More modeling madness: increased temperature ‘may’ cause more violent thunderstorms – but other studies show what they missed

From Tel Aviv University, another science press release with “could and may” qualifiers:  Climate Change May Lead to Fewer — But More Violent — Thunderstorms

Number of flash floods and forest fires could increase with temperature, says TAU researcher

lightning_225x225.jpg

Researchers are working to identify exactly how a changing climate will impact specific elements of weather, such as clouds, rainfall, and lightning. A Tel Aviv University researcher has predicted that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity.

This could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, says Prof. Colin Price, Head of the Department of Geophysics, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Tel Aviv University. In an ongoing project to determine the impact of climate change on the world’s lightning and thunderstorm patterns, he and his colleagues have run computer climate models and studied real-life examples of climate change, such as the El Nino cycle in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, to determine how changing weather conditions impact storms.

An increase in lightning activity will have particular impact in areas that become warmer and drier as global warming progresses, including the Mediterranean and the Southern United States, according to the 2007 United Nations report on climate change. This research has been reported in the Journal of Geophysical Research and Atmospheric Research, and has been presented at the International Conference on Lightning Protection.

From the computer screen to the real world

When running their state-of-the-art computer models, Prof. Price and his fellow researchers assess climate conditions in a variety of real environments. First, the models are run with current atmospheric conditions to see how accurately they are able to depict the frequency and severity of thunderstorms and lightning in today’s environment. Then, the researchers input changes to the model atmosphere, including the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (a major cause of global warming) to see how storms are impacted.

To test the lightning activity findings, Prof. Price compared their results with vastly differing real-world climates, such as dry Africa and the wet Amazon, and regions where climate change occurs naturally, such as Indonesia and Southeast Asia, where El Nino causes the air to become warmer and drier. The El Nino phenomenon is an optimal tool for measuring the impact of climate change on storms because the climate oscillates radically between years, while everything else in the environment remains constant.

“During El Nino years, which occur in the Pacific Ocean or Basin, Southeast Asia gets warmer and drier. There are fewer thunderstorms, but we found fifty percent more lightning activity,” says Prof. Price. Typically, he says,we would expect drier conditions to produce less lightning. However, researchers also found that while there were fewer thunderstorms, the ones that did occur were more intense.

Fire and flood warning

An increase in lightning and intense thunderstorms can have severe implications for the environment, says Prof. Price. More frequent and intense wildfires could result in parts of the US, such as the Rockies, in which many fires are started by lightning. A drier environment could also lead fires to spread more widely and quickly, making them more devastating than ever before. These fires would also release far more smoke into the air than before.

Researchers predict fewer but more intense rainstorms in other regions, a change that could result in flash-flooding, says Prof. Price. In Italy and Spain, heavier storms are already causing increased run-off to rivers and the sea, and a lack of water being retained in groundwater and lakes. The same is true in the Middle East, where small periods of intense rain are threatening already scarce water resources.

==============================================================

I’m not sure why they think this is news, a nearly identical study was done back in 2007 and published in PNAS:

Changes in severe thunderstorm environment frequency during the 21st century caused by anthropogenically enhanced global radiative forcing

Robert J. Trapp , Noah S. Diffenbaugh, Harold E. Brooks, Michael E. Baldwin, Eric D. Robinson , and Jeremy S. Pal

Abstract

Severe thunderstorms comprise an extreme class of deep convective clouds and produce high-impact weather such as destructive surface winds, hail, and tornadoes. This study addresses the question of how severe thunderstorm frequency in the United States might change because of enhanced global radiative forcing associated with elevated greenhouse gas concentrations. We use global climate models and a high-resolution regional climate model to examine the larger-scale (or “environmental”) meteorological conditions that foster severe thunderstorm formation. Across this model suite, we find a net increase during the late 21st century in the number of days in which these severe thunderstorm environmental conditions (NDSEV) occur. Attributed primarily to increases in atmospheric water vapor within the planetary boundary layer, the largest increases in NDSEV are shown during the summer season, in proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal regions. For example, this analysis suggests a future increase in NDSEV of 100% or more in locations such as Atlanta, GA, and New York, NY. Any direct application of these results to the frequency of actual storms also must consider the storm initiation.

Full PDF here

=============================================================

I find this most interesting:

Attributed primarily to increases in atmospheric water vapor within the planetary boundary layer, the largest increases in NDSEV are shown during the summer season, in proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coastal regions. For example, this analysis suggests a future increase in NDSEV of 100% or more in locations such as Atlanta, GA, and New York, NY. Any direct application of these results to the frequency of actual storms also must consider the storm initiation.

