Hurricane Sandy’s ‘Unprecedented’ Storm Surge

Guest post by David Middleton

Funny thing… Hurricane Sandy’s unprecedented storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638. From 1635 through 1954, New England was hit by at least five hurricanes producing greater than 3 m storm surges in New England. Analysis of sediment cores led to the conclusion “that at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge capable of overtopping the barrier beach (>3 m) at Succotash Marsh have made landfall in southern New England in the past 700 yr.” All seven of those storms occurred prior to 1960.

Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy’s estimated maximum storm surge compared to historical storm surges in southern New England (Donnelly et al., 2001)

Even funnier thing… The 1635 and 1638 hurricanes occurred before Al Gore invented global warming… 

Figure 2. Storm surges of Hurricane Sandy and southern New England (right y-axis) plotted with HadCRUT3 and Moberg et al., 2005 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

Even more funny thing… The 1600′s were the coldest century of the last two millennia…

Figure 3. HadCRUT3 and Ljungqvist, 2009 northern hemisphere temperature reconstructions.

But the funniest thing is that the 1600′s were possibly the coldest century of the Holocene since the 8.2 KYA Cooling Event…

Figure 4. Central Greenland temperature reconstruction (after Alley, 2000).

Disclaimer: I’m not implying that Hurricane (AKA post-tropical cyclone) Sandy or its devastating effects on millions of people are funny. I’m only saying that efforts to link this storm to global warming are .

References

Donnelly, Jeffrey P.; et al. (2001). “700 yr Sedimentary Record of Intense Hurricane Landfalls in Southern New England”.
Geological Society of America Bulletin 113 (6): 714–727.

Moberg, A., D.M. Sonechkin, K. Holmgren, N.M. Datsenko and W. Karlén. 2005.
Highly variable Northern Hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data.
Nature, Vol. 433, No. 7026, pp. 613-617, 10 February 2005.

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114 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy’s ‘Unprecedented’ Storm Surge

  1. Yeah, like you said. Previous bad storms also hit when the population living on the coast and investment in coastal development was a tiny fraction of what it is today. NC gets whacked by storms like this every decade or two — they aren’t that rare — all that is rare is the trajectory, which took it to NJ instead of NC and bounced it off of a cold front in the process.

  2. Questions for those who blame something about Sandy on climate change:
    1. What portion of the damage was caused by “climate change”, however you choose to define it?
    2. What policies or actions would have prevented this damage? (Show your work)
    3. What side effects if any might your stated policies and actions have had, and where would those effects have been felt?

    Answer these questions and we can have an intelligent conversation.

  3. But, what is the difference? Back in the 1600′s or earlier the ground had percobility, meaning water could soak into the ground instead of running off. Now the ground there is 99% cement. What does that mean? That means everybody gets washed away with torrential amounts of water that is NOT being percolated back into the ground. Not global warming, higher density populations and nowhere for the water to run off. Basic science.

  4. What I found somewhat outlandish was the misrepresentation of the data. I read from SEVERAL media sources that the previous ‘surge’ was 11.5 feet, or 10.66, or whatever, but its clear nobody read the station data, or took care to understand what ‘surge’ actually meant.

    I suppose I shouldn’t expect any better, these days, but shrug…

  5. I saw some program on Discovery or History channel that was talking about NYC and basically said that what makes it great for normal weather and a shelter harbor is death when a huricane comes towards it. Basically the wind generally blows the ocean away, but a huricane piles it all up in the corner created by NJ and Long Island, the corner aka NYC. It is thought to be the US City 3rd most vulnerable to the effects of a huricane after Miami and New Orleans. Of course Miami should expect to see more huricane type weather in general.

  6. Proxy estimates aren’t required to guess at surges of hurricanes such as the September 1938 event. I don’t have the references at hand this moment, but IIRC the surge was 14′ in downtown Providence and up to 22′ a few mile further east in Buzzards Bay region of southcoast Mass.

  7. charlie:
    Yea the idea that this is ‘unprecedented’ is just nonsense. I don’t know whether to call this a lie, or just misinformation, but its concerning either way. This has happened before, and it WILL happen again unless some mediation measures (see: europe) are taken. The warnings that this could happen have been going on for years:

    http://www.livescience.com/3820-history-reveals-hurricane-threat-york-city.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/nyregion/for-years-warnings-that-storm-damage-could-ravage-new-york.html?_r=0

    http://stormy.msrc.sunysb.edu/

    For goodness sake, this is a city of multiple million people and the center of the world economy. If for the later reason alone, is reason enough to come up with a mitigation plan and execute it.
    -b

  8. So, “remediation” is required 9in your opinion) to prevent future storms.

    Wel, temperatures, worldwide by actual measurements, are up 1/3 of one degree C above the 1970′s baseline.

    Just WHAT are we to change to lower worldwide temperatures back to 1970′s levels so “storms” won’t ever occur again around NY City? How much REAL worldwide HARM are we to assume based on a precautionary step against a storm?

    How many billions do you want to die an early death?

  9. Thanks for presenting this David. One major problem the we geoscientists must learn to deal with is time. We manage among ourselves but often fail to relay that understanding to other parts of our society. They are even recent history challenged and unable to relate to anything older then 24 hours.

  10. Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel tweeted, “Our cover story this week may generate controversy, but only among the stupid.”…or deluded.

  11. “Disclaimer: Im not implying that Hurricane (AKA post-tropical cyclone) Sandy … ”

    No, no, no…get with the MSM meme… it is officially “SUPERSTORM SANDY” [reverb on]…the greatest storm in 10,000 YEARS!! [reverb off]
    /msm
    /cagw
    /trenberth

  12. A most important piece of data for the storm surge is the barometric pressure. It is variously reported as 943 mb and 951 mb. Compare this with the lowest globally of 870 mb or the lowest in Alaska 927 mb, or 952 mb in the lower 48, interestingly, at Bridgehampton, New York in 1914.

    Most don’t understand that the atmosphere exerts pressure on the surface and when reduced over the ocean the surface ‘wells up’. This higher sea level then moves onshore with the low pressure centre as a very long inexorable wave. Add to that onshore winds on the north side of the low pressure (CCW), tide level, shallowing waters of the continental shelf and the coastal configuration, particularly in a narrowing Sound, as well as the pattern of the Jet Stream in the preceding days as depicted here;

    and here

    This Jet Stream pattern is similar to what caused the storm in the Arctic that broke up the summer ice leading to more “global warming” hysteria.

    The climate is changing as it always has, but these changes are due to cooling.

    http://drtimball.com/2012/claims-global-warming-increases-severe-weather-are-scientifically-incorrect/

    Those with tunnel vision who see their AGW hypothesis collapsing are suffering desperate high pressure reaction.

  13. What was the hight of the storm surg? How much of this was do to the somewhat unusualy high tide?
    I kept seeing on the news a number listing hight above normal low water mark. That seems like a great way to show a large scary sounding number.
    I also kept seeing on the news a reporter standing at Battery Park. FYI, Battery park is actualy new land. It was built into the ocien using the debrie from the excavation to build the World Trade Center. It can’t really be used to compare previous storms to modern erra storms.

  14. How much of the flooded areas are reclaimed land, beginning in the 1700s I believe?
    Certainly, the devastating pictures we see on TV appear to be of land close to sea level. I remember a map, possibly on WUWT, showing the changing area of N.Y. over the years. It would be interesting to know the average height above sea level of the affected areas of NY and NJ.

  15. The only thing “unprecedented” about this storm is that it turned left and struck the shoreline traveling in a west-northwesterly direction.at a temperate latitude. How did CO2 cause that?

  16. It is worth noting:
    1) Records from the 1600′s will necessarily not be as complete or accurate as modern tidal gauges. Relatively large error bars need to be assigned to such records.
    2) Assuming that the records from the 1630′s are accurate, these TWO hurricanes occurred in August, TWO FULL MONTHS earlier in the hurricane season.
    3) ALL of the other hurricanes that are not as large as Sandy occurred in Aug and Sept — AT LEAST ONE FULL MONTH earlier than Sandy.
    4) The line for Sandy is only an estimate. Without the actual data from the tide gauges, it is tough

    So is this storm surge “unprecedented”? Well, if eastimates for those first two hurricanes are accurate AND the estimate for Sandy is accurate, then no, there appear to have been a pair of slightly larger storm surges looooong ago.

    However, we can legitimately claim that the surge is
    * unprecedented since accurate records have been kept.
    * unprecedented for a storm later than August.

    It would seem reasonable that a warmer climate would allow hurricanes later in the season. Thus, the existence of such a late, powerful storm would be consistent with a warming climate. (But I am not a hurricane expert, so more rigorous study would be needed to make a more definitive claim.)

  17. I have read that there was more energy in this storm than any other recorded, including Katrina, because even though it was a Cat 1 (or tropical or subtropical storm), the sheer size (diameter) of it meant that it had more energy than a Cat 5.

    Comments?

  18. David, nice try, but you’re trying to compare a paleo record of storm surges in Rhode Island to Sandy’s storm surge in New York City. Scientifically, this is bogus, as the size of storm surge is a function of where the storm hits.

    There’s no tide gauge at Succotash Marsh, but the closest tide gauge @ Newport, RI reported a 5.2′, or 1.6m, surge (http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/cgi-bin-mp/data_plot.cgi?mins=&datum=6&unit=1&stn=8452660&bdate=20121029&edate=20121031&data_type=wl&relative=&type=Tide%20Data&shift=g&plot_size=large&relative=&wl_sensor_hist=w1&plot_backup=). This compares to a ~3m surge at the Battery in NYC. So obviously, it’s really important to where the storm hits.

    A better question to ask would be- what surge would Hurricane Sandy have produced at Succotash Marsh had it hit dead-on? To answer this, a re-analysis using the NOAA SLOSH model or similar storm surge models would be warranted.

  19. I see you managed to post a chart and talk about that great scientist Al Gore. Do you have information on how someone managed to determine the height of the surge in the past? Finding a storm surge in the past is one thing and determining the height is another.


    700 yr sedimentary record of intense hurricane landfalls in southern New England

    Jeffrey P. Donnelly*1,
    Sarah Smith Bryant*1,
    Jessica Butler*1,
    Jennifer Dowling*1,
    Linda Fan*1,
    Neil Hausmann*1,
    Paige Newby*1,
    Bryan Shuman*1,
    Jennifer Stern*1,
    Karlyn Westover*1 and
    Thompson Webb III*1

    + Author Affiliations

    1Department of Geological Sciences, Brown University, Box 1846, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA

    Abstract

    Five intense (category 3 or greater) hurricanes occurring in 1635, 1638, 1815, 1869, and 1938 have made landfall on the New England coast since European settlement. Historical records indicate that four of these hurricanes (1635, 1638, 1815, and 1938) and hurricane Carol, a strong category 2 storm in 1954, produced significant storm surges (>3 m) in southern Rhode Island. Storm surges of this magnitude can overtop barrier islands, removing sediments from the beach and nearshore environment and depositing overwash fans across back-barrier marshes, lakes, and lagoons. In a regime of rising sea level, accumulation of marsh, lake, or lagoon sediments on top of overwash deposits will preserve a record of overwash deposition.

