Blaiming Hurricanes on Global Warming Denies the Facts

James Piereson writes at New Criterion An overblown hypothesis. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

We are well into hurricane season with a dangerous storm lurking off the coast of Florida and now poised to make a run up the east coast of the United States. As happens every year at this time, the appearance of hurricanes provokes speculation about the role of climate change in the formation of these destructive storms.

Climate change theorists assert that warming ocean temperatures are increasing the number and strength of hurricanes that form and make landfall in the United States. As David Leonhardt writes this week in the New York Times, “The frequency of severe hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has roughly doubled over the last two decades, and climate change appears to be the reason.” He cites some statistics to support this conclusion, though his review of the facts is far from thorough.

As he notes, the underlying science holds that hurricanes develop in warm ocean waters in late summer, so that over time rising ocean temperatures will generate rising numbers of hurricanes, and stronger ones as well. According to scientists, average ocean temperatures have increased by about one degree Fahrenheit over the past one hundred to a hundred and fifty years, a finding that provides a foundation for the “hurricane hypothesis.” Thus, we hear the refrain that global warming is causing more storms with higher wind speeds, and that these storms last longer, are more destructive, and make landfall more often than in the past.

It is a plausible hypothesis and, unlike many claims in this area, is capable of being tested against the facts. The evidence for it turns out to be quite thin—at least in relation to the certainty with which it is usually expressed.

Looking at the historical data, one does not find a startling increase in hurricane activity in recent decades, and only modest evidence to suggest that hurricanes in the Atlantic basin are increasing either in number or severity.

The National Hurricane Center, a division of the National Weather Service, has compiled reliable information on hurricanes going back to the middle of the nineteenth century—though the information the nhc collects has grown much more reliable in recent decades with the development of satellite imagery and ever-more sensitive instruments with which to measure the strength and windspeeds of hurricanes. There is no shortage of information to test the claims about increasing hurricane activity.

1. Are hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean increasing in frequency with the passage of time?

The modern era of hurricane tracking and measurement got underway about 1950. From 1950 through 2018, the Hurricane Research Division (HRD) tells us that on average 6.3 named hurricanes formed per year, with a high of fifteen storms in 2005 (the year of Katrina) and a low of two in 1982 and 2013. A named hurricane is one strong enough to be classified between 1 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane scale. Again, these are storms that formed in the Atlantic, but not all of them made landfall. Broken down decade by decade, the averages look like this:

1950-59: 6.9 per year
1960-69: 6.1 per year
1970-79: 5.0 per year
1980-89: 5.2 per year
1990-99: 6.4 per year
2000-09: 7.4 per year
2010-18: 7.0 per year

Conclusion: There has been a modest increase in the number of hurricanes formed per year since 2000, but these rates are not significantly higher than the long-term average and are very close to the rates experienced in the 1950s.

2. Are more hurricanes making landfall in the United States with the passage of time?

The HRD maintains an accurate list of hurricanes making landfall in the United States going back to 1851 and running through 2018. On average over this hundred-seventy-year period, between one and two hurricanes made landfall per year in the United States. The busiest years for hurricanes since 1950 were 1985, 2004, and 2005, as six named storms made landfall in each of these years. The busiest decade going back to 1850 was the 1940s, when twenty-six hurricanes made landfall; more recently, the busiest decade was between 2000 and 2009, when nineteen hurricanes made landfall.

Average by decade, 1950 to 2018: 15
Average by decade, 1990-2018: 15
Average by decade, 1950-1989: 15

Conclusion: There has been no long-term increase in the number of named hurricanes making landfall in the United States.

3, Are Atlantic hurricanes growing more powerful with the passage of time?

Over the hundred-seventy-year period, just four Category 5 hurricanes (the most powerful of all storms) have made landfall in the United States: The Labor Day hurricane that hit the Florida Keys in 1935; Hurricane Camille, which hit the Gulf coast in 1969; Hurricane Andrew, which hit south Florida in 1992; and Hurricane Michael, which hit Florida and Georgia in 2018. These events appear unrelated to changes in ocean temperatures.

The two most destructive storms to hit the USA occurred in 1900 (Galvaston) and 1926 (Miami), long before the era of rising ocean temperatures.

From 1950 to 2018, an average of 2.7 major hurricanes have formed per year in the Atlantic basin, with highs of eight major hurricanes in 1950 and seven in 2005. There were several years in the period, most recently in 2013 and 1994, when there were no major hurricanes in the Atlantic. (The HRD defines a major hurricane as a storm classified as 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.)

A total of twelve Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have made landfall in the United States since 1950, following no particular historical pattern or trend.

Conclusion: There has been a slight increase in the frequency of powerful hurricanes since 1990, but mostly in relation to the numbers of such storms from 1970 to 1989, a quiet period for hurricane formation. The frequency of powerful hurricanes from 2000 to 2018 (3.3 per year) mirrors the rates experienced from 1950 to 1969 (also 3.3 per year). Moreover, there is no pattern or trend in the frequency of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes making landfall over the 1950-2018 period.

How, then, in view of these data, should we assess the claims that Atlantic hurricanes are increasing in numbers and strength in recent decades in response to rising atmospheric and ocean temperatures, and are also making landfall at increasing rates?

There has been a modest increase in the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes in recent decades along with a slight increase in their strength from year to year, but no increase in the number of hurricanes making landfall in the United States and no increase since 1950 in the number of the most powerful hurricanes (Category 4 and 5 storms) to hit the U.S. mainland. Moreover, any trend that we find in the frequency and strength of hurricanes in the past few decades is mostly washed out when we compare those rates to the ones experienced in the 1950s and 1960s. This suggests that the frequency and strength, though perhaps increasing of late, are but loosely related to recent measured increases in Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

Climate Out of Control

Coors Baseball Field, Denver, Colorado, April 29, 2019

Frank Miele writes at Real Clear Politics Climate Is Unpredictable, Weather You Like It or Not!
Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

They say all politics is local; so is all weather.

So on behalf of my fellow Westerners, I have to ask: What’s up with all this cold weather? It may not be a crisis yet, but in the two weeks leading up to Memorial Day — the traditional start of summer activities — much of the country has been donning sweaters and turning up the heat.

I know, I know. Weather is not climate, and you can’t generalize from anecdotal evidence of localized weather conditions to a unified theory of thermal dynamics, but isn’t that exactly what the climate alarmists have done, on a larger scale, for the past 25 years?

Getting Coors Field ready for Colorado Rockies to play baseball.

Haven’t we been brainwashed by political scientists (oops! I mean climate scientists!) to believe that the Earth is on the verge of turning into “Venus: The Sequel.” You know, catastrophic overheating from greenhouse gases, rising oceans, death and mayhem — oh, yeah, and the world ending in 12 years if we don’t ban carbon or something.

But despite the best fake climate data and the scariest computer simulations, Mother Nature doesn’t seem to be cooperating with the global-warming scare scenario. Sure, there is warm weather in other parts of the country, but here in Montana we have been desperately seeking spring. Instead of enjoying our beautiful outdoors, we are stuck in perennial chill mode, shivering under our blankets and wondering if it will snow in late May.

Cars pile up in the snow, Denver, May 21, 2019

In Denver, they didn’t have to wonder. Last Tuesday that area got more than three inches of the white stuff, the most at this late date since 1975. They also matched the record low of 31 degrees. Snow also hit Minnesota, Arizona and California. Yosemite had as much as two feet of snow fall.

Should we start to panic? Roll out computer models to explain why our tootsie toes are turning blue? Maybe we could get rich by promoting the end of the world — even if it’s by ice instead of fire. But let’s face it, intelligent people already know that climate changes on a regular basis and that mankind deals with it just as other species do — by adapting. Technically, we are currently between ice ages, so if it gets a little cold, here’s some advice — get used to it! And if it gets a little warmer? Be grateful! Ice ages are much more deadly than any old heat wave.

