Thursday, July 12th 2012, 6:09 AM EDT
After decades of debunking and statements by responsible scientists that climate is not weather and individual anomalies are not an indication of climate change, the government funded IPCC lackeys at the UK's Met Office and America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have publicly attributed recent bad weather events to man-made climate change. These irresponsible boffins' shrill claims illustrate the desperation in the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) camp in the face of declining public concern over climate change. While admitting that it is impossible to blame a single event on global warming, climate alarmists are claiming attribution is possible as long as it is framed in terms of probability. They have gone from lies, to damn lies and now, finally, to statistics.
As reported in that paragon of investigative journalism, the Huffington Post, the news originated from an online conference by NOAA personnel. “Climate Change, Extreme Weather Linked In Studies Examining Texas Drought And U.K. Heat,” the headlines blared. And according to author Deborah Zabarenko the news is dire: 2011 was among 15 warmest years globally; Extreme weather events show influence of climate change; Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere reaches new high. Citing the Huffington article:
Overall, 2011 was a year of extreme events - from historic droughts in East Africa, northern Mexico and the southern United States to an above-average cyclone season in the North Atlantic and the end of Australia's wettest two-year period ever, scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United Kingdom's Met Office said.
Of course, this information comes from the same news outlet that reported on a cat found buried alive in concrete—supposedly a warning from polygamist fundamentalists to their critics. High journalistic standards aside, it would be wise to ask where this report on environmental mayhem and human culpability originated.
The underlying document appears to be the 22nd annual “State of the Climate” report, which was published in the July 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Moreover, along with the standard yearly report, which details global weather conditions during 2011, there is a new companion report, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective,” that attempts to identify the causes of weather conditions around the world. Here are the first two paragraphs of that report:
Every year, the Bulletin of the AMS publishes an annual report on the State of the Climate. That report does an excellent job of documenting global weather and climate conditions of the previous year and putting them into accurate historical perspective. But it does not address the causes. One of the reasons is that the scientists working at understanding the causes of various extreme events are generally not the same scientists analyzing the magnitude of the events and writing the State of the Climate. Another reason is that explaining the causes of specific extreme events in near-real time is severely stretching the current state of the science.
Our report is a way to foster the growth of this science. Other reports, such as those by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have focused on understanding changes over longer time scales and larger geographic regions. For example, assessing the state of the climate and science, IPCC (Field et al. 2012) concluded that “it is likely that anthropogenic influences have led to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures at the global scale” and that “there is medium confidence that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation at the global scale”.
“Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment,” Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan said in a statement. “This annual report provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come.” Some other, more recent “events” cited on the associated State of the Climate website include:
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for May 2012 was 0.66°C (1.19°F) above the 20th century average of 14.8°C (58.6°F). This is the second warmest May since records began in 1880, behind only 2010.
•The Northern Hemisphere land and ocean average surface temperature for May 2012 was the all-time warmest May on record, at 0.85°C (1.53°F) above average.
•The globally-averaged land surface temperature for May 2012 was the all-time warmest May on record, at 1.21°C (2.18°F) above average.
•ENSO-neutral conditions continued during May 2012 and sea surface temperature anomalies in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean continued to warm. The May worldwide ocean surface temperatures ranked as the 10th warmest May on record.
•For March–May (boreal spring) 2012, the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 0.59°C (1.06°F) above average—the seventh warmest such period on record.
•The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for January–May 2012 was the 11th warmest on record, at 0.50°C (0.90°F) above the 20th century average.
Selected significant climate anomalies and events.
CLICK for larger map for a further list of “selected” climate events.
After running down a list of extreme weather events and conditions the report goes on to offer an explanation: rising levels of greenhouse gases (what a shock!). Supposedly, the global average atmospheric concentration for carbon dioxide went over 390 parts per million for the first time, chalking up an annual increase of 2.1 ppm in 2010. What isn't mentioned is that this is a distinctly lower rate of increase than the IPCC types use in their calculations of impending eco-doom. Indeed, at this rate it would take almost 200 years to double the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Slowing GHG accumulation not withstanding, what can be said about the list of “extreme” conditions? The first is to notice that, while the temperatures are cited as among the warmest humans have measured, they are not outstandingly so. They claim 7th warmest, 11th warmest, and 10th warmest for various cited statistics. Furthermore, the period over which these temperatures are noteworthy is only a century or so. Science simply does not have any direct data (i.e. temperature measurement) before that. Given that there were a number of very warm periods prior to today—the Medieval Warm Period (950 AD – 1250 AD), the Roman Warm Period (~250 BC – 400 AD) and the warmest of them all, the Holocene Climate Optimum (10000 BC – 6000 BC)—it is clearly ludicrous to claim any set of modern temperature measurements reflects the most extreme conditions ever encountered.
Have temperatures been rising over the last 100 years? Yes. Is this unprecedented or unnatural? No! Science has such a short period of accurate global temperature readings—no more than a few decades worth—to try and draw conclusions from the variation within those data is a fools game. Particularly when proxy data have shown centuries long temperature cycles in the past. We simply do not know how hot it was globally during the other warm periods in the past, so getting a worked up over a new high temperature in Chicago (for example) is silly.
