Craig James

Words on Weather & Climate — April 29, 2010

April 29, 2010 // 0 Comments

What’s the name of that volcano? by CRAIG JAMES I imagine the people from Iceland have been driven to fits of hysterical laughter when they hear broadcasters trying to pronounce the name the volcano that has been erupting in their country. It is spelled “Eyjafjallajoekull.” You can hear someone from Iceland pronounce it on a video from YouTube at It certainly made me laugh. The English pronunciation is “Aye-ya fyah-dla jow-kudl.” Let’s just call it “that Icelandic volcano.” You can see absolutely stunning photos online at If you don’t own a computer, go to the library or visit a friend who has one and look at the pictures. It is worth your while. I’m sure all of the stranded passengers and the airline companies didn’t find the volcano a laughing matter, but it came as no surprise to me to find out there are people blaming the volcano on global warming. Scientific American recently ran an article claiming that climate change caused the volcano to erupt. (Can you hear me laughing hysterically in the background?) I am certainly not a geologist or volcanologist, but there is enough evidence to show that volcanoes don’t erupt due to climate change, but they can change the climate. The eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815 caused the year without a summer in 1816. It has been hypothesized by a volcanologist at Los Alamos that the Dark Ages were triggered by agricultural collapse following the 535AD eruption of Krakatoa. The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa lowered global temperatures about two degrees. The eruptions of El Chicon in 1983 and Mt. Pinotubo in 1991 also lowered global temperatures. I could go on and on. A geologist writing in a blog called WattsUpWithThat, explained why melting ice had no effect on the Icelandic volcano: “Iceland is an above sea level manifestation of the Mid Atlantic Ridge. The ridge is of course an active constructive margin (It is actually the principle prime-mover of continental drift at this point in time). Upwelling of hotter (i.e. less dense) magma along the ridge is pushing the Eurasian plate and North American plate in opposite directions at about the speed that human nails grow. The Eurasian plate heads east, the North American plate heads west. “So […]

Words on Weather & Climate

April 22, 2010 // 0 Comments

Global Sea Ice by CRAIG JAMES Last week I wrote about the Arctic Sea ice extent and how it was very likely to have been significantly lower in the past than during the recent period of satellite observations begun in 1979. Let’s take a look today at the sea ice extent on a global scale, not just in the Arctic Ocean. You may be surprised. The graphic above is from the University of Illinois Cryosphere Today website. The line across the bottom of the chart shows how the daily global sea ice has deviated since 1979 from the overall average between 1979 and 2008. You can clearly see that the global sea ice area is currently sitting right at average. How can that be when all we have heard about is how much the ice is melting? The above chart clearly shows that since satellite observations began, the extent of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere declined until 2007 when it reached a minimum. However, it has recovered back almost to the average since then. I wrote about this last week. This last chart is of the Southern Hemisphere sea ice. You can see that in 2007, when the Arctic ice was at a minimum, the Southern Hemisphere was at a record high extent. The ice in the Antarctic was not cooperating with the alarmist point of view. What is really interesting is that the long-term ice increase and decline at the two poles tends to be out of phase. When ice is increasing at one over several years, it is decreasing at the other. Several studies have been done on this, but no known reason for this behavior has been found. I’m sure common experience has taught you that ice melts quicker when it comes in contact with warm water rather than warm air. If you have a sink full of ice, the quickest way to melt it is to add warm water, not turn up the heat in the room. However, all the alarmist predictions about the Arctic becoming ice-free were assuming the melt was due to warm air temperatures from global warming. If you take a look at any year from the website of the Danish Meteorological Institute at, you will […]

