Attribution of Extreme Events: Part II

by Judith Curry

In Part I, I was very unconvinced by strategies for attributing extreme events to global warming.  Today, two new papers have been published in Nature that attribute the recent heavy rains to global warming.  For a summary, see this article linked to at Huffington Post.  The article said:

Most of the 10 outside climate experts who reviewed the papers for The Associated Press called the research sound and strong.

However, climate scientist Jerry North of Texas A&M University, while praising the work, said he worried that the studies were making too firm a connection based on weather data that could be poor in some locations. But Francis Zwiers of the University of Victoria, a lead author of the study with Zhang, said the data was from National Weather Service gauges and is reliable.

“Put the two papers together and we start to see an emerging pattern,” said Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, who wasn’t part of either study. “We should continue to expect increased flooding associated with increased extreme precipitation because of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas. And we have no one to blame but ourselves.”

I was one of the 10 outside experts interviewed by Seth Borenstein, my brief email reply to him was:

Hi Seth, limited time at the moment, but i did do a blog post on this general topic.

I find this kind of analysis totally unconvincing, and it does not recognize the role of natural internal variability such as the Arctic Oscillation, La Nina, etc in producing floods.  None of the recent floods are extreme in historical context.

Here are the abstracts of the papers:

Human contribution to more intense precipitation

Seung-Ki Min, Xuebin Zhang, Francis W. Zwiers1 & Gabriele C. Hegerl

Extremes of weather and climate can have devastating effects on human society and the environment1,2. Understanding past changes in the characteristics of such events, including recent increases in the intensity of heavy precipitation events over a large part of the Northern Hemisphere land area, is critical for reliable projections of future changes. Given that atmospheric water-holding capacity is expected to increase roughly exponentially with temperature—and that atmospheric water content is increasing in accord with this theoretical expectation—it has been suggested that human- influenced global warming may be partly responsible for increases in heavy precipitation. Because of the limited availability of daily observations, however, most previous studies have examined only the potential detectability of changes in extreme precipita- tion through model–model comparisons. Here we show that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas. These results are based on a comparison of observed and multi-model simulated changes in extreme precipita- tion over the latter half of the twentieth century analysed with an optimal fingerprinting technique. Changes in extreme precipita- tion projected by models, and thus the impacts of future changes in extreme precipitation, may be underestimated because models seem to underestimate the observed increase in heavy precipitation with warming.

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas contribution to flood risk in England and Wales in autumn 2000

Pardeep Pall, Tolu Aina, Da ́ith ́i A. Stone, Peter A. Stott, Toru Nozawa, Arno G. J. Hilberts, Dag Lohmann & Myles R. Allen

Interest in attributing the risk of damaging weather-related events to anthropogenic climate change is increasing1. Yet climate models used to study the attribution problem typically do not resolve the weather systems associated with damaging events2 such as the UK floods of October and November 2000. Occurring during the wettest autumn in England and Wales since records began in 17663,4, these floods damaged nearly 10,000 properties across that region, dis- rupted services severely, and caused insured losses estimated at £1.3 billion (refs 5, 6). Although the flooding was deemed a ‘wake- up call’ to the impacts of climate change at the time7, such claims are typically supported only by general thermodynamic arguments that suggest increased extreme precipitation under global warming, but fail8,9 to account fully for the complex hydrometeorology4,10 asso- ciated with flooding. Here we present a multi-step, physically based ‘probabilistic event attribution’ framework showing that it is very likely that global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions substan- tially increased the risk of flood occurrence in England and Wales in autumn 2000. Using publicly volunteered distributed comput- ing11,12, we generate several thousand seasonal-forecast-resolution climate model simulations of autumn 2000 weather, both under realistic conditions, and under conditions as they might have been had these greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting large-scale warming never occurred. Results are fed into a precipitation-runoff model that is used to simulate severe daily river runoff events in England and Wales (proxy indicators of flood events). The precise magnitude of the anthropogenic contribution remains uncertain, but in nine out of ten cases our model results indicate that twentieth- century anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions increased the risk of floods occurring in England and Wales in autumn 2000 by more than 20%, and in two out of three cases by more than 90%.

234 responses to “Attribution of Extreme Events: Part II

  1. Malcolm Miller

    Who believes that Nature does not have a powerful bias towards ‘Global Warming’ support?

  2. BBC:Climate change raises flood risk, researchers say

    • John Costigane


      The BBC has been at the forefront of Global Warming propaganda for several years and recently ran a TV program sting on the Daily Telegraph’s James Dellingpole. This involved an attempt to discredit James’s knowledge of AGW matters, but was unsuccessful as James is still blogging the sceptical viewpoint. Pro AGW trolls are trying to disrupt the blog with silly arguments. These types of nonsense blacken climatology. No wonder sceptics have jumped to 33% in a poll, and still rising.

      UK scepticism is based on BBC partisanship, the MET Office’s shockingly bad seasonal forecasts, using GCMs, and questionable local climatologist activities, not forgetting political involvement.

      • John Costigane

        As for flood risks, if you build houses on flood plains, clearing trees in the process, there is more to any supposed increase than simply AGW!

      • John Costigane

        Apologies to James, Delingpole is the correct spelling. Like Judith, James has taken a principled stand on the issue against a media, in his case, which has put out the AGW side, unchallenged for a long time and explaining why there are less sceptics percentagewise than in the US. That is changing now and the extreme reactions from the Team shows their dwindling support.

      • Delingpole, by his own statements, doesn’t blog science but discussions of science.

        Your characterization of the BBC interview with Delingpole as a “sting” is wonderful. Yes, the man who made his mark trumpeting the CRU email hack complained about editing. As Will Shakespeare said, “O, wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! and yet again wonderful, and after that out of all hooping.”

      • I didn’t realise that the embarrassment to the climategate crew came because of ‘editing’. IMO it was the lack of editing that was their undoing.

        All their writings were laid bare for all to see…and all their attempts at chicanery dragged screaming into the light of publicity.

        Their credibility as ‘honest independent scientists’ was shot to pieces and will never recover.

      • Well, there you go. (Love the argument by assertion.)

      • John Costigane

        I agree that James is not science oriented but that is not the point. When the media are one-sided on an issue in dispute, surely you can see the value of even a single voice (a voice in the wilderness if you will) promoting an opposing view, which could be the correct view?

        Are you from the BBC by any chance, or the MET Office?

      • And that’s what Delingpole is? A single voice in the wilderness?

        Has he been touched with the stigmata as well?

        (Love the way he linked AGW and Nazism. So reasonable. So logical.)

      • Mr Davis- what are your proposed policies? Do they makes sense?

      • My policy is easy to state: price externalities with an eye to the unpalatability of a worst case scenario.

      • If Delingpole really is a “single voice [of the skeptic view] in the wilderness” then it’s really, really embarrassing for his fellow skeptics that the voice happens to be his.

      • In defence of the BBC it should be said, they do many excellent science programs, the climate science appear to be exception.
        First thing any scientist should do is to ‘fault’ the own hypothesis, the next step is for a colleague researcher, and finally for the peer review to perform the same exercise.
        Again the climate science appear to be exception.

      • Sadly, most of the BBC programs on science over the last 20 years or so are 3rd rate at best, whichever science they cover. In general, a very thin layer of science is bulked out with flashy camerawork and irrelevant pictures and music. Compared with the superb programs that were produced in the 1960s and 1970s, the current science material is often little more than populist pap. Never do the program makers try to get to grips with the real, hard science – they seem to assume that the audience would never understand such stuff – or, equally likely, they don’t understand it themselves.

  3. The “Church of Consensus Certainty” is crumbling, and the editor of Nature has a lot at stake.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    • 1. Dogmatic religionists once attributed extreme events to God’s anger.

      2. Now dogmatic scientists attribute the same to their brand of science.

      The Lesson: Dogmatic scientists and dogmatic religionists are identical twins, hiding under different cloaks of respectability.

      However in my experience, science (making measurements) and spirituality (meditation or contemplation) are two different ways of “truthing:”

      “Truthing”: Seeking to understand “what is”, while admitting that you will never have the whole truth – more will always be revealed later.

      Honest “truthing” is a process of ego reduction.
      Honest “truthing” generates humility and reverence.
      Claiming that you have truth is a sure sign of failure.

      When we finally comprehend that life is powered by N-N repulsion in the neutron core of the Sun, we will all get “right sized.”

      Then we will understand that Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC, the scientific establishment, and world leaders are as powerless as the rest of us.

      When we finally comprehend that life is powered by N-N repulsion in the neutron core of the Sun, we will all get “right sized.”

      Then we will understand that Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC, the scientific establishment, and world leaders are as powerless as the rest of us.

  4. Brandon Shollenberger

    It’s a minor thing, but you didn’t put italic tags for the second abstract.

  5. One paper refers to anthropogenic forcings as a partial contributor to increased heavy precipitation. The other refers to “increased risk”. I’m not sure either attributes specific events with certainty to anthropogenic causes, nor does either exclude other factors. It seems to me that an important question is whether the balance is changing – to what extent is the increased anthropogenically-driven atmospheric water vapor content assuming a greater proportionate role vis-a-vis other factors that have always played a role in these phenomena? This is a matter of quantitation where models can be helpful, even if they don’t operate precisely enough for very short term or regional estimates of risk increase.

    • Surely you cannot quantitate with inaccurate models?

      • Why not? As the saying goes, “Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.”

        You don’t have a perfect model of the world when you get out of bed in the morning, but you continue to get out of bed.

      • But you test your model of the world each and every day and modify it in the light of experience.

        Nobody ever takes this essential step for climate models.

        The two things are not comparable.

      • “Nobody ever takes this essential step for climate models.”

        Really? Skeptics make sweeping statements about how neglectful climatologists are all the time. I’ve never found one of those sweeping statements to be other than bunk. Things like “There’s no evidence for X…” when there’s tons of evidence. Or “Climatologists neglect water vapor [or solar or etc].” And GCMs are chock full of consideration of water vapor [or solar or etc.]

      • fine- this is easily solved- link one fully validated climate model.

      • Labmunkey: Nobody ever tests models.
        Davis: That’s nonsense. They test them all the time.
        Labmunkey: Fine. Show me a perfect one.

        I’m sorry. I’ll just wait here until you’re finished moving the goal posts.

      • I guess we’ll have a long wait before you come up with a model that actually bears any useful relationship to reality then.

        Just saying ‘we considered water vapour or solar or the phases of the moon doesn’t mean that your considerations were correct. One of the US state legislatures ‘considered’ that the value of pi was 3.0000. Didn’t make it true.

        Without proper validation against reality how can you have any idea whether your ‘considerations’ were right or wrong?

      • Pick a lane.

        Useful models? There are lots of useful climate models.
        Perfect models? Nobody ever claimed they were perfect.

        “Useful” and “perfect” aren’t synonyms, and you get no leverage on “useful” models by complaining that they aren’t perfect models.

      • I pick the useful lane.

        Please explain how your ‘useful’ models have been validated, so that we know that they are actually useful.

        I asked this question of Andrew Lacis and he waffled about Mt, Pinatubo. Perhaps you can cite a recent example where a climate model has consistently made useful predictions about the climate. By ‘useful’ I mean predictions that have subsequently been shown to be substantially correct by observation.

