Hurricanes and global warming – still no connection

Al Gore, a scene from "An Inconvenient Truth"

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. sends word via email of a review of his new paper on ClimateWire, plus notes that Joe Romm “blows a gasket” about it.

That’s clear evidence that this paper is effective in refuting one of the most oft repeated climate hypes since Al Gore stood in front of a photo of Hurricane Katrina during his movie An Inconvenient Truth and said:

Now I’m going to show you, recently released, the actual ocean temperature. Of course when the oceans get warmer, that causes stronger storms

Well, no not really, the real world data says otherwise. Dr. Ryan Maue, WUWT contributor and the keeper of the Florida State University dataset on Accumlated Cyclone Energy, has this to say:

2010 is in the books: Global Tropical Cyclone Accumulated Cyclone Energy [ACE] remains lowest in at least three decades, and expected to decrease even further… For the calendar year 2010, a total of 46 tropical cyclones of tropical storm force developed in the Northern Hemisphere, the fewest since 1977.

For the calendar-year 2010, there were 66-tropical cyclones globally, the fewest in the reliable record (since 1970)!

And here’s the data plotted up through 2010, the “Hottest Year Ever”, as people like Joe are fond of saying. NASA GISS said we just finished the “warmest decade on record” in 2009, ACE is at a 30 year low in 2010

2009 was low by ACE too, one of the quietest years on record, and that hurricane season was in the middle of an El Nino, with lots of warm SST’s Pacific:

Sea Surface Temperatures the week of July 2009.

Sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Eastern Pacific, as of July 1, are at least one degree above average — a sign of El Niño

And, the North Atlantic was warmer than past years too:

There is simply is no connection between hurricanes and supposed global warming/AGW driven sea surface temperature increases, and now we have another peer reviewed paper saying there’s no signal showing a connection between hurricane damage losses and AGW. Of course they leave the door open for proving it in the future, but for the here and now, there’s no signal or connection to be made.

But don’t take my word for it, don’t take Dr. Roger Pielke’s Jr’s word for it. Have a look at these links first, then read what Dr. Pielke and his co-authors have to say. A few links:

WMO: “. . . we cannot at this time conclusively identify anthropogenic signals in past tropical cyclone data.”

- that’s the World Meteorological Organization (Knutson et al.) saying this.

Inconvenient hurricane facts

- Dr. Adam Lea, of University College London

Global Tropical Cyclone activity is at 33-year lows

Global Warming = more hurricanes | Still not happening

NOAA: More tropical storms counted due to better observational tools, wider reporting. Greenhouse warming not involved.

Increased hurricanes to global warming link: blown away

NOAA: Hurricane frequency and global warming NOT the cause of increased destruction

And then there’s this, using National Hurricane Center Data:

hurricane_frequency.png

Yes, the lack of hurricanes during our “hottest years ever” is so bad, that Al Gore had to Photoshop them into his latest book cover:


2009 Al Gore’s Our Choice: Photoshopping Hurricanes 

Ryan Maue:  A year ago, I walked into a Tallahassee Borders and snapped an IPhone photo (that’s my thumb) of Al Gore’s new book cover and marveled at the locations of hurricanes in a globally warmed future.  The book was released at the tail end of the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season, which uncorked one of the quietest years on record.  With Copenhagen, Cancun, and the hottest year ever come and gone, you would think that global climate disruption was spinning up cyclones with reckless abandon.  Remember, after Katrina in 2005,  scientists published alarming papers linking increases in hurricane activity worldwide to global warming.  Fast forward 5-years: the inconvenient truth is that aside from the Atlantic basin, global tropical cyclone or hurricane activity during 2010 has tanked to the lowest levels in decades.

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So with all that under your belt, now read what Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. has to say:

At ClimateWire, Evan Lehmann has a lengthy overview (also here at the NYT) of a new paper by Ryan Crompton, John McAneney (both of Macquarie University) and me on detecting signals of human-caused climate change in disaster losses. Ryan, who is wicked smart, did the heavy lifting and heavy thinking on it and deserves credit for what should be a widely influential article.

Lehmann writes in the article:

Economic losses are seen as a potent storyteller about climate change. If greenhouse gases could be shown to increase financial damages, that might accelerate efforts to develop stronger buildings codes, influence insurance prices for coastal homes, and discourage development in risk-prone areas.

But the research tells a different story, at least for hurricanes. As a backdrop, it uses a landmark study published in Science last January finding that the number of strongest hurricanes, categories 4 and 5, could double in 100 years because of climate change.

