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Cliff Mass: Don’t pin July weather, massive iceberg on climate change

A vast iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie broke off from a key floating ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday. (John Sonntag/NASA via AP)

We haven’t seen measurable rain in the Seattle area for 26 days and one of the largest icebergs ever recorded just broke off in Antarctica. Should we be concerned?

The short answer is no.

University of Washington Climatologist and Professor Cliff Mass says almost an entire month without rain in Seattle and a sheet of ice roughly 2,300 square miles calving in the Antarctic Peninsula is not abnormal.

“This is not a sign of climate change,” he told Seattle’s Morning News. “This has been happening for decades. Chances of the [iceberg] breaking off is perfectly natural.

“You can’t pin this on climate change.”

Sorry blue states, you can’t send angry tweets about this to your climate-change denier friends in red states.

Mass also has a warning for anyone who read the story in New York Magazine about climate change, which details what life will be like when things heat up.

“There are a tremendous number of major technical errors,” he said. “Even climate scientists warn that it is exaggerated.”

Though we might not be at the point of spontaneous combustion if we step outside, Mass admits things are likely to change, even in Cascadia, where we enjoy moderate temperatures throughout most of the year. He says as warming accelerates, we will see less snowpack — skiers may have to say goodbye to some of our mountain resorts.

It could also rain more in the winter if global warming continues. That will likely result in more serious flooding “later in the century.”

Less snow and more water could also be seen as a positive, Mass points out.

As for our current dry spell, Mass says this is typical for western Washington in the summer. That will remain true, even if we break the record of 51 days without rain.

So put away those smartphones and limit the snarky I-told-you-so comments about our current weather, at least until the Arctic sea ice continues to melt at a faster-than-average rate and all the skiers migrate farther north.

Listen to the entire interview here.

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