December 30, 2008

Lesson of the Lesser Antilles

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Are you tired of winter yet? How about a vacation to some warm tropical island with outstanding golf and scuba (excellent winter sports)? If we suggest the Lesser Antilles (also know as the Caribbees), you might immediately agree; a second later, you might realize the shortcomings of your geography training and wonder where on Earth you are going for this vacation.

As seen in the map below (Figure 1), the “Lesser Antilles” include islands that wrap around the eastern end and southern fringe of the Caribbean Sea. The names of the subgroups include the Leeward Islands in the north, Windward Islands to the south, and the Leeward Antilles north of Venezuela. You will find names like the Netherlands Antilles and the Greater Antilles – you will immediately get the “Antilles willies” trying to figure out what names correspond to the various islands! Columbus arrived in these parts in 1492 and thought he was close to India, and the term “West Indies” was the popular as well. Various European languages still refer to the Caribbean Sea as the “Sea of Antilles.” The origin of the word “Antilles” is still debated with some who believe it is related to “Atlantis” while others think it came from the Latin ante-ilha (i.e. “the island out before” or “the island in front of”). You decide!

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December 11, 2008

Paleostorms of Southern France

Filed under: Climate Extremes

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is well-underway in Europe and environmental groups are lobbying to reinforce every pillar of the greenhouse gas – global warming story. According to their reports, any severe storm any place on the planet can now blamed on global warming. Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms – it just doesn’t matter … they are all caused by global warming and any deaths or damages from these storms is directly related to the consumption of fossil fuels, particularly that obscene consumption in the United States. Of course, they always insist that the debate on any of these subjects is over, and it is now time for action. Even U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the conference participants, “The economic crisis is serious; yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher…The climate crisis affects our potential prosperity and our people’s lives, both now and far into the future…we must recommit ourselves to the urgency of our cause.” Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

Well, before you get carried away and win a Nobel Peace Prize, be alert that we have covered this nonsense many times in the past at World Climate Report, and the scientific literature on the subject continues to provide a stream of evidence countering the claims of the global warming advocates. As we have seen many times before, the claims of increasing storm intensity or frequency are generally inconsistent with the conclusions of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and certainly at odds with dozens of articles published each year in the professional scientific literature.

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November 21, 2008

Hurricane History Lessons

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

Here we go again – hurricane season has come to an end and yet another year has failed to produce the widespread pain and suffering that can reinforce the claim that the buildup of greenhouse gases is the root cause of all the damage. We have covered this topic dozens of times in the past, but the literature on the subject never seems to stop oozing right through the distortion of the greenhouse crusaders. We get tired of writing about this subject over and over and we suspect you see this as another in a very long line of essays on the topic…we feel each other’s pain. The hurricane story should have been destroyed a decade ago, but for whatever reason, the global warmers continue to insist that hurricanes are increasing in frequency, intensity, and/or duration and the blame should sit squarely on carbon dioxide emissions from the United States. If you want more on the subject, visit literally FIVE million websites on the subject!

One of many recent articles on this subject was produced by a pair of prolific scientists with the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University who “acknowledge funding provided by NSF Grant ATM-0346895 and by the Research Foundation of Lexington Insurance Company (a member of the American International Group).” Sounds like “Big Insurance” is involved here, so be aware! Of course, never mind that these guys also secured research dollars from the incredibly competitive National Science Foundation.

Klotzbach and Gray begin by noting “There has been a considerable increase in Atlantic basin tropical cyclone (TC) activity since 1995. Also, the very active seasons of 2004 and 2005 produced record amounts of damage in the United States. This increase in both Atlantic basin activity as a whole as well as U.S. landfalling activity had been anticipated by as early as the late 1980s. Considerable debate has ensued over the past few years as to the causes of this increase.” Once again, we wonder how a major professional scientific outlet like the Journal of Climate can allow anyone to suggest “Considerable debate” continues on anything related to global warming – isn’t the debate over?

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November 3, 2008

Natural or Anthropogenic Effects on Atlantic Hurricanes, Past, Present, Future?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

We have often discussed the observed patterns of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity and what may lie behind them, and we generally have concluded, based upon both our analysis of the data, along with a thorough review of the scientific literature, that identifying a statistically significant and robust human signal in the observed history of Atlantic basin tropical cyclones, whether over the past 100+ years, or in recent decades, is untenable.

We have largely come to this conclusion as the observed increases in hurricane activity in recent decades far exceeds that generally projected by climate models run with observed changes in anthropogenic emissions, and there is ample (and growing) evidence that the Atlantic hurricane record is characterized by multi-decadal oscillations that are tied to multi-decadal oscillations in ocean circulation, atmospheric circulations, and patterns of sea surface temperature variability. That these multi-decadal oscillations can be traced backward in time for at least several centuries, is strong indication that they are a natural part of the earth’s climate system, rather than being primarily driven by human alterations of the earth’s atmosphere.

