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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Of Climate and Weather

I am currently speeding through the winter wonderland that the English midlands have become, enjoying the beauty of snow-covered fields, sharp reflections in brooks just tipped with ice,sheep trying to graze on regardless and birds of prey perching, watching out for some of nature’s “frozen food”.
My colleague Judith Hartl introduced me on her science programme as one of those strange people who like going to cold places. Iadmit I like ice and snow, although I’m amazed at how it has brought parts of Britain to a standstill.
My sister reckons I am somehow fighting a lost cause. “Everywhere you go, it’s snowing! How are you going to convince people about global warming?” Well, a lot of people make jokes or semi-serious comments about that in the coldish winter we’ve been having in a lot of places.The British media have been trying to explain to people that this is “just weather”. It’s only the long-term trend that makes climate.
I came across a good summary of the facts in an article by Richard Alleyne, science correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (hardly a paper known for “alternative” views).
He says this is the coldest winter in Britain for 30 years, but the extreme weather proves the effects of global warming. Temperatures for the last 2 months were 1C lower than average, and London had more snow than any time since 1960s. But the fact people are surprised by this shows how the climate has changed over the decades.
A Met Office study going back 350 years indicates UK now gets this extreme weather only every 20 years.
I’ve just come from Shrewsbury, where, as it happens, amongst other things I visited rooms where Charles Dickens stayed while working on the Pickwick Papers. In the neighbourhood is Ironbridge, one of the “cradles” of the industrial revolution.
Back in the pre-industrial Dickens days, cold winters like these would have occurred in Britain on average every 5 years, according to the Met Office scientists. If it wasn’t for global warming, this would be more “normal”, we’d be prepared, and able to cope.On various Arctic trips, the ice blogger has had fewer transport problems than on this one. Can anybody in the Midlands lend me a team of huskies?!

(Huskies raring to take off with their sled in Tromso in January)


February 5, 2009 | 2:05 pm