Yes, you must consider the storm initiation. The one thing the Tel Aviv researchers apparently have not taken into account in their GCM’s  is urban evapotranspiration increases (due to irrigation), aerosols (dust and other cloud seeding nuclei from the urban area) and the role of UHI and boundary layer surface roughness in helping thunderstorm formation. Such factors have been shown to be a powerful convection assistant:

Urban Aerosol Impacts on Downwind Convective Storms
Susan C. van den Heever and William R. Cotton (2007 BAMS)

The impacts of urban-enhanced aerosol concentrations on convective storm development and precipitation over and downwind of St. Louis, Missouri, are investigated. This is achieved through the use of a cloud-resolving mesoscale model, in which sophisticated land use processes and aerosol microphysics are both incorporated. The results indicate that urban-forced convergence downwind of the city, rather than the presence of greater aerosol concentrations, determines whether storms actually develop in the downwind region. Once convection is initiated, urban-enhanced aerosols can exert a significant effect on the dynamics, microphysics, and precipitation produced by these storms. The model results indicate, however, that the response to urban-enhanced aerosol depends on the background concentrations of aerosols; a weaker response occurs with increasing background aerosol concentrations. The effects of aerosols influence the rate and amount of liquid water and ice produced within these storms, the accumulated surface precipitation, the strength and timing of the updrafts and downdrafts, the longevity of the updrafts, and the strength and influence of the cold pool. Complex, nonlinear relationships and feedbacks between the microphysics and storm dynamics exist, making it difficult to make definitive statements about the effects of urban-enhanced aerosols on downwind precipitation and convection. Because the impacts of urban aerosol on downwind storms decrease with increasing background aerosol concentrations, generalization of these results depends on the unique character of background aerosol for each urban area. For urban centers in coastal areas where background aerosol concentrations may be very low, it is speculated that urban aerosol can have very large influences on convective storm dynamics, microphysics, and precipitation.

and this one:

Simulation of St. Louis, Missouri, Land Use Impacts on Thunderstorms
Christopher M. Rozoff, William R. Cotton, and Jimmy O. Adegoke (JAM 2003)

A storm-resolving version of the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System is executed over St. Louis, Missouri, on 8 June 1999, along with sophisticated boundary conditions, to simulate the urban atmosphere and its role in deep, moist convection. In particular, surface-driven low-level convergence mechanisms are investigated. Sensitivity experiments show that the urban heat island (UHI) plays the largest role in initiating deep, moist convection downwind of the city. Surface convergence is enhanced on the leeward side of the city. Increased momentum drag over the city induces convergence on the windward side of the city, but this convergence is not strong enough to initiate storms. The nonlinear interaction of urban momentum drag and the UHI causes downwind convection to erupt later, because momentum drag over the city regulates the strength of the UHI. In all simulations including a UHI, precipitation totals are enhanced downwind of St. Louis. Topography around St. Louis also affects storm development. There is a large sensitivity of simulated urban-enhanced convection to the details of the urban surface model.

In 2000, Qing Lu Lin and Robert Bornstein, from San Jose State University, used data from meteorological stations set up during the 1996 Summer Olympics and discovered that the urban heat island in Atlanta created frequent thunderstorms. Using the National Weather Service’s newly installed local mesonet to collect data (setup for the purpose of aiding weather forecasts for Olympic athletic events), Lin and Bornstein found that five of nine days of precipitation over Atlanta were caused by the urban heat island effect.

Urban heat islands and summertime convective thunderstorms
in Atlanta: three case studies Lin and Bornstein 2000 (PDF)

Abstract
Data from both 27 sites in the Atlanta mesonet surface meteorological network and eight National Weather Service sites were analyzed for the period from 26 July to 3 August 1996. Analysis of the six precipitation events over the city during the period (each on a di!erent day) showed that its urban heat island (UHI) induced a convergence zone that initiated three of the storms at di!erent times of the day, i.e., 0630, 0845, and 1445 EDT. Previous analysis has shown that New York City (NYC) e!ects summer daytime thunderstorm formation and/or movement. That study found that during nearly calm regional flow conditions, the NYC UHI initiates convective activity. Moving thunderstorms, however, tended to bifurcate and to move around the city, due to its building barrier e!ect. The current Atlanta results thus agree with the NYC results with respect to thunderstorm initiation.

And then there’s this one: (from planning.org)

The urban heat island effect causes the warmer air (including its higher concentrations of moisture and pollutants) to rise more readily than cooler air over non-urban areas (Oke 1987). Consequently, moisture and pollutants are transported into higher levels of the urban atmosphere. Thus, the urban heat island creates a warmer, moister atmosphere over the city. Once lifted, the air will cool and, if enough moisture is available, clouds and precipitation may form.The increased number of cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) and ice forming nuclei (IN) from urban pollution further enhances urban precipitation.

See: http://www.atmosphere.mpg.de/enid/3rm.html and watch the animations.

It seems to me that local boundary layer conditions have a far greater impact on thunderstorms than a 0.8C per century background warming signal. Further, as cities tend to increase their area, the local effects on thunderstorm formation are likely to increase.

For example, this recent story thanks to Dr. Roger Pielke Sr.

Impact on temperature measurement: Cities expand by area equal to France, Germany and Spain combined in less than 20 years

One of the points worth noting is that there were fewer than 20 cities of 1 million or more a century ago, there are 450 today.

It seems that when they ignore important and significant mesoscale urban factors like these in favor of broader GCM models,  the Tel Aviv researchers have a clear case of modeled confirmation bias on their hands.

After all, thunderstorms are local events, so shouldn’t they be looking for local factors too?

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62 Responses to More modeling madness: increased temperature ‘may’ cause more violent thunderstorms – but other studies show what they missed

  1. Alan the Brit says:

    “During El Nino years, which occur in the Pacific Ocean or Basin, Southeast Asia gets warmer and drier. There are fewer thunderstorms, but we found fifty percent more lightning activity,” says Prof. Price. Typically, he says,we would expect drier conditions to produce less lightning. However, researchers also found that while there were fewer thunderstorms, the ones that did occur were more intense.

