UK-US Workshop Part V: Broadening the portfolio of climate information

by Judith Curry

This post discusses Workshop presentations on broadening the portfolio of climate information for use in regional adaptation decisions.

This post is a follow-on to the four previous posts:

Projections of future climate variability and change on decadal (nominally 10-40 years from now) and regional scales are of high relevance for decision making.  However, these time and space scales are  particularly challenging for climate models because natural variability can be at least as large as forced climate variability.

Broadening the portfolio of climate information used to support decision making is envisioned to integrate the following elements:

  • Understanding of climate model limitations on regional/decadal scales
  • Mixed portfolio of climate information (data including historical and paleo; models – both dynamical and empirical; natural climate variability)
  • Putting climate information into perspective with other issues

This post highlights two presentations that relate to broadening the portfolio of climate information to support decision making:

Rob Wilby – Climate ‘hot spot’ analysis to inform adaptation planning in Yemen

Development agencies can face difficult decisions about where and how to prioritise investments in climate risk reduction measures. Community level adaptation options in semi-arid regions include rainwater harvesting, terrace rehabilitation, re-afforestation, wadi bank protection, irrigation schemes, small dams, training village-level agriculture technicians (extension workers/ veterinarians), establishment of saving and credit groups and provision of small grants for income generating activities, and literacy training. Implementation is especially challenging in data sparse regions where there may be few meteorological stations, complex topography and extreme weather phenomena.  This paper describes the development and application of a decision-support tool to identify ‘hot spots’ of climate risk and to guide adaptation activities in Yemen. The project was commissioned by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in order to identify ~500 village units that are vulnerable to flash flooding, soil erosion, water scarcity and reduced crop potential. We blended surface meteorological observations, remotely sensed (TRMM and NDVI) data, physiographic indices, and regression techniques to produce gridded maps of annual mean precipitation and temperature, as well as parameters for site-specific, daily weather generation for any location in Yemen. Climate sensitivity analysis was then applied to the impact models alongside socio-economic criteria to identify communities that are potentially most at risk. Finally, a Google Earth tool was provided to enable field officers to locate communities and interpret climate risks within a wider landscape context.

Judith Curry – Generating possibility distributions of scenarios for regional climate change

At timescales beyond a season, available ensembles of climate models do not provide the basis for probabilistic predictions of regional climate change.  Given the uncertainties, the best that can be hoped for is scenarios  of future change that bound the actual change, with some sense of the likelihood of the individual scenarios.  This talk argues that this is a realistic expectation for timescales out to 2040 or 2050.

Scenario thinking – Scenarios are provocative and plausible accounts of how the future might unfold. The purpose is not to identify the most likely future, but to create a map of uncertainty of the forces driving us toward the unknown future.  Scenarios help decision makers order and frame their thinking about the long-term while providing them with the tools and confidence to take action in the short-term.

Are GCMs the best tool? – GCMs may not be the best tool, and are certainly not the only tool, for generating scenarios of future regional climate change.  Current GCMs inadequate for simulating natural internal variability on multidecadal time scales.  Computational expense precludes adequate ensemble size.  GCMs currently have little skill in simulating regional climate variations.  Dynamical & statistical downscaling adds little value, beyond accounting for local effects on surface variables.  Further, the CMIP5 simulations only explore various scenarios of emissions, they do not explore multiple scenarios of solar forcing.

Possibility theory provides a useful framework for considering scenarios.  Possibility theory is an imprecise probability theory that states that any hypothesis not known to be impossible cannot be ruled out. A possibility distribution distinguishes what is plausible versus the normal course of things versus surprising versus impossible.

The challenge for identifying an upper bound for future scenarios is to identify the possible and plausible worst case scenarios.   What scenarios would be genuinely catastrophic? What are possible/plausible time scales for the scenarios? Can we ‘falsify’ these scenarios for the timescale of interest based upon our background knowledge of natural plus anthropogenic climate change?

On decadal timescales, the scenarios of greatest interest involve extreme weather events.  The decadal scenarios are not time series, but rather frequencies of extreme events (including clusters) and worst case scenarios over the target time interval:  floods, droughts, heat waves, tropical cyclones, heavy snowfalls, etc.

Data driven scenario generation methods:

  • Climatology (historical, paleoclimate)
  • Extrapolation of recent trend
  • Dynamic climatology empirical model  (Suckling/Smith)
  • Network-based dynamic climatology (Wyatt & Curry)
  • Secular global warming as a multiplier effect
  • “What if” scenarios relative to vulnerability threshold
.
Scenarios (insights) for 2015-2025
Stadium wave climate dynamics:
  • Warm AMO (shifting towards neg), cool PDO
  • More La Nina events
  • Decrease/flattening of the warming trend

Weather/climate impacts for U.S. (analogue: 1955-1965):

  • more rainfall in NW, mid Atlantic states
  • less rainfall in W/SW, Texas
  • more hurricane landfalls along Atlantic coast, fewer in FL

“Spiking” from AGW:

  • Increasing rainfall
  • Increase in hurricane intensity
  • Overall reduced hurricane landfall owing to eastward extension of the Atlantic warm pool

Scenarios (quantitative guidance) 2015-2025

Methodology for scenario generation using stadium wave dynamics:

  • Generate a large synthetic climatology of the event using Monte Carlo resampling from the pdfs conditioned on the particular regime.
  • Utilize extreme value theory to extrapolate the historical data into a far tail region so as to be able to simulate more extremes.
  • Identification of ‘clustering’ of events, both intraseasonal and over periods of 3 years or less. Extreme events can arise from a single extreme storm, a correlated series of smaller events, or from antecedent conditions

Likelihoods for the possibility distributioncan be developed by:

  • Weighting preference for scenario generation method
  • Historical precedent
  • Expert judgment
  • Number of independent paths for reaching a particular scenario event

Conclusions

GCMs are not the only, or best, way to generate future scenarios of regional climate change

On decadal time scales, the greatest vulnerability is to extreme weather events:  scenarios of frequency (clustering), worst case

Climate science in support of developing empirical approaches for scenario development:

  • Improved regional historical and paleo records of extreme events
  • Improved statistical methods for analyzing extreme events
  • Improved understanding of the climate dynamics of extreme events and natural variability of regional climate
  • Scenario discovering using a broader range of approaches

116 responses to “UK-US Workshop Part V: Broadening the portfolio of climate information

  1. This is already a week old, but still newsworthy.

    House votes to block limits on power plant emissions

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2014/03/07/house-passes-bill-block-obama-climate-plan/1UBlR2I8FiwsCLnBdFu3DN/story.html

    Aiming at the heart of President Obama’s strategy for fighting climate change, the GOP-controlled House voted Thursday to block the administration’s plan to limit carbon pollution from new power plants.

    The bill targets Obama’s proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency to set the first national limits on heat-trapping carbon pollution from future power plants. It’s part of the GOP’s election-year strategy to fight back against what Republicans call a ‘‘war on coal’’ by the Obama administration.

    The bill passed by a 229-183 vote. Ten Democrats, mostly from coal-producing states or the South, joined Republicans in support of it. Three Republicans opposed the bill.

    So it looks like it was a lopsided bipartisan vote against “mitigation”.

    “Adaptation” seems to be the way to go.

    • Max,

      This bill, like the dozens of bills passed by the House to repeal/delay/change Obamacare, is just legislative kabuki theater,

      It is a safe vote for both Republicans and Democrats because they both know that the Senate will never pass it, and Obama would never sign it. All those Democrats voting for it have just been given fodder for campaign commercials about how they don;t support the CAGW agenda. If the bill had any chance of being enacted, the Dem votes, and many of the GOP votes too probably, would have been different.

      Right now, the U.S. has only a Potempkin parliament.

    • Gary M

      It’s a shame, but thanks for giving me a “heads up” regarding US politics.

      Max

    • David L. Hagen

      The EPA’s effort to shut down US coal power will likely result in severe shortages of baseload power and consequent substantially increased probability of blackouts.
      This is driving the US to follow Germany. See: Germany’s energy policy is expensive, harmful and short-sighted.
      Germany is pushing to renewables and shutting down nuclear. Consequently it is increasing construction of coal fired power to provide baseload power to back solar/wind and avoid serious risk of blackouts. See also Merkel facing power dilemma.

    • Regretfully, I agree with GaryM.

