Investigating the latest on global warming

Investigating the latest on global warming

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by Rick Lantz

KTVB.COM

Posted on November 21, 2011 at 11:47 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 22 at 11:08 AM

BOISE -- Global warming affects people, plants, and animals.

Idaho's Chief Meteorologist Rick Lantz went to the National Center of Atmospheric Research where they have the greatest concentration of scientists studying climate change and redefining the term global warming.

So how does climate change affect Idaho?

Around the world, it seems like the weather is going to extremes. The U.S. recorded 1,400 new highs in the month of July and in a La Nina year, Idaho recorded one record high for September.

"We are seeing also in the West a vast increase in the intensity in the number of acreage of forest fires, which is also related to climate change, because of the increased heat and increased drying in much of the west that has stressed the trees," says  Peter Backlund, NCAR Director of Research Relations.

On the other side of the world heat and wildfires consumed southern Australia in 2009, and Moscow hit 101 degrees in the summer of 2010.

"This is the future, and we are already experiencing climate change," says Dr. Jerry Meehl, NCAR Senior Scientist in Boulder, Colorado.

He says our warming planet makes extreme weather events more likely. As greenhouse gasses from Mother Nature as well as burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal alter the climate.

"Just as steroids make the baseball player stronger and increase his chances of his hitting a home run, the greenhouse gasses are the steroids of the climate system. They increase the chances of record breaking heat to occur compared to record breaking cold," says Meehl.

If the climate weren't changing, the ratio should be one record hot day to one record cold day.  Meehl says we saw two record hot days for every record cold day in the last decade, and this year we are on a three to one pace.

The people living 50 or 100 years from now are going to be living in a very, very different world." said Synte Peacock, NCAR climate scientist.

Temperatures as much as 4 to 7 degrees higher over the course of one lifetime, 90 years.

Peacock says, "Today, we've only changed the mean temperature by about a degree and a half Fahrenheit and we're seeing all kinds of impacts already. We're seeing melting glaciers, we're seeing species extinction, we're seeing changes in climate zones for example, we're starting to see changes in extreme weather events."

As the climate changes, Boulder scientists say Idaho is in a good position geographically to handle the change.

"For people in Idaho, they might be seeing slightly warmer winters but yet it's still cold enough to have snowpack in the mountains." explains Jeff Weber, UCAR meteorologist.

There are still many who deny climate change is caused by man, but despite the cause science is showing the climate is changing.  Even a recent study by Professor Richard Muller at University of California at Berkley, funded in part by oil billionaires Charles and David Koch, climate change deniers finds global warming is real and the science is not impacted by bias, or bad data.

"I think the existence of global warming, I think is pretty much beyond dispute now. We've closed the last remaining questions on that." says Muller.

It may be that we'll just have to start getting used to this kind of thing over the long haul because it seems no one can deny that extreme weather is here to stay.

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