Reconciling cold weather and global warming

Writing in the Dominion Post Weekend paper, Michael Forbes looks at the connections between the recent chilly weather and climate change. 

An excerpt (read in full here):

NZ can expect more big snowstorms

You might have had better luck selling ice to eskimos than peddling global warming theory on the streets of Wellington this week. After an almost unprecedented wall of snow and ice blasted its way up New Zealand to tickle the Bombay Hills, you could forgive the average frost-bitten person on the street for being a tad sceptical about our planet getting hotter.

At times like these, the inbox of James Renwick, principal climate scientist at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, fills up with emails from disbelievers who tell him – in slightly more colourful terms – to look out his window.

Freak weather occurrences, like the one-in-40-year storm that hit this week, actually offer no proof that the planet is getting colder or warmer, he says.

“When you look at the globe, New Zealand is a tiny little patch on the Earth and to try and relate what is going on here, in terms of temperature, to global change is really meaningless.

“It can be quite cold here but a lot warmer in other places around the world, so the overall model will average out.”

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Last month the Science Media Centre held a briefing with climate scientist covering the issue of extreme weather and the global climate. You can listen to the audio here.