Weather weirding: back to the 1950′s

by Judith Curry

Seth Borenstein at AP published an article  entitled “Nature’s extremes worse than usual in US this year.”  I have a quote in the article:

Judith Curry of Georgia Tech disagreed, saying that while humans are changing the climate, these extremes have happened before, pointing to the 1950s.  “Sometimes it seems as if we have weather amnesia,’’ she said.

Here is a more complete context for that quote.

Here’s is the complete text that I sent to Seth Borenstein:

This past year has seen a number of severe weather events, including extensive winter snowfall in the U.S., Europe and China; extensive springtime flooding in the central U.S., the tornado outbreak in April, continued drought and extreme summer heat in Texas, and an active Atlantic hurricane season.  None of these events are unique in the historical record, neither does this collection of events in a single year seem unusual when you take a longer perspective.  But is this clustering of extreme events unusual?  Sometimes it seems as if we have weather amnesia.  Active hurricane seasons, heavy snowfalls and floods, and severe drought in Texas are all reminiscent of the 1950′s.  Natural variability is a plausible explanation for variations in extreme event frequency and also clustering of events.  At the same times, humans are also influencing the climate.  There is no simple way to attribute any individual extreme events or cluster of events to global warming.  And since these events have not been exceptional and their clustering is reminiscent of the 1950′s, there doesn’t seem to be anything exceptional going on that cannot be explained by natural variability of chaotic weather systems.

It has been hypothesized that the AMO and PDO have a major influence on U.S. weather patterns and extreme events.  From what I’ve looked at, this hypothesis has a lot of support, but of course the data record isn’t as long as one would like.  The current regime is warm AMO (since 1995) and cool PDO (flickering since 1999 but decisively cool since 2007).

1950′s

The previous period with warm AMO and cool PDO was 1946-1964.
Focusing specifically on the 1950′s, in the U.S. we had:

  • Texas drought recall’s long punishing dry spell of the 1950′s
  • Peak in U.S. hurricane landfalls in the 1950′s [link]
  • Flooding from tropical storms in Vermont [link] (actually this is very common, no particular peak in the 1950′s)
  • Plenty of floods in the 1950′s and esp in the early 1960′s [link], see esp The Great Flood of 1951 along the Kansas River claims 28 lives and causes extensive damage in Kansas and Missouri.
  • Tornadoes:  in 1953, there were two killer tornado outbreaks [link]
  • Heat waves:  not much going on in the 1950′s.
1930′s
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The 1930′s were during a regime of warm AMO, warm PDO.  Global average surface temperatures in the 1930′s were warmer than the 1950′s.  Regarding extreme events:
  •  In terms of heat waves,  the 1930′s swamps anything we seen in the past few years [link]
  • The 1930′s were quite active for North Atlantic hurricanes, but they were overall less intense and fewer landfalls than in the 1950′s
  • The dust bowl drought [link]
NOAA’s web page
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NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratories in Boulder has an excellent web page entitled “Interpreting Climate Conditions.”  Their “What’s happening now?”  discusses the meteorological and climatological conditions associated with recent extreme events, e.g. Russian heat wave, U.S. tornado outbreak.  They do an excellent job in their interpretation, and I have yet to see them blame any individual extreme event on global warming.
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At the Boulder Water Workshop last week, the idea of conducting this same kind of analysis on historical extreme events was discussed.  Such an analysis would be extremely useful in interpreting current extreme events.
.
JC conclusion
.
The obvious point is this.  Global average temperature doesn’t have much to do with most types of extreme weather events, other than  heat waves.  The multidecadal oscillations and shorter term teleconnection regimes seem to play the dominant role in modulating nearly all of the interannual variability of extreme events.
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While I have only looked at the U.S., I would be most interested in hearing anecdotes or analyses for extreme events in other parts of the world, particularly during the 1950′s and 1930′s

102 responses to “Weather weirding: back to the 1950′s

  1. “Judith Curry of Georgia Tech disagreed, saying that while humans are changing the climate, these extremes have happened before, pointing to the 1950s. “Sometimes it seems as if we have weather amnesia,’’ she said.”

    But when you say human beings are influencing the climate, what is the hard, empirical evidence for this? If not in terms of weather extremes, then what exactly? And how can you be so certain that you can make the claim without any apparent equivocation? This seems important. I’m a skeptic, but as open-minded as they come I would say.

    • We don’t need any hard evidence for this one. To say that humans are influencing the climate is common logic. We cut forests and plant corps, We build dams and we drain swamps. We replace green space with concrete. we irrigate and grow stuff where stuff would not otherwise grow. We put smoke in the air that blocks the sun. we put CO2 in the air which makes green things grow better while they use less water. I do not know if the net effect is overall warming or overall cooling, but we have changed climate. A little piece here and a big piece there, and there and there ……

      • Therefore it is also “logical” to say beavers influence the climate because they build millions of dams and flood huge areas of land.

        Just saying . . .

      • The conversion of millions of beavers into millions of hats change climate by allowing other areas to flood only occasionally and making it easier to change the huge wet lands into farm land. Since the beavers were poor at recording weather data, we don’t know how much climate changed :)

      • On a simplistic–very simplistic–level, yes, beavers build dams, humans build dams. Humans kill their prey and so do box jellyfish, thereby implicating box jellyfish, too?

        So, I’ll play along. Beavers didn’t burn fossil fuels, beavers didn’t run cattle for generations and turn New Mexico into a desert. Beavers didn’t turn hundreds of thousands of acres of prairie into monocultured farming, beavers didn’t chop down thick forests in ancient Greece and Italy turning the Mediterranean rim into a desert, beavers didn’t drain wetlands in North Dakota and the Sacramento Valley, beavers didn’t dump mercury into the oceans, beavers didn’t drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, beavers didn’t cause fisheries to collapse, etc.