      Congressional maneuvering is largely kabuki theater for the public. Behind the scenes, the two political parties seem to have the same agenda.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Gary M: This bill, like the dozens of bills passed by the House to repeal/delay/change Obamacare, is just legislative kabuki theater,

      Not so. These are parts of a long-term strategy to defeat Democrats in the 2014 and 2016 elections in order to overturn serious policy mistakes that followed the transient Democratic ascendance in 2009-2010. The ability of the polity to correct policy mistakes (or, less potently, to debate them) by removing from office the people who made the mistakes is a blessing of democracy.

      Your word “delay” is precious in light of the delays enacted by the Executive Branch.

    • Matthew R Marler

      omanuel: Behind the scenes, the two political parties seem to have the same agenda.

      That is absurd. The Republicans want to overturn some mistakes (as they see them) made by the Obama administration. Manackers post highlights one such perceived error.

    • Matthew R. Marler,

      You obviously were not paying attention when establishment Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate and the House under Bush, and kept Leviathan right on growing. You also must have missed establishment GOP support for the bailouts, TARP, Medicare Part B, immigration amnesty, and never ending growth in government.

      But save yourself some time, just look at Paul Ryan’s proposed budgets, that continue trillion dollar deficits for the next 20 years. The progressives in the GOP are only slightly less progressive than their counterparts in the Democrat Party.

      There are some genuine conservatives in the GOP congressional delegation, like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the Senate, but so far they are few and far between.

      As I have aid many times, when people say one thing and do another, pay attention to what they do.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Gary M: You obviously were not paying attention when establishment Republicans controlled the White House, the Senate and the House under Bush, and kept Leviathan right on growing.

      That does not support your claim that current legislative efforts by Republicans are “kabuki” vs my claim that they are part of a strategy to win the 2014 Congressional elections. They have a very good chance of defeating every Democratic Senator who voted for Obamacare, and who is up for re-election in states carried by Romney.

      About TARP, I thought that G. W. Bush made a mistake in signing it, but almost all the Republicans in Congress at the time voted against it. That is an important detail in a discussion of Congressional Republicans.

      There is every reason to believe that the Congressional Republicans sincerely aim to:

      1 Postpone, defund, repeal etc Obamacare. Obama is showing what a good idea this might be by repeatedly postponing it himself.

      2. Overrule the EPA rulings on controlling CO2 output;

      3. Overturn the Obama Administrations opposition to developing America’s fossil fuel deposits.

      This is not “Kabuki”; this is electoral politics.

  2. Interesting slide show.

  3. Projections of future climate variability and change on decadal (nominally 10-40 years from now) and regional scales are of high relevance for decision making. However, these time and space scales are particularly challenging for climate models because natural variability can be at least as large as forced climate variability.

    Sounds very reasonable – as compared to the more hysterical, model-based IPCC approach (from the leaked IPCC documents).

    Max

  4. The U.S. government is already “broadening the portfolio of climate information” in its own progressive way, but it ain’t for adaptation.

    WUWT has a post about the new government funded website designed to repackage climate data from NOAA and other government agencies.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/03/19/new-impossible-to-ignore-climate-data-spin-initiative-announced-by-the-white-house/

    Here’s NASA’s latest endeavor on expanding scientific knowledge – a study showing the necessity of redistribution of income as the only way to save the world. And no, that is not hyperbole.

    “Collapse can be avoided, and population can reach a steady state at the maximum carrying capacity, if the rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed equitably,”

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/here-s-how-nasa-thinks-society-will-collapse-20140318

    And then there is the inimitable EPA, which has responded promptly to 28 FOIA requests from Democrat politicians, while it has been unable to complete its response to any of four, count ‘em four, FOIA requests from GOP staff. Apparently there have been some seminars at EPA given by the IRS folks who trashed the constitutional rights of conservatives before the 2010 election.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/18/epa-gives-campaign-paper-trail-to-democrats-little/

    So you lukewarmers all go on having your little panels and discussion groups, and keep on drawing up your plans for bridges to political nowhere on the issue of climate.

    All while Leviathan is busily ignoring everything you say and do and deconstructing the very democracy around..

    • “So you lukewarmers all go on having your little panels and discussion groups, and keep on drawing up your plans for bridges to political nowhere on the issue of climate.

      All while Leviathan is busily ignoring everything you say and do and deconstructing the very democracy around..”

      Hey Gary, this is damn good writing. Too bad it’s so depressing. KInd of takes the enjoyment out of reading it.

      I never wouldn have thought it possible, but Obama is every bit as bad as Bush in my opinion. Perhaps worse. I hated almost everything about Bush, including what I considered his religiosity.

      But could anyone be more dangerously blind and deaf than our current President when it comes to his climate change fanaticism?.

    • pokerguy,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      “But could anyone be more dangerously blind and deaf than our current President when it comes to his climate change fanaticism?”

      I don’t buy the blind and deaf routine Obama acts out all the time. Terrorist attack in Benghazi? What terrorist attack in Benghazi? The IRS did what to the tea party organizations just before my re-election?

      Obama is not some evil genius. He is, from what I read of his work before he went on the national stage, a mediocre intellect at best.

      What he is though, is a hard core leftist. I often refer to many of the commenters around here as default progressives. They believe what they believe because it is all they really heard for the first 21+ years of their lives.

      Obama is that to the extreme. He was surrounded during his formative years by unrepentant marxists. He idealized his absent, communist father.

      He is not being led astray by anyone. His staff and supporters are doing exactly what they were hired to do – give him excuses to “radically transform America.”

      Dinesh D’Souza is currently facing a long prison term for making a documentary on Obama’s history (about which you have likely heard next to nothing), called “2016: Obama’s America.” (Ostensibly the charges have to do with a $20,000 campaign contribution.) If you are curious about how the most powerful (though inept) man in the world thinks, I recommend it highly.

    • Hey Gary,

      I wrote a longish reply which somehow got swallowed when I pushed “send.’ As tonyb and I were joking when this happened to me recently, never again will I achieve such eloquence as I did in that one lost comment.

      Late night, reader’s digest reply then: Think you’re wrong WRT Obama and climate. His signature achievement Obamacare is in smoking ruins, his foreign policy is a tragic joke, the economy continues to sputter, and the clock is ticking ever louder on his now lame duck presidency..

      I’ve been hanging out with overeducated liberals my whole life, and for the most part they buy this climate crapola with utter sincerity. (Sure, alarmism comports nicely with classic liberal impulses, but so does skepticism comport with certain conservative ideals..I see no grand conspiracies..) Obama I think sees global warming as his last best chance to be a hero. Has nothing to do imvho with his alleged marxist tendencies.

      Then again, I was completely wrong about him once. So I reserve the right to change my mind.

    • pokerguy,

      The two are not mutually exclusive. I think I agree, Obama probably does believe in CAGW, as mush as anything. But it is in my opinion, what I described as default progressivism. I don’t see him as being misled, because his advisers are telling him what he already thinks.

      And I think as a general rule most CAGW advocates believe most of what they have read about CAGW from the consensus(as opposed to how they “market” it, in Mosher’s terms).

      They really do think they are the world’s saviors. Even the flat out dishonest ones like Mann, Gleick, et al. think their lies are justified by the “truth” of their cause.

      Obama really believes, for instance, that socialized medicine, and socialism in general, are “good.” To him, the fact that his ideology always leads to an increase in his and his fellow progressives’ power is just a happy coincidence.

      So yes, Obama really believes in the religion of CAGW. And yes, he sees it as a chance to be a hero. (I disagree that he sees his other initiatives as failures. Remember, the purpose of Obamacare was not to provide insurance, it was to kill the insurance industry so that he could institute single payer/socialized medicine. He said just that before he ran for president.)

      But it is not coincidence that his way of being a hero involves him taking control of the energy economy.

    • Gary,

      I recall an old psychoanalytic term from my wild and crazy psychology majoring days (how typical eh?)…”overdetermined,” …simply meaning that much of what we end up doing, including I suppose the opinions we choose to hold (making it up as I go along here), are usually driven by more than one cause. The term is likely used in other fields as well.

      So yeah, there’s probably some validity to what you’re saying. But I’m most frightened by what I take to be his sincere conviction that he’s on the side of the angels…

      Is there anything more dangerous than a man filled with the zeal to do good? As Henry Adams once put it, “It’s always the good men who do the most harm in the world.” Good of course being in the eye of the (self) beholder.

    • David Wojick

      Actually the new Federal climate data website is supposedly going to be only about so-called adaptation data.
      See http://planetark.org/wen/71248 Looks like this so-called “climate data” is for adaptation (to nothing).
      They say: “Part of tackling climate change involves adapting to it, and the
      administration launched a website, climate.data.gov, to help people do that
      by gaining access to collated data from different government agencies.”

