Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?

by Chip Knappenberger and Pat Michaels

Understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East – President Obama

So, did human-caused climate change lead to conflict in Syria? Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so. Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.

The mechanism? An extreme drought in the Fertile Crescent region—one that a new study finds was made worse by human greenhouse gas emissions—added a spark to the tinderbox of tensions that had been amassing in Syria for a number of years under the Assad regime (including poor water management policies).

It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all.

This is not to say that a strong and prolonged drought didn’t play some role in the Syria’s pre-war unrest—perhaps it did, perhaps it didn’t (a debate we leave up to folks much more qualified than we are on the topic)—but that the human-influenced climate change impact on the drought conditions was almost certainly too small to have mattered.

In other words, the violence would almost certainly have occurred anyway.

Several tidbits buried in the scientific literature are relevant to assessing the human impact on the meteorology behind recent drought conditions there.

It is true that climate models do project a general drying trend in the Mediterranean region (including the Fertile Crescent region in the Eastern Mediterranean) as the climate warms under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. There are two components to the projected drying. The first is a northward expansion of the subtropical high pressure system that typically dominates the southern portion of the region. This poleward expansion of the high pressure system would act to shunt wintertime storm systems northward, increasing precipitation over Europe but decreasing precipitation across the Mediterranean. The second component is an increase in the temperature which would lead to increased evaporation and enhanced drying.

Our analysis will show that the connection between this drought and human-induced climate change is tenuous at best, and tendentious at worst.

An analysis in the new headline-generating paper by Colin Kelley and colleagues that just appeared in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows the observed trend in the sea level pressure across the eastern Mediterranean as well as the trend projected to have taken place there by a collection of climate models. We reproduce this graphic as Figure 1. If the subtropical high is expanding northward over the region, the sea level pressure ought to be on the rise. Indeed, the climate models (bottom panel) project a rise in the surface pressure over the 20th century (blue portion of the curve) and predict even more of a rise into the future (red portion of the curve). However, the observations (top panel, green line) do not corroborate the model hypothesis under the normative rules of science. Ignoring the confusing horizontal lines included by the authors, several things are obvious. First, the level of natural variability is such that no overall trend is readily apparent.

[Note: The authors identify an upwards trend in the observations and describe it as being “marginally significant (P < 0.14)”. In nobody’s book (except, we guess, these authors) is a P-value of 0.14 “marginally significant”—it is widely accepted in the scientific literature that P-values must be less than 0.05 for them to be considered statistically significant (i.e., there is a less than 1 in 20 chance that chance alone would produce a similar result). That’s normative science. We’ve seen some rather rare cases where authors attached the term “marginally” significant to P-values up to 0.10, but 0.14 (about a 1 in 7 chance that chance didn’t produce it) is taking things a bit far, hence our previous usage of the word “tendentious.”]

Whether or not there is an identifiable overall upwards trend, the barometric pressure in the region during the last decade of the record (when the Syrian drought took place) is not at all unusual when compared to other periods in the region’s pressure history—including periods that took place long before large-scale greenhouse gas emissions were taking place.

Consequently, there is little in the pressure record to lend credence to the notion that human-induced climate change played a significant role in the region’s recent drought.

Slide1Figure 1. Observed (top) and modeled (bottom) sea level pressure for the Eastern Mediterranean region (figure adapted from Kelley et al., 2015).

Another clue that the human impact on the recent drought was minimal (at best) comes from a 2012 paper in the Journal of Climate by Martin Hoerling and colleagues. In that paper, Hoerling et al. concluded that about half of the trend towards late-20th century dry conditions in the Mediterranean region was potentially attributable to human emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. They found that climate models run with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols produce drying across the Mediterranean region in general. However, the subregional patterns of the drying are sensitive to the patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) variability and change. Alas, the patterns of SST changes are quite different in reality than they were projected to be by the climate models. Hoerling et al. describe the differences this way “In general, the observed SST differences have stronger meridional [North-South] contrast between the tropics and NH extratropics and also a stronger zonal [East-West] contrast between the Indian Ocean and the tropical Pacific Ocean.”

Figure 2 shows visually what Hoerling was describing—the observed SST change (top) along with the model projected changes (bottom) for the period 1971-2010 minus 1902-1970. Note the complexity that accompanies reality.

Slide2

Figure 2. Cold season (November–April) sea surface temperature departures (°C) for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70: (top) observed and (bottom) mean from climate model projections (from Hoerling et al., 2012).

Hoerling et al. show that in the Fertile Crescent region, the drying produced by climate models is particularly enhanced (by some 2-3 times) if the observed patterns of sea surface temperatures are incorporated into the models rather than patterns that would otherwise be projected by the models (i.e., the top portion of Figure 2 is used to drive the model output rather than the bottom portion).

Let’s be clear here. The models were unable to accurately reproduce the patterns of SST that have been observed as greenhouse gas concentrations increased. So the observed data were substituted for the predicted value, and then that was used to generate forecasts of changed rainfall. We can’t emphasize this enough: what was not supposed to happen from climate change was forced into the models that then synthesized rainfall.

Figure 3 shows these results and Figure 4 shows what has been observed. Note that even using the prescribed SST, the model predicted changes in Figure 3 (lower panel) are only about half as much as has been observed to have taken place in the region around Syria (Figure 4, note scale difference). This leaves the other half of the moisture decline largely unexplained. From Figure 3 (top), you can also see that only about 10mm out of more than 60mm of observed precipitation decline around Syria during the cold season is “consistent with” human-caused climate change as predicted by climate models left to their own devices.

Nor does “consistent with” mean “caused by” it.

Slide3

Figure 3. Simulated change in cold season precipitation (mm) over the Mediterranean region based on the ensemble average (top) of 22 IPCC models run with observed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols and (bottom) of 40 models run with observed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols with prescribed sea surface temperatures. The difference plots in the panels are for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70 (source: Hoerling et al., 2012).

For comparative purposes, according to the University of East Anglia climate history, the average cold-season rainfall in Syria is 261mm (10.28 inches). Climate models, when left to their own devices, predict a decline averaging about 10mm, or 3.8 per cent of the total. When “prescribed” (some would use the word “fudged”) sea surface temperatures are substituted for their wrong numbers, the decline in rainfall goes up to a whopping 24mm, or 9.1 per cent of the total. For additional comparative purposes, population has roughly tripled in the last three decades.

Slide4

Figure 4. Observed change in cold season precipitation for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70. Anomalies (mm) are relative to the 1902–2010 (source: Hoerling et al., 2012).

So what you are left with after carefully comparing the patterns of observed changes in the meteorology and climatology of Syria and the Fertile Crescent region to those produced by climate models, is that the lion’s share of the observed changes are left unexplained by the models run with increasing greenhouse gases. Lacking a better explanation, these unexplained changes get chalked up to “natural variability”—and natural variability dominates the observed climate history.

You wouldn’t come to this conclusion from the cursory treatment of climate that is afforded in the mainstream press. It requires an examination of scientific literature and a good background and understanding of the rather technical research being discussed. Like all issues related to climate change, the devil is in the details, and, in the haste to produce attention grabbing headlines, the details often get glossed over or dismissed.

Our bottom line: the identifiable influence of human-caused climate change on recent drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent was almost certainly not the so-called straw that broke the camel’s back and led to the outbreak of conflict in Syria. The pre-existing (political) climate in the region was plenty hot enough for a conflict to ignite, perhaps partly fuelled by recent drought conditions—conditions which are part and parcel of the region climate and the intensity and frequency of which remain dominated by natural variability, even in this era of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

References:

Hoerling, M., et al., 2012. On the increased frequency of Mediterranean drought. Journal of Climate, 25, 2146-2161.

Kelley, C. P., et al., 2015. Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1421533112

JC note:  This post was originally published at Cato; it remains very relevant especially in light of President Obama’s recent statements.    As with all guest posts, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

154 responses to “Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?

  1. David Wojick

    The horizontal lines in Figure 1 suggest that there was a step function change in pressure around 1970. The gradual buildup of GHGs should not cause, hence cannot explain, step ups like this. We see the same sort of step up in the UAH temperature data, where the temperature step is coincident with the giant 1998-2000 ENSO cycle. That step is the only significant warming in the 37 year UAH record. There are many other significant step ups in the climate data, all suggesting nonlinear dynamics, not GHG warming as their cause.

    • The mechanism? An extreme drought in the Fertile Crescent region—one that a new study finds was made worse by human greenhouse gas emissions—added a spark to the tinderbox of tensions that had been amassing in Syria for a number of years under the Assad regime (including poor water management policies).

      Climate change is still inside normal bounds, so, we have not pushed climate out of normal bounds. But, lies were told about it being our fault and that did add sparks to the tinderbox. There have always been extreme droughts and extreme floods. Droughts and floods have always caused conflicts and wars. This is Natural Variability in Climate and in Human Nature. The increased CO2 actually made the damage by the drought to be lessened. More CO2 makes green things grow better with less water. If this drought is worse, it is because there are more people using the water.

