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Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past

By Charles Onians

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Britain's winter ends tomorrow with further indications of a striking environmental change: snow is starting to disappear from our lives.

Sledges, snowmen, snowballs and the excitement of waking to find that the stuff has settled outside are all a rapidly diminishing part of Britain's culture, as warmer winters - which scientists are attributing to global climate change - produce not only fewer white Christmases, but fewer white Januaries and Februaries.

The first two months of 2000 were virtually free of significant snowfall in much of lowland Britain, and December brought only moderate snowfall in the South-east. It is the continuation of a trend that has been increasingly visible in the past 15 years: in the south of England, for instance, from 1970 to 1995 snow and sleet fell for an average of 3.7 days, while from 1988 to 1995 the average was 0.7 days. London's last substantial snowfall was in February 1991.

Global warming, the heating of the atmosphere by increased amounts of industrial gases, is now accepted as a reality by the international community. Average temperatures in Britain were nearly 0.6°C higher in the Nineties than in 1960-90, and it is estimated that they will increase by 0.2C every decade over the coming century. Eight of the 10 hottest years on record occurred in the Nineties.

However, the warming is so far manifesting itself more in winters which are less cold than in much hotter summers. According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".

"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

The effects of snow-free winter in Britain are already becoming apparent. This year, for the first time ever, Hamleys, Britain's biggest toyshop, had no sledges on display in its Regent Street store. "It was a bit of a first," a spokesperson said.

Fen skating, once a popular sport on the fields of East Anglia, now takes place on indoor artificial rinks. Malcolm Robinson, of the Fenland Indoor Speed Skating Club in Peterborough, says they have not skated outside since 1997. "As a boy, I can remember being on ice most winters. Now it's few and far between," he said.

Michael Jeacock, a Cambridgeshire local historian, added that a generation was growing up "without experiencing one of the greatest joys and privileges of living in this part of the world - open-air skating".

Warmer winters have significant environmental and economic implications, and a wide range of research indicates that pests and plant diseases, usually killed back by sharp frosts, are likely to flourish. But very little research has been done on the cultural implications of climate change - into the possibility, for example, that our notion of Christmas might have to shift.

Professor Jarich Oosten, an anthropologist at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, says that even if we no longer see snow, it will remain culturally important.

"We don't really have wolves in Europe any more, but they are still an important part of our culture and everyone knows what they look like," he said.

David Parker, at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Berkshire, says ultimately, British children could have only virtual experience of snow. Via the internet, they might wonder at polar scenes - or eventually "feel" virtual cold.

Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time," he said.

The chances are certainly now stacked against the sortof heavy snowfall in cities that inspired Impressionist painters, such as Sisley, and the 19th century poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wrote in "London Snow" of it, "stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying".

Not any more, it seems.

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Comments

Calling Charles Onians
[info]alexjc38 wrote:
Sunday, 27 December 2009 at 09:53 pm (UTC)
Hello? Charles Onians in 2000? Don't ask me to explain but I'm posting this back to you via a time warp from December 2009. Yes, the future! You probably won't believe me and will think I'm mad or joking, but get this. Britain is suffering its second extremely cold winter in a row - we have enough snow, ice, frost and freezing fog to cobble dogs with (whatever that means.) Far from being "a very rare and exciting event", snowfall has become a major hazard in this country twice this past year - and we haven't even got to February 2010 yet. Also (again you will probably think I'm joking) but the CRU has just become a liability to climate science - leaked e-mails and files have revealed a web of deceit and manipulation that threatens to undermine the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming itself. I urge you to pull this article immediately, as it will become a laughing stock in years to come. Charles? Hello? Hello? ... Rats, I'm probably too late.
Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]david_fta wrote:
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 at 05:07 am (UTC)
Perhaps, in 2000, Charles was unaware that Chinese industrial expansion, fuelled by its high-sulphur domestic coal, would unleash a sulphidic assault on the north-east Asian environment that would substantially counter northern hemisphere warming with its enhancement of north temperate latitude albedo, before falling out of the sky as acid rain.

Perhaps Charles couldn't foresee increased Arctic melting and consequent suppression of the Gulf Stream.

I wonder what Carribean storm seasons will be like over the next few years?

Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]william999bob wrote:
Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 10:38 am (UTC)
I i correct in assuming the late spring snow in OZ and the record cold winter in NZ, and the snow in South Africa are also evidence of warming? What about the near record sea ice around the Antarctic? More proof of warm? Oh, I remember now - there is something wrong with the observations because the computer models are infallible.
Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]david_fta wrote:
Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 12:18 pm (UTC)
It's a good thing they had late snow down in the Snowy Mountains; my understanding is that there was very little snow earlier in the season.

I live about half way between the Snowy Mountains and Cape York. It was cold enough for me to wear long trousers for about a week or so in July or August I think. We didn't get any rain after that until a couple of days in November, enough for some green shoots to appear and for the sun to dessicate them again before this Christmas week, when Timor Sea Cyclone Laurence turned into a rain depression that traversed the continent to refill our tanks (and top up the pool).

