Friday, July 1, 2011

Extreme weather link 'can no longer be ignored'

Under this headline The Independent, a UK newspaper, carries an article today claiming that scientists are going to end the 20-year reluctance with a study into global warming and exceptional weather events. The Independent's science writer says that this means a "radical departure from a previous equivocal position that many [scientists] now see as increasingly untenable."

So what is the new evidence and who are the scientists who make these claims? The article mentions Peter Stott from the UK Hadley centre and Kevin Trenberth from NCAR. Stott says "We’ve certainly moved beyond the point of saying that we can’t say anything about attributing extreme weather events to climate change... It’s very clear we’re in a changed climate now which means there’s more moisture in the atmosphere and the potential for stronger storms and heavier rainfall is clearly there."
And Trenberth is quoted as saying “We have this extra water vapour lurking around waiting for storms to develop and then there is more moisture as well as heat that is available for these storms [to form]. The models suggest it is going to get drier in the subtropics, wetter in the monsoon trough and wetter at higher latitudes. This is the pattern we're already seeing.”
But the research is still work in progress, it seems. The article points out that a group of researchers has formed a coalition called the Attribution of Climate-Related Events (see their website here) "which is preparing a report on the subject to be published later this year at a meeting of the World Climate Research Programme in Denver. They hope in future to assess each extreme weather phenomenon in terms of its probability of being linked with global warming and then to post the result on the internet."

So the evidence is not in, is it? Well, the Independent, like many in the public, believe it is, as we discussed on a previous post here. Is the link between more extreme weather and AGW becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy?


Anonymous said...

"which is preparing a report on the subject to be published later this year at a meeting of the World Climate Research Programme in Denver. They hope in future to assess each extreme weather phenomenon in terms of its probability of being linked with global warming and then to post the result on the internet."

You must be joking Mr Feynman!


eduardo said...

The problem with such probability estimations is that they all are counter-factual and thus model-dependent.

The only way to see whether or not CO2 has enhanced the probability of occurrence of an extreme event is to compare two worlds: one with CO2 increase and one with no CO2 increase. This can obviously be achieved with simulations

Harry Dale Huffman said...

Trenberth is famous for using easily-broken logic, or should be. His infamous "energy budget" has the Earth's surface emitting more power than is provided by the Sun, the climate's sole power source. This is known (to competent scientists) as a gross violation of the conservation of energy. I would not trust a scientist (and this includes the "97% of all climate scientists" who are said to back the consensus) who cannot even tell when his theory is violating the conservation of energy, as the consensus greenhouse theory does. The hydrological cycle (including storms) is a mere localized overlay on the primary thermodynamics of the atmosphere, which is shown by the global hydrostatic heat structure, the overall temperature distribution, of the atmosphere (see my blog). I am coining a new climate law: "Hydrostatic before hydrologic". I think when climate science is properly done, it will be found that the number and severity of storms, which are LOCALIZED atmospheric events (or hydrological), are independent of the global, background level of water vapor in the atmosphere (hydrostatic). But climate science may not catch up to the revolution it faces, in my lifetime (say within the next 30 years).

NikFromNYC said...

History goes back further than this map allows for! Old newspaper archives to the rescue.

NikFromNYC said...

The LA Times featured cold fusion in '89 before its debunking. Environmentalists were aghast!
“It’s like giving a machine gun to an idiot child.” – Paul Ehrlich (mentor of John Cook of the SkepticalScience blog, author of "Climate Change Denial")
“Clean-burning, non-polluting, hydrogen-using bulldozers still could knock down trees or build housing developments on farmland.” – Paul Ciotti (LA Times)
“It gives some people the false hope that there are no limits to growth and no environmental price to be paid by having unlimited sources of energy.” – Jeremy Rifkin (NY Times)
“Many people assume that cheaper, more abundant energy will mean that mankind is better off, but there is no evidence for that.” – Laura Nader (sister of Ralph)

CLIMATEGATE 101: "For your eyes only...Don't leave stuff lying around on ftp sites - you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone....Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it - thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that." - Phil "Hide The Decline" Jones to Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann

Here I present A Global Warming Digest:


-=NikFromNYC=- Ph.D. in Carbon Chemistry (Columbia/Harvard)

Anonymous said...

