AMS Survey of Weathercasters on Climate Change

| November 15, 2009 @ 11:36 pm | 30 Replies

A survey of weathercasters’ feelings on global warming was published in this month’s edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It had some interesting findings. There were 121 respondents. 94% of the respondents had at least one of the three major seals.

Television meteorologists are the official scientists for most television stations. The overwhelming majority felt comfortable in that role for their stations. The majority agreed that the role of discussing climate change did fall to them.

The eyebrow raising responses:

“Respond to this IPCC conclusion: “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” Only 35% agreed or strongly agreed. 34% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

“Most of the warming since 1950 is likely human induced.” A full 50% disagreed or strongly disagreed. 25% were neutral on this question. Only 8% strongly agreed.

“Global climate models are reliable in their predictions for a warming of the planet.” Only 3% strongly agreed and another 16% agreed. A full 62% disagreed or strongly disagreed.

“Respond to one TV weathercaster’s Quote saying “Global warming is a scam.” Responses were mixed. The largest percentage was neutral, at 26%. A total of 45% disagreed (23%) or strongly disagreed (22%). 19% of the respondents agreed with this statement and 10% strongly agreed.

The amount of uncertainty found in this survey tells that even the most educated and motivated communicators are still uncertain about the truth on this issue. Interesting article.

The entire text can be found at:

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Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site’s official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site’s severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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  1. Matt G. says:

    Nice . . . thanks for posting that because there are an awful lot of people who say that there is just about unanimous consensus on this climate change thing. So thx for posting this info. Very interesting.

  2. Mike Wilhelm says:

    Very interesting! That tells us clearly that a full 75 per cent are either neutral or disagree with the idea that climate change is caused by human activity. That leaves 25 per cent. It’s hard to call 25 per cent “a consensus”! I realize this doesn’t represent all scientists, but it should at least once and for all dispel the “consensus” myth. I also was impressed by the relatively small number who believe the models are credible. Very telling. Thanks for posting.

  3. zaba says:

    To me, a scientist freezes an “O” ring, then removes it & shatters it on a hard surface.

  4. Bill in Vigo says:

    I appreciate this article very much. It represents more food for thought. We
    need to think and make our opinions known to our legislative representatives.

    The more I read about “climate change” the more skeptical I become. Two sites that I would highly recommend are

    wattsupwiththat by Anthony Watts it is a very open forum well moderated and educational. They post positions from both sides of the argument and also the responses from both sides very few are snipped and when they are the reason is given.


    Climateaudit by Steve McIntyre This blog is very statistically oriented and very technical. Be ready to do some deep thinking if you go here.

    I would recommend several other sites but they can be accessed from either of the ones listed above. They provide links to blogs arguing both sides of the issue.


  5. bill capron says:

    Science will rue the day they got on this bandwagon … it will be many years before the stink of it is forgotten. Skeptic used to be synonymous with scientist, but that concept seems to have gone by the boards, and has been replace with scientist as purveyors of the faith, our very own Elmer Gantrys and Jim Bakers.

  6. Anon says:

    Another site for info is

    less technical than the others but just as solid.

  7. Ross says:

    And another site:
    Updated daily, watch for new articles also appearing in the second half of the page, not just at the top.

  8. Michael D Smith says:

    Interesting study, I thought the number of AMS skeptics was even higher, as I’ve never met a meteorologist who thinks CO2 has a major impact at all.

    Bill in Vigo, another good one for the statistically minded is Jeff Id’s ‘the Air Vent’. He’s done some very interesting work with Steig’s Antarctica analysis, and lately has contributed quite a bit to the destruction of the latest hockey stick (Briffa).

    I agree on Climate Depot. Read it for a few days, you’ll find links to some other good science sources, though it also includes the political angle, which is probably the more important one at the moment since the science seems to have been pretty much demolished already, more so by the minute.

  9. DonS says:

    I hope the meteorologists were expressing their considered and informed opinions and not their “feelings”.

    I don’t think the results of this survey express “uncertainty” If the numbers were on the other side of the equation this would be called a consensus for AGW.