    Surely, did they not ask the simple question afterwards, “have we got it right if we got what we didn’t expect to get from drier conditions?”
    Models shmodels!

  2. Kaboom says:

    “State-of-the-art computer models”. Virtually anything can happen in virtual reality.

  3. Gary Pearse says:

    “This could have negative consequences in the form of flash floods, wild fires, or damage to power lines and other infrastructure, says Prof. Colin Price”

    Scientists seem really bad at this. Hysteria is not a scientific trait.

    “Prof. Price. Typically, he says,we would expect drier conditions to produce less lightning. However, researchers also found that while there were fewer thunderstorms, the ones that did occur were more intense.”

    Knowing your subject is a scientific trait,…I thought. Dry thunderstorms are well known, and you should have at least checked Wiki!!

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_thunderstorm

  4. Thanks Anthony.
    This is what comes out of modeling mostly unknown processes, like the climate.

  5. Eyal Porat says:

    Speaking of Israel – The urbanization here is so vast that practically all the area from the northern Negev desert up to the northern border is at least partly urbanized.
    This means Israel is practically a UHI by itself.
    We have at least one researcher here that proved that any rise in temp here can be easily attributed to UHI.
    I also showed people time and again how weather stations around the country were engulfed by buildings and roads (thanks to Anthony for the idea to look for it).
    As in the US and elsewhere, the facts do not tend to change the minds of the warmists.

  6. What scary thing just happened? Predict more of that. Science!

  7. mike seward says:

    There has been a lot of it about recently hasn’t there. This is terribly unfair of Professors of all sorts of academic disciplines but thanks to nonsense like the paper in question and the Likes of Mann, Karoly et al, the more I see the title ‘Professor’ in the context of ‘climate science’ the more I just think ‘generalissimo’ in the context of some tin pot, third world dictatorship.

  8. To Mike Seward’s observation about professors, I would like to add that university CAN be a sheltered workshop for those unable to function in the real world. Not all, by any means, for some very intelligent people also populate universities. But anyone who is familiar with universities knows of staff members who are borderline incompetent or worse.

    IanM

  9. “Researchers are working to identify exactly how a changing climate will impact specific elements of weather.”

    They could identify how, but it might take some time, which may possibly mean that the world could cool a degree or two before they finish.

  10. Robin says:

    I thought of WUWT readers this morning while reading a US National Science Foundation financed NRC report related to science education. It threw out all the research known to reflect reality and observed operations. It replaced it with “theory and models that apply to all individuals.”

    That theory happens to be a political theory without any support except previous NRC assertions on the point. But it fit the desired parameters. And the desired parameters were premised on what it would take to get grants and power that could then be used to alter reality.

    If only temperatures and weather were as easy to alter and ignore as the NSF funding going to alter human behavior. Alter enough mindsets with this bogus science ed and there will be few left to fixate on the holes in the theory and models.

  11. pat says:

    Related. Many of the Western fires were started by dry thunderstorms. Right on cue the New York Times declares global warming the cause and if you don’t believe that you must be an idiot.
    “The recent heat wave that has fried much of the country, ruined crops and led to heat-related deaths has again raised the question of whether this and other extreme weather events can be attributed to human-induced climate change. The answer, increasingly, is a qualified yes.”
    “History is full of sad stories of humanity’s inability to see the writing on the wall — overplowing that helped produce the Dust Bowl, overfishing that has depopulated the oceans. The heat wave is merely the latest of many weather-related messages that should be easy to read. ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/opinion/the-heat-wave-and-global-warming.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

  12. MikeH says:

    They do the “May and Could” dance in their paper, but lightning has a definite agricultural benefit, from Wikipedia:

    Nitrogen fixation is a process by which nitrogen (N2) in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia (NH3).[1] Atmospheric nitrogen or elemental nitrogen (N2) is relatively inert: it does not easily react with other chemicals to form new compounds. Fixation processes free up the nitrogen atoms from their diatomic form (N2) to be used in other ways.

    Nitrogen fixation, natural and synthetic, is essential for all forms of life because nitrogen is required to biosynthesize basic building blocks of plants, animals and other life forms, e.g., nucleotides for DNA and RNA and amino acids for proteins. Therefore nitrogen fixation is essential for agriculture and the manufacture of fertilizer. It is also an important process in the manufacture of explosives (e.g. gunpowder, dynamite, TNT, etc.). Nitrogen fixation occurs naturally in the air by means of lightning.[2][3]

    So, just like CO2 is essential for plant growth, so is Nitrogen Fixation from lightning..

    Just my quick observation.. I guess this shows I actually paid attention in science class in high school, who would have thunk?

    MikeH

  13. jorgekafkazar says:

    More “state-of-the-art” wankatronic nonsense from academia. Ho, hum.

  14. SteveSadlov says:

    This seems to assume that most T-storms are due to tropical severe weather and further that a warmer atmosphere would necessarily lead to a greater occurrence of tropical severe weather.

  15. Interstellar Bill says:

    “anthropogenically enhanced global radiative forcing”
    is a fancy mouthful standing in for ‘Satanic Gasses’,
    embodying the fallacy that CO2 has a ‘global’ effect,
    when all radiation is local.