This year, the US experienced an amazingly temperate winter and a scorching early summer heatwave, with more than 170 all-time heat records matched or broken. The chattering class of TV talking heads and on-screen “meteorologists” have made much of North America's bout of hot temperatures. At the same time, down under, Canberra experienced its coldest December since 1966 and its 5th coldest on record, with an average maximum temperature of just 23.6°C (75°F), 2.5 °C below the historical average. The cool average was associated with a lack of hot days during the month, with only seven days reaching 25 °C during December, well below the previous record of 9 days in December 1947. In comparison, Canberra typically experiences 18 days above 25°C and 7 days above 30°C during December.
That was during the summer. With the onset of winter, Canberra experienced its eighth straight freezing morning—that city's coldest stretch of winter mornings in 47 years. The mercury dropped to a frosty minus 4.8°C (23°F) on the morning of July 8, topping off eight consecutive mornings below minus 2.3°C. “The eight-day cold spell, with an average minimum temperature of minus 4.9, is the coldest string of July mornings since 1965,” reported ACT News. “The all-time record was in July 1962, when the average temperature over an eight-day period was minus 7. ” In fact, the whole of Australia was cooler than average with May being the fifth coolest in the nation's recorded history.
Other records, both highs and lows, have been set in various places around the world, all amounting to nothing of great importance. That is because the setting of such records does not indicate a trend over the long term (though they may well be part of a temporary heat wave of cold snap). Meanwhile, another aspect of the “global warming is causing rotten weather” fraud is the predicted intensification of the Atlantic hurricane season. The same US agency that is lying to the public about extreme temperatures being caused by AGW, NOAA, is quietly predicting that this years hurricane crop will be about average.
“We have increased our numbers slightly from our early April forecast, due largely to our uncertainty as to whether an El Nino will develop later this summer as well as somewhat marginal Atlantic basin conditions,” Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the forecasts said in a release. In the face of another average hurricane season prediction, global warming catastrophists remain unsurprisingly silent. Still, much was made of having two early named storms in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Indeed, the Colorado State based forecasting team made their forecast based on a new system that relies on 29 years of historical data including early season storms.
The team's founder and respected forecaster, William Gray, said pre-June-1 tropical cyclone activity historically has little bearing on the rest of the hurricane season. “The only two seasons on record with two named storms prior to June 1 were 1887 and 1908,” Gray reports. “While 1887 was a very active season, 1908 had average levels of activity. The last season with a U.S. landfall prior to June 1 was 1976, which was a relatively quiet season.”
Again, the span of reliable, comprehensive data is limited to a few decades. It is only since the age of satellites that every swirling tropical storm is identified, named and tracked. Go back a century or so and most tropical storms never got reported unless some unfortunate ship crossed the storm's path or it made landfall in a populated area. As it stands, we haven't had a major hurricane hit the US in almost seven years. Isn't it amazing how, when some natural catastrophe strikes, the warmist disinformation squads immediately pop-up to shout “global warming!” When no catastrophe is in the offing they remain mute.
Having reviewed the wicked weather during 2011 it should be noticed that the BAMS yearly climate report is widely respected and competently done—but it is a report about what happened, climate wise, during the past year. The second, tag-along report claiming to explain why those things happened is something new. An attempt of the climate change clique to attach themselves to a respected scientific publication that had managed to steer clear of the controversy surrounding global warming and the great climate change scam.
It seems that this latest ploy by the climatically challenged is to claim that heatwaves, droughts and such are normal but they are happening more frequently because global warming is amplifying the effects of normal weather cycles like El Niño and La Niña. Attribution is possible, say the warmists, as long as it is framed in terms of probability, rather than certainty. Instead of claiming global warming caused a heat wave, researchers could gauge how much more or less likely the heat wave was in a world where the climate is changing. This is all based on a methodology by an informal group of scientists, the Attribution of Climate-Related Events group (ACE) and their weapon of choice is statisics.
Probability of extreme precipitation, 1951-99.
For example, adding climate change to La Nina makes a Texas heat wave 20 times more likely than it would have been 50 years ago, claims Peter Stott of the Hadley Centre Met Office. “By some measures, 2011 was the warmest, driest growing season in the Texas record,” Stott said. “Both Texas and England felt the warming effects of the La Niña weather-making pattern but climate change pushed these influences to extremes.”
Even the authors of one of the papers in the addendum report recognize that they are simply grasping at probabilistic straws. “Natural low frequency internal variability of the climate system also affects the intensity and frequency of temperature and precipitation extremes, generally with a mixed pattern of increasing and decreasing responses depending on regions and seasons,” state Zwiers et al. in the section labeled “Historical Content.” After citing the “high spatial variability” of rainfall and the strong influences of persistent, cyclic climate variations like El Niño, they go on to conclude:
Any human influence on extreme weather risk combines with these episodic variations and the chance fluctuations that are inevitable when dealing with rare events; hence we should not assume that, if human influence is making a particular type of event more likely over time, it will necessarily occur with greater than average likelihood every year.
In other words, the impact of the calculated probabilities in this odds based gambit to prove anthropogenic global warming is actually influencing the world's weather can be counted on to remain unmeasurable. In truth, there is not anywhere near enough reliable, global data to establish a baseline that would allow such statistical attribution. Statistical models can be constructed, but they will only represent the past half century’s worth of data. They will not be representative of the Earth system over the 15 century span of the Holocene and will be unable to predict what the future will bring. Science that does not make predictions, that does not provide a way to empirically measure those predictions, is not science at all. What this is is pure bunk.
Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.