The researchers begin by assuming that’s true. Then they apply hurricane damage data from the past century to those future hazards, adjusting for growth in population, inflation and wealth.

The results indicate that future hurricane damages won’t produce a tangible “climate signal” for at least 120 years, and perhaps not for 550 years. The average time before a signal might be seen is 260 years, according to the combined findings of an 18-model ensemble used by the researchers. In that year, 2271, climate change is expected to increase damage by 106 percent, more than double.

The researchers know this is a touchy topic. It could be perceived as an effort to downplay the impacts of climate change, or be seen with alarm by environmentalists advocating for action now to cut carbon pollution.

“It’s not to dispute that [global warming] is happening or what influence it will have on hurricanes,” said Ryan Crompton, a co-author and a catastrophe risk expert with Risk Frontiers, a research organization at Macquarie University near Sydney, Australia, that is funded in part by the insurance industry.

The study that we build off of is Bender et al. 2010 which argues that under their projected changes in the behavior of hurricanes a signal will not be detectable in the geophysical data until later this century.  If it takes that long to detect a signal in the geophysical data, it is just common sense that it will take longer to see that signal emerge in loss data.

The paper is forthcoming in Environmental Research Letters — here is the citation, abstract and concluding section:

Crompton, R. P.,  R. A. Pielke Jr. and K. J. McAneney, 2011 (forthcoming). Emergence time scales for detection of anthropogenic climate change in US tropical cyclone loss data, Environmental Research Letters V. 6, No. 1.

Abstract

Recent reviews have concluded that efforts to date have yet to detect or attribute an anthropogenic climate change influence on Atlantic tropical cyclone (of at least tropical storm strength) behaviour and concomitant damage. However, identification of such influence cannot be ruled out in the future. Using projections of future tropical cyclone activity from a recent prominent study we estimate the time it would take for anthropogenic signals to emerge in a time series of normalized US tropical cyclone losses. Depending on the global climate model(s) underpinning the projection, emergence time scales range between 120 and 550 years, reflecting a large uncertainty. It takes 260 years for an 18-model ensemble-based signal to emerge. Consequently, under the projections examined here, the detection or attribution of an anthropogenic signal in tropical cyclone loss data is extremely unlikely to occur over periods of several decades (and even longer). This caution extends more generally to global weather-related natural disaster losses.

Conclusions

This study has investigated the impact of the Bender et al [11] Atlantic storm projections on US tropical cyclone economic losses. The emergence time scale of these anthropogenic climate change signals in normalized losses was found to be between 120 and 550 years. The 18-model ensemble-based signal emerges in 260 years.

This result confirms the general agreement that it is far more efficient to seek to detect anthropogenic signals in geophysical data directly rather than in loss data [14]. It also has implications for the emergence time scale of anthropogenic signals in global weather-related natural disaster losses given these losses are highly correlated with US tropical cyclone losses (supplementary discussion and supplementary table 1). Our results suggest that the emergence time scales are likely to be even longer than those determined for US tropical cyclone losses given that different perils will have different sensitivities to future anthropogenic climate change and may even change in different directions. We note that US tropical cyclone losses may become increasingly less correlated with global weather-related records as the loss potentials of developing countries in particular continue to rise rapidly, irrespective of future changes in climate [15]. This means that the relationship between the signal emergence time in US tropical cyclone losses and global losses may weaken over time.

Based on the results from our emergence time scale analysis we urge extreme caution in attributing short term trends (i.e., over many decades and longer) in normalized US tropical cyclone losses to anthropogenic climate change. The same conclusion applies to global weather-related natural disaster losses at least in the near future. Not only is short term variability not ‘climate change’ (which the IPCC defines on time scales of 30 to 50 years or longer), but anthropogenic climate change signals are very unlikely to emerge in US tropical cyclone losses at time scales of less than a century under the projections examined here.

Our results argue very strongly against using abnormally large losses from individual Atlantic hurricanes or seasons as either evidence of anthropogenic climate change or to justify actions on greenhouse gas emissions. There are far better justifications for action on greenhouse gases. Policy making related to climate necessarily must occur under uncertainty and ignorance. Our analysis indicates that such conditions will persist on timescales longer than those of decision making, strengthening the case for expanding disaster risk reduction in climate adaptation policy [15].

But, people like Al and Joe will continue to push the idea that there is a short term linkage, because to do otherwise is counterproductive to their goal of trying to scare the hell out of people. And, of course, the statistical sophistry of Michael Mann supports the meme:

Mann hockey-sticks hurricanes: Hurricanes in the Atlantic are more frequent than at any time in the last 1,000 years

Michael_Mann_hurricane_matrix

Yeah, right.