        Given that [1] we practically wiped beavers out (so the analogy is moot and doesn’t even apply), [2] beaver dams create ponds and meadows, not giant state lakes (check out the Tuttle Creek reservoir for a look at the lovely handiwork of man and compare it to a beaver dam) that silt in or large rivers that die behind dams, and [3] dams are certainly an environmental concern but far down on the list compared to a host of other man-made problems; it is practically a middle finger at intelligence to equate the effects of beaver dam-building and human activities.

        Herman Alexander Pope’s statement, “We don’t need any hard evidence for this one,” easily withstands Fred’s well-thought out, highly substantiated, but ultimately weak rebuttal.

  2. I found this link on a German Website. This is Texas History that I have not seen aired on US News.
    Droughts have been recorded as a problem in Texas since Spaniards explored the area.
    http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ybd01

    • thx for this link. hopefully this thread doesn’t get lost in the S&B brouhaha

      • Alas it appears to have been lost, with 325 comments to 25 at this point, or by 13 to 1. Extreme rhetoric beats extreme weather, the former requiring no knowledge. Still, the (highly) emotional side of the debate is worth study, if not participation.

      • Dr. Curry:
        I would further point out Wikipedia defines drought as:
        “Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation”
        In places like Texas, the “average” precipitation includes tropical storms. There are often times when Texas does not receive a tropical storm for years on end, thus causing a “drought”. The use of an “average precipitation”, in cases like this, is extremely misleading as it does not take local factors into consideration.
        When Irene formed, many people from Texas were hoping it would head into the gulf to relieve their “drought”. In this case, and others around the world, the local populace is more informed as to how the climate in their neck of the woods works, then those who say the precipitation in Texas is “below average”. That is a very incomplete picture of what is at work.

        Roy Weiler

  3. Any “analysis” that uses or implies the term “unprecedented” should probably be discarded a priori. It is either amnesiac or obfuscatory.

    This is all so very reminiscent of the Hokey Schtick suppression of the MWP and LIA data. Apparently context is fatal to the Consensual Hypothesis.

    GrammarNasty comment: lose the apostrophes.
    The only correct ones in the entire post are:
    Nature’s
    the data record isn’t as long
    Here’s is the complete text (!!)
    there doesn’t seem to be anything
    what I’ve looked at
    What’s happening now?

    and the first and last are quotes.

  4. Judy:
    An interesting paper/Master’s thesis might be a review of weather reports from the NYT and other paper of records (London Times, LeMond, Herald Tribune, etc.,)that catalogs such weather events and the clustering of such weather events. I am not sure what the starting point would be, but my guess is there should be 100 years of good records. Obviously this might already exist in another data base.

  5. And let us not forget the Death by Dessication of the Anastasi,

    In the period between A.D. 1125 and 1180, very little rain fell in the region. After 1180, rainfall briefly returned to normal. From 1270 to 1274 there was another long drought, followed by another period of normal rainfall. In 1275, yet another drought began. This one lasted 14 years.

    So it took 164 years of progressively drier periods to drive them away for good. Now that’s a drought!

  6. typo:
    Anastazi (not Anastasi)
    Chaco Canyon, btw, is right next door to Texas, in New Mexico.

    • Anasazi — no ‘t’.

      • Brain you have posted a link to a denier history site.
        The site you linked to states:-

        “Scientists have found one possible answer by looking at tree rings (a study called dendrochronology) in the Sand Canyon area. In the period between A.D. 1125 and 1180, very little rain fell in the region. After 1180, rainfall briefly returned to normal. From 1270 to 1274 there was another long drought, followed by another period of normal rainfall. In 1275, yet another drought began. This one lasted 14 years.”

        Now can you see the problem?

        No?

        It has been PROVEN AS A SCIENTIFIC FACT that trees are thermometers and are not water gauges.
        Tree ring density is a function of the average annual temperature and NOTHING else.
        How dare suggest that St. Michael Mann could in any way be wrong in determining past temperatures.

      • Doc:
        I would also point out that the Southwestern USA is also subject to rains from tropical storms that occur infrequently. As I stated above:
        http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/05/weather-weirding-back-to-the-1950s/#comment-109143
        Average precipitations for these regions are very unreliable as a measure of year to year drought. Florida also experiences similar events. I would suspect Australia has a similar pattern, but I do not have enough experience with their continent to say for sure. Perhaps someone from Australia could chime in?

        Roy Weiler

      • Correct. Away from the coasts, much of Australia sees very little/insignificant rain for years on end. Then a tropical storm will wander in and dump a massive volume of water on what is essentially a flat and impermeable landscape. The results are very impressive, as long as you are in no hurry to drive somewhere.

      • scepticalWombat

        This is true for some parts of Australia but it is a big place and there are a lot of different climates. For instance New South Wales has substantial dry land farming areas west of the dividing range which are by definition dependent on reasonably dependable precipitation. The same is true for the Western Australian wheat belt. The latter has definitely seen a change in climate over the last 40 or so years.

      • It has been PROVEN AS A SCIENTIFIC FACT that trees are thermometers and are not water gauges.

        I am interested in reading more about this. Please provide links to the Proofs.

      • Huh!
        what part of that sentence needs proof. Michael man had already devined the paleo temps, with the help of Yamal and other Dendro Chronology, exclusive of rain, weather variations, fires, ferlizing floods, etc.

      • I hope you’re being humourous, and didn’t really need Doc to put a /sarc tag on the end of his post … in which case you would have had to use one yourself. I hope.

      • Oops indeed. Thnx.