It was Trenberth's unjustified claims about links between hurricane activity and global warming that led to Chris Landsea's resignation from the IPCC. His letter of resignation can be found on the web and I recommend reading it if you are not already familiar with it.

Anonymous said...

I am able to swallow many things I read about climate science. Sometimes I thought that a few things were really ridiculous and I tried not to hurt anybody. Maybe that I was wrong sometimes or even most of the time, but these few lines are the most ridiculous thing I ever read about climate or science in general in my very humble layman life and understanding, mit Verlaub.

Cargo cult science imo.

The Joker (Yep)h

Anonymous said...

This is worth watching There is some hope amongst the German youth after all.


Anonymous said...


By linking to that video, may I assume you agree with its content? If so, are you aware that you then call our hosts (and as far as I can judge, all our hosts) liars who are perpetuating a hoax?


Anonymous said...

Bam, my German is not great but English is better. That is why I write in English. I was pointing out that it is good to see some sceptism in German youth. History shows that following authority over the past 100yrs got the German people into problems. Science should be about critical examination of data & theory at all times. Consenus or authority can not apply to anyone who follows ethical practice.
There is no doubt that false information has come out of the IPCC and from so-called scientists connected with the IPCC. Every day from the thermometer in my car I see the UHI effect which shows 1 to 3C higher in the shopping area of the town compared to more rural forested area where I live. Wang & (Phil) Jones in their peer? reviewed paper (acknowledged by the IPCC) lied that UHI was insignificant. The "Hockey Strick" graph is another example of a lie.
Finally, anyone who believes climate changes can be simply explained by an insignificant variable is either lying or is not technically competent and just wants to believe authority.

Hans von Storch said...

Claus, I do not think that anybody would claim that the UHI would be insignificant. It is for the urban area. The question is if stations affected by UHI (Urban Heat Island) would have a significant effect on estimating the global mean temperature. This is a different question.

May I ask you to word your comment in a somewhat more moderated way. Words like "lying" is leading to unwanted aggressive reactions by some, simply because some do not see lies.

Hans von Storch said...

In general I do not find assertions, which are sung, more convincing than when they are expressed in plain speech or writing. Having said so, the assertions of this song are certainly legitimate opinions, but that does not mean that I would accept them.
I personally are convinced that most of the present climate change is caused by human activities - the argument being mostly the "detection and attribution" chain of reasoning (we had discussed this quite a bit here on the Klimazwiebel), representing a mixing of statistical and dynamical arguments.

The present challenge is less so entertaining your co-thinkers (as this song is doing), but to build an exchange with those who have other opinions than one self.

Anonymous said...

Hans, a person by the name of Keenan wrote a peer reviewed paper to say that the paper by Wang and Jones was scientific fraud. He also said the same under oath to an enquiry by the British parliament. Is Scientific faud different from lying? Jones, at CRU, has not been correcting for UHI which now applies to a high proportion of measuring stations (airports in particular) What was the head of the IPCC doing when he said that all scientific papers had been peer reviewed and he knew that many had not been peer reviewed and a high proportion had been supplied or were associated with biased "green" organisations such as Greenpeace, and WWF? Note the glacier debacle.
I repeat that factors affecting climate are very complex. Electrical and Magnetic fields, the sun's activity, changes in cloud density and distribution, volcanic activity, cycles of the planets (the moon affects tides)are just some of the factors affecting climate. What can one call those who persist in focusing on one single (small or insignificant) variable (as shown by the late E-G Beck) CO2 which in fact lags temperature (daily, seasonally, 50 yr cycles and 10,000yr cycles)? Technically incompetent?

Hans von Storch said...

I do not know the paper by Keenan, but there are many papers and many opinions. I would guess that Keenan claimed that Jones et al. made an error, not that they deliberately tried to cheat. Maybe you can give me the bibliographic detail?

We had the other day an independent analysis by a group of people from Standford (?), who approached the issue from a rather skeptical point of view and found that the Jones et al-result (as well as those by other groups) was consistent with their new analysis.

I do not find it helpful if you blend different lines of inquiry, such as Pachauri's failure to deal with the false claim of the Himalaya and its insufficient scientific backing, Jones' (and other groups') reconstruction of temperature from thermometer data, or, if you wish, the overconfident and methodically questionable hockeystick assertion.

