What Weathermen Know About Climate Change

Jun 26, 2010 By Emilie Lorditch
Credit: NOAA

Climate change is a topic that impacts the weather not only globally, but also locally. While some people may be concerned about the melting ice sheets at the far corners of the Earth, what most really want to know is "how will global warming affect me?" -- and they often turn to their local weatherperson to find out.

A study released today study by the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication in Fairfax, Va., showed that 27 percent of broadcast meteorologists -- who are, according to the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, "often the most visible representatives of science in U.S. households" -- believe that global warming is a scam.

According to the National Science Foundation’s 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators, television is the number one source the public turns to for information about science and technology. Broadcast meteorologists are often the only people at TV news stations with a science background. But the education and experience of those who deliver news about the weather varies dramatically.

"In television, when it comes to , there is an extremely wide range of education sets," said Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist at WLTX-TV in Columbia, S.C. "Some have bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and Ph.D.'s, but you also have some without."

When a topic such as climate change comes up in the news, broadcast meteorologists -- no matter what their educational background -- are often thrust into the spotlight. Some embrace the opportunity and try to educate their audiences on the science, while others avoid it at all costs.

"People are uninformed and believe climate change is a ," said Gandy. "I occasionally respond to comments posted on our station's website, but you better know your science and get your facts straight before you post on my website."

Some meteorologists surveyed said that there is a lot of conflicting information about climate change.

"Science is about questioning things and I think we should all be in the middle, question the information," said Brad Sowder, First Alert Meteorologist at KOAA-TV in Colorado Springs, Colo. "I have been more on the side of a skeptic."

Another weathercaster who wanted to remain anonymous felt that the topic of climate change is less about the science and more about politics. "Personally, I think that is a political issue, and I feel like it is safer to stay out of it," he said.

The survey also found that 62 percent of broadcast meteorologists want to report more on climate change.

"We have a good comprehensive look at television weathercasters from this survey," said Kris Wilson, a senior lecturer with the School of Journalism at University of Texas at Austin and one of the lead investigators of the survey.

Beginning in July, the next phase of the National Science Foundation-funded study will begin. A test case at Gandy’s station will include 30-second segments in some of the weathercasts to educate viewers about climate change.

"It will be a year-long effort using our resources on-air and on the Internet in an effort to educate the public about past, present, and future," said Gandy. "I wish the public knew how difficult it is to have knowledge of climate science. Simply being a meteorologist is not enough, and this is a mistake that some television meteorologists make."

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Source: Inside Science News Service

3.3 /5 (15 votes)
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3.3 / 5 (4) Jun 26, 2010
Table A. Means (F) of January to December annual means for the globe, by decade:
Secondary analysis of data reported at http://data.giss....SST.txty

All years
Mean SD N
57.1594 .4385 129
Midpoint Mean SD N
DECADE 1885 56.7482 .1020 10
DECADE 1895 56.7356 .1467 10
DECADE 1905 56.7158 .1711 10
DECADE 1915 56.6996 .1759 10
DECADE 1925 56.9066 .1290 10
DECADE 1935 57.1496 .1525 10
DECADE 1945 57.2756 .1481 10
DECADE 1955 57.1622 .1864 10
DECADE 1965 57.1784 .1677 10
DECADE 1975 57.2018 .1801 10
DECADE 1985 57.5186 .1714 10
DECADE 1995 57.7688 .2338 10
DECADE 2005 58.1060 .1509 9 (data for 2009 not included)

Note. MEANF = ((jtod/100)* (1.8)) + 57.1.

Why can't folks whose business it is to inform the public give us data like those in the table?
2.8 / 5 (8) Jun 26, 2010
@Gonzaga - First where did the data come from? How was it collected? Is it raw or adjusted? If adjusted, how and why? Is the method of collection consistent from place to place? How many locations are there? How many are located in heat islands that have grown since 1885? How has this been corrected for? How? How many are at sea? And so on and so on and.......

THe Earth has warmed and cooled and warmed since the little ice age ended ca. 1800.
GW is a very complicated issue but if the so called expert scientists don't operate w/ total transparency so that their work can be replicated (this is how real science works - "consensus" is for layman) then we will never get to the bottom of this AND we will be scammed by the politicians and charlatans.
2.2 / 5 (10) Jun 26, 2010
Proponents of "anthropologic global warming" themselves know this is a scam.

So they changed their story to "anthropologic climate change".

Meanwhile, they continue to ignore precise space-age measurements that show why Earth's climate and Earth's heat source are always changing ["Earth's heat source - The Sun", Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144].