Words on Weather & Climate

April 15, 2010 // 0 Comments

Arctic Sea Ice How is this for an alarmist statement? It appears in a journal called Monthly Weather Review, which is published by The American Meteorological Society: “The arctic seems to be warming up. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers who sail the seas about Spitzbergen and the eastern Arctic, all point to a radical change in climatic conditions , and hitherto unheard-of high temperatures in that part of the earth’s surface. … Ice conditions were exceptional. In fact, so little ice has never before been noted. … In Arctic Norway… where formerly great masses of ice were found, there are now often moraines, accumulations of earth and stones. At many points where glaciers formerly extended far into the sea they have entirely disappeared.” Sounds like something from today’s newspapers or evening news reports. However, this article was printed in November 1922. Take a look at this picture from the US Navy Archives: “” This is a photo of the first submarine to ever surface at the North Pole. The photo was not taken at a period when the ice is at its lowest extent, in September, but on March 17. This is when the ice is near its maximum extent. Notice all the open water. The photo was taken in 1959. In 2007, we were flooded with news headlines that the Arctic Sea Ice Extent had dropped to its lowest level since the advent of routine monitoring. Keep in mind routine monitoring only goes back to 1979 when satellites began to monitor the ice near the poles. But the low Arctic Ice extent in 2007 brought out all kinds of dire predictions about how soon the Arctic Ocean would become ice-free during the summer, due of course, to human caused global warming. You can see Al Gore in 2008 stating the Arctic Ocean would be ice-free by 2013 in this video: “” In December 2007, a research team from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California used computer models to forecast that “northern polar waters” would be ice-free by 2012 or 2013. In June 2008, Mark Serreze, the Director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center offered 50-50 odds of an ice-free Arctic Ocean that summer. It didn’t happen. Other […]

Words on Weather & Climate — April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010 // 0 Comments

Time zones by CRAIG JAMES I think most of us understand the basic times zones across the county. In the lower 48 states there are the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones. However, before the advent of railroads, each city in the country had its own local time that was set to solar noon (when the sun is directly overhead). Since the sun is directly overhead about one minute later for each 12 miles you travel to the west, traveling on horseback didn’t usually cause much of a problem. Your watch was only a few minutes off after a day’s travel. However, when railroads began moving people long distances in a short period of time, railroad time schedules became very confusing. In the 1860s, the railroads were dealing with over 300 local time zones. In 1884, the concept of standard time zones, each spanning approximately every 15 degrees longitude, was implemented worldwide. Where time zone lines ran through cities, the lines were nudged either west or east so the entire city was on the same time zone. But some states ended up in two time zones. The state of Indiana has 92 counties; 80 are now in the Eastern Time Zone and 12 are in the Central Time Zone. When Daylight Saving Time (DST) was implemented during World War I, all counties in each state were required to use it year round. This experiment in DST lasted just seven months, but was reinstated during World War II. After the war, between 1945 and 1966, each county, led by the wisdom of its own politicians, decided whether to stay on DST or not. In Indiana, 15 counties adopted DST and 77 did not. If that had happened in our area, it would be like Grandville being one hour ahead of Jenison, but for only part of the year. Finally in 2006, Indiana adopted DST in all counties. Arizona does not go on DST except on a few Indian reservations. It took me a while when I moved to Grand Rapids to get used to the fact that the National Weather Service does not adopt DST. When they post the daily climate summary in the winter, it is for the 24-hour period from midnight to midnight, […]

Words on Weather & Climate — April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010 // 0 Comments

More on winter 2009-10 by CRAIG JAMES   I mentioned in an earlier article that meteorological winter is the months of December, January and February. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has now released their summary of this past winter for the United States. You can find the write-up online at On the map shown here, the blue colors represent colder-than-average temperatures with the tan and orange colors warmer than average. It is obvious that most of the United States had a colder-than-average winter. In fact, a few spots in southern Texas and southern Mississippi had the coldest winter on record. In the write-up you will see that NCDC states “63% of the U.S. was cooler than average.” I challenge anyone above a third-grade level to look at the map and tell me the amount of blue doesn’t cover more than 63% of the country. It certainly looks more like at least 75% of the U.S. had a cold winter. Also of note, NCDC does not rank this winter. They always state something like, “This was the third warmest winter of record,” or something like that when the weather is warm, but no mention of where this cold winter ranked. By the way, notice that this winter was called “cooler” than average, not “colder” than average. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Al Gore had stated global warming was responsible for this cold and snowy winter in the south and east. He states on his blog: “Fact: Climate change causes more frequent and severe snowstorms. Record snowstorms need two things: temperatures below freezing, and very high humidity. On a planet warmer by a few degrees on average, the Northeast U.S. will still have plenty of days below freezing; the big difference will be warmer seas producing higher levels of moisture in the air—and therefore more severe cold-season storms.” Not only is this statement at odds with the computer models, but let’s take a look and see whether the seas were actually warmer than normal and whether there has been higher levels of moisture in the air. It is pretty easy to check this out, although something tells me Mr. Gore didn’t bother to see if his theory was supported by the facts. From […]

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