In general, I would agree with you, that we have to look at many details, when dealing with the question, if there is an ongoing warming, and what the most plausible cause may be. But this applies to all lines of reasoning, not only to your pet opponent explanation.

At the present time, explaining the pattern of warming (and related changes) is done consistently with elevated GHG concentrations. If other causes are operating - which I would not find impossible - a similar level of consistency should be demonstrated, and not merely claimed. The level of scrutiny, which we apply for the CO2 hypothesis, must also be applied for any other suggested mechanism.

If somebody claims that somebody would have lied, it is no proof that this person really did. If we want to build some reconciliation one should be careful with such accusations, and instead assume honesty - albeit different world-views - on all sides. There are bad apples on both sides, to be sure.

Freddy Schenk said...

The only way to see whether or not CO2 has enhanced the probability of occurrence of an extreme event is to compare two worlds: one with CO2 increase and one with no CO2 increase. This can obviously be achieved with simulations

... and for the future - please with no further questions - simulations look like this as presented from GDV (insurance assoc.) and PIK:

Talk by Prof. Gerstengabe from PIK given for GDV

This statements are quite interesting about winter storms:

Verkürzung der Wiederkehrperioden: Aus einem 50-jährlichen Ereignis kann künftig
ein 10-jährliches Ereignis werden

(Shortened return-periods: 50a event might become a 10a event)

Intensivierung einzelner außergewöhnlich heftiger Stürme bei sonst nicht wesentlich
verändertem Schadengeschehen

(More intense singular storm events with otherwise no considerable change of damages)

Sturmschäden könnten bis 2100 um über 50% zunehmen

(storm damages might increase > 50% till 2100)

Somehow, I'm a bit irritated how these arguments based on scenario A1B fit together? This figure is remarkable:

Winter Storms 2070-2100

Concerning floods of Elbe you can study the years and hight of the floods at my home town:

Floods in Lauenburg

Anonymous said...

Prof. von Storch, I think Claus is referring to Douglas Keenan's article in Energy & Environment, which accuses Wei-Chyung Wang of fraud. Wang's university has dismissed the case.

Keenan's original article is here:


Anonymous said...

Claus, I think the reference to the situation leading to WW2 is quite inappropriate, but since you seem to like it: the music video you linked to hints very strongly at a worldwide conspiracy of scientists. Do you perhaps see any analogy there to the pre-WW2 situation in which there (according to many) was a worldwide jewish conspiracy against non-jews? A belief that was aptly used by the nazis to gain power.

I personally consider it quite disturbing that some people actually believe thousands and thousands of scientists are willfully hoaxing the general populace.


Anonymous said...

Prof. von Storch: I assume you are referring to the BEST analysis? This comes from Berkeley:


Werner Krauss said...

I hope that it's not true what this new study says. I don't like the idea that weather events will be more extreme.

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks for pointing our the Keenan-paper - indeed this journal is usually not considered being a peer-review journal. On the other hand, university reviews have turned out to be inefficient in the past - I would wonder if the University had given the accuser a chance for presenting his case. This was a major - easily avoidable- limitation of the various university investigations during ClimateGate. Only the Interacademy Council (IAC) did it well - and arrived at a critical conclusion.

"IPCC, thousands and thousands of scientists" is certainly not the right description. Maybe in total there mere be thousand, maybe two thousand scientist who have actively contributed. But if you go to he individual chapters, subsections and subsubsections, you will see the number becomes very small, very very small (I was a lead author of WG I/TAR and I am now a lead author of WG II/AR5).

The Himalaya claim was clearly of that sort,and the answers of Dr. Pachauri in the interview were entirely inadequate - at least as he seemed to rely on material, which had not undergone the strict quality standards he is asking for.

Anonymous said...

Prof. von Storch, I did not state the IPCC consisted of thousands and thousands of scientists...


Freddy Schenk said...

Werner Krauss said...
I hope that it's not true what this new study says. I don't like the idea that weather events will be more extreme.

Do you trust this study where Prof. Gerstengabe from PIK (a scientist) shows slides with the logo of an insurance assoc. with interest in natural disasters / damages?

Or would you have more trust if this study would only show the logo of PIK and not that of an insurance? Or would you have more confidence in the results if e.g. Hans would give this talk and not somebody from PIK? Questions over questions to me...