      • David Wojick

        Chaos is a form of normal bounds, in fact it is a powerful form of stability because the natural variation is confined to the strange attractor. The price of that stability is unpredictable jumps from time to time. In such cases the mechanism is nonlinear negative feedbacks, but the cause will be undetectable because it is simply due to the butterfly effect, not a forcing. The system will jump around within normal bounds and this is just what we see almost everywhere in the climate data.

        The butterfly effect is a mathematical property, not a physical one. The equation jumps around, as it were. Any system that obeys this equation will likewise jump around.

    • Many of the steps in the data are “adjustments” designed to make it look worse, so they can scare us more, so they can tax us more, so they can control us more.

      • David Wojick

        Possibly, but natural variability often occurs in steps, probably due to nonlinear dynamics. The climate system is chaotic.

    • There’s no step up. That’s why there is no significant change. I’ve seen a lot of junk published on climate change pushed by editors to fit the political meme, but the Kelly et al. paper may be the worst, although the recent one on the TOPEX data in Nature Climate Change is also a contender. There are also no significant differences in that one, yet the editors let the authors say there was.

      • David Wojick

        There is certainly a small step up if the data is correct. The gray lines are correct for the data shown. I know nothing about this data so that is my only point and it is mathematical.

    • Steven Mosher

      1. “steps” in data are subject to a wide variety of assumptions about the underlying data generating model. They are not in the data. they are consequences of making analytic assumptions about the data.
      2. The data here is actually not data. it is output from a model.
      3. the model that produces this data uses a radiative transfer code.
      4. That radiative transfer code ALSO implies that doubling c02 will
      lead to a warming of the planet.
      5. Steps are caused by many different underlying data generating processes. Non linear dynamics isnt the “cause” of anything. it has no physical attributes.

      Consequenty, when you BUY the step change, you are forced to BUY all the decisions and data and modelling that underpins that step change.
      You dont get to accept the step change as “fact” here and in other places denying the underlying assumptions and theory elsewhere.

      • richardswarthout

        Mosher

        Would you agree that AR5 Chapter 9 does not fully account for the assumptions used in the models? I tried to determine the assumtions used in generating its internal variability model and gave up.

        Richard

      • David Wojick

        Mosher, the step is a mathematical fact so it is not subject to any assumptions about the data. If this data is from a model then the step creates interesting questions about the model, especially if it is a radiative transfer model. If the slow buildup of GHGs can creat a single step over this period of time, how is that possible? I know of no model that can do this. Is the model chaotic?

      • David Wojick

        Mosher, I never said that nonlinear dynamics is a cause, but it is certainly an explanation for many physical phenomena. Whole journals are devoted to such explanations. In fact when chaos is the explanation for system changes, there is no cause in the sense of changed or new forcing, as I said.

      • Steven Mosher

        “Would you agree that AR5 Chapter 9 does not fully account for the assumptions used in the models?”

        Of course. Silly question. No summary of science ever accounts for all the assumptions. Your silly assumption is that the document can or should.

      • Steven Mosher

        David. Version one

        “There are many other significant step ups in the climate data, all suggesting nonlinear dynamics, not GHG warming as their cause.”

        David version two
        “Mosher, I never said that nonlinear dynamics is a cause, but it is certainly an explanation for many physical phenomena. ”

        Non linear dynamics is neither a cause nor an explanation.

      • David Wojick

        Steven, nice argument by assertion. Nonlinear dynamics is a causeless explanation. Now we are even.

        The system changed because of an undetectable condition. That is the explanation. Is that better? After all, causal explanation is retrospective prediction and chaotic changes cannot be so explained.

        Do you have anything of substance to say?

      • Steven Mosher

        David
        Mosher, the step is a mathematical fact so it is not subject to any assumptions about the data. If this data is from a model then the step creates interesting questions about the model, especially if it is a radiative transfer model. If the slow buildup of GHGs can creat a single step over this period of time, how is that possible? I know of no model that can do this. Is the model chaotic?”

        A step is not a fact in the data. The step is asserted based on an analysis that makes assumptions about the data generation process. It is not in the data.
        Second. You comment on pressure data from a reanalysis model with out even knowing the first thing about the model or how it works. When your 9-5 job involves working with this kind of model output then you might have something worth listening to.

        Wrt to chaotic models. Build one. Apply external forcing. See what happens. Report back your results.
        Or just use logic. Suppose the climate is chaotic. Big assumption. Turn the external forcing off. Blot out the sun. Would you argue that the step change in temperature was explained by or caused by non linear dynamics?

  2. “It’s now believed…”

    So no facts to present, Mr. President?

    Because the science is so good, I guess.

    Andrew

  3. I contain my furor.
    Forget climatology, not even wrong.
    The claim that it may be climate causing the war is totally dishonest.

    The cause of Syrian war is well known.
    Because or Iraq invasion by US, followed by witchhunt against Baas/Suni elite, the Siha majority took control of the country and organized terror against the Suni.

    From that came a civil war, killing milions of Iraqi, who flee into the more safe Syria.
    This invasion of Suni refugees, destabilized the fragile agrarian balance in the east of syria.
    Assad is a weaker lord compared to his father and suffers from sanction from US and lemmings. He not only was not smart enough to maintain order, but also to maintain agrarian productivity and social balance.

    Anger have grown in those poorer zone.
    To that you add the ISIS groups. the leaders are Iraqi Baas/Suni militaries generals.
    They are funded by rich Qatari, saudi, tycoons (like was Bin Laden. NB: government are stopping that. hope so!) , selling apocalyptic religious ideas to lost minds, attracted by big money, big power, big weapon…
    The rich Arabs tycoons, were until recently supported by their states, afraid by Siha dominance in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon/Hezbolah, challenging their theological supremacy…
    in a way it is a war like Rome against calvinists.

    To be simple, US/Bush is the cause.

    As predicted by all EU experts, it destabilized the zone, in a way nobody predicted (we predicted nuclear bomb on Israel, but there was no WMD, and Iran is a solid state just defending it’s integrity from promised “Iran will be the next” Bush bombings…)

    No climate affair here… that is just geostrategic incompetence.

    • catweazle666

      “To be simple, US/Bush is the cause.”

      That would be US/Clinton actually, as it was him that signed the Iraq Liberation Act on October 31, 1998, committing the United States to removal of Saddam Hussein and the imposition of democracy on Iraq..

      https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/105/hr4655

    • Alain: To be simple, US/Bush is the cause.

      Appears you and President Obama are in agreement.

      Which isn’t a good thing as our President couldn’t find his hind end if both hands were tied behind his back. Didn’t he say today that the US is not losing the war against ISIS?

      • Timg56

        I hope you can reassure me that the next president of the US will have a better grasp of middle eastern politics than the present one and will be more decisive in formulating and carrying out a policy to deal with the severe and immediate threats there and elsewhere.

        Tonyb

      • richardswarthout

        Hi Tony

        Sadly American voters too often vote from their hearts rather than their brains. If we select a good president it wiil be luck.

        Cheers,

        Richard

      • Tonyb – “…next US president…”

        So far, the Dems have coronated corrupt Hillary, though the left of the party likes the popular message of the 1/32 Native American. Sadly, the Repub lineup looks like the “bum of the month” club. Meanwhile, we have to ride out this bucking bronco of a president. He has an agenda, and he ain’t done yet.

        It’s gonna a be a bullride…

      • Tony,

        All I can do is vote for a candidate that I think does. Hillary is far more capable than who we have now, but I wouldn’t trust her any further than I can spit. Into a 20 mph head wind.

        I am guessing that the youngest Bush may have the best skill set, but too many people are Bush fatigued to give him the chance.

        I do have to wonder at all the people who thought our previous President was disengaged, a poor speaker, and not too bright, and yet continue to hold on to the belief that our current President is superior on all counts. Amazing what filters can accomplish.

      • The current President has extracted the US from two deficit-increasing and life-wasting quagmires that had no end planned by the previous administration. No one is interested in going back in there and starting again, except a few Republicans who think war talk makes them look tough or who are beholden to the military-industrial complex the way the previous lot were. Any future measures should not be done with profit-making in mind. Oil interests there should be minimized as a precautionary security policy. The true cost of war needs to be considered.

      • Don Monfort

        Only dim scoundrels talk that crap about us going into Iraq because of oil profits. We controlled the country of Iraq and could have had the oil for the taking. We didn’t take it, or rig the game so that American oil companies could profit. Grow TF up, jimmy. Stop the America bashing.

      • Don M, did I say oil profits? No, that was just you being defensive. They were possibly concerned with oil security in that region, but then just made it an even bigger mess than it was before. I think some neocons at high levels were quoted about the war paying for itself, but many were skeptical of that from the start as just being too simple-minded. Unfortunately the people in the White House in 2003 were listening to this type of idea coming as advice. I don’t know whether they believed it, but they seemed not to mind the idea getting to the media.