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37 thoughts on “Hurricanes and global warming – still no connection

  1. My naive physics sez that when Global Warming occurs, the tropics and poles become closer in temperature, and hence the heat and air circulation “gradient” decreases. In Global Cooling, the gradient becomes very steep, and circulation more violent.

    IIRC, the LIA world was badly abused by megastorms.

  2. There is simply is no connection between hurricanes and supposed global warming/AGW driven sea surface temperature increases

    I’m not sure Pielke is saying that a warmer world won’t bring more strong hurricanes. My understanding is that we won’t be able to tell for a very long time because a noisy signal in infrequent events is like that.

    So we can use this paper to refute a specific burst of hurricanes as “evidence” of warming, but we can’t use it to say that hurricanes won’t increase.

    REPLY: You left out this part: Of course they leave the door open for proving it in the future, but for the here and now, there’s no signal or connection to be made. – Anthony

  3. Once again this helps demonstrates that we are slowly but surely moving towards a logical conclusion on the ‘settled’ climate debate:

    Yes, carbon dioxide levels are rising, and yes this is causing a very small rise in global temperatures (but a very small one compared to the never-ending changes caused by the Earth’s natural cycles), and yes there will be some impact from this, but they will be mostly beneficial, such as: i) plants will grow faster increasing crop yields, ii) crops will grow further north than previously, and iii) more atmospheric water vapour, therefore more rain will fall, especially in the semi-arid places where it is most needed.

    Soon the alarmists will be pushed back into only two arguments, those of “rising sea levels” and “ocean acidification”, which are both nonsense: In relatively short time periods (~15,000 years) the oceans regularly rise and fall by up to 100 metres (330 feet), and the amount of mildly acidic carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans is absolutely miniscule compared to the volume of the oceans.

    So that just leaves the problems of: i) the politicians wanting more taxes to continue funding government waste and inefficiencies, and ii) ‘climate scientists’ wanting to hang on to their comfortable lifestyles; they both will cling frantically to the AGW arguments for as long as they possibly can.

  4. Updated to include the inconvenient fact that only 66 tropical cyclones formed/existed during the calendar year 2010 — the fewest in the reliable records ~40 years.

    The 2010-2011 Southern Hemisphere TC season is currently off to a sluggish start, well below normal, but several cyclones are expected in the next couple weeks.

  5. The post reads, “And, the North Atlantic was warmer than past years too.”

    That was definitely true this year. The North Atlantic SST anomalies were considerably higher this year with the lagged effect of the 2009/10 El Nino:

  6. I was in a chatroom (http://table9chat.com) and one of the people in there said something about the climate and said it came from here. So I’m here visiting for my first time and liking it so far.

    One of the things I would like to know is what might happen when the magnetic poles end up 90 degrees from the equator and pointing at the sun. I heard that in the 70′s some people did some testing by flying airplanes around “seeding” rain clouds; giving the moisture in the air a reason to condense. With this in mind, would the poles (now pointing at the sun) allow more cloud seeding particles in? would something else happen? Slight increase in skin cancer patients perhaps? (heh)

    Looking forward to more visits.

  7. “Brian H says:
    January 5, 2011 at 12:11 am

    My naive physics sez that when Global Warming occurs, the tropics and poles become closer in temperature, and hence the heat and air circulation “gradient” decreases. In Global Cooling, the gradient becomes very steep, and circulation more violent.

    IIRC, the LIA world was badly abused by megastorms.”

    Brian, your physics is not naive at all! In fact this information is in the excellent book “Unstoppable Global Warming, every 1500 years” and is backed up with published research and data.

  8. Isn’t this yet further proof of “climate weirding” … the weird way the climate never behaves the way the eco-warmist say it will!

  9. By 260 years it’s probable there won’t be any more oil to burn… No need for cap and trade….Problem solves itself… Except for the burning of coal but that’s “clean” these days.

  10. The active Atlantic period will be followed by an over-active period , reflecting that our weather is getting more and more ill , surely caused by climate-change . The alarmists will be noticing more and more evidence supporting their theories , whilst the facts the deniers are noticing will be the exception to the rule ….

  11. REPLY: You left out this part: Of course they leave the door open for proving it in the future, but for the here and now, there’s no signal or connection to be made. – Anthony

    Exactly. He’s not saying there is no link between warming and hurricanes. He is only saying that it will be a very long time before that link can be shown.