This conclusion has important implications for the future, as it suggests that as the sign and strength of the natural cycles controlling hurricane behavior wax and wane, so to will the future activity of Atlantic tropical cyclones, both in frequency and intensity. The contrary conclusion—that anthropogenic “global warming” is largely controlling the activity of Atlantic tropical cyclone activity—portends, conversely, an ever stormier future.

While we have tried to present clear evidence that the scientific tide seems to be turning in the direction of a predominately “natural” origin of past, present, and future, Atlantic tropical cyclone variability, there are still many prominent groups, including the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that choose to rely on out-dated findings to support their claims of a significant anthropogenic impact on current and future Atlantic hurricane activity in their current draft versions of climate change summary documents. As public reviewers of these documents, we have continually stressed that their conclusions are ill-founded and out-of-date and must be amended and modified to reflect the current state of scientific knowledge on this topic. We hope that they will choose to do so in when the final versions of these documents are released.

As further support to our contentions concerning the underlying influences on Atlantic tropical cyclone behavior, hurricane researchers Gabriel Vecchi, Kyle Swanson, and Brian Soden published a ‘Perspectives’ piece in this week’s Science magazine which summarizes their view of the subject.

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October 31, 2008

Atlantic SSTs and Saharan Dust (and Hurricanes)

In our last World Climate Report article, we described new findings that verified older findings that the patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) variations in the Atlantic Ocean (including in the tropical Atlantic region which is the birthplace of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes), are largely a reflection of natural variability, with some anthropogenic warming thrown in for good measure.

This time, we report on new research that finds that rather than a large dose of anthropogenic warming, a decline in the amount of dust coming off of the Saharan desert may have collaborated with multidecadal natural oscillations to produce the observed warming trend in Atlantic tropical SST over recent decades. An implication of this finding is to further lessen any impact than human emissions of greenhouse gases may have had on the observed behavior of Atlantic hurricanes, including the recent upturn in activity.

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October 29, 2008

A Further Look into the AMO (and Atlantic Hurricanes)

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

There is a degree of disagreement among climate scientists as to whether or not a phenomenon known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is a true physical mechanism operating in the Atlantic Ocean (e.g., Delworth and Mann, 2000; Knight et al., 2005; Zhang, 2007), or whether it is largely a manifestation of the pattern of the anthropogenic influence on the earth’s climate (Mann and Emanuel, 2006). The subject is of considerable interest in that many researchers have identified other climate phenomenon that seem to be related to the patterns of the AMO—primary among which are the patterns of Atlantic hurricane activity (e.g. Goldenberg et al., 2001). Thus, the source of the AMO likely sheds light on the source of Atlantic hurricane frequency and intensity fluctuations—are they primarily natural in origin, or are they primarily caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols?

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July 15, 2008

Hail No – It Isn’t Happening!

Who could ever forget one of the opening scenes in The Day After Tomorrow when hailstones the size of basketballs were crashing into Tokyo causing death and destruction. Obviously, the greenhouse alarmists cannot wait to claim that severe storms will increase in frequency and intensity in the future, and nothing drives home the point like a city being punished by killer hail stones.

Amazingly, a search of “Global Warming and Hail” produces over one million hits, although some include the word “hail” as a word to “summon” or “call” for some action and have nothing to do with ice falling from the sky. Nonetheless, there is no end of material with titles about Nebraska towns using snowplows in summer to clear hail, crops being damaged by unusual hail events, and on and on. One of our favorites is “Latest Global Warming Worry: Megacryometeors” – use the word “megacryometeors” at the next greenie cocktail party and you will definitely win the award for outstanding global warming vocabulary!

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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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May 29, 2008

Tropical Cyclones Down-Under

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

We have written so much about the link between climate change and hurricanes (a.k.a., tropical cyclones, TCs) that we sometimes wonder if there could be anything new to report. No sooner than we have such a thought, yet another article on the subject appears in some leading scientific journal. A sentence in the abstract from this new article really caught our eye as we read “For the 1981/82 to 2005/06 TC seasons, there are no apparent trends in the total numbers and cyclone days of TCs, nor in numbers and cyclone days of severe TCs with minimum central pressure of 970 hPa or lower.”

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April 14, 2008

The Lack of Recent Hurricane Activity?

Filed under: Climate Extremes, Hurricanes

This hurricane issue never goes away and new websites appear every day warning us of more hurricanes in the immediate future. We cover this issue over and over, and no fewer than three more articles on hurricane activity have appeared in the scientific literature recently of interest to us at World Climate Report:

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