    • What happened is a very interesting mystery. One paper I read (sorry, no link, this is from memory,) stated they may have had a really good irrigation system, and survived the worst droughts, but a change in the nature of the rain did the Anasasi in. Steady rains were replaced by “gully-washer” thunderstorms, which ruined their dams and eroded the steambeds below the inflow channels of irrigation canals. Repairs were impossible, perhaps due to their engineering skills, or perhaps due to a shortage of manpower. The question then becomes, “Where did they move to?” There are no signs they all died in that local.

  7. “We don’t need any hard evidence for this one. To say that humans are influencing the climate is common logic. We cut forests and plant corps, We build dams and we drain swamps.”

    Yes, of course, No argument. But that’s dishonest in that it’s not what Dr. Curry is talking about. Or if it is, it’s not at all made explicit on the above quote. And Dr. Curry knows, or certainly should know that’s not how her flat statement that the climate is being influenced by human would be interpreted.

    Dr. C., please, my question seems eminently reasonable and fair. When you say humans are (certainly it seems) influencing climate, what exactly is your meaning?

  8. I’ve asked this question several times before, and never received much of an answer. Why doesn’t someone analyse the weather station data to see if there are trends in extreme weather events? Extreme rainfall, extreme drought, extreme wind (!) – surely the weather station data can tell us a lot about these, just as the data can tell us about global temperatures.

    • Modern instrumented data covers 1880-present. That is a blip in time. If you could take a lot of data during many short periods of the past ten thousand years, you would extrapolate each of these short periods to many different future predictions. A blip in time is not enough data.

      • when the claims that AGW is increaing all the extreme events, they are talking about last 30-60 years. for that analysis data from 1880 ( ie. 130 years ) is long enough.

      • missing “are”
        it should read

        when the claims are that AGW is increaing all the extreme events, they are talking about last 30-60 years. for that analysis data from 1880 ( ie. 130 years ) is long enough.

    • Looks like I’ll be asking this question again, next time this topic comes up.

      My current best guess: “Extreme weather events” has only recently become a hot topic. It’s become a hot topic because global temps have been flatlining for a while. So a new scarey angle was needed. It will take a few years for people to actually do the science.

  9. My humble opinion: this is a problem created when climate scientists became climate activists. An increase in temperatures due to anthropogenic CO2 is perfectly reasonable, based on the science. But that change was always going to be slow and subtle. And those changes were never going to inspire action by the greater public to upturn the modern industrial world. Hurricanes, floods and droughts, on the other hand, might.

    So instead of sticking with the (reasonable, if debatable) ‘warming’ of global warming, the problem became ‘climate change.’ And the threat head over the general public became every hotter-than-average, colder-than-average, windier-than-average, dryer-than-average, and wetter-than-average event. And now, climate science/advocacy has walked so far out on that limb that they can’t come back in without destroying their credibility. They have to just live with their own foolish consistency and brazen it out. It’s reached the absurd point where they will acknowledge that you can’t assign a particular event to global warming, but then they’ll do it anyway in the same sentence.

    • The one thing I find curious about many who are skeptical is the distance they keep from actually knowing. To wit:

      “But that change was always going to be slow and subtle.”
      How do you know? There are scientists actually trying to measure this. Do you know their work? Are you following it? Are you following the peer review?

      “hotter-than-average, colder-than-average, windier-than-average, dryer-than-average, and wetter-than-average event,”
      Do you actually think that you uniquely understand this concept, that straying from the mean may not indicate anything, but the many physicists from Stanford to Columbia just don’t get it? Where is just one specific instance of a researcher who did not understand the difference between meaningless plot points that stray from the mean and meaningful ones?

      “And now, climate science/advocacy has walked so far out on that limb that they can’t come back in without destroying their credibility. They have to just live with their own foolish consistency and brazen it out.”
      Really? You know what’s happening behind the scenes, at say, the Polar Research Group at the University of Illinois? So, William Chapman is just some liar who’s now cowering in hopes of not being outed? You know this to be true? If it’s so prevalent, name some names.

      “you can’t assign a particular event to global warming, but then they’ll do it anyway in the same sentence.”
      Wow. At least here you should offer proof. I went to the unspeakably tiny effort of looking at ten papers online while I wrote this and did not come across a single researcher ascribing a particular event to global warming. Nada. One of the papers (“A subtropical fate awaited freshwater discharged from glacial Lake Agassiz,” by Alan Condron and Peter Winsor, which appeared in Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 38) was quite typical of research findings and I could not find the authors assigning a particular event to global warming anywhere.

      In case after case, from either side, the question remains: how do you know? And more often than not, the denier says, “because I read an article somewhere that said so.” And the sad fact is, the knowledge is dynamic and readily available. You don’t need a media filter. Read the research. Go to the sources.

      Here’s a major problem: overreaching. It’s like arguing about James Joyce’s Ulysses without having actually read the book. The researchers are available. They have websites. They make public presentations. Hell, they have email addresses. The bottom line is if you don’t know what’s actually going on behind the scenes with research projects, if you don’t know who the researchers are, if you don’t know the practice required for the specific research in question, then you don’t know what you are talking about. You’re just mimicking what you found in a news story to support you’re already chosen position.

  10. It may be that something more than societal amnesia is far more prevalent than every imagined. Many in our society apparently suffer from what is should be known as, Hot Woirld Syndrome, i.e.,

    Hot World Syndrome—fear of a hotter, more intimidating world than it actually is prompting a desire for more protection than is warranted by any actual threat.

  11. “The obvious point is this. Global average temperature doesn’t have much to do with most types of extreme weather events, other than heat waves. The multidecadal oscillations and shorter term teleconnection regimes seem to play the dominant role in modulating nearly all of the interannual variability of extreme events.”

    Dr. C,
    This sounds just about right, based on the things I’ve read by the scientists and long range meteorologists I respect. What I don’t understand is why you want to then go ahead and weaken your position with a definitive claim of human influence nonetheless, when first that claim cannot yet be proven, and second even if it eventually can, might well be insignificant.

