Joe Romm Predicts “…All But Certain Ruin for Modern Civilization…” from a NOAA Fisheries Press Release

You can’t make this stuff up.

The April 25, 2013 NOAA press release Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years on Northeast Continental Shelf has been getting coverage by the mainstream media, including alarmist websites like Climate Progress. Sea surface temperatures may be the warmest in 150 years in specific regions of the Northeast Continental Shelf, but NOAA advised that they’re comparable to sea surface temperatures experienced in the late 1940s and early 1950s:

Sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem reached a record high of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2°F) in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. Average SST has typically been lower than 12.4 C (54.3 F) over the past three decades.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Climate Progress was foolish enough to prolong a myth and include a reference to Hurricane Sandy in their alarmist twaddle, along with a graph of global ocean heat content from Nuccitelli et al (2012)—as if global ocean heat content represents the sea surface temperatures of the Northeast Continental Shelf and Sandy’s storm track. Joe Romm writes:

No doubt it was purely coincidental that six months ago, in the fall of 2012, the Northeast was hit by the “largest hurricane in Atlantic history measured by diameter of gale force winds (1,040mi).” Or not.

And Romm concludes with the absurd statement (my boldface):

But I guess we’ll need some storms even more destructive than frankenstorm Sandy before the nation wakes up to the reality that climate change is unfolding much as scientists had warned — and that means all but certain ruin for modern civilization if we don’t slash carbon pollution rapidly.

We’ve already addressed how, based on the linear trend, the sea surface temperature anomalies along Sandy’s storm track haven’t warmed in 70+ years, and we’ve also seen that there was actually a downward shift in sea surface temperatures of Sandy’s extratropical storm track in the 1960s, as illustrated and discussed in the post here.

And we’ve also discussed how ocean heat content data and satellite-era sea surface temperature data and indicate the oceans warmed naturally. If this subject is new to you, refer to my illustrated essay “The Manmade Global Warming Challenge” [42MB]. For even more information, there’s more detail in my ebook Who Turned on the Heat? which was introduced in the blog post here. It’s available in pdf form here for US$8.00.

The recent NOAA press release is very similar to another one back in September 2012, Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Record Highs on Northeast Continental Shelf, which I commented on here. The regions identified are not exactly the same, so let’s see what the data shows.

The recent NOAA press release does not state what coordinates they used for sea surface temperatures, but they did include a map. See Figure 2. Figure 1, above, illustrates the sea surface temperature anomalies for the coordinates of 35N-45N, 76W-66W, which is the entire region shown in the map on the right. It includes the Northeast Continental Shelf and extends out beyond the regions NOAA has highlighted. (Note: I’m using NOAA’s ERSST.v3b dataset for sea surface temperature data.) The data for that region, when smoothed with the 12-month filter, shows that recent sea surface temperature anomalies were about the same as they were in the late 1940s. But monthly anomalies around 1950 clearly exceeded recent values.

Figure 2

Figure 2

So let’s look at the data for the two subsets. Figure 3 shows the sea surface temperature anomalies for the coordinates of 40N-45N, 74W-66W, which I’ve identified as New England portion. Those coordinates capture the regions in the NOAA map identified as Southern New England (SNE), Georges Bank (GB), and the Gulf of Maine (GOM). The 12-month running average shows that sea surface temperatures for a recent 12-month period were the warmest for this small region of the global oceans, but the monthly data show comparable temperature anomalies in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Figure 3

Figure 3

The Mid-Atlantic Bight region is captured by the coordinates of 35N-41N, 76W-74W. The sea surface temperature anomaly data for this very small portion of the Northeast Continental Shelf and Sandy’s storm track are shown in Figure 4. Clearly, the monthly and smoothed data both show sea surface temperatures were warmer in the 1940s and 1950s than they were recently.

Figure 4

Figure 4

CLOSING

I’m always amazed how chicken-little alarmists like Joe Romm can turn a simple press release into evidence of “certain ruin of civilization”. Romm must have missed the last sentence in the opening paragraph of NOAA’s press release (my boldface):

These high sea surface temperatures (SSTs) are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northwest Atlantic, but not seen elsewhere in the ocean basin over the past century.

Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) provides an excellent service for the fishing industry from North Carolina to Maine. With two press releases on the same topic over the past 8 months, one might suspect NOAA is trying to help NEFSC funding. I can’t see how the absurd, increasingly desperate alarmism from Joe Romm would help that. It simply makes reasonable persons ever more skeptical.

SOURCE

The ERSST.v3b data are available through the KNMI Climate Explorer.

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44 thoughts on “Joe Romm Predicts “…All But Certain Ruin for Modern Civilization…” from a NOAA Fisheries Press Release

  1. “Presaging Apocalypse” is the second of the Climate Myths (as in ‘Stories’) which Mike Hulme has identified.

    All the way from “Silent Spring” (1962), “The Population Bomb” (1968) and “Limits to Growth” (1972), there is the constant rhetoric such as “species wiped out”, “catastrophic climate change”,
    “approaching tipping points”, which is supposed to inspire the faithful, but as Hulme says “frequently leads to disempowerment, apathy and scepticism among its audience.”

    As indeed it should.

  2. Nice work, Bob. A precise and targeted response to foolishness, as always. Since this elevated SST is happening only in this region, which is on the north side of the Gulf Stream, do you have any speculations about the cause? More sunlight because of less cloudiness maybe? Currents circle counter clockwise in GOM and in the other areas move eastward along the coast. Is it a case of captured heat being impeded from flowing into the rest of the north Atlantic?

  3. Mr. Romm has a very severe case of Skeptical Science Syndrome.
    His illness will soon cause him to take a drive in the country to get back in touch with reality.

  4. Romm never lets facts get in the way of a good global warming Armageddon rant. Great job, Bob.

  5. How long has humanity had the ability to measure the ” diameter of gale force winds” in a hurricane?
    I’ll guess not before hurricane hunter flights. Not so long at all.
    But TS Sandy was the ” …largest hurricane in Atlantic history”
    A considerably longer time frame.
    How does he know this?
    He doesn’t. He made it up.
    If this charlatan truly wanted to help. He would educate all those that he could
    in hurricane preparedness.

  6. “We’re all Doooooomed Mr Mainwaring”

    Apologies to non Brits – I doubt the above makes a lot of sense without exposure to UK TV.

  7. A true “Moral [Entrepreneur]” on a mission. He feels real good about himself.
    (I love this site. It makes me smarter.
    Or is it , more smart?)

  8. Typo.
    …… all but certain ruin for modern civilization if we don’t stop implementing uneconomic policies intended to try to reduce harmless CO2 emissions.
    There.
    Fixed.

  9. Gary says: “Since this elevated SST is happening only in this region, which is on the north side of the Gulf Stream, do you have any speculations about the cause?”

    Speculation: I suspect the weather pattern that caused the elevated U.S. land surface temperatures in 2012 will eventually be found to have contributed.

    (And considering how much better my ancient knees felt last year when it was warmer in the U.S., I’d welcome that warmth back.)

  10. This is a highly variable region and the temperature swing throught the year is +/- 7.0C

    The numbers they are talking about were last year (which was influenced by the heat wave in the US east). The region is more-or-less normal right