Fact of the matter is that for the past few years, real scientists have been warning us that sunspot activity is currently at an unusually low level. In February, there was not even one sunspot recorded, and history tells us that fewer sunspots means colder weather. That’s why current predictions call for cooling weather for the next 20-30 years till the sunspot cycle ticks upward again.

OK, the climate terrorists tell us, you may be right about the next 30 years but that doesn’t mean global warming won’t resume a few years after that. Well, no, but what they won’t tell you is that during the period of increased warming in the late 20th century, sunspot activity was at an 8,000-year high. That was the conclusion of a study in 2004 led by Sami Solanki of the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

So let me get this straight. When sunspot activity is at millennially high levels, Earth gets warmer. When sunspot activity drops to negligible levels, Earth gets cooler. Sounds like a pattern, doesn’t it? In fact, it sounds like something that would interest real scientists.

So why don’t climate scientists just admit that humans don’t control climate, and get on with the business of recording data and analyzing it? That’s easy to explain. Because you can’t mandate massive changes in human behavior if the sun dictates terrestrial temperature variations. The sun doesn’t care what Democratic propagandists say, and all the carbon in the world won’t put one little ol’ sunspot on the surface of our nearest star, so you can expect the sun to be dismissed as irrelevant. Carbon is king.

After all, who ya gonna believe? Al Gore or your own lying thermometer?

 

2019 Springtime in America: No Collusion, No Warming

Brian C. Joondeph writes at American Thinker Global Warming Going the way of Russia Collusion Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The last thing we expect mid-spring is snow. Yet that’s just what we have. As the Weather Channel reports, “It may be late April, but Winter Storm Xyler will make you forget that it is spring in the Midwest this weekend as it is expected to bring some unusually heavy late season snowfall.”

Snow is heading to New York as well, despite the state’s all-out effort to combat global warming by attempting to ban plastic straws and now hot dogs. From the New York Post, “Upstate NY may get up to 3 inches of snow this weekend.”

Across the country in Denver, the weather won’t be much different, as The Denver Channel reports, “Mild through the weekend, cold, rain and snow next week!” What’s going on? I thought the planet was heating up, with melting icecaps, rising sea levels, and less than 12 years before the earth burns to a crisp?

We have been hearing this song and dance for several decades now. The global warming chicken littles keep telling us that snow is a thing of the past and we had better get used to it, along with a warming planet.

In 2000, British newspaper The Independent ran this headline, “Snowfalls are just a thing of the past.” In 2014, The New York Times ran a sequel headline, “The end of snow?”

Yet here we are, at the end of April, planting our gardens and facing snow in much of the country. If this is evidence of global warming, then Bernie Sanders’s popularity is evidence that the Democrat Party has shifted to the right. Good luck selling that.

One important factor always neglected by the climate warriors is the Sun, a ball of fire a million times larger than the Earth, the source of life on Earth, as well as destruction if the fires ever were extinguished, or expanded. If we were a few million miles closer to or further from the Sun, life on Earth would cease to exist. Just look at Venus and Mars, neighboring planets either too hot or too cold, respectively, for life as we know it.

Even the Earth’s tilt toward or away from the Sun is enough to cause our seasons, with large temperature variations and the difference between food production or not. Yet climate warriors ignore the Sun, instead focusing on human activity, driving SUV’s, flying in airplanes, and running our air conditioners.

Sunspots, according to the National Weather Service, “Are areas where the magnetic field is about 2,500 times stronger than Earth’s, much higher than anywhere else on the Sun.” Sunspots are quite large, about the size of the Earth, and are several thousand degrees cooler than the surrounding Sun surface.

Sunspots lead to solar flares, surface explosions which “release as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT.” These flares emit x-rays and magnetic fields which blast the Earth as geomagnetic storms, disrupting power grids and satellites, and warming the Earth.

Sunspots are not random but instead follow an 11-year cycle, from a minimum to a maximum. Sometimes the cycles last longer, for unknown reasons, with a 70-year period of near zero sunspot activity from 1645 to 1715, called the Maunder Minimum, or Little Ice Age. Enough of science class, how is this relevant now?

As reported by the Express, we are now entering one of these 11 year cycles as the Sun enters a solar minimum. As they report,

During a solar maximum, the Sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in magnetic waves.

Fewer magnetic waves equates to the Sun being slightly cooler, and experts are expecting the solar minimum to deepen even further before it gets warmer.

With less magnetic waves coming from the Sun, cosmic rays find it easier to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and are more noticeable to scientists.

While cosmic rays have little effect on our planet, one of the reasons scientists monitor them is to see when the Sun has entered a solar minimum.

Now, with cosmic rays at an all-time high, scientists know the Sun is about to enter a prolonged cooling period.

The bottom line is that decreasing sunspot activity translates to a cooling planet, contrary to the doomsday non-scientific pronouncements of Al Gore and Alexandria Occasional-Cortex. Sunspot activity typically follows an 11-year cycle, but as noted above, there may be other perhaps longer cycles as occurred in the 1600s leading to a 70-year mini ice age.

Then there are even longer climatic cycles, with real ice ages occurring every 100,000 years. These glaciations end with a 10,000 year inter-glacial warming period, the current such warming period soon ending, as distinguished scientist S. Fred Singer wrote in American Thinker.

Clearly there are factors at play in climate cycles that we barely understand and certainly cannot control. Some play out in shorter time spans, which we as humans can observe directly. Others are on a far longer and grander scale than human existence, much less our individual life spans, which are merely the blink of an eye by comparison.

Aside from solar activity and sunspots, there are volcanic eruptions emitting more greenhouse gas per eruption than years of worldwide human activity. What other forces are at play? That’s for scientists to discover. Our solar system is a mere speck in the Milky Way Galaxy, which is another speck in the vast universe.

It’s the ultimate in hubris to believe climate revolves solely around human activity. Yet politicians, rather admitting the obvious, that we don’t know far more than we do know, blame an ever-changing climate on everything from flatulent cows to processed meats.

Much like the Russian collusion hoax, the left creates a narrative to fit their agenda, putting conclusions before research and discovery. Instead they would be better served by applying the scientific method of observing, formulating a hypothesis, testing it against observations, modifying and refining the hypothesis, until after extensive testing it accurately predicts future events.

Otherwise it’s just more blather and fear mongering, just as we heard for over two years with Russian collusion fantasies that turned out to be nothing. Just as late April snow, in the eyes of the left, is further evidence of a warming planet.

See The Warmist Who Came in from the Cold

See also The cosmoclimatology theory

 

The Warmist Who Came in from the Cold

Deroy Murdock writes in The American Spectator This Opinion Just In… Baby It’s Cold Outside Excerpts in italics with my bolds and images.

I might be slightly less hostile to the Green New Deal, had I not walked home the other Sunday in a hail storm. Even before the BB-sized bits of ice came shooting down from the heavens that morning, this winter has been brutal, from Gotham to the Golden Gate.

Our Lady of Perpetual Limelight, Saint Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, demands that America battle so-called “deadly, manmade global warming” as if it were Nazi Germany. Ten-year cost: $93 trillion. But this supposed threat somehow seems less menacing than Adolf Hitler and the Wehrmacht.

A cyclist rides through the falling snow in the Financial District, January 30th, 2019, in New York City (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Any given winter does not equal “climate.” Still, if mounting concentrations of carbon dioxide are the broth in which we homo sapiens are poaching ourselves like so many salmon cutlets, then we should not be enduring the entirely contrary scenarios that have unfolded so vividly from coast to coast:

A “bomb cyclone” last week slammed the Rockies and Midwest with hurricane-speed winds and abundant snowfall. As 97-MPH gusts struck Colorado Springs, marooned passengers huddled in horror inside a shuttered Denver International Airport.