    We examined the record of overwash deposition at Succotash salt marsh in East Matunuck, Rhode Island, and tested the correlation with historical records of intense storms. Aerial photographs taken after hurricanes in 1954 and 1938 show overwash fans deposited at the site. Analysis of 14 sediment cores from the back-barrier marsh confirmed the presence of these fans and revealed that 4 additional large-scale overwash fans were deposited within the marsh sediments.

    The four overwash fans deposited since the early seventeenth century at Succotash Marsh matches the historical record of significant hurricane-induced storm surge. These fans were most likely deposited by hurricanes in 1954, 1938, 1815, and either 1638 or 1635. Radiocarbon dating of two prehistoric overwash fans indicated that these were deposited between A.D. 1295– 1407 and 1404–1446 and probably represent intense hurricane strikes. In the past 700 yr, at least 7 intense hurricanes struck the southern Rhode Island coast and produced a storm surge that overtopped the barrier at Succotash Marsh.

    Source: http://bulletin.geoscienceworld.org/content/113/6/714.abstract

    I highlighted the 1635 and 1638 dates, because the text appears to be saying it is unsure of the date and could be either one. My take is they are using limited written records as proof, perhaps records that can be read well enough to know if the last number is a 5 or 8.

    I have a hard time getting the picture of a salt water marsh keeping a record well enough to preserve the height of a storm surge about 380 years ago. The abstract mentions a rising sea level regime, so how do we know the marsh subsides, the sea level rises and the barrier beach (>3m) all kept pace to determine the magnitude of a storm surge?

  20. Buddy E: Do you mean mitigation, or adaptation. Big difference. Mitigation is a future based, very expensive policy and tries to put man in control of nature (futility & foolishness?), whereas adaptation says we prepare our defences focussed on what’s important in case it happens tomorrow, and is very much more cost effective.

    Trying to reduce CO2 emissions in the belief that we will stop such storms is entirely speculative, without any empirical evidence to know it will work, and doesn’t address the current generation or next.

    Preparing ourselves for severe storms, e.g. storm-proofing electricity substations, putting cables underground, building sealable subway entrances, flood proofing public buildings, building stone/brick houses that are stronger than wood-framed ones, etc. etc. would go a long way to minimising the damage that was caused by Sandy, not just to structures but to systems that support trade & commerce, that support the basic requirements of provision of food, water, sanitation and health services.

  21. Who was it that said ” In God we trust, all others must bring data”.

    David, nice job in bringing the data !

  22. Just a tip on a recent news release, Mayor Bloomberg just endorsed Obama citing “climate change” as his reasoning per the NYT. The guy just told Obama to go to New Jersey when he asked if he coud come to New York for a photo op (my words) and now he endorses him. I guess all of these politicians are clowns when you get right down to it.

  23. I watched the coverage of this storm by TV “reporters” wearing baseball caps, I am unsure if the caps were nailed to their heads but I have been unable to wear one in anything stronger than a stiff breeze.

  24. Jim G says:
    November 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    “[...] I guess all of these politicians are clowns when you get right down to it.”

    Please, Jim G… don’t insult clowns. They have a useful niche in our society, whereas politicians…

  25. Not only the 17th century storms but the September 23, 1815 hurricane occurred during the Little Ice Age, associated with the Maunder & Dalton sunspot minima. The latter also blew in after the April 10, 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, the most powerful in recorded history. Its initial explosion was followed by six months (Sept) to three years of increased steaming & small phreatic eruptions. The ash & gas column lowered global temperatures, which cooling probably led to worldwide harvest failures in 1816, the “Year Without a Summer”.

    Colder periods are generally stormier, due to the increased temperature gradient between the equator & poles. Somehow climate “scientists” manage to overlook this demonstrable, physical fact.

  26. Jesse Farmer says:
    November 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm
    David, nice try, but you’re trying to compare a paleo record of storm surges in Rhode Island to Sandy’s storm surge in New York City. Scientifically, this is bogus, as the size of storm surge is a function of where the storm hits…

    It is a function of where the storm hits.

    Sandy’s storm surge in Rhode Island is irrelevant. The storm surges identifed in the sediment cores were high enough (>3 m) to cause overwash fan deposits. Sandy’s storm surge in Rhode Island would not have caused an overwash fan deposit.

  27. milodonharlani says:

    November 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Not only the 17th century storms but the September 23, 1815 hurricane occurred during the Little Ice Age, associated with the Maunder & Dalton sunspot minima. The latter also blew in after the April 10, 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia, the most powerful in recorded history. Its initial explosion was followed by six months (Sept) to three years of increased steaming & small phreatic eruptions. The ash & gas column lowered global temperatures, which cooling probably led to worldwide harvest failures in 1816, the “Year Without a Summer”.

    Colder periods are generally stormier, due to the increased temperature gradient between the equator & poles. Somehow climate “scientists” manage to overlook this demonstrable, physical fact.

    I don’t see a connection between Mount Tambora and the 1815 hurricane. It takes a year for CO2 to cross hemispheres, so such a large volcanic eruption in the southern hemisphere would be expected to take a year to affect the northern hemisphere.

    Where does this notion originate that the LIA was cold in the tropics? There was still a Gulf Stream back then that could take a hurricane into the Atlantic and feed it.

    The fact is the only thing I’ve heard climate scientists say about hurricanes and warming is they will eventually become fewer, but more intense. That makes sense because warmer water should feed an existing hurricane more and wind shear should cut down on the numbers of storms becoming hurricanes. Most hurricanes start off the west coast of Africa, so they would have to travel a good distance, without the storm being interferred with, to become a hurricane. From what I saw, Sandy started in the Caribbean, between Colombia and Nigaragua.

    Climate scientists aren’t claming global warming caused Sandy, so the people claiming they did should post evidence of a climate scientist saying this. The only evidence I see are people claiming climate scientists are saying that. I’ve heard several scientists specifically asked if global warming was involved and no one said it was.

  28. rgbatduke says:
    November 1, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Yeah, like you said. Previous bad storms also hit when the population living on the coast and investment in coastal development was a tiny fraction of what it is today.

    ————————————

    Yes, there is now a virtual wall of buildings along the seafront that forces the water upwards as it tries to squeeze past them inlands, so any guages in the area in front would register higher levels than if there were no buildings. It seems to me that a valid comparison with the past would require computer modelling to remove the added resistance to flow..

  29. According to any report I’ve read, Hurricane Hazel on October 1954 produced over 15 feet storm surge (4.57 metres)

  30. This artilce is idiotic. Comparing storm surge heights at different lcoations is like comparing extreme temperatures in Miami and Nome – the surge is hugely dependent on the shape of the ocean floor. Do you not know this, or is your only goal to post something the credulus will find convincing?

  31. ilma630,

    Mitigating the effects of known hazards, ya know, like storm surge, which has happened many, many times before in NYC. Theres no way, with the lavish offices and structures the financial ‘capital of the world’ has that they couldn’t use some of that capital investment to strengthen the defense of the city against flooding. It’s been done forever in the netherlands. No reason we can’t here (Except the environmentalists will come out of the woodwork wanting some ridiculous study about protecting some snail or minnow, I suppose, but then I’m convinced a minnow is more important than human life to them)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-conservationist. I’m just pragmatic.

    -b

  32. Well the stupid AT&T news, I get stuck on my e-mail said that a barrier wall would have kept the storm surge out of Manhattan. Yeah ! same as New Orleans, riight.

    So about how far short of the 45,000 ft cloud ceilings would you build your barrier wall; or does that depend on how deep you want the water in your swimming pool after the hurricane fills it up ??

    Yes stupid it is.

    One disadvantage of having a big solid rock (Manhattan) to build sky scrapers on, is that the water reservoirs you build underneath the city, don’t leak very fast, when you fill them up with water off the streets.

  33. I trust that the economists who calculated that AGW adaptation is cheaper than AGW prevention factored in their Sandys and such like storms. Otherwise their calculations would be shonkynomics.

    Apart from anything else, even assuming that the storms don’t alter in frequency and intensity, but sea level goes up and up, equivalent surges are going to start on top of a higher baseline.

    Meanwhile, the rest of us ordinary mortals can start our home budgetting secure in the knowledge that premiums will rise as a result of Sandy, whether she was AGW-related or not.

  34. B Webb says:
    November 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm
    “This artilce is idiotic. Comparing storm surge heights at different lcoations is like comparing extreme temperatures in Miami and Nome – the surge is hugely dependent on the shape of the ocean floor. ”

    well far from it being my expertise to contradict the idea that storm surge height is dependent on the ocean floor, in different places, I would think that it has something to do with the direction and area the storm comes in from.

  35. Jeff Masters (who I don’t trust very much) says there was a 15-20 foot surge in NYC in 1821. His article is interesting because he wrote it after being proven ridiculously wrong during Irene. It’s kind of a mea culpa, but he quickly reverted to his usual alarmism. So please don’t quote his 1821 storm until it is verified. Here’s the link: http://www.worldweatherpost.com/2011/11/30/hurricane-irene-new-york-city-dodges-a-potential-storm-surge-mega-disaster/#.UJMJxUITt2E

  36. Y’all are looking at this wrong. The proper response is “You’re right, a hurricane like Sandy is proof of global warming …. so the lack of a hurricane like Sandy is proof of no global warming, right?” Best to get their response in writing so you have it available next November.

  37. Storm surge barriers have been in place for at least a thousand years in the Netherlands where they are called dykes. (If you jump onto google and follow the dyke lines you will see in some places very large circular ponds/lakes where a whirlpool has gouged a huge hole following a dyke breach. The rebuilt dyke may do something of a semi-circle around the pond.)

    The engineering construction principles are well-known. Most dyke breaks occur when the dykes are overtopped or when the water pressure at the base forces a breach through (or under) a part of the dyke that is insufficiently broad, strong or impervious.

    The dyke has to be higher than any possible water level caused by any possible combination of bad surge factors. Near enough is not good enough. The dyke has to be built for the most extreme possible situation. The other lesson is that you can have miles of dykes but if there is one weak point then miles of dykes are useless. Quality control is critical.

    I understand that had the New Orleans dykes been built to expert Dutch recommendations, New Orleans would not have been flooded. New Orleans is also a case study in the debate about whether prevention is less expensive than adaptation. I suggest that adaptation in New Orleans has been more expensive than prevention would have been.

    In any case, the main lesson is that you cannot build and maintain dykes on the cheap.

    As sea levels rise (and storm surges have a higher base-line starting point) many low-lying cities around the world are going to have to do their cost-benefit sums on installing and maintaining storm surge barriers or abandoning their cities altogether.

    City fathers will, do doubt, take comfort that individuals such as the economist Dr Lomberg, and Nobel Prize winning climate scientist Lord Moncton argue that adapation is cheaper than prevention.

  38. BC

    Some of the speculation prior to Sandy coming ashore included questions about whether the height of the storm surge would coincide with a full moon high tide. I don’t know whether this did end up happening.