The nice thing whith this slides is that there are no uncertainties. So the message is clear and you have to accept it. And you have to pay more for your insurance. You have also to accept this. It is scientifically proven.

Werner Krauss said...

@Freddy #22
You know, this begging for trust reminds me of fairy tales, where evil witches or magicians with false friendless try to convince children to follow know what I mean.

Freddy Schenk said...

I used "trust" here because you used "hope". If one has limited knowledge and/or limited access to all the details of a presentation like this, confidence matters, or don't you think so?

On the one hand, it appears to be reasonable that climate scientists and experts from insurances (with their data base about damages etc.) put their knowledge, methods and data together. But on the other hand: If you consider how insurance business works = fear and trust.

If you combine fear and trust with scientific evidence of more extremes in the future it fits perfectly.

greg said...

as a long time follower of r pielke sr's blog, I always wonder how people in these studies separate human-induced co2 related from human-induced non co2 related effects on "weather events". (particularly looking at the map above, where e.g. brazil is highlighted: a vast area of brazil has experienced land use cover changes during the last decades!)
if those scientists would admit, how far from understanding reality they really are, they would at least re-gain some credibility.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

Greg -25

Good point and strange that Trenberth et al seem to insist that separating the two is an important task.

Why do they think in this way? One possible explanation is that they assume more drama = more politcal action. Hence the narrow focus on the attribution issue and not so much on what we could or should do.

The other explanation is that this will keep them in business. If we were all talking about policy options these attribution exercises would be pointless, politically speaking. They might still be of academic interest but more and more difficult given the resource intensity of climate modelling.

Does any important player at the international level quote the attribution uncertainty as justification for inaction? Would China and the US sign up to global climate treaty as a result of such attribution studies?

My feeling is that we see a rearguard battle. But even if this was successful, what better result than a Copenhagen moment could follow from this?

Anonymous said...

If there was a significant rise in any weather pattern we would have to compare model predictions to reality.

Later on we could try make general statements of the kind "Storms of class 5 will rise by 7.8 percent until 2100." But! What the hell does that tell us about one special storm of that kind happening in 2011?

The great climate oracle says "This storm is anthropogenic by 0.1264446345 percent, BUT UNTIL 2100 WE WILL HAVE MANY MORE OF THESE".

This is just ridiculous imo. Not even a major hurricane can be linked to anthropogenic climate change. All we can say is that UNTIL 2100 blah-blah-blah.

That is exactly what we had to read from Latif and Rahmstorf about hot summers, cold winters, the Elbe an the holy Skt Nikolaus.

If a piece of rock falls from the Matterhorn we can say that it is probably linked to global warming. But rocks fell from the Matterhorn for thousands of years.

What we are not told are the deaths and costs of the cold winter 2010-11. Global warming could have prevented them. What are the odds? Statistics, ok, models, ok, but holy Jesus what do they want to sell us now?


Freddy Schenk said...

@Yeph #27

What we are not told are the deaths and costs of the cold winter 2010-11. Global warming could have prevented them.

Sorry, but also here you can blame global warming making winters colder...

An abrupt transition between different regimes of the atmospheric circulation in the subpolar and polar regions may be very likely. Warming of the air over the Barents-Kara Sea seems to bring cold winter winds to Europe.

Global Warming Could Cause Cooler Winters in the North


all based on 1.Vladimir Petoukhov, Vladimir A. Semenov

Anonymous said...

@Freddy Schenk

Ok, I surrender ;-)


PS from David Gilmour:

"You can scream and shout with all your might
Dig in your heels and hold on tight
Either you are wrong or I am right

You speak the lines you've overheard
The ring of truth in every word
You know you're right and that's absurd

We really seem to have a problem here
But it is you or me
Whatever I have going through my mind
You always have to disagree
It's just a matter of opinions
It's not a simple fact
Why don't you try to see the other side
Don't turn your back

Now we survey this silent battleground
Recriminations all around
And still no compromise is found

Now we really have a problem
And it won't just disappear
And all the friends we thought we could rely on
Just want to whisper in my ear

"It's just a matter of opinions
You know you keep both in sight
Why should you bother with the other side
When you know yours is right.""