    The only reason I can see for such a concession is to keep your credibility among the warmists in tact, at least to the extent you can. Otherwise, there just seems no good reason for it. Maybe you’re right to take such pains. Frankly, I’m not smart enough to know.

  12. I would be most interested in hearing anecdotes or analyses for extreme events in other parts of the world, particularly during the 1950′s and 1930′s.

    Hi Judith,
    In my part of the world, West Yorkshire, England, I was speaking to an 86 year old man last year who told me that in 1947 he lived near Howarth (elevation 200m east Pennine hills). His family was snowed in on their farm. In June.

    More winter in Britain dates here:
    http://www.netweather.tv/index.cgi?action=other;type=winthist;sess=

  13. Steven Goddard has a fantastic collection of “extreme weather” stories on his Real Science website, mostly about the USA of course.
    He takes the wilder statements made by politicians, reporters and yes even scientists and rubishes them with history.

  14. I think Anthony on WUWT was also putting together similar data for his References page.

  15. JC

    Thanks very much for this excellent post.

  16. One of the frustrations of the topic of weather extremes is the ambiguous definition.

    ‘Weather extremes are expected’ logic flows out of one of two general types of reasoning, as I see it.

    a) With more heat to drive the system, the system will move faster and flows will reach further in every direction. This is AGW extreme weather.

    b) With greater external forcings in a complex system, the ergodicity will tend to be more disturbed by large, new, faster, jumpier perturbations. This is Chaos extreme weather.

    Neither a) nor b) can tell us if these extremes will be on any particular scale without substantially better measurements – on the order of three or more orders of magnitude more information than we currently gather – or in which direction or type on each scale.

    To attempt to statistically map extreme weather events to this prediction is silly, as so many extreme weather events have so many inputs. Is a flood the result of more precipitation, or erosion or land use change or massive earthworks or a combination of all of the above? Does the drought brought on by a natural gyre get blamed on man if the gyre is affected and altered by some fourth or fifth order indirect human activity?

    Silly discussion to be having yet. Proves nothing either way.

    • Don’t tell us, tell Gore!

      • tallbloke

        You want me to tell Gore that higher CO2 concentrations will lead to more chaotic weather, but that conventional approaches to looking at weather won’t convince people?

        I suspect he knows.

    • You’re leaving something important out. The “more energy in the system” notion is a pure first law argument. The second law applies also, and when you include it, you get a very different result: that weather, “extreme” and otherwise, it driven by differentials, not totals. So the idea that total energy is meaningful is nonsense. What’s meaningful is gradients. To find out what’s going to happen, you have to look at the differences, not the absolute values.

      Hurricanes are kind of a special case, because the low temperature is coming from the upper atmosphere, so the net effect is that they do respond to a single temperature. Most weather doesn’t work that way.

      • P.E.

        Earth spins and is curved.
        Creates an intrinsic increasing gradient.
        Works as a Second Law argument, too.
        Greater heat makes for greater differences.

    • You said “Silly discussion to be having yet. Proves nothing either way.”

      Tell that to the CAGW crowd, that keeps yapping “unprecedented this, unprecedented that”.

      Joe Ramm says, “100 year storm” in Vermont. There were 4 times in the last 60 augusts with higher rain than august 2011. Tell him too!!

      • nandhee jothi

        I believe you’d need to grant me more power to furnish rewards for positive behaviors and penalties for adverse ones than I possess at this time.

        Further, I have no proof that those who claim any particular extreme event is AGW-connected are wrong. Indeed, if (big ‘if’) a butterfly can cause a hurricane, then AGW certainly can too.

        They’re as warranted to make such claims as are those who claim planets orbit distant stars based on the stars wobble. I can hop up and say, “There’s no planet there!” but I’d be laughed at absent some instrumental evidence or a consistent theory of natural stellar wobbling. After all, they wobbled before we believed other planets could exist.

        It’s more implausible to pop up and tell someone making this connection that they’re wrong (as I can’t prove them wrong, and no one solidly framed theory is established that substantially challenges theirs in this way — “Natural variability accounts for extreme events” puhleeze; how is anyone to take such tripe? It’s like saying “Officer, I may be drunk, but those pedestrians were on the sidewalk right in the way of my SUV.”) than to make such connections in the first place. Unfair though that reversed onus may seem to people who don’t like it.

        So it’d be silly of me to discuss how they can’t connect a specific event, or even a statistical trend, based on data I don’t have and can’t yet get.

        The non-silly discussion to have is on theory and specifically Chaos Theory.

        On theory, the CAGW discussion is not unwarranted, and cannot be dismissed absent sufficient data to determine if the perturbation by GHG forcing is connected, which may be possible in Chaos Theory.. which we don’t collect nearly enough data in an organized effort yet to do, and barely the mathematics yet to decide.

      • “Indeed, if (big ‘if’) a butterfly can cause a hurricane, then AGW certainly can too.”

        Utterly disingenuous.

        The butterfly can never predictably cause (or not cause) a hurricane. Which is the whole point. Thus, you are offering AGW the same degree of prediction power: none.

      • Brian H

        What you say is true. Especially the utter part.

        However, it’s not necessary to discuss prediction when discussing attribution.

        If a civil court is deciding matters of attribution after the fact to partition liability, the standard ‘predictability’ has a different meaning than in mathematics, and some sort of ‘reasonable person’ test is applied.

        Should a reasonable person conclude that a change to the climate may harm some people who did not consent to the change? That’s a no brainer.

        Should a reasonable person conclude that emitting GHGs like CO2 at globe-impacting, worldwide carbon-cycle overwhelming rates might risk climate change? Clearly, there’s debate, however 97% of scientists agree it very likely, and scientists meet the definition of reasonable persons.