• At this point in 2017, Lake Superior was just 7.3 percent covered in ice; 2018’s figure: 49 percent. Lake Superior was 94 percent iced over on March 8. This was the first time in four years that the largest Great Lake’s ice coverage exceeded 90 percent, the Detroit Free Press reported. Not so far away, Lake Erie was 20 percent ice a year ago. Today: 94.1 percent. Overall, the Great Lakes have gone from 27.8 percent ice in 2018 to 74.6 percent in 2019.

Ice builds up along the shore of Lake Michigan as temperatures dipped to lows around -20 degrees on January 31st, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools closed, Amtrak suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights were canceled, and mail delivery was suspended as the city coped with record-setting low temperatures. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Lake Erie recently experienced a sort of frozen tsunami, as huge chunks of wind-blown ice washed onto the shore at Hamburg,New York. Footage of this phenomenon is fascinating and terrifying, especially as the solid water violates homes, marinas, and other structures in and around the lake.

• Several polar vortexes pumped Arctic air into the Midwest and parked it there for days. This drove air temperatures to 22 degrees below zero in Chicago and minus-28 Fahrenheit in Minneapolis on January 30.

Snow hit Las Vegas on February 17 and 19, with some 5.5 inches of the white stuff fluffing the peaks of Sin City’s western suburbs. Some 100 flights were canceled at McCarran Airport on only the second day in two decades that it received measurable snow.

Drew Johnson, a transplant from Tennessee to Vegas’s western hills, told me: “I moved to Las Vegas specifically to avoid long, dark, cold winters with snow and freezing temperatures. I thought global warming was supposed to mean shorter, warmer winters. Man, have I been ripped off. Instead, we’re getting regular snowstorms in Vegas.” He blames, in part, his former neighbor in Nashville. “It’s tough to take the Al Gores of the world seriously when schools are closed for snow in Las Vegas, and kids are sledding and building snowmen.”

The State of California has been more white than golden lately. “For the first time in at least 132 years, the temperature didn’t hit 70 degrees in downtown Los Angeles in February,” the Wall Street Journal editorialized on March 4. “Snow powdered the hills of West Hollywood and Malibu,” the Journal added. Last month, downtown Los Angeles saw snow for the first time since January 1962. Santa Barbara Airport logged its all-time record low of 33 degrees.

USPS Suspended Service in 11 States Due to Record Low Temperatures.

• The Sierra Nevadas repeatedly have seen avalanches swamp mountain roads. Last year’s early-March snowpack was just 19 percent of normal levels. On Tuesday, the Central Sierra snowpack reached 164 percent of normal.

“Open for skiing through July 7,” Lake Tahoe’s Squaw Valley USA/Alpine Meadows resort announced last week, after February became its snowiest month on record. “Thanks to nearly 600” [50 feet] of snowfall, we are once again going to have Tahoe’s longest spring season. In fact, we’ll be skiing right into July this year. Make your spring and summer skiing plans today.”

Summer skiing? How, exactly, does so-called “global warming” trigger summer skiing?

Temperature gauges aboard space-based satellites have recorded average global temperatures on Earth that peaked in 1997 and then slid or flat-lined from there. A quick, El Niño warming spike broke this “pause” in 2015-2016, followed by declining average readings. This virtual absence of observed warming led Greenpeace’s Steven Guilbeault to explain: “Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that’s what we’re dealing with.”

Perhaps suspecting that such authentic frontier gibberish was not — as the Greens say — sustainable, the government-control-hungry Left ditched their “global warming!” battle cry and instead screamed, “Climate change! Climate CHANGE! CLIMATE CHANGE!” This nebulous phrase is magically self-confirming. The absence of global warming disproves global warming. However, the absence of climate change is nothing that should worry the alarmists since the climate always changes. It has done so since the dinosaurs ran this place. So, warming equals climate change. Cooling equals climate change. Droughts equal climate change. Floods equal climate change.

How convenient!

Meanwhile, the giant, deadly Camp Fire that killed some 86 people in and around Paradise, California, last fall “proved” that so-called “global warming” is fueling fatal fires in the West. Um, well, except that downed power lines ignited Camp and other big blazes, so much so that Pacific Gas & Electric filed for bankruptcy protection amid mounting lawsuits.

Did dry conditions fuel these blazes? Surely. California was in a drought. And now that’s over, thanks to the state’s snow-choked mountains. Apparently, these conditions can correct themselves, which refutes the Left’s narrative of a steady, speedy, ski run into doom. Anyway, if not for the electric cables dangling from old towers, many of these fires would not have started. And clearing excess brush and some of California’s 129 million dead trees makes much more sense than waiting for President Ocasio-Cortez to install high-speed trains from San Francisco to Honolulu, after she bans jumbo jets in 2025.

But wait. Before Americans surrender our Boeing 787s, New York Strip steaks, national prosperity, and sacred honor, wouldn’t it be nice if some serious scientists determined whether we will boil over or freeze to death?

Fortunately, President Donald J. Trump will decide soon whether or not to proceed with the Presidential Commission on Climate Science. The PCCS’s goal is to take a sober, scientific look at the warmists’ claims. In January, Saint Alexandria prophesied that “the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Catchy slogan, but does science confirm her hypothesis? Why not find out?

Many on the warming-alarmist Left oppose such intellectual inquiry. They attack the PCCS since “the science is settled.” Of course, it’s not settled. Like a lioness in heat, this debate roars on.

Indeed, the PCCS is the ideal venue for the final showdown between the Alarmists and the Deniers. Here is the chance for scientists who are 97 percent confident of Earth’s imminent meltdown to make fools, once and for all, of Sallie Baliunas, John Christy, Paul Driessen, John Droz, James Inhofe, Bjorn Lomborg, Pat Michaels, Lord Monckton of Brenchley, Marc Morano, Fred Singer, Roy Spencer, Mark Steyn, and all the other scientists and policy experts who deny that cataclysm is just around the corner. And yet the Alarmists spurn such a confrontation. Methinks they doth protest too much.

Instead, the Green New Dealers are pushing Trump to ditch the PCCS and embrace “the climate consensus” — complete with swelling subsidies, sweeping regulations, slower growth, and slumping prosperity for (nearly) all, and a stunning bonanza for the fortunate few in the solar and wind sectors.

If this sounds like a raw deal, please call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and say so. Send President Trump a message by clicking here. Ask him to preserve and staff the Presidential Commission on Climate Science and order it to decipher this frigid warming.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a contributing editor at National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research. Michael Malarkey furnished research for this opinion piece.

See Also: Cold Waves and CO2

No, Cold Doesn’t Disprove Warming, Nothing Can

Stop Fake Science. Approve the PCCS!

 

 

Weather is Not Climate (again): Marine Heat Waves

Currently, the fashion is to prove global warming/climate change by pointing to “extreme” weather events. This week we have a new candidate for alarms: Marine Heat Waves. For example:

Suffering in the heat—the rise in marine heatwaves is harming ocean species Phys.org08:40

Marine heat waves threaten fish, corals SBS00:28

Ocean heat waves remake Pacific and Caribbean habitats Ars Technica06:56

Study: More Marine Heat Waves Threaten Fish, Corals Voice of America20:55 Mon, 04 Mar

More marine heatwaves threaten fish and corals — study Gulf Times16:55 Mon, 04 Mar

Ocean Heat Waves Are Threatening Marine Life The New York Times13:55 Mon, 04 Mar

Background

Variation in sea surface temperatures is not new. Cliff Mass of U. Washington, Seattle, educated us some years ago regarding a persistent patch of N. Pacific warm water he named: “The BLOB.” A series of posts at his blog covered this event starting in Autumn 2013, waxing and waning until finally disappearing in 2018. Most informative is The Blob Strengthens Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The original BLOB, named by Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond, formed the previous winter (2013-2014). The BLOB was defined as a persistent region of anomalously warm water in the northeast Pacific. With the air reaching the Northwest generally passing over the BLOB, the result was warmer than normal temperatures.