    Comparing apple-to-apple storm surges would need to take into account ocean floor topography as well as the state of the tides when maximum surge heights are recorded.

  39. The 1938 hurricane, which missed NYC itself by just a few miles, gave 30 to 40 foot surges in many places, and 100 feet in Providence.

    Apparently the difference between “extreme weather” and “normal weather” is in the relative longitude. If a terrible storm passes just east of NYC, it’s “normal weather”, not caused by Evil KKKarbon. If a terrible storm moves a bit west and hits NYC, it’s “extreme weather” inevitably caused by Evil KKKarbon.

    Amazingly smart, this Evil KKKarbon! It knows where the Important People live, and carefully navigates storms to hit them as a lesson and warning! Important people, repent! Turn all your efforts toward eliminating all Unimportant People in all English-speaking countries! This is your last chance!

  40. I grew up in London UK in the 1960s and wondered what the steel and rubber doors were on the way in to underground stations near the thames were, now I know. I would guess that without the promis of federal money to put it right NewYork would have them too. Also who in their right mind would build flimsy wooden homes on a beach, Ive seen huge waves break over Cornish granite homes with little damage, but then again the feds were not there to pick up the tab, the stupidity is strong in this one!

  41. CE

    I am not sure why you are obsessing about ‘federal money’. I suppose it has got something to do with your politics and not with climate science. In the context of barriers, dykes and flood doors, here is a location where prevention has been deemed by governments to be more sensible than adaptation:

  42. You had flooding, because the storm surge coincided with the high tide. If you start paying carbon tax – in future all storm surges and hurricanes will arrive, when is low tide. pay and stop complaining!!!

  43. This quote comes to mind when reading the post above:

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”
    ~Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180)

  44. Chris Edwards says:
    November 1, 2012 at 6:37 pm
    “I grew up in London UK in the 1960s and wondered what the steel and rubber doors were on the way in to underground stations near the thames were, now I know. I would guess that without the promis of federal money to put it right NewYork would have them too. Also who in their right mind would build flimsy wooden homes on a beach, Ive seen huge waves break over Cornish granite homes with little damage, but then again the feds were not there to pick up the tab, the stupidity is strong in this one!”

    A number of years ago, I wrote to the governor of Florida and asked why they didn’t put some steel in the code for home construction in a land swept by hurricanes. I pointed out that I visited 18th Century plantation homes in Louisiana that, were still standing, having been built with sturdy heavy wood frames. Many are the worse for wear – no paint for over 100 years but they weren’t blown, or washed away. He never replied.

  45. Are you sure David? I need to see at least some model results until I believe that assertion. Taking a storm that could produce a 3m surge in NYC and having it hit near Rhode Island, and considering the coastline and focusing of the south shore of Rhode Island, could very well be large enough to overwash into Succotash Marsh. Gentlemen’s bet on it?

    The problem here is that, unless you can prove that the track of the the 1635 and 1638 storms was similar enough to Sandy, comparing their storm surges in the same place as an indicator of the relative intensity of the storms is unwarranted.

    I don’t disagree with your point that Sandy not the only powerful storm to hit New England. But the logic in this post does not allow for such a conclusion.

  46. Howskepticalment says: “here is a location where prevention has been deemed by governments to be more sensible than adaptation”

    I’m going from (old) memory so correct me if I’m wrong – but there is essentially no ability to “adapt” there hence the massive sea walls and storm gates. I believe (again from memory) the Dutch has some massive similar projects ?

  47. An interesting find on the storm surge associated with Sandy at Battery, NY. The true surge as a result of Sandy was 5 feet higher than the level would have been without Sandy’s influence.

    All the talk that I have heard and read keeps using 13 feet storm surge. That is misleading. It is being referenced to low tide level. High tide and the moon would have likely put the level between 7 and 8 feet above low tide without any influence from Sandy.

    Check this link out soon as the relevant graph will disappear when the site updates. Go to Battery, NY then choose history and then scroll down to the last graph. I don’t know how to post a screen capture in a comment so you may want to make your own capture.

    http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/etsurge/index.php?page=stn&region=ne&type=history&stn=nybat

  48. A.Scott

    Yep the Delta works in Holland are similar. (There is an added benefit that the Delta Works actually also creates usable land as a bonus, whereas the Thames Barrage just stops periodic flooding of the city of London.)

    The way I would construct things is that, accepting the AGW context, prevention would be to pay the cost of reducing CO2 emissions. Adaptation would be not doing so and paying for the negative consequences of AGW.

    In a non-AGW context, both the Thames Barrage and the Delta Works are prevention of flooding in the context of natural weather variability. Also in that context, ‘adaptation’ would be not building the Barrage or the Works, putting up with periodic floodings, and paying to repair and rebuild every time there is a flood.

  49. Some storm surge data from the Netherlands:

    The highest storm surge of the last 100 years was in 2006 at 4.83m above
    normal (only minor localised flooding). The previous record was from 1825 at
    4.65m.

    The disaster of 1953 with widespread flooding was at 4.5m. After this disaster the Dutch
    initiated a nationwide project to improve the see defenses and define a minimum
    standard for all levies, dykes, barriers and whatever.

    Your run of the mill high water storm surge is between 3.5 and 4.0 meter, which
    have occured an odd 15 times over the past two decades and rarely give
    problems.

    Just a topical image:

  50. Gary Lance on November 1, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I see you managed to post a chart and talk about that great scientist Al Gore. Do you have information on how someone managed to determine the height of the surge in the past?

    [...]

    I highlighted the 1635 and 1638 dates, because the text appears to be saying it is unsure of the date and could be either one. My take is they are using limited written records as proof, perhaps records that can be read well enough to know if the last number is a 5 or 8.

    I have a hard time getting the picture of a salt water marsh keeping a record well enough to preserve the height of a storm surge about 380 years ago. The abstract mentions a rising sea level regime, so how do we know the marsh subsides, the sea level rises and the barrier beach (>3m) all kept pace to determine the magnitude of a storm surge?

    I see you managed to cut & paste the abstract without reading the paper or even comprehending the abstract.

    The 1635 and 1638 hurricanes and their storm surges were based on historical observations.

    Historical records of 5 storms with >3 m storm surges were identified. Six overwash fan sequences were identified in the sediment cores. 3 of those fan sequences distinctly correlated with the post-1638 storm, 1 correlated with either the 1635 or 1638 storm and 2 predated the 1635 storm. A storm surge would have to top the barrier beach (>3 m) in order to deposit an overwash fan in the salt marsh.

    Sea level was probably falling from ~1200 to ~1600 AD. In a regressive sequence, overwash fan deposit preservation would have been the exception rather than the norm. It’s possible that the 1635 and 1638 storm surges generated one amalgamated fan, that the 1635 fan was quickly eroded away or that the most seaward core wasn’t seaward enough to intercept the 1635 fan.

    The beach and the salt marsh have been rising along with sea level and moving shoreward. This is what transgressive sequences do.

  51. Jesse Farmer says:
    November 1, 2012 at 9:09 pm
    Are you sure David? I need to see at least some model results until I believe that assertion. Taking a storm that could produce a 3m surge in NYC and having it hit near Rhode Island, and considering the coastline and focusing of the south shore of Rhode Island, could very well be large enough to overwash into Succotash Marsh. Gentlemen’s bet on it?

    The problem here is that, unless you can prove that the track of the the 1635 and 1638 storms was similar enough to Sandy, comparing their storm surges in the same place as an indicator of the relative intensity of the storms is unwarranted.

    I don’t disagree with your point that Sandy not the only powerful storm to hit New England. But the logic in this post does not allow for such a conclusion.

    I see your point.

    Yes, other things factor into storm surges beyong just storm intensity and wind speed. One example: Storm surges tend to be worse where the continental shelf is broad and shallowly dipping. This is why storm surges can be really bad along the Gulf Coat.

    The 1938 storm surge in Figure 1 is from the “Long Island Express,” as measured by tide gauges at Newport RI and/or New London CT…

    Storm surges of 10 to 12 ft inundated portions of the coast from Long Island and Connecticut eastward to southeastern Massachusetts, with the most notable surges in Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay.

    The 1635, 1638 and 1815 hurricanes caused storm surges in southern Rhode Island that approached or exceeded the Long Island Express. Also, bear in mind that these historical surges weren’t necessarily the maximum surges associated with those storms. We don’t really know what the tracks were. We just know that over the last 700 years, at least 7 storms were strong enough to cause >3 m storm surges in southern Rhode Island.

  52. Eyesonu says “High tide and the moon would have likely put the level between 7 and 8 feet above low tide without any influence from Sandy.

    Check this link”
    Your graph clearly shows the tide would only have been 4-5 feet high, not 7-8 feet. Where did you get 7-8 feet?

    This site suggest the high tide for Monday evening, Oct 29 should have been 4.7 feet at the Battery with no storm.

  53. From Howskepticalment on November 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm:

    Storm surge barriers have been in place for at least a thousand years in the Netherlands where they are called dykes. (If you jump onto google and follow the dyke lines you will see…

    Wow, it worked. I thought I knew what would show up from Googling “dyke lines”, especially with SafeSearch off. I was wrong. Guess Google really does track my history and knew I’d be looking for geological/climate-type info, during the daytime.

  54. A warmarxist is someone who thinks not driving an SUV does more to combat flood damage than proper building-codes and infrastructure.

  55. hmm.

    You compare a non hurricane to historical cat 3+

    And your point would be? not much.

    The situation seems pretty clear to me. Historically this coastline has seen larger storm surges.
    That’s not really the issue. The issue is twofold

    A) Is this coastline adequately prepared for storms that are typical. Answer? clearly no.
    people have continued to develop in areas that are risky. Officials still do not know how
    to prepare adequately. That goes to issues about building codes and evacuation plans.
    We have not built resilient communities. Adaptation seems in order.

    B) Should we expect the future to be
    1) about the same as the past
    2.) Less stormy than the past
    3) have more intense storms than the past.

    AGW argues for #3. We can expect the future to have more frequent or more intense storms than the past. Less ice in the summer leads to more blocking patterns over greenland and a
    higher probability that storms will do that nice little left hook. How much higher probability?
    That’s highly uncertain. But, if you are planning for the future, dont count on B1 or B2. If you are planning for the future, your best information tells you to err on the side of caution and expect
    B3. That’s merely a saftey margin question

    Can we mitigate our way out of this. Cut C02 and hope that things dont get worse? Also hard to say. I remain doubtful that any mitigation scheme will be put in place or if put it place I doubt that governments will abide by it. Which leaves us with adaptation and creating resilient communities. The simple fact is that we are ill prepared for a future that has the same number and same intensity of storms, much less one that has worse weather.

  56. David Middleton says:

    November 2, 2012 at 7:19 am

    I see you managed to cut & paste the abstract without reading the paper or even comprehending the abstract.

    The 1635 and 1638 hurricanes and their storm surges were based on historical observations.