      • Alan Greenspan:

        ‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’

      • Tonyb,

        I wish I could give you the reassurance you seek re. our next US President, but I can’t until after the election in 2016.

        On the other hand, what is it with the UK and David Cameron? Is Amber Rudd for real. After a landslide victory you guys need to repeal the climate act and get real. You’re headed down the same rabbit hole as Germany.

      • Don Monfort

        Well jimmy, you mentioned profit making and oil interests and that the Republicans want to make war because it makes them look tough, which are the standard talking points of the lefty clowns at huffpo, from whom you get your marching orders. Did the Republicans start WWI,WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Balkans, Libya to make themselves look tough? Or to make profits for the military industrial complex?

        You have a very low opinion of a lot of people, if you really believe they send our soldiers off to get killed just so they can look tough. Is that why Hillary voted for it?

        Why do Democrats send people off to wars, jimmy? Doesn’t seem to be with the intention of winning. Do you have any idea what “rules of engagement” means, jimmy? Google “Afghanistan rules of engagement Obama” and “Iraq bombing rules of engagement Obama”.

      • Don Monfort

        You had been doing so well lately, joshie. Some of us don’t really care what Andrea Mitchell (or whatever) whispers in Alan Greenspan’s ear.

      • I think the current crop of chickenhawk Republicans only talk about war to oppose Obama on everything he does. Maybe their base supports this. If it comes down to it they hopefully will not do an Iraq War 3, perhaps because they care more about the deficit this time (so they say), and maybe they won’t be fooled by preconceived neocon talking points like last time, which they are still blaming on their President’s intelligence. But, from the way some of them talk, I don’t think they learned any lessons from the Bush years. At least there is a libertarian wing of Republicans that want to stay out of foreign countries, so they have to fight the internal battle first.

      • Here’s Alan, taking stock of the idea that the self-interest of lending institutions protects shareholders’ equity:

        The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year.

        Vintage 2008, Don Don.

      • Don Monfort

        Low information, jimmy huffpo, huffin and puffin but sayin nuffin. The war fighters know which way is up, jimmy h. Obama couldn’t get elected latrine orderly by the military and intelligence communities. But your type loathes those bellicose sweaty ruffians. Right, jimmy? The civilian police forces are in your doghouse, too. One day you will call and they won’t come. See Baltimore. Who runs that freak show, yimmy? Neo-cons?

      • Don Monfort

        What year did Alan Greespan, husband of Andrea Mitchell (whatever), become the infallible hero of the leftwing loons?

      • Steven Mosher

        I find it really humorous the way folks talk with so much certainty about the causes of wars.
        Its even sillier when people cite Greenspan.

      • When Alan met Ayn:

        The two first met in the ’50s. Back then, a gang of acolytes, calling themselves the Collective, used to gather at Rand’s apartment on East 36th Street every Saturday night so they could tell each other how smart they all were. Along came Greenspan one evening, shy and somber.

        It took a while for Greenspan and Rand to warm to one another. She nicknamed him “the undertaker,” owing to his dark clothes and mournful air, and he, a self-avowed logical positivist, required a certain amount of wooing on the philosophical side. But in time he became fiercely devoted to Rand, one of her most trusted confidants; he taught her something of the economics she shoehorned into Atlas Shrugged. He wrote for The Objectivist magazine, and stayed a close friend until her death in 1982.

        http://www.theawl.com/2011/04/when-alan-met-ayn-atlas-shrugged-and-our-tanked-economy

        The undertaker was quite well chosen.

      • Jim D talks about how Obama has pulled us out of “two deficit-increasing” conflicts. Perhaps Jim should look at the nation’s debt numbers before putting out such comments.

        http://www.cbsnews.com/news/national-debt-has-increased-more-under-obama-than-under-bush/

    • iiequalsexpipi

      So… You are saying that Saudi Arabia and the gulf states using oil money to fund the ideology of Wahhabism has nothing to do with ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Al Queda, etc.?

    • preconceived neocon talking points

      I am afraid Dubya was clueless. I think Cheney handled the “war stuff” and Bush basically rubber stamped it.

      • Joseph,

        This one I might be willing to believe you on.

        But only because you regularly demonstrate how expert you are on being clueless.

        So if I accept your position about Bush on Iraq, what is your opinion about the current state of affairs and the fact our President has shown to be even more detached and clueless about what is happening than the last one?

    • And just a little Machiavellian trivia for ya. Do you remember who headed the Vice President search committee for Dubya?

  4. Pingback: Human-Caused Climate Change | Transterrestrial Musings

  5. “Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?”

    There is only an increasing drought trend in zone 1, and that is probably related to increases in negative NAO in the last 2 years, which is the wrong sign for increased forcing of the climate.
    Figure 3. page 14:
    http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/bitstream/155471/2/2_Al-Riffai.pdf

  6. E. M. Smith has a good post on the historical impact of climate change on civilizations.

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2015/05/22/more-on-middle-east-drought-cold-and-california-drought/

    • E.M.Smith May 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

      That part of the world gets drought during cooling events. In the 4.2 ky Event it caused empires to fall:

      Yes, Warm Periods are times of more rain and snow. Cold Periods are times of less rain and snow. Moisture for rain and snow comes from oceans that are warm and thawed. The Medieval Warm period was followed by the Little Ice Age. People did very well during the warm, Medieval Warm period with more rain and snow. People had a really difficult time during the cold, Little Ice Age with little rain and snow.

    • michaelspj

      With free trade climate change becomes increasingly irrelevant. Obama’s military is living in the 19th century (or earlier).

      • Pat,

        The US military is living with a dufus as Commander in Chief.

        There is plenty of blame for the mess in Iraq right now, but a goodly share of it stops at the President’s desk. He basically washed his hands of Iraq as soon as he could and his subsequent lack of attention played an important role in secterian politics being allowed to subvert the developing democratic processes in the country.

    • Along with that rain and snow during warm times and the less rain and snow during the cold times. The Emperor of Rome, two thousand years ago, entered the Blue Grotto, in Isle of Capri, using a rowboat, at sea level at low tide. Today, you can enter the Blue Grotto, in Isle of Capri, using a rowboat, at sea level, at low tide. Sea Levels are where they were two thousand years ago. When sea level rises, ice near the spin axis of earth is melting and entering the oceans and raising oceans around the equator. That increases the inertia of earth and slows the spin rate and more and more leap seconds must be added to keep the clocks right.

      Oops! Less leap seconds are being added now than during the 1970’s.
      Earth is spinning faster and oceans levels must have gone down. Check the actual data for yourself. http://popesclimatetheory.com/page28.html

  7. catweazle666

    Considering there hasn’t been any increase in temperature to 95% certainty for 18-26 years depending on which database you use – NO!

  8. “Understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. ….. – President Obama”

    “So, did human-caused climate change lead to conflict in Syria? ” – C&P

    WTF?

    “Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so. Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.” – C&P

    What was the headline?

    “Syria’s civil war linked partly to drought, global warming ”

    Oh, so we had to read further, like to the headline.

    This is not even lame.

    • Michael,

      The article wasn’t written in response to Obama’s Coast Guard speech (original publication date March 5), but his speech made it relevant again. President Obama can’t very well start off saying climate change didn’t cause the conflicts we see around the world, and then go on to list a bunch of conflicts that he thinks have a climate change component. Gimme a break. His implication is obvious.

      -Chip

      • “cause” ……”a climate change component” – Chip.

        Something to ponder.

      • David Wojick

        Indeed, Chip. I am inclined to think that he simply misread the sentence. Either that or he meant climate change did not directly cause the conflicts, but rather created conditions that helped cause them. As it stands the sentence makes no sense given what he then goes on to say.

        And of course when he says climate change he means AGW, admitting no other kind. That is standard warmer rhetoric.

      • Thanks Chip, excellent post.

        I guess I’ll re-up for another year as a CATO sponsor.

      • > Gimme a break. His implication is obvious.

        What Obama doesn’t want you to see:

        Peace. Peace everywhere.

      • Chip, I really liked your article. While I appreciate why you wrote this line, and agree with it:

        “In other words, the violence would almost certainly have occurred anyway.”

        I found myself thinking is was going to say, “In other words, the drought would almost certainly have occurred anyway, and was one of many that has occurred in the area since…”

    • “Something to ponder.”

      Indeed. Mikey, can you express what the President is trying to say poetically, instead in scientific terms?

      Andrew

    • In a nod to full disclosure, it should be noted that Michael has cousins in Iraq and Syria, working hard every day as beasts of burden.

