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Phil Mote’s Alarming Climate Prediction Graph

Ability to predict is a key feature of a scientific theory. Here is one prediction of future Northwest climate that Phil Mote included in his paper How and Why is Northwest Climate Changing? Published in Climate Change, Carbon, and Forestry in Northwestern North America: Proceedings of a Workshop, November 14 - 15, 2001 Orcas Island, Washingtonton (PDF pae 28). It predicts a steady warming 40 years into the future. However, the reality is that warming had still not occurred eight years later and has turned down since then:

Mote's Original Alarming Graph

notice that all of the dramatic rise is a prediction

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Notice this whole section is a prediction

Was Scientific Dissent Being Quashed?

Philip Mote Stripped Assistant State Climatologist Mark Albright of His Title

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

How one number touched off big climate-change fight at UW

The number is eye-popping, and it was repeated so often it became gospel.

 

The snowpack in the Cascades, it was said, shrank by 50 percent in the last half-century. It's been presented as glaring evidence of the cost exacted by global warming — the drying up of a vital water source.

 

That statistic has been repeated in a government report, on environmental-advocacy Web sites and in media coverage. Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels recently mentioned it in a guest column in The Seattle Times.

 

Here's the problem: The number is dead wrong.

 

The debunking of this statistic, and the question of just how much the state's snowpack shrank, is stirring up a heated debate among the region's climate scientists.

 

On Monday, it escalated further when University of Washington researcher and State Climatologist Philip Mote stripped a colleague of his title as associate state climatologist, triggering concerns that scientific dissent is being quashed. Losing the title doesn't affect the man's employment at the UW. read the whole story at : http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003618979_warming15m.html

UW study examines decline of snowpack

By Warren Cornwall, Seattle Times environment reporter

Maybe the snow in the Cascade Mountains isn't in such immediate peril from global warming after all.

Despite previous studies suggesting a warmer climate is already taking a bite out of Washington's snowpack, there's no clear evidence that human-induced climate change has caused a drop in 20th century snow levels, according to a new study by University of Washington scientists.

read the whole story at : http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008094636_climate06m.html

 

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Philip Mote and the Claim of Northwest Snowpack Decline

PACIFIC NORTHWEST SNOWPACK – THE REAL STORY  (Bold added by SustainableOregon)

By George Taylor, CCM

 

A few years ago, several papers by scientists at the University of Washington (Mote, 2003; Mote, et al, 2004; Mote, et al, 2005) suggested that snowpack in the Pacific Northwest was declining due to global warming.

 

The Mote papers included the statement:

 

"A study of springtime mountain snowpack in the Pacific Northwest showed widespread declines in snowpack since 1950 at most locations with largest declines at lower elevations indicating temperature effects."

 

This author responded with an article discussing Northwest snow trends:

 

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=052605X

 

Included was the following statement:

 

“Note the starting point for this analysis; the late 1940s-early 1950s were an exceptionally snowy period in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. The Mote, et al papers used 1950 as a starting point because snowpack measurements were "widespread by the late 1940s" (Mote, et al, 2005) and much less extensive earlier. However, in view of the fact that climate conditions prior to the late 1940s were very different, one might wonder if inclusion of longer period data sets would change the result.”

 

They did. Period-of-record trends were very different for longer data sets than they were for the period beginning in 1950. The conclusions of that analysis:

 

“The use of snowpack trends from 1950 through current suggests a much different (steeper) trend than if period of record measurements are used. Granted, there exist relatively few stations that extend back prior to 1940, but those stations whose records are available make it clear than monotonic decreases in snow pack do not occur through the entire period of record.

 

“Based on a limited analysis, there are indications that precipitation is a much more significant influence on snow pack than is temperature.

 

Among the charts shown in the article were the following. Each chart shows the 1950-1997 trend (the period used for the Mote et al papers) and a best-fit linear trend (including the percentage reduction in snowpack for the period). The second chart [bottom]shows the period of record through 2006.