And by the first week of this month, the BLOB seems to have returned, and with it, its evil twin, El Nino, indicated by the warm waters in the eastern tropical Pacific. Now we have a problem. Note that the temperatures in the BLOB are 2-3 C (roughly 4-5F) above normal.

The effects of the BLOB have become more than a little evident to everyone living in our region. Temperatures are way above normal because of the warming effects of the ocean…it is hard for our minimum temperatures to fall much below the ocean temperatures this time of the year. Want to see evidence of this? Here are the surface air temperatures at Seattle Tacoma Airport for the last 4 weeks, with the average highs and lows shown. We have been warmer than normal, with minimum temperatures consistently 3-4F above normal.

The BLOB itself is not an independent player. It has been forced by an anomalous atmospheric circulation, including anomalous high pressure (ridging) centered north of our region (see map showing the height (pressure) anomalies (difference from normal) at 500 hPa (about 18,000ft) for the last 30 days. Yellow indicates higher heights than normal.

An article from that time (2016) at Climate Central took mainly the alarmist view, but also quoted a reasonable statement from Cliff Mass. California Drought, Marine Heat More Likely With Warming

“The atmospheric variability that forced the warm blob is the same that forced the drought,” said Emanuele Di Lorenzo, an ocean and climate dynamics professor at Georgia Tech who coauthored the analysis, published in Nature Climate Change. “This atmospheric variability is increasing under greenhouse gases.”

The new findings could help scientists predict when similar marine heatwaves and droughts will strike in the future. They also suggest such heatwaves will become more common and intense, which could mean greater drought risks in the West. (By increasing evaporation and reducing snowfall, warmer temperatures are already making Western droughts worse.)

“This could potentially provide predictability,” said Cliff Mass, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor who wasn’t involved with the research. “This is natural variability that we’re dealing with.”

What Are “Marine Heat Waves?” (From Marine Heat Waves.org)

We use a recently developed definition of marine heatwaves (Hobday et al. 2016). A marine heatwave is defined a when seawater temperatures exceed a seasonally-varying threshold (usually the 90th percentile) for at least 5 consecutive days. Successive heatwaves with gaps of 2 days or less are considered part of the same event.

Marine heatwaves can be caused by a whole range of factors, and not all factors are important for each event. The most common drivers of marine heatwaves include ocean currents which can build up areas of warm water and air-sea heat flux, or warming through the ocean surface from the atmosphere. Winds can enhance or suppress the warming in a marine heatwave, and climate modes like El Niño can change the likelihood of events occurring in certain regions.

[Note: the phrase about the atmosphere warming the ocean is misleading. The ocean has 1000 times the heat capacity of the air, and the heat transfer is upward. From Columbia U. on the Ocean/Atmosphere Heat Flux:

Solar heating of the ocean on a global average is 168 watts per square meter

Net infrared radiation cools the ocean, on a global average by 66 watts per square meter.

On global average the oceanic heat loss by conduction is only 24 watts per square meter. (If the ocean were colder than the atmosphere (which of course happens) the air in contact with the ocean cools, becoming denser and hence more stable, more stratified. As such the conduction process does a poor job of carrying the atmosphere heat into the cool ocean.)

On global average the heat loss by evaporation is 78 watts per square meter. (The largest heat loss for the ocean is due to evaporation, which links heat exchange with hydrological cycle.) ]

The trigger for the current concern is Marine heatwaves threaten global biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services published March 4, 2019 at Nature Climate Change. Dan A. Smale is lead author with 17 co-authors. The media were quick to misinterpret the study and claim a link to burning of fossil fuels.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Abstract: The global ocean has warmed substantially over the past century, with far-reaching implications for marine ecosystems. Concurrent with long-term persistent warming, discrete periods of extreme regional ocean warming (marine heatwaves, MHWs) have increased in frequency. Here we quantify trends and attributes of MHWs across all ocean basins and examine their biological impacts from species to ecosystems. Multiple regions in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans are particularly vulnerable to MHW intensification, due to the co-existence of high levels of biodiversity, a prevalence of species found at their warm range edges or concurrent non-climatic human impacts. The physical attributes of prominent MHWs varied considerably, but all had deleterious impacts across a range of biological processes and taxa, including critical foundation species (corals, seagrasses and kelps). MHWs, which will probably intensify with anthropogenic climate change, are rapidly emerging as forceful agents of disturbance with the capacity to restructure entire ecosystems and disrupt the provision of ecological goods and services in coming decades.

My Comments

The authors managed to produce an hockey stick graph by means of attaching an high-resolution instrumental record to low-resolution proxy estimates of the past. The method is described in the paper:

Global time series and regional trends in total MHW days were derived using a combination of satellite-based, remotely sensed SSTs and in situ-based seawater temperatures. First, total MHW days were calculated globally over 1982–2015 at 1/4° resolution from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Optimum Interpolation SST V2 high-resolution data. Then, proxies for total MHW days globally over 1900–2016 were developed on the basis of five monthly gridded SST datasets (HadISST v.1.1, ERSST v.5, COBE 2, CERA-20C and SODA si.3). A final proxy time series was calculated by averaging across the five datasets. The five monthly datasets were used since no global daily SST observations are available before 1982.

The three peaks in the modern record are clearly the result of the major El Ninos 1997, 2009 and 2015. And it is likely that mining the daily satellite records since 1982 identified marine heat waves that would not show up in the proxy monthly datasets.

Conclusion

This is another example of a natural process that threatens our livelihoods but which we struggle to predict and to adapt. As with other short-term weather events, humankind has a great stake in better understanding in order to forecast, prepare and manage adapations as required. There have always been major variations in warming and cooling sea surface temperatures. And yet the Global average anomalies vary by a few tenths of a degree celsius, with significant difference in the two hemispheres. This implies both that marine heat waves are offset by cold waves elsewhere, and that the well-mixed CO2 molecules are not to blame.

See Also: On Climate “Signal” and Weather “Noise”

Empirical Evidence: Oceans Make Climate

Cold Waves and CO2

To put this year’s winter cold into perspective, there is an informative article by Jon Erdman at weather.com America’s Coldest Outbreaks January 17 2018 Excerpts with my bolds and showing CO2 concentrations at the referenced dates. Note  that temperatures are in degrees Fahrenheit.

The Clear Number 1  February 1899: Atmospheric CO2 295 ppm.
The cold wave during the first two weeks of February 1899 is by far and away the gold standard for cold outbreaks in U.S. history.

What made this outbreak worthy of its lofty status was the magnitude, areal coverage and longevity of the cold.

For the first and only time on record, every state in the Union (recall, there were only 45 states at the time) dipped below zero. Subzero cold invaded parts of south-central Texas, the Gulf Coast beaches and northwest Florida.

Tallahassee, Florida, dipped to -2 degrees on Feb. 13, 1899, the only subzero low in the city’s history. This remains the all-time record low for the Sunshine State.

All-time record lows were set in a dozen states, from the Plains to the Ohio Valley, Southeast and District of Columbia. In addition to Florida, state record lows in Louisiana (-16 in Minden), Nebraska (-47 in Camp Clarke) and Ohio (-39 in Milligan) still stand today.

Dozens of cities still hold onto their all-time record low from this cold wave, including Atlanta (-9), Grand Rapids, Michigan (-24), and Wichita, Kansas (-22). Temperatures as frigid as -61 degrees (Montana), -59 degrees (Minnesota) and -50 degrees (Wisconsin) were recorded.

