1 foot less snow in winter? Minnesota Climate Change Forum highlights dramatic changes

International Falls as warm as the Twin Cities by 2070?

1 foot less snow on average in Minnesota winters by 2100?

Twin Cities as warm as Omaha or Kansas City by 2070?

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Science Museum of Minnesota hosts Yale Climate Change Media Forum:

I was fortunate to spend Saturday with a group of Twin Cities Broadcast Meteorologists at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media workshop at the SMM.

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Image: Paul Huttner- MPR News

The event featured an amazing collection of high level, nationally renowned climate change experts and local broadcasters. Many of these researchers have spent entire careers studying climate change and effects from different angles.

The seminar presented a wealth of updated data on how climate changes are unfolding globally and in our backyard. It’s almost impossible to capsulize the overwhelming amount of information I absorbed into this space, so I’ll highlight what I see as the most salient points for Updraft. This is by no means a complete summary of current climate science; it’s just what I could absorb in a weekend.

Note: These are not direct quotes from the presenters, but my notes and input from their power point presentations. Hopefully this post adequately credits and respects the content and spirit of the authors, and the sources they used. Click on images to enlarge.


Anthony Broccoli, Rutgers University

“Essential Background Information for Meteorologists on Climate Science”

97% of all climate scientists agree that human activity (greenhouse gas emissions) is primarily accountable for most of the observed warming in the last half of the 20th Century.

2012 is the warmest year on record since 1895 from the Midwest to the eastern USA.

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Source: NOAA via Rutgers University

We can’t say that the warmth of 2012 (or any one year) is solely caused by climate change. But we can say a warm year could be evidence of global warming, if it is part of a long-term trend.

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Source: Anthony Broccoli Rutgers University


Ben Santer, Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Ca.

“Attribution: How Do We Know There’s a Human Influence?”

90%+ probability that 20th Century warming is attributable to humans.

Natural climate variability alone cannot explain observed changes.

Modles using only “natural forces” cannot duplicate observed warming so far.

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Source: Dr. Ben Santer – Livermore National Laboratory

Variations in solar activity cannot account for observed warming.

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Source: Dr. Ben Santer – Livermore National Laboratory


Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota

“Data Signals of Regional Climate Changes and Observed Consequences,”

Three Drivers of Observed Climate Behavior

Natural Variability (Earth-sun geometry, solar fluxuation, ocean currents, polar ice, volcanic eruptions, asteroid impacts, jet streams)

Land Use/Landscape Changes (urbanization, drainage, irrigation, deforestation)

Anthropogenic Emissions (greenhouse gases)

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Source: Dr. Mark Seeley – MPR & University of Minnesota

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Source: Dr. Mark Seeley – MPR & University of Minnesota

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Source: Dr. Mark Seeley – MPR & University of Minnesota

A brief note here:

The graphic below is perhaps the biggest stunner from Mark’s presentation.

“Decadal average annual temperature from 16 GCM models runs showing 275 mile northern migration of the 44 degrees F isotherm. Composite of 16 GCMs shows that the 44 degrees F annual isotherm across MN, currently through the Twin Cities Metro Area, will migrate 275 miles north to near International Falls by 2070.”

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Source: Dr. Mark Seeley – MPR & University of Minnesota

Again my notes: If this magnitude of warming occurs it will cause dramatic shifts in Minnesota landscapes. If the climate of the Twin Cities essentially shifts to International Falls it will have dramatic impacts on norhtern forests and lakes. BWCA lakes as warm as Lake Minnetonka in summer? Twin Cities like living in Omaha or Kansas City? It’s entirely possible.


Peter Snyder, University of Minnesota

“Projections of Upper Midwest Climate Change,”

Multiple lines of evidence suggest Midwest climate is changing.

Minnesota projected warming of 4F to 6F by 2100!

Average winter snowfall may drop by as much as 1 foot by 2100 as more winter precip falls as rain in a warmer winter environment.

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Source: Peter Snyder – University of Minnesota


Jeff Masters, Weather Underground, Ann Arbor, Mi.

“Climate Change and Severe Storms: Frequency and Severity,”

2012 is nearly on pace with the record number of “billion dollar weather disasters” set in 2011.

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Source: Jeff Masters – Weather Underground

The USA has broken virtually every major climate record in the past 7 years.

Hurricane intensity will increase as ocean temps warm.

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Source: Jeff Masters – Weather Underground

There will be a devastating Los Angeles hurricane one of these years as warmer ocean waters expand north.

The Mediterranean Sea may be able to support tropical cyclones as waters warm and wind shear decreases.

Excessive precipitation events will increase with increased atmospheric water vapor.

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Tornado alley is moving north; Michigan recorded 1st EF3 tornado.

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Source: Jeff Masters – Weather Underground

The northward shift in plant hardiness zones is one of the strongest indicators of climate change effects.

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Keith Dixon, NOAA/GFDL, Princeton, N.J.

“From ‘Best Available’ Science to ‘Actionable Science’: Using Climate Model Results,”

Climate Change is solid science. Large scale multi decadal to century trends established.

The “large scale” science on climate change was largely completed in 2007.

“Local scale” science is next. What happens in my region in the next 15-30 years?

Mitigation can be a large scale issue. Adapatiaiton is a local issue.

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45% of all emitted CO2 remains in atmosphere

30% is absorbed by plants and soils

25% is absorbed by oceans

When CO2 “sinks” in oceans, plants and soils reach capacity to absorb CO2, rate of atmospheric warming will increase as higher rates of CO2 are injected into atmosphere.

Climate models today have better resolution than the numerical weather forecast models of the 1980s.

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The next 50 years will be very different from the last 50 years.

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The 3 different colored curves for years 2000-2100 represent different global surface air temperature responses to 3 different emissions scenarios. The different colors are related to the “category 1” uncertainties – the choices made by people.

The shaded areas kind of/partly represent uncertainties associated with the “category 2” uncertainties. Given the same emissions scenario, different climate models will produce somewhat different responses. In some qualitative sense, this can be taken as illustrating some of the modeling uncertainties.

Source: Keith Dixon, NOAA GFDL


John Abraham, University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, Mn.

“Understanding Climate Change’s Common Top 10 ‘Myths’,”

“Climate science” dates back to 1824.

Since 2000 climate models have underestimated observed warming!

All the world’s volcanoes together produce less greenhouse gas emissions that the state of Florida.

Urban heat island and “poor siting” of some weather stations do not affect overall warming results in surface temperature record.

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J. Cook 2011

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John Abraham, University of St. Thomas

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John Abraham, University of St. Thomas


Paul Douglas Weather Nation

“Climate Change: Hype or Scientific Reality?”

Decrease in temp differences between tropics and poles means slower jet stream.

Weather systems moving slower.

Red maples invading northern forests

95% of the earth’s lakes are warming according to NASA’a JPL

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Source: NASA JPL via Paul Douglas


Joe Witte, George Mason University\NASA-Goddard

“Visualizing Climate and Weather Forecasting: Resources and Examples,”

1 gallon of gas produces 18 pounds of CO2 when burned.

Climate change science is “robust.”

We can differentiate “natural” vs. “man made” CO2 molecules in the atmosphere

The gas shortages of the 1970s presented a major opportunity for Honda & Toyota to dominate the auto industry. Who will win the “climate change” opprtunity?


We were very fortunate as Twin Cities broadcast meteorologists to have this incredible collection of climate expertise in one room last weekend. My thanks to Bud Ward at the Yale Forum on Climate Change and The Media, the excellent presenters, and to Pat Hamilton, Sue Landers and everyone at the Science Museum of Minnesota who made the event possible.