      Here is the official press release:

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/03/19/climate-data-initiative-launches-strong-public-and-private-sector-commitments

      Should be interesting to look at, when it actually comes. Looks like they
      are starting with floods and sea level rise. Of course it is just
      propaganda. It is not like we never thought about floods. Nor should we expect AGW to change how floods will occur.

    • , and if resources are distributed equitably,”

      So, if those who will and do work get equal shares as those who don’t and will not work. Guess who has the most votes and the most free time to enjoy life.

    • Steven Mosher

      “Nor should we expect AGW to change how floods will occur”

      More certainty from the fake skeptics.

    • David Wojick

      Indeed Mosher, I am certain that AGW is false. Nothing fake about my skepticism, rather it is simply complete (despite your word play). My skepticism is as real as it gets.

    • ” pokerguy

      I’ve been hanging out with overeducated liberals my whole life”

      The odd thing is that the Hospital and Research Institute where I work was filled to the gills with liberals six years ago, but now not so many.
      The people who are most critical of Obamacare are not the medical staff, but the ancillary workers, who have family members, on low incomes.

  5. “On decadal timescales, the scenarios of greatest interest involve extreme weather events. The decadal scenarios are not time series, but rather frequencies of extreme events (including clusters) and worst case scenarios over the target time interval:”
    Extreme weather events occur repeatedly throughout history and are conveniently forgotten. The wrecking of the Spanish Armada, the destruction of the two Mongol fleets under Kublai Khan in 1274 and again in 1281. Napoleon’s ill timed advance into Russia in a severe winter.
    Hurricanes and Tsunamis.
    The key time for Hurricanes is 30 years but an area could miss out if lucky for up to 200 years. Some areas like Florida and Japan are high risk with multiple risk factors. By Definition extreme weather events are neither predictable or preventable.
    Strategies must and should include preparation for rescue, support, rebuilding and population rebuilding rather than wasting money on misguided “white guilt” shutting down of western economies.
    These always suffer from the Pied Piper response of when disasters go quiet for 30 or more years people forget, become complacent and drop the watchful role [as in Game of Thrones I guess]

  6. “Are GCMs the best tool?”

    No. GCMs are basically weather models, not climate models. They are unsuitable for predicting anything more than a few days ahead. The UK Met Office seasonal predictions demonstrate that they certainly are not useful for one particular region (the UK)..

  7. Speaking of helping the downtrodden, Akon is implementing solar in rural areas in Africa.
    From the article:

    About

    Akon, in partnership with Give1Project and ADS Global Corporation SA, has initiated the project “Akon Lighting Africa Project” tour which aims to bring electricity to one (1) million households in Africa by the end of 2014.

    The lack of electricity is currently a major problem in Africa. A significant number of households in rural areas and even urban cities do not have access to electricity. This is a real obstacle to Africa’s Sustainable Development.

    In that perspective and within the framework of a Public-Private partnership, an alliance was signed between the private entities: Akon Corp, SOLEKTRA International – BYD Solar, Azuri Technologies UK, NARI (Member of China Grid Group), CJI, the Non-Governmental Organization Give1Project and the governments of different African nations to support the initiative. Read more

    http://www.akonlightingafrica.com/hideakone/

  8. If you don’t want to use GCMs, another method is extrapolation of the last 40 year change to project a future change. E.g. for summer temps we get this.

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/gistemp/nmaps.cgi?year_last=2014&month_last=2&sat=4&sst=3&type=anoms&mean_gen=0603&year1=2003&year2=2013&base1=1963&base2=1993&radius=1200&pol=rob

    It shows a 1 C mean change over Europe, just in the decadal average in the last 40 years. This shift in the distribution obviously affects extreme events, and there is no reason to think that the next 40 years won’t see another degree in these areas with a continuation of current trends in GHGs. Simple extrapolation should be the central guess with other scenarios ranging around that.
    Also I don’t think the past is going to be a good guide for the probability of extreme events. The probabilities are changing (heavy-rain years in the UK are more common now, for example, and droughts may be becoming more common in other regions). It is these trends that have to be evaluated, not just the past mean statistics.

    • What I actually showed was the 30-year trend, but a 40-year trend has the same idea.

    • Jim D

      Why “extrapolate the last 40 years” rather than the entire 160+ year record?

      Max

    • Heavy rain is not more common in the UK, far from it in fact. Two years ago in the middle of a drought the UK Met office told us all to expect more droughts in the UK based on climate change. Porior to the Winter that was the wettest for some time they told us it would be drier than normal. The opportunists just tune the doom-mongering to the current weather event and catastrophists like yourself just lap it up with no critical thought or data analysis whatsoever.

    • Matthew R Marler

      Jim D.: If you don’t want to use GCMs, another method is extrapolation of the last 40 year change to project a future change. E.g. for summer temps we get this.

      What gets “extrapolated” is a model that has been fit to data. So, two questions:

      1. What was your basis for selecting a small subset of the extant data?

      2. Among all models that have been fit to selections from the weather data sets, why did you extrapolate only that one?

      Why not, for example, an exponential fit to the extant satellite lower troposphere temperature data?

    • curve fit the last eleven thousand years and you will get the best forecast for the next eleven thousand years.
      What always happens will happen again.
      What never happened is very extremely unlikely.

    • curve fit any short term trend and the output will go out of bounds.

    • Don’t fit the smoothed hockey stick output, thet many of the consensus alarmists like to use, that is not real data.

  9. Robert I Ellison

    ‘An analysis of multidecadal modulation of flood risk is achieved using the interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) index. The analysis reveals that IPO modulation of ENSO events leads to multidecadal epochs of elevated flood risk, however this modulation appears to affect not only the magnitude of individual ENSO events, but also the frequency of their occurrence. This dual modulation of ENSO processes has the effect of reducing and elevating flood risk on multi-decadal timescales. These results have marked implications for achieving robust flood frequency analysis as well as providing a strong example of the role of natural climate variability.’ http://www.chinagoabroad.com/en/commentary/multi-decadal-variability-flood-risk

    30 year ‘trends’ have negligible relevance for either temperature or rainfall.

    ‘According to Fig. 5, a series of intense El Nino events (high red color intensity) begins at about 1450 BC that will last for centuries. In that period normal (La Nina) conditions have but disappeared. For comparison, the very strong 1998 El Nino event scores 89 in red color intensity. During the time when the Minoans were fading, El Nino events
    reach values in red color intensity over 200.’ http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.pdf

    http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/ENSO11000.gif.html?sort=3&o=209

    Frankly – you need to look at millennia to get an idea of the limits of natural variability.

    Note the reference to normal (La Nina) conditions – gatesy.

    • I wouldn’t call a 30-year regional warming trend of 1 C negligible.

    • Robert I Ellison

      What I said was that it was of negligible relevance in understanding decadal to centennial variability.

      We know there is a warming plateau – what data there is says that most of the decadal warming previous to that was quite natural. You may ignore the data – but it is what it is. This leads quite naturally to the where to next question? No warming for decades – and quite likely a cooling influence after that as we cross the threshold of Bond Event Zero.

    • You will find that the land warming is still going on during this “pause”.

    • Robert I Ellison

      It most certainly isn’t happening.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/rss-land

      Unless you have good information on the location and areal extent of water deficits – the 2m surface temp means very little.

    • Jim D

      You are extrapolating a very short-term “blip” in the record to arrive at a long-term estimate.

      A dangerous thing to do, as Ellison points out (especially in a record that has large multi-decadal cyclical oscillations).

      Max

    • Jim D

      You will find that the land warming is still going on during this “pause”.

      Not really, Jim. (Ellison is right)

      Both the land and sea temperatures are cooling slightly since 2002.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/from:2002/trend

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/trend

      The sea seems to be cooling at a slightly faster rate than the land (is that an indication of the increasing OHC?)

      Max

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      “The sea seems to be cooling at a slightly faster rate than the land (is that an indication of the increasing OHC?).”
      _____
      Temperatures of the troposphere near the surface, over land or sea, and indeed sensible heat across the entire height of the atmosphere represents such a miniscule fraction of the energy in the climate system, that focusing on it over any short term time frame is like trying to gauge how much water is in a swimming pool by a drop that splashes over onto the concrete next to the pool. Tropospheric sensible heat is a poor metric for energy in the climate system. The fascination of fake-skeptics with the troposphere comes from the current flat (at record high levels) of tropospheric temperatures. One of the key drivers of tropospheric temperatures is sensible and latent heat flux from the largest climate energy source on the planet- the ocean– thus, the so-call hiatus tells us more about ocean cycles (ENSO & PDO) than about climate sensitivity to increasing GHG’s. Unfortunately, it’s all fake-skeptics have left to prattle on about since all the larger and more important climate energy indicators are showing quiite strongly that the system has been accumulating energy for many decades without pause.