        Because if not, we must be using different definitions of ‘useful’. And I wonder what yours is.

      • Your criticism is wrong-footed, a little comic, and gives the game away.

        Predicting the cooling due to Pinatubo demanded a sophisticated detailed physical description of the climate.

      • As I remember it, their predictions were way out.

        But then the same team revisited their own work and gave themselves a gold star. Self-certification is never a good idea.

        But in the twenty odd years, thirty odd more climate models and zillions of dollars spent since, has nobody made any advances in accuracy or predictions since then? Surely there must be something better than that that you would wish to bring to our attention.

        I worked in IT Sales for many years, and every time one university lab or another was equipped with the world’s largest supercomputer du jour, the justification was always that it would provide quicker and more accurate weather forecasts and help in producing better climate models.

        So where are they? What stunning advances have all these resources provided post Pinatubo? Or was the peak of Pinatubo’s eruption the peak of climate modelling…and nothing substantial has been achieved in 20 years? What bangs has Joe Sixpack got for his bucks?

      • There have been other predictions than Pinatubo, but since the denialist camp refuses their relevance or even their existence, Pinatubo is common ground.

      • ‘There have been other predictions than Pinatubo, but since the denialist camp refuses their relevance or even their existence, Pinatubo is common ground’

        Not denied by me. I have never heard of them, so can neither accept nor deny them.

        FYI Andrew Lacis, modeller extraordinaire, produced Pinatubo as the sole contribution when I asked him to name the Top Ten triumphs of climate modelling. I had not heard of it beforehand either.

        Please allow me to know what I am missing with the other nine that he neglected to mention.

      • Well, the biggie is that the globe will warm. (Has)

        Hadley Cells will increase in size (Has).
        Expansion of desertification in the temperate zone (Has).
        Poleward movement of the Jet Stream (Has)
        Increase in events of larger than normal precipitation. (Disputed.)


      • Jeffery– Is there ANY climate model that is considered reliable that can show what the weather conditions will be like as a result of higher CO2. The answer is NO. That is simply a fact that AGW worriers who do not study the science do not seem to accept. We do not know what future rainfall will be as a result of CO2 changes and that is the most important single concern.

      • Mr. Starkey,

        So, you know what all GCMs do and don’t do? Cool.

        Acquiring such sweeping knowledge must have taken a toll.

  6. John F. Pittman I wonder how they address and show that it is not part of LTP or related phenomena? I think there are other papers that deal with such claims as increased drought. What I find unconvincing is that assumptions for cloud and water vapor will not be independent of the reults. Literally, a circular argument. It also seems to say that drier becomes drier and wetter, wetter. I do not think that it has been shown that weather attractors behave this way from an “outside” disturbance (ACO2) in chaotic systems.

  7. Hello Judith,

    this is my first comment on your excellent blog which I has been a site of inspiration for my research. I study the making of authoritative climate knowledge and for me one sentence stands out:

    “Francis Zwiers of the University of Victoria, a lead author of the study with Zhang, said the data was from National Weather Service gauges and is reliable.”

    Why is it that some data, here NMS’, become (more) credile, hence authoritative? While I m interested in places and spaces of knowledge production I am also curious to know whether you trust the NMS data and if so for what reason(s). If you reflect on what has been dubbed “climategate” then what would be reasons to lose trust?


  8. The report said this
    “Occurring during the wettest autumn in England and Wales since records began in 17663,4,”

    Rubbish. Only highly sporadic measurements in some very limited locations were kept right up until the late 1800’s. Even after this date much of the UK wasn’t properly covered. Where does this nonsensical statistic come from?

    The UK Environment Agency has never attributed flooding to global warming-I suggest these authors read the Pitt report.

    I also suggest they read Hubert Lambs book on Historic Storms and they would see that we get off lightly these days

  9. Roger Pielke Jr. is my go-to expert on matters of precipitation, flooding, and damage. His analyses of recent Australian flooding were exceptional.

    He actually had a blog entry today, the same day as the two Nature articles, in which he says that there may have been an increase in days with higher levels of precipitation, but there haven’t been increases in flood damage, in the US. Here is the link:

    There are two points. First, the definition of high precipitation periods encompasses periods that most people might not think of as a real maximal rain day. A quote: “Moreover, the trends described for the extreme precipitation category (>50.4 mm per day) are not necessarily sufficient to generate an increase in flooding.”

    Secondly, the increased precipitation days tend to be in summer and fall, when the rivers tend to be lowest. Therefore there isn’t an increase in flooding.

    However, RP Jr.’s entry today mostly goes back to articles published a while ago.

    So I wonder if Judith would find it of interest to ask Roger to address these two new articles either here or on his website?

  10. These surges in extreme weather are predictable if you consider the planetary system mechanisms that are driving the Ocean oscillations.

    The Brisbane, Pakistan floods, and Russian heat waves and now the cold surge coming, all have repeating patterns every 17.95 years or ~6558 days.
    An analog model does forecast them effectively years in advance.

  11. Has anyone posting here read the full papers? Not just the abstract but the full papers? If so, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to make the cliam that the papers do not “recognize the role of natural internal variability”

    One person who has read the papers is Richard Allan:

    Fron Nature:

    “In the meantime, as these two papers demonstrate, robust physics, combined with carefully constructed observing systems and detailed modelling, indicate that the frequency of intense rainfall events is likely to increase with anthropogenic greenhouse-gas-induced warming.”

    From WP
    Richard Allan, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in England who was not part of the (Zwier) study, called the method employed by Zwiers “very rigorous.”

    He added, “There’s already been quite a bit of evidence showing that there has been an intensification of rainfall” events across the globe.

    But until now “there had not been a study that formally identified this human effect on precipitation extremes,” Zwiers said. “This paper provides specific scientific evidence that this is indeed the case.”

    • Please followyour own questions advice. Befor appeal to more authorities. Or better still start your own “journalistic” blog.

    • Troll.

    • As soon as I got to ‘detailed modeling’ my eyes glazed over.

    • But until now “there had not been a study that formally identified this human effect on precipitation extremes,” Zwiers said. “This paper provides specific scientific evidence that this is indeed the case.”

      Thats good. What is it then? He’s used the term “evidence”, so I assume he means real evidence, not model runs.

      Or maybe not

    • His work found that from 1951 to 1999, the probability of heavy downpours becoming even more extreme grew by about 7 percent, a figure he characterized as “really substantial.”

      What exactly does that mean? Either heavy downpours became more extreme, or they didn’t – what has probability got to do with past events?
      And a seven-percent increase in probability? Wow! That’s really, really substantial – must have made it easy for them to dig it out of the noise. And would it have still been as, “really substantial” had they studied a different period, like 1941 to 2009, for example?
      When I see rubbish like this being hailed as, “very rigorous” , I really do despair.

    • Those scientists ran sophisticated climate simulations

      Indeed. Masters of sophistry, they are.

  12. I can’t believe that nature publish this kind of studies. The results themselves look so bad in one of the studies when they compared model to observations that anyone could reject model’s credibility right away. Plus, attribute a weather event to ‘climate change’!


  13. So these papers presume to make probabilistic forecasts of weather events based on climate models of a complex, coupled, non-linear, chaotic system with imperfect input data? Desperate times call for desperate measures!

    • You presume? So you havent read them? Genius!

      • @ianash, certainly I’ve read these papers, tucked safely behind the pay wall of the ivory tower that is Nature. One paper opens with the usual alarmist text “Extremes of weather and climate can have devastating effects on human society and the environment.” It proceeds to cherry pick a time interval 1951-1999 and runs a model, does some statistics, and finds a weak correlation. At the end the paper is only able to report analysis that “four leading empirical orthogonal functions are retained, which explain about 52–63% of the total variance.” If an experiment needs a statistician then one needs to devise a better experiment. This is not the piling on of evidence, this is people sitting in the computer lab playing with models and writing papers.

      • “sitting in the computer lab playing with models and writing papers.”

        …and concealing the null hypothesis behind a wall of statisti-babble.

      • Maybe you should write a letter to Nature explaining all the papers faults. I’m sure they’d be interested in your views…in their ivory tower…on their computers…

      • Ianash,

        Could you please reference all the publicly available data and methods for the papers you’ve urged others to read, to include all internal e-mails and correspondence pertaining to the development of the papers? (I am sure you would not have recommended the papers unless you had personally examined, in detail, the authors’ data , methods and internal discussions.) Please include the same information for any references cited by the authors of the papers.

        Otherwise, ianash, these papers you’ve recommended are nothing more than yet another ringing affirmation of the
        bunny-muffin orthodoxy by the usual “trust-me” gurus who have a “community” history of “tricks” and “hiding” things.

      • mike, no play this game.

        Do your own homework.

      • Don’t be so silly. It promotes the cause, so it must be true – no matter how much rubbish the rest of us may think it is. ;-)

  14. I can’t believe that nature publish this kind of studies.

    And Judith probably doesn’t understand while she’s never been published in Nature herself, since she’s able to dismiss the papers published there with a mere goddess handwave …

    • Yeah and while the experimentees on this website scratch their nads and roll in the dust of denial, real scientists keep piling up the evidence.

      Have a look at some of the latest work on the permafrost.

      SCHAEFER, K., ZHANG, T., BRUHWILER, L. and BARRETT, A. P. , Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming. Tellus B, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x

      Author Information
      1National Snow and Ice Data Center, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
      2National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO, USA

      “The thaw and release of carbon currently frozen in permafrost will increase atmospheric CO2 concentrations and amplify surface warming to initiate a positive permafrost carbon feedback (PCF) on climate… We predict that the PCF will change the arctic from a carbon sink to a source after the mid-2020s and is strong enough to cancel 42–88% of the total global land sink. The thaw and decay of permafrost carbon is irreversible and accounting for the PCF will require larger reductions in fossil fuel emissions to reach a target atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

      • A couple of points about this paper:
        1. It assumes that permafrost during this interglacial has never been smaller than 1973-2001, which is demonstrably wrong.
        2. It also assumes that climatic conditions for the last 4000 years has been stable at 1973-2001 levels, which is also demonstably wrong.
        3. If permafrost thaw is such a powerful CH4/CO2 generator as claimed, then the effect should be extremely visible in ice-core records. It isn’t. In this paper they “solve” this problem by assuming that all CO2 released during an interglacial is due to permafrost thawing, apparently leaving no room att all for ocean warming. Where the CH4 is supposed to have gone is left unexplained.

      • So the paper about methane emissions is just farting about?

    • Have you read the nature articles yourself? I did. Do you have any understanding on the subject? I do. If your answer is no to both of these questions, that’s ok. Just go read the one by Min et al. See how the observation compares with the model. It’s easy, just looking at the patterns. Then let me know what your call is on the model skill.

      • ‘Scuse me for interrupting, but you didn’t answer Hook’s question. He asked you about the skill of the models.

        And for the benefit of the rest of us, would you care to explain what analytical skills you need – in addition to a quick eyeball – to assess these?

        Though it may be successful on other heavily moderated blogs, appearing from the heavens to blithely assert that with your superior skills you just need to give your opinion and that should suffice for us mere mortals to follow the one true path, is not a wise strategy here.