    Then there’s the fallacy that this effect can be called a ‘forcing’
    when it is so small (<1 deg C per doubling)
    that a better term might be 'suggestion'.

    Also, it has yet to be proven that humans made the extra CO2,
    since the highest CO2 concentrations are over jungles, not cities.

  16. Pamela Gray says:

    So the next thing to ask is this: Will El Nino become more frequent under the AGW hypothesis? And if so, why? What does CO2 do to create the atmospheric changes absolutely necessary to produce El Nino’s? So far, that mechanism has not been discovered or even postulated.

    Or are they saying that only during natural El Nino events will this be a problem? If they are saying the latter, I don’t think we need to be bunched up in our knickers over this. I believe the natural variation in El Nino heat events will be noisier than the effects of CO2. Indeed, we can already see this. While CO2 continues to increase with metric regularity, El Nino peaks are not increasing in lock step intensity or frequency and are quite noisy in their disregard for CO2 additions to the atmosphere.

  17. DCA says:

    Has the ENSO moved closer to neutral and just barely El Nino now?

  18. mgparrish says:

    Breaking news.

    A very damaging article was published in Nature …

    So much for the faux “Climate is weather” meme going around due to this summers weather in the US.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171973/Tree-ring-study-proves-climate-WARMER-Roman-Medieval-times-modern-industrial-age.html

    [REPLY: WUWT broke that story on July 9th here. -REP]

  19. mgparrish says:

    Seems to be a bad day for “The Team”

    Nature website now debunks that our current warming is unprecedented.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2171973/Tree-ring-study-proves-climate-WARMER-Roman-Medieval-times-modern-industrial-age.html

  20. wobble says:

    increased temperature ‘may’ cause more violent thunderstorms

    I could have concluded that increased temperature “may” cause more violent thunderstorms without any modeling at all.

    In fact, I can also conclude that increased temperature “may” cause fewer violent thunderstorms without any modeling at all.

    In fact, the two conclusions aren’t mutually exclusive.

  21. mgparrish says:

    Sorry for the double post .. login issue. Guess I haven’t been here in a while, anyway, at least the conservative media is now picking up the story. Better late than never.

  22. davidmhoffer says:

    “During El Nino years, which occur in the Pacific Ocean or Basin, Southeast Asia gets warmer and drier. There are fewer thunderstorms, but we found fifty percent more lightning activity,”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Why is it that they pound away at warming=drier? I see this constantly in these types of studies, while the CAGW theory itself relies on positive feedbacks due to warmer=wetter. Can’t have it both ways.

  23. Kaboom says:

    @pat He forgot Oversimplifying and Overactivism which killed the NY Times. Oh wait, that’s a few more months in the future. But my state-of-the-art computer models already predicted it with certainty.

  24. gopal panicker says:

    equatorial weather…thunderstorms every afternoon…these idiots should visit florida…lightning capital of the world

  25. Steven Mosher says:

    Its not a case of either or. local causes? yup. global ( systematic) causes. yup.
    contrasting a study which looks at underlying systematic with studies that look at local causes is really comparing apples and oranges.

    There is a honest question here: In a world that is warming ( say for example the sun increased ) would we see

    1. more thunderstorms
    2. the same
    3. fewer

    and we can ask intensity questions as well. These questions can only be answered by

    A) increasing the warmth and comparing
    B) simulating.

    pretty damn basic.

    We could also ask: when Ice covered the world were there more thunderstorms or less thunderstorms? thats a good science question. Does anyone suggest that we answer that question by cooling the globe.. err no. we would all suggest that if you are interested in thunderstorms during an ice covered world.. that you should stick to simulation. It would be too dangerous to cool the world just to test a theory.

    rather than have a knee jerk response to “modelling” remember that we often use modelling when it is too dangerous to do the actual experiment. We model planes before we fly them. we model car crashes before we sell cars. we model nuclear power plants before we build them.
    None of those models are “experiements.” yet we use them. we rely on them because carrying out the experiments are risky. We are currently carrying out an experiment with C02. a true skeptic would have doubt about the outcome of that experiment. In general, physical theory says this will warm the planet, not cool it. If you want to know how much you have 2 choices

    A) keep running the experiment
    B) do some simulation and take the answer with a grain of salt.

    The only way you would keep running the experiment without doing some simulation is if you firmly believe that C02 can have no effect whatsoever.

  26. gopal panicker says:

    thank god for lightning…fixes nitrogen

  27. Skiphil says:

    Mosher, re: models

    I agree (though I’m speaking without your levels of knowledge) that models should not be so casually dismissed or disparaged. Of course they have many many valuable uses. But the limits of the analogies with planes, cars, ships, and even nuclear power plants are that we can do a lot of intermediate testing and prototypes (wind tunnels and then test pilots for planes etc.) before we have to make decisions for the entire world to depend upon something based solely upon models.

    [Still, your post is a valuable clarification and correction, imVVho ('Very Very' humble opinion here), since I am not any scientist or engineer (though I do talk with quite a few of them frequently, fwiw, my dad is an MIT aerospace engineer, my 2 college roommates from 30 yrs ago are now prominent physicists, my bro is an engineer etc.)..... I can't escape !!......]

