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Global lower stratospheric temperatures in January to March 2012 were the coldest ever measured (by satellites) according to Remote Sensing Systems (RSS). A cooling lower stratosphere is strong evidence of a strengthening greenhouse effect caused by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). Heat from the lower atmosphere is radiated upwards at lower temperatures as increasing levels of greenhouse gases trap more heat in the troposphere. The lower stratosphere, which lies just above the troposphere receives less heat from below. Lower stratospheric cooling was  predicted by climate scientists before it was observed. The combination of a warming troposphere and cooling lower stratosphere cannot be explained by external factors such as a warming sun or more cosmic rays. A warming sun would warm both the troposphere and the lower stratosphere.

Two years of La Nina, an event where trade winds and upwelling of cold equatorial Pacific water increase, have cooled equatorial ocean sea surface temperatures. Global surface temperatures have cooled in response to La Nina over the past 2 years.

The U.S. had the warmest March on record, with over 15,000 new high temperature records set.

However, globally, March was the coolest since 1999. La Nina's strong trade winds moved greater than normal amounts of oceanic heat from the equatorial oceans to the sub tropics and mid latitudes. The northern hemisphere jet stream was displaced northwards over the Pacific, North America and the Atlantic in response to the heat transfer in the oceans.
Gulf of Mexico temperatures were the warmest ever measured in March according to Jeff Masters. The record warm Gulf was the source of air, with higher than normal amounts of precipitable water, that fueled March's tornado outbreaks.

The United States had record March heat while the rest of the world was relatively cool because of the unprecedented ocean-atmosphere circulation patterns.

The cooling of La Nina and warming of El Nino add complexity to the surface temperature record. This complexity contributes to weather variability, making it hard to perceive the warming climate over the short term record. Skeptics can cherry pick short term records to say "Global warming has stopped".

However, the combination of a warming lower atmosphere and a cooling stratosphere is undeniable evidence of an intensifying greenhouse effect that is caused by increasing levels of man-made greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Originally posted to Climate Hawks on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by Backyard Science.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Why does that last chart appear to stop in 2006? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, 2thanks, sfbob
    •  1960, 1980, 2000...stops in 2012 (11+ / 0-)

      Take another look at the scale.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:09:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If I were to guess, we don't have a '5 year' (0+ / 0-)

      set of data fully processed for 2006 to 2011.

      So, if I get this right, we've got a planet cooling in it's outer thinnest layer of air and heating within, due to that thickening greenhouse gas effect, yet we're experiencing odd 'hot and cold flashes' on the surface, as the cold layer of the ocean is pushed up and also getting large concentrations of humid warm air pushed across the North American continent while other areas experienced some cooling? Still increasing atmospheric levels of CO2, methane, still trending generally towards a hotter climate, but swirl in shifts in La Nina, El Nino that push colder water and yet hotter more humid batches of air around...Ay Carumba sisters & brothers!  

      It's dizzying Fish...I glad someone can make sense of this 'story'.   I'm not sure I have much of a grasp on this, however, I'm starting to worry that Republicans will be blaming scary climate changes  on those 'immigrants' (La Nina and El Nino plus El Sol).  

      I may be getting some sort of Climatic Change Anxiety Disorder...   And I can't help but add in the big solar weather/flare events burped off by the Sun in the last couple years, and it all makes one wonder, just what all is in flux right now and could bring more big changes in the coming decades?  What next, lunar 'flares'?  Uh oh...I suppose that's got more than just a crazy possibility, if perchance a larger 'near Earth' meteor or asteroid happens to impact the moon. The scientists focused near Earth asteroids impacting Earth don't mention much about the potential effects of lunar impacts. So if a bunch of lunar dust is kicked off the moon by an asteroid impact, enough so big plumes escape the moons gravity and is drawn into the path of the Earth, what might that do to our atomosphere & oceans?  Besides pretty sunsets, I'm guessing perhaps a round of cooling? Enough to trigger another short Ice Age? Perhaps cold enough we'd might even see CO2 freezing and thawing as we observe on Mars?  During the last Ice Age do we even have a solid understanding what happened to life and ecologies in the seas and oceans and bigger lakes and rivers, besides Wooly Mamoths and Saber Toothed Penguins? And after a shortish Ice Age, back on the heating up ramp?  Maybe a 90 day supply of Valium or Xanex isn't going to be enough.

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:09:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There remains (12+ / 0-)

    a vast amount of heat capacity in ice, and in the abyss, that will for a while longer delay the more gross effects of "global warming".  That is why, although we are past the first "tipping point" (point of no return) we have not yet seen the perceptual (oh shit, why is it so hot) tipping point . . . but it's coming.