        You need to explain your points, not just assert them to be true.

        And no, I haven;t read the papers concerned. I haven’t got 30 quid to spare, nor a university library to pay for them for me.

        My remarks are about the style of commentary, not about the substance of the science – though anything based exclusively on climate models immediately fails the credibility test for me.

      • I hear LA saying is that models of questionable skills are hard to believe. Does not seemlike an extreme position to me. It would toyou since it collapses the house of cards you build with your appeals to authority.

      • Right, and now that we have an idea of your meaning of the word, ‘extreme’, it puts a whole new light on the ‘extreme rainfall’ being predicted. Do we need two hands to count the extra raindrops, or will one do?

      • I’ll ask the people in Queensland who last month suffered enormous record breaking floods. Or Sri Lanka. Oh yes, Darwin has record rainfall yesterday.

        Extreme indeed!

      • Yes, the worst since 1974, was it?
        Tell you what, give me an example of one year when some record wasn’t broken in some or other part of the world.
        Now that would be a record.

      • Focus on the frequency Pete…

      • I see. We’ve just experienced an unusually high number of extreme events, so now it suits you to talk about frequency.
        Kind of like buses, you don’t see one for hours, then a whole string of them come along.
        What about the year before? Did we have an unusually high number then? Or the year before? Or did the global average temperature suddenly jump up several degrees in the past year or so? Or, more likely, couldn’t it be some effect of the ENSO switch?

      • Hunter,

        If the science was any good, there would be absolutely no room to flip flop like a fish.
        Very much like the bible with tons of room for different interpretations.

      • Let’s try that again:
        at its heart, the AGW calamity movement is quasi-religious, so it is not surprising to see similarities in the way its tenets are presented.

      • I’ve spent a lot of pleasant hours discussing denial with the “9/11 truther” movement and I have to say their MO and the MO of the climate deniers is remarkably similar:

        – mainstream science is automatically wrong
        – small issues in the scheme of things get blown out of all proportion
        – the more science that is offerred to counter their views, the more they are convinced they are correct
        – fringe scientists and engineers join their cause, adding a veil of credibility (in their eyes anyway)
        – smart people get sucked in by some of the unaswered questions, thereby missing the main issue and the vast amount fo evidence that disagrees with their view.
        – a self reinforcing ring of websites perpetuates myths, conspiracies and pseudoscience.

        About the only thing they dont have is the backing of right wing politicians, think tanks and media outlets as there is no vested economic interest in that issue.

      • ianash

        ……”About the only thing they dont have is the backing of right wing politicians, think tanks and media outlets as there is no vested economic interest in that issue.”…..

        Well here in the UK the IPCC proponents are fully backed by a right wing Tory Government.
        The Government finds AGW a very good excuse to increase dramatically carbon taxes .
        So much so that pensioners are forced to stay in bed because they cannot afford to pay the heating bill.

      • Bryan

        True, there are idiots in governments in many parts of the world. But your argument about the effect of the carbon tax on overall prices has been well debunked previously.

      • ianash

        ….”carbon tax on overall prices has been well debunked previously.”….

        That will come as a great comfort to the freezing pensioners!

      • Bryan

        This is another cake and eat it too situation.

        Which one is it:

        A) the cheap energy policies in force the entirety of the pensioners’ lives has led to a nirvana, a paradise of ubermenschen with every advantage who ought by virtue of these benefits ought be able to cope with any hardship, which is why cheap energy will solve all the problems of all the world’s poor everywhere;


        B) a lifetime of cheap energy only makes people so vulnerable to even the most minor of price shocks that they must out of pity for their feeble state be subsidized out of my pocket?

        Will cheap energy save the third world or condemn them to freezing in their beds when the chickens come home to roost, as inevitably they must?

      • Neither.

        But making energy even more expensive for daft reasons most certainly won’t ‘solve all of the problems of all the world’s poor everywhere’.

        It will just make matters worse for them….whether they are employed making bamboo bicycles or not.

      • Latimer Alder

        Being European, I can’t expect you to have heard of the idea of the Free Market, or the benefits of letting the democracy of the marketplace — not the subsidies of governments using taxes extorted by government power — fix the price.

        However, one recommends you not call Free Market Capitalism daft to an American audience.

      • Raising taxes on fossil fuels to an extent sufficient to force people to stop buying them…that’s free market capitalism? Seriously? Is that supposed to be a joke? Or is taking a course in embracing cognitive dissonance a prerequisite for being an CAGW alarmist?

      • GaryM

        Getting something for nothing, while it may define ‘free’ isn’t within the definition of market.

        The CO2 budget is a scarce resource.

        Failing to pay for it is free-riding; it distorts the market; it is anti-capitalist.

        Promoting any scheme without payment for the rent of the CO2 budget to the stakeholders in the air (all of us, per capita), is simply theft from all of us by the few of us who use it more.

        Also, what the heck are you talking about, CAGW?

        I’m simply defending the moral right of all of us to not have our pockets picked, of all of us who do not consent to the use of our share of our scarce resource without adequate compensation.

        Who needs to demonstrate harm, to demonstrate trespass.

        However pretty you dress it up, you’re selling CO2 communism.

      • Bart R

        …..”However pretty you dress it up, you’re selling CO2 communism.”…..

        Which sounds to me that your advocating Eco Fascism.

        But Bart the interesting turn in this exchange is the sceptic adopts a left wing perspective and the IPCC advocate has a right wing outlook.
        Science free from political spin is the correct way forward.

      • There is a lot of difference between limited energy in the tropics and limited energy at 50 degrees north.

      • There is of course another possibility – fuel poverty amongst pensions in thr UK has been a problem for a number if years and carbon taxes have very little to do with it.

      • feel free not to read my comments (not that many are left – so much for lightly moderated)

      • Pleasant hours? Glad you enjoyed it.

        Very little reading would of course have told you that mainstream science is very often wrong! Some of us remember the clamour over acid rain. Sure there is a small problem; very small, tiny, negligible. But back in the 80’s it was touted as a world ender. Those who were skeptical of the mainstream science then were vindicated. I actually wasn’t skeptical about acid rain; the danger seemed plausible to me. Nature makes fools of us all.

        At the moment I find it very plausible to be worried about disappearing bees and fish stocks: Both real and urgent concerns. Global warming at such a gradual rate as it is now, ie 0.6 degrees per hundred years is even adlitted by the IPCC to be more likely to be beneficial than not. Only the prospect of a much higher , sudden rise is scary. And on those scarier predictions, the mainstream has also been proven very wrong thus far. A few more years of non warming and the new world ending fad will be something else, eg the bees or the fish.

      • I am sure it was pleasant for you, since AGW true believers like you depend on vast conspiracies, extreme claims with no evidence, and sophistry to maintain your faith: just like the 911 truthers. It was a homecoming for you.

      • Pete, you are correct, I should have said focus on the frequency and the trend – then you will get a better understanding.

        btw, 1974 = Brisbane, not Quessnland

      • Ianash,
        Your first point: show me your data.
        Your second point: where do you think Brisbane is situated?

      • The first thing the pick-pocket shouts when caught red-handed by the police is “Fascist,” then, isnt’ it?

        Your ‘economic arguments’ haven’t even demonstrated a likelihood that the poor will be made worse off.

        Most of the evidence indicates that the fossil market is oversubscribed, economies of scale are above the optimum, and so the very skewed (by subsidies) market is further skewed by the high use of current fuel processing capacity.

        It’s likely that a higher price for these fuels will lead to an overall lower budget price to consumers, and a lower overall tax burden.

        But don’t take my word for it.

        Read something by Ross McKitrick on the topic.

        (Though I strongly disagree with his approach, which by any measure is more like to.. shall we call it ‘statist’ than mine, as he treats air as the property of governments, not of people.)

      • Which record did those floods break?

        You can see the highest redinsg for the depth of the Brisbane River in the referenced chart. Floods were definitely higher in 1974 and 1881. Perhaps we should use that as evidence that increased CO2 produces less flooding – not more??

      • *sigh*
        Is Brisbane Queensland?

      • That graph cannot tell you that.

        To know the severity of the events, experts will have to add back any flood mitigation effect. As a thought exercise, look at the 1893 flood and try to imagine what level the floodwater would have reached on the flood gauge if the Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams had existed in 1893. It most certainly would not have reached 8.4 meters; it would have been significantly less. If not, there would be no reason whatsoever to ever attempt building flood-mitigation dams.

        Now, as a dam fan, ask yourself, “How big was the 1893 flood versus the 2011 flood?”

      • Considering the way the Wivenhoe dam was handled it seems that it may well have exacerbated the 2011 flood, rather that moderating it.

      • They ended up in a position that dictated a large release of floodwater, but the flood would have been far worse had the Wivenhoe Dam not been there.

        Why did they get into that position? The Wivenhoe Dam’s design for 1.16 million ML of drinking water storage, a number that traces back to a relatively climate-scientist-free 1977, and operating manual were based on the historic record. For events within the historic record, everything should have been fine.

        In mid January they had to do something the historic record indicated they would not have had to do: release massive amounts of floodwater at the worst possible time. What forced that situation? Why did engineering and the historic record fail them?

      • Ok – since it is possible that the two circumstances are not directly comparable, we cannot definitely say that either were ‘record-breaking’.

        We can all agree however that there were bad floods in Queensland in 1881, 1974 and 2011. We can also say that 1881 was worse than 1974 according to the only recorded comparable measurements.

        And a real big one in the Middle East about 6K years ago when Noah and his gang were obliged to build their Ark.

      • In 1974 they had a flood. There was this engineer who had learned this stuff in school called arithmetic. Miraculously, he was able to add up the water that was held back from the city flood gauge by the Somerset Dam. Then he had an inspiration: he added that amount to the 1974 crest on the flood gauge, and discovered to his utter amazement that the 1974 flood was nearly equal to the 1893 flood.

        I know. Hard to believe.

      • Ah…I see that your man was a ‘climatologit’.

        He didn’t actually measure the thing he was interested in. He measured something else and then ‘adjusted’ the number he got to give the notional ‘number it would have been according to our theory, rather than what we could actually measure’.

        So that’s all right then. Climataology as an experimental science at the peak of its form.

        And now you wish to pull the same trick yet again to prove that a record was broken…

        There’s an old saying ‘if grandmother had had b…s she;d have been my grandfather’.

        You cannot directly compare apples with satsumas. They are different things.

      • No, he was a very rational engineer. Being rational, perhaps that’s why you do not understand what he did.

      • Not record breaking at all, the floods of 1974 and 1893 were much worse. You betray a woeful ignorance of history to assert that the recent events are in any way unusual, or historically extreme

      • A lot of nonsense has been said about the Brisbane floods (especially here), mostly by people who are desperate to contend that it has nothing to do with the increase in extreme rainfall events forecast under a warming world scenario.

        The 2011 flood was probably the biggest ever. The combined effect on flood peaks in the Brisbane Rv from the Wivenhoe and Somerset dams is about -3.5 m.

        Additional, the method for measuring flood height has changed since 1893. If used to be measured from the low tide mark, but is now measured from the mean tide height, which is 1m at Brisbane.