    Historical records of 5 storms with >3 m storm surges were identified. Six overwash fan sequences were identified in the sediment cores. 3 of those fan sequences distinctly correlated with the post-1638 storm, 1 correlated with either the 1635 or 1638 storm and 2 predated the 1635 storm. A storm surge would have to top the barrier beach (>3 m) in order to deposit an overwash fan in the salt marsh.

    Sea level was probably falling from ~1200 to ~1600 AD. In a regressive sequence, overwash fan deposit preservation would have been the exception rather than the norm. It’s possible that the 1635 and 1638 storm surges generated one amalgamated fan, that the 1635 fan was quickly eroded away or that the most seaward core wasn’t seaward enough to intercept the 1635 fan.

    The beach and the salt marsh have been rising along with sea level and moving shoreward. This is what transgressive sequences do.

    I’ve read more than the abstract, like how the founder of Rhode Island was, banished, but sick in Salem, Massachusetts in 1635, and slipped away to live with the Wampanoags in Jan, 1636, when the sheriff came to pick him up. There was no historical observations of the 1635 and 1638 hurricanes and their storm surges in Rhode Island, but there are records that may have survived in nearby Plymouth Colony or around Jamestown, Va. The settlements in Massachusetts did expand along the coast and reached present day New Hampshire by 1835. That was the extent of settlement at that time.

    After I posted I did observe that the fans for 1635 and 1638 could have been for both combined because it happened without giving enough time to separate the layers or it could be one or the other.

    The abstract said this and it makes some sense:

    In a regime of rising sea level, accumulation of marsh, lake, or lagoon sediments on top of overwash deposits will preserve a record of overwash deposition.

    That’s saying a rising sea level is required to preserve the record of a salt water marsh, which makes sense to an extent, because the record has to be buried by an actively growing marsh for it to be preserved. It’s also possible to preserve a record in a salt water marsh, if the marsh is subsiding relative to the sea level.

    14 sediment samples in that salt marsh can’t tell the magnitude of a surge. The sediment cores can only show an event occurred. You claim the barrier beach moved, so how do you know it was always the same height of (>3 m), but never height enough to prevent a storm surge? In my short lifetime, I’ve seen sand on barrier islands move. According to this study, this barrier beach is able to get eroded by a hurricane to produce overwash fans and remain at the same height during all this time. I’ve seen maps in the neighboring Massachusetts peninsula showing the whole shoreline changing rapidly with time.

    Does the study just assume the barrier beach has to always remain the same height and how did it conclude the magnitude of the surges to quantize events over the (>3 m) barrier beach? Sandy at 4 m should have produced a similar overwash fan, like the 1938 and 1954 events that were photographed. If the barrier beach has moved as you claimed, how do you measure the past height of something that doesn’t exist?

  57. Mosh said

    “….3) have more intense storms than the past.

    AGW argues for #3. We can expect the future to have more frequent or more intense storms than the past. Less ice in the summer leads to more blocking patterns over greenland and a
    higher probability that storms will do that nice little left hook. How much higher probability?”

    Citations? Less temperature difference betwen poles and equator surely means less energy for storms? . I have cited previously observations that demonstrate bigger storms in the LIA (or cooler periods) than present and that Blocking patterns can be observed right through the LIA

    tonyb

  58. David Middleton,

    Another very good article. Thanks for posting.

    And re Mosher’s claim: the hurricane of 1938 was much worse. It was a Cat 3 storm that hit Long Island sound with 120 mph winds.

    What was the CO2 concentration in 1938?

  59. climatereason says:

    November 2, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Mosh said

    “….3) have more intense storms than the past.

    AGW argues for #3. We can expect the future to have more frequent or more intense storms than the past. Less ice in the summer leads to more blocking patterns over greenland and a
    higher probability that storms will do that nice little left hook. How much higher probability?”

    Citations? Less temperature difference betwen poles and equator surely means less energy for storms? . I have cited previously observations that demonstrate bigger storms in the LIA (or cooler periods) than present and that Blocking patterns can be observed right through the LIA

    tonyb

    Citations? I don’t have to give citations, I can give proof again and I haven’t seen it refuted. If you have posted anything claiming bigger storms involve more of a temperature difference between the poles and equator, then you have posted voodoo science. Having less of a temperature difference means more Rossby waves or meanders form in the polar jet stream. The meanders can bring cooler air farther south and warmer air farther north. A storm’s intensity is the result of these extreme air masses contacting each other, so more Rossby waves means more contact of extreme air masses. Rossby waves also tend to stall weather pattern over an area allowing repeat weather which also creates extreme conditions. It’s also erroneous to consider the intensity of a hurricane being the same as a normal storm. Hurricanes become intense by gathering heat from a warm ocean and not because they are next to a cold front.

    I’ve already posted a video of a reinsurer discussing risk to people in the business. If you want information, follow the money and all the money isn’t involved in the fossil fuel industries. The gentleman giving the lecture said they were evaluating global warming risks from CO2 starting in 1973 and that was before global warming was a public concern. The gentleman is in the business of insuring insurance companies around the world, so any future risk needs to be considered.

    I posted the charts of events that the gentleman used in his presentation and it clearly shows more events in the past 30 years (1980 – 2010). The geophysical events were basically constant, but all the events related to weather increased. There were 2.5 times the amount of events in 30 years. The data doesn’t involve payouts for increases in population or property, it only envolves the amount of acutal events, like droughts, floods and storms, for instance. The charts are posted on a similar thread by Watts. You can pretend all you want to, but the facts clearly show extreme events have become more common than they were in the past 30 or so years.

    It’s impossible to make a connection with a specific hurricane to climate change, but the risk of New York City being struck by a hurricane has increased. There is more of a tendency now for high pressure to park itself over Greenland than in the past and that means the clockwise circulation of the high has more of a tendency to block and drive the counterclockwise circulation of a hurricane into the east coast. This trend to have Greenland highs has positive feedback, because a Greenland high makes more sea ice drift through the Fram Strait and exit the arctic. As the amount of sea ice is reduced, high pressure is more likely to favor the cold of Greenland over the cold of the arctic sea ice. At the minimum, the arctic sea ice is just slightly larger than the ice sheets of Greenland and Greenland is colder. People who have studied arctic sea ice have noticed this pattern happening more often.

    Most hurricanes start off the west coast of Africa and they need the lack of wind shear to develop. Rossby waves should increase the chances for wind shear, so fewer tropical depressions should develop into hurricanes. Sandy started late in the hurricane season and started in the Caribbean. Based on weather patterns, I’d say the late season hurricanes would have more of a chance to hit the east coast than than the early season hurricanes.

  60. Gary Lance says:

    “Citations? I don’t have to give citations…”

    Good, because when you do give citations they are worthless. If you believe an insurance company’s advertising is science then you are certainly desperate.

    The fact is that extreme weather events have been declining for decades. Let’s look at a peer reviewed chart. There is nothing ‘unprecedented’ in any of this. The hurricane of 1937 hit Long Island as a Cat 3 storm with 120 mph winds, and a much larger storm surge than tropical storm Sandy. What was the CO2 level in 1937? It was much lower than now.

    Tornado fatalities are also declining.

    And as far as the Arctic goes, this is simply a natural cycle. It has happened before repeatedly, and it will happen again. All your wild-eyed running around in circles and arm waving is amusing to watch. But it is only your misguided alarmist belief. It is not reality.

    Finally, sea levels are not accelerating, no matter what you personally believe. They are gradually decelerating over the long term, as this Holgate chart shows. And ocean heat content is not rising, as the ARGO buoy network shows. Without OHC accelerating there is currently no global warming. The alarmist contingent is proven wrong once again — by the real world.

    Empirical evidence debunks your belief system. There is no evidence showing that anything unprecedented is occurring. None. All current climate parameters have been greatly exceeded in the past; and the Null Hypothesis has never been falsified.

  61. D Böehm says:

    November 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    More mouth without evidence! Try posting links that deal with the subject! Are there more extreme events now than in the past. That means all extreme events and not cherry picking things to call it data.

    Check the reinsurer at the end of this video and see the charts!

    Refute these charts!

  62. Lance says:

    “More mouth without evidence! Try posting links that deal with the subject!”

    Are you blind?? I posted links [scientific evidence] with every comment. And I note that it is in the financial interest of insurance companies to show rapidly increasing disasters. But as I showed in my link above, that is not true when government and university numbers are used. [There; your charts are refuted.] And your video is nothing but Al Gore-style PBS globaloney, demonizing "stupid rich people living wherever they want". I prefer honest science to visual propaganda intended only to alarm the populace. Readers can decide if they want to believe that carp, or Holgate’s peer reviewed science and the University of Colorado. They cannot both be right, because they are contradictory.

    Your belief system is quite impenetrable, so go ahead and believe your accelerating sea level scare stories. But in fact, the sea level rise since the LIA is not accelerating, as I showed in Holgate's peer reviewed chart. In fact, the long term trend shows a gradual deceleration in sea level rise. I also refer you to John Daly’s meticulous analysis, based entirely on empirical observations. Explain to us how a Mean Sea Level marker cut into stone in the 1800′s is at the same MSL today.

  63. Gary

    You have stumbled into a conversation I have had elsewhere with mosh and are taking things out of context.

    Are severe weather events taking place more frequently over the last thirty years than the previous thirty? Possibly. However I was referring to the numerous reports of Historic severe weather far worse than today that I have seen in such places as the archives of the met office. Hubert lamb wrote of them in ‘ historic storms of the north sea British isles and northwest Europe.’ in which he wrote of storms since 1509.

    Having personally read tens of thousands of observations back to the 11th century it is clear that there were extraordinarily violent weather events that surpass those of today. Reading the observations it is also apparent that there were many episodes of blocking pressure systems.

    the most violent Events appeared to occur in the lia which as you know often had very hot summers as well as very cold winters.

    There has been an interesting thread over at climate etc when Bill Hooke posted a study by Munich Re concerning increased insurance claims.you might usefully look at it to see if it supports your own material

    Tonyb

  64. Gary Lance says:
    November 2, 2012 at 10:05 am
    [...]

    14 sediment samples in that salt marsh can’t tell the magnitude of a surge. The sediment cores can only show an event occurred. You claim the barrier beach moved, so how do you know it was always the same height of (>3 m), but never height enough to prevent a storm surge? In my short lifetime, I’ve seen sand on barrier islands move. According to this study, this barrier beach is able to get eroded by a hurricane to produce overwash fans and remain at the same height during all this time. I’ve seen maps in the neighboring Massachusetts peninsula showing the whole shoreline changing rapidly with time.

    Does the study just assume the barrier beach has to always remain the same height and how did it conclude the magnitude of the surges to quantize events over the (>3 m) barrier beach? Sandy at 4 m should have produced a similar overwash fan, like the 1938 and 1954 events that were photographed. If the barrier beach has moved as you claimed, how do you measure the past height of something that doesn’t exist?

    The storm surges post-1635 were measured. These were all correlated with ovewash fan facies in the salt marsh sediment cores. The only post-1635 overwash fan facies sequences correlated with >3 m storm surges. While they don’t know exactly how high above sea level the crest of the barrier beach was before 1635, they do know that at least two pre-1635 storms deposited overwash fan facies in the salt marsh, 1351 AD (±56-yr)and 1425 (±21-yr). Storm surges of less than 2 m appear to be relatively common in the historical record. Storm surges above 3 m appear to be few and far between.

