by Mike Smith a certified consulting meteorologist and CEO of WeatherData Services of Wichita.
For more than 20 years, we have been hearing doomsday predictions about global warming's effects on Kansas and across the world. Locally, during the hot Kansas summer of 2006, forecasts were issued and media articles written tying that hot, dry weather to global warming, and forecasting more extreme heat in the future.
According to one scientist with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming in 2006 was already "kicking the heat up a notch."
But the weather has refused to cooperate with those forecasts.
More drought? The reality: 2007 and 2008 were the two wettest years in the history of Wichita. No area of Kansas is experiencing drought at the present time, in spite of all that hand-wringing just two years ago.
Extreme heat? The reality: The past two years, combined, had 21 fewer days than average with 90-degree or higher temperatures. Since 1990, there has been a downward trend in 100-degree or warmer temperatures in Wichita.
It isn't just Kansas. In spite of the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide in the history of civilization, world temperatures have failed to warm the past 10 years. Ocean heat content is falling. World ice concentrations (Arctic and Antarctic combined) are higher than normal.
The 2001 forecasts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (cited by Al Gore) have failed to capture the recent cooling, as the above graph indicates, suggesting that the carbon dioxide-atmosphere connection is more complex than some initially believed. A small but growing number of scientists are becoming concerned about global cooling due to the current unusually low solar activity and other geophysical factors.
The fact is that the solar-land-ocean-atmosphere system is incredibly complex, and meteorologists have no consistent skill at forecasting its behavior a year into the future, let alone decades hence.
I don't know what 2009's or 2029's weather might bring, nor does anyone else.
The sciences of meteorology and climatology still have a lot of learning to do.
My personal conclusion: The science is definitely not settled.