    • Robert I Ellison

      ‘Comparisons of global steric height trends based on different gridded fields of Argo in situ measurements show a range of 0–1mm/yr which can be lead back to data handling and climatology uncertainties. Our results show that GOIs derived from the Argo measurements are ideally suitable to monitor the state of the global ocean, especially after November 2007, i.e. when Argo sampling was 100% complete. They also show that there is significant interannual global variability at global scale, especially for global OFC. Before the end of 2007, error bars are too large to deliver robust short-term trends of GOIs and thus an interpretation in terms of long-term climate signals are still questionable, especially since uncertainties due to interannual fluctuations are not included in our error estimation.’ http://www.ocean-sci-discuss.net/8/999/2011/osd-8-999-2011.pdf

      There are issues with including data handling and ‘climatologies’ , the shortness of the record and the large natural variation the Earth’s energy budget.

      To look at sources of variation in the Earth’s climate energy budget it is absolutely necessary to know what is happening with energy in and energy out. The latter being the most significant variable. It changes in both IR and SW – and the changes are climatologically very significant.

      It turns out that surface temps are quite a good proxy for net TOA radiant flux anomalies – as is ocean heat content.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/HadCRUT4vCERES_zpse5107cfd.png.html?sort=3&o=48

      Reflected SW increased following 1998 and has not changed much – in trend – since.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandLaken2013_zps73c516f9.png.html?sort=3&o=96

      The data is what it is.

    • manacker, most of the “skeptics” consider their “pause” to have started in exactly 1996. What has the land done since 1996?

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/crutem4vgl/from:1996/trend

      Hmmm, no pause there. What happened? Did the “skeptics” forget to look at this important factor? They need to pay more attention to these details.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      Kookie science again from Robert. With all that supposed reflected SW increase since 1998, his kookie science would be hard pressed to explain the very large increase in OHC since then.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Did he not read – or perhaps understand – the quote from von Schuckman and Le Troan 2011?

      The ARGO record is too short – to many different treatments – and unless you know what TOA flux was doing – little can be known about causes of large interannual variation. There is nothing to explain – except that some people like to make much of so very little.

  10. Possibility theory only works if you have level-headed people you trust identifying the possibilities. I’ve seen some good PT groups ruined by a little too much blue sky thinking–the disruptive asteroid tendency.You need accountant types…

    I am convinced that many climate scientists fit the bill. I’m equally convinced that very few of them getting a lot of press coverage do… But I’ll bet our hostess would be a good addition to any PT group.

  11. How about projects that make both economic and climate adaptation sense get top priority and done first . By the time these projects are successfully budgeted and completed there’s a good chance uncertainty will play a lesser role.

    Done, next!

  12. Judith,
    Thank you for the update.

    I wish you every success in your efforts to steer policy in a more sensible direction. Hopefully, another few years of flat global temperatures will tip things in your direction.

  13. Judith,
    I just want to make a point I have made on several other forums.

    If the climate models use hindcasting to Hadley or Giss pre-1979 temperature series as any sort of calibration, they are calibrating to a CREATED TREND, created using cooling adjustments to pre-1979 data.

    That means the climate models MUST have a this SYNTHETIC trend built into them.

    They cannot ever hope to aim anywhere except high.

    Surely any mathematician, or in fact anyone with an ounce of common sense, would realise this.

    The climate scientists have created a Catch-22 situation for themselves, either they remove the adjustments and bring 1940 back up near level with 1998 (in which case there will have been minimal warming) or their models are DESTINED to always predict far higher than what will realistically happen.

    • Hope you realize that raw SST temperatures ran cool prior to WWII. They calibrated against the marine air temperatures to match the actual temperature.

      So this was a case of scientists reducing the range in temperatures. I thought they were all cheats and scoundrels, right ? The warming would have been much greater in the 20th century if they hadn’t performed the correction.

  14. Antonio (AKA "Un físico")

    “Extreme values statistical theory is appropriate, for example, in studying structural engineering. But it seems inappropriate for studying extreme weather”. More info in my new “Refuting…”, that hopefuly will be cited in this blog.
    About paleo records: “uncertainties in the estimation of CO2 radiative forcing and of the global surface temperature are too big”. More info in my new “Refuting…”, that hopefuly will be cited in this blog.
    CMIP5 simulations are useless (they have no predictive capacity). More info in my new “Refuting…”, that hopefuly will be cited in this blog.

  15. Matthew R Marler


    Improved regional historical and paleo records of extreme events
    Improved statistical methods for analyzing extreme events
    Improved understanding of the climate dynamics of extreme events and natural variability of regional climate
    Scenario discovering using a broader range of approaches

    I refer to alternations between opposite extremes in particular regions frequently, so naturally I like the first there.

    I think the way forward is to continue to make many modest improvements in all the scientific research areas, over the next few decades. I think your presentation here is an example of one of the modest improvements of which I think we need many. It’s direct, clear, has reasonable time frames, and keeps open many possibilities.

  16. “The only way to have real success in science … is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be. If you have a theory, you must try to explain what’s good about it and what’s bad about it equally. In science you learn a kind of standard integrity and honesty.” ~Richard Feynman

    The government wants so badly to regulate us but it doesn’t take a genius to know that the the CO2 we breathe or our lifestyles generate is picayune. Plants begin to die below 150 ppm. The Sahara wasn’t always a desert. Dr. Will Happer testified before the U.S. Senate that, “the planet is currently starved of CO2, and has been so starved for several million years.”

    • Steven Mosher

      “Dr. Will Happer testified before the U.S. Senate that, “the planet is currently starved of CO2, and has been so starved for several million years.”

      Its settled then.

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Pay no attention to the fact that humans evolved and civilization florished during a time the planet was “starved” of CO2.

      • “…If you have a theory, you must try to explain what’s good about it and what’s bad about it equally…” (Ibid.)

        So, “what’s bad about” the theory that you seem to be putting forward? Simple: If we were planning a mission outside the solar system we’d want lots of CO2 to grow healthy plants for our journey to the stars–e.g., growers keep CO2 levels at 1,000 to 2,000 ppm in Earthly greenhouses, which is about the level you’d find in a lecture hall full of students and pretty much what has been normal over most of Earth’s 550 million year history.

    • blueice2hotsea

      Bart R is on record stating that 390 ppm CO2 is 3 times as much as necessary.

      Necessary for what is not exactly clear. I guessing it’s ‘extinction of mult-celluar life’.

    • R. Gates

      In case you missed it, the discussion was about plants (not humans) being “starved” of CO2 (severely so, at concentrations below around 200 ppmv).

      Humans are unaffected by CO2 concentrations several times those of today.

      There is not enough carbon left in all the optimistically estimated fossil fuels remaining on our planet to reach CO2 levels, which could possibly be harmful to humans.

      Humans rely on plant crops for food and survival.

      Most plants evolved during periods when CO2 concentrations were much higher than they are today.

      Most plants thrive on higher CO2 concentrations than those seen today.

      Most plants can endure drought conditions better at higher CO2 concentrations.

      C3 plants benefit more from higher CO2 concentrations than C4 plants.

      Most human crop plants (except corn) are C3 plants.

      Most common weed plants are C4 plants.

      Satellite pictures suggest that plant growth worldwide has increased and that some desert regions are greening.

      Yields of major crops (rice, wheat, corn, etc.) have increased 2.4 times from 1970 to 2010.

      Over same period, human population increased 1.7 times and average human quality of life, affluence and life expectancy at birth have increased dramatically, while starvation rates have decreased.

      Atmospheric CO2 increased by around 20% over this period, while global average temperature increased by a few tenths of a degree C.

      Sounds all good so far, Gates.

      Why should I be worried?

      Max

    • R. Gates, Skeptical Warmist

      Well Max, in case YOU missed it, the quote was:

      “…the planet is currently starved of CO2…”
      _____
      “Plants” and “Planets” are two very different things. To the best of my knowledge, planets really don’t get “starved” for anything. Being too general in a statement, and then trying to make the statment specific to your meaning is a good sign of fake-skepticism…just as stupid as the statement, “The Globe is cooling.” Very unscientific and too general to be useful, but fake-skeptics love this kind of stuff.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Bizarre quibbling – and the planet is at least not warming.