        So, for all those saying the the 2011 flood was nothing in historical terms, take 4.5 m from the 1893 flood and 2m from the 1974 event and think again.

        “Woeful ignorance” ? – you got that right Peter.

      • ‘mostly by people who are desperate to contend that it has nothing to do with the increase in extreme rainfall events forecast under a warming world scenario’

        So you would contend that it was actually caused by such an increase?

        Please show your evidence.

      • A 2004 Australian study predicted increasing risk of extreme rainfall events is SE Qld due to AGW.

        Could just be a coincidence. Or not.

        Knowing which, might be rather important.

      • One clue – the historic record failed the test. The flood exceeded the gauge level that engineering based upon the historic recorded indicated a flood within the historic record could reach.

      • The Wivenhoe Dam was designed by engineers. It wasn’t created by the English Literature Department. The Art Department may have drawn pictures to help people see the future, but they weren’t in on the design. The numbers guys designed the dam and they used the historic record of rainfall and flooding to do it.

        Based on the historic record, the engineers calculated the maximum level a flood within the historic record could reach on the city flood gauge once the Wivenhoe Dam was added to the flood-mitigation system.

        The 2011 flood exceeded that level by a significant amount. Hint: historic record probably equaled and possibly broken.

      • @michael

        ‘A 2004 Australian study predicted increasing risk of extreme rainfall events is SE Qld due to AGW’

        I though that they built the dam to store drinking water based upon a study that predicted an increasing risk of drought in SE Queensland because of AGW?

      • Latimer,

        This makes me wonder why you’ve been commenting on a topic about which you display, as Peter succintly put it, “woeful ignorance”.

        The dam was planned after the big 1974 flood as a flood mitigation dam. Water storage is only a secondary function.

        You need to stop your AGW prejudices interfering with your understanding of reality. Though your comment does make me wonder where you read (or imagine??) it was about drought predictions related to AGW???.

      • I’ve traced the drinking water storage component of 1.16 million ML to a 1977 article. The article also sets the flood-mitigation component. It predicted the DWS component will fill needs to 1995.

        The Wivenhoe Dam was conceived as both a drinking water storage dam and a flood-mitigation dam.

        It had nothing to do with climate scientists. The drinking water storage was included to meet predicted additional demand because of anticipated population growth, and flood-mitigation component was included to deal with the historic record of rainfall and flooding, which includes, and this should be obvious, historic La Nina events.

      • @michael

        Of course you are right.

        It wasn’t the Wivenhoe Dam for drought alleviation. It is the desalination plants that were built because of the forthcoming AGW-induced droughts.

        Were the desalination plants badly affected by the floodwater? It would be sad to know that they had been made worthless and useless before the increased AGW-induced rainfall overtook them anyway.

      • Well part of the bad faith and cynical trait of a troll is to pretend that recent extreme events have never been experienced before.
        Our current troll would be even less than he/she is if it were not for ignoring history.
        I wonder how many of the climate scientists who have avoided getting caught up in the mania of AGW like the way these papers fabricate history and make conflicting, self-canceling predictions yet are both held to be true?

    • It seems that it’s easy to be published in nature nowadays.
      All you have to do is give your paper a liberal sprinkling of meaningless alarmist phrases such as, ‘wake- up call’ , make good use of words such as, ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘probable’ etc, and don’t forget to keep the focus on the ‘A’ bit of ‘AGW’. For example, why say things like, ‘global warming’ and ‘increases in greenhouse gases’, when it’s far more effective (and apparently scientific) to say, ‘human- influenced global warming’ and ‘human-induced increases in greenhouse gases’.
      Are you taking note, Judith? ;-)

      • Peter317

        If it is that easy, even you should be able knock a quick paper or two up and get them published in Nature…bit of postnormal blog review and off you go!

      • Sorry, I should have realised that some people might be incapable of appreciating a bit of sarcasm.
        But, seeing you suggested it, why don’t you have a go at submitting a paper critical of AGW to nature and see how far you get. I could do it, but you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

      • sarcasm…hmmm (a little injoke from the experimentee to the experimenter. She will be happy!)

    • Personally, I never submit papers to science or nature: I don’t like the press embargo, I don’t like the pal review, and I don’t like the word count limits. That said, i have been coauthor on a number of papers published in Science.

  15. Dho? You OK buddy?

  16. Ross Handsaker

    The following is quoted from book written by Australian Alan Wilkie, published in 1976 – The Weather Conspiracy.
    “By 1973, surface temperatures of large areas of ocean surrounding Australia had warmed up (4 deg. C. above average in places) and were still above average at the end of 1974. During this time, record heavy rains were received in ,any parts of the country, including the usually dry interior, and flooding occurred in all states.”
    “Much prominence has been given in the media lately to abnormal weather conditions in the northern hemisphere, but strange things have also been happening in the southern hemisphere. It is this wild fluctuation of the weather that gives rise to concern, as it shows tremendous imbalance in the energy stored in the atmosphere at certain times, and it has also lead many of the worlds climatologists to seriously consider if we are heading towards another great ice age.”
    Some of the remarks by Wilkie in the early 1970’s about the weather and ocean temperatures around Australia applying then fit very well with our current conditions. Except of course, the fear in the 1970’s was an imminent ice age not global warming!

  17. Wish the climate scientists could make up their minds.

    As Gaia warms up do we get more rain or more drought?

    “Earth could see extreme drought in 30 years

    Posted Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:26pm AEDT

    Large swathes of the planet could experience extreme drought within the next 30 years unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut, a study warns.

    “We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognised by both the public and the climate change research community,” National Centre for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) scientist Aiguo Dai, who conducted the study, said.

    “If the projections in this study come even close to being realised, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous.”

    Parts of Asia, the United States and southern Europe, and much of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East could be hit by severe drought in the next few decades, with regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea seeing “almost unprecedented” drought conditions, the study says.

    Meanwhile, higher-latitude regions from northern Europe to Russia, Canada, Alaska and India could become wetter, according to the study published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change.

    But increased moisture in those regions would not make up for the drier conditions across much of the rest of the world.

    “The increased wetness over the northern, sparsely populated high latitudes can’t match the drying over the more densely populated temperate and tropical areas,” Mr Dai said.”

    Cross posted at Mr Revkin’s blog.

    • Explain please. Because it looks to me that you are saying

      ‘when it isn’t raining it’ll be dry’

      which is hardly an earth-shattering prediction.

      And calling orkneygal a ‘dunce’ is a pretty dumb thing to do. It’s a sensible question asked by millions of people. And having no better answer than ‘both you dunce’, is completely unpersuasive that you have the faintest idea what you are talking about. And need to cover up that failure.

      This blog is not just inhabited by ‘professional’ academics. There are real people like me here. And ultimately we are the people you need to persuade you are right. We have the votes that eventually control the budgets and the politics. You serve your cause badly by insulting us.

      Throwaway glib unplesasntnesses like above serve merely to suggest that you may have drunk deep at the well of arrogance at far too young an age. As maturity comes, you may regret it. But as an advocate for your cause, at the moment you seem to be a liability.

      • You can’t have both more and less rainfall overall, and it was the overall global situation which was implied, just like the overall global temperature has risen by a tiny amount, while it’s gotten both hotter and colder in various places.
        Don’t start calling people dunces just because you don’t understand their questions. I could, by the same token, ask you to define the global climate, and how it’sgoing to change. But that would be stupid now, wouldn’t it?

    • “Parts of Asia, the United States and southern Europe, and much of Africa, Latin America and the Middle East could be hit by severe drought in the next few decades”

      I spent much of my early life in Africa, and I know that severe and prolonged drought has been a fact of life there for as long as anyone can remember, so attributing the possibility of future severe drought to greenhouse gas emissions is disingenuous, to say the least.
      Why do they think that the world’s largest dam was built in Africa decades before climate change was ‘invented’?

  18. At first pass the papers seem to rely heavily on qualifiers and probabilities rather than anything concrete- though i qualify this by saying i haven’t read them in FULL yet.

    Luckily the paywall doesn’t apply me so i’ll report back once i’ve read them.

    • Hey Lab,

      Still not a word on the cooling oceans or that increased cloud cover deflects more solar radiation.

      I guess it’s me, just wanting straight honest and open answers.
      The movement of ocean heat seems not to be a factor in these obvious experts.

  19. Alarmist phrases such as, ‘wake- up call’ have no place in a scientific paper, so that in itself makes me deeply suspicious about it.
    Putting some perspective on attributing probabilities to extreme events, it could also be said that buying two lottery tickets a week instead of one increases your chances of becoming rich by 100%.
    Also, if you choose to build on a flood plain, it doesn’t make much difference whether floods come every 20 years or every 40 years, chances are still good that you’re going to get flooded out at least once in your lifetime.

  20. Dr Curry,
    Thank you once again for this excellent forum, whose value is not diminished by the occasional offensive commment from people like ianash.

  21. A guest post by a t’d-off meteorologist at WUWT disassembles the “warm air increases precipitation” meme:
    Cold air is the “culprit”, not warm.

    • Al Gore has lost a great deal of money and media coverage this year. With the closing of one of his pet carbon markets.

    • I take it that ‘guest post’ is a euphemism for ‘rantings of the village idiot”?

      Chuck Wiese. Seriously? Even for that mangy mob, this is low brow stuff.

      From Professor Wiese:
      “… there is no proof whatsoever that the human contribution of atmosspheric(sic) CO2 is producing carbonic acid in the ocean system …”

      “The gig is up with this and another few years of the onset of the coming global cooling trend should water you all down very nicely…”

      “El Ninio(sic) activity will be the only hope of slowing down any cooling forthcoming, and even now, the effects with this one have not staved off record snow and cold to a lot of the world.”

      • So are you going to argue that warmer air does hold more water vapour, simply because it can?
        Compare an air mass over Britain in winter with an equivalent air mass over the Sahara in summer. Which one is warmer? And which one is drier?

      • *sigh*

        Global. Average increase. And include oceans. Think!

      • So a global average temperature increase will cause a global average increase in the amount of water vapour, which will cause an increase in average precipitation globally?
        And this somehow translates to more extreme rainfall in some places and more extreme drought in others?
        Which is the point which you called someone a dunce over earlier?
        So make up your mind, which is it? Are we talking about averages, or extremes? Because the two are very different animals.

      • Actually, not even. The concentration of water vapour in the air is not a function of air temperature. Period. So even on average, you’re wrong.

      • This comment takes the biscuit.

        If you cant even understand that increase temperature means more water vapour in teh atmosphere, then, well, I might have to dig out the “d” word again (no not denier, the other one).

      • I think you’ll find that as the temperature increases the potential amount of water vapour (the saturated vapour pressure) that can be held in the atmosphere increases.

        But not all air necessarily contains 100% of its potential. So Peter317 is nearly right. The actual amount of water vapour air contains is not a function of temperature alone. It depends also on that air mass’s past history. Warm tropical air that has spent a long time over a warm sea contains a lot of water (hence tropical rain forests – the clue is in the name). But air with a similar temperature in the Sahara will contain a great deal less.