Nonetheless, the idea that snows were decreasing due to global warming, and would likely keep doing so, became a common and popular one in the Northwest. Seattle’s mayor, Oregon’s Governor, and other public officials rushed to include this “fact” in their policy statements. For example, the Report to the Governor (of Oregon) from the Governor’s Advisory Group on Global Warming (December 2004) stated:

 

“Between 1950 and 2000, the April 1 snowpack declined. In the Cascades, the cumulative downward trend in snow-water equivalent is approximately 50% for the period 1950–1995. Timing of the peak snowpack has moved earlier in the year, increasing March streamflows and reducing June streamflows. Snowpack at low-to-mid elevations is the most sensitive to warming temperatures.”

 

However, in 2007 the “snow is going away” idea began to crumble. Washington Assistant State Climatologist Mark Albright confirmed that there was no significant long-term trend in snowpack [see next section on the dangers of disagreeing with alarmists]. The winter of 2007-08 was one of the snowiest on record. And last month, the Seattle Times published the following news piece: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008094636_climate06m.html

 

According to the Times, “Maybe the snow in the Cascade Mountains isn't in such immediate peril from global warming after all.”

 

“Despite previous studies suggesting a warmer climate is already taking a bite out of Washington's snowpack, there's no clear evidence that human-induced climate change has caused a drop in 20th century snow levels, according to a new study by University of Washington scientists.”

 

It is comforting that use of appropriate data records has dispelled some “bad science” conclusions. One hopes that policymakers will recognize this and modify their policies accordingly.

 

References

Mote, P. W., 2003. Trends in Temperature and Precipitation in the Pacific Northwest During the Twentieth Century. Northwest cience, 77, 271-282.

 

Mote, P. W., M. Clark, and A. F. Hamlet, 2004. Variability and Trends in Mountain Snowpack in Western North America. 15th ymposium on Global Change and Climate Variations, Seattle, Washington.

 

Mote, P. W., A.F. Hamlet, M.P. Clark and D.P. Lettenemier, 2005. Declining Mountain Snowpack in Western North America. Bull. Amer. Meteo. Soc., 86, 39-49.

Mote’s View of Dissent

"There is a valued and much-needed role for skeptics to question the prevailing view," says Philip Mote, Taylor's counterpart in Washington state and a professor at the University of Washington. "Once in a while, the skeptics are right. But there is no debate in the scientific community over whether human-caused global warming is possible or observed. The only way one could come up with that opinion is not being familiar with the scientific literature."    Willamette Week, August 24th, 2005

 

Mote, whose Ph.D. is from the University of Washington, surmises that Taylor is guilty of looking only at data that support his views, while discarding the rest. "You can only come to that conclusion if you handpick the climate records," Mote says.    Willamette Week, August 24th, 2005

 

 

 

 

Additional Reading

http://www.atmos.washington.edu/marka/snowpackmyth.html

 

From:  http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/snowmen/ :

Bob H said

July 21, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Temperature records also seem to be available.

Detailed data for each of the snowpack stations can be found at ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/snow_course/wasnow.txt

The lat/long coordinates for each station can be found in  ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/snow_course/listwa.txt

And finally the data field definitions are found in  ftp://ftp.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/data/snow/snow_course/README.txt

Air temperatures are by station, rather than combined, but are located at  http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/temperature-table.pl?state=WA&report=historical

Maximum winter snowpack in the Snake River watershed has exhibited no trend upward or downward over the last 75 years.

 

Since 1918 snowpack has been measured at “snotel” locations in the Snake River watershed, which includes most of Idaho and portions of Oregon and Nevada. The snowpack has been measured in snow water equivalents (SWE) at over 700 snotel locations at monthly intervals during winter.      Read the whole article

No Trend In Idaho Snowpack Over the Last 75 Years

Scary, dramatic, part is just a prediction!

Actual temperature shows no change since the 1920s,

just natural cycles