    • Gaia don’t care about no science, she got de feevah.
      ==============

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      More bizarre kookie science from Robert who said:

      “… and the planet is at least not warming.”
      —-
      What does this even mean Robert? It is as nonsensical and unscientific as the other kookie phrase from fake-skeptics- “the globe is cooling my friends.”

      Get this Robert: there is the hydrosphere, the atmosphere, the lithosphere, and the biosphere. If something is “cooling”, that would imply measuring sensible heat in one of these spheres. Any other statement is kookie fake-skeptic pablum.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      “Wagathon | March 21, 2014 at 12:11 am |
      The oceans are cooling and because of that even the migration paths of whales have changed.”
      —-
      Have you taken some bizarre kookie science classes from Robert? Not one bit of data is telling us the oceans are cooling.

    • Robert I Ellison

      The planet is not warming for – and even cooling – for decades. Simply because gates obstinately chooses 1 OHC climatology – and totally ignores the energy inputs – that agrees with his obsessions reason not to believe anything he says.

      Nothing is going their way – because it is ludicrously misguided.

    • R. Gates, a Skeptical Warmist

      Robert said:
      “The planet is not warming for – and even cooling – for decades.”
      ——
      Wow, an extraordinarily kookie claim, even by your rather high level kookiness Robert. It is equal parts nonsense, unscientific, and completely impossible.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Here we apply a simple approach—that uses only sea surface temperature (SST) observations—to partly overcome this difficulty and perform retrospective decadal predictions with a climate model. Skill is improved significantly relative to predictions made with incomplete knowledge of the ocean state10, particularly in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific oceans. Thus these results point towards the possibility of routine decadal climate predictions. Using this method, and by considering both internal natural climate variations and projected future anthropogenic forcing, we make the following forecast: over the next decade, the current Atlantic meridional overturning circulation will weaken to its long-term mean; moreover, North Atlantic SST and European and North American surface temperatures will cool slightly, whereas tropical Pacific SST will remain almost unchanged. Our results suggest that global surface temperature may not increase over the next decade, as natural climate variations in the North Atlantic and tropical Pacific temporarily offset the projected anthropogenic warming.

      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v453/n7191/full/nature06921.html

      It is more the case that gatesy likes to pretend to himself that he understands science – without much being evident in the way of objective confirmation.

      • Why should anyone believe CO2 causes global warming when past atmospheric CO2 increases lag past global warming by hundreds of years?

        “[Siegenthaler et al. (2005)] analyzed CO2 and proxy temperature (äD, the ratio of deuterium to hydrogen) data derived from an ice core in Antarctica. Results of their analysis revealed a coupling of Antarctic temperature and CO2 in which they obtained the best correlation between CO2 and temperature “for a lag of CO2 of 1900 years.” Specifically, over the course of glacial terminations V to VII, they indicate that “the highest correlation of CO2 and deuterium, with use of a 20-ky window for each termination, yields a lag of CO2 to deuterium of 800, 1600, and 2800 years, respectively.” In addition, they note that “this value is consistent with estimates based on data from the past four glacial cycles,” citing in this regard the work of Fischer et al. (1999), Monnin et al. (2001) and Caillon et al. (2003).”

    • Robert I Ellison

      It is pretty clear that warming increases CO2 – as are the atmospheric physics once it is there.

    • blueice2hotsea | March 20, 2014 at 3:35 pm |

      Yup. Below 130-150 ppmv, you’d get a lot of extinctions. Plants certainly begin to experience CO2 starvation below this marginal level, where they treat CO2 as a nutrient, instead of only as a hormone modifier as they do at all higher concentrations. Where plants could not rely on intense sunlight and low winds to trap CO2 and raise its levels, they would fail.

      Between 160-310 ppmv, you’d expect no extinctions caused by CO2 level, as the vast majority of the past millions of years have had CO2 levels in the 180-280 ppmv range, almost never above or below it, with only relatively mild plant hormone modification due ambient CO2. Until now.

      Approaching 400 ppmv, there’s plentiful indication of stresses from ocean pH changes and climate shifts that point toward future extinctions, especially of species already at risk due other factors. Most of these are second order effects unrelated to plant hormone chemistry; while plants become brittler, less well-nourished and more nitrogen-depleting, less capable of maintaining thermal homeostasis, faster aging and weedier as CO2 plant hormone changes affect them, they generally just shift their mix in the wild and drop their productivity as soil microbes change toward more adverse colonies, but aren’t yet wholesale dying out for the most part.

  17. For more climate information, a much broader portfolio of reliable and vetted data will reside at http://www.data.gov/climate/ .. and let’s hope it doesn’t degrade to where it includes an astrology, numerology, old testament, stadium wave or voodoo page.

  18. Regional adaptation decisions

    I believe we should go back to basics and get the science right first before we adapt to something that is really unlikely.

    What has happened for eleven thousand years is most likely for the next eleven thousand years.

    What has never happened in the last eleven thousand years is extremely unlikely.

    Climate Alarmism is more of a Religion than a Science and Actual Facts do not matter much. My Liberal Alarmist Friends do not discuss or debate. That is a sign of Religion and not Science.

    The more that more people see actual data, the less they will believe the Alarmism.

    A boy scout leader, who is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, told me that he is not allowed to express his opinion about Climate Science.

    We can get more people involved in Climate Study. Shine more light from more directions and the shadows will diminish.

    Actual data does not support the Alarmism.

    Actual data does not show accelerated warming. They have to “hide” it in the oceans.

    Actual data does not show accelerated sea level rise. They have to “adjust” the data.

    This will cut down the time they can get away with Alarmism.

    We can and will come to better understand what regulates Earth Temperature in tight bounds and why climate models miss so very badly.

  19. Allan Hollander

    Thanks Judith, this post is timely for me, and one of these days I’d like to go through the rest of the presentations at the workshop. About a quarter of my work these days is helping out with a project to provide information resources on climate change to the conservation community in California (http://climate.calcommons.org/). I think this community is starting to see the virtues of bottom-up scenario planning, but it would be good to broaden the set of scenarios beyond what can be generated from downscaled GCM futures. California may be an especially good place to illustrate the importance of considering natural variability in adaptation planning, since the history here of megadroughts over the past couple of millenia is both clear and very worrying from a water resource management perspective.

  20. David Wojick

    Dr. Curry, I really do not understand what you are saying in your presentation. I used to be very involved in the US flood control program and I do not see how speculating about possible worst case scenarios can play any useful role in planning or decision making. In fact I doubt that there are worst case scenarios because for any scenario one can always imagine a worse one, up to the point of total destruction. Nor can we possibly prepare for the worst we can imagine.

    • David Wojick | March 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm |

      Regionally, there’s no way New Orleans could have fully prepared for an inevitable event with Katrina-like outcomes. The fact is, New Orleans could and ought have been able to be prepared for Katrina, but simple failed to as a result of the shoddy state of the US flood control program since the 1950’s. Which is neither here nor there on your assertion, really.

      War Games methodology tells us very much there is value imagining many, many, “worse case” scenarios, looking for common wisdom in approaching the ensemble (not the prediction) of scenarios, and acting rationally on the conclusions of that investigation. Far from being the alarmist cry wolf because milk might one day be spilled option you say is the only upshot of such processes as thinking about and considering consequences of future actions or inaction, successful planners do consider possible negative exigencies. Otherwise, there’d be no insurance industry, no emergency response, no locks on doors and no 2nd Amendment.

      Are you against the 2nd Amendment?

      Perhaps you could build a tree that includes that branch of Constitutional logic into it?

    • David, scenario falsification is the key issue here. Can you falsify a scenario based on background knowledge? If a severe flood in the region happened 500 years ago, well then it could happen again. The issue is how much resilience can you afford and realizing which scenarios you won’t be protected from, rather than trying to predict the future.

    • David Wojick

      Worst case flood scenario:

      Gilgamesh or Noah.

      One root cause explanation: Almighty gets annoyed with bad human behavior and decides for retribution for past sins.

      Another explanation: Land bridge across Bosporus gets breached by slowly rising Mediterranean following last Ice Age, creating Black Sea out of an earlier low-lying land mass surrounding a smaller freshwater lake.

      Mitigation possibilities:

      Case 1: Stop sinful ways immediately

      Case 2: Beef up Bosporus bridge with dikes and levees

      Adaptation possibilities:

      Both cases: Monitor land bridge closely, checking for and repairing observed leaks or possible weak spots as they are identified. Relocate residents in low-lying areas to higher ground.

      Max

    • David Wojick

      Dr. Curry, we already know what events we are not preparing for. Flood protections are designed for specific floods and we know well that greater floods can happen.