  28. Interstellar Bill says:

    Steve Mosher says
    “We model planes before we fly them. we model car crashes before we sell cars. we model nuclear power plants before we build them.”

    If climate models were that good they would have resolution cells that were 100 meters, not 100 km. There would be no ‘parameterizations’, just direct simulations of all relevant processes, including lightning and cosmic rays.

    Using the same word, ‘models’, to describe both the climateers’ tinkertoys and real-world engineering simulations is a slick coverup of the climate models’ threadbare shodiness and cargo-cult quality.

    Also, the world meterological network gets about a millionth of the information a true simulation needsm as compared to the number of stress sensors on a crash car. In the real world of engineering models, both data and computations have high resolution with complete coverage of all pertinent phenomena, while in climate models the resolution is laughably low and numerous phenomena are ignored while phantom positive feedbacks are created out of whole cloth.

  29. Silver Ralph says:

    Complete Tosh.

    Violent weather is caused by differential temperatures, not absolute temperatures.

    This is why Mars has worse dust storms than Earth.

    .

  30. _Jim says:

    Hmmm … this raises an interesting question … could not the raising of earth’s overall temperature (actualization of the ‘GW effect’) possibly _reduce_ the number of severe thunderstorms?

    … this occurring ostensibly because the condensation (LCL) and freeze levels within a T-storm would both be at higher levels and ostensibly slightly thinner (less dense) air …

    Hmmm …

    Then there is the ‘charge separation’ issue where the freezing level (ice particles, hail et al) plays a part in the genesis of lightning via ‘charge separation’ … can see changes occurring here too, as hail and larger ice particles will find difficulty remaining ‘suspended’ / failing to achieve the same heights in a thinner atmospheric environment …

    [The] common … precipitation hypothesis … requires the presence of graupel or hail particles to explain the negative charge layer in the middle part of the Cb and the positively charged region in the upper part of the Cb [cloud].

    At the heart of this hypothesis is the charge separation due to collisions of larger warmer graupel or hail particles with tiny colder ice crystals as shown in Figure 11.7 . The surfaces of the graupel/hail particles are warmer than the surrounding ice crystals because they collide with liquid droplets, which freeze upon contact and release latent heat. This hypothesis is also referred to as the thermoelectric effect [Pruppacher and Klett, 1997].

    Ions move from warm to cold. In ice, the positive H+ ions are more mobile than the negative OH ions so that the positive H+ ions move from the warm hailstone or graupel to the cold colliding ice particle leaving the graupel particle negatively charged. This process can only happen at temperatures below -10 C where aggregation is unlikely and the ice crystal bounces off the graupel particle after collision. As the small positively charged ice particles are carried upward with the updraft, this hypothesis can explain the charge separation between the layer of negative charges in the middle of the cloud and the positively charged region in the upper layers of the cloud. The negatively charged layer in the middle of the cloud is also called the main charging zone (cf. Figure 11.5) [Wallace and Hobbs, 2006]. It is rather well defined between the -10 C and -20 C levels.

    Bolding mine; excerpt from within here (pdf file)

    .

  31. u.k. (us) says:

    Can lightning detection sensors tell if the lightning is cloud-to-cloud vs cloud-to-ground ?

    I’ve been fishing in a (bass) boat in the pouring rain, with scary lightning nearby. The “captain” asked if I thought we should head for shore, I asked if the lightning was hitting the ground.
    Neither of us could tell, we headed for shore :)

  32. tonyb says:

    Mosh

    I have previously said that reading through the historic records back to 1000AD I found many more instances of extreme weather during the LIa than during warm periods. I assume that is because of the greater energy differential for the former when you had extreme cold and extreme warmth closely juxtaposed

    This was in passing whilst doing research on another subect so I would not claim it as scientific or anything more than local, but just an observation.
    tonyb

  33. Jim G says:

    gopal panicker says:
    July 11, 2012 at 10:21 am
    “thank god for lightning…fixes nitrogen”

    Also creates O3, ozone, to replace all that destroyed by your deoderant spray and all that nasty freon from old refrigerators, along with a little antimatter and gamma ray flashes. Interesting stuff..

  34. davidmhoffer says:

    Steven Mosher;
    rather than have a knee jerk response to “modelling” remember that we often use modelling when it is too dangerous to do the actual experiment. We model planes before we fly them.
    >>>>>>>

    Like hell we do. We use models to help refine the design, and then we build actual planes and test them. We do so TO FIND OUT WHERE REALITY AND THE MODEL DIFFER

    Steven Mosher;
    we model car crashes before we sell cars.
    >>>>>>>

    Like hell we do. We use computer models to assist in the design, but we do actual crash testing of actual cars before we sell them. Anything less would be irresponsible because the predictions of the models are NEVER accurate.

    Steven Mosher;
    we model nuclear power plants before we build them.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yes we do. And before we turn the damn things on we test every last element of them in every possible combination and invariably have to make corrections to the final design because the models weren’t correct in the first place.

    Steven Mosher;
    None of those models are “experiements.” yet we use them. we rely on them because carrying out the experiments are risky.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    No. We rely on models because we can advance the design process at a faster rate, identify problems that can be dealt with before the actual physical designs are cast in stone, but we ALWAYS test ACTUAL units as the FINAL test and it would be INSANE to rely on models alone for the simple reason that actual phyiscal testing of cars, planes and nuclear power plants REPEATEDLY turns up important issues that the models got WRONG.