But thanks for asking.

Should you tire of facetiousness (heaven forbid!), I refer you to my previous posting (27 December 2009 at 04:16 am (UTC)) in response to David King's article. Also have a look at
http://opinion.independentminds.livejournal.com/1522292.html?thread=16731252,

and the dialogue between myself and energyczar under the heading "HEY DENIALISTS, ONE SWALLOW DOTH NOT A SUMMER MAKE!" somewhere at
http://opinion.independentminds.livejournal.com/1534231.html?page=2#comments

my comment headed "Re: 2009 - The Year of SCEPTICISM", and the dialogue between colinru and myself under the heading "Re: Hijacked", both under
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/review-of-the-year-2009-climate-change-1847988.html




Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]yad061 wrote:
Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 08:21 am (UTC)
Keep the faith?!! did you really say that? Realists don't need faith, they just look out the window pal
Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]paintwagon wrote:
Monday, 11 January 2010 at 06:45 am (UTC)
....The Caribbean storm season last year was the one of the deadest in a century, with no hurricanes....This must be because of the Chinese sulfur also.

....By the way, why isnt anyone trying to bleed the Chinese for Carbon taxes? They do have two coal plants that put out more carbon than all of England, and are building 1-2 more every week. Soon you'll have glaciers over Scotland, right?
Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]david_fta wrote:
Monday, 11 January 2010 at 07:22 am (UTC)
A carbon tax? Now, that's a novel idea.

Meanwhile, for further details regarding the North Atlantic Oscillation, see "The North Atlantic Oscillation: Past, present, and future", Visbeck et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6 November 2001 vol. 98 no. 23 12876-12877 http://www.pnas.org/content/98/23/12876.full

The good news regarding the North Atlantic Oscillation is that ocean heat transfer to Greenland and Scandinavia should now slow, in which case the rate of Greenland originated sea level rise would decline, and methane addition to atmosphere from Scandinavian permafrost thaw would decrease. If, for example, the UK remains snow-covered for a few months, more short-wave sunlight will be reflected, not absorbed. From an Antipodean perspective, that's all good.

The bad news is the possibility of more intense Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, and the certainty of major winter disruptions in north Europe. That said, intense updraft at centre of cyclonic storms is very efficient heat transfer mechanism to stratosphere.


Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]itschlorophyll wrote:
Friday, 22 January 2010 at 09:12 pm (UTC)
Oh well..... It has been evident for some time that those who are AGW believers never have to admit their wrong or have to admit to looking the fool for your assertions. Which then leads me to the obvious conclusion that their assertions have nothing to do with saving the planet and being green but does have to do with something out there that is green. The all mighty dollar. Oh, and the distruction of industrialized society as we know it.

"More CO2 please." - An Anonymous Tree
Re: Calling Charles Onians
[info]david_fta wrote:
Saturday, 23 January 2010 at 12:08 am (UTC)
Thanks for that, "itschlorophyll".

On a planetary scale, it may be difficult to distinguish between the effects of elevated CO2 per se, and any associated temperature change; in fact, plant growth rates are quite temperature-sensitive.

There is considerable research around the effects on plant health of higher CO2 atmosphere (to start, I searched for keywords "plant growth rate" within www.sciencedaily.com). Certainly, faster growth rates are observed at elevated CO2, given adequate availability of other materials such as Mg required for chlorophyll. That is, plants grown in CO2-rich atmospheres are relatively poor in other nutrients, so that herbivores will need to modify their diets.

If you look at the dialogue between myself and philip_jr, at http://opinion.independentminds.livejournal.com/1523685.html?thread=16349925#t16349925, you'll see that philip_jr refers to substantial evidence that sulphur aerosols, alone, cannot account for post-1900 temperature changes. This does not, however, affect the accuracy of my description of the last decade in North Asia to which you responded.

BTW, I myself am not one of those you describe as seeking the "distruction of industrialized society", as you would have it.

Noting that "all mighty dollars" are meaningless outside the context of a functioning economy, I rather hope for progress away from carbon dioxide emissions within the industrialised economy that underpins our society, so that our society does not suffer further degradation of its environment, and avoids the risk of catastrophic such degradation.

Regards
[info]freethinkin wrote:
Monday, 28 December 2009 at 12:31 am (UTC)
Wow. An article that contains the words "climate change" and there aren't 1000 responses from wild-eyed Deniers? What's going on? Have they lost the faith?