    Thanks for doing the survey and publishing it.

    PS: Did you see Al Gore on Conan? Al says that the earth has an internal temperature of 2 million degrees.

  10. Jeff the thinker says:

    I checked out the entire text link. The whole conclusion of the report can be summed up with “Meteorologist simply don’t understand climate that much. The poor souls lets help them learn.” The challenge to that line of thinking is maybe it’s the other way around.

    Most meteorologists know El Nino southern oscillation (ENSO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), cloud topics, and other issues quite well. The IPCC report simply states that these topics are not well understood and we can’t say how much they have or have not contributed. However, when you read the sections in the IPCC report about the attribution of the rise in temperatures you get only attribution to atmospheric gases and a little mention of how the sun had a small hand at the beginning of the century and little to nothing post 1950. A key point is the IPCC and the models attribute the cooling from 1940 to 1976 to aerosols and the warming since to AGHG. There may be a large portion of that cooling and subsequent warming attributed to the very items I pointed out earlier of ENSO, PDO, and Clouds. If that’s the case and no one knows this for sure then it may very well be the case that the AGHG effect is small and the effects that meteorologist know better than climatologist are dominant. It’s interesting that many in the survey write that they get their info from Joseph D’Aleo’s, a site which goes to great length arguing the ocean effect points I just brought up.

  11. Jack says:

    This survey was based on 121 respondents.
    Any idea what percentage of weathercasters in the US this represents?
    The percentage of meteorologists it represents?


  12. Jack: Accurate surveys of election predictions are done with 300 or so people out of 300 million.

    I’m betting there are a lot less than 121 million meteorologists on Earth.

  13. Eric says:

    #12, election surveys use randomly selected participants. This survey used 121 self-selected participants from broadcast meterologists on AMS listserve (about 800), clearly another self-selected group.

    It was not a representative survey of the AMS membership, and was not intended to be, since they limited it’s scope to *broadcast* meteorologists. There is no support for the claim that these opinions reflect those of the 14,000 AMS members.

    Further, there appears to be no way to assess the qualifications of the participants (training and experience) to make informed judgments about climate science. Maybe they used their scientific training to assess the science, or maybe they just like what Glen Beck says.

    Any attempt to portray this as “proof” that there is no scientific consensus is flawed, because these people are not climate scientists. No has suggested there is a consensus in broadcast meteorologists, or that it matters.

  14. Richard S Courtney says:


    You say of 121 meteorologists;
    “Any attempt to portray this as “proof” that there is no scientific consensus is flawed, because these people are not climate scientists. No has suggested there is a consensus in broadcast meteorologists, or that it matters.”

    Oh! So I suppose “it matters” what the opinions are of “climate scientists” such as, e.g.

    Rajendra Pechauri,
    Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who has no qualifications in meteorology or climatology but is a qualified railway engineer and economist.

    James Hansen,
    Head of climate studies for NASA GISS who has no qualifications in meteorology or climatology but is a qualified astronomer.

    Gavin Schmidt,
    Spokesman for James Hansen, NASA GISS and the propoganda blog who has no qualifications in meteorology or climatology but is a qualified computer programmer.


    Get real. The point revealed by the survey is that scientists knowledgeable about the atmosphere are not taken in by the global warming hype. And your excuses for that revelation do not wash.


  15. Eric says:

    Being a broadcast meteorologist does not require you to be a “scientist knowledgeable about the atmosphere”, nor does meteorology require the knowledge to be a climate scientist. Their training is for weather, with far shorter time scales than those of climate research. We can’t determine the qualifications of these 121 self-selected people from the survey results, nor did it attempt to determine those qualifications.

    Your claim that Schmidt and Hansen, two very prominent scientists in the climate science field with many published papers, can’t understand the science as well 121 unknown broadcast meteorologists is ludicrous.

    But, if meteorologists can be trusted, let’s go to the AMS, representing 14,000 members (including those 121 in the survey) which has issued a statement saying, in part:

    “Despite the uncertainties noted above, there is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change”

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