    We cannot build computer models that accurately predict the behaviour of cars in crash scenarios, how well planes fly, how nuclear power plants actually work once constructed to a degree of confidence anywhere NEAR the precision required to rely on them without physical testing of actual working units. Not even close. The notion that we sell let cars, planes and nuclear reactors go into production based on computer models alone is ridiculous and absolutely wrong. We do physical testing precisely because we know that the models do not get it right. Climate is orders of magnitude more complex than cars or planes or nuclear reactors, and only the wilfully blind would try and suggest that they are accurate enough to rely upon when we can’t even simulate a simple car crash to the precision required to put a design into production.

  35. I was not intending to read further to the first mention of models to predict that which is not properly understood. We moderns make fun of our ancestors using goat entrails assuming that our numerology and computers are more sophisticated. True more sophisticated but no better at predicting the future. All said a thousand times before with the same results we are preaching to the choir. My question here is what are these people on? It must be good and I want to know where I can get some.

  36. Jimbo says:

    Mosher,
    We could also ask was lightning more, less or about the same during the Roman Warm Period.

    My problem with climate models is that they are sometimes used to formulate policy via the IPCC reports. We still don’t know whether they are right or wrong.

    Boreal forest fires have been decreasing since the warming picked up at the end of the Little Ice Age.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3237261

    Models find:
    UK may get more droughts

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.04.035

    UK may get more rain

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/joc.1827

  37. _Jim says:

    u.k. (us) says:
    July 11, 2012 at 11:25 am
    Can lightning detection sensors tell if the lightning is cloud-to-cloud vs cloud-to-ground ?

    Yes.

  38. John F. Hultquist says:

    These was a book — Readings in Urban Geography” edited by Clyde Kohn and Harold Mayer published in 1959 by U. Chicago Press. One of the readings dealt with the downwind effect of a major city in the sense of the research of this post. The original paper reproduced in the book would have been published prior to 1959, so say mid-50s. Someone may yet have a copy of this old readings book and know where it is. The paper I remember seems not to be listed on the web although the book is. I think I have one but don’t know which box it is in. [Clyde and Doris Kohn would go to Florida at Christmas break and we would house-sit for them.] Anyway, the point here is that this stuff – 60+ years later – generates a big YAWN.

  39. davidmhoffer says:

    tonyb;
    I have previously said that reading through the historic records back to 1000AD I found many more instances of extreme weather during the LIa than during warm periods.
    >>>>>

    As the physics would suggest. How many times have the alarmists yelped about “polar amplification”? They happen to be right on that point. In a warmer earth, we would expect the poles to warm faster than the tropics. We would also expect winters to warm more than summers (and braking out GISS by latitude and by season supports both of those). Night time lows are expected to warm more than day time highs. All accepted science supported by the temperature records of GISS and HadCrut.

    Meaning a warmer earth would exhibit a more uniform temperature.

    And what drives weather events? TEMPERATURE DIFFERENTIAL.

    Less temperature differential = less extreme weather.

    The climawarmalarmists seem to figure that a warmer earth = more energy in the system = more extreme weather because there is more energy to drive it.

    Take two car batteries, fully charged, and hook them up in parallel. Voltage differential is zero. Nothing happens. Hook them up in series, and you better be wearing eye protection because there is going to be an ugly big shower of sparks when you close the circuit and even heavy duty jumper cables will weld themselves solid in short order, perhaps even burn right in half. Energy alone doesn’t drive diddley squat. You need a difference in potential to cause work to be done. With the car batteries, hooking them up in parallel results in a potential difference of zero, in series 24V.

    For weather, temperature differential is driven by the daily heating and cooling cycle and the seasonal cycles. A warmer planet means more uniform temperatures, and hence LESS extreme weather.

  40. Tom in Florida says:

    “Then, the researchers input changes to the model atmosphere, including the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (a major cause of global warming)….”

    Stopped reading right about there.

  41. Billy Liar says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    July 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

    … or less thunderstorms? thats a good science question.

    Good for science – bad for grammar! fewer thunderstorms … :)

  42. Berényi Péter says:

    In some state-of-the-art computer games I have actually seen Hell. What is more, I have gone through it, killing monsters by the score along my way. Does it constitute a fair confirmation of its existence?

  43. Reg Nelson says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    “We model planes before we fly them. we model car crashes before we sell cars. we model nuclear power plants before we build them.”

    Yes, but the purpose of those models is predictive value. The purpose of climate models is shock value. Imagine if aerospace models always predicted the plane was going to crash and the plane never did.

    Climate models are about forcing — forcing people to believe in the green political theology and forcing them to abandon fossil fuels. Models are just a means to that end.

  44. Frank K. says:

    Interstellar Bill says:
    July 11, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Thanks for saying this, Interstellar Bill. I’ve been working in CFD for well of 20 years now. Climate models bear little resemblance to high fidelity CFD models that are used for aerospace and automotive applications. Unfortunately, very few of our warmist friends want to talk about the details of the numerical models and methods…

  45. u.k. (us) says:

    _Jim says:

    July 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    u.k. (us) says:
    July 11, 2012 at 11:25 am
    Can lightning detection sensors tell if the lightning is cloud-to-cloud vs cloud-to-ground ?