    Practically that amounts to the same thing in terms of using hurricanes as “proof” of warming. That’s what annoys Romm.

    It is, however, quite different from Pielke refuting any connection, as your headline proposes. That we cannot prove it quickly does not mean it does not exist.

    It should be “Hurricanes and Warming – no connection will be visible for a very long time”.

  12. Mooloo says:
    January 5, 2011 at 2:57 am (Edit)

    REPLY: You left out this part: Of course they leave the door open for proving it in the future, but for the here and now, there’s no signal or connection to be made. – Anthony

    Exactly. He’s not saying there is no link between warming and hurricanes. He is only saying that it will be a very long time before that link can be shown.

    Practically that amounts to the same thing in terms of using hurricanes as “proof” of warming. That’s what annoys Romm.

    It is, however, quite different from Pielke refuting any connection, as your headline proposes. That we cannot prove it quickly does not mean it does not exist.

    It should be “Hurricanes and Warming – no connection will be visible for a very long time”. . . .

    If ever.

  13. Theoretically, there should be more cyclones in Australia this summer, but I have my doubts. It is a very strong La Nina, with a (SOI) value for December of +27 it’s the ‘highest December SOI value on record, as well as being the highest value for any month since November 1973,’ according to the latest ENSO report from BOM.

    I’ll just do a bit of historical research and get back with a definitive answer.

  14. The problem for AGW is that after 30 years we have classically accepted climate according to the WMO / IPCC. Yet after 30 years of climate, the ‘hottest decade on the record’ and one of the ‘hottest years’ on the record there does not seem to be a consistent correlation that validates their model predictions. Am I missing something?

    Hurricane intensity:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/313/5786/452

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2007/2006GL028836.shtml

    Hurricane activity:

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2010/2010GL042487.shtml

    http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

  15. Does anyone have the final count for hurricane strikes on the mainland U.S. for the decade that just ended (2001-2010)?

    The NWS NHC Hurricane Strikes by Decade table is only current through 2004:

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pastdec.shtml

    You’d think that they would have updated this table by now.

    I’m mainly interested in seeing how the 2000s compares to the 1940s, which featured a total of 24 landfalls, of which 10 were major (Cat 3 to 5).

  16. I suggest that the severity of the winds in general increases with the mass of the atmosphere that resides in one hemisphere versus the other as reflected in atmospheric pressure for the hemisphere as a whole. When the northern hemisphere gains mass at the expense of the southern, as has been the trend since 1948 but now reversing, all the winds blow harder, the trades, the westerlies and the polar easterlies. The pressure differential between the appropriate latitudes in the affected hemisphere increases.

    There seems to be a pretty good relationship between the excess of sea level pressure in the northern hemisphere over the southern hemisphere in June July August and September on the one hand and the ACE index on the other.

    Some of that variation in pressure will no doubt relate to changing levels of specific humidity because humid air adds to atmospheric pressure. But warm air tends to reduce atmospheric pressure due to kinetic energy so there are a couple of factors working against each other in determining surface pressure.

    The witch doctor type explanations will only disappear when we have rational explanations for the trends observed.

  17. Mooloo says:
    January 5, 2011 at 2:57 am

    Exactly. He’s not saying there is no link between warming and hurricanes. He is only saying that it will be a very long time before that link can be shown.

    No, you still don’t get it.

    Yes, he is saying that no link is demonstrated NOW based upon the available data.

    No, Pielke is NOT saying that there is a link which will be proven some time in the future given more data.

    Pielke IS saying that IF such a link exists, it will take a lot more data to show that link. He makes no assumptions that there is a link which simply needs “more time” to manifest itself in the data.

  18. Don B says: January 5, 2011 at 3:38 am Speaking of flawed climate related forecasts
    Looks like they’re still hoping for a high of 90 spots, the data is pointing towards 50.

  19. So what this is saying, based on CURRENT data, is that insurance companies need to determine whether or not to take the risk involved when selling what could turn out to be a sugar pill to prevent cancer. Once folks find out they’ve been duped, we’ll have to empty out our jails of street criminals and fill them instead with climate criminals.

  20. But of course the longest lasting and most intense cyclone is on Jupiter aka the Great Red Spot. Last time I looked Jupiter was not Palm Springs.

  21. Ryan Maue says:
    January 5, 2011 at 1:18 am

    “Eventually, the Atlantic active period will end. Then what?”