  9. I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains: round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.
    Shelley

    Man’s hubris knows no bounds. From the Pharaohs, whose great cities -alluded to by Shelley-waxed and waned as rivers periodically flooded or ceased, through to Babylon with its great gardens watered by machines which fell into disuse as the rains ceased and the deserts returned, through Petra a great staging post for the Romans due to its beautifully crafted water system which saw prosperity and decline as climate changed. Great civilisations in more marginal areas come and go as the climate favours them or brings problems as the growing population during times of plenty is affected by drought or sand advancing or soil eroding.

    For the causes of the current conflicts in the area cited we need look no further than the Wests constant desire to meddle over the last century, ruthless local warlords and two branches of the same religion that hate each other. All the ingredients for conflict were in place, ignited by the Wests desire to clean out dictators who held their countries together, from Sadaam to Assad, Gadaffi to Mubharak.

    Little to do with climate, much more to do with politics and religion. Chief amongst the current problems -which ironically now requires the Wests assistance now we have got rid of the ‘stabilising’ forces -that bound the disparate parts of these countries together-no matter how we disliked them- lie the Bushes who did too much and Obama who does too little.

    tonyb

    • Mike Flynn

      climatereason,

      I agree. Without wishing to offend at all, it seems as though a country with 5% of the world’s population seems set on telling the other 95% what to believe, and how to live.

      It doesn’t seem to be working terribly well now, and similar attempts in the past haven’t worked out too well either.

      Setting out to stop the climate changing is a fool’s errand. Luckily or otherwise, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of fools.

      On the lighter side, a joke –

      “How do you knowl if a politician’s lying?”
      “His lips are moving.”

  10. If I wanted to be sarcastic I would have asked why they didn’t substitute the rainfall values as well in those models. Might have yielded further improvement. But I’m not that sarcastic. And might (rightly) be considered preposterous given my climate science credentials.

    What I’m generally a bit puzzled with is the confidence intervals.
    In particle physics they use 5 sigma. Why the 95% in climate?

    Is far as I remember 95% results from the pioneers of this kind of reasoning (Pearson?) working in agriculture and that was about what was needed to produce “significant” results in agriculture.

    OK, climate has a big impact on agriculture.

    In social sciences they use 0.8 sigma or so because Cohen thought at that value there might be some “significant” studies forthcoming in social sciences. Was a big stimulus to getting papers published in that space.

    Maybe this study qualifies as social science and 0.14 for P-value is enough?

  11. Tonyb
    A thoughtful comment. My son just left the navy after 8 years and two times in harms way. I left the navy 43 years ago. My dad left the marine corps 70 years ago. One feels humble when viewing the hubris of our leaders. Now 7″ of sea level change in 100 years based on recent records is the most important problem. Seems like that is a imaginary foe when will not be accountable to defeat by a pretend set of actions. China is rising, Russia is moving east, ISIS will control more in the caliphate and soon send jihadists to the Western cities that can’t confront reality but pretend like Chamberlin.
    Scott

  12. jhprince2014

    Obama in the recent climate change speech last week said we here in Norfolk, Va are drowning daily and can’t get to work and need kayaks to get around. He and his henchmen have grossly exaggerated and taken out ofcontext any flooding here, and as it relates to quality of life.

  13. One paragraph on the history and geopolitical situation of the region would have sufficed.

  14. There’s been a drought in Texas and one in California. I’ve been avidly following the war coverage from there. I always pray that the brave reporters who are bringing us the news stay safe.

  15. Pingback: Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria? | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  16. It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all.

    Question: Is it worthwhile paying attention to media that uses deceptive and manipulative headlines and purposeful pandering to low-information ideologues to get attention or, must we force ourselves to pay attention to what they’re saying to better understand what the enemies of personal and professional responsibility are of doing and are doing to the culture and civil discourse in America?

    • Who pays attention to the media?

    • It is hard to see more than about 1 bad year – and they have at least one really bad year a decade.

      From the 0.2W = 22PPM study we know know that the GHG warming was only about 0.1W between 2005 and 2010.

      Hard to see where that could have created a problem – and the yield history for the 21st century in Syria doesn’t look that unusual.

  17. Obama said it. No one believes anything he says about anything. When the lies and major errors of fact become so numerous that no one can keep up with them, credibility is gone.

    Skeptics couldn’t ask for a better development than for Obama to embrace the cause of global warming and start making things up. He’s even better than Algore in bringing disrepute to the cause.

    • Brian G Valentine

      I’m surprised the President doesn’t have some responsible adult “advisers” around him to provide some meaningful “guidance” about “legacy”

    • David Wojick

      You do know he was re-elected, right? It is useful to keep in mind that a lot of people do not share one’s own views. That no one believes anything he says is a overstated. Thank God for term limits.

      • I know people who believe EVERYTHING (as far as I can tell) he says.

        Andrew

      • Brian G Valentine

        “I know people who believe EVERYTHING (as far as I can tell) he says.”

        I know of no “deniers” euphemistically called “skeptics” who can boast of that – or anybody else for that matter.

        I don’t know what the secret is, I wish I could impress people as much

      • David Wojick

        Indeed BA, there are many such, making SB’s claim badly false. It is important to understand the situation.

      • That’s the problem “Bad”. There are lots of folks out there who want to believe everything he says. He lies with impunity about climate, about Iran, about ISIS, about Obamacare, about ………..

        I hope he doesn’t do even more damage before he is gone from office.

      • “I don’t know what the secret is”

        Become a pol and appeal to low-information types. Promise to increase their “benefits”. You’ll go far.

        Andrew

      • Where is the clown John Holdren in this? He has lost any remaining credibility as a scientist.

      • Brian G Valentine

        “Where is the clown John Holdren in this? He has lost any remaining credibility as a scientist.”

        He had some? Apart from the farther to the left of the Rachel Carson radical crowd, I mean?

      • David Wojick

        You folks know you are being stupid by ignoring reality, right? I’m just saying. Denigrating those who disagree with you is fun but not realistic, because they say the same about you!

      • Brian G Valentine

        ” … being stupid by ignoring reality, right?”

        That is precisely the basis of the complaints.

      • David,

        John Holdren is an activist and to the best of my knowledge a disciple of Paul Erhlich. I do not care how intelligent or educated he is. It is dangerous to this nation that a clown such as Holdren holds the position he does. I have only contempt for the man.

      • David,

        For me one of the best indicators of stupidity is having an Obama 2012 bumper sticker on your car. 2008 I can understand. But 2012? By then it was clear to see the man lacked any sort of competency for the job.

        As I’ve said on many occasions, it was extremely ironic to listen to people castigate McCain for picking Palin as a running mate due to her lack of qualifications, yet be silent on the fact her experience and qualifications far outdistanced those of Obama.

  18. The first sentence read; “understand climate change did not cause conflicts wr see around the world.”

    Okay what did cause all these conflicts we see around the world. Some will point to Bush or the “ugly american” coming out of WWII aiming to colonialise and dominate the world. Or maybe it’s Zionism. After all it controls America too. You can go on and on fingers pointing everywhere. What it comes down to is us vs them much like the climate debate or anything else. People emerse in their own culture and find enemies that threaten their existence. That Isis is an extreme example and such radicalism exists in the Middle East can’t be blamed entirely on the West and it’s culture and values (or lack of). They just need infidels to kill they don’t care where they come from. If one thinks we should get out out of there altogether and not repeat the mistakes of the past, I suspect another 9/11 will assure that we do repeat those mistakes. Question remains how many enemy do we kill? Is Obama’s count about right?

    • http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=11551
      “Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) form the mechanism used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to record compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which began in 2005 and was revised in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Beginning in 2009, U.S. ethanol production began to grow beyond the targets set by the RFS, leading to an increasing supply of banked RINs through 2012.”

      The Renewable fuel standard more than doubled the price of corn.

      We food priced the arabs into civil war.

      It is the fault of ugly Americans, but the ugly Americans are environmentalists and global warmers.

  19. NOAA data suggests that the current global temperature’s PAUSE will soon turn into a gentle decline
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/MTC.htm
    No need for further concern; I’ll have to find something else to do.

  20. Rupert Darwall had this to say (in NRO) about Obama’s latest climate lies:

    “When the president of America declares climate change an immediate threat to national security and accuses skeptics of “negligence” and “dereliction of duty,” scientific skepticism becomes an enemy of the state.”

    Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418751/climate-science-and-politics-are-diverging-rupert-darwall

  21. Mediterranean rainfall:

    Story here:
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20111027_drought.html
    I can’t find a pattern in the plot. Wild guess is that Mediterranean rainfall leads global temperatures by decades and it’s signaling a coming cooling.

    • You’re so clever. You always look at the right thing. Truth is that where and how much rain falls in so unutterably complex that much of it might as well be completely random. That said the influences for the Mediterranean are the north Atlantic and the central Pacific – the usual suspects. Although I did see something about the Indo-Pacific. Probably the warm pool. 90% of rainfall just about anywhere comes from the oceans.