    Yes.
    =============
    Thanks for the reply.

    The press release states:
    “A Tel Aviv University researcher has predicted that for every one degree Celsius of warming, there will be approximately a 10 percent increase in lightning activity.”
    ——
    So, I took the easy way out and consulted WIKI.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_detection

    Excerpts:
    Limitations

    Each system used for lightning detection has its own limitations.[1] These include:
    A ground-based lightning network must be able to detect a strike with at least three antennas to locate it with an acceptable margin of error. This often leads to the rejection of cloud-to-cloud lightning, as one antenna might detect the position of the strike on the starting cloud and the other antenna the receiving one. As a result, ground-based networks have a tendency to underestimate the number of strikes, especially at the beginning of storms where cloud-to-cloud lightning is prevalent.
    Since they use attenuation rather than triangulation, mobile detectors sometimes mistakenly indicate a weak lightning strike nearby as a strong one further away, or vice-versa.
    Space-based lightning networks suffer from neither of these limitations, but the information provided by them is often several minutes old by the time it is widely available, making it of limited use for real-time applications such as air navigation.
    Also,
    Because of the difficulty in obtaining distance to lightning with a single sensor, the only current reliable method for positioning lightning is through interconnected networks of spaced sensors covering an area of the Earth’s surface using time-of-arrival differences between the sensors and/or crossed-bearings from different sensors. Several such national networks currently operating in the U.S. can provide the position of CG flashes but currently cannot reliably detect and position IC flashes. [13] There are a few small area networks (like Kennedy Space Center’s LDAR network, one of whose sensors is pictured at the top of this article) that have VHF time of arrival systems and can detect and position IC flashes. These are called lightning mapper arrays. They typically cover a circle of 30–40 miles diameter.
    ####################
    The press release predicted a 10 % increase in “lightning activity”, which just seems like another prediction that can not be falsified before grants for the next big scare are secured.
    Onward and upward.

  46. JCWToronto says:

    Traditional (idealized) scientific process:
    Observe nature; develop hypothetical model to explain behaviour; test predictions; develop theory.
    Modern science:
    Go to faculty lounge; drink beer; bitch about lack of grants for next year; dream up dire, plausible consequence of global warming; write grant application; attempt to prove nature acts that way; pay mortgage.

  47. Allan MacRae says:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/28/the-gleick-tragedy/#more-57881

    “The Law of Warmist BS”

    “You can save yourselves a lot of time, and generally be correct, by simply assuming that EVERY SCARY PREDICTION the global warming alarmists express is FALSE.”

  48. The urban heat island effect causes the warmer air (including its higher concentrations of moisture and pollutants) to rise more readily than cooler air over non-urban areas (Oke 1987). Consequently, moisture and pollutants are transported into higher levels of the urban atmosphere. Thus, the urban heat island creates a warmer, moister atmosphere over the city.

    Urban air is generally less moist (both absolute and relative humidity) than surrounding areas and this a significant factor in causing UHI.

    The Weekend Effect clearly shows that increased aerosols are the cause of increased precipitation in and around cities. Saturdays, when aerosols are at their highest level, gets 20% more precipitation than Mondays when aerosols are at their lowest level.

    Urban aerosols also affect tropical cyclone (hurricane) intensity, causing more rain but higher central pressure and presumably weaker winds..

    http://classes.maxwell.syr.edu/geo300/Syllabus/cerveny%20and%20balling%201998.pdf

    The weekend effect also impacts lightning frequency.

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2011AGUFM.A11C0098K

    Over a week we get larger changes in precipitation and lightning frequency than the hypothesized changes from 150 years of ‘global warming’, and hardly anyone notices. Which illustrates the ridiculousness of this scaremongering.

  49. BarryW says:

    Mosh, aerospace models are calibrated against the real world instead of the models being assumed to be the real world. Even wind tunnel models are known to have differences from the objects they are modeling because of scaling.

  50. sophocles says:

    Why is the focus on purely local effects?

    What effects on T-storms does the GCR flux have?
    Are cosmic ray “storms” or bursts (increased intensity) localised or planetary?
    The high energy particles (muons) are known to create atmospheric ionisation paths. Would a burst of CRs through a T-storm influence the amount of lightning?

    The amount of GCRs vary according to the whereabouts of the solar system in the galaxy (seemingly denser along spiral arms and the magnetic activity of the sun (Shaviv: 2006). What is the effect on T-storms from here?

    I bet the models can’t explain …

  51. u.k. (us) says:

    How did aerodynamics get folded into modeling, that is never tested in real world conditions.

  52. u.k. (us) says:

    u.k. (us) says:

    July 11, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    How did aerodynamics get folded into modeling, that is never tested in real world conditions.
    =========
    It didn’t, it produced the F-15.
    The nightmare of any enemy pilot, that might be forced to take-off.

  53. Eyal Porat says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    July 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm
    Steven Mosher;
    rather than have a knee jerk response to “modelling” remember that we often use modelling when it is too dangerous to do the actual experiment. We model planes before we fly them.
    >>>>>>>

    NO MODEL CAN PREDICT THE BEHAVIOR OF THE HUMAN BODY!
    This is one of the biggest problems in technical engineering – the inability to predict the real damages the human body will suffer. Even the most sophisticated dummies are not even CLOSE to our body. Let alone all these models.
    As somebody already said: models are good tools to understand isolated processes, not to predict them.
    And as good they may be, they are always bound by our knowledge and capability.
    Just take a look at the weather forecasting – 3 days are the best we can have with reasonable prediction.
    Climate? phhhh!