      • ‘I take it that ‘guest post’ is a euphemism for ‘rantings of the village idiot”?’

        If that was your application for some editorial space then its clear that you satisfy the qualifications hurdle. But sadly, the ‘having something worth reading’ one would probably be beyond you.

  22. ianass @ February 17, 2011 at 1.21AM

    “Both you dunce.”

    My dunce head reading of the Nature paper and the other one I quoted and linked to is-

    One paper says-

    In the future, there will be more precipitation in the high latitudes of the NH and less precipitation in the mid-latitudes.

    The other papers suggests-

    In the future, there will be more precipitation in the mid-latitudes and less in the high latitudes of the NH.

    Apparently that is not your interpretation?

    Feel free to clarify your comment about “both”

    No doubt there are other “dunces” awaiting in eager anticipation of your explanation of how “both” can happen.


    • I must admit I missed that bit.
      Puts a somewhat different perspective on things :-)

    • Yummm, some nice cherrys here!

      Let’s try again.

      Min’s paper was looking at…
      Pall’s paper was looking at…

      Can you understand the difference between the two studies? Serious question because you seem to think they are replicate studies.

      • So they looked at different tings but came to opposite conclusions about future rainfall. Please explain how this can be so. They cannot both be right.

        Long winded handwaving not required. Just explain in easy to understand term how rainfall in mid-latitudes can simultaneously increase and decrease.

      • Perhaps it’s a temporal thing, you know, like maybe more rainfall in the winter and less in summer, or more at night and less during the day, or more in the morning than in the afternoon, or something like that, or it could depend on which latitude ianash is occupying at the time – I don’t know, just making suggestions ;-)

      • Or maybe it’ll just be dry in the gaps between the rain? H’mmm.

      • Here’s the thing. They didnt come to opposite conclusions. Have you read the conclusions?

        We need to take Orkneygal thru this step by step if she is to learn anything.

      • Troll…

  23. I have no doubt that the quality of these papers is every bit as high as the quality of Mann’s hockey stick, Rahmstorf’s “it’s worse than we thought”, Steig’s “smear it around Antarctica”, and Jones’ UHI papers. I’ll bet the papers were reviewed with same kind of attention to detail used by the reviewers of Mann et al. And I’m sure that alarmist scientist community will now use the same critical thinking skills they used to evaluate Mann et al.

  24. We are now in the stage of AGW where if the woman floats, she is a witch.

  25. Whilst not being technically competent myself to judge the merits of this paper, I suspect the BBC and Guardian are equally compromised and have simply published the Press Release. Call me a cynic.

    I would however be very interested to know if the authors had attempted to falsify their results by comparing two similar autumn events in 1934 and 1960. I’m sure that M&M could do this, but is it really worth the candle?

  26. When studying this one needs to ask the simple question that if these papers had come to the opposite conclusion, weak as they are, would they ever have been published?

  27. It seems they got the answer they were looking for in the year 2000.

    The question is what happens if they run these exact same simulations for all years 1990 to 2010? How well do they match up to reality?

    One would suspect the model may chronically over predict flooding chances? Not sure if they did this or not.

    • Here is a hint from the new CMIP5 simulations, the only thing I have spotted so far (dated 5/10/10).
      I’m not exactly sure how to interpret their plots or what they represent, but looks like the models are predicting too much warming relative to what has been observed.

      I would be most interested if anyone else can spot previews from the CMIP5 simulations.

      • Dr.Curry,
        Would it not be useful to compare the claims of CO2 attribution with the historical record?
        Would it not be an obligation of a reviewer to ask the authors to reconcile their claims with actual records?
        These papers seem to ignore the historical record implicitly in their claims. Why is that considered good science?

      • as i mentioned in Part I, these attribution studies depend on the general attribution of 20th century warming to be correct, then have the additional requirement of the models getting the distributions of extreme events correct (which they definitely don’t, end of game IMO).

      • So an assumption based on an assumption then. A recurring pattern one feels.

      • Dr. Curry,
        Yet they are unable to offer a meaningful explanation about the similar heating of the early 20th that does not involve hand waving. And of course hoping no one actually looks at the historic record. Ignoring history seems to be the basis of many if not all of the calamitous claims.

      • It appears that the most recent observations were bracketed by PCM (estimated climate sensitivity 2.1) and CCSM3 (estimated climate sensitivity 2.7). However, both of these may have underestimated the negative aerosol forcing since 2000 that was recently reported. If that is incorporated into the models, those with a higher climate sensitivity estimate would probably improve their match with observations.

      • Afternoon, Fred
        Do you have a reference about this recent negative aerosol forcing for me to read? Thanks.

      • The reference to Smith et al is given by Dr. Curry in her post on Mid-20th Century (?) warming.

      • Thanks, my mistake…too many posts and papers to absorb!

      • This is chumming at its best. You dont know what it says but you know it says too much warming.

        “I would be most interested if anyone else can spot previews from the CMIP5 simulations.”

        Oh c’mon. You know exactly when the CMIP5 information will be released. Why play dumb?

  28. Put the two papers together and we start to see an emerging pattern,” said Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria …

    After losing 26 games in a row, the Cleveland Cavaliers (basketball) won one last Friday. Perhaps Andrew Weaver would call that a pattern.

  29. @ Ianash – you regurgitate rude and unscientific nonsense with alarming frequency – none of the recent floods in Australia were ‘record breaking’ and the floods in the UK of 2000 were not record-breaking either. Much of the cause for the latter was the Labour government’s ignorance of the countryside and of the amount of maintainence required to keep drains clean, rivers free of obstruction, etc, plus the same government’s willingness to allow the building-over of flood plains, which (in case you didn’t understand this) were formed and the soil enriched by floods. The same mad tactic of building on historic flood plains was rampant in Victoria, encouraged by incredibly foolish climate activaists who were adamant that drought would be Australia’s future. Australia’s history is filled with flood, drought and fire. With good reason.

  30. For the sake of discussion, let’s “assume” that increases atmospheric CO2 levels are contributing to different weather patterns and more severe storms in some locations. The simple question I ask is SO WHAT?

    What action could an individual nation take that would result in a change to these weather patterns within the lifetimes of the affected populations? Since CO2 levels worldwide will do nothing but rise for many decades to come the only answer is to build the proper infrastructure so that the local populace is minimally affected by the weather when it occurs.

    Please, anyone who believes that CO2 is a dire problem; what else can be done that makes any sense?

    • Rob – For the near future, the group most interested in regional changes in weather patterns will be the insurance industry. They don’t expect to attribute individual events to anthropogenic warming or other causes, but their focus is on risk – anything that increases risk will be part of their cost estimates.

      For the more distant future (but still within the lifetimes of many), the question of what to do will certainly involve adaptation as a form of local protection independent of what is happening globally. However, I am troubled by the notion that no nation should begin a carbon mitigation strategy because what that nation does alone will have little effect on atmospheric CO2 and temperatures. This is the essence of the “tragedy of the commons” phenomenon that ultimately portends harm for everyone, even if not in the lifetime of some of us who participate here.

      • Of course the insurance industry is interested in things that will allow them to raise rates.

        After the 2005-2006 active hurricane seasons in Florida, the insurance industry decided that the historical record for hurricanes was no longer valid. They switched to computer modeling (ahem…) and raised rates approx. 30% based on expected larger losses. Many property insurers left the the state entirely.

        UPDATE: 5 consecutive “slow” hurricane years later in Florida. Losses for the period 2000 – 2009 (including Katrina) match almost exactly the historical average losses per decade for the 20th century. i.e. no real upward trend in damages. They still use modeling.

        So if you think climate change doesn’t have any real victims yet, guess again!

      • In point of fact, they are worried about having to abandon entire markets.

      • Fred-
        In spite of the comments below regarding the insurance companies–they are doing what they do fairly well, that is providing insurance to people at a profit. If their profits are high over a long term, other companies will enter the market and offer insurance coverage at a lower cost and capture market share.

        Regarding your concern over what you perceive as a potential “tragedy of the commons”…let’s discuss the issue very directly.

        You seem to believe that countries should begin CO2 mitigation programs in order to have lower atmospheric CO2 at some point in the future. The key point is to understand the cost and benefit of proposed solutions prior to implementation.

        I believe that we need to be realistic and recognize the world as it actually exists and not how we wish it was. Countries will implement cost effective solutions that will provide reasonable benefits that justify any proposed expense.

        It really all comes down to the specifics. Let’s discuss specifics for the United States.
        I think it makes a great deal of sense to build large numbers of modern nuclear power plants that do not emit CO2 and do not require the US to export capital to pay for oil.

        I do not think it makes sense to dismantle existing power plants that burn coal. These facilities should be phased out over time as they become economically unviable.

        I would support a very large tax increase on gasoline, as it would reduce consumption and the out flow of US capital; but also recognize that a tax of that type would be very unpopular as it puts a proportionally larger burden on poorer Americans.

        I welcome any discussion of the benefits of specific policy ideas.

      • Rob – We agree on at least a couple of things. First, nuclear power must be part of the mix. Second, we can’t dismantle existing coal-fired power plants, and it may not be feasible to retrofit them extensively to reduce emissions. I believe we should curtail as vigorously as we can the construction of new coal-fired plants, except those that can be fitted with carbon capture and storage devices. Along the same lines, we should, I believe, attempt to develop strategies for helping families with a long tradition of coal mining acquire new skills and opportunities so that the younger generations aren’t compelled to become miners simply because their fathers and grandfathers were miners.

        I probably also agree on the gasoline tax (and on eliminating industry tax subsidies for fossil fuels). Who bears the burden is a matter of social policy that can be addressed via tax credits and other redistribution mechanisms. Given the relatively conservative bent of U.S. politics, I’m not claiming this is likely to happen soon, but that doesn’t mean that there would be no value in exerting political pressure in that direction, since most political outcomes are the result of compromise.

      • Fred

        When the discussion is actual potential policies we seem to agree to a reasonably high degree. I do not think a “cap & trade policy for CO2 makes sense as it adds a significant non value added bureaucratic cost to the economy and would have a minimal impact on the climate.

        Ok, now assuming the US was to implement the policies we agree make sense for the United States, I suggest that the US’s CO2 emissions would go down by in the range of 20% after probably 15 years. For the sake of discussion, assume that is reasonably close. Worldwide CO2 emissions would still be rising over that same period.

        This would seem to result in CO2 levels be at least as high as they are currently for at least the next 100-125 years. Doesn’t that mean that the ONLY reasonable policy response is construction of appropriate infrastructure to protect the local populace from inclement weather? (This is theoretically the duty of national governments in any case.)

        Where we probably disagree is whether a warmer planet is really a bad thing. I do not believe there is any reliable evidence to show that a warmer planet would be bad for the US. It would be different, but that is not necessarily bad. This view impacts my (and other people’s) willingness to agree paying for mitigation today.

      • The long term consequences of warming are a subject for a different discussion. A point I would make about U.S. policy, though, is that it has enormous repercussions for how other societies respond. If we fail to pursue a vigorous mitigation policy, no other nation will be able to proceed very long with mitigation. If we do actively attempt to mitigate, that does not guarantee what others will do, but at least some emitters are already agreeable to taking meaningful steps. In addition, China has its own long term selfish interests at stake because of perceived threats to its own agriculture, and will probably be agreeable to international accords if other nations do the same.

