May 18, 2012

CO2 Not to Blame for Southwest Droughts?

Filed under: Floods, Precipitation

In our last WCR, we discussed a series of articles that found that higher resolution climate models—models which include a better representation of the complex terrain features of the Southwest—produce less drought stress on the Southwestern U.S. in their projections of future climate change from greenhouse gas emissions than do coarser resolution general circulation models.

Now comes along a new paper published in Nature magazine by Robert Allen and colleagues which suggests that the drying trend which remains is being caused more by black carbon aerosols and tropospheric ozone than by greenhouse gas emissions.

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June 3, 2010

Leave it to Beavers

In recognition of the recent discovery of the world’s largest beaver dam, we take a look into the activities of past beavers to see what they may be able to tell us about previous climate changes, and we speculate on the impacts that on-going climate changes may be having on the likes and dislikes of current beavers.


World’s largest beaver dam in found in Northern Alberta, Canada.

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April 19, 2010

Amazing Amazon Analysis

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

If you really want to hit a home run with a global warming story, manage to link climate change to the beloved rainforest of the Amazon. The rainforest there is considered by many to be the “lungs of the planet,” the rainforest surely contains a cure for any ailment imaginable, all species in the place are critical to the existence of life on the Earth, and the people of the Amazon are surely the most knowledgeable group on the planet regarding how to care for Mother Earth.

The global warming alarmists have taken full advantage of the Amazon and they are very quick to suggest that the Amazon ecosystem is extremely sensitive to climate change. Furthermore, not only can climate change impact the Amazon, but global climate itself is strongly linked to the state of the Amazon rainforest.

But, as usual, there is more to this story than meets to eye (or, rather, the press).

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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.

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April 24, 2008

Floods and Droughts and Global Cooling?

In nearly every presentation on global warming, we hear that floods and droughts will be more severe as the temperature rises. Believe it or not, and who would not believe it given thousands of websites on the issue, there are many scientists who believe the opposite. We have covered these topics in many previous essays, and a recent article in Quaternary Science Reviews reinforces our skeptical viewpoint.

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December 7, 2007

Sign of the Times

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

In the Wednesday December 5th, 2007 issue of the New York Times appeared a story by Felicity Barringer titled “Precipitation Across U.S. Intensifies Over 50 Years.” In it, Ms. Barringer reports on a new study released by an organization called Environment America that she described as “a national group that advocates new laws and policies to mitigate the effects of climate change.” The focus of the Environment America report was on the results of an analysis they performed examining trends in “extreme” precipitation frequency across the United States (apparently Environment America has spread these results to their arms in individual states, Environment Colorado, Environment California… you get the idea). The research was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. As Ms. Barringer reported, Environment America concluded that “Across the United States, the number of severe rainfalls and heavy snows has grown significantly in the last half-century, with the greatest increases in New England and the Middle Atlantic region” and, of course, that this was just as predicted to occur from global warming. Lest you think that more precipitation is a good thing, Environment America is quick to warn that “An increase in the frequency of storms delivering large amounts of rain or snow does not necessarily mean more water will be available” and that “[w]hile it may seem like a paradox, scientists expect that extreme downpours will be punctuated by longer periods of relative dryness, increasing the risk of drought.”

That the New York Times chose to highlight the Environment America report is interesting for a number of reasons, among them: 1) the report did not appear in the scientific literature (rather it was released by an environmental organization), 2) a day prior to the Times article, a paper was published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature which concluded that “extreme” precipitation was increasing across the United States (but no mention of it was made by Ms. Barringer), and 3) a paper published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature back in 2004, also described increases in “extreme” precipitation events across the United States, but also cautioned that based upon the nature of precipitation, increases in precipitation amounts are virtually always accompanied by apparent increases in “extreme” precipitation events and thus singling out “extreme” precipitation events without discussing overall precipitation trends is alarmist by its very nature. Oh, we forgot to mention, that the two papers in the scientific literature that found increases in extreme precipitation across the U.S. included among their co-authors some folks often deemed industry-funded global warming skeptics (Brommer, Cerveny, Balling, 2007; Michaels, Knappenberger, Frauenfeld, Davis, 2004). Perhaps our papers didn’t warrant coverage in the Times because we failed to include breathless prose about how global warming was to blame, or perhaps because we failed to outline steps that should be taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, or maybe we didn’t time the release of our papers to coincide with a major international meeting on climate change (although one of them was published by chance this week). Or maybe, it was that pointing out that the basic findings by some global warming “skeptics” closely matched that from “concerned” environmental organizations would take all the fun out of vilifying the skeptics, so it was best to simply ignore them to avoid the awkwardness altogether.

