June 26, 2008

Let’s Revisit Katrina, Again

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Are we ever going to put Katrina to bed? We have covered no end of articles clearly showing that hurricane activity is not increasing and likely will not increase in frequency or intensity due to the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases. Virtually every prominent scientist involved in hurricane research agrees that it is brutally unfair to blame any one event on global warming, and yet to this day, almost every global warming presenter hints around that we caused Katrina, or at least we substantially added to its strength. As time passes, you would think this storyline would die. However, the recent tragedy in Myanmar associated with Cyclone Nargis left tens of thousands dead and reinvigorated the “global warming equals bigger hurricane” crusade.

Incredibly, more than a million websites come up for a search of Myanmar and Katrina! Countless titles appear such as “Cyclone’s path through Myanmar resembled Katrina’s wrath” or “Myanmar cyclone, Katrina, People in Glass Houses” or “ABC Calls Myanmar Cyclone ‘Asia’s Katrina’” or “Are devastating storms like Hurricane Katrina and Myanmar Cyclone a sure sign of global warming?” Throw in some pictures of Al Gore, and the connection is made loud and clear between global warming and hurricanes all over the world.

Yet another article has appeared in a major journal (Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems) entitled “Tropical cyclone variations in Louisiana, U.S.A., since the late eighteenth century.” The work was done by Cary Mock of the University of South Carolina and the research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Mock notes that “the current Atlantic Basin record is too short to encompass the full range of temporal variability needed to calculate accurate probabilities and recurrence intervals essential for long-range hurricane prediction and hazard assessment. A longer temporal perspective of hurricane activity would be quite reassuring, particularly since the characteristics of climatic forcing mechanisms of the previous centuries, as well as the last few decades, are different, and because increased coastal development and population is likely to continue in conjunction with anticipated future climate change.” We doubt anyone would argue that longer term records of hurricane activity would be very useful at this point.

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June 20, 2008

Finnish Finish “Global” Warming

An international conference was recently held in Zakopane, Poland hosted by the Department of Quaternary Paleogeography and Paleoecology at the University of Silesia and the Institute of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Wroclaw. The meeting also served as the Annual Conference of the Association for Tree-Ring Research. Over 100 scientists gave presentations at the meeting, most were from Europe, although one presenter was from Penn State University and two others from the University of Missouri made the trip to present their research in Poland. The Association for Tree-Ring Research is a credible organization with no agenda that we know of regarding the global warming issue.

One presentation there was entitled “Climate variation (cycles and trends) and climate predicting from tree-rings”, and normally, we would be reluctant to feature conference presentations at World Climate Report. However, the work is an update of what the lead author recently published in The Holocene, the work is currently under review at an undisclosed scientific journal, and the authors have a history of publications in outstanding journals.

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June 16, 2008

The Virginia Climate Change Commission and the Mirage of Low Hanging Fruit

Filed under: Climate Politics

The Virginia Commission on Climate Change has been tasked by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine with coming up with Climate Action Plan to reduce Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by the year 2025. As it turns out, this will prove much tougher than it first seems.

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June 4, 2008

The Sanctity of Climate Models

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Reading between the lines of the new Thompson et al. Nature paper suggests that once they get the details worked out, the “updated” observed global temperature history is going to fit climate model hindcasts even better than it does now, and embolden confidence in their future projections.

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