      • Well the disease is believing what climate models project. The folks in Queensland Australia were preparing for worse and worse droughts based on climate model projections, then they got inundated and totally surprised with a massive flood 2010/2011. My methodology provides a formulation for assessing likelihood of scenarios of floods that can be expected over a given time period.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Dire predictions for Queensland were much more based on simple projections of decadal rainfall. The decadal variability of rainfall – due to changing Pacific conditions – has been understood since the mid 1980’s. There were many hydrologists who were saying so.

    • curryja | March 20, 2014 at 4:55 pm |

      The folks in Queensland Australia were preparing for worse and worse droughts based on climate model projections, then they got inundated and totally surprised with a massive flood 2010/2011.

      That’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the actual events, if put in the context of policy decisions. The gate controls were run as if the drought projections were the only side of the equation worth considering, because the policy planners built the hydrology infrastructure as if either one or the other possibility would threaten at the same time.

      Had Australia any competent hydrologists giving counsel to policymakers, they may have created a far deeper and more robust infrastructure, one which could prevent drought at the same time as preventing flood, instead of a flimsy system of dams and reservoirs without redundancy.

      It’s not belief in models — the predictions (not projections) that the Australian operators relied on weren’t the IPCC climate model, but short range weather models. And we know weather isn’t the same as climate.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Again – the CSIRO projections were based on rainfall data from the 1950’s and not model projections. The regional rainfalls were simply projected forward.

      e.g. http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=trend-maps&tQ%5Bmap%5D=rain&tQ%5Barea%5D=aus&tQ%5Bseason%5D=0112&tQ%5Bperiod%5D=1950

      There is quite a difference if you look at all of the record. It was simply misguided based on what we already knew about multi-decadal rainfall regimes in northern and eastern Australia. The intense dry – more related to the IOD than ENSO at that time – was the impetus to wild claims and quiet panic.

      http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=trend-maps&tQ%5Bmap%5D=rain&tQ%5Barea%5D=aus&tQ%5Bseason%5D=0112&tQ%5Bperiod%5D=1900

      The drought response included planning for an additional dam – although this was in a quite shallow and permeable site. Not all that suitable and not in the Brisbane catchment at all. It also included desalination and reverse osmosis of sewage to be pumped a couple of hundred km to a dam for recirculation. Much of this was quite over the top as a result of capture by suppliers and a liking for mega engineering. Diversity in your water supply is not a bad idea but not at such absurd expense. I would have used a dozen smaller desalination units and injected it straight into the urban distribution system.

      The 2010/11 floods were quite widespread over much of Queensland and not just Brisbane. In Brisbane the level of the dam at any time is quite immaterial to the level of a major flood downstream. In major floods detention storage makes very little difference. What makes a difference is the curtailment of development in the flood plain. A sensible planning policy in place for decades elsewhere. I worked as a flooding consultant for Brisbane City Council in 2007 – and was dismayed by the amount of development in the floodplain.

      With respect to Bart – the term talking through your hat inevitably comes to mind.

    • Robert I Ellison | March 20, 2014 at 10:23 pm |

      As much as I agree that building on a flood plain is lunatic, it’s also inevitably done. Flood plains are immensely fertile and attractive for settlement, aside from the obvious flood problem and erosion. A decent hydrologist knows a dozen controls that can amend land from flood plain to stable cropland, as primitive peoples have done since the time of ancient Egyptian and Inca and Chinese and Korean and Slavonic agriculture began.

      Terraces, hugelkultur, floodbreak (aka windbreak) plantings, diversion channels, maintaining wild wetlands as sinks, building creekbed pathways, using orchards as buffers, impregnating poorer-quality soils with hydrophobic biochar, progressively alternating such features with dykes laid out to fractionally draw overflows and slow flow, proper programs of dredging and berming, and on and on, there is no reason a flood plain could not be made so robust by industrious (as opposed to industrial), intelligent, conscientious (as opposed to council consultant) planning as to be impervious to a 1,000 year flood, and oh by the way, make the land more profitably productive and lucratively livable, and more resistant to drought, wildfire, invasive species and extinction of native species too. And it also prevents washing so much contaminant out to the sea as to kill the Great Barrier Reef.

      Whinging that ohnoes, Nature is Evil and Man is Helpless, that’s not the hallmark of a competent civil engineer, but of a victim.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Not building in the 100 year flood plain is standard hydrological policy. It avoids many of the ills of channelization or other ‘amelioration’ – ecological as much as the alteration of flood patterns that simply serve to shift the area of risk. The applies to urbanization – where the costs and risks are highest – and not to use of the land for agricultural or other low risk land use. The right balance is required.

      Bart continues to talk through his hat. Not even the slightest clue.

    • Robert I Ellison | March 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm |

      While it’s true that if you do nothing but channel the flows to increase the risk of flood or drought elsewhere, you have merely moved the problem around (which, in some cases, is acceptable: it’s hardly as terrifying to see a two inch flood surge from waters diverted to the ocean as the twenty foot wall of that same water on a plain a few miles inland).

      However, soil isn’t homogeneous with regard to water; different areas of land may flood or not flood given the same flow over them due simply to different substructure. That substructure can be enriched, purposely changed, to make it more drought tolerant, and by coincidence those same changes also make land more flood resistant. The principle ways to enhance such structures are by careful land use, planting, agricultural and conservation methods: what we once called outdoorsmanship and farming, preservation of nature and husbandry of resources.

      When you build a subdivision or city or mine or oilfield or wind farm or solar farm, you can make floodplains out of what once were lands impervious to such events, if you plan poorly or with bad hydrology advice, or you can plan for weather and build in ‘amelioration’ other than just passing problems along to someone else.

      If the only options in your world view are “do nothing” or “pass the problem onto someone else”, then it’s small wonder you pass so many problems onto future generations.

    • Robert I Ellison

      Most of the methods of increasing soil infiltration on agricultural lands involve returning organic content to soils – which has a number of benefits.

      e.g. http://judithcurry.com/2013/06/07/soil-carbon-permanent-pasture-as-an-approach-to-co2-sequestration/

      What it doesn’t do is mitigate big floods – although soil structural improvements and increasing water holding increases vegetation cover and reduces sediment export – an important consideration for a number of reasons globally. In larger floods – the infiltration capacity of soils is exhausted by prior rainfall always. When using synthetic storm event rainfall to model a 100 year or 1000 year flood – the infiltration is set to zero to model worst case conditions.

      When designing a sub-division, a factory, etc – and I have lost count of the number I have designed – the objective is to mimic pre-development flows large, small and in terms of water quality using what is called in Australia a ‘treatment train’. A series of treatments designed and modeled to achieve specific design objectives.

      More than that the objective is to integrate management of the urban water cycle – sewage treatment and effluent reuse, stormwater treatment and recycling and potable water supply to maximize utility, efficiency, cost effectiveness and ecological sustainability – for which I have won awards.

      Bart? Hat? Talking? Much?

    • Robert I Ellison | March 22, 2014 at 5:54 pm |

      That’s the pinnacle of Australian land use ambition? Make the flows no better than they had been before the disruption? If someone’s gone ahead and built on a flood plain — and you know they have — then maybe the idea of structuring the hydrology to mitigate that idiotic action might occur, because settlements washed out by floods are hardly going to do much good for downstream wildlands, are they?

      If you only plan for the worst case, and use that as an excuse not to prepare for likely alternative cases, then you’ll turn all those alternate cases into needlessly unprepared disasters, and really, imagining a single bad case and labelling it ‘worst’ is just a sign of failure of imagination. In the worst case, prior rains have locally saturated bands of soil; how often is the entirety of a watershed fully entrained by infiltration?

      I’m pretty sure you’ve seen far more floods where there was additional unused capacity that went to waste when it could have softened the blow of the weather, than of total inundation of an entire system beyond the capacity of civil engineering to mitigate. And yet, you design, and get awards, for settling for less.

      And you brag about it.

    • Bart R,

      Does your giving critiquing and giving policy advice to the Aussies mean we won’t have to read any more xenophobic diatribes from you against non-US skeptics who discuss the current idiotic US energy policy?

    • Robert I Ellison

      Make flows better for what end you might ask. Perhaps not for aquatic or stream morphologies that are adapted to certain velocities and frequency of flows. And if you are modeling it using synthetic rainfall storms as I said – be sure to set the infiltration to zero and model a range of storms from a modest freshet of an annual average recurrence interval to an unstoppable 10,000 year torrent. This is for purposes of street drainage, public safety, pipe sizing, detention basins design, ultimate flow paths, etc. The objective is to most certainly and primarily minimize public risk. This is what engineers do first and foremost. At the last resort – ensure that escape routes from flooded areas are available. At some stage in the life of every river – all that can be done is provide flood warnings and head for the hills. It is a fact of life.