The Mississippi River froze solid north of Cairo, Illinois, and ice not only clogged the river in New Orleans, but also flowed into the Gulf of Mexico a few days after the heart of the cold outbreak.

Ice jams triggered floods along parts of the Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland and James Rivers. Ice skating was the activity of choice as the San Antonio River froze.

Lacking snow cover, the ground froze to a depth of 5 feet in Chicago, damaging water, gas and other pipes.

New York City engineers found trusses on the Brooklyn Bridge had contracted 14 feet due to the cold, according to Extreme American Weather, by Tim Vasquez. Due to frozen aqueducts from Catskills reservoirs, the city of Newark was forced to draw water from other rivers and bays.

Adding insult to injury, a massive snowstorm punctuated the cold outbreak from the Gulf Coast to New England Feb. 11-14.

Cape May, New Jersey, picked up 34 inches of snow, the nation’s capital was buried by 21 inches and 15.5 inches fell in New York City, overwhelming city crews and isolating suburbs.

In Florida, snow fell in Fort Myers, Tampa saw measurable snow for one of only two times in its history, and Jacksonville picked up 1.9 inches of snow. New Orleans was blanketed by 3 inches of snow.

Here are some other notable cold outbreaks since the massive 1899 outbreak.

Winter 2013-2014 Atmospheric CO2 399 ppm

Ice builds up along Lake Michigan as temperatures dipped well below zero on January 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago hit a record low of -16 degree Fahrenheit as an arctic air mass brought the coldest temperatures in about two decades into the city.
(Scott Olson/Getty Images)

– December 2013 – February 2014 was among the top 10 coldest such periods on record in seven Midwest states.

– An early January 2014 outbreak brought the coldest temperatures of the 21st century, to date, for some cities.

– The winter was among the top five snowiest on record in at least 10 major cities.

Late January-Early February 1996 Atmospheric CO2 363 ppm

– Minnesota state record: -60 degrees near Tower on Feb. 2, 1996. WCCO radio’s Mike Lynch broadcasted live from Tower that morning, during which he blew soap bubbles which then froze on the ground as a crowd watched.

– All Minnesota public schools shut down.

– Fears of natural gas shortage in northern Illinois prompted requests to reduce consumption.

Mid-Late January 1994 Atmospheric CO2 359 ppm
– 14 cities set all-time record lows, including Indianapolis (-27), Cleveland (-20) and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (-22). Pittsburgh (-22) beat its previous all-time record set during the February 1899 outbreak.

– Both Pittsburgh (52 hours) and Cleveland (56 hours) set their record stretch of subzero cold.

– Indiana state record low set: -36 degrees at New Whiteland on Jan. 19

– 35 counties in Ohio plunged to -30 degrees or colder on Jan. 19.

– Worcester, Massachusetts, had seven straight days with subzero lows, a record stretch.

– Crown Point, New York, dipped to -48 degrees on Jan. 27.

– Coldest month on record in Caribou, Maine, with an average temperature of -0.7 degrees.

December 1990 Atmospheric CO2 356 ppm
– Most destructive freeze in California since 1949. Fifty percent of California’s citrus crop damaged.

– Record 18-day freeze streak in Salt Lake City

– 2,000 children stranded in Seattle schools due to heavy snow on Dec. 18

– Randolph, Utah, bottomed out at -45 degrees on Dec. 22.

December 1989 Atmospheric CO2 354 ppm
– All-time record lows in Kansas City (-23), Topeka, Kansas (-26), Lake Charles, Louisiana (-4), and Wilmington, North Carolina (0).

– First Christmas Day snow (trace) on record in Tallahassee. Miami had a rare freeze while Key West dipped to 44 degrees.

– 14 inches of snow fall at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on Christmas Eve.

– At the time, it was the fourth coldest December on record for the entire U.S.

President Reagan Inauguration – Jan. 1985 Atmospheric CO2 346 ppm
Due to the cold, President Ronald Reagan takes the oath of office for his second term as President in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 21, 1985.

– 13.2 inches of snow in San Antonio, Texas (Jan. 12), crushed the previous 24-hour snow record, there. Austin and Houston (3 inches each) also were blanketed by this snowstorm.

– All-time record lows were set in Chicago (-27), Jacksonville, Florida (7), and Macon, Georgia (-6)

– State record lows were set in Virginia (-30 at Mountain Lake) and North Carolina (-34 atop Mt. Mitchell).

– $1.2 billion in damage to Florida’s citrus crop

– Ronald Reagan’s second inauguration was the coldest Inauguration Day on record (7 degrees). The ceremony was moved indoors and parade cancelled.

Late December 1983 Atmospheric CO2 343 ppm
– $2 billion damage to agriculture, mainly due to freezing temperatures in central and northern Florida.

– As measured using the old formula, wind chills reached 100 degrees below zero over much of North Dakota on Dec. 22.

– Williston, North Dakota tied its all-time record low (-50) on Dec. 23. (Check out the hourly observations from that day.)

– Sioux Falls, South Dakota, remained below zero from the morning of Dec. 16 until Christmas Day afternoon.

– Over 125 daily low-temperature records were broken on Christmas Day. Tampa’s Christmas Day high was only 38 degrees.

Remembering the “Freezer Bowl AFC Championship game in Cincinnati, Ohio on Jan. 10, 1982.

January 1982 Atmospheric CO2 341 ppm
– 85 deaths were attributed to the cold wave, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

– Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports set all-time record lows (-26).

– Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plunged to -26 degrees on Jan. 17, their coldest temperature in 111 years.

– Montgomery, Alabama (-2), Jackson, Mississippi (-5), and Atlanta (-5) each plunged below zero.

– Snow at rush hour on Jan. 11 slickened streets, stranding motorists in Atlanta.

– Natural gas lines froze, and up to 7 million experienced brownouts, according to Tim Vasquez.

– The second coldest game in National Football League history, the “Freezer Bowl”, was played in Cincinnati, where a kickoff temperature of -9 degrees greeted the warm-weather San Diego Chargers.

– Hundreds of cases of frostbite were treated at the stadium, including Bengals quarterback Kenny Anderson’s frosbitten ear.

Tonawanda, New York – Post Blizzard of 1977
Photo of a house almost completely buried in snow in the aftermath of the “Blizzard of ’77” in Tonawanda, New York.  (Jeff Wurstner/Wikipedia)

January 1977 Atmospheric CO2 334 ppm
– 69 first-order weather stations shivered through their record coldest month, according to Weather Underground’s Christopher Burt.

– South Carolina state record set: -20 degrees near Long Creek

– Temperatures did not rise above freezing the entire month in a swath from eastern Iowa to western Pennsylvania northward, according to Burt.

– Snow fell as far south as Miami and Homestead, Florida, the farthest south occurrence of snow in the U.S. Two inches of snow fell in Winter Haven, Florida.

– 35 percent of Florida’s citrus crop was damaged; rolling blackouts were needed in Florida due to heavy power demand.

– President Jimmy Carter walked 1.5 miles in the Inauguration Parade with temperatures just below freezing on Jan. 20.

– The “Buffalo Blizzard of ’77” added a foot of snow to the 33 inches of snow on the ground, accompanied by wind gusts to 75 mph, producing snow drifts up to 30 feet high, paralyzing the city.

January 1949 Atmospheric CO2 311 ppm
Coldest month on record in Boise, Idaho, and Spokane, Washington.

– Coldest winter at virtually every weather station in California, Nevada, Idaho and Oregon, according to Burt.

– A series of blizzards in the Great Basin and Plains claimed 150,000 sheep and cattle, isolating ranches from Wyoming to South Dakota.

– The Army airlifted supplies to snowbound ranchers.

– Snow fell in San Diego. One of only three measurable snowfalls on record in Downtown Los Angeles, as well.