  54. SteveW says:

    So they looked at “…regions where the climate changes naturally…”, as opposed to regions where it doesn’t?
    Nice between the lines message – these exotic places we list have natural climate change, the stuff round your way is all the fault of mankind.

  55. Peter Plail says:

    Mechanical modelling generally uses Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to refine models of mechanical components before real world testing is used to verify the model. The selection of the number of nodes to represent the component is obviously critical to the accuracy of the model: too few nodes and the model is not realistic and too many nodes results in unacceptable computational times or even complete failure of analysis.

    So how to choose the optimal number of nodes? I am told by the experts that the method of producing confidence in the model outcome is to increase the number of nodes in successive computations until the results start to converge, and at the convergence point you can have a reasonable confidence that you have got it right.

    Now I see the gridded system used in climate models to be equivalent to the nodal system used in FEA. The fundamental step that seems to be missing is that they are working essentially with static grid sizes. I have seen nothing that suggests that they are decreasing the grid size (equivalent to increasing the number of nodes) until they see evidence of convergence and hence have an indication that they may be close to an accurate simulation.

    Can anyone with experience of designing climate models comment on how they assess the potential accuracy of gridded models

  56. General P. Malaise says:

    computer modelling …another name for “agenda”

    like in politics. one can not argue or debate true believers. Darwinian logic says this would happen.

  57. Gail Combs says:

    Thanks Anthony, that explains why every where around me, (Raleigh NC, Cary, Apex, Sanford, Siler City, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill…) gets thunderstorms in the summer but we do not. No cities for at least 15 miles in any direction.

    I have repeatedly watched T-storms form, dissipate just before they get to us and then reform after they pass as they come up to the next city, VERY frustrating but at least now I know why.

  58. Allan MacRae says:

    Peter Plail says: July 12, 2012 at 5:45 am
    “Can anyone with experience of designing climate models comment on how they assess the potential accuracy of gridded models”

    Thanks for your comment Peter. I’m not a climate model but I’ve studied this subject (CAGW science) for almost 30 years.

    Grid size is a “second-tier problem” for the modelers, imo.

    A “first tier problem” of climate models is that they the models do not produce any credible results – for example, they consistently over-predict global temperatures, the “hot spot” they predict at altitude simply does not exist, and they fail to deal adequately with clouds.

    The problem, in part, is that climate models are being used as political models rather than scientific models. The “climate sensitivity” (to CO2) input typically used in these models is about an order of magnitude (10x) too high, in order to support alarmist claims of catastrophic manmade global warming. I cannot estimate how much of the utter predictive failure of these models is due to actual model inadequacies, and how much is due to improper and excessive climate sensitivity input parameters.

    Has anyone EVER seen results of a climate model run with climate sensitivity of ~0.3C – which is a value I estimated about a decade ago, based on real climate data?

    I would be curious to see if such a model run actually demonstrated some predictive capability, when compared to actual satellite measurements available since 1979, AND also surface temperature measurements available for a few centuries (even though the surface temperature data has a definite warming bias of about 0.07C per decade (at least for recent decades, and perhaps much longer).

    In the bigger picture, I doubt these climate models have ANY predictive skill, because their basic assumption is that atmospheric CO2 significantly drives temperature – whereas there is considerable evidence that points to the reverse – that temperature drives atmospheric CO2.

  59. davidmhoffer says:

    Peter Plail;
    Now I see the gridded system used in climate models to be equivalent to the nodal system used in FEA.
    >>>>>>>>>>>

    I don’t. FEA is a way of breaking down a physical structure into elements so that you can understand how the structure will respond when subjected to various forces. (that’s an over simplification but good enough for this discussion). Modelling climate on the other hand requires an undertanding of radiative phyiscs, fluid dynamics, chemistry, and hald a dozen other disciplines all interacting with each other at the same time. FEA is tiddly winks by comparison.

  60. Richard deSousa says:

    Off topic: I can’t seem to access the Joanne Nova website. Is there something wrong with her website?

  61. Allan MacRae says:

    Allan MacRae says: July 12, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Apologies for poor editing of my above post – anyway, you get the idea.

  62. David Cage says:

    Researchers predict fewer but more intense rainstorms in other regions, a change that could result in flash-flooding, says Prof. Price. In Italy and Spain, heavier storms are already causing increased run-off to rivers and the sea, and a lack of water being retained in groundwater and lakes. The same is true in the Middle East, where small periods of intense rain are threatening already scarce water resources.

    Do climate scientists never read previous generation’s work? Researchers years ago predicted that reducing the particle levels by cleaning up the atmosphere would result in rain being less frequent but more intense. It did not need any computer models to show it as there were physical tests that had already been done to prove the case. It really saddens me the way computer modeling has sunk to such the depths they have done in the climate science world as they could so easily have been used rather than abused. It is wrong to blame the tools for the ignorance of their users however.
    Of course the increased run off into the rivers is nothing to do with the fashionable “Mediterranean” style garden and the increased building on the flood plains with the attendant drainage program.

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