California Snowfall Unchanged Over Past Century

Churchville, VA–California’s southern Sierra snowfall has not changed over the past century, according to John Christy, a native Californian and atmospheric researcher who’s now in charge of the global temperature-measuring satellites. Christy reconstructed snowfall records at Huntington Lake, CA, from 1916—2009. The station’s data since 1972 had been missing, but Christy found two nearby stations had very high correlations with Huntington Lake. That allowed him to assess southern Sierra snowfall over nearly the past century.

The station’s annual snowfall averaged 624 centimeters per year, with a non-significant trend of +0.5 cm per decade. He found similar positive-but-insignificant trends for spring snowfall, annual stream flow, and precipitation. Nor did he find any trend in the published regional temperatures.

Where’s the evidence of man-made global warming?

James Goodridge, then California State Climatologist, published way back in 1992 that California’s big-population counties had a strong warming trend, medium-sized counties had a much slower increase, and rural stations almost no temperature rise at all. Meanwhile, the number of reporting stations has fallen from 6000 in 1970 to 2000 today, with mostly the rural stations dropped.

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Concrete, car exhausts, and air conditioners have all increased over the last 40 years. Thermometers are increasingly at sewage treatment plants that generate their own heat. The problem isn’t so much Los Angeles, which as been a big city for more than 100 years, but the smaller urban regions that have expanded rapidly. How big is the Urban Heat Bias now? Prominent warming skeptic Fred Singer asks whether the earth is warming only at airports.

NASA recently made a critical adjustment in mean temperature record, after famed whistle-blower Steve McIntyre discovered an error. The adjustment lowered temperatures since 2000 by 0.15 degree C per year. NASA told the media that the change was “not significant.” But by that standard, the U.S. warming over the past 77 years hasn’t been “significant” either.

The earth is simply not getting the radical warming forecast 20 years ago by modelers such as NASA’s James Hansen. The earth has had no warming since 1998, and temperatures began actually falling in 2007. The longest sunspot minimum in a century is now forecasting colder weather, and the Pacific–our largest heat sink–has shifted into a 30-year cold phase.
Recently, global temperature-taking has been obfuscated by a strong El Nino that warmed the past 12 months. Now we’re apparently entering a La Nina, which will drop Pacific temperatures below their long-term mean until next year. It may be several years before we can be sure whether a longer-term Pacific cooling phase has resumed.

In the meantime, President Obama is demanding that we immediately take out “climate insurance,” by blocking new power plants and paying fabulous costs for poor-mileage corn ethanol. Harvard says it may take $7-per-gallon gas to meet the president’s goal of cutting transport greenhouse emissions by 14 percent. Britain’s new government has just blocked the new third runway at Heathrow Airport, to stop “binge flying.”

We’ve known for centuries about the Roman Warming, the cold Dark Ages, the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age. Are we now getting man-made warming–or just recovering from the Little Ice Age? John Christy says our climate is still dominated by natural factors. He says clouds are the key factor. He says the evidence shows the planet responding to heat impulses by producing more clouds, which allow more solar heat to warm it up. And vice versa.

Have our “mainstream” scientists blundered toward the government grant money?


J. Christy and J. Hnilo; “Changes in the Snowfall of the Southern Sierra Nevada of California since 1916.” Energy and Environment, Vol. 21; 2010.

DENNIS T. AVERY, a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, is an environmental economist. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to [email protected]

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