– All-time record low set in San Antonio, Texas (0 degrees).

Winter of 1935-1936 Atmospheric CO2 310 ppm
– Coldest Plains winter of record.

– Low temperatures dropped below -50 degrees on four separate days in Malta, Montana.

– Parshall, North Dakota, plunged to -60 degrees on Feb. 15, still the state record low today.

– Langdon, North Dakota, remained below zero for an incredible 41 straight days, the longest stretch on record in the Lower 48 states, according to Burt.

Winter of 2019 Atmospheric CO2 409 ppm


Ice builds up along the shore of Lake Michigan as temperatures dipped to lows around -20 degrees on January 31st, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois. Businesses and schools closed, Amtrak suspended service into the city, more than a thousand flights were canceled, and mail delivery was suspended as the city coped with record-setting low temperatures.  (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


A cyclist rides through the falling snow in the Financial District, January 30th, 2019, in New York City
(Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)


Frost forms on the back of Galloway cows on February 1st, 2019, in Crainlarich in Scotland. Temperatures plummeted to -15 degrees Celsius on the coldest night of the year. (Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images)

Summary

Clearly CO2 neither causes nor prevents outbreaks of arctic cold invading North America. Concerning ourselves with GHGs is no substitute for ensuring reliable, affordable energy and robust infrastructure.

Jonathan Erdman is a senior meteorologist at weather.com and has been an incurable weather geek since a tornado narrowly missed his childhood home in Wisconsin at age 7.

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Polar Vortex Update Jan. 23

Figure i. Animation of observed 10 mb geopotential heights (contours) and geopotential height anomalies (m; shading) for 15 December 2018 – 18 January 2019. Source: Dr. Judah Cohen

Excerpts from AER Arctic Oscillation blog by Judah Cohen, January 21, 2019 in italics with my bolds.

There is increasing confidence that the stratosphere and troposphere are going to couple by any accepted metric. The GFS forecast clearly shows downward propagation of positive polar cap geopotential height anomalies from the stratosphere to the troposphere, the surface AO is predicted to turn decisively negative and high latitude blocking is the norm rather than exception over the next two weeks. Also, warm temperatures are predicted across the North American Arctic including Alaska and Greenland. Therefore, relatively cold temperatures are expected to be widespread across the Northern Hemisphere (NH) including Northern Asia, Northern Europe and Eastern North America. Relatively warm temperatures are also expected in the Barents-Kara seas, the region of the Arctic with the greatest negative sea ice extent anomalies. I would expect the relatively cold pattern to last at a minimum of four weeks and up to eight weeks.

There is some question based on the latest model runs how long the relatively cold pattern will persist. Of course, there is the possibility that after a relatively cold couple of weeks the pattern turns overall milder pattern for the remainder of the winter. But as I have discussed many times the coupling from the stratosphere to the troposphere is described as “dripping paint.” That is because the downward propagation or coupling doesn’t come at once but in pieces. Therefore, the turn to colder and possibly snowier conditions are often episodic and not continuous. So, if there is a transition to milder weather it would be a relaxation of the overall colder pattern and not a complete reversal. I would just add that this has been an extreme event in the stratosphere and sometimes an extreme event in the stratosphere does not translate into an extreme event in the troposphere and that could be true for this event as well.

With the help of my colleague Karl Pfeiffer I created an animation of the ongoing PV disruption from mid -December through last Friday shown in Figure i. Some readers have stated in the past that they enjoy the animations and here is an extended version. Maybe they are not much more than bubble game for the brain, but I am always fascinated by PV splits.

The predicted NH temperature pattern is classic negative AO with cold temperature widespread across northern Eurasia including Europe and eastern North America. And unlike recent winters, temperatures are not relatively mild across the pan-Arctic but locally in Alaska and Greenland, again classic mild locations during negative AO regimes. I do think that the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern is distinct from the negative AO pattern as argued in Cohen et al. 2018. In my opinion the upcoming predicted NH temperature pattern projects more strongly onto the negative AO than the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern. One distinction in my mind is the continuous stripe of cold temperatures along the Eurasian north slope or the land areas adjacent to the Arctic ocean, they are solidly below normal in the negative AO pattern but mild in the warm Arctic/cold continents pattern. Also, as I argued in an earlier blog the timing of the troposphere-stratosphere coupling nicely matches the timing expected based on extensive October Siberian snow cover extent. Waiting for the remainder of the winter before passing judgement but so far this winter the relationship is strong.

Currently the stratospheric PV remains split into two pieces or daughter vortices. The major daughter vortex is now centered over Hudson Bay and a minor daughter vortex is centered over the Urals with ridging centered near the North Pole (Figure 12). The daughter vortex over the Urals is predicted to drift west across Siberia and fill with time while the other daughter vortex over Hudson Bay remains nearly stationary. However, the anomalous warmth in the polar stratosphere is gone and is a sign that the stratospheric PV is recovering. The cold temperatures in the stratosphere are focused in Siberia and western North America and could be a sign where the coldest temperatures at the surface may be focused as well during the month of February, something to watch.

Niagara Falls January 21, 2019 h/t Mike Clegg

Niagara Falls January 21, 2019 h/t yorkeryan

 

Self-Serving Global Warmism

 

To believe humans are dangerously warming earth’s climate, you have to swallow a bunch of unbelievable notions. You have to think the atmosphere drives temperature, instead of the ocean with 1000 times the heat capacity. You have to disregard the sun despite its obvious effects from summer to winter and longer term. You have to think CO2 drives radiative heat transfers, instead of H2O which does 95% of the radiative work. You have to think rises in CO2 cause temperatures to rise, rather than the other way around. You have to forget it was warmer than now in the Middle Ages, warmer still in the Roman era, and warmest of all during Minoan times.  And on and on. The global warmist narrative is full of ideas upside down and backwards, including many reversals of cause and effect.

It is like a massive hot air balloon, so why doesn’t it deflate? Answer:  It is because so many interests are served by keeping it alive and pumping up public fears. In this brief video, Richard Lindzen explains how it serves politicians, NGOs and the media to be on the global warming bandwagon.

In addition, there are businesses and industries that can and do contribute to global warming fears to further their own interests.  For example,Terence Corcoran explains how the insurance industry benefits by promoting global warming in his Financial Post article Why insurers keep hyping ‘climate risks’ that don’t materialize  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Insurers are urging the government to invest in natural, green infrastructure even though engineers call it ineffective

For more than two decades, insurance firms facing rising property damage costs in Canada and abroad have sought some kind of salvation in the environmental movement’s climate change crusade.

The latest insurance industry initiative wanders even deeper into the quagmire of green policy advocacy. Combating Canada’s Rising Flood Costs, a new report from the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), urged governments across the country to adopt “natural infrastructure” to limit escalating climate change risks.

The report continues the insurance industry’s 20-year practice of hyping climate risks. At an industry conference in 1999, one executive warned: “The increase in extreme weather events (in Canada) is part of a global trend in which climate change has played a significant role.”

The evidence was non-existent then, and not much has changed in the interim, despite the industry’s claim that climate-driven flood risk is escalating. According to the insurers, Canada needs all levels of government to turn to natural and “green” infrastructure before installing traditional “grey” infrastructure.

The first priority is to retain existing ponds, streams, trees and other natural infrastructure systems, according to the report. The second is to rebuild and replace natural infrastructure that has been lost. And the third — building new and replacing old sewers, pipes, concrete drainways, diversions, improved building techniques — should be undertaken only on a “build what you must” basis.

However, that’s not what the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers recommends. In an April report for provincial officials it said: “Numerous studies have demonstrated that green infrastructure does not provide a flood risk reduction benefit.” The engineers advised that protective plumbing, pump-station modifications and sanitary-sewer improvements are among the measures that should be taken to control urban flooding.