      If you are modeling for water quality – use actual recorded rainfall and soil properties and set vegetation, slopes, channel dimensions, ponds, wetlands, pollutant traps, etc parameters to achieve design targets for water quality and quantity based on the type and quality of the downstream environment. Here in fact smaller flows are much more relevant.

      Is he suggesting that there was some spare infiltration capacity in the catchment that was somehow not used? I can assure him that infiltration
      happens when it rains and not before or after and once the rain has fallen and run off it is not in the province of civil engineering to pick it up and put it on a drier patch – if such exists. That we shall have to leave to Moses.

      But we were talking about major flooding in the Brisbane catchment. After some weeks of widespread rainfall making the ground soggy and then a few days of intense rainfall – the volume of water downstream was impressive. I have in fact always loved the power and beauty of water. Impressive and scary. Here the discussion was about the flood storage capacity of – especially Wivenhoe Dam. While there is a dam storage equation that has such deceptive simplicity and suggests that storage in a dam decreases the downstream flood peak – this works up to a certain point where the storage is effectively full. Thus the effectiveness of this mechanism in major floods is overestimated by the uninitiated such as Bart – who compounds his misunderstanding by talking though his hat – or something else – eh Le Pétomane?

    • GaryM | March 23, 2014 at 2:28 am |

      Water flows in America, too.

      Whether Australians can hold their water or not, not my concern. That they’re saying stuff that’s flat out silly about water ought provoke any honest broker with an interest in H2O.

      And I’m not xenophobic. Some of my favorite foreigners are Australian. Mostly the ones who stay there.

    • Robert I Ellison

      That’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the actual events, if put in the context of policy decisions. The gate controls were run as if the drought projections were the only side of the equation worth considering, because the policy planners built the hydrology infrastructure as if either one or the other possibility would threaten at the same time.

      This seems to suggest that we can get flood and drought at the same time. A sterling example of Bartian incoherence.

      Here’s the 2010/2011 flood hydrograph.

      http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/Wivenhoe2011flood_zps8f4e8b82.jpg.html

      Here is the US Corp of Engineers independent review.

      ‘Moving to a “dam safety operation” for any dam is a critical juncture in reservoir operation. It cannot be taken lightly because the primary operating objective changes and typically flood mitigations options become more limited. The timing of invoking Strategy W4 is an important aspect in the
      operation of Wivenhoe – it may affect fuse plug initiation, level of downstream flooding, near-future flood storage availability, etc. Had there been earlier implementation of Strategy W4 as soon as forecasts predicted Wivenhoe to exceed 74.0 meters (a day or two earlier), this may have resulted in somewhat reduced peak releases from Wivenhoe as more storage may have been usable later in the event. The other outcome may have been higher peak releases than occurred – if the timing of the
      inflow and earlier gate openings may have accelerated the releases beyond those actually made. It does not seem likely that either alternative would have made a significant difference in downstream stages. Based on the contemporaneous information, the flood operation engineers made correct
      release strategy decisions. This appears to have been borne out by a post flood hydrologic evaluation. The opinion that significant differences would not have been likely with an earlier transition to Strategy W4 is supported by results in the July 2011 WMAwater report, Review of Hydraulic Modelling – Final Report, in which a scenario was modeled with an earlier transition to Strategy W4. These results showed differences in the peak flood level at Moggill to be between -0.3 and +0.4 meters.’

      In the worst case, prior rains have locally saturated bands of soil; how often is the entirety of a watershed fully entrained by infiltration?

      I’m pretty sure you’ve seen far more floods where there was additional unused capacity that went to waste when it could have softened the blow of the weather, than of total inundation of an entire system beyond the capacity of civil engineering to mitigate.

      The ‘unused’ infiltration capacity going to waste? I can only laugh and shake my head at how dumb all this is. It is all the usual incoherence, smarmy snark, gratuitous xenophobia and supercilious posturing that one expects from Bart.

    • Robert I Ellison | March 23, 2014 at 7:44 pm |

      This seems to suggest that we can get flood and drought at the same time.

      You are finally catching on. In the world of planning, which is the world of possible futures, one can simultaneously need to plan for the Risk of a flash flood (how long do most floods last?) alongside the Risk of a prolonged parching drought (what’s the shortest a drought can be?) without knowing which of the two will actually happen. That’s the thing about the future; it’s never happened yet.

      From lessons of the past, we frequently see operators faced with the decision of filling or emptying their reservoirs based on predictions, as if the whole system would flood all at the same time while floods move in bands of pulses, not uniformly across an entire watershed. That wastes the buffering potential of the larger whole and puts a lot of pressure on operators to rely on inherently unreliable (ie coming from meteorologists) premises, and leads to the conclusion that a robust system of flood prevention and drought control does not rely only on a few dams and reservoirs, but instead on a durable landscape engineered to maximize water retention capacity throughout.

      A floodplain is just a spillway, land no one is using for anything that will be overly hurt by intermittent flooding and meandering of watercourses.

      Once someone builds on such a place — and why wouldn’t they want to? — to take advantage of the fertile soils and pleasant level ground and plentiful water and drainage, they are not building just on that postage stamp of land, but on the entire watershed, as they have just become a cork in the bottleneck, and must be flushed away in a flood or cause the whole watershed to flow around them. That _can_ be accommodated; in the case of large enough settlements, it is perhaps economically preferable to accommodate, if the settlers in the plain, if those corks in the bottleneck, are willing to pay for what they use. Which means if you develop on a flood plain, you are incurring the cost of engineering the entire watershed to use a new form of buffer to replace the one you have taken.

      Biochar and hugelkultur, planting deep-rooting trees in windbreaks, terracing, discouraging planting of shallow-rooting species, dredging, turning the watershed from canal to sponge, can produce such buffers, and they are preferrable in any event as they are more productive uses of land and create drought-tolerance.

      That the politburo-style committees favored in foreign lands let people settle in flood plains without paying for what they use, in effect subsidizing folly, while all they do about it is build the same dams and reservoirs that have failed time and again in the past, just tells us how weak the communist way of thinking is.

      Then there’s the people who build on future mudslides.

    • Robert I Ellison

      You are finally catching on. In the world of planning, which is the world of possible futures, one can simultaneously need to plan for the Risk of a flash flood (how long do most floods last?) alongside the Risk of a prolonged parching drought (what’s the shortest a drought can be?) without knowing which of the two will actually happen. That’s the thing about the future; it’s never happened yet.

      Ah – so you are suggesting that the dam simultaneously have a storage capacity for water supply and an equal capacity for flood retention? Duh – we would never of thought of that. I’ll bring it up at the next politbureau meeting.

      There is still the problem of controls having only the slightest of influences on downstream water levels in very large storms.

      You will find however that the dam catchment is largely undeveloped and treed – we tend to take good care of our water supply catchments.

      And when I talked about development in flood zones in Brisbane – below the dam – we are talking about historic legacies and not long standing policy not to develop in defined 100 year flood zones.

      Let’s just have a brief think about dredging. Stream morphologies are adapted to about the two year bankfull flood. It is regime theory. Sediment moves from upstream to downstream and the size of the main channel is determined by a relatively frequent flow. Flows higher than that go overbank. Dredging creates a bigger cross section and lower velocities and sediment drops out. Below the dredging velocities again increase and banks erode. So not just do we still get flooding because the dredge holes fill – but the banks erode in small floods taking the houses with it. Problem solved it seems.

      The whole discussion is utterly dishonest – it starts from an assumption based on nothing at all but pulling it out of his arse and proceeds dishonestly to waffling about dredging and planting trees in windbreaks. The former is an argument from ignorance and the latter is both an argument in bad faith and utterly absurd in any serious technical sense. .

      That he continues to talk as if he knows something about it when this is patently not the case – demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to BS.

    • Robert I Ellison | March 24, 2014 at 6:38 am |

      Ah – so you are suggesting that the dam simultaneously have a storage capacity for water supply and an equal capacity for flood retention? Duh – we would never of thought of that. I’ll bring it up at the next politbureau meeting.

      Suggesting? No. I’m flat out saying you’ve thought no further than “Oh wow, we can use a dam for water storage and for flood retention both! Aren’t we clever to have thought of that?! Can we have a cookie and a knighthood?” And then you thought no further, considered nothing inobvious, left your talents buried, in a pompous backslapping squandering of opportunities.