        So, right now, everyone emitting a large share of GHGs who has deep pockets might be deemed fair game in civil court.

        As money matters more than math in our world, I’d say predictive power has been shown moot on the specific question of attribution.

      • Anyone who uses that 97% figure is a doof. 77/79 is not a significant sample at even the 50% level of “confidence”.

      • Brian H

        Again, what you say of confidence levels is reasonably close to true.

        However, if you walked 79 reasonable scientists into a courtroom and questioned them, and 77 agreed, by the standard that applies in civil trials, you’ve met the burden of the reasonable person test.

        Indeed, you’ve exceeded it greatly.

        If we’re talking about money, liability, commerce and responsibility, and not science.

      • Oh, to explain what I mean by reasonably close to true, there’s only a 53.88% confidence that at least 95% of all scientists agree, if we’re talking about a truly random sample of 79 subjects with 77 agreeing.

        Alternatively, there’s a 99.75% confidence of a central interval of 87% to 99.74% of scientists agreeing based on the 77/79 figure.

        So, Brian H is within 4% of casting doubt, but not very much doubt.

      • Bart R | September 23, 2011 at 3:09 am |

        Oh, to explain what I mean by reasonably close to true, there’s only a 53.88% confidence that at least 95% of all scientists agree, if we’re talking about a truly random sample of 79 subjects with 77 agreeing.

        Alternatively, there’s a 99.75% confidence of a central interval of 87% to 99.74% of scientists agreeing based on the 77/79 figure.

        So, Brian H is within 4% of casting doubt, but not very much doubt.

        Au contraire. The whole point of requiring 5 or 6-sigma confidence levels in physics etc. is to counteract the potent and invidious tendency of the human mind to operate as a rationalization machine, and find (consciously or unconsciously) ways to justify a “meme” or position, especially one taken in public and reflecting on one’s status and claim to respect.

        And the more that hangs on a particular claim, the tougher the confidence testing must be. With AGW and its twin CAGW, it’s for all the marbles. 77 of 79 subjectively hand-selected respondents barely even warrants a horse-laugh. About as far from “randomly sampled ” as it’s possible to get.

      • I agree Bart. Chaos theory certainly allows for just about anything to influence climate but the problem is that no form of prediction is at all posssible UNLESS climate can be described as ergodic, and then we could assume that the data sets can have predictive value.

      • The raw data sets do when you look at them the right way, the forecasts on my pages have been posted there for 44 months now and there are still 28 months of forecast to go. It is a compilation of three analog periods of the harmonic oscillation of the inner planets orbital periods and the Moons orbital parameters that repeat every 6558 days.

        http://research.aerology.com/aerology-analog-weather-forecasting-method/

        The original raw data was pulled and averaged together (in December of 2007) to see if there were any patterns that repeated, does better than the NWS 5 day forecast on average, with detailed maps for daily Highs, Lows, Precipitation with range to expect, Snow fall and Snow on ground.

        It has been drier in Texas than the past patterns show, but they still shows a drouth, and since the solar minimum, the Gulf states have been dryer than usual (from the past patterns). The fronts still arrive on time just no rain, did a good job on the Tornadoes this last spring.

        Major revisions are under way to upgrade the detail of the maps, and add Canada, Alaska, and Australia. With the completion of outside forecast verification testing I will be able to give you accuracy numbers relative to Clim stats, NWS, and other service providers. All funds have come out of my own pocket. Ideas from around the net can be found in the research Blog format on the current state of the knowledge of the “Natural Variability”. Who’s doing what, and when they discovered it, can be followed in the original blog articles I copied comments from.

      • Richard;
        If you’re going to make a future Authority out of yourself, at least learn to spell “drought”.

  17. Norm Kalmanovitch

    If you check the HadCRUT3 dataset used in the IPCC 2001TAR (before the group at Hadley changed the data to eliminate the well documented global cooling period from 1942 to 1975 because it disproved the AGW conjecture with the 500% increase in CO2 emissions that took place over these 33years of cooling) you will see that the Earth was cooling much as it is cooling today on the cooling trend that started in 2002.
    If the air temperature is cooler the same warm sea surface temperatures that were not quite high enough to produce enough differential temperature to innitiate the formation of hurricanes can now do so and this might be one explanation for the weather being similar to the 1950′s. The important question is just how cold do we expect to get considering that the current solar cycle 24 is mimicking the Dalton Minimum that brought an extension of the Little Ice Age.
    Whethere or not we will get an increase in extreme weather with the cooloing temperatures is a great uncertainty because of the many complicating factors; what is certain is that global warming from CO2 emissions is definitely not responsible for any of this current crazy weather because the Earth has been cooling for the past nine years.

  18. Hi Judith

    i think I might have referenced this to you before, but hubert Lamb wrote a fascinating book entitled ‘Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Euriope’ ISBN 0.521 61931 9 published by Cambridge University Press. It starts in 1509 and finishes in the 1980′s and comes complete with weather charts and comment.

    Modern storms appear to be dwarfed by some of the events of the past and makes me suspect that storms are worse in periods of cold rather than during warm periods, as the models try to demonstrate.

    tonyb

    • Since the “heat slope” from tropics to poles is steeper in cold periods, it is almost a logical certainty that the flows would be more vigourous and violent. Since warming preferentially affect the high latitudes, the overall climate should become more uniform and benign.

      As usual, 180° opposed to the claims of Warmlarmists.

  19. “Whether or not we will get an increase in extreme weather with the cooloing temperatures is a great uncertainty because of the many complicating factors; ”

    It is my understanding based on what I’ve read that cooling is much more likely to bring about weather extremes than warming.