    It's coming . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:40:17 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, I think of it as the "Ice in your glass" ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Deward Hastings

      as in, your beverage will remain cold, if not frosty, as long as there's a fair percentage of ice left in it.  But when that's gone, there's no heat sink left, and temperatures will just keep rising.

      •  Yep . . . (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've been using that same example for years now.  A glass of iced tea on the picnic table.

        The more vigorous (and variable) weather that we've been seeing of late is part of the heat re-distribution process . . . it takes moving air (and water) to transfer the trapped heat North (and South) to melt the ice.  Along the way it makes "weather".  It won't really be accurate to call it "climate" until the ice is gone (except for seasonal . . . precession will insure that continues) . . . at that point a new, relatively stable, order will set in.  What that will look like we don't know . . . except that it will be warmer (and sea levels will be higher).

        I haven't seen any good estimates of how long it will take to melt all the ice . . . the "grace period", as it were.


        Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

        by Deward Hastings on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 04:46:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Does the recently discovered speed up of global (13+ / 0-)

    water cycling play into this at all?

    Climate change speeding up water cycle

    “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

    by the fan man on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:44:34 AM PDT

    •  Yes. Trade winds have increased globally. (24+ / 0-)

      I have been analyzing that report. The strengthening of the subtropical highs has strengthened the trade winds and the evaporation of water from the tropics and subtropics.

      That water gets transported to water rich places like the Mississippi River valley as increased rainfall. Meanwhile, the dry subtropics are getting drier.

      It has changed the global circulation in the oceans and atmospheres. I'm working on an outline of a write up of that, but I don't have the time to pull it all together now.

      I have a guest sermon to give in 10 days so I'm thinking about some very different issues.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:07:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the younger dryas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      after the last ice age began to fade, the freshwater melt from glaciers in europe and greenland suppressed the northern gulf stream, which keeps europe warmer than canada, which is at the same latitudes. within a few decades, europe was back in a sort of mini ice age, and areas that had only become habitable as the ice age ended suddenly weren't anymore.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:22:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  any parseing of that to determine (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        the fan man, Creosote

        if that was caused by the sudden events of ice dams giving way to huge floods of backed up lake water (giant Great Lakes basin drained more than once, right?)
          That being a more sudden event(s) as opposed to a continuous melting as we think we are seeing now.  we think..heh :<

        I lived amongst the several ancient shorelines of Lake Ontario, the highest being (maybe) Ridge Road, east of Rochester which is something like 200' above current level: the current level of a region that is still rising from release of the ice burden. They say.

        Has that been charted out timewise or am I in the wrong epoch again?

        I am epoch challenged.

        From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!...Langston Hughes

        by KenBee on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:19:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've recently read that the effect of the gulf (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antirove, KenBee

        stream on climate in Europe has been overestimated.

        Researchers since Benjamin Franklin first pointed to the Gulf Stream, the current of tropical warmth that flows from the Tropics along the eastern seaboard and then angles across the North Atlantic to bathe the shores of Europe.

        Later investigations suggested it really had more to do with the flow of prevailing westerly winds carrying cold Canadian continental air over New York and the ocean's warmth over Europe.

        Now, in the latest issue of the Journal Nature, comes a new idea based on large waves in the atmosphere of the planet. According to modeling work at the California Institute of Technology, the sharply contrasting winter climates are the result of waves of thermal energy rising from the warm Atlantic Ocean in a pattern that pulls colder air farther south over the eastern continental boundaries of North America. These semi-stationary waves in the atmosphere, rather than the ocean itself, shape the patterns of winter on both sides of the Atlantic.

        The geophysicists, Yohai Kaspi and Tapio Schneider, who conducted the work also point to the same large atmospheric wave pattern occurring over the Pacific Ocean as responsible for cold winters along the eastern continental boundary of Asia. These atmospheric waves over both ocean basins also explain the warmer climates on the western boundaries of the continents, they add.

        Warm Air Over Eastern Shores Draw In the Cold

        “The first principle [in science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” Richard Feynman

        by the fan man on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:37:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's an interesting new theory (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          the fan man

          but these waves seem to be driven by ocean heat, so there's not really a clean separation between them, as a system. as for the younger dryas, there's also a theory that the north american ice melt shifted the jet stream.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:48:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  i wonder how long it will be before la nina and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, Nulwee, burnt out

    El niño become ineffective as energy buffers/spreaders

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and partisan lying by broadcasting sports on Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 07:59:18 AM PDT

  •  Beautifully clear. (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for highlighting a real world measurement of a climate effect which can only be generated by humans, or at least be a product of activities on Earth's surface.
    Clever title too.

