January 29, 2010

Should IPCC Reports Contain a Warning Label?

Filed under: Climate Politics

Should products produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) carry the following warning label:

“The findings of the IPCC reports were developed in advance and furthered by a careful selection from whatever material could be found to support them. In some cases, supporting material was developed or fabricated where none could otherwise be located. As such, these findings may not necessarily reflect the true state of scientific understanding. Use at your own risk.”

See the story at MasterResource.org to find out!

January 27, 2010

Upward Trend in Hurricane Damage in China?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

A recent article has appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society regarding trends in tropical cyclone damages in China. The article was generated by three Chinese scientists from the China Meteorological Administration’s National Climate Center and Nanjing University’s Laboratory of Meteorological Disaster. The authors note that “This research was supported by Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China through the National Science and Technology Support Project and the National Natural Scientific Foundation of China.”

Let’s start with a key figure (Figure 1) in which Zhang et al. reveal an upward trend in damage from tropical cyclones (a.k.a., hurricanes, typhoons) over the 1983 to 2006. They note that “In addition to the heavy economic losses in individual years, the time series shown” “contains an upward trend over the past 24 yr, which is statistically significant at the 95% level. On average, the losses caused by landfalling tropical cyclones in China mainland increased by 1.19 billion yuans each year.” We could see this result spun several different ways. On one hand, we could write about how poor China is being ravaged by hurricanes fueled-up thanks to global warming. On the other hand, we could say, see, China is now the world leader in greenhouse gas emissions, and they are suffering the consequences. As we are about to see, there is a lot more to this story about increasing damages in China.

Figure 1. Estimated direct economic losses caused by landfalling tropical cyclones in billion yuans (thin, inflation adjusted to 2006) and the corresponding 5-yr running mean (thick) (from Zhang et al., 2009).


January 22, 2010

New Hampshire’s Tumbling Icons

Filed under: Climate History

Boy, it seems like it’s been a rough couple of years for New Hampshire, as far as natural wonders go.

First, back in 2003, the rocky outcropping that was known as Old Man of the Mountain—a natural wonder gracing both the state’s license plates, and state’s quarter, came crumbling down.

Now, another one of New Hampshire’s icons has fallen—that of the highest wind gust ever recorded on the surface of the earth. Back in the spring of 1934, at the observing post atop New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington—the tallest mountain in the Presidential Range and one of the most prominent peaks in the eastern U.S.—a howling 231 mph (372 km/hr) wind speed was recorded. That observation has long stood as the answer to the trivia question as to the “official” fastest wind speed ever recorded.

Now, the World Meteorological Organization has just announced that that the non-tornado surface wind speed record has been broken—actually, the WMO announced that the record was broken back in 1996, but it is just now officially recognizing the observation.

Back on April 10 1996, tropical cyclone Olivia passed near Barrow Island, Australia, where a wind gust of 253 mph (408 km/hr) was recorded. The WMO’s panel of “experts in charge of global weather and climate extremes within the WMO Commission for Climatology” has just finished a review of that observation and decided that it was indeed accurate, and thus knocking Mt. Washington’s 1934 observation from the top of the list.

But, New Hampshire can rest assured, because the general weather at Barrow Island, Australia is rather pleasant, and therefore Mt Washington’s claim to be the “Home of World’s Worst Weather” still seems be pretty safe.

January 21, 2010

More or Less Intense Hurricanes?

[see update at bottom of post]

A new article has just been published in the January 22, 2010 issue of Science magazine which finds that there will be a large increase in the frequency of the strongest hurricanes in the Atlantic basin as the climate changes from increasing anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. But a closer look at the results shows that this model-based result is produced by a hurricane model which under-simulates the frequency of strong storms in today’s climate. And that, despite the projected increase in intense hurricanes, the frequency of those storms projected by the model to occur by the end of the 21st century is considerably less than the frequency of intense hurricanes actually observed in the current climate. If the model doesn’t work for the present, why should we trust it for the future?


January 20, 2010

Hydrocycle Looking Better than Ever

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

Of the many pillars that support the alarmist view of global warming is that droughts will increase in many parts of the world. This prediction is fairly straightforward, for if temperatures increase, potential evapotranspiration (ETo) should increase as well. If precipitation stays the same in the future and ETo increases with higher temperatures, the area would see a reduction in soil moisture and a trend toward drought. Of course should precipitation be reduced while ETo rates increase, the trend toward drought could be severe. In the ultimate alarmist view, ETo increase and extreme precipitation increases, and the area would then see an increase in both floods and droughts. We have heard it all before and we have covered these topics in many essays, but the beat goes on and on.


January 14, 2010

Listening to Johnny Chan

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

OK – who is Johnny Chan? Thanks to ESPN stations, many Americans have come to know Johnny Chan as one of the world’s best and most entertaining poker players. He is on television as much as Tiger Woods, still going strong since winning the championship event of the World Series of Poker in 1987 and 1988. Chan has won 10 overall World Series of Poker bracelets thereby tying him for second with the great Doyle Brunson in that category. Chan was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002, and he appeared as himself in the movie Rounders. You might be wondering what Johnny Chan has to do with the climate change debate … well, it depends on which Johnny Chan we are talking about!

One of these men is Johnny Chan the poker expert and the other is Johnny Chan the hurricane expert – can you decide?


January 8, 2010

UPDATE: 2009 Another Normal Year in the U.S.

Filed under: Surface, Temperature History

Back at the end of October, we gave you all a preview of what how the U.S. average annual temperature was shaping up for 2009. At the time we postulated that we were headed for another pretty normal temperature year (on the heels of 2008’s pretty normal temperatures). Now, after the 3rd warmest November on record was followed by the 14th coldest December, the final numbers for 2009 are in and we were pretty much right on the button.

The annual average temperature for the U.S. in 2009 was 53.13°F, just a smidgen above the long-term (1901-2000) average. This now marks two years in a row in which the U.S. annual average temperature has returned back to normal after its recent 10-yr stint in the much above normal category.

Now we await 2010.

It shouldn’t take too much longer before we can come to the determination that the 1998-2007 warm period was more a part of natural variability than a sign of anthropogenic climate change.

Figure 1. U.S. annual average temperature, 1895-2009 (source: National Climatic Data Center)

Is Earth’s Temperature Controlled by the Sun?

Filed under: Climate Forcings, Solar

Nicola Scafetta is an atmospheric scientist with Duke University’s highly regarded Department of Physics, and in a recent article in the Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, he provides an excellent introduction for us stating “Estimating the solar contribution to global mean air surface temperature change is fundamental for evaluating the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. This is regarded as one of the most important issues of our time. While some theoretical climate model studies indicate that the solar variability has little effect on climate (these studies estimate that less than 10% of the global warming observed since 1900 is due to the sun), several empirical studies suggest that large climatic variations are well synchronized with solar variations and, therefore, climate is quite sensitive to solar changes.”

No doubt about it – a considerable debate rages in the climate community about the role of the sun in controlling the temperature of the earth. There are many leading climate scientists who believe that the sun’s impact is negligible while others believe the sun’s control on earth’s temperature is substantial. Both groups publish regularly, and there is no end of empirical and theoretical evidence to support both camps. If you think the debate is over in the world of climate change, look at the literature on solar control of climate, and you will immediately conclude the debate is as lively as ever.


January 4, 2010

Lessons of the Ice

We have all heard over and over that the icecaps are melting, glaciers are retreating, and sea level is rising as ice around the world turns to liquid water. We have covered this topic many times in our essay series, but we revisit the ice issue given two recent and important publications in the science literature.


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