  20. WJR Alexander Statistical analysis of extreme floods in South Africa.

    The water levels at Hankey (on the Gamtoos River) ranked in order of magnitude occurred in 1867 (largest), 1932, 1971, 1847, 1916, 1905 and 1961. There is no evidence in any of these records of a progressive increase or decrease in the magnitude of the flood maxima.

    http://www.sinotechcc.co.za/Software/UPFLOOD/SDF1.pdf

  21. Roy Spencer addresses: Dessler vs. Rick Perry: Is the 2011 Texas Drought Evidence of Human-Caused Climate Change?
    Contiguous US June & July Rainfall

    What we see are some major drought events, and 2011 is not one of the big ones. The Big Kahuna was the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. The 1950’s also experienced record droughts (see the animation here). These were before increasing CO2 in the atmosphere could be reasonably blamed for anything, except maybe enhancing plant growth a little.

    But what do we ALSO see in the long term? If anything, an UPWARD trend in rainfall.

    and
    Texas June-July rainfall

    And note that the long-term rainfall trend in Texas is not downward.
    Surely, Dr. Dessler knows that a single data point (2011) does not constitute a “trend”.

  22. Judy, Seth made you sound like some nay-saying skeptic disagreeing with the global warmers. Amazing how you gave a expert scientific answer while the rest of the “experts” were quoted with anecdotes. Obviously you need to spice up your emails with more hyperbole and fire and brimstone :-)

  23. All:
    I recall during the heatwave in Russia 2010 seeing a list of interpreted Russian diaries that indicated this type of event had happened before. I know the Russia media came out and stated that a similar event had not happened in the last 1000 years, but I have never been able to find the source for the Russian diaries. Does anyone have access to the source?

    Roy Weiler

    • Roy

      I wrote about the Russian Heat waves in this extract from a much longer article on warming episodes during the Little Ice age.

      “Lamb also points out that the decade from 1810 to 1819 was the coldest in England since the 1690s. However, Dickens published ‘A Christmas Carol’ in December 1843 during what remains to this day as one of the warmest Decembers in British history. The two warmest winters on record occurred in 1868 and 1833.

      These accounts from Russia contradict the popular notion of a shiveringly cold country and have obvious parallels with the fires of 2010.

      “1831: Summer was unbearably hot, and as a consequence of numerous fires in the forests, there was a constant haze of smoke in the air, through which the sun appeared a red hot ball; the smell of burning was so strong, that it was difficult to breathe.

      The years of 1839-1841 were known as the “hungry years.” In the spring of 1840, the spring sowings of corn disappeared in many places. From midway through April until the end of August not a drop of rain fell. From the beginning of summer the fields were covered with a dirty grey film of dust. All the plants wilted, dying from the heat and lack of water. It was extraordinarily hot and close, even though the sun, being covered in haze, shone very weakly through the haze of smoke.

      1868: the weather was murderous. It rained once during the summer. There was a drought. The sun, like a red hot cinder, glowed through the clouds of smoke from the peat bogs. Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.”
      http://therese-phil.livejournal.com/171196.html

      This steady rise in temperature during this period was also commented on by the author in this article, which links three long temperature records along the Hudson River in the USA. They illustrate that with a start date of 1880 Giss misses out on the preceding warm climatic cycles and that UHI appears to be a big factor in the increasingly urbanised temperature data sets from both Giss and Hadley/Cru.
      http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/triplets-on-the-hudson-river/#comment-13064

      That the temperature dropped from the start of James Hansen’s’ famous Giss record in 1880 places it out of context to the warmer period that preceded it, and this is reflected in this intriguing reference from the records of the Canadian Horticulturist monthly of 1880 (page 7).

      “I do not know whether or not the climate of Ontario is really becoming permanently milder than formerly, but I do know that for the past 18 years or 20 years we have not experienced the same degree of cold as the seven years preceding.”
      http://www.archive.org/stream/canadianhorticu03stcauoft#page/6/mode/2up

      tonyb

    • You’ll have to (google) translate this:

      http://www.school-obz.org/topics/fire/003.htm

  24. The idea that recent extreme weather events are “out of range” for an “unperturbed” climate system is either naive or disingenuous. You know what’s really extreme? Piscine precipitation!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1254812/Hundreds-fish-fall-sky-remote-Australian-town-Lajamanu.html

    Seriously, given all the weird and wacky things that weather can do, you’d need a really, really long and complete record to separate a trend from the noise.

  25. ‘A recent study (Moy et al., 2002) documented the variability of El Nino/Southern Oscillation activity at millennial timescales during the Holocene epoch (Fig. 5; adapted from Moy et al., 2002). This is a proxy record based on the distribution of inorganic clastic laminae in a core retrieved from Lake Laguna Pallcacocha in Ecuador. The laminae
    are deposited during ENSO-driven episodes of alluvial deposition in the Laguna Pallcacocha drainage basin. These laminae are mixed with dark-colored organic-rich silt. The surface of the core sections was scanned and the intensity of the red color was used to generate the proxy record. In general higher intensity values correspond to El Nino and lower values to La Nina.’

    http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.pdf
    http://www.essc.psu.edu/~dseidov/meteo597/papers/Moy_et_ql_Nature_2002.pdf

    Much of the world’s weather derives from the Pacific – rainfall over much of the world, floods and drought (including in the US), cyclones in the Atlantic. It involves the PDO – the frequency and intensity of ENSO varies with the PDO – but is basin wide. A cool PDO is associated with more frequent and intense La Niña – and vice versa. But there is climate variability over much longer periods that is much larger than has been seen over the past hundred years.

  26. I will give you an analogy that everyone can grasp, but that only has a tenuous connection to climate extremes.

    The concept is called implied correlation of equities such as stocks. At one time, long ago, individual stocks would rise and fall based on their value. The rise of one stock would not necessarily be tied to the rise of another apart from the fact that all boats will follow the tide of economic activity. The stock valuations were therefore not correlated, the S&P 500 or DJIA would smooth the noisy peaks, and relatively few large swings would occur. The implied correlation was therefore low.