      I am expecting – without actually predicting because the whole damn thing is so damnably dynamically complex – La Nina to exert itself over the next couple of centuries bringing rain to Australia, India, Africa, etc. Good for Syria but perhaps not so good for California.

      Although it’s likely that Ulrich will opine well before that and say I’ve got the whole thing totally arse about – and Springer to chime in with I know you are but what am I?

      • David Springer

      • David Springer

        A record which you immediately broke with a 3 minute retaliatory bombing. I just can’t win.

      • David

        Germane to this thread, there is an extraordinary report in Todays Sunday Times that Obama was told by the CIA two years ago of the likely rise of ISIL and the likely fall of Mosul and Ramada but ignored it. It claims he then l*ed about knowing , saying their rise was completely unexpected. Is this story going the rounds in the US?

        Rather than ly*ing i would hope that, if true, he was badly advised and this raises the question as to whether he is similarly badly advised on such subjects as climate change.

        tonyb

      • David Springer

        Tony,

        The only politics I follow anymore are local. I got elected to city council last year and am busier than a two-peckered billy goat getting things changed. The isolated waterfront community I’m in doesn’t talk about much going on outside our borders. Climate change, terrorists, world and national politics concerns are more or less non-existent.

      • Tonyb
        At this time in the presidency much of the populace is jaded by Obama and Clinton lies and mis-directions. He blames Bush from 7 years ago for current problems and then mis directs to sea level rise to avoid facing realities in the world around. I expect we will have to wait for suicide bombers in subways to wake the low information voter. Easier to solve problems in 100 years than now.
        Scott

      • Scott

        They are the richest terrorist organisation in history and the best organised, they have the money to do far more than put a few bombs in subways. Obama seems like a rabbit caught in the headlights with his inaction. Is he carrying out menckens dictum in trying to focus attention elsewhere?

        I can’t see that any problem is more urgent than dealing with isil

        Tonyb

      • It is a debate in the US whether the US still is responsible for Iraq whose sectarian government tied themselves more closely to the Iranians at their first opportunity. Also there is nothing more that the terrorists want than for US troops to move back into a position where they can be picked off 1000 per year as was happening through the Bush administration’s occupation and state building strategy. Conservatives seem to want do that again in the hope it will work this time, but Americans as a whole don’t see the point of supporting a country that neither pays back, nor that can build an inclusive government, nor that allies with them in the region as opposed to Iran. It is Iraq’s fight now. America won’t make the same mistake twice (unless Republicans take the White House in which case all bets are off).

      • In a way I suspect the conflict is more a multi-sided intra-Islamic issue, in which Western powers and victimizations are more like tokens (chips on the table) rather than players. Sunni vs. Shiite (esp. Iranian), radical Sunni vs. tolerant Sunni, and competitions among radical Sunni.

        What’s going on in Iraq and Syria right now might well be more a reaction to Iranian/Shiite hegemony (or attempts thereat) than to the West. But of course, it also might not.

      • Jimd

        I have followed events in the middle east for some decades having met the shah of Iran, sadaam Hussein and Assads father back in the 70’s.

        The region needs strong men to keep their largely artificially drawn countries together And their often warring populace in place. In my opinion it was a mistake to remove sadaam, gadaffi and attempt to remove Assad. All were pro western to some extent or other.

        Isis represent a threat of a completely different order of magnitude to al queda which precipitated the Afghanistan campaign . They are very wealthy, very well organised and have a visceral hatred of the west.

        Give them a year to consolidate their territory and infrastructure and they will start to wage a war off attrition against the west and moderate Arab states such as Jordan.

        So, they can be stopped, if the effort is made now This is much more a worthwhile and necessary fight than the sham reasons to geT rid of sadaam.

        Obama needs to show he is still the leader of the western world, to date he seems to be taking easy options with Cuba and climate change

        Russia will threaten the Baltic states, Isis will threaten us all. it’s the fight of the US and it’s allies, whether we all like it or not. What has happened to NATO? What has happened to US leadership?

        Tonyb

      • Tonyb, the US inserting themselves into intra-Islamic fights just gives the jihadis even more propaganda points about western interference. Remember a lot of this started with the first Gulf War when the US went in and fought Saddam, just from their presence and acting like they own the place which built up a lot of resentment from Islamic extremists. Territorial respect is a major thing needed if things are going to calm down. You will always get isolated extremists but they can’t recruit so well without a fighting US presence there. I think it is a major fallacy that if you don’t fight them there, they will come here. No, it is because you fight them there that they recruit more jihadis to their fight with some local wash-back.

      • Predominate La Ninas and flat temperatures. In 5 years we can look back understand if the PDO has changed phase now. The blob may be signaling an attempt. I’d be amused if we approached a regime change only to end up back in a cool one.

      • Jimd

        I suspe t that you and your president believe the stuff written in places. Like Newsweek.

        http://www.newsweek.com/2014/09/19/isiss-enemy-list-10-reasons-islamic-state-doomed-268953.html

        Unfortunately we are dealing with highly motivated hate filled idealogues with a 7th century fanaticism but with 21 st century weapons , money and strategic skills al wrapped up in a sophisticated understanding of the media.

        They won’t just go away. They pose a far greater and definable threat than Ill defined and contentious climate change.
        Tonyb

      • tonyb
        The leadership in US is making it up as they go along. Climate change not verifiable for 100 years plus sea level rise stopping when it is not going up but 7 inches a year can be claimed to be solved because no one can see the results of the policy. Except the loss of industry in GB and Germany and high electricity prices in the US. Wending the way through competing problems in the middle east and baltics are much more complex and verifiable. Nice of you to keep plugging away with logic and rationale discussion.
        Scott

      • Tonyb, this is not a conventional war that can be won on a battlefield. Bush tried that and look where it got us. There is no city to take over, or even a leader to catch that will stop this, and armies are not the tool. Obama realizes this much. It is a stealth war. Intelligence, vigilance, internet, local communities, these are the front lines in this type of war. Ideally you have stable mid-east countries too, but these can’t be forced by armies either, and even diplomacy is limited by centuries of history, mixed in with oil interests. The US was interested in this area only because of the oil, but the faster we get away from that tie, the better.

      • ulriclyons

        C.H.said:
        “Although it’s likely that Ulrich will opine well before that and say I’ve got the whole thing totally arse about..”

        No “h” on the end of my name thanks. It is largely correct that La Nina would increase precipitation in Australia, India, parts of Africa but not the Sahel, and definitely not good for California. What you definitely have backwards is the idea that La Nina will dominate for the next couple of centuries, watch what happens through the next decade for example. And I don’t find UK rainfall to be very random, it is mostly wetter when cooler than normal in summer, and drier when colder than normal in winter. With the short scale temperature deviations being solar driven by its effects on the NAO, and by regional SST’s effecting the jet stream track.
        Ragnaar’s wild guess that Mediterranean rainfall leads global temperatures by decades has no physical basis.

      • I suspe t that you and your president believe the stuff written in places. Like Newsweek.

        And when you guys go to the card catalogue and find a scientific fluff piece in Newseek/Time that went against the majority of peer-reviewed literature of the time, you puff it into the great “the same scientists were hyping global cooling” nonsense.

        Which side really does believe Newsweek/Time?

      • ==> “What has happened to NATO? What has happened to US leadership?”

        It’s a complicated situation, tony. There are down sides to every strategy, and it is plainly obvious that simplistic militaristic strategies and sloganeering such as yours won’t get the job done. It’s unrealistic for you to expect such responses and then bemoan that they aren’t being employed. Despite the attempts that we see now from Republican candidates to exploit pro-military sentiment for political expediency, even if we do get another Republican president in the next election, it’s doubtful that they will be able to get sufficient support for simple-minded military response such as what you advocate. The memory of how such thinking turns counterproductive is too fresh.

      • jch

        I chose Newsweek purely because it was clearly written and not paywalled. there are many similar articles such as the one in the Sunday Times. However that was paywalled.

        Anyway, what does that have to do with an article Newsweek wrote decades ago? if you dislike one article-accurate or inaccurate-by that criteria do you automatically disparage every article that journal ever then writes? You must have a very small pool of news you can choose from.

        tonyb

      • ulriclyons

        “The 7–8-yr period in Nile River records equals that of a North Atlantic
        spectral peak [Ghil & Vautard,1991; Moron et al”

        The AMO envelope is some 69 years not 7-8 years.
        And that graph came from your link here. You don’t appear to read what you post:
        http://www.climatesnack.com/2014/11/13/the-effect-of-enso-on-sahelian-sudan-rainfall/

      • It is largely correct that La Nina would increase precipitation in Australia, India, parts of Africa but not the Sahel, and definitely not good for California.

        I see – it is in the thread below and was a response to the comment above. It is a primer on ENSO and the Sahel selected at random on the internet – but is in agreement with my understanding based on extensive study of this.

        Figure 3 presents the year-to-year variation in (Sahel) rainfall and SSTs. The general picture shows that difference in SSTs and rainfall are opposite to one another.