      • Fred- With all due respect, there is not any evidence that other countries will reduce their CO2 emissions based upon what the United States does (unless the United States is paying that country to do what we want them to do) . You assumption that we must lead in action is reasonable as long as those actions are not negitive to US interests.

        The world of the next 25 years is going to be very different from the past due to economic considerations. The US of the next 25 years will have a massive debt burden and simply will not be able to buy other countries cooperation. China (which I am extremely familar with) will do what is smart for Chain long term. They will most certainly not be trying to eliminate CO2 emissions.

        Does you silence on Cap and trade mean you believe it to be a good policy for the USA?

      • I believe cap-and-trade would be a good idea, although I would probably prefer a carbon tax. When the current economic recession ends, I think the prospects for some type of cap-and-trade will improve, although I’m not holding my breath.

        Regarding other nations, I don’t believe they need to be “bought”, they need not to be discouraged.

        China is already trying to reduce CO2 emissions, as evidenced by its emphasis on nuclear power and the development of carbon capture methodology, but that doesn’t mean that its emissions policy is the only factor entering decision-making. That policy conflicts with economic growth demands, particularly at the provincial level, where global warming is far in the background. In the short term, I expect economic growth to dominate, but in the longer term, I won’t be surprised if China moves in the direction of carbon mitigation because of the climate change threat to regime stability if agricultural impacts cause major disruptions in some provinces that lead to mass population movement.

        Finally, although I agree that nations act in their own self interest, I don’t think “self-interest” is synonymous with personal selfishness. Most members of most societies exhibit some sense of responsibility and caring for other humans, and are willing to accept some degree of sacrifice if it does not significantly impair their standard of living. This is more evident during times of relative economic stability than during recessions, which is why I believe the current recession has distorted perceptions on some of these issues.

      • Fred-I definitely disagree regarding cap and trade policies or a carbon tax. The policy is very expensive to manage and does not actually improve the environment. I should do an economic analysis at some point to demonstrate.
        China is building nuclear power plants for the same reason that the US should-so they do not have to import oil. Companies in China are developing carbon capture technologies so that they can sell them, not because they can be added to their coal fired power plants. I am in China frequently and have talked about this with Chinese government officials.
        I do not disagree on your statement of esoteric goals of how humans should interact with one another; I just do not support building policies around those assumptions. I believe you are not really looking at the majority of the world’s population and how they will be increasing their carbon footprint over the next few decades. It is not just China of India; it is the poor around the world that will have a larger carbon footprint in the future. It is simply the math.
        As a final question to you- what data do you rely upon to come to the conclusion that a world with more atmospheric CO2 is bad for the United States? I am not able to find any models that can reliable demonstrate that the warmer world will really be worse for humans. I do agree that higher CO2 levels will lead to a somewhat warmer planet. I do not think we really understand what the level of warming will be at any precise level of CO2 because there are other factors we do not yet understand. We certainly do not understand what the impact on annual rainfall will be to any specific area as a result of higher CO2 and this may well be the most important factor to consider. In spite of this lack of knowledge (unless you know of a model that is better than I have found to predict future rainfall in specific areas tied to specific CO2 levels) you are willing to spend my money to lower CO2 emissions.
        Please consider that the more funds that you allocate to ideas like implementing a cap and trade policy takes away from funds that could be used to build a dam or a drainage system.
        So per the previous article, and my comment there…I am unconvinced that there is a pressing need to implement actions such as a cap and trade policy or a carbon tax. I would change my opinion if provided reliable data that would show potential future harm (to the US).

      • Rob and Fred,
        From the beginning I have found cap and trade problematic and in my opinion the European experience has confirmed that. Some people disagree, but they have not convinced me. It is very complicated to administer and leads to an unpredictable price, which lessens its effectiveness in guiding investment decisions. It has lead also to quite a few criminal wrongdoings, some of them on a large scale.

        Carbon tax is in comparison very easy to administer (many countries have collected similar taxes for years with little administration). It’s problem has been the unwillingness of most countries to agree on a harmonized carbon tax. In the past it was easier to reach an agreement on cap and trade, but not necessarily in the future.

        Perfect harmonization would not be necessary, but large variations among economically important countries or country groups would lead to serious problems in international competitions and free trade agreements.

      • Pekka- A carbon tax would be a more efficient process for governments to use to raise revenue as a byproduct of firms emitting CO2. I am not at all sure such a tax would reduce CO2 emissions by any significant degree.

      • Rob,
        I tried to make two points:
        1. Carbon tax is likely to be less problematic and more efficient than cap and trade.
        2. Administration of carbon tax is not a problem.

        This is not enough for telling, whether carbon tax is justified or possible to realize in a sufficiently harmonized way. It would certainly influence emissions if the tax is high. Is this cost-effective is a more difficult issue.

      • Pekka

        I agree with you that a carbon tax is a more efficient taxation process. I also agree that cap and trade is a poor approach for a variety of reasons. I would also suggest that the carbon tax has risks that should be considered prior to implementation.

        If a carbon tax is implemented by the United States but not by all other significant economies, then the United States would be at a disadvantage as compared to those countries in international trade of goods and services subject to the tax. This would also be true if other countries agreed to implement the tax, but actually did not do so as fully as the United States. It would be necessary to have checks to ensure that all countries were fairly implementing the same tax. This would be very difficult to accomplish, but it is the reality in the real world.

        Additionally, a carbon tax would only reduce emissions of CO2 where the elasticity of demand showed that higher prices actually reduced demand. For areas like food production or even power consumption, there is not much of an impact.

      • Rob,
        I live in Finland in EU. We have adopted the cap & trade approach. From our point of view, we hope that others would join, but so far we have managed to get along with limited participation from other countries. The environmentalists within the EU decision makers want to move EU much further on the old path. Before Copenhagen they said that EU should lower its cap further, if others join. Now they say, EU should do it anyway. Other actors in EU do not necessarily agree.

        Switching from backing cap & trade and even admitting that other alternatives exist seems to be heresy for many in Europe. Scientists like Richard Tol, who disagree presenting valid arguments, are not taken seriously by many. The common attitude emphasizes that reaching any agreement has been difficult. Therefore the Kyoto model should not be touched as no alternatives are ready to replace it, but this appears to extend so far that discussing the alternatives is discourages. My belief is that this approach leads to a dead end. The Kyoto model will not succeed to get support outside EU and finally also EU must accept that they cannot alone define the policy – and even less, when their solution has all the weaknesses, it indeed has.

      • Fred –
        I about choked when I read this –

        China is already trying to reduce CO2 emissions, as evidenced by its emphasis on nuclear power and the development of carbon capture methodology, but that doesn’t mean that its emissions policy is the only factor entering decision-making.

        You’ve apparently been drinking the Hansen Koolaid.
        China – is certainly buliding wind and solar power generation – as well as nuclear. But they’re also starting up approximately three major (nuclear-power size) coal plants every two weeks – about 75-80 per year.

        In addition in the last 20 years, they’ve built 50,000 miles of paved roadway and are building 5,000 miles more per year. As well as the cars to use on that roadway.

        The statements they’ve made have NOT committed them to “total CO2 emissions reduction” in any way. As always, the Devil is in the details – and apparently few on your side of the dance floor have paid attention to those details.

      • Jim – I think you have misrepresented my points. China has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 40 percent per economic unit by 2020. In addition, it is trying to meet its energy demands from alternative as well as fossil fuel sources despite an abundance of coal (e.g., via wind and nuclear power).

        I italicized the part of their pledge that illustrates the conflicting pressures – China sees carbon mitigation as in its own self interest, but its short term self interest is dominated by a need to satisfy a growing economy. The result is to grow the energy sector while reducing the fossil fuel contribution to each part of that sector.

        Even though China has overtaken the U.S. as the greatest contributor to current CO2 emission rates, it lags far behind us in per capita CO2 emissions, as well as the total contribution to atmospheric CO2 during the modern industrial era.

        The onus remains on the U.S. to demonstrate a willingness to take meaningful carbon mitigation steps. China has incentives to reciprocate to some extent, but to do nothing if we fail to act..

      • China is also apparently about to introduce its own carbon trading scheme.

      • Uh – you need to think about what “they” mean by “per economic unit”. It’s not the same as what “you” mean.

        They’re building infrastructure at a greater rate than the US – and their emissions are at least equal to ours at this time. And they’re still building.

        Tell me – once they’ve built all that, do you really believe they’re just gonna sit there and look at it? Or tear it down?

        The Koolaid, Fred – it does strange things to ones logic.

      • Jim – Please read what I wrote.

        Andrew – If China engages in carbon trading, it will ensure it does not do so to its own disadvantage, but the result might still be a step in the right direction toward some degree of coordination in international carbon mitigation efforts.

      • I think you have misrepresented my points. China has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 40 percent per economic unit by 2020. In addition, it is trying to meet its energy demands from alternative as well as fossil fuel sources despite an abundance of coal (e.g., via wind and nuclear power).

        I read what you wrote Fred. And I don’t think I misrepresented your points, I just disagreed with some of them. But you missed my point.

        First – define 40% per economic unit. If you reduce emissions by 40% but increase the “economic units” by 200%, what does that get you?

        And secondly,
        Even though China has overtaken the U.S. as the greatest contributor to current CO2 emission rates,

        I’m glad you understand that part, but you may not have thought it through. You’ve apparently glossed over the fact that we’re talking about NEW construction of somewhere between 700 and 800 of the largest coal plants in the world over the next 10 years.

        As well as another 50,000+ miles of paved road – AND the cars and trucks to use them. And that all this is in support of an expanding high emission economy. You can call that carbon reduction if you like, but as an engineer (and a pragmatic iconoclast), I don’t have that option. I don’t have the equipment to ignore that kind of “discrepancy in reality”.

        By any measure, just the “growth” in their carbon “footprint” over the next 10 years will dwarf anything we’ll be building, and certainly will dwarf any CO2 reduction we could or would reduce in that time period.

        it lags far behind us in per capita CO2 emissions,

        Per capita emissions is a non-starter as a measure of what’s happening. You and others here keep talking about the need to reduce CO2 output – and then you simply don’t see (or don’t WANT to see?) the largest CO2 producer on Earth building to become the “majority” producer.

        as well as the total contribution to atmospheric CO2 during the modern industrial era.

        What’s happened in the past is over, done with, finished, kaput. Any mention of “during the modern industrial era” is just self-flagellating, self-destructive, guilt-laden horse puckey. And I don’t buy into guilt trips. We start play from today – right now.

        And we haven’t even gotten to India, Malaysia, Brazil, etc, etc, etc.

        Understand this – I don’t blame the Chinese for what they’re doing. In their position, I’d be doing the same thing because it’s the only way to ensure the survival of their people. But I DO blame those who look at the situation and don’t have a clue about what comes next on their agenda. Or what we should do about it. Or claim that we should destroy our economy, thereby reducing the survival potential of our own people.