    Switch to now: all stock prices are correlated sensitively to things like oil prices and economic expectations. The market has turned into a casino. Since all stock prices are correlated to a few obvious indicators, they are all correlated amongst themselves and the implied correlation is high (nearing 80%). No wonder that swings of $100 to $200, equivalent to 2% or more, are routinely measured in the daily average. Nothing gets averaged out anymore.

    Environmental extremes are usually caused by correlated events. If perturbations to the system are high, and the impulse response is uniformly scaled across all the functions, then conceivably these could all correlate to create larger extremes.

    The problem is that this is a statistical property of the system and one cannot rule out spurious or naturally occurring correlations. To make an analogy to the stock market, maybe we can look at something like daily excursions, something like the maximum daytime temperature and the minimum nighttime temperature. Do these show anything remarkable against the historical averages? The daily forcing function of solar radiation would likely stimulate these more mundane kinds of extremes.

  27. Pielke Jr. wrote about Australian climate scientist Neville Nicholls’ analysis of eastern Australia’s rains, following the flooding this spring. Heavy rain years coincide with strong La Ninas. The period of late 1940′s through mid-1950′s were years of heavy rains – the same time there were heavy snows in the US Pacific NW and Texas drought.

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2011/04/neville-nicholls-on-australias-extreme.html

    • Hi Don,

      Flood and drought dominated regimes were first identified in the 1980′s by a couple of Australian geographers – Wayne Erskine and Robin Warner.

      http://iahs.info/redbooks/a168/iahs_168_0327.pdf

      They do of course emerge from Pacific decadal climate states. ‘
      One of the areas where great progress has been made is in the study of the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a global air-sea interaction phenomenon with interannual time scales (typically in the 1.5-8 yr band) that is the largest source of variability in the earth’s climate (Fig. 1, see also Wang & Fiedler, 2004, this volume). While interest in ENSO has remained high during the last decades, the realization that ENSO variability is modulated by longer-scale interdecadal and multidecadal climate
      variability has received much attention in recent years.’ http://horizon.ucsd.edu/miller/download/ETPac/Interdecadal0123.pdf

      As Moy shows in shows in his South American lake proxy – there is variability over much longer periods than decades.

      Cheers

      • Actually, Australia’s flood and drought dominated regimes were identified 70 years earlier than Erskine and Warner, by poet Dorothea Mackellar:

        I love a sunburnt country,
        A land of sweeping plains,
        Of ragged mountain ranges,
        Of droughts and flooding rains.

        :)

  28. The sad fact is that the AGW movement has hijacked weather history to push its CO2 obsessed agenda.
    As long as the media is credulous and easily manipulated, this hijacking will continue to mislead many in the public square.
    Kudos to Dr. Curry for having the integrity to point out the falseness of the AGW promoters.

  29. Of course we have changed climate here and there. One only has to look at the daily weather reports around England to see that invariably the warmest place is London (usually by +2C cf just 30 miles out). We also see much flooding, because we used up land for purposes it was not supposed to peform and the water flows elsewhere where it would not have done previously. We should look at obvious things that everyone can see and not rely on fancy models to tell us something that the data simply don’t support. We certainly should insist that anyone publishing on climate understands the role of the Null and Alternative hypotheses.

  30. If the present situation is similar to something observed in 1950′s but not thereafter, it’s indeed rare. Observing something that rare is not insignificant. The likelihood that it’s related to some more general change in climate is significant, but it may also be only natural variability.

    In the Bayesian spirit observing a rare combination of extreme events is evidence for the hypothesis that the climate is in a state, where the extreme events are more likely than before. How strong evidence it is, is unfortunately very difficult, if not impossible, to determine as we cannot calculate the likelihoods of the present situation in any well defined set of alternative states of climate, for which we could in addition give prior probabilities.

    I.e., we cannot really perform the Bayesian analysis, which means at the same that we cannot really quantify the significance of the evidence. Here I return to my earlier postulate: If we cannot apply Bayesian reasoning, we have no way of doing quantitative reasoning at a level better that the little that we can infer in the Bayesian spirit.

  31. IN the odd chance that you haven’t been alerted to John N-G’s post on Texas’ extreme summer:

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/08/texas-drought-spot-the-outlier/

    It shows “just how unusual the combination of summer temperatures and summer rainfall [in Texas] has been.”

    I remember a similar type of analysis for the extreme dry and warm summer in Russia last year (climatecentral and Tamino).

    There certainly “is no simple way to attribute any individual extreme events or cluster of events to global warming.” as you rightly state. But I do wonder how long you can credibly continue to claim that “there doesn’t seem to be anything exceptional going on that cannot be explained by natural variability of chaotic weather systems”.

    My discussion from last year on this topic:
    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/extreme-weather-and-climate-change/

  32. remember a similar type of analysis for the extreme dry and warm summer in Russia last year

    Remarkably similar to the climate of 1783 eg Euler 1784 Thordason and self 2003

    The summer of 1783 was characterized by extreme and unusual weather, including an unusually hot July in western Europe, most likely caused by perseverance of southerly air currents. The following winter was one of the most severe winters on record in Europe and North America. In these regions, the annual mean surface cooling that followed the Laki eruption was about “1.3!C and lasted for 2–3 years. We propose that the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere aerosols from Laki disrupted the thermal balance of the Arctic regions for two summers and were the main mechanism for the associated climate perturbations. Eruptions of Laki magnitude have occurred in the recent past in Iceland and will occur again. If such an eruption were to occur today, one of the most likely immediate consequences would be disruption to air traffic over large portions of the Northern Hemisphere.

