hottest on record, at .50 degrees above the long-term average, according to www.climateprogress.org.

That’s down .15 degrees from March, but continues a four-month string of well-above average global temperatures even though solar activity is a century-long minimum. At least part of the warming can be attributed to a moderately strong El Niño that lingered well into spring, but even considering all the background temperature noise, the indications are that Earth is headed for a record high temperature in 2010, as predicted by NASA scientists a few months ago. The World Wildlife Fund has a useful compilation of the latest data and graphs here.

Global temperatures anomalies.

Probably operating under the theory that the best defense is a good offense, global warming deniers have recently been trying to spread the message that the Earth has actually been cooling in the past few years, but there is no evidence to that effect, just a targeted effort to spin the media and distort the truth.

The truth is that the past 10 years was the warmest decade in the modern temperature record. In a widely reported Associated Press story, a group of statisticians were presented with relevant records on temperatures. Without knowing what the numbers represented, they refuted claims that there has been any global cooling.

The statisticians  found a distinct decades-long upward trend in temperatures, but could not verify and statistically significant drop in the past 10 years. The ups and downs of the past decade reflect a random variability that doesn’t affect the overall long-term trend.

The same global cooling arguments were heard this winter, as a series of wicked snowstorms pounded a few highly populated areas (the northeastern U.S. and Western Europe), which perhaps leads people to confuse their own personal weather experiences with statistical global trends. A snowy winter notwithstanding, planet Earth is probably headed for the one the warmest years, if not the warmest, in 2010.

Some climate scientists say global warming trends are under-stated because of the lack of permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, where average temperatures are climbing faster than anywhere else on the planet.

The only place that reported below-average temperatures in April was Antarctica, and records suggest that the trend was focused narrowly on the center of the continent, near the South Pole — perhaps the final refuge for global “cooling?”

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