Insurers have an understandable self-interest in promoting infrastructure spending and government policies, laws and regulations that would protect their businesses from rising insurance claims. But the report reads like a document from the World Wildlife Fund. It was sponsored by the IBC and “generously supported” by Intact Financial Corp., Canada’s largest insurance company. The University of Waterloo-based Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation (funded by Intact, which has given millions to the centre) was also involved.

Despite the heavy corporate involvement, the CBC opened up about 10 minutes of The National, it’s flagship news show, to the industry report when it was released last month. Would The National give the pipeline, mining and telecom companies 10 minutes to promote their views?

The stars of The National that night were Blair Feltmate, head of the Centre on Climate Adaptation, and CBC News meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe. Both repeated the insurance industry’s 20-year-old claims that climate devastation is ravaging Canada through extreme weather events — and warned the public to look out for rising insurance premiums if nothing is done. Here’s a sample:

Wagstaffe: “Every single extreme weather event is connected to a warming climate because… as we see longer and hotter summers, we see more moisture being held in our atmosphere, we see higher water levels, that means every single event is amplified by climate change.”

Feltmate: “I totally agree. So all the modelling on climate change that’s been done over the last many years by groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a group of several hundred climate scientists… their predictions are that, yes, climate change has happened, is happening and will continue to happen. And we’re seeing the expression of extreme weather events as a result of that.”

Feltmate added the magnitude of flooding, which is the No. 1 cost due to climate change in the country, is increasing.

Such climate warnings have been official insurance industry mantra since the 1990s. Flooding and extreme weather are becoming more frequent, the industry said again and again.

Not true, according to the latest IPCC science report released this month. The impacts chapter said: “There is low confidence due to limited evidence, however, that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and the magnitude of floods.” Furthermore, from 1950 to 2012 “precipitation and (fluvial) runoff have… decreased over most of Africa, East and South Asia, eastern coastal Australia, southeastern and northwestern United States, western and eastern Canada.”

Despite a lack of evidence, the industry recently claimed conditions are so bad in Canada that “weather events that used to occur every 40 years now happen every six years” — a factoid attributed to a 2012 IBC-commissioned report by veteran Western University climatologist and climate-policy activist Gordon McBean. He cited an Environment Canada report to support the 40-to-six claim, but in 2016 Canadian Underwriter magazine published a note quoting an Environment Canada official who said studies “have not shown evidence to support” the 40-to-six year frequency shift. The claim has since been scrubbed from the insurance industry’s communications on climate issues.

The insurers have a newer warning widget in the form of a graphic that appears to show a dramatic rise in catastrophic insurance losses due to climate change. A trend line rises from the mid-1980s to 2017 to a $5-billion peak with the 2016 Fort McMurray fire (see first accompanying chart). The new IBC flood report said these numbers illustrate the financial impacts of climate change and extreme weather events that are being felt by a growing number of homeowners and communities. These losses “averaged $405 million per year between 1983 and 2008, and $1.8 billion between 2009 and 2017.”

The graphic contains three dubious elements as a source for a flood report. First is an inconsistency in the source of data, a problem identified by Robert Muir, a professional engineer and member of in infrastructure task force at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers. The 1983–2007 data set was collected through informal industry surveys, while the 2008–2017 data are tabulated systematically by an independent agency.

Data inconsistency may explain the bizarre result that the insurance industry had zero losses due to floods, water, rain and storm perils in four of 17 years between 1983 and 2000.

Second, the IBC graph also counts fire losses, including the Fort McMurray fire of 2016 — an event unrelated to flood risk. Removal of fire losses significantly flattens the curve (see the second accompanying chart). If the 2013 floods in Alberta and Toronto are treated as possible one-off freak events, the average insurance losses come to $182 million in the 1990s, $198 million during the 2000s and $268 million over the past nine years, which is not a dramatic shift considering there are many other explanations for insurance losses, including increasing individual wealth beyond mere per capita GDP values, urbanization, failure of governments to maintain decaying ancient water infrastructures, and the risks people take by moving into flood-prone areas.

The insurance industry has an obvious motive in highlighting flood risk. It is part of a concerted climate campaign by NGOs, governments and sustainable development advocates. As one executive put it at a 2016 conference the objective is to “monetize” the flood risk, an idea the IBC is pushing with the help of a relatively new “flood model” that identifies high-risk areas.

When risks are real, people should of course take steps to avoid them or get protection, including taking out insurance. But the industry seems to be heading in a questionable direction by promoting insurance for climate risks that may not exist and at the same time advocating for green protective infrastructure (see below) that will cost more and may — if the engineers are right — increase the risk.

Hurricane Science Expert Q&A

Here is a briefing on the state of hurricane science regarding any discernible effects from humans burning fossil fuels.  Hurricane Florence raises questions about link between climate change, severe storms  Storm expert David Nolan explains what we know and what we’re still trying to figure out.

The questions are posed by NBC News, a source of many stories promoting climate alarm/activism. The answers are from David Nolan, professor and chair of the department of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and a noted expert on hurricanes and tropical weather. Excerpts are in italics with my bolds.

Just where are we with hurricane science? What have we learned, and what questions remain to be answered? And what about the role of climate change in the formation and propagation of severe storms?

Q: The National Hurricane Center today upgraded Florence to a Category 4 storm. What exactly does that mean?
A: It means that, by their best estimate, there are wind speeds somewhere at the surface of 130 miles per hour or greater. This estimate comes from a combination of satellite images, and, in this case, from NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] aircraft that have been flying in Florence this morning.

Q: How many categories are there?
A: The categories go from 1 to 5.

Q: Could there ever be a Category 6?

A: No. Fives themselves are very rare. And reaching higher speeds — like 170 or 180 mph — is extremely rare. So it doesn’t make sense to make a category for something that will still be extremely rare, even if it happens a little more, like once every five years instead of once every 10 years.

Q: What in general dictates whether a Category 4 storm will turn into an even more destructive Category 5?

A: The conditions that are most favorable are warm ocean temperatures, like above 85 degrees [Fahrenheit], and light winds in the larger environment around the storm. Storms become category 5 in only the most favorable conditions.

Satellite images show three Atlantic hurricanes, from left, Florence, Isaac and Helene.Satellite images show three Atlantic hurricanes, from left, Florence, Isaac and Helene.NOAA

Q:  Is severe weather getting more severe and more frequent?

A: Whether or not severe weather is actually getting more severe is not clear. It is clear that the most extreme rainfall events have increased in frequency, and this is consistent with our understanding of how global warming will change the weather.

Q: Some hurricanes seem to hit land and then quickly dissipate, causing little damage. Others, like Harvey last year, give way to heavy rainfall and flooding. What determines which course a storm will take?

A: There are two factors. First, whether or not the storm keeps moving inland steadily, or whether it lingers near the coast. This is determined by the steering patterns of the larger atmosphere around it, as the hurricane is essentially carried along by the even larger weather systems around it.

Second, it depends on the kind of terrain the storm is over. In the case of Harvey, the land [in and around Houston] is relatively flat and smooth and also still near the Gulf of Mexico, so Harvey did not dissipate quickly.

Q: You said climate change seems to be changing global weather patterns to make extreme rainfall events more frequent. Can you explain exactly what’s happening?

A: The main reason is that warmer air can hold more water vapor. So when air rises and forms clouds and then rain, more water is released and then more water falls to the ground as rain.

Q: But there’s no evidence that climate change is making hurricanes more frequent?

A: There is not. Unfortunately, the existing modern records of hurricanes are only of good quality for about 60 years. Because hurricane activity varies so much from year to year, then it’s not long enough to say for sure if there is a clear trend upward due to global warming.