    Then the stimulus-funded climate scientists will formulate a theory showing why global warming leads to fewer hurricanes and tropical storms. Upon publishing their buddy-reviewed peer-reviewed papers, many press releases will follow, along with more stimulus funding…followed by more papers and press releases and trips to Bali and Cancun…followed by…

    Because in the bizarre world of CAGW science, global warming causes more snow, except when it doesn’t, and is global warming NOT related to the weather, except when it is…

  22. The interval between major gasket blowing events for James Hansen and Joe Romm is rapidly shortening.

    The velocity of the gasket blowing events is escalating. The pressure at blowing the gasket is much higher.
    The messaging is more intense.
    The drama in the mean time is more robust.

  23. Doesn’t hurricanes come into this world when there’s three forces shooting it out and one of these forces happen to be plain old boring Sol’s warming rays.

    So if one were to link more and or stronger hurricanes to Global warming one would have to link warming tropical seas to pretty much CO2.

    Of course such things as rotational spin and the coriolis effect happen to varies at odd times due to earth quakes and gravitational forces might have a more pronounced effect on hurricanes than CO2.

    How much varies the salt balance during hurricane seasons with lots of hurricanes and fewer hurricanes? If the climate hippies can’t say for sure that the salt balance has nothing to do with it than how can they rationally claim CO2.

    I’m thinking there ought to be more rational research being granted before Ok Corral.

  24. Keith Battye says:
    January 5, 2011 at 3:32 am
    Mooloo says:
    January 5, 2011 at 2:57 am (Edit)

    REPLY: You left out this part: Of course they leave the door open for proving it in the future, but for the here and now, there’s no signal or connection to be made. – Anthony

    Exactly. He’s not saying there is no link between warming and hurricanes. He is only saying that it will be a very long time before that link can be shown.

    Practically that amounts to the same thing in terms of using hurricanes as “proof” of warming. That’s what annoys Romm.

    It is, however, quite different from Pielke refuting any connection, as your headline proposes. That we cannot prove it quickly does not mean it does not exist.

    It should be “Hurricanes and Warming – no connection will be visible for a very long time”. . . .

    If ever.

    I think that you failed to read the article correctly. It stated:

    “But the research tells a different story, at least for hurricanes. As a backdrop, it uses a landmark study published in Science last January finding that the number of strongest hurricanes, categories 4 and 5, could double in 100 years because of climate change.

    So the research was not looking at whether or not the number of strong hurricanes would increase – instead it took that as an assumption from the previous study and investigated – if the number of storms increased how long would it be before the metric ‘losses due to cyclone damage’ showed that the storms were increasing.
    The result was that the metric ‘losses due to cyclone damage’ would not show such an increase for centuries and thus this was the incorrect metric to use.

    I see nothing in this paper that investigates whether warming causes more cyclones; just that using a particular metric (favored by AGW proponents) is incorrect.

    In the mean time – using ACE it is apparent that the current ‘warmest year on record’ and the previous years high SST did not lead to record numbers of hurricanes. That in itself has falsified the AGW claims of more storms with warming. That falsification needs to be publicly nailed to the mast before we hear the AGW claims that “of course more warming will lead to less storms as our models showed all along”.

  25. Notice the trend toward making predictions that can’t be proved false until after the researcher is safely dead. WUWT!!!

  26. I can’t look now but if Joe’s is anything like my Mopar’s right head gasket then the ‘smoke’ screen is likely to prompt 911 calls of outrage.
    ==============

  27. Quick select reverse gear….

    Breaking news: Reduced number of hurricanes due to global warming, says leading climate scientist. Like the freak cold weather, extremes – increases or decreases – are consistent with and evidence of global warming.

  28. btw, ACE is a USA Climate Indicator according to the Environmental Protection Agency

    Someone may want to show my graphic to Ms. Jackson.

  29. Ed Caryl says:
    January 5, 2011 at 7:26 am
    Notice the trend toward making predictions that can’t be proved false until after the researcher is safely dead. WUWT!!!

    Ingenious actually. If it does come true, they are the new Nostradamus. if it does not, well, you cannot take your money with you! So all of their grant money will be long gone.

  30. Warming – no connection will be visible for a very long time”. — That statement could sum up the entire AGW issue.

  31. Brian H says:
    January 5, 2011 at 12:11 am

    “My naive physics sez that when Global Warming occurs, the tropics and poles become closer in temperature, and hence the heat and air circulation “gradient” decreases. In Global Cooling, the gradient becomes very steep, and circulation more violent.”

    I was going to write the same thing! But since you did it first all I can do is agree.

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