    Deposition of the back-barrier salt marsh appears to have begun about 600-700 years ago…

    The sensitivity of the site to overwash deposition is dependent on the height and width of the barrier beach as well as distance from the barrier. The relative rarity of overwash deposition preserved at the site (6 deposits in ;700 yr) suggests that the height of the barrier beach has not varied substantially from its modern height.

  65. eyesonu says:
    November 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm
    An interesting find on the storm surge associated with Sandy at Battery, NY. The true surge as a result of Sandy was 5 feet higher than the level would have been without Sandy’s influence.

    All the talk that I have heard and read keeps using 13 feet storm surge. That is misleading. It is being referenced to low tide level. High tide and the moon would have likely put the level between 7 and 8 feet above low tide without any influence from Sandy.

    No, the predicted range was about 4.7′ the actual was ~14′, the moon effects are included in the predictions.

    NOAA data for the Battery here:

    http://tinyurl.com/az4mjpb

  66. D Böehm says:

    November 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    The discussion was about events and you posted data about deaths. It’s always the same with you. You run your mouth as if your mouth is the proof and post nonsense links that don’t prove anything.

    There are more weather related events and that fact can’t be refuted. When the number of events increases two and a half times as much in 30 years, something is obviously afoot.

  67. Steven Mosher says:
    November 2, 2012 at 9:47 am
    hmm.

    You compare a non hurricane to historical cat 3+

    And your point would be? not much.

    The situation seems pretty clear to me. Historically this coastline has seen larger storm surges.
    That’s not really the issue.

    That is my point and the main issue.

    The issue is twofold

    A) Is this coastline adequately prepared for storms that are typical. Answer? clearly no.
    people have continued to develop in areas that are risky. Officials still do not know how
    to prepare adequately. That goes to issues about building codes and evacuation plans.
    We have not built resilient communities. Adaptation seems in order.

    This is a valid issue and I agree, the answer is “no.”

    Although, I don’t really see the utility in preparing for 100-yr storms, beyond having sold evacuation and response plans, any more than I see the utility in preparing for the New Madrid Fault System to twitch or for Yellowstone to cook off.

    Earth is a dangerous place… Always has been and always will be.

    B) Should we expect the future to be
    1) about the same as the past
    2.) Less stormy than the past
    3) have more intense storms than the past.

    The correct answer is 1) About the same as the past… Provided you actually look at and try to understand the past.

    AGW argues for #3. We can expect the future to have more frequent or more intense storms than the past. Less ice in the summer leads to more blocking patterns over greenland and a
    higher probability that storms will do that nice little left hook. How much higher probability?
    That’s highly uncertain. But, if you are planning for the future, dont count on B1 or B2. If you are planning for the future, your best information tells you to err on the side of caution and expect
    B3. That’s merely a saftey margin question

    Perhaps the greatest failing of the AGW hypothesis is that it “argues” for something and its argument inevitably follows the Precautionary Principle.

    Can we mitigate our way out of this. Cut C02 and hope that things dont get worse? Also hard to say. I remain doubtful that any mitigation scheme will be put in place or if put it place I doubt that governments will abide by it. Which leaves us with adaptation and creating resilient communities. The simple fact is that we are ill prepared for a future that has the same number and same intensity of storms, much less one that has worse weather.

    The cost to humanity of carbon mitigation would be far worse than the cost of adaptation.

  68. David Middleton says:

    November 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    That’s fossil fuel bull to claim the risks of a catastrope are the same as always.

    I’ve posted data from reinsurers, who insure insurance companies that show the risks of catastrophes has increased two and a half times in 30 years, based only on the amount of catastrophic events. Let me explain it! If 30 years ago there were 40 catastrophes, there are 100 now. Since risk is their business, these reinsurers have to calculate the risks without bias to set insurance rates.

  69. Gary Lance,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but you sound like a young puppy. As such, you have much to learn.

    Property damage is getting increasingly expensive because labor costs are much higher now than in the past. Thus property damage is no good as a proxy for extreme weather events, which have been declining. Read the link above, and get educated. Puppies think they know everything. They don’t. Educate yourself. Start here:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/05/new-hurricane-record-2232-days-and-counting-since-major-hurricane-made-landfall-on-the-usa-last-record-was-year-1900

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/25/the-amazing-decline-in-deaths-from-extreme-weather-in-an-era-of-global-warming-19002010

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/01/hurricane-fatalities-1900–2010-update

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/08/27/hurricane-fatalities-1900–2010-context-in-these-stormy-times

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/27/tornadoes-and-global-warming-still-no-linkage

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/17/is-climate-change-the-number-one-threat-to-humanity

    Also see TonyB’s link above. You have a lot to learn.

  70. Gary Lance says:
    November 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm
    David Middleton says:

    November 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    That’s fossil fuel bull to claim the risks of a catastrope are the same as always.

    I’ve posted data from reinsurers, who insure insurance companies that show the risks of catastrophes has increased two and a half times in 30 years, based only on the amount of catastrophic events. Let me explain it! If 30 years ago there were 40 catastrophes, there are 100 now. Since risk is their business, these reinsurers have to calculate the risks without bias to set insurance rates.

    Reinsurers aren’t in the science business. They are in the actuarial business.

    Using actuarial catastrophe risk analyses you would determine that global warming is so bad, that Frankenstorm caused more property damage than the sum total of the Siberian & Deccan Traps flood basalt eruptions, the Chicxulub impact, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, every super-volcano eruption in Earth history and every pre-Holocene glacial-interglacial cycle.

    I’ve often ridiculed the assertion that the Anthrpocene is distinct from the Holocene. Maybe I was wrong. The Holocene-Anthropocene boundary must be the invention or discovery of property. Since the dawn of the Anthropocene, property damage from natural disasters has escalated geometrically, without any statistical change in the frequency or magnitude of natural disasters.

    So long as property values increase and programs like NFIP encourage people to take risks, the risk of catastrophic flood damage will increase. However there is no evidence that climatic extremes are increasing in frequency.

    The NOAA CEI has no trend (R-squared = 0.0081). Eight years from 1910-1954 exceeded natural variability and eight years from 1977-2011 exceeded natural variability.

  71. D Böehm says:

    November 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I posted data on the number of events, not casualties, not damage, not inusrance costs, but the actual number of catastrophic events.

    The only agenda a reinsurer has is to accurately calculate risks and that requires knowing the chances of an event happening.

    The reinsurers say when they look around the world at geophysical events, like earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions, the trends are random, but constant, meaning the risk is what it has been. When the reinsurers look at storms, floods, mass movements or climatologicial events like extreme temperature, droughts and forest fires, they see a rapid increase in the last 30 years. The reinsurers evaluate the trend and say all together both geophysical and otherwise the risk for a catastrophic event is two and a half times what it was 30 years ago.

    There is better communication today to discover an event happened and yes there are more people and property to be affected by an event, but it’s also a fact there are more events today than there were 30 years ago. If an event happens somewhere that doesn’t affect anyone or a few people, it’s still an event.

    Climate scientist have been saying for years the chances for extreme weather related conditions have increased because of climate change and the fact is it’s been here and not something that will happen in the futrure. Catastophic events have a price associated with them, so whether it’s property damage or causalties, that cost would be 60% less, if those events didn’t happen and these weather related events followed the trend of geophysical events.

    So think about what you are doing to your fellow man when you post nonsense claiming their risks of suffering from a catastrophe are the same as they always have been. They aren’t.

  72. David Middleton says:

    November 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Science is an accumulation of knowledge, but you can’t accumulate the knowledge that I was providing data on the actual number of catastrophic events. It’s a cope out to talk about property damage or any specific event that obviously can’t be proven to be related to global warming on a cause and effect basis. Ignoring the reality that these catastrophic events are two and a half times more likely is not scientific and it’s immoral to use scientific credentials to misinform the public.

    It doesn’t make a difference if reinsurers aren’t in the science business. They are people who want to know exactly what the chances are of an event happening, because not only are their profits based on accurately gathering those statistics, but if they don’t do it correctly they can lose money. There is definitely some motivation to gather information on catastrophes, when you can lose your shirt if you don’t do so correctly.

    Now, you managed to use the geophysics site to copy and alter that chart, so why can’t you explain how the magnitude of those early storm surges was calculated? Can you explain to me how the barrier beach managed to move and always remain the same height throughout centuries?

  73. The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane is missing from the list.

    “The hurricane produced a storm surge of 13 feet (4 m) in only one hour at Battery Park. Manhattan Island was completely flooded to Canal Street; one hurricane researcher remarked that the storm surge flooding would have been much worse, had the hurricane not struck at low tide.”

  74. Gary Lance opines:

    “…think about what you are doing to your fellow man when you post nonsense claiming their risks of suffering from a catastrophe are the same as they always have been. They aren’t.”

    No raving alarmist ever considers a cost/benefit analysis when hand-waving about “risks of suffering from a catastrophe”. And my “fellow man” is immensely better off having the benefit of fossil fuel use. The alarmist crowd would happily consign their fellow man to 18th Century drudgery for a trumped-up, evidence-free AGW belief.

    There will always be catastrophes, guaranteed. But that is not the issue.

    The issue is this: was Sandy an “unprecedented” storm? No, of course not. It was a big storm, but there have been bigger storms, when CO2 was much lower. And since the alarmist clique is the only crowd lining up behind Michael Mann, who mendaciously tried to show that the climate hardly changed before the industrial revolution, they are the ones denying climate change. Skeptics have always know that the climate constantly changes. That is a fact that can be easily verified throughout the WUWT archives.

    Therefore, scientific skeptics win the “unprecedented” debate hands down.

  75. D Böehm says:

    November 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    What gives you the right to decide what is best for your fellow man? You don’t stick to the truth to make your case. Those catastrophic events increased by two and a half times over 30 years, but you chose to cover it up and tell your fellow man everything is the same, when it obviously wasn’t.

    What are you going to do when worse things start happening and your fellow man has to pay for removing all that extra CO2 in order to get his life back to normal? Maybe your fellow man doesn’t want to pay for New York City and Washington, DC to be moved. Eventually this game of misinformation will end just like the fossil fuel industries will end and given all the money they have made from the start, they will only receive a little more by sticking around. The fossil fuel industries get a little more profit and the world has to pick up their tab. That is the only agenda you serve and you don’t care about your fellow man.

    The issue is this: was Sandy an “unprecedented” storm? No, of course not. It was a big storm, but there have been bigger storms, when CO2 was much lower. And since the alarmist clique is the only crowd lining up behind Michael Mann, who mendaciously tried to show that the climate hardly changed before the industrial revolution, they are the ones denying climate change. Skeptics have always know that the climate constantly changes. That is a fact that can be easily verified throughout the WUWT archives.