        Generally accords with my understanding – although I didn’t pay much attention to the graph. Higher SST happen in El Nino and higher Sahel rainfall happen in La Nina – speaking probabilistically.

        The 7 year signal is in the Nile records – there are multiple sources of variability not just the AMO.

      • ulriclyons

        The Nile basin is East Africa, that is apparently wetter with La Nina, but a 7-8yr cycle still has nothing to do with the AMO.
        The Sahel is drier with positive NAO, that’s why it’s drier during a cold AMO mode, and positive NAO is associated with La Nina and not El Nino:
        http://www.fao.org/nr/climpag/pub/EIan0004_en.asp

      • I said that the Nile flows were influenced by the AMO and ENSO – and it is still the case. My source said there was a seven year signal – that’s still the case. My source didn’t say where the signal comes from – and I believe nor did I. The context was drought in Syria.

        I said that the Sahel was influenced by ENSO in a passing comment – it is.

        The Sahel is adjacent to countries bordering the southern Mediterranean coast. The hydrological influences are similar. The Nile rises in the Sahel region of Sudan in Eastern Africa. The Blue and Red Niles meet at Khartoum.

        Bye again

      • ulriclyons

        CH:
        “I said that the Nile flows were influenced by the AMO and ENSO – and it is still the case. The context was drought in Syria.”

        A 7yr cycle in the Nile has little to do with a ~69yr AMO envelope, so that is not a good reference, and the context that we were debating when you mentioned Nile flow rates was in fact Sahel rainfall.
        I first addressed the AMO influence on Sahel rainfall here, as I already knew that it has a greater influence than ENSO.

        CH:
        “The Sahel is adjacent to countries bordering the southern Mediterranean coast. The hydrological influences are similar.”

        The Sahel is sub-Saharan. The Mediterranean coast has the opposite rainfall pattern to the Sahel for most seasons.

      • Jim D and Josh are now our resident experts in military and political analysis.

        Jim D tells us what ISIS wants most, which is having US troops to attack and says we need to respect their territory, which they have taken by force of arms. He also asserts it is not a conventional war, that there are no cities to take and points to Bush’s failure in trynig to wage one.

        Perhaps Jim sould pay attention to what is happening rather than repeat MSNBC talking points. ISIS is achieving it’s goals on the ground using – wait for it Jim – conventional ground forces. They have taken more than one city, the latest being Ramadi. As for Bush’s campaign, the military portion was an astounding success. It was handling the aftermath that left a lot to be desired. Most of which can be traced back to the unilateral decision by Paul whatshisname who ordered the disbanding of the Iraqi Army without consulting with his bosses in Washington.

        And Josh weighes in with his “simplistic militaristic strategies” comment. Of course they must be simplistic. Because Josh doesn’t understand the first thing about military strategy and therefore has to declare what he doesn’t understand as being simplistic. Not to mention the part about Josh’s propensity to make even the simplest concepts as complicated and convoluted as possible in order to show us how smart he is.

    • The Sahel is one of the most studied links to ENSO – from the days of Sir Gilbert Walker.

      http://www.climatesnack.com/2014/11/13/the-effect-of-enso-on-sahelian-sudan-rainfall/

      The Holocene ENSO proxy I keep showing – shows a shift from La Nina dominance to El Nino at the time when the Sahel landscape changed.

      La Nina is likely to dominate for another decade or so – and may shift to yet cooler conditions then.

      The millennial ENSO proxy I keep showing shows an El Nino peak last century and a La Nina dominance from early in the millenium. The question is – is it associated with low solar activity? And will it change. The Holocene proxy shows substantial variation over approximately 2000 year intervals. It is really a matter of looking at data rather than making things up.

      Rainfall – how much and where it falls – has a large component that is so complex it may as well be random. Hydrology is a science of stochastic probabilities.

      • Even if ENSO were to switch to La Nina dominance, it will continue to warm. This has already been demonstrated. The 2011 La Nina was extremely powerful. Some say the 2nd most powerful in the record. It created a large, but temporary, drop in GMSL. Despite that, the surface continued to warm slowly, and the oceans warmed aggressively. You get no real reprieve in La Nina dominance.

        In chaotic and complex system, there is no rule for how long a cycle phase will last. The cool phase of the PDO has lasted for less than a decade in the past. In this cycle the cold phase shows a lot of signs it could be just as short.

      • It’s drawing confusions from short term data.

        Reliable ocean heat to depth is available for a decade – too short a record to say much. I suspect the rise at the end has more to do with the solar cycle. It’s on the way down – how low no one knows but at least in the 11 year cycle.

        There is a suggestion that La Nina are getting warmer – I suspect they are all different. In fact that’s what the TOA data says.

        And with ENSO – and more generally – you need to look at monthly data.

        There are a couple of interesting things that emerge from Tessa Vance and Co’s study.

        ‘ENSO causes climate extremes across and beyond the Pacific basin; however, evidence of ENSO at high southern latitudes is generally restricted to the South Pacific and West Antarctica. Here, the authors report a statistically significant link between ENSO and sea salt deposition during summer from the Law Dome (LD) ice core in East Antarctica. ENSO-related atmospheric anomalies from the central-western equatorial Pacific (CWEP) propagate to the South Pacific and the circumpolar high latitudes. These anomalies modulate high-latitude zonal winds, with El Niño (La Niña) conditions causing reduced (enhanced) zonal wind speeds and subsequent reduced (enhanced) summer sea salt deposition at LD. Over the last 1010 yr, the LD summer sea salt (LDSSS) record has exhibited two below-average (El Niño–like) epochs, 1000–1260 ad and 1920–2009 ad, and a longer above-average (La Niña–like) epoch from 1260 to 1860 ad. Spectral analysis shows the below-average epochs are associated with enhanced ENSO-like variability around 2–5 yr, while the above-average epoch is associated more with variability around 6–7 yr. The LDSSS record is also significantly correlated with annual rainfall in eastern mainland Australia. While the correlation displays decadal-scale variability similar to changes in the interdecadal Pacific oscillation (IPO), the LDSSS record suggests rainfall in the modern instrumental era (1910–2009 ad) is below the long-term average. In addition, recent rainfall declines in some regions of eastern and southeastern Australia appear to be mirrored by a downward trend in the LDSSS record, suggesting current rainfall regimes are unusual though not unknown over the last millennium.’ http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00003.1

        The millennial changes I’ve done to death. At some stage we are or will will be at the peak of El Nino strength – and rather another warm shift in alternating regimes of positive and negative IPO such as in the 20th century – it will be to stronger La Nina – more negative IPO.

        The change in periodicity between El Nino and La Nina epochs.

        The decadal scale ‘IPO’ signal. These last for 20 to 30 years – it is just an observation that many people have made. It is still far too early to say if it has shifted again.

        ‘Finally, the presence of vigorous climate variability presents significant challenges to near-term climate prediction (25, 26), leaving open the possibility of steady or even declining global mean surface temperatures over the next several decades that could present a significant empirical obstacle to the implementation of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions (27). However, global warming could likewise suddenly and without any ostensive cause accelerate due to internal variability. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, the climate system appears wild, and may continue to hold many surprises if pressed.’

        It may well do anything it likes as far as I can see.

      • Chief, thx for spotting this paper

      • What hogwash.

        The cool phase of the PDO lasted for at most 10 years during the 1st quarter of the 20th century, and the GMST went up. During the warm phase that followed, the PDO index ascended. During the warm phase in the last quarter of the 20th century the PDO index descended, and the GMST went up. It’s never stopped going up, and is now poised to make a major leap.

        December 2014:

        March 2015

      • ulriclyons

        CH said
        “La Nina is likely to dominate for another decade or so”

        The next decade will be dominated by twice the average El Nino frequency.
        And the SST graph in linked paper don’t match the El Nino episodes. I see peaks in rainfall 1987/88, 1993/95, 1997/98, 2003/4, 2006/7, 2011/12. Just the last peak is during La Nina, the rest are all during El Nino episodes/conditions. Clearly the Sahel rainfall has increase with the warm AMO since 1995, which is associated with increased negative NAO, as is El Nino:

      • There is almost no ocean heat data to depth until Argo.

        The Argo data I showed was based onm the Scripps ‘climatology’. Is the other Argo ‘climatology’ more correct? I don’t know. You can choose one because it suits your inclination. Is the use of almost no data to draw a graph warranted? Perhaps not.

        A blue (La Nina like) regime dominant to 1976, red (El Nino like) regime to 1998, and blue again since. These regimes persist for 20 to 30 years – an observation like I said. So if the regimes last 20 or 30 years – and a cool blue La Nina like regime started in 2002? Let me do the math.

        Which linked paper? SST peaks happen in El Nino. The nature of the beast. And there are rainfall changes globally – http://www.knmi.nl/research/global_climate/enso/effects/

        But lets look a little more closely at the AMO and Sahel rainfall.