      There is still the problem of controls having only the slightest of influences on downstream water levels in very large storms.

      Ohnoes! In one subset of one set of conditions, some of the measures that have entirely positive benefits in all of the other conditions have only slight influence on one small part of the problem! Well, hardly worth pursuing at all, then, the politburo deems. What about the rest of the measures, and the other conditions? Make the land more robust to drought, and you have less of a tyranny of drought fears among operators of water reservoirs.

      If you’re getting only the slightest influence from your controls, and primitive peoples could entirely avert flood using their methods, this tells us you’re not as bright as the ancient Incas and Egyptians.

      You will find however that the dam catchment is largely undeveloped and treed – we tend to take good care of our water supply catchments.

      And when I talked about development in flood zones in Brisbane – below the dam – we are talking about historic legacies and not long standing policy not to develop in defined 100 year flood zones.

      The tragic details of Foreignland do not interest. You’ve already admitted you don’t know how to build controls with more than slight influence; why harp on exactly how to go about failing?

      Let’s just have a brief think about dredging. Stream morphologies are adapted to about the two year bankfull flood. It is regime theory. Sediment moves from upstream to downstream and the size of the main channel is determined by a relatively frequent flow. Flows higher than that go overbank. Dredging creates a bigger cross section and lower velocities and sediment drops out. Below the dredging velocities again increase and banks erode. So not just do we still get flooding because the dredge holes fill – but the banks erode in small floods taking the houses with it. Problem solved it seems.

      So you counterdredge, knowing that floods move in pulses and waves, to cause flows to break up and lose force at key points, instead of ignorantly dredging everything everywhere without comprehension or thought to consequence.

      Also, you use the term “argument from ignorance” backwards, appear to be confused about the direction of the flow of bad faith, and seem to think ‘dishonest’ means ‘honest’. Is it because Australia is upside-down?

    • How archaic, Bart R. Dredge during the flood. C’mon, you can do it.
      ===========

    • Robert I Ellison

      That’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the actual events, if put in the context of policy decisions. The gate controls were run as if the drought projections were the only side of the equation worth considering, because the policy planners built the hydrology infrastructure as if either one or the other possibility would threaten at the same time.

      Your original statement – wong in fact as I have shown – and the rest is simply a list of technically improbable couterdredging couterfactuals.

      The tragic details of Foreignland do not interest. You’ve already admitted you don’t know how to build controls with more than slight influence; why harp on exactly how to go about failing?

      Then refrain from lying about it. Flooding is of course a universal fact of life and not an engineering failure – but don’t let the facts confuse you Bart.

      e.g. http://www.weather.com/news/missouri-flooding-closes-roads-leads-rescues-20130806

      Being wrong and then being an ass seems to be Bart’s SOP.

  21. The APS also have to consider what it will do to their already dented reputation is the global temperatures continue to cool over the next couple of decades.

    Severe embarrassment !!!

  22. Robert I Ellison

    ‘From this pilot study we conclude that local terrain and remotely sensed variables can be used to infer annual mean temperature and precipitation across the most populous, south-west area of Yemen. Important features of the daily and seasonal weather can also be simulated at the site scale, but more rigorous validation is ultimately constrained by
    lack of data. International support for expanding the observing network, consolidating and recovering data will serve to strengthen future analyses. For the time being, there is scope to broaden the range of model inputs to better discriminate different types of landscape unit. Until tested elsewhere we can only speculate about the transferability of our approach. However, the experimental design was intended to explore this important aspect within the confines of our two rainfall networks for Yemen (by calibrating and validating the model using different data sets). Satisfactory performance for the test site at Taiz suggests that the model is transferrable even when skill is assessed against a diverse set of metrics. Moreover, we deliberately build the model using information that is in the public domain, and intuitively related to local weather (e.g. elevation, latitude). In due course, our approach could be tested in other data scarce and climate vulnerable regions such as central Asia or eastern
    Africa.’ http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/17/3937/2013/hess-17-3937-2013.pdf

    The ‘model’ seems essentially a regression on altitude from limited meteorological data supplemented with satellite observations of vegetation. It may be an improvement on limited data but can’t provide long term changes – which alone can provide limits of rainfall variability.

    Yemen rainfall is a product of the Red Sea Convergence Zone – about this time of year – and the shift in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone in June and July.

    This gives some background – http://www.yemenwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Hydrology-of-Yemen.pdf

    ‘Africa is a vast continent, and it experiences a wide variety of climate regimes. The location, size, and shape of the African continent play key roles in determining climate. The poleward extremes of the continent experience winter rainfall associated with the passage of mid-latitude airmasses. Across the Kalahari and Sahara deserts, precipitation is inhibited by subsidence virtually throughout the year. In contrast, moderate to heavy precipitation associated with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) characterizes equatorial and tropical areas. Because the movement of the ITCZ follows the position of maximum surface heating associated with meridional displacement of the overhead position of the sun, near-equatorial regions experience two rain seasons, whereas regions further poleward experience one distinct rainfall season. The mean climate of Africa is further modified by the presence of large contrasts in topography (Semazzi and Sun, 1995) and the existence of large lakes in some parts of the continent…

    ENSO appears to play a major role in east Africa, but it masks the perhaps more important role of the other oceans, particularly the Indian Ocean. The 1961-1962 rains were spectacularly manifested as rapid rises in the levels of east African lakes. Lake Victoria rose 2 m in little more than a year (Flohn and Nicholson, 1980). This was not an ENSO year, but exceedingly high sea-surface temperatures (SSTs) occurred in the nearby Indian Ocean as well as the Atlantic. Such high SSTs are associated with most ENSO events, and it is probably SSTs in these regions, rather than the Pacific ENSO (Nicholson and Kim, 1997), that have the largest influence on east African rainfall. In another example, the dipole pattern anticipated to occur during ENSO events did not occur during the 1997-1998 event. There was a tremendous increase in rainfall in east Africa, but intense drought conditions did not occur throughout southern Africa. The reason appears to be an unusual pattern of SST in the Indian Ocean.’ http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=380

    In the longer term – statistical correlation of SST and rainfall are probably the way to go for seasonal to decadal predictions. The path to resilience – regardless of rainfall vagaries – is both in intensification of age old water harvesting techniques and newer technologies of sewage recycling and desalination. The latter is quite capital and energy intensive.

  23. I wrote this in answer to someone elsewhere, so I’ll post it here to (I expect all but a few Climate Etc. readers already understand all this this):

    The simple, overriding fact is the wealthier the world is and the faster it grows the better for human well-being.

    For evidence of this see ‘GapMinder’, and graph the key UN ‘Human Development Indexes’ (HDI) against income per capita and energy consumption per capita, and run play each time to see changes through time. Notice how the countries and regions are improving on just about every key HDI as income per capita increases and energy consumption per capita increases. Can you demonstrate, persuasively, that my opening statement is incorrect?

    Here is another example. Consider global disasters. Disaster costs are reducing per GDP per capita: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/disasters-cost-more-than-ever-but-not-because-of-climate-change/. Excerpts:

    >“Modern disasters bring the greatest loss of life in places with the lowest property damage, and the most property damage where there’s the lowest loss of life.”

    >”In the 20th century, the human toll of disasters decreased dramatically, with a 92 percent reduction in deaths from the 1930s to the 2000s worldwide. “

    >”the data show an inverse relationship between lives lost and property damage: Modern disasters bring the greatest loss of life in places with the lowest property damage, and the most property damage where there’s the lowest loss of life. “

    >”a nation with a $2,000 per capita average GDP — about that of Honduras – should expect more than five times the number of disaster deaths as a country like Russia, with a $14,000 per capita average GDP.”

    >”As countries become richer, they are better able to deal with disasters — meaning more people are protected and fewer lose their lives. Increased property losses, it turns out, are a price worth paying.”

  24. Worth reading. Many suggestions for actionable items in lieu of GHG emission control.
    Spencer, Ben. “End This Obsession over Climate Change: It Stops Us Tackling Floods and Storms Now Say Experts.” News. Mail Online, March 20, 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2585519/Social-policy-disaster-Our-climate-change-obsession-distraction-flooding-say-scientists.html
    Dr Janković said: ‘Avoiding construction in floodplains, implementing strong building codes, and in-creasing preparedness can make society more resilient to extreme weather events. But compounding the problem is that finding money for recovery is easier than spending on prevention, even if the costs of recovery are much higher.’

  25. And the scenarios considered utterly ignore what Solar Science is warning about: a multidecadal cooling trend. Phaggh.

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