    There are a bunch of stats on Sandy that are unprecedented, but that’s just another thing you have chosen to ignore. You haven’t won a debate about unprecedented by acting like people who can’t fathom facts. If you can’t show a storm in that area of that size, with that pressure and joining a cold front to make snow, then you have lost any debate and have lost your mind for having a debate about it in the first place.

    Michael Mann is a paleoclimatologist. If he is gathering data about temperature proxies for the whole planet and you want to play some game that global warming doesn’t exist because there are other times that have been called warm periods, then that’s your problem. You have already stated you agenda and that is to support fossil fuels. That’s what you care about and not paleoclimatology. That’s why you focus on warm periods and cherry pick data to support them. I would like to see the best reconstruction of past global temperatures available to science, but I can only imagine the damage done to good science by the people supporting the fossil fuel agenda. If you people cared about science you wouldn’t be using GISP2 as a proxy for the whole world. Those temperature patterns don’t show up on GRIP and that ice core wasn’t that far away. Scientists are skeptics by nature, but they’re honest skeptics looking for the truth. Scientists don’t deal in misinformation and you do.

  76. David Middleton appears to me as concentrating on Sandy’s storm surge
    being not unprecedented in New England.

    Meanwhile, I am hearing from that Sandy was unprecedented in NYC.

    I do agree with contention that Sandy was no longer a hurricane, but a
    Nor-Easter when it hit NYC most badly. Some Nor’Easters have eyes.

    And, I am seeing how AGW is not worsening Nor’Easters, including ones
    formed from hurricanes. For example, Hazel of 1954 transitioned from a
    hurricane to an extratropical cyclone inland before crossing the NC-VA
    border, but delivered hurricane-qualifying winds in Toronto and about 70
    miles north of Toronto.

    I just don’t want data from outside Sandy’s worst impacts to detract from
    the unprecidented misery where Sandy was the worst storm to hit since
    building a city there.

  77. Berényi Péter says:

    November 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    The 1821 Norfolk and Long Island hurricane is missing from the list.

    “The hurricane produced a storm surge of 13 feet (4 m) in only one hour at Battery Park. Manhattan Island was completely flooded to Canal Street; one hurricane researcher remarked that the storm surge flooding would have been much worse, had the hurricane not struck at low tide.”

    The list involves Succotash Marsh in RI and Long Island would have protected it. The odd thing about the 1821 hurricane is how it managed to cross so much land and water with little storm surge in the south and had such a large storm surge reported in New Jersey and New York. It’s hard to believe it was even a hurricane at that point. Maybe something about the coast allows for larger than normal storm surges.

  78. “Disclaimer: I’m not implying that Hurricane (AKA post-tropical cyclone) Sandy or its devastating effects on millions of people are funny. I’m only saying that efforts to link this storm to global warming are .”
    ==========================================================================
    I think that the readers understood that.
    The greatest potential monetary devastation would be if people in the US vote based on the belief that another couple of windmills or Solyndras would have prevented Sandy.
    (PS Fund raising for the relief of the victims is starting. Remember Katrina. Millions that people thought were going to victims went to pay performers, “administrative cost” or just plain disappeared. Before opening your wallet, check out the group raising the funds. It’s probably best to stick with an established charity rather than a new one with “Sandy” in its name.)

  79. D Böehm says:
    November 2, 2012 at 2:40 pm
    Gary Lance,

    Correct me if I am wrong, but you sound like a young puppy. As such, you have much to learn.

    Property damage is getting increasingly expensive because labor costs are much higher now than in the past. Thus property damage is no good as a proxy for extreme weather events, which have been declining. Read the link above, and get educated. Puppies think they know everything. They don’t. Educate yourself. Start here: ……
    =======================================================================
    This reminds of when (I think it was) the movie Titanic broke the box office record set by Gone With The Wind. I saw an article that compared the two movies and, after adjusting for inflation, Gone With The Wind still held the record. And after dividing the box office by ticket price still sold the most tickets.
    Let’s say that you had the chance at two identical desk from 1920. But you could only have one. You knew that the original owners had each hidden $200 in their desk. One owner stashed ten $20 bills. The other had stashed ten $20 gold pieces. Which would you choose? In the 1920 you could buy a new car for $260+. Which desk could get you a new car today?
    The point is, if you’re going to base the severity of storms based on the dollar value of the damage done, you have to adjust for inflation or you don’t have a true picture. (Of course you also have to adjust for new development of the affected area but that’s another topic.)

  80. Gary Lance says:
    November 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    ============================================================
    Wow.
    “Michael Mann is a paleoclimatologist.”
    Did you know he’s also a Nobel Laureate?
    You even used Michael Mann and “cherry pick data” in the same paragraph yet don’t see the connection.
    Did you know that the environmentals have been against fossil fuels since the ’60s for one reason or another. Today the reason is CAGW.
    You don’t like fossil fuels. OK. Let’s build more nuclear power plants. Maybe GM should revive it’s attempts to build a nuclear powered car to “save the planet”?
    PS Has the globe warmed from rising CO2 in the last 15 or so years like Hansen said it would?

  81. Gunga Din says:

    November 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Why does it remind you of that, when a reinsurer has only looked at the catastrophes of the last 30 years and has listed events only. There is no adjustment for inflation, because one earthquake is always going to equal one earthquake. Why should geophysical events remain constant but weather related events increase? The risk from a volcano hasn’t changed, but the risk of a drought has.

  82. Gary Lance says:
    November 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm
    David Middleton says:

    November 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Science is an accumulation of knowledge, but you can’t accumulate the knowledge that I was providing data on the actual number of catastrophic events. It’s a cope out to talk about property damage or any specific event that obviously can’t be proven to be related to global warming on a cause and effect basis. Ignoring the reality that these catastrophic events are two and a half times more likely is not scientific and it’s immoral to use scientific credentials to misinform the public.

    [...]

    I provided you with NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index… This shows no statistically significant trend in the frequency of climatic extremes in North America since 1910.

    I also provided you with a recent peer-reviewed paper coauthored by Gilbert Compo, of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL)…

    Abstract

    The Twentieth Century Reanalysis (20CR) project is an international effort to produce a comprehensive global atmospheric circulation dataset spanning the twentieth century, assimilating only surface pressure reports and using observed monthly sea-surface temperature and sea-ice distributions as boundary conditions. It is chiefly motivated by a need to provide an observational dataset with quantified uncertainties for validations of climate model simulations of the twentieth century on all time-scales, with emphasis on the statistics of daily weather.

    [...]

    It is anticipated that the 20CR dataset will be a valuable resource to the climate research community for both model validations and diagnostic studies. Some surprising results are already evident. For instance, the long-term trends of indices representing the North Atlantic Oscillation, the tropical Pacific Walker Circulation, and the Pacific–North American pattern are weak or non-existent over the full period of record. The long-term trends of zonally averaged precipitation minus evaporation also differ in character from those in climate model simulations of the twentieth century.

    Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society and Crown Copyright.

    Compo et al., 2011. The Twentieth Century Reanalysis Project. Q. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 137: 1–28. DOI:10.1002/qj.776

    Figure 16 from Compo et al., 2011.

    According to Compo, “In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years. So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”

  83. Gary Lance says:November 2, 2012 at 7:08 pmGunga Din says:November 2, 2012 at 6:33 pmWhy does it remind you of that, when a reinsurer has only looked at the catastrophes of the last 30 years and has listed events only. There is no adjustment for inflation, because one earthquake is always going to equal one earthquake. Why should geophysical events remain constant but weather related events increase? The risk from a volcano hasn’t changed, but the risk of a drought has.

    Because the reinsurer and the primary insurers have to approach business from an actuarial standpoint. If you look at the last thirty years of the NOAA CEI, you’ll see an increasing trend. This chart that you posted shows an exponentially increasing trend of weather-related property damage since 1980. North American climatic extremes have increased since 1980 and property values have also increased. As I said in my reply to Mr. Mosher, the future will be “about the same as the past… Provided you actually look at and try to understand the past.” 30-yr trends are not climatologically significant. 

  84. I don’t believe it about these storms way back in history. Everyone knows that the climate started in 1975…
    And another thing. I saw some learned expert (I use the term loosely) sounding off very loudly on CNN the other day along the lines of ‘Its all getting SOOOO much worse’ – stating that the cost of insurance/rebuilding etc was getting higher and higher.
    YES – and THAT’S BECAUSE people live in MORE EXPENSIVE HOUSES, have far more STUFF, which costs MORE MONEY….

  85. Gary

    London has had an embankment to protect it since the 1860′s

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

    It served several purposes which included protection against the river and reclaiming former marshland. A rising Thames Barrier was added some 30 years ago that straddles the river but is usually lowered into the river bed

    London has suffred some notable floods over the centuries including many in the 17th Century when the first serious efforts were made to protect the city. Storm surges are nothing new and depending on the circumstances-such as the position of the storm and the height of the tide- will cause damage ranging from minor to catastrophic.

    As I previously posted observations over the last 1000 years tell us that storms were far worse in the past, indeed fire and storms were some of the reasons the first insurance company in the world-Sun-was set up in 1710. Their plaques can still be seen to this day on walls of some old houses that had bought protection.

    We must stop looking at thirty years data in the belief that things are much worse than in the past. New York seems to have been substantially unprotected and authorities everywhere must assume that although we live in a relatively benign period future storms could be as bad as in the past and start planning accordingly. Undoubtedly with more people and increased property values catastrophes, loss of life and increased bills to rectify things are bound to happen .
    tonyb

  86. David Middleton says:

    November 3, 2012 at 2:28 am

    [Content edited to get to the point]

    I provided you with NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index… This shows no statistically significant trend in the frequency of climatic extremes in North America since 1910.

    The CEI was first introduced in early 1996 (Karl et al. 1996) with the goal of summarizing and presenting a complex set of multivariate and multidimensional climate changes in the United States so that the results could be easily understood and used in policy decisions made by nonspecialists in the field. The contiguous U.S. was selected as the focus for this study in part since climate change is of great interest to U.S. citizens and policy makers and since climate changes within the U.S. have not been given extensive coverage in intergovernmental or national reports which focus on climate change assessments (IPCC 2001; NRC 1992; NRC 2001).

    In 2003, two notable modifications were made to the CEI. Indicators in the original CEI summarized trends in temperature, precipitation and drought data on an annual basis. The revised CEI now includes an experimental tropical system component and is calculated for multiple seasons. The newest indicator documents trends in tropical system activity based on the wind velocity of landfalling tropical storm and hurricanes. As of October 2004, CEI calculations begin in 1910 for all periods and are updated within a few weeks after the end of a particular season and include final quality controlled data as well as near-real-time data. In September 2005, the two components for each of four indicators (steps 1, 2, 3, and 5) are plotted separately to help in the identification of trends and variability of each component. All graphs are now plotted as bar graphs rather than dot plots. In December 2005, a year-to-date season was made available along with the other eight standard seasons. Additions and modifications made to the original CEI are explained in an article entitled “A Revised U.S. Climate Extremes Index”, which was published in mid-2008 (Gleason et al. 2008).