    "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

    by northsylvania on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 08:03:17 AM PDT

  •  But is Obama really helping or hurting? (6+ / 0-)

    Republicans take care of big money, for big money takes care of them ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:13:43 AM PDT

  •  denialist catnip; denied (5+ / 0-)

    too bad they generally cannot work their way through this system of action/reaction.
    or won't as the case may be.
    I have been dealing with the denialists' screaming because we've had a pretty cool month of April.
    Never mind that March shattered records, wiped out the maple season and the ski season, and generally f*cked up the spring renewal of plant life.
    My own backyard observed temps give me a mean temp in March of 42.75F (way above normal), and if the forecast holds for the weekend, it will be slightly less for the month of April at 42.6F (way below normal).
    This is also having deleterious effects on the progression of spring, especially after the false start in March.

    Far from denialist catnip, this explication shows, again, that the weather over time, i.e. the climate, is having seizures.
    I would encourage anyone with the time and interest to record daily max and min temps, as well as precipitation. Climatologists will need every bit of data they can get to make sense of this transformation of climate.

    Class war has consequences, and we are living them.

    by kamarvt on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:24:46 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for keeping us informed, FOOW. nt (5+ / 0-)

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:37:05 AM PDT

  •  Here are a few links of interest... (6+ / 0-)

    1. El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) relationship between the air pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia to the water temperatures in the eastern Pacific.

    During El Niño conditions, the average air pressure is higher in Darwin than in Tahiti. Therefore, the change in air pressures in the South Pacific and water temperature in the East Pacific ocean, 8000 miles away, are related.
    2. Effects of ENSO on the Pacific has some good graphical depictions of the El  Niño and La  Niña conditions.

    3. The Jetstream impact on North America is well illustrated here.

    As the position of the warm water along the equator shifts back and forth across the Pacific Ocean, the position where the greatest evaporation of water into the atmosphere also shifts with it. This has a profound effect on the average position of the jet stream which, in turn, effects the storm track.
    The effects on the opposite side of the globe have direct impacts on our weather here.

    Thanks for the diary today, FishO.......

    Democracy seems a charade. Participation declines. Policy gets driven by the extremists. ~Lawrence Lessig

    by jim in IA on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 09:53:45 AM PDT

  •  It's funny that while the rest of the nation baked (6+ / 0-)

    here on the West Coast (at least in California) our relatively mild late fall and early winter were followed by a cold, wet March. In fact San Francisco experienced more rainfall in the month of March than during the entire rest of the winter. Rainfall by now ought to be tapering off and while the outlook long-range is relatively mellow, we had a fairly significant late-season rain event just yesterday.

    Last year we experienced abnormally wet conditions late in the climate cycle; our June was the wettest on record and there was even a day at the very end of the month when we got nearly two inches of rain. We typically see less than .1 inch all month.

    Is there any indication that climate change will have any long-term effect on the rainy season-dry season cycle we take for granted here, or will it merely lead to more extreme weather generally?

    •  last year (4+ / 0-)

      the jet stream shifted, which resulted in more rain here in the already rainy pacific northwest (we just had record rainfall in march, too), and drought across the midwest.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:25:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  La Nina better for PNW, El Nino better for SoCal (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, RunawayRose

        El Nino means more rain in Southern California, which I generally think is a good thing, but dries out the PNW.  La Nina does the opposite: more rain (and snow) up north, but less down here.

        Cool summers and lots of rain means the PNW is going to be one of THE places to be in 100 years, especially along the coast.  I'd move there today if I could.

        There's debate over whether global warming will result in a shift to a "permanent" El Nino or La Nina state or instead either amplify or flatten the ENSO cycle.

        Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

        by Visceral on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:40:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not too close to the beach, though (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          we are vulnerable to the same type of earthquake that ravaged japan last year.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:42:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  West Coast steeper than East Coast (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I wouldn't want to be in Seattle during a Cascadia Subduction Zone megaquake, but the low-lying Puget Sound area would actually be far more vulnerable to a tsunami than the half-dead timber towns on the comparatively high Pacific coast.

            Even the worst-case scenario for long-term sea level rise will have remarkably little effect on the map of the West Coast.  All the big cities (Seattle, Bay Area, etc.) will be underwater, but I think it's interesting that California's Central Valley 100+ miles inland will be underwater but most of the coastal counties will be high and dry.

            Compare that to losing the entire Eastern Seaboard all the way to the bottom of the Appalachian foothills.

            Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

            by Visceral on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:55:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  touristy north oregon coast (0+ / 0-)

              is extremely vulnerable to tsunami.

              the problem with the central valley going under is that it's one of the most important agricultural zones in the country.

              The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

              by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:07:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Central Valley 100% Colorado River water (0+ / 0-)

                The only reason that the Central Valley grows anything other than creosote bush is because of Colorado River water.  Even if it weren't going to be underwater in a few thousand years, it'll be bone-dry within a century as the Mountain West dries up.  

                The Willamette Valley might fare better as an important agricultural region since it gets 25-30 inches of rain a year, far more than the Central Valley.  Their dry season will get longer, drier, and hotter, so they'll probably have to change the way they do things anyway - contour plowing, drought-resistant crops, dust mulching, summer fallowing, drip irrigation - but there's a whole lot more to work with up there.

                Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

                by Visceral on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:56:34 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  willamette valley's potential (0+ / 0-)

                  is but a fraction of what we get from the central valley. it's shorter and narrower, with much more hilly terrain.

                  i'm not sure the central valley will be allowed to dry up. the southwest water wars have yet to begin in earnest.

                  The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

                  by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 01:03:17 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  I would swear San Diego getting cooler, wetter (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, KenBee

      Seattle-like "June gloom" is pretty common all through the winter, spring, and into July, at least within a mile or so of the coast, which is not representative of further inland.  Last year we actually had brief showers in July and August.

      What happened recently is that the jet stream developed a very extreme wave-like shape: dove down very far to the south along the West Coast and shot up very far north in the East.

      I assume the jet stream could easily take the opposite shape: far north in the West and far south in the East, resulting in exceptionally warm dry weather in California and exceptionally cold wet weather back east.

      Never attribute to stupidity what can be adequately explained by malice; stupid people couldn't hurt us so effectively.

      by Visceral on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:33:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  global weirding (3+ / 0-)

    don't expect the right wing to understand.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:12:57 AM PDT

  •  Sooner or later we'll have two years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, BlueDragon

    back to back higher than 1998. Then the deniers will have to choose a new start date for their graphs.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra En théorie, il n'y a aucune différence entre théorie et pratique, mais en pratique, il y a toujours une différence. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:40:50 AM PDT

  •  A caution about attribution from John Wallace. (0+ / 0-)

    "In the absence of proof that the jet stream's variability is human-induced, we must consider the possibility that the apparent weirdness of the weather in March isn't all that weird if viewed in a larger historical context. In this respect, it's noteworthy that large areas of the U.S. were just about as warm in March 1910 as they were in March 2012. With weather, weird things happen every now and again."

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 11:53:10 AM PDT

    •  interesting (0+ / 0-)

      how you always take the denialist viewpoint. yes, we don't have definitive proof that this was agw-driven, but more and more scientists and meteorologists are now openly suggesting the possibility. but wallace would be the one to express doubts. after all, by his own admission he was erroneously late in accepting the reality of climate change overall.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:59:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What does that have to do with the point he was (0+ / 0-)

        making?  And since you reference it, what caused the 1993 flood?  Or the 1927 flood?  Or the 1910 March heat wave?  Don't you understand why he was advocating an evidence based approach?  Have you got any idea what kind of political damage can be done by unsupported hysteria?

        Where are we, now that we need us most?

        by Frank Knarf on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 01:18:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  hysteria (0+ / 0-)

          interesting word to use when even many meteorologists are discussing this winter's weather in the context of climate change.

          what it has to do with is that he's very conservative and has a history of being late to the game. and other than that he now is fully on board about the dangers of agw, just the type of source you so consistently cite. at least he's not a disreputable denier anymore. unlike many of your sources.

          The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

          by Laurence Lewis on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 01:23:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Suggest a title change so readers don't think this (0+ / 0-)

    counters climate change.  I mean, am I the only 1 who thinks they'll see the title with Big Orange's logo claiming 'even liburels know global warming is a hoax'?

  •  The TLS graph shows big swings followed by a step (0+ / 0-)

    change in the mid 90s.  I assume the swings are volcano related.  But I should think the graph would have a steadier trend.  Not a very long time series, I know.  The CO2 atmospheric concentration trend is quite steady over the same period so there must be other important factors driving TLS.  Ozone or H2O?

    Where are we, now that we need us most?

    by Frank Knarf on Fri Apr 27, 2012 at 12:14:26 PM PDT

  •  FOoW, thanks again for writing about this. (0+ / 0-)

     It is always gnawing at the back of my mind, but I am not a scientist, and your writing helps me keep the trends and mechanisms in focus.

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