      • Pekka– I understand and have sympathy for the misguided actions of many governments. In the United States an individual state Cailfornia has enacted a cap and trade approach, but it has little likelyhood of being passed nationally. Here in the US the major player is the EPA and they are working to regulate CO2.

        I would like Judith to write a piece on the real central issue on this topic….the one which should be addressed before any tax isue. This issue is “what evidence is there that a world with higher CO2 levels is actually worse for humans overall and individual nations specifically.”

        I am not aware of any such data (that is reliable in any case)

      • “The long term consequences of warming are a subject for a different discussion”

        Until the consequences have been identified there is no way to determine the appropriate policy. Mitigation makes no sense if the thing you are trying to mitigate provides a net benefit.

      • Ferd– You are 100% correct on this point. The 1st step should be to agree that there is a problem before we go and implement a proposed solution. I do not agree there is a problem for the United States

  31. Warmer oceans should provide more precipitation. That does make sense.
    CO2 is a trace gas. Manmade CO2 is likely a fourth of the trace.
    There is a fraction of a trace likelihood that manmade CO2 is causing significant global warming.
    This Manmade CO2 flap is about the money to be made in cap and trade and very little to do with science or physics.
    One molecule of Manmade CO2 per ten thousand molecules of other gases is not what is warming the earth. The ice is not melting because of global warming. The ice is melting and causing global warming. When a little more Arctic ice melts, the increased Arctic Ocean Effect Snow will cool the Earth, as it has, time and time again. Read about the massive, record breaking snows this year and think about this. You cannot melt all the Arctic ice without covering us with snow. The earth temperature has been extremely stable for ten thousand years and we are well inside the range of that stability.

  32. It would be interesting to see the ensemble of model results from a warming world not dominated by an increased greenhouse effect. That is, if the models could reproduce the warming with less man-made greenhouse effect and more internal variability, how do the extreme precipitation events turn out?

    If surface warming is the culprit, it seems like a necessary assumption that most/all of the warming comes from the increased greenhouse effect for attribution to be tied to humans. Any other scenario pretty much nullifies our role.

  33. You have to read these abstracts like patent claims, you have to look for what they are not saying as well as what they are saying. Paying special attention to qualifiers. All researchers can be expected to try to make their research appear important.

    “…Here we show that human-induced increases in greenhouse gases have contributed to the observed intensification of heavy precipitation events found over approximately two-thirds of data-covered parts of Northern Hemisphere land areas.”

    1. The most important qualification would seem to be “approximately two-thirds…”. This begs the question what about the other one third? One would assume the other 1/3 doesn’t show these qualities. Why was it necessary to state it this way? What does the full total say? Was it valid somehow to choose to group the good 2/3 in a group by itself, or was this simply cherry picking?

    For example: Saying 2/3 of something saw an increase of 7%, but 1/3 saw a decrease of 14% is not very interesting.

    2. “optimal fingerprinting technique”. This likely refers to non-standard statistics or obscure data processing methods. Why was this necessary? Anytime these “advanced” statistical techniques, especially the home brew type, are used, it signals the data quality is poor. What do standard processing techniques show?

    3. Models were used. Presumably to link CO2 as a cause. Do the actual extreme events occur at the *** time and place *** the models suggest? This is very unlikely given the state of modeling. How can you say this link is valid if the extreme events don’t match up correctly?

    4. “heavy precipitation events”. I assume this is defined in there somewhere. What is the definition? Why was this used? How do the statistics hold up with other reasonable definitions of extreme events?

    5. As always, the start and stop of the trend points has to checked for cherry picking. Do the extreme events follow the CO2 trend? Why wasn’t the first half of the century used to generate a better baseline before CO2 began increasing? Did the same measured trend change in the first half of the century? Why?

    6. ” limited availability of daily observations” Why was this stated?…i.e. we know the data is bad.

    7. There is no particular reason to use “human induced” other than better political marketing. This only looks at CO2 vs. precipitation, it is not relevant where the CO2 came from.

    8. The assumption is more CO2 = higher temp = more H2O evaporation = more precipitation. Do the statistics hold up on an annual basis? Do hot years / cold years exhibit the same characteristics? Over the chosen 2/3?

    A big problem in research IMO has been a tendency to data mine previously accumulated data sets for new unobserved trends. With a large enough data set the chances of finding an invalid, but measurable, statistical correlation are pretty good. How many times have you heard “scientists today state that has been linked to …”. In the 70’s cancer was caused by everything.

    No, I don’t have access to the whole paper, but if someone can answer these questions it would be useful.

  34. Schrodinger's Cat

    At what stage does modelling become computer aided speculation? Is it irresponsible for the media to publish speculation as scientific fact? The public may not realise that many alarming headlines that start “Scientists have found….” often do not mean that there have been experiments, observations or measurements. Instead, someone has fed a string of assumptions and conditions into his computer program. The public is losing confidence in scientists after a decade of wild, alarmist claims.

    Undoubtedly, modelling is an excellent tool. It can produce reliable results when the system being studied is well understood. It can produce an insight on mechanisms when the system is not fully understood and in such a cases the results should be treated as unreliable. Results of modelling of a hugely complex system such as climate when a great deal is not understood and assumptions may be related to belief rather than observation should be treated with extreme caution. I’m afraid modelling and science gets a bad name and when I spot the word “model” in a climate science paper that claims some imminent catastrophe, I put the paper in the bin. Hopefully, alarmism is no longer a guarantee of further funding.

    • I appreciate the balance on what models are good for here SC, as someone who’s taken significant money off people in finance and defence for such things. But as any software person known the good leaves a lot of cases where models can be downright deceptive for the unwary – unless the scientists producing them are particularly careful in their dealings with the media. The language used by Nature itself in this case seems an striking example of how not to present such results.

  35. The only question I have in this is can we have it both ways?

    A) There is no more extreme precipitation;
    B) Clouding increases to prevent warming.

    Which is it?

    Are we to believe A) the wildly implausible claim without evidence that more cloud doesn’t equate to more precipitation, or B) that there is no cloud effect that acts as a negative feedback?

    A) or B)?

    Doubting both is plausible, one supposes, but at this point only if one is paying insufficient attention to available evidence.

  36. “None of the recent floods are extreme in historical context.”

    Really? Are you taking them individually? What do you mean by historical context?

    My understanding is that even in the US, where floods have been nowhere near as significant, that the Climate Extremes Index shows a clear trend specifically for extreme precipitation incidents.

    • I do not believe that is accurate. If you look at the weather events and compare them to events over the last two hundred years the events are not unprecendented.

    • Look at the historical records in these locations, they go back more than 100 years, and then tell me if these floods are greater than anything we’ve seen in the historical record (particularly prior to say 1980, when there is little to no AGW signal).

      Go to the climate extremes index page, the limitations o this kind of analysis are severe:
      “Limitations: Statistics for the most recent period/season are computed from a fraction of the US which has data available at that time. Extreme percentage values can and will likely change as final quality controlled data become available and fill in the data gaps.”

      It is better to look at a single station record that goes back in time, close to the region of interest.

    • The Climate Extremes Index is too short to tell us anything of use.

      We know that the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, the deadliest in US history was ‘extreme’, but the Climate Extremes Index starts in 1910.

  37. Some (most?) extreme weather events are associated with blocking events that interfere with the usual movement of weather towards the east in the Northern temperate zone. According to AR4 WGI 8.4.5, “recent studies have found that GCMs tend to simulate the location of NH blocking more accurately than frequency or duration: simulated events are generally shorter and rarer than observed events (e.g., Pelly and Hoskins, 2003b).” Can we really discuss the attribution of and changes in extreme weather events due to blocking when our models fail to replicate blocking events? There are other aspects of our short-term weather that models fail to reproduce (MJO, QBO) as well as the long-term ones mentioned by Judith, but I don’t know which of these are critical to modeling extreme events and which simply influence our understanding of mean conditions and natural variability.

    To some extent, the problem may resemble early efforts to predict the effect of AGW on hurricanes. When one considered only the effect of SST, hurricanes were certainly going to become more numerous and more frequent in the future. However, deeper understanding of the causes of the hurricanes shows that wind sheer is another critical parameter, and the ability to forecast changes in wind sheer is critical to an accurate projection. Furthermore, hurricanes were too small to be properly represented by traditional climate models and downscaling was needed. Does anyone think the current answer (fewer, but stronger?) is so robust that it is unlikely to change in the future.

    Before we make attributions for other extreme weather events, we should ask ourselves: a) Do we understand the cause of this particular type of extreme weather event? (Converting a 1 degK increase in temperature into a 6% increase in water vapor for extreme precipitation seems analogous to using only SSTs to project hurricanes.) b) Do our models represent with sufficient accuracy all of the key causes of a particular type of event? (Extreme precipitation events, for example, are often highly localized.)

  38. There’s an interesting exchange going on at dotearth; including a link to the Climate Etc. thread, and also comments from the authors

  39. I for one am confident that these papers received upwards of 88 pages of criticism from anonymous reviewers.


  40. It does not matter how much data you have in 100 years, You cannot get enough information in 100 years to extrapolate. You can look at a thousand 100 year periods and each one would extrapolate to something different. If you want something the means something, look at the past ten thousand years. The past ten thousand years has been extremely stable and there is nothing that has changed that is likely to change that. Every time it got warmer, it then got cooler. Every time it got cooler, it then got warmer. This is the cycle we are in and will stay in until something major changes. One molecule of manmade CO2 per ten thousand molecules of other gases is not any kind of major change.

    • Certain types of data cannot be extrapolated no matter if you had tens of thousands of years.

      Random events, for example, will tend to have a mean and a distribution that doesn’t change. These can be extrapolated, and most of you standard statistical techniques are based on just these types of events. Like flipping a coin. Heads and tails are random, but over time you expect to see each 50% or the time. Even though the events are random, you can extrapolate into the future.

      However, there are other classes of events that don’t follow those rules. The mean and distribution are changing all the time, in unpredictable fashion. The events are chaotic. It is like a magical coin, that one day throws mostly heads, the next mostly tails, well outside the bounds of chance, with no sort of pattern. Our standard statistcal techniques don’t work when we apply them to these types of events. Worse, they give us misleading results. We see trends where there are no trends.

  41. When I was growing up we were told that the atmospheric A-Bomb testing was causing all the rain. We moved the A-Bomb testing underground but it kept on raining. Eventually we stopped testing altogether but still we got rain. After awhile the world decided that it would be a good thing to move all the dirty factories and pollution over to China, so we gave all the companies involved tax breaks and they moved to China. Not long after the newspapers were full of stories about our rain being caused by all the pollution in China. The westerly winds were carrying it over to North America, and making it rain. There were thoughts of moving the pollution underground as we had tried with the A-Bomb, or stopping the pollution by shutting down the Chinese factories altogether the way we did with A-Bomb testing. The scientists tell us this time they have it right, so you can be sure they do.

  42. What deniers deny is that AGW is CATASTOPHIC. Nothing more, nothing less.

    • fred, no – many deny that there is even warming happening.

      • On what scale???
        Warming or cooling means nothing without specifying time scale.
        There are cycles and variations on ALL time scales!

      • The problem is that mainstream climate science assumes there is an “average” temperature for the earth, thus averaging weather (daily temperature) over the long term will be the law of large numbers provide an constant average. Since the temperature we see today doesn’t match the long term average, then it is argued by the mainstream that this shows climate change.