    In July 2011, a regional CEI (RCEI) was introduced, which computes the CEI acrss the 9 U.S. Standard Regions (Karl and Koss, 1984). Year-to-year varations in the regional index have higher amplitude swings and larger/smaller percentages of each region affected by extremes compared with the CEI. There is a good deal of spatial consistency among the RCEI indicators and similar extremes may span across or be absent from a region in any given season.

    Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/extremes/cei/

    You say the CEI looks for trends in North America and NOAA says they look for trends in the contiguous U.S, so who is right? The Photobucket link you posted says U.S. so you would think that would be a clue or you would go to the NOAA and find out what they use to evaluate their trends. The stats used for CEI aren’t consistent to catastrophic events that people recognize. I gave examples of trends only based on catastropic events and you started saying they weren’t in the science business. Does anyone contact a scientist to ask if those trees burning over there are a forest fire? Do people seeing a wall of water coming at them call up a scientist and ask if that’s a tsunami? Catastrophic events are so common sense they don’t need a scientist to identify them.

    David Middleton says:

    November 3, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Gary Lance says:November 2, 2012 at 7:08 pmGunga Din says:November 2, 2012 at 6:33 pmWhy does it remind you of that, when a reinsurer has only looked at the catastrophes of the last 30 years and has listed events only. There is no adjustment for inflation, because one earthquake is always going to equal one earthquake. Why should geophysical events remain constant but weather related events increase? The risk from a volcano hasn’t changed, but the risk of a drought has.

    Because the reinsurer and the primary insurers have to approach business from an actuarial standpoint. If you look at the last thirty years of the NOAA CEI, you’ll see an increasing trend. This chart that you posted shows an exponentially increasing trend of weather-related property damage since 1980. North American climatic extremes have increased since 1980 and property values have also increased. As I said in my reply to Mr. Mosher, the future will be “about the same as the past… Provided you actually look at and try to understand the past.” 30-yr trends are not climatologically significant.

    You say:

    This chart that you posted shows an exponentially increasing trend of weather-related property damage since 1980.

    No, it doesn’t and you have been shown repeatedly that chart only counts catastrophic events. It has nothing to do with paying claims and a reinsurer isn’t involved in paying claims. A reinsurer is involved in insuring an insurance company and is looking for increased risk based on the likelihood of catastrophic events occurring.

  87. Gunga Din says:

    November 2, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Gary Lance says:
    November 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    ============================================================
    Wow.
    “Michael Mann is a paleoclimatologist.”
    Did you know he’s also a Nobel Laureate?
    You even used Michael Mann and “cherry pick data” in the same paragraph yet don’t see the connection.
    Did you know that the environmentals have been against fossil fuels since the ’60s for one reason or another. Today the reason is CAGW.
    You don’t like fossil fuels. OK. Let’s build more nuclear power plants. Maybe GM should revive it’s attempts to build a nuclear powered car to “save the planet”?
    PS Has the globe warmed from rising CO2 in the last 15 or so years like Hansen said it would?

    The IPCC was given the Nobel Prize and your focus on Michael Mann is all about your fossil fuel agenda to dismiss present day warming with the MWP or any so-called warming trend you can invent from any proxy. The fact that you people can’t even indentify a period of time for your so-called warming events is proof they are just made up. Michael Mann is involved in the Paleoclimatology of the world and you people keep cherry picking anecdotal evidence that has nothing to do with the world. You’ve invented this pseudo-science based on one Greenland ice core that doesn’t even agree with another ice core a little farther north. The most logical explanation for the fluctuation for GISP2 are changes in the climate patterns and Gulf Stream influencing southern Greenland. The temperatures don’t vary much, but you find a peak and claim it’s the Minoan Warm Period, because you like the word warm. The Minoans didn’t live near Greenland and climate changes in Greenland have no mechanism to influence the Minoans. There is no evidence the Minoan Warm Period existed and isn’t something just made up.

    Where is GISP1 and why don’t you people use that data? GISP2 was named because it was the second ice core on the Greenland ice sheet and a little south of GRIP. You don’t use GRIP data, because it doesn’t have the peaks and valleys of GISP2. Your imaginary warm period can go thousands of miles away to become the Minoan Warm Period and be claimed to be global, but it can’t warm a little farther north in Greenland. Your position on Paleoclimatology is agenda driven by the fossil fuel industries. It isn’t science.

    Scientists, like Michael Mann, will let the chips fall where they may and use the best proxies available to reconstruct past temperatures for the whole world. The agenda of science is to get to the facts and your agenda is ignore anything that doesn’t support the continued use of fossil fuels.

    The science of Paleoclimatology is still in it’s infancy and I’m sure the fossil fuel industries have funded cherry picked projects that will damage the science for decades to come.

    You need to go back to school if you want to discuss nuclear energy with me. You obviously don’t know that private money isn’t interested in that dinosaur technology and nuclear energy is the most subsidized energy we’ve ever used. If we would have developed Thorium MSRs like the scientists suggested, we wouldn’t be having these problems and coal would have been shut down years ago. There is a way to make safe nuclear energy that doesn’t generate all that nuclear waste that the taxpayers will eventually get stuck cleaning up. The current design for commerical nuclear reactors is a product of providing materials for nuclear weapons and not designed to make electricity safely. We don’t need the nuclear materials now, so the government isn’t going to subsidize the nuclear industry, like it did in the past.

  88. Gary Lance says:

    “What are you going to do when worse things start happening and your fellow man has to pay for removing all that extra CO2 in order to get his life back to normal?”

    Isn’t the puppy amusing? Lance probably even believes that nonsense. And it is nonsense, as proven by the climate Null Hypothesis, which has never been falsified. I don’t think the puppy even understands what the Null Hypothesis means. But regular WUWT readers know that the Null is a corollary of the Scientific Method, and that it falsifies every alternative hypothesis.

    That means that there are no climate parameters that have not been exceeded in the past, when CO2 was very low. Everything observed today has happened during the Holocene, and to a greater degree. Thus, the rise in CO2 from 3 molecules in 10,000 to 4 in 10,000 has not resulted in falsifying the Null Hypothesis. In other words, CO2 makes no difference. It is harmless, and beneficial to the biosphere. More is better.

    Gary Lance is just a young puppy who pretends that he is up to speed on the subject. But he is not; he makes quick detours to Wikipedia, SkS and other alarmist blogs for his talking points, and then posts long screeds here, which convince absolutely nobody as the comments show. People are generally either irritated or amused by yapping puppies. But they never take them seriously.

  89. D Böehm says:
    November 3, 2012 at 9:34 am
    Gary Lance says:

    “What are you going to do when worse things start happening and your fellow man has to pay for removing all that extra CO2 in order to get his life back to normal?”

    Isn’t the puppy amusing? Lance probably even believes that nonsense.

    =================================================================
    To be fair, I did learn something from him. It never occured to me before that keeping gas in my gas tank and changing the oil in my car means I have a “fossil fuel agenda”.

  90. Gunga Din,

    You admit your fossil fuel agenda. I have the same agenda. Fossil fuels are the gold standard of energy, better than any alternative. They have made everyone’s life longer, healthier, and wealthier than ever before.

    Gary Lance, on the other hand, is just another green hypocrite who uses fossil fuels while he rants against their use by others. Since he believes that fossil fuels will cause climate disruption and harm his fellow man, I challenge Lance to immediately stop using fossil fuels of any kind. Otherwise, he is just a hypocrite, no?

  91. tonyb says:

    November 3, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Gary

    London has had an embankment to protect it since the 1860′s

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

    It served several purposes which included protection against the river and reclaiming former marshland. A rising Thames Barrier was added some 30 years ago that straddles the river but is usually lowered into the river bed

    London has suffred some notable floods over the centuries including many in the 17th Century when the first serious efforts were made to protect the city. Storm surges are nothing new and depending on the circumstances-such as the position of the storm and the height of the tide- will cause damage ranging from minor to catastrophic.

    As I previously posted observations over the last 1000 years tell us that storms were far worse in the past, indeed fire and storms were some of the reasons the first insurance company in the world-Sun-was set up in 1710. Their plaques can still be seen to this day on walls of some old houses that had bought protection.

    We must stop looking at thirty years data in the belief that things are much worse than in the past. New York seems to have been substantially unprotected and authorities everywhere must assume that although we live in a relatively benign period future storms could be as bad as in the past and start planning accordingly. Undoubtedly with more people and increased property values catastrophes, loss of life and increased bills to rectify things are bound to happen .
    tonyb

    You were shown data from a reinsurer that proves the likelihood of a catastrophic event has increased two and a half times in the past 30 years. Instead of having any concern for your fellow man, who has to experience these catastrophic events, you spend your time dismissing the facts and claim how bad it was in the last 1000 years. Well, you don’t need 1000 years now, because just based on the changes of the last 30 years, 400 years will suffice. Catastrophes from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanos will remain constant, but catastrophes from storms, floods, mass movements, extreme temperatures, drought and forest fires have already increased enough to make all catastrophic events two and a half times more likely than they were 30 years ago. Notice these are forest fires and not fires in the city of London!

    I haven’t seen any of you concerned in the slightest that humanity has to suffer this new risk with it’s larger population exposed to these dangers, which only proves how much your agenda has consumed you. Your agenda drives you to prove that AGW doesn’t exist, but no one took up the challenge to explain why weather related catastrophic events have increased. You didn’t do it, because part of your tactic is to claim obvious climate change doesn’t exist.

    Building embankments will not make the sewers of London work with rising sea levels. We are years away from an ice free arctic and without sea ice in the arctic Greenland will melt faster than expected. You aren’t going to be able to engineer your way out of it.

  92. Gary

    You wouldn’t look at the link I provided from climate etc that demonstrated the reasons insurance information should be taken with a pinch of salt. Now you are ignoring the reality that storms seem to have been worse in the past despite their increase in recent years.

    Surely you could see in my last post that i suggested that we need to accept that storms could become worse or more frequent and that we needed to provide the means to protect the population with measures such as better flood barriers in the case of new York. I was merely pointing out that other major cities had already provided them and it seems surprising new York had not done better in protecting its inhabitants
    How is that in any shape or form a lack of concern for humanity?
    Tonyb

  93. Gary

    Perhaps you would like to explain what you believe our ‘agenda’ is? It’s obviously so clever that we even have ‘tactics’ in order to achieve it.

    Tonyb

  94. Gary Lance says to TonyB:

    “Your agenda is promoted by the fossil fuel industies trying to get the last dime, like the cigarette companies did.”

    Gary Lance is a complete ass. Tony Brown is always unfailingly polite, and he has done enormous historical research. He has written well received articles for WUWT, and is a regular contributor.

    Gary Lance owes Tony Brown an apology for his despicable and false accusation.

  95. Gary lance

    I am British. The idea that I am far to the right is ludicrous. The idea I have an agenda is nonsense. I do not belong to a ‘movement’. I am not a supporter of Koch or even heartland. I do not get a cent from special interests

    I am a historical climatologist who carries out a vast amount of research in such places as the Met office and the Scott polar institute. I see nothing alarming about our largely benign age but realise we have much to fear if we have some of the cataclysmic weather events we have had in the past of which you seem to be unaware.

