May 1, 2011

Earth's climate system: a study in process

Sometimes new information and data comes to our attention that may surprise us or make us uncomfortable: it may not fit with our impression or experience. The chart here of the March 2011 Monthly Global Temperature might do just that. The data indicates that this past March was the 13th warmest on record over the last 131 years. On a local level, we had lots of snow, wind and cold weather. On a global basis, however, the warming trend of the recent decades continues with January and February 2011, also well above the 20th century averages.

The chart also includes the data for each month of last year (see the right hand bar of each pair), showing that every month had a higher global temperature than the 1901-2000 monthly average. This is consistent with the known chemistry and physics of the warming effects of greenhouse gases (GHG's) and the fact that these GHG levels in the atmosphere continue to increase. The data was collected by the National Climate Data Center within NOAA and illustrated here by

When large amounts of data is available, as is the case with monthly global temperatures, scientists can make clear interpretations and comparisons when new data is acquired. Many times when new data is being developed, however, no data base exists to compare it with. Let's look at one organization, The Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, who is doing just that.

This research institute was established in Germany in 1980 as a public foundation. It has a budget of more than $140 million, a staff exceeding 900, and is mostly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Its "research mission is to improve our understanding of ocean-ice-atmosphere interactions, the animal and plant kingdoms of the Arctic and Antarctic … within the Earth's climate system." Their website has much more information and detail on the full range of their research efforts.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • little_mug.jpg There's no saw like an old saw Kaye and I laughed ourselves silly the other day as we tried to top each other with our own sayings from childhood, columnist Gordie Little writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Denenberg_Stu1.jpg Privacy concerns make a comeback

    There's a growing concern amongst the millennials, columnist Stu Denenberg writes.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • paul_grasso.jpg Several options exist for downtown

    Pedestrian mall just one idea that could be good for city's economic future, according to columnist Paul Grasso.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Government can't create success on its own

    It takes a grass-roots community effort of people working together to assure future accomplishment, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension
Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns
Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time