4 December 2015

El Nino In A Can

Posted by Dan Satterfield


Click the image above to see a video from the GFDL CM2.6 climate model. This is NOT this year’s El Nino. When you start a climate model in which the ocean and the land and atmosphere can interact with each other, weather systems develop on their own. So do hurricanes and blizzards, and yes El Nino events happen as well. This El Nino happened naturally about 80+ years into the simulation. Models like this are used to estimate the effects of rising greenhouse gases on weather and climate, and they can be checked by starting the model a hundred years or more in the past with lower greenhouse gas levels, and then slowly bringing them up to the current level. The models do a good job of reproducing the temperature rise over the past century. 


Notice how aerosols cool the planet. Without air pollution the planet would be warming faster than it is. Also, notice how closely the climate model tracks the actual temperatures when everything is included. These models are getting better and better each year.

The current heat imbalance from greenhouse gases at the top of the atmosphere is around 0.6 watts per square meter. That’s an extra half a watt of heat over every square meter of the Earth’s surface. Think of a small Christmas tree light over every square meter of the entire planet. That’s how much extra heat is being added to the planet every minute of every day, and the light is slowly getting hotter and brighter. When the greenhouse gases are doubled (as is likely to occur later this century these same models show the continents warming by around 6-12 degrees F. This would give Illinois the same climate as Louisiana, and agriculture will be dramatically changed.

Perhaps this gives you a better idea of why all the world’s nations are in Paris right now, trying to figure out a way to stop it.