[info]icf01 wrote:
Thursday, 31 December 2009 at 03:10 am (UTC)
Still hard at the 'free thinkin' business, I see. Suppose you have no idea of the irony of your chosen name.
Deniers....
[info]rhinob wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 11:25 am (UTC)
Don't need to say a thing....the sun it doing alllll the talking. hehehehe....love it.
Fred
outrageous...you forgot to mention the polar bears!
[info]kingkp wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 12:23 pm (UTC)
This is outrageous! What about the polar bears! Every day a little polar bear is dying because of the evils of man-made global warming. This has to stop. There's not even a mention of the poor cuddly little blighters in the comments....this can't go on
[info]turboblocke wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 01:37 pm (UTC)
Interestingly this prediction from the article has come true a bit early:"Heavy snow will return occasionally, says Dr Viner, but when it does we will be unprepared. "We're really going to get caught out. Snow will probably cause chaos in 20 years time," he said."
How embarrassing for all concerned.
[info]muckle10 wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 05:04 pm (UTC)
Who needs 'virtual' snow when the real stuff is all around the country.
"Virtual Cold"
[info]fberg_david wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 08:16 pm (UTC)
An interesting concept, but one I highly doubt will be necessary. But I won't go the other way and say that "virtual warmth" will be needed either; real warmth will be really necessary when the next Little Ice Age hits.
A Most Inconveniet Climatic Misbehaviour
[info]vanzetti69 wrote:
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 at 09:36 pm (UTC)
Well Charlie, you were a silly boy then weren't you?! will you and your fellow orthodoxy-regurgitators hang your heads in shame in an attempt to retain a modicum of self-respect and credibility....? or will you continue to take a leaf out of al gore's leaflet... aptly embellished with substantive rigorous CRU climate science....
I'm not going to hold my breath......
Happy New Year ..not
[info]c777 wrote:
Friday, 1 January 2010 at 04:59 pm (UTC)
Last night drink in hand I settled down for the bells watching the excellent Jules Holland and the wonderfull line up of musicians and bands which I was thouroghly enjoying .
That was untill I spotted it OH NO NOT A F*****G Polar Bear again !
It's a con .
this is how we will look at all of "global warming" in ten years
[info]groweg wrote:
Saturday, 2 January 2010 at 09:28 pm (UTC)
In ten years time we will consider the entire concept of anthropogenic global warming just as funny as this ridiculous prediction from a global warming believer back in 2000.

On many fronts science is showing anthropogenic global warming to have been a wildly mistaken idea. Just Google the names of some of the scientists involved to learn more: Willie Soon, Richard Lindzen, Henrick Svensmark, and Steve McIntyre. For an update on where the climate debate is at the beginning of 2010 see:

http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/?p=251

Before the climate debate is over many more will look foolish for espousing anthropogenic global warming. But in defense of Charles Onians I must confess that back in 2000 I also believed in anthropogenic global warming. Then I read the works of the authors mentioned above and wised up.
Re: this is how we will look at all of "global warming" in ten years
[info]david_fta wrote:
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 at 01:04 am (UTC)
I had a look at a commentary by Richard Lindzen, which "philip_jr" had recommended to me. In a subsequent posting in our dialogue, at http://opinion.independentminds.livejournal.com/1523685.html?thread=16349925#t16349925, I pointed one of the flaws in Lindzen's commentary, and made reference to current research at www.sciencedaily.com about the effect of sulphate aerosols.

I think my dogged reference to research findings caused philip_jr to give up trying to get me to change my mind.

If you're pondering the current European cold snap, for further details see "The North Atlantic Oscillation: Past, present, and future", Visbeck et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6 November 2001 vol. 98 no. 23 12876-12877 http://www.pnas.org/content/98/23/12876.full
theory invalidated yet again
[info]seamasf wrote:
Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 11:48 pm (UTC)
The most important test for validating a scientific theory is predictability.

Warming alarmists are the ones operating under faith and ignoring science.

As to the apologists claiming this has to do with the gulf stream, the gulf stream is currently well within normal parameters.
Like Al Gore...
[info]jwwright wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 06:10 pm (UTC)
This article is good for a laugh. But thats about all.
Resign
[info]murph73 wrote:
Friday, 8 January 2010 at 11:01 am (UTC)
If you have any integrity you would resign and go work in a sheltered workshop in Outer Mongolia. Go away, you scare mongering fool.
In case you wanted know ..
[info]david_fta wrote:
Monday, 11 January 2010 at 07:24 am (UTC)
For further details regarding the North Atlantic Oscillation, see "The North Atlantic Oscillation: Past, present, and future", Visbeck et al, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 6 November 2001 vol. 98 no. 23 12876-12877 http://www.pnas.org/content/98/23/12876.full

The good news regarding the North Atlantic Oscillation is that ocean heat transfer to Greenland and Scandinavia should now slow, in which case the rate of Greenland originated sea level rise would decline, and methane addition to atmosphere from Scandinavian permafrost thaw would decrease. If, for example, the UK remains snow-covered for a few months, more short-wave sunlight will be reflected, not absorbed. From an Antipodean perspective, that's all good.

The bad news is the possibility of more intense Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, and the certainty of major winter disruptions in north Europe. That said, intense updraft at centre of cyclonic storms is very efficient heat transfer mechanism to stratosphere.
Fail!
[info]superioranalyst wrote:
Monday, 11 January 2010 at 08:56 pm (UTC)
It's strange how this one has surfaced. So much for man-made global warming predictions - major fail!

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