  33. Judith,

    What is the physical driver of the PDO and AMO?
    Is it not the physical size and planetary speed difference by the circumference size?
    Still takes 24 hours to have a complete rotation even though the size difference to the sun. A larger circumference size has a faster rotational speed pushing anything not physically attached to the planet to the slower speed in the lower atmosphere. This energy still has to come back in circulation by the upper atmosphere or we would have no atmosphere left.

  34. Tomas Milanovic

    Judith

    There is a good site giving data for every year for France : http://www.meteo-paris.com/chronique/annee/1953.
    They also deal with extreme phenomena and every year had its deal of it :
    Here for example in 1953 :
    “End january 1953 a violent storm hits the whole north western Europe.
    Wind speeds of 160 km/h in Reims and 150 km/h north of Paris are registered. Giant waves appear in the North Sea and destroy the shores of East England, French and Belgian Flandres as well as Holland. An unprecedented catastrophe follows – 200 000 people must be evacuated and more than 3 000 are killed.”

    Globally the 50ies in France were rather cold and wet.

    But of course also “unprecedented” heat waves take place regardless.
    In june 1952, during 1 week are measured temperatures far above 35°C – 38°C in Paris, 40 in Lyon and 41 in Vichy.
    Also this year (1952) France is hit 4 times (!!) by exceptional storms with wind speeds reaching 180 km/h.
    The violence of these storms can be seen when one realizes that wind speeds of 170 km/h have been measured in Belfort which is 700 km far from the sea shore!

  35. James Lewis addresses some issues surrounding the hype in On Being Governed By Scientific Frauds e.g.,

    The news leaked out a while ago that Al Gore scored a D in natural science at Harvard. That would be the science introduction for Other Majors, not difficult chemistry or calculus. So Nobel Laureate Al Gore got a D in Science for Dummies.

    Similarly see: : “worldwide-temperature increase has not produced acceleration of global sea level over the past 100 years”
    despite Obama promising:

    … I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal…

  36. Claims that our current weather is unprecedented are the ultimate exercise in ANTI-SCIENCE. When a scientist has no proof and in fact has evidence to the contrary, yet reports to the public his gut feelings disguised as supposed scientific fact, he is the epitome of anti-scientific.

    Someone really needs to stand up for science.

    • Um, dude, you’re being ironic, right? Because I could swear you’re position was the same one the Catholic church took when they put Galileo under house arrest. Either that or you’re ignorant of the hundreds and hundreds of websites for the public, run by climate research organizations from Stanford to Cambridge designed to enlighten people directly about research.

  37. Steven Goddard specialises in past extreme weather events at
    http://www.real-science.com/
    In fact if you click on the ‘bad weather’ link along the top, you get a huge collection of old newspaper cuttings from around the world arranged by year in reverse chronological order – a very useful resource.

    In the 1950s he has
    “Heatwave melts north pole ice”
    “Brisbane facing worst flood in its history”
    “25 Millions lose homes in flood” (India)
    “Floods, drought ravage China”

    and lots more similar in the 1930s.

  38. Here’s Jeff Masters on last years weather wierding

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1831

  39. Dr Curry, a general thanks for your blog, I enjoy it immensely.

    I came across this quote from social psychologist Jonathan Haidt I thought you and some readers would enjoy. quotes of a similar vein are all over the place, but his article on our inability to reason is fascinating.

    “So, as I said, [insert controversial topic here]* is like The Matrix. It’s a consensual hallucination. And if we only hang out with people who share our matrix, then we can be quite certain that, together, we will find a lot of evidence to support our matrix, and to condemn members of other matrices.”

    from: http://edge.org/conversation/a-new-science-of-morality-part-1

    *The topic they are discussing is morality… but his talk seems relatable to almost any controversial subject, especially those studied academically.

    43Tesseracts
    an amateur epistemologist =)

  40. “Near Peterhoff the forests and peat workings burnt, and troops dug trenches and flooded the subterranean fire. It was 40 centigrade in the open, and 28 in the shade.”
    http://therese-phil.livejournal.com/171196.html

    cooler in the shade?
    call out the CRRT!

  41. We had it drilled into us a few years back about global warming. Now this year in the UK we experience the coldest winter and summer for a long time, so it sparks another theory. As with all figures and trends there will always be ups and downs, and my belief is we cannot effect the climate, but we like to think so.

  42. A serious discussion of the relation between weather extremes and modern climate change should address the question of how the Munich Re (re-insurance company) database of natural disasters (and those of other insurance companies) can be made available for scholarly study. It is claimed that the Munich Re database is globally comprehensive from 1980 (and comprehensive for the US and European countries from 1970), and includes records of some 20,000+ events. But, as far as I know, it is not publically available. Is this correct?

    Prof. Peter Hoeppe, of Munich Re, presents summary data (e.g., http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/26/10/38155568.pdf
    ) that suggests that the number and intensity of weather-related loss events (aside from costs) has increased markedly above that explainable by demographic factors, and can be attributed to climate change. Given the theoretical arguments for such changes, and their potential economic and social consequences, these data must be taken seriously, and should be subject to open scholarly analysis. Does anyone know if there are efforts afoot to make this happen?

    In the meantime, the catastrophic climatic events of the past few years (and those now occurring), whether “unprecedented” or not, are vivid reminders of what the future might hold if the dire predictions of some “alarmists” turn out to be correct.

  43. The severe winters we have had in Europe the past couple of years were not nearly as bad as the year I was born in 1964, as I remember well :) actually my father remembers well!

  44. Haven’t read all the comments, I’m sure someone has thought of this, but it would be pretty cool if we could divide the cotinents up into geographic climatic regimes and make “extreme event” maps for each regime, based on that regions’ historical patterns.

  45. John N-G has an interesting evaluation of the recent drought in Texas

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/09/texas-drought-and-global-warming/

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