        Both have an impact on rainfall in the region of the Mediterranean Sea – as I said elsewhere in this post. .

      • ulriclyons

        CH said:
        “Which linked paper? SST peaks happen in El Nino.”

        The one with that graph on of course. No the SST peaks are not all during Nino on that graph, it’s a bit fishy.

        CH said:
        “But lets look a little more closely at the AMO and Sahel rainfall.
        Both have an impact on rainfall in the region of the Mediterranean Sea – as I said elsewhere in this post.”

        Really? Show me where you mentioned the AMO elsewhere in this post…

      • Rainfall in the Mediterranean Basin is influenced by ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and the north Atlantic – and brings to large variability for year to year and to flow regimes that brings droughts and floods that persist for decades to centuries.

        https://judithcurry.com/2015/05/22/did-human-caused-climate-change-lead-to-war-in-syria/#comment-705936

        I didn’t link the other site and I don’t find the graph interesting at all.

      • ulriclyons

        Chief Hydrologist | May 25, 2015 at 4:49 pm said:
        “Rainfall in the Mediterranean Basin is influenced by ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and the north Atlantic – and brings to large variability for year to year and to flow regimes that brings droughts and floods that persist for decades to centuries.”

        I was discussing the effect of the AMO on the Sahel rainfall, and all you can offer is link about a 7-8 year pattern in the Nile flow. You are not even on the same page.

        “I didn’t link the other site and I don’t find the graph interesting at all.”

        Yes you did, here:
        https://judithcurry.com/2015/05/22/did-human-caused-climate-change-lead-to-war-in-syria/#comment-706117

  22. So, did human-caused climate change lead to conflict in Syria? Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so. Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.

    The MSM is simply lying or too lazy to do the crudest fact check.

    The food driven wars in the middle east are the result of using food to make fuel. About 40% of the US corn supply goes to make ethanol. Since grains are to a significant extent substitutable the rising price of corn increased other grain prices. The US is not the only country converting food to fuel.

    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=11551
    “Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) form the mechanism used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to record compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which began in 2005 and was revised in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Beginning in 2009, U.S. ethanol production began to grow beyond the targets set by the RFS, leading to an increasing supply of banked RINs through 2012.”

    “So, did human-caused climate change lead to conflict in Syria?” NO!

    Human-caused climate change policy lead to the conflict in Syria.

    Using unspoiled food to make fuel should be a felony.

  23. Brian G Valentine

    Hi Chip hi Pat
    When I first viewed the blog title here, I thought it was a joke.

    I first heard of the proposed connection with the Syrian conflict from none other than Prince Charles – and I thought, only he could entertain such a ludicrous proposition.

    In that regard I was wrong,

  24. Joseph informed Pharaoh that both dreams had the same meaning, and that G-d wished to tell Pharaoh what He was about to do. Seven years of plenty and abundance would come to Egypt, but they would be followed by seven years of famine. Hunger and privation would be so great that the abundance of the preceding years would be completely swallowed up and forgotten. The fact that Pharaoh had seen the same thing twice meant that G-d had definitely decided to have his dream come true within the very near future. It was now the task of King Pharaoh, Joseph continued, to find a wise and honest man to administrate and control the economy of the land during the seven years of abundance, so that sufficient provisions would be stored away for the seven lean years to come, thereby averting a terrible catastrophe.

    Rainfall in the Mediterranean Basin is influenced by the tropical Pacific and the north Atlantic. I did a seminar presentation on this area sometime in pre-history. The only thing I can remember is something to do with the sheer number of people in the catchment.

    ‘Using proxy ENSO and precipitation reconstruction data in the period 1650–1980 we present empirical and quantitative evidence that El Nino causes drier conditions in the area of Crete.’ http://www.clim-past.net/6/525/2010/cp-6-525-2010.html

    ENSO has major impacts on global hydrology and varied dramatically and chaotically over the Holocene.

    Moy et al (2002) present the record of sedimentation shown above which is strongly influenced by ENSO variability. It is based on the presence of greater and less red sediment in a lake core. More sedimentation is associated with El Niño. It has continuous high resolution coverage over 12,000 years. It shows periods of high and low ENSO activity alternating with a period of about 2,000 years. There was a shift from La Niña dominance to El Niño dominance that was identified by Tsonis 2009 as a chaotic bifurcation – and is associated with the drying of the Sahel. There is a period around 3,500 years ago of high ENSO activity associated with the demise of the Minoan civilisation (Tsonis et al, 2010). Red intensity exceeded 200 – for comparison the red intensity during the 97/98 El Nino was 99. It shows ENSO variability considerably in excess of that seen in the modern period.

    North Atlantic influences over North Africa and the Middle East have been detected in several geologic [Felis et al., 2004] and historical [Mann, 2002] records, and may extend all the way into the Nile River’s source area, further to the south.’ http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/tcd/NEWS/Ghil_NileTalk.pdf

    ENSO proxies and Nile level records both show that hydrological variability is more extreme than anything seen last century or is happening now. Claims of unprecedented hydrological change are both tenuous and politically motivated. They implicitly mislead to misconceived policy prescriptions.

    As Joseph said – to avoid catastrophe in the times of need requires a wise and honest person to manage things in the times of abundance . My prophecy is that times of need such as we have not seen in more recent times will come.

  25. Drought as a motor for Middle East political change, population shift etc? Seems about right. 2200 BC and the 300 year drought and all that. And more of the whole Ottoman era than not. And all that.

    Those few climate experts prepared to glance at past conditions – we thank them so very much! – are inclined to use them as a blurry “warning” to stop what we’re doing. Then it’s back to the models, and the far greater clarity of future climate.

    Yes, the past may blur and present may baffle…but at least we know plenty about 2100 AD.

  26. I’ve said it many times – AGW is the perfect liberal cause, everything can be blamed on it, and fixing it will require massive government intervention to save us all. It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World alright, but this is no funny movie.

    • Barnes, it’s interesting you bring that up. What with Cali in a drought and all, compare scenes from IAMMMMMMW then and now. I’m seeing more green.

      • jim2,

        Thanks for this comment. IAMMMMMMMW is one of my favorite movies of all time. Seeing Sid Ceasar, Phil Silvers, Ethel Merman, Buster Keaton, Buddy Hackett, Jonathan Winters, Milton Berle, Terry Thomas, Dick Shawn and Spencer Tracey made me laugh. A great antidote for the BS of CAGW and Obama.

      • Interesting comparison, Jim, though I guess much depends on time of year etc. What is known is that the early 60s, horrific 1961 in particular, brought major drought to California. It’s just that in these buttoned-down times it’s not polite to mention California’s climate history in mixed company.

        Even more important for the collective memory should be the drought which hit the NE of the US in the 1960s. Speaking of which…

      • Mark, when my son was young and the wife was travelling, he and I would go have a steak then watch IAMMMMMMMW. Good times that.

      • Thanks for the clip Jim2 – I have not seen the movie in a while and just watching the clip makes me want to see it again. It is a classic. Also brings back a few memories from living in SoCal many years ago

  27. daveandrews723

    A handful of inept “scientists”… Hansen, Mann, et al… sold a bunch of clueless politicans and media people around the world on a pathetic hypothesis (AGW) and now it has taken hold. I never thought I would see the day when science was perverted as much as it has been now. These are the new Dark Ages. It is really very frightening because of the social and economic consequences that are linked to this ridiculous cult-like movement.

    • Brian G Valentine

      It isn’t “cult-like.” It is a cult.
      Imagine that – a cult taking over the Catholic Church! Apparently without recognizing that the die-hard cultists are about as anti-organized religion as you can get.

    • > It is really very frightening because of the social and economic consequences that are linked to this ridiculous cult-like movement.

      It goes beyond that:

      Slavery. Slavery everywhere.

      • Brian G Valentine

        He kind of shot himself in his own rear end, didn’t he.

        Well, I can’t say I haven’t done it.

      • He could have said it better. I believe he was using an Ayn Rand argument who could be point blank. When you pay your health insurance premiums, your co-pays and your deductible, you have a right to healthcare, arguably a contractual right. What do we say of someone who has not paid their health insurance premiums? They have a right emanating from elsewhere, not from a typical contract. We may say we don’t know where rights come from or even know if they exist? A contractual right is an example of granting each other, rights.

      • Dang. The whole:

        I thought I had the image link of the 5th box, which says (in case I mess again):

        Less whinging, more hard work, I say. I’m sick of people asking for handouts. No one ever handed me something on a plate.

      • In the cartoon the well off son’s parents voluntarily handed him things on a plate. And everyone else who handed him things probably did it looking out for their own self interest. I would not suggest the remedy to voluntary advantages is the involuntary. I’d say Rand was quite vitriolic towards those who tried to get in the middle of Richard and Paula’s relative positions. Similar to the global warming issue. There are disparate effects caused by global warming based on global income levels. Now if we can just insert ourselves into the middle of that problem, we can improve our importance and standing and be altruistic while doing so. We can now decide what are equitable remedies.