There has been an enormous amount of research on whether TC numbers or strength will increase in the future because of global warming. But the results of those studies are mixed and sometimes contradictory, so we can’t make a conclusive statement yet. (TC refers to tropical cyclones (hurricanes) that occur each year, in each ocean.)

Q: What exactly is the difference between a hurricane and a cyclone?

Q: Physically, they are the same thing. They are called hurricanes in the Atlantic and in the Eastern Pacific, typhoons in the West Pacific and cyclones around Australia and India.

Q: What causes these storms to form, and what makes them move as they do?

A: Hurricanes form when areas of disturbed weather — rain and thunderstorms — over the ocean start to organize into a swirling pattern. As the winds increase, they extract more and more energy and water from the ocean, thus getting stronger and larger. As for their motion, they are carried along by the larger weather patterns around them, the usual lows and highs that most people often see on weather maps.

Q: How big can hurricanes get?

The areas of hurricanes with significant weather (winds and rain) are usually about 200 miles across. Some can be larger, as much as 300 miles. Some are quite small, only 50 miles.

Q: Do they always swirl in the same direction?

A: In the northern hemisphere, they rotate counterclockwise. In the southern hemisphere, it is the opposite. They get their rotation from the Earth’s rotation, which has an opposite sense whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere.

Q: You’re an expert in the use of computer modeling to study hurricanes. What have you learned from your research?

A: Most of my research has been about hurricane formation. We’ve used computer models to understand the physical processes by which hurricanes form. There are many “disturbances” over the oceans every summer, but most of them do not become hurricanes. We want to understand why some of them do.

Q: How does computer modeling work?

Computer models attempt to simulate the motions of the atmosphere. The first step is to assemble a digital “image” of the weather right now, much the same way that a camera image is made up of pixels of many different colors. But next, it uses the laws of physics and mathematics to determine how each part of the atmosphere will change with time, as they are influenced by the other pixels around them.

Q: Any new findings?

A: Our work showed the importance of moisture in the middle levels of the atmosphere, around 10,000 to 20,000 feet, in the regions where hurricanes tend to form. Higher-than-average moisture is much more favorable for hurricanes to form.

Q: In addition to computers, aircraft and satellites, are there any new tools that hurricane scientists are now using to facilitate their research?

A: The new generation of satellites, such as the new GOES 16 which recently became operational, are excellent. They make it much easier to see what is going on in these storms. The other developing advance is the use of drones. There are large drones, such as the NASA Global Hawk aircraft, which is about the size of a corporate jet and can fly over a hurricane for 24 hours straight. And there are small drones that can be dropped into a hurricane out of one of the NOAA aircraft, and can get much closer to the ocean’s surface than the NOAA planes (with people in them) are allowed to fly.

Q: What’s next for hurricane science ?

A: Many scientists these days are trying to better understand “rapid intensification,” which is when a hurricane’s winds increase by two or more categories in a single day. But there has been a lot of progress on that, and the computer models have become pretty good at predicting this, just as they are for Hurricane Florence right now.

The other very popular topic is how hurricane activity will (or will not) change with global warming. While everyone seems to think it will make it worse, there is no proof of that yet.

Q: As a hurricane researcher, is there some scenario that keeps researchers up at night?

A: I think it does make us more aware that bad events can and will happen. But we also understand that the chances of it happening to any one place is also very small.

Q: The National Weather Service website has a list of common misperceptions about hurricanes. What do you think are the most common ones people have?

A: I’m not sure about most common. But one that I think is most dangerous is that many people have the perception that they have experienced hurricane conditions before. Many people experience fringe effects of a hurricane and think they have been through a hurricane. Real hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 75 mph or higher) are actually much worse than people realize.

Summary

In theory, global warming (for whatever causes) should produce more moisture and extreme rainfall. In practice there is no evidence that this has happened.  It is also not clear that extreme weather events are more severe than in the past, or that hurricanes are more frequent.  The idea of a category six hurricane is an alarmist fantasy, akin to the notion of a geologic period called the “anthropocene.”  “Climate Change” is still something we see in the rear view mirror, not a causal agent in nature.

Hurricanes Not a Problem for Nuclear Power

NASA-NOAA satellite image of the Atlantic Ocean captured on September 11, 2018 at 11:45 AM EDT showing Hurricane Florence approaching the east coast with Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Helene fast on her heels.NASA/NOAA

Dr, James Conca explains in his Forbes article Hurricane Florence No Problem For Nuclear Power Plants  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Along with most everyone else, nuclear power plants in North and South Carolina, as well as Virginia, have been preparing for the natural onslaught.

Hurricane Florence will most likely hit two nuclear power plants operated by Duke Energy – their 1,870 megawatt (MW) Brunswick and 932MW Harris nuclear plants in North Carolina. If Florence turns north, it could also hit Dominion Energy’s 1,676MW Surry plant in Virginia. Brunswick is expected to get a direct hit.

The Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant, two miles north of Southport, North Carolina will get a direct hit by Hurricane Florence. But there’s no worry as nuclear plants are the most resistant to severe weather of all energy sources. The plant produces over 15 billion kWhs a year and provides power to over 4 million people.DOC SEARLS

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is watching carefully. But no one is really worried that much will happen, contrary to lots of antinuclear fearmongering. Power outages will occur as lines and transformers are destroyed and non-nuclear buildings get damaged, and it might takes a few days to a few weeks to bring power back up, something that includes all energy sources.

‘We anticipate Hurricane Florence to be an historic storm that will impact all customers,’ said Grace Rountree, a spokeswoman for Duke. These reactors provide power to about 4 million customers in the two Carolinas.

The Brunswick plant has withstood several hurricanes since the two reactors there began operation in the mid-1970s, including Category 3 Hurricane Diana in 1984 and Category 3 Hurricane Fran in 1996. Category 4 Hurricane Hugo, the most often-compared with Florence, made landfall about 150 miles southwest of Brunswick in South Carolina in 1989.

Following protocols, the reactors at the nuclear plants have started shutting down before the hurricane is scheduled to arrive. While all nuclear reactors are protected against extreme winds, including tornado-strength gusts up to 300 mph, they shut down as a protective measure.

Food, water and other necessities are kept onsite at these nuclear plants to prepare for potential isolation of the site, and staff needed during the storm are brought in to ensure proper resources are available for an extended period.

The Carolinas have a heavy concentration of power reactors – 12 of the country’s 99 reactors. Four more reactors are in Virginia and five are in coastal Delaware and Maryland. These reactors provide enough electricity to power 30 cities the size of Raleigh.

Nuclear is the only energy source immune to all extreme weather events – by design. Plants have steel-reinforced concrete containments with over 4-foot thick walls. The buildings housing the reactors, vital equipment and used fuel have steel-reinforced concrete walls up to 7 feet thick, which are built to withstand any category hurricane or tornado. They can even withstand a plane flying directly into them.

Whether it’s hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves or severe cold, nuclear performs more reliably than anything else. There’s no better reason to retain our nuclear fleet, and even expand it, to give us a diverse energy mix that can handle any natural disaster that can occur.

James Conca

I have been a scientist in the field of the earth and environmental sciences for 33 years, specializing in geologic disposal of nuclear waste, energy-related research, planetary surface processes, radiobiology and shielding for space colonies, subsurface transport and environmental clean-up of heavy metals. I am a Trustee of the Herbert M. Parker Foundation, Adjunct at WSU, an Affiliate Scientist at LANL and consult on strategic planning for the DOE, EPA/State environmental agencies, and industry including companies that own nuclear, hydro, wind farms, large solar arrays, coal and gas plants. I also consult for EPA/State environmental agencies and industry on clean-up of heavy metals from soil and water. For over 25 years I have been a member of Sierra Club, Greenpeace, the NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund and many others, as well as professional societies including the America Nuclear Society, the American Chemical Society, the Geological Society of America and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.