    I suggest you take a few deep breaths and calm down before you post anything else. Good night to you

    Tonyb

  96. Lance seems to have a common problem among the catastrophists who believe capitalism is evil. Do these people know where wealth and wellbeing come from? Do they think the werewithal is growing on trees for all to pick as they need. No, risk capital is invested in innovation and resources and generates all the cash that pays taxes and underwrites all the current idiocy of the AGW movement. Why did the Soviet Union fall? It was because (if I may claim back the real meaning of sustainability) it couldn’t sustain itself with socialist economics. What about China? Same thing. It is the reason they have shifted their path toward capitalism. Without the capitalist engine, what is there to redistribute or use on unsustainable wind and solar? Get a life Lance.

  97. climatereason says:

    November 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Your agenda is promoted by the fossil fuel industies trying to get the last dime, like the cigarette companies did. The IPCC consists of scientists donating their time to a cause that the world thought was important, but people who take money from special interests like to paint the picture that concerned citizens are behaving as they are. Those scientists aren’t making money off of special interests, but your whole movement is. There is no market for climate change and there is a market for the things that cause climate change. You better hope the world comes to it’s senses before it’s too late, because the tower isn’t going to ask what you think when it falls on you.

    Take a look at your whole agenda! The EPA is so strict that it allows coal fired boilers to put mercury, cancer causing arsenic and acid rain sulfates into the atmosphere, when the natural gas can produce electricity at half the fuel price and we already have built capacity to reduce coal fired boiler electricity production to 5% of our electricity needs, according to the EIA. In fact, it isn’t that expensive to convert a boiler from coal to natural gas, but the expense to society never gets the attention of policy that a corporation gets. When the facts are pointed out to Koch supporters, they are quick to respond it will increase the price of natural gas. North America doesn’t have abundant crude oil, but it does have an abundant source of natural gas. Just in the North Slope of Alaska, they pump more natural gas back into the ground, after it’s used to heat crude oil, than any state can produce. During the moratorium on offshore drilling, which by the way was started by Bush Sr., there were exemptions made to all the zones for exploration.

    The NRC has allowed it’s authority to be determined by the industry. Three quarters of the nuclear facilities are leaking tritium and if they are leaking tritium, they are leaking other nuclear materials, even if it’s small amounts. You would think being challenged by governments in states asking, how can the NRC regulate pipes leaking under a nuclear reactor they don’t know exist would get more attention, but that’s America.

    America is bought and paid for by the corporations and you will know when the revolution by the people begins. The people aren’t going to buy the nonsense that our government hasn’t catered to the corporations. You can’t cover up a track record with your misinformation, your spell of dumbness can only last so long.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a socialist, communist or anything close to it, but you people are so far to the right, you deserve what fate has in store for you. I’d take away everything you have in reparations and see how well your genes manage to adapt to the world you want others to adapt to, when a priviledged or deluded class thinks they have the right to misinform the public and do so intentionally. Free speech is one thing and paid speech is another. Riches have been put away for ages in societies and people like the Koch bros. and their John Birch Society past are doomed to survive in a future. They don’t have enough money to compete when survival will raise it’s head in the near future with real wealth throughout the ages has to risk their fortunes to go along with the new clowns on the block. They are small fish compared to the fortunes amassed in this world, waiting for good investments, and let me assure you, I didn’t spend all my life in science and not know finance and law. Enjoy your day in the sun, because you tobacco days are nearly over!

    (Reply: You have worn out your welcome here. ~ mod)

  98. D Böehm says:
    November 4, 2012 at 2:35 pm
    Gary Lance says to TonyB:

    “Your agenda is promoted by the fossil fuel industies trying to get the last dime, like the cigarette companies did.”

    Gary Lance is a complete ass. Tony Brown is always unfailingly polite, and he has done enormous historical research. He has written well received articles for WUWT, and is a regular contributor.

    Gary Lance owes Tony Brown an apology for his despicable and false accusation.
    ====================================================================
    Agreed, but I don’t think he’ll get it.
    Though I would like to see a few checks from “Them” for supporting “Their” fossil fuel agenda. Oh. I forgot. It’s my agenda too. (If I write myself a check, will the bank cash it?)
    Hopefully Gary Lance will be like many of my generation that called our guys returning from Viet Nam “Baby Killers” and are now ashamed they did so. From Granada on, no matter the politics, that never happened again. Most of the Hippies grew up…and matured. We even have something called a mortgage and have to heat our our homes. (I say “we” but I missed the real “Hippies” peak by a couple of years. But I was still under the influence.) Nothing like a dose of Responsibility after “the munchies” have passed to put a crack or two in those rose colored glasses.
    Hopefully Gary will get a dose of Reality. A good start would be for him to pay attention to his thermometer.
    (I wonder from the things he’s said if he might have actually been in one of Mann’s classes?)

    [Reply: Mr Lance’s 2012/11/04 at 2:27 pm post was baseless, derogatory, over the top and unacceptable. It appears that Lance’s pride will not permit him to write a simple “Sorry.” If this moderator had known the easy way to make a site pest go away would be to insist that he must apologize to the esteemed Tony Brown, it might have been done sooner. — mod.]

  99. From Gary Lance on November 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm:

    …when the natural gas can produce electricity at half the fuel price and we already have built capacity to reduce coal fired boiler electricity production to 5% of our electricity needs, according to the EIA.

    http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=8450

    October 19, 2012
    Electricity generation from coal and natural gas both increased with summer heat

    In August 2012, coal produced 39% of U.S. electricity, up from a low of 32% in April 2012, when the natural gas share of generation equaled that of coal. Increased demand for electric power in the summer months—to run air conditioners—created more room in the market, and generation from both fuels increased between April and July. The August coal share of generation is still notably lower than the 50% annual average over the 1990-2010 period.

    According to GL, there is enough gas-fired capacity somewhere to replace what was the source of 34% of the nation’s electricity supply in August, 27% in April.


    Every year during the height of summer, natural gas-fired generation from peaking generators (used to meet the highest levels of electricity demand, and typically burning natural gas) increases to meet the demand for electricity, largely regardless of fuel prices. As demand for electric power moderates in the autumn months and the need for peaking generation moderates, total natural gas-fired generation decreases. Through the fall, if natural gas prices remain higher than in the spring, coal’s share of generation may continue to increase.

    GL must think peaking generators can replace the baseload generation of coal-fired plants. It’s the only way the numbers even begin to approach what he claimed. If the peakers are supplying baseload, what provides the electricity during peaking?

    From GL:

    Three quarters of the nuclear facilities are leaking tritium and if they are leaking tritium, they are leaking other nuclear materials, even if it’s small amounts.

    Again, GL says “leaking” when the original AP investigative piece, as breathlessly posted at Huffington Post, clearly says has leaked. The three-quarters is cumulative, not presently happening. Like the difference between saying 90% of all drivers are breaking the speed limit versus 90% have broken the speed limit at some point while driving.

    I picked that bit out of sequence as GL is railing against the nuclear plants. At the EIA link you can see the considerable contribution of nuclear to the US electricity supply, easily matching natural gas during non-summer months.

    Does GL expect natural gas to replace both coal and nuclear? Sure, why not use an energy source that can be disrupted in a second if a pipeline is destroyed, rather than one with the generating facilities having enough stocks on hand ready to burn to keep generation going for several days to weeks, or one that the facilities don’t need any refueling for years?

    From GL:

    In fact, it isn’t that expensive to convert a boiler from coal to natural gas…

    From the ever-reputable SourceWatch, Coal plant conversion projects:

    Natural gas conversions

    Although some coal-fired power plants are reported to have been converted from coal to natural gas, a 2010 study by the Aspen Environmental Group for the American Public Power Association reports that such “conversions,” when examined, are replacements rather than retrofits:

    The electricity industry can theoretically switch to natural gas either by retrofitting existing coal-fired units to burn natural gas or by closing the coal plants and building new gas-fired plants. Aspen’s research uncovers no instances of coal plant retrofits to natural gas and, in fact, virtually all of the public references to conversion of coal to natural gas or repowering turn out instead to be replacements. The reason is economics. Even the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), when it looked at this issue switching the Capitol Building power plant to natural gas, noted that not only was switching all U.S. coal-fired generation infeasible due the gas supply and infrastructure required, but that it would be more cost-effective to construct new gas-fired units than to retrofit existing coal-fired units to burn natural gas. Combined-cycle gas-fired generation costs roughly $1 million per MW, installed.

    Contrary to GL’s claim of a “fact”, it is expensive to convert coal to natural gas. They were designed to burn coal efficiently, creating heat to make steam to drive the generators. Slapping in some gas burners is far from ideal.

    Thus replacing is the rule. The coal plants are largely old, past their prime, perhaps past their expected life. If going to natural gas, replace with a highly-efficient combined cycle plant.

    And finally, as there is too much untrue garbage in his comment to reply to all of it:

    Your agenda is promoted by the fossil fuel industies trying to get the last dime, like the cigarette companies did.

    He rails against the fossil fuel industries, yet the wise SourceWatch reminds us (bold added):

    However, natural gas is still a fossil fuel. Although its carbon content is lower than that of coal, it nonetheless releases harmful CO2 into the atmosphere when burned.[14] Its extraction from shale, the most significant new source of natural gas, can have harmful impacts on water, land use, and wildlife, if the process is not managed properly. As with biofuels, many enviromentalists do not see natural gas as a longterm solution for the nation’s fuel needs.

    GL rants and raves about the fossil fuel industries and how we support and promote their agenda, while GL wants us to switch and support and promote the agenda of other fossil fuel industries. If they actually are other industries, the large energy conglomerates have proven themselves capable of selling practically any source of energy the customer wants, whether oil or gas or propane or even wind and solar.

    So basically Gary Lance has been demanding we stop using crack and meth, we should switch to heroin. Time to stop supporting the big crack and meth dealing mobs, support the heroin dealers instead to show how much you want to save the neighborhood.

  100. Storm surge is a bit of a misnomer, or at least a bit misleading, as it includes the solunar tide.

    Sandy’s surge according the instruments at Battery Park hit on the day of the full moon tide maximum and at the exact hour of the highest tide.

    All of the historic storm surges include this variable and its a significant enough of a variable to explain much of the surge.

    New York harbor also magnifies the surges. Battery Park recorded an 11 foot surge in 1960 and it shows up in Rhode Island as less than 2 meters in the above chart.

    In California where seldom does a hurricane reach the state, we have damages from winter storms. Winter storms are pretty common happening 2 or more times a year.

    Its a rare combination of large swells, the wind surge, combined with the arrival of that wind surge with the hour of a spring tide that causes almost all the damage. The only rare variable is the time of arrival coincidence.

    On the east coast hurricanes reaching New England are rare.

    Thus it appears to me that if Sandy is considered the storm of the century in New England its going be entirely because of its untimely arrival.

  101. Bill Hunter says:

    “Battery Park recorded an 11 foot surge in 1960 and it shows up in Rhode Island as less than 2 meters in the above chart.”

    Bill, did you forget to post the chart? Or were you referring to a particular chart in the comments or in the article?

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