        What this really shows is that climate science needs to go back and study statistics. The law of large numbers is based on the underlying distribution of the population you are studying. It relies on there being a constant mean and deviation.

        What we know about chaotic systems like weather is that they do not have a constant mean and/or deviation long term. As a result there is no way to say with any statistical confidence if climate change is caused by human beings or if it is simply an artifact of chaotic behavior. We don’t have numerical methods than can reliably answer this question. If we did, stock market forecasting would be an exact science, as the problem size is much smaller than climate forecasting.

  43. arrgggh for an edit button or spell checker.

  44. Judy is right, as usual.

    Did you notice that this scenarios in the Pall et al. (2011) UK Autumn 2000 Floods paper did not allow for atmosphere-ocean feedbacks.

    “As atmosphere–ocean feedbacks were not believed to play a
    major role during autumn 2000, we use an atmosphere-onlymodel,
    with sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and sea ice as bottom boundary

    European seasonal forecasting is very difficult (see Tim Woollings’ 2010 Review in Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A of Dynamic Influences on European Climate: an uncertain future).

    It is quite unlikely that the A2000 scenarios, no matter how many thousands of ensembles, has adequately captured the natural climate variability operating in the North Atlantic especially with the teleconnections to the tropical Pacific — when not allowing for coupled feedback.

  45. ianash

    ….”carbon tax on overall prices has been well debunked previously.”….

    That will come as a great comfort to the freezing pensioners!

  46. The year 2000 was actually a quite cold la nina year for the world. So one might easily conclude that it was the sudden colder weather bringing the floods. Funnily enough 2007 was also a relatively colder year that also brought floods and extreme events. Of course somewhere in the world there will be an extreme event happening. To try to say they are all linked to global warming then you have to realize that you are also postulating the corollories;
    a) zero extreme weather events under a no warming scenario, and
    b) fewer extreme events under global cooling.

    A simple test which shows the absurdity of the position! Ergo to be logical you have to identify which extreme events get worse and which get better under such slow, steady global warming. Nobody does this.

    Having failed the previous logic test, you may be tempted to bring out the other canard; the rate of change of temperature. But then you’d have to consider that from 1998 to 2000 it was a rapid descent in global temperature, not an increase. Another fail then!

    However it is logical that an overall warmer world would indeed bring extra precipitation. But a 4% extra precipitation could only bring 4% extra rain. If you therefore find the storm odds are doubled in the UK then somewhere else in the world it must have been more likely to be drier because the overall precipitation increase must itself remain at 4% extra. Hence all they had to do was expand their field of observations to reduce the confidence level.

    The “evidence” gets weaker the closer you look. Unless you see what you want to see of course. Assumption led conclusions are commonplace in the soft sciences and this is no different.

  47. > It is better to look at a single station record that goes back in time,
    > close to the region of interest.

    Why? Aren’t major precipitation events likely to happen anywhere along a major storm front, but as an extreme event only over a small area?

    If you choose only the past record for a single station close to the region of interest where one happens, are you assuming a major event today can only be compared to the record for one station nearby, rather than over the area where similar events happened? Maps for thunderstorm and lightning occurrence show broad bands, not isolated spots where they recur.

  48. I am usually a bit scathing about claims that rainfall has decreased (China, Indonesia, Australia and Africa) or increased in the Northern Hemisphere since the 1950’s. We know we have 2 major standing waves in the chaotic spatio-temporal system that is Earth’s climate – the stable bi-modal patterns of the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation and the Pacific multi-decadal pattern. It is the height of absurdity to claim increases or decreases, depending on where you are in the world, since the 1950’s mean anything at all. OK – I am still a bit scathing. As of right now the Sahel is greening and we are a trifle damp in Orstralia as a result of the current ‘super’ La Niña.

    This is something that many Orstralian hyrological graduates from the University of Wolloomooloo have predicted for years. In the 1980’s a couple of geomorphologists (Bruce and Bruce) noticed that east coast streams had changed form, from a high energy braided to a low energy meandering form, since the late 1970’s. The flood height records showed what they called a drought dominated regime (DDR) to 1945, a flood dominated to 1976 followed by a return to DDR. You will note the accordance, of course, with the Pacific pattern. We are now in a FDR. I am especially aggrieved that this wonderful early result – that I have dedicated my life to – has been neglected for some foolishness about global warming or some such.

    There is one trick to flood heights in Brisbane though – and I have done some Brisbane flood modelling (mea culpa) – it should be remembered that the Brisbane River at Brisbane is tidal so a simple comparison of flood heights is not always an accurate gauge.

    ‘A negative tendency of the predicted PDO phase in the coming decade will enhance the rising trend in surface air-temperature (SAT) over east Asia and over the KOE region, and suppress it along the west coasts of North and South America and over the equatorial Pacific. This suppression will contribute to a slowing down of the global-mean SAT rise…

    A near-term climate prediction covering the period up to 2030 is a major issue to be addressed in the next assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.’ (Pacific decadal oscillation hindcasts relevant to near-term climate prediction – Takashi Mochizuki 2009 -

    Just thought I would include this just for the hell of it. Yeah – right. I expected it back in 2007 but the poor little things are a bit slow witted. These guys are still talking about the PDO, as is Fred (shake my head sadly) – but it is a basin wide thing.

    I have been thinking about the sulphate problem for some time. ‘Aerosol precursor gases emitted from oceans have been well recognized to play an important role in the Earth’s radiation budget and climate feedback processes. Oceanic dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is an important contributor to the global sulfur cycle and its oxidation accounts for ~20% of the global SO2 sources.’ (

    Knowing that upwelling in the eastern Pacific is nutrient rich, varies over decades – what are the phytoplakton implications – a 6% decrease to 1998 and a 4% increase since.

    As well as the sulphates direct effect there are cloud nucleation effects. It would seem that the sulphur problem has more than one dimension.

    Funny – the phytoplankton seem to like carbon dioxide as well.

    Wingenter 2007 – Unexpected consequences of increasing CO2
    and ocean acidity on marine production of DMS and CH2ClI: Potential climate impacts –(

  49. On the one hand, I agree with your linked argument that there is limited value to attribution of specific events. We already know that climate change is set to increase the severity and frequency of events. People are encouraged to consider the hardship and costs, and what it will mean to have a significant increase in these hardships and costs – regardless of what combination of natural and human-caused causation is at play in any one event.

    On the other hand, while ‘none of the recent floods are extreme in historical context’, there are several features of the climate context (as distinct from the flood event) that do seem important to document because they are unusual and consistent with human-caused effects on the climate system. Attribution is in this sense part of both confirmation and new learning about the climate system (including natural variability), and contributes to enhanced computational ability for advanced modeling.

    A corollary is that attribution frameworks might also lead to discussion of what events are less likely (not just what events are more likely) as a result of human-caused climate change.

    • Since climate science catastrophism has failed to show any increase in frequency or strength of extreme events, the rest is just hand waving.
      Why don’t you deal with that failure, instead of simply ignoring it or trying to talk it to death?

    • @Martha

      ‘On the other hand, while ‘none of the recent floods are extreme in historical context’, there are several features of the climate context (as distinct from the flood event) that do seem important to document because they are unusual and consistent with human-caused effects on the climate system. Attribution is in this sense part of both confirmation and new learning about the climate system (including natural variability), and contributes to enhanced computational ability for advanced modeling.


      Baffles me. Please give a concrete example so that I might understand.

      Because at the moment it looks very like stringing words together without a definite point.

    • We already know that climate change is set to increase the severity and frequency of events.

      Actually, we don’t know that at all. Unless you’re talking about climate change in the cooling sense. History does not show that “warming” produces extreme weather, but rather “cooling”. Think LIA. Try reading some archaeology texts. Look at the MWP – the Greenland settlements had little or no extreme weather – otherwise they would have lost a lot more ships and a lot more of their crops an livestock. Ask the Chinese – they lost fleets of ships on the back (cooling) edge of the MWP due to storms.

      • Since History begins a few thousand years ago, and we’re set for temperatures we haven’t seen for a couple of million years, I don’t think history can teach us much about what we’re due for from warming.

      • Since History begins a few thousand years ago, and we’re set for temperatures we haven’t seen for a couple of million years,

        That’s arrant nonsense. First because I wasn’t talking about paleo temps, just the last 800 -900 years. Second because temps have been higher in the last 2000 years. But I’m not arguing that point right now. Come back after I’ve got my computer back from the shop and we’ll talk again.

        I don’t think history can teach us much about what we’re due for from warming.

        And finally, if you can’t learn from history, then your ability to predict the future is non-existent. How do you get through the day with that kind of handicap?

      • You confuse history with all study of the past. History begins with writing. Your terminology ping-pongs around.

  50. Comment by ianass @ February 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    Here’s the thing. They didnt come to opposite conclusions. Have you read the conclusions?

    We need to take Orkneygal thru this step by step if she is to learn anything.
    Here is my point again, expanded a bit since you clearly need the help, Mr. Ian.

    Dai’s 2010 paper (The paper I linked to above) suggests-

    In the future, there will be more precipitation in the high latitudes of the NH and less precipitation in the mid-latitudes.

    Seung-Ki Min, et al, 2011 current in Nature, show clearly in their IP Maps that-

    Global warming results in more precipitation in the mid-latitudes and less in the high latitudes of the NH, as shown in their PI maps.

    So both drought and flooding is the result for the mid-latitudes of the NH by these contradictory, conflicting papers.

    How can both papers can be correct? One or both must be wrong.

    Sadly the moderators have removed your name calling remark about me about my observation, so let me repeat it-

    “Both you dunce.”

    Explain to me and my dunce friends how the mid-latitudes can have both increasing and decreasing precipitation. Or alternatively, you can explain how the high latitudes can have both higher and lower precipitations.

    I am eagerly awaiting you response to take me through this “step by step”.

    • Bruce Cunningham


      Don’t forget the further contradiction that many alarmists have made many times in the past on the subject of ocean/CO2 balance. On one hand they state the warming will cause runaway out gassing of CO2 from the oceans as temperatures rise, causing further out gassing , etc. in a feedback type cycle. Many climate models depend on this scenario to predict future temps. On the other hand, they state that we will do untold damage to the oceans as they will absorb (not out gas) CO2 and turn more acidic. I wish they would make up their minds, will the oceans absorb or out gas CO2?

  51. Steven Sullivan

    Menthe attempts snark, fails:
    “I for one am confident that these papers received upwards of 88 pages of criticism from anonymous reviewers.


    Those ’88 pages’ were mostly REPLIES from the authors.


  52. Steven Sullivan

    “curryja | February 17, 2011 at 7:00 am | Reply

    Personally, I never submit papers to science or nature: I don’t like the press embargo, I don’t like the pal review, and I don’t like the word count limits. That said, i have been coauthor on a number of papers published in Science.”

    also, they’re kinda very hard to get in to…is that what you meant by ‘pal review’?

  53. Dr Curry, what kind of analysis do you find marginally convincing? Totally convincing?

  54. Willis Eschenbach destroys the first paper here.