  28. No more global warming since 1997. That is the answer….

  29. I work in the region. And the locals tell me that 2013 was a bumper crop year in at least the Kurdish region of Iraq. The long lineups of grain trucks bulging to the gunwales tends to confirm that. And, like California, the Mesopotamia-Zagros-Taurus region is NATURALLY semiarid. Why? no water. Or, more precisely, no precipitation. For part of the year. But the growing season, November to May, is sodden in some measure every year. To pretend to coax a “Climate Change Cause” out of this region’s woes is, well, pointless and spin-infested blathering.

  30. Obama’s words are no more than a political shot across the bow to fire up the base and intimidate the opposition. To get into a scientific argument over his statement is to chase a red herring. In fact, it is just plain dumb – it will give the left the opportunity to pummel the repubs with the denier club with the press piling on. Obama is no fool.

    If things keep going in this direction, expect another nine years of misery. I hope I am wrong, but I am not.

  31. iiequalsexpipi

    I find how precipitation patterns will change due to climate change very interesting, although I am very uninformed on this topic, so perhaps someone can enlighten me or point me in the correct direction. I think I understand a few things though:

    1. If temperatures increase then both precipitation and evaporation will increase due to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. Our climate generally acts to transfer moisture from the oceans to the continents; so if temperatures increase, there will be an increase in moisture transfer from the oceans to the continents, which means that the continents should overall get wetter due to the Clausius-Clapeyron relation. This is supported by empirical evidence that suggests that the Earth was overall drier during the LGM.

    2. Global warming will cause the pole-ward shift of the jetstreams, which will move the Ferrel cells pole-ward. This means that the high pressure regions between the Ferrel and Hadley cells will move poleward. As a result, places like California, Southern Australia and Syria may become drier, where as places like Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Mexico, Canada and Northern Europe may become wetter.

    Although I’m not really sure as to the physical mechanism by which this poleward expansion occurs; I understand it occurs during the seasonal cycle, but during the seasonal cycle you have changes in the distribution of solar insolation, which would not occur due to climate change. Can someone please enlighten me on this? Specifically, why does the region of adiabatic falling at roughly 30 degrees shift poleward due to climate change.

    3. With the poleward shift of the jetstreams, wind patterns may change. For example, some places near the subtropical jetstreams may see wind become more easterly and less westerly. For a place like California, which gets most of its moisture from the Pacific Ocean, this could make it drier. However, Texas, which is on the other side of the North American Cordillera, might benefit from the wind direction changing since it gets a lot of it’s moisture from the Gulf.

    4. The reduction in the polar-equatorial temperature gradient means that the jet streams will slow down as there is a smaller height gradient in the tropopause (which means that air at the tropopause falls poleward slower). By the physics of Rossby waves, this causes the jetstreams to have larger amplitudes, shorter wavelengths, slower group velocities, and an increased frequency of having resonance phenomena.

    Is that correct? I’m do not understand the physical mechanism by which the jetstreams shift poleward.

    • iiequalsexpipi

      Sorry for the typos in my last post. I should have written ‘its moisture’ not ‘it’s moisture’ and the last sentence should read ‘I do not’ not ‘I’m do not’.

    • Be careful – comparisons with the LGM are treacherous.

      Things to think about during your comparison include
      1. the effects of the ice on circulation. The ice in your great graphic is two to three kilometers thick! That changes the circulation, particularly of the surface air masses. That may be why the Western US ( Cal included ) had ‘pluvial lakes’ during the LGM, even though things were on average drier.
      Because of glaical topography, more storms hit the Western US creating more precip.

      2. The Poles were colder during the LGM, which did increased the pole-to-equator temperature gradient, but strangely, so may have the warming tropical oceans during the LGM:

      But would AGW weaken the jet stream? maybe not if the ‘hot spot’ actually appears – that would increase the pole-to-equator gradient in the upper troposphere ( where the jet streams form ).

  32. Obama preaches to the choir on the nightmare of Syrian drought
    Joseph told Pharaoh that his dreams came from G0d telling him to prepare for seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. The task of Pharaoh was to find a wise and honest man to put some of the abundance of the years of plenty away to provide for the years of need and avert a terrible tragedy. So who would you believe on rainfall in that region – Joseph or Obama?

    Rainfall in the Mediterranean Basin is influenced by ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific and the north Atlantic – and brings to large variability for year to year and to flow regimes that brings droughts and floods that persist for decades to centuries. Because of the importance of Nile River to the Egyptian civilisation water levels have been measured for 5,000 years and recorded for more than 1,300. The ‘Nilometer’ – known as al-Miqyas in Arabic – in Cairo dates back to the Arab conquest of Egypt. The Cairo nilometer has an inner stilling well connected to the river and a central stone pillar on which levels were observed. The exterior of the stilling well can be seen in the photo below. The Nilometer remained useful until the 20th century when major dams changed the Nile River flow regimes.


    Source: WaterHistory.org – http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/cairo/

    Water levels varied from ‘hunger’ at 12 cubits (a cubit is approximately half a metre) through abundance at 16 cubits and to disaster at 18 cubits.

    D. Kondrashov and colleagues collated a record of Nile River water levels spanning from 622AD to 1922AD. They calculated the mean of high water levels at 18 cubits. This suggests that life in ancient Egypt might best be described as lived on the edge. Perhaps not surprising given Joseph’s source of information – is that they found a strong 7 year signal in the data. The record shows increasing water levels over the past millennia and a prominent spike towards the end. There were signals of variability – more or less flooding – on a 256 year regime.

    Pacific variability has major impacts on global hydrology and can be followed in fine detail over the Holocene.


    Source: Tsonis 2009

    Moy et al (2002) present the record of sedimentation shown above which is strongly influenced by ENSO variability. It is based on the presence of greater and less red sediment in a lake core. More sedimentation is associated with El Niño. It has continuous high resolution coverage over 12,000 years. It shows periods of high and low ENSO activity alternating with a period of about 2,000 years. There was a shift from La Niña dominance to El Niño dominance that was identified by Tsonis 2009 as a chaotic bifurcation – and is associated with the drying of the Sahel. There is a period around 3,500 years ago of high ENSO activity associated with the demise of the Minoan civilisation (Tsonis et al, 2010). Red intensity exceeded 200 – for comparison the red intensity during the 97/98 El Nino was 99. It shows ENSO variability considerably in excess of that seen in the modern period.

    Whatever the cause – global hydrological variability – extreme drought, extreme floods and extreme temperature changes such as has not been seen in the 20th century – will occur again. The solution – such as it is – is to build prosperous and resilient communities. As Joseph tells us – to avoid catastrophe in the times of need requires a wise and honest person to manage things in the times of abundance.

    The reality is that hydrology is so variable as a result of internal dynamics – and the system is so damnably complex that extracting simple causation is a hopeless task. It certainly can’t be done with narrative of jet streams.

    • Chief

      Nice post

      These are events from 3000 years ago concerning the Akkad empire

      The poem is known as the curse of Akkad, a great civilisation thought to have been eventually destroyed by a disastrous change in climate causing drought that lasted for centuries;

      ” For the first time since cities were built and founded,
      The great agricultural tracts produced no grain,
      The inundated tracts produced no ostriches,
      The irrigated orchards produced neither wine nor syrup,
      The gathered clouds did not rain, the masgurum did not grow.
      At that time, one shekel’s worth of oil was only one-half quart,
      One shekel’s worth of grain was only one-half quart. . . .
      These sold at such prices in the markets of all the cities!
      He who slept on the roof, died on the roof,
      He who slept in the house, had no burial,
      People were flailing at themselves from hunger.[56]

      It has recently been suggested that the regional decline at the end of the Akkadian period (and of the First Intermediary Period that followed the Ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom) was associated with rapidly increasing aridity, and failing rainfall in the region of the Ancient Near East, caused by a global centennial-scale drought.[39][40]

      H. Weiss et al. have shown “Archaeological and soil-stratigraphic data define the origin, growth, and collapse of Subir, the third millennium rain-fed agriculture civilization of northern Mesopotamia on the Habur Plains of Syria. At 2200 B. C., a marked increase in aridity and wind circulation, subsequent to a volcanic eruption, induced a considerable degradation of land-use conditions. After four centuries of urban life, this abrupt climatic change evidently caused abandonment of Tell Leilan, regional desertion, and collapse of the Akkadian empire based in southern Mesopotamia. Synchronous collapse in adjacent regions suggests that the impact of the abrupt climatic change was extensive.”.[41] Peter B. deMenocal, has shown “there was an influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation on the stream flow of the Tigris and Euphrates at this time, which led to the collapse of the Akkadian Empire (wki) ”

      Tonyb