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo

2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 26, 2010
I love "global climate change"! We've had 4 of the best ski seasons I can remember here in Colorado. There's still tons of snow on the divide. The desert SW was verdant too.
2 / 5 (4) Jun 27, 2010
We have had the warmest first 6 months of the year in record in Connecticut (Jan-June)

I have ever seen such lushness to trees and gardens here so early the warmth, C02 and heavy precipitation have helped.

To the climate change deniers- we can only hope that the almost perfect correlation between CO2 levels over the last 15 million years and global climate/temperatures is a hoax - cuz if it is not- we are in deep trouble as a species.
1.5 / 5 (8) Jun 27, 2010
@Sleepership - You are absolutely correct, there IS a direct correlation between CO2 levels and temperature for the past 15 million years, i.e. the data shows that CO2 always TRAILED temperature. That delta appears to be ca. 800 yrs.
1.9 / 5 (9) Jun 27, 2010
When meteorologists are threatened with losing their job, most will toe the line.
"The Weather Channel's most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming."
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 27, 2010
Deatopmg, I'm a little curious as to what you're getting at here. I know you post here reasonably often, and so I'm SURE that someone has told you that climatologists are well aware of this, and they have never argued that carbon dioxide leads ice age temperature in the first place; carbon dioxide levels are considered to be part of a positive feedback effect where the ice ages are concerned, and act to amplify an initial (small) change in temperature brought about by the Milankovitch cycles.

Bearing that in mind...again, what are you getting at? Unless you can show me a situation in the past where temperatures rose dramatically and then stopped rising (for whatever reason) once carbon dioxide began to go up (showing that carbon dioxide really doesn't affect temperature, and that CO2 levels are only an effect of temperature shifts, not a cause), then your argument doesn't seem to hold much water.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 02, 2010
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2010
Ronan: Thanks for trying to add a little science. Let me address your question to Deatopmg. He has heard the fact that CO2 normally follows heating and is a positive feedback mechanism (because I have told him this before). I have also pointed out that it is unique that humans can drive up CO2 prior to heating which then starts the feedback. He has chosen to ignore that and cling to the idea that if CO2 followed warming in the past then it negates the idea of AGW (although I am not sure why he even rationalizes that). He, and a number of other deniers, always come back to this idea of leading versus lagging even though it has been explained to them. My guess is that they are just trying to blow smoke to influence those who don't know the science. He is, obviously, not going to listen to anyone and has his mind made up. He should be referred to as a Troll (for trolling for the uneducated).
1 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2010
carbon dioxide levels are considered to be part of a positive feedback effect

What is the uncertainty associated with this 'effect'?
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 02, 2010
marjon: I think you are asking the wrong question. There are uncertainties associated with every measurement and estimation in every branch of science. In the case of climatology, every measurement and estimation has an uncertainty associated with it. So, the responsible thing for any climate scientist to do is list the uncertainty of each parameter in their parameter space for their study. They then have to statistically combine the uncertainties of each measurement. In that case each paper should have a specific uncertainty for that parameter space. What should happen is we should see uncertainties in each paper. If you don't, then the paper is suspect. What I was pointing out is that there are papers with uncertainties associated with the pages on arctic sea ice. If you want uncertainties for other issues and you can't find them you are not looking at scientific papers, rather the popular literature - which is a bad idea from either side of the issue.
1 / 5 (2) Jul 02, 2010
"The trend expected from CO2 climate forcing is 0.070g �C/decade, where g is the gain due to any feedback. If the underlying trend is due to CO2 then g~1. Models giving values of g greater than 1 would need a negative climate forcing to partially cancel that from CO2. This negative forcing cannot be from aerosols.
These conclusions are contrary to the IPCC [2007] statement: �[M]ost of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.�"
Here is a scientific paper discussing uncertainty.
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 03, 2010
marjon: I read the paper you put up as "an example of determining uncertainty" and it leaves me trying to understand how you could think the paper would be a good example. I must be misinterpreting the point you are trying to make. Are you saying this is a seminal paper that uses applied statistics to debunk the idea of CO2 forcing warming? That was not present at all in the paper at the end of your URL.
1 / 5 (3) Jul 03, 2010
The referenced paper indicates uncertainty in CO2 feedback theory.
Applying GUM to bad data and a bad theory is a waste of time.
5 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2010
"The Weather Channel's most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming."
Most "weathermen" are attractive women with a degree in journalism, not science. Most weathermen don't know jack about climate.

Cue the morons who'll toss out several weather personalities that have science degrees showing exception to the majority rule.