Anthony Watts

Post image for Hurricane Sandy and Global Warming

Both the blogosphere and the mainstream media have been abuzz with commentary blaming global warming for Hurricane Sandy and the associated deaths and devastation. Bloomberg BusinessWeek epitomizes this brand of journalism. Its magazine cover proclaims the culpability of global warming as an obvious fact:

Part of the thinking here is simply that certain aspects of the storm (lowest barometric pressure for a winter cyclone in the Northeast) and its consequences (worst flooding of the New York City subway system) are “unprecedented,” so what more proof do we need that our fuelish ways have dangerously loaded the climate dice to produce ever more terrible extremes?

After all, argues Climate Progress blogger Brad Johnston, quoting hockey stick inventor Michael Mann, “climate change is present in every single meteorological event.” Here’s Mann’s explanation:

The fact remains that there is 4 percent more water vapor – and associated additional moist energy – available both to power individual storms and to produce intense rainfall from them. Climate change is present in every single meteorological event, in that these events are occurring within a baseline atmospheric environment that has shifted in favor of more intense weather events.

Well sure, climate is average weather over a period of time, so as climate changes, so does the weather. But that tautology tells us nothing about how much — or even how — global warming influences any particular event. Moreover, if “climate change is present in every single meteorological event,” then it is also present in ”good” weather (however defined) as well as “bad.”

Anthony Watts makes this criticism on his indispensable blog, noting that as carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations have risen, the frequency of hurricanes making landfall in the U.S. has declined.

The US Has Had 285 Hurricane Strikes Since 1850: ‘The U.S. has always been vulnerable to hurricanes. 86% of U.S. hurricane strikes occurred with CO2 below [NASA scientist James] Hansen’s safe level of 350 PPM.’

If there’s anything in this data at all, it looks like CO2 is preventing more US landfalling hurricanes.

Data Source: NOAA; Figure Source: Steve Goddard [click to continue…]

Post image for The Greenland Ice Melt: Should We Be Alarmed?

If you follow global warming news at all, you’ve probably seen the NASA satellite images (above) many times. The images show the extent of Greenland surface ice melt on July 8 (left) and July 12 (right). In just a few days, the area of the ice sheet with surface melting increased from about 40% to 97%, including Summit Station, Greenland’s highest and coldest spot.

NASA took a drubbing from Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger at World Climate Report (“Illiteracy at NASA“) for describing the ice melt as “unprecedented” in the title of the agency’s press release. The word literally means without precedent, and properly refers to events that are unique and never happened before. In reality, as one of NASA’s experts points out in the press release, over the past 10,000 years, such events have occurred about once every 150 years:

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.

Equating ’rare yet periodic’ with ‘unprecedented’ is incorrect and misleading. “But apparently,” comment Michaels and Knappenberger, “when it comes to hyping anthropogenic global warming (or at least the inference thereto), redefining English words in order to garner more attention is a perfectly acceptable practice.” New York Times blogger Andrew Revkin also chided NASA for an “inaccurate headline” and the associated “hyperventilating coverage,” but for a different reason: NASA provided “fodder for those whose passion or job is largely aimed at spreading doubt about science pointing to consequential greenhouse-driven warming.”

Enough on the spin. Let’s examine the real issues: (1) Did anthropogenic global warming cause the extraordinary increase in surface melting between July 8 and July 12? (2) How worried should we be about Greenland’s potential impact on sea-level rise? [click to continue…]

Post image for Historical Perspective on the Recent Heat Wave

Over at World Climate Report, the indefatigable Pat Michaels and Chip Knappenberger review a new study updating National Climate Data Center (NCDC) data on U.S. State climate extremes. I’ll cut right to the chase. The paper, “Evaluating Statewide Climate Extremes for the United States,” published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, finds that far more State-wide all-time-high temperature records were set in the 1930s than in recent decades.

From Pat and Chip’s review:

Despite the 24/7 caterwauling, only two new state records—South Carolina and Georgia—are currently under investigation. And, looking carefully at Shein et al. dataset, there appears to be a remarkable lack of all-time records in recent years. This is particularly striking given the increasing urbanization of the U.S. and the consequent “non climatic” warming that creeps into previously pristine records. . . .

Notice that the vast majority of the all-time records were set more than half a century ago and that there are exceedingly few records set within the past few decades. This is not the picture that you would expect if global warming from greenhouse gas emissions were the dominant forcing of the characteristics of our daily weather. Instead, natural variability is still holding a strong hand.

The chart below shows the number of State heat records and the year in which they were set. (When the same all-time high occurs in two or more years in the same State, each of those years gets a fraction of one point.)

 

Post image for When Scientists Talk Like Lawyers . . .We Should Be Skeptical

“I’m not saying it is global warming, but it’s what global warming would look like. It’s consistent with the kind of weather climate scientists predict will become more frequent and severe as greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere increase.”

“It,” in the preceding, refers to the persistent heat wave affecting the Mid-Atlantic region and the derecho that uprooted trees, downed power lines, and deprived nearly a million households in the D.C. metro area of electricity and air conditioning. Warmists, or most of them, know they cannot actually link a particular weather event to global warming, but they’d like you to make the connection anyway.

This is standard rhetorical fare whenever extreme weather strikes somebody, somewhere on the planet. A commenter on Georgia Institute of Technology Prof. Judith Curry’s blog notes the resemblance to an old court-room trick:

Kind of like a lawyer asking a improper question and then withdrawing it, because all s/he really wanted was to put the idea in the jury’s mind.   [click to continue…]

Post image for From Climategate to Fakegate

Anthony Watts’s indispensable Web site, Watts Up with That?, has a trove of hard-hitting commentaries on climate scientist Peter Gleick’s theft and publication of the Heartland Institute’s fund-raising documents and apparent forgery of a “confidential” climate strategy memo. Gleick earlier this week confessed to stealing the documents, but not to fabricating the strategy memo, although textual and other evidence point to him as the culprit.

Gleick, who described his conduct as a “serious lapse of my own and professional judgment and ethics,” has resigned from his post as Chair of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Task Force on Scientific Integrity. He nonetheless tried to blame the victim, claiming “My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate, and by the lack of transparency of the organizations involved.”

Yep, it’s the small underfunded band of free market think tanks who are stifling the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the National Academy of Sciences and their numerous brethren overseas, the European Environment Agency, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, the EPA, NRDC, Greenpeace, etc. etc. Heartland invited Gleick to attend a public event and debate climate change just days before he stole the documents. Gleick turned down the invitation. Yet Gleick has the chutzpah to plead ”frustration” at those trying to “prevent this debate.”

Among the key posts on Anthony’s site to check out: Joe Bast’s Skype interview with the Wall Street Journal; Dr. Willis Eschenbach’s Open Letter to Dr. Linda Gunderson, who succeeds Gleick as Chair of the AGU Scientific Integrity Task Force; and Megan McCardle’s column in The Atlantic reviewing among other things evidence fingering Gleick as the author of the fake strategy memo. [click to continue…]