A closer look at the Environment America paper clearly shows it to be the inferior of the three papers—at least if scientific significance is the standard by which it is judged. If global warming alarmism is deemed the most important attribute, well, then there is no contest.

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November 13, 2007

Centuries of Yellow River Climate

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

According to 1,000s of websites trumpeting the horrors of global warming, we find countless claims that the ongoing build-up of greenhouse gases is causing droughts and floods all over the world. Hardly a week goes by nowadays without a front page news story about some weather or climate calamity occurring somewhere on the planet, and global warming is repeatedly claimed to be the cause. Turn the radio to NPR for an hour or so, and you will certainly be told how the failure of the United States to sign the Kyoto Protocol has caused some disastrous flood or drought.

Several articles have been published recently allowing us to catch a glimpse of centuries of climate variations in China, and as we have seen in hundreds of other similar studies, nothing all that unusual has been happening lately. The first of these recent articles will soon appear in Climate Dynamics and was written by the team of Shen, Wang, Hao, and Gong of the Atmospheric Sciences Research Center of the State University of New York. They note that “In recent decades, eastern China has suffered increased droughts in its north and increased floods in its south. The studies of climate models suggested that this trend could probably be attributed to the climate effects of black carbon aerosols and human-induced land cover changes”. Holy smokes – black carbon and land use? Shen et al. apparently haven’t been listening to enough NPR for surely drought and floods in China are related to global warming!

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June 18, 2007

Winnipeg River: Better than Ever

Filed under: Droughts, Floods, Precipitation

There is little doubt that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will generally cause the Earth to warm and alter precipitation patterns in various parts of the globe. Changes in precipitation and temperature will thereby impact hydrological systems, and the global warming alarmists love to show images of floods or dried-up streams to make the threat of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect look as bad as possible. Indeed, the global warming scare has deep roots in the drought of 1988 over the southeastern United States that created an anomalous low flow on the Mississippi River (recall headlines about the Mississippi River drying up?). If you have forgotten, the summer of 1988 also gave us the huge wildfires of the West (Yellowstone Park burned in that summer and fall) as well as Hurricane Gilbert, and those images of how global warming will impact us have lived on powerfully ever since.

The literature on how the enhanced greenhouse effect will alter streams and rivers shows us everything from floods to record-breaking low flows, and of course, both will be bad for humans and natural ecosystems. Floods are definitely bad, but in low flow situations, agriculture will be severely impacted, direct human use of water would need to be curtailed, and if the stream provides hydropower, the impacts can be severe in the energy sector.

Canada is a mid-to-high latitude, northern hemispheric land mass where global warming is expected to be far greater than in other parts of the world, and this warming will surely be felt by the streams across their country. An article has appeared in a recent issue of Journal of Hydrology entitled “Streamflow in the Winnipeg River Basin, Canada: Trends, Extremes and Climate Linkages” by Scott St. George of the Geological Survey of Canada and the University of Arizona. The final sentence of the abstract caught our eye as he wrote “the potential threats to water supply faced by the Canadian Prairie provinces over the next few decades will not include decreasing streamflow in the Winnipeg River basin.” We knew immediately that we had a Winnipeg winner on the line! Let the world know that funding for his work was provided by Manitoba Hydro, the Manitoba Geological Survey, the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

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February 26, 2005

A Flood of Dissidence

Pick up any newspaper or tune in to any news program and take a look at the weather report. Nine times out of 10, it’s all about some sort of calamitous weather event (heat wave, cold outbreak, strong winds, lack of precipitation, too much precipitation, no snow, avalanches, etc.). And more often than we would prefer, someone comments that “these are the types of things that we should expect more of because of an increasing greenhouse effect,” with the usual disclaimer “although no one can say for sure whether this one particular event was caused by global warming.”

The association between weather events and climate change is commonly made, despite the lack of evidence to support it. Increasingly, those scientists who don’t blindly rally for The Cause are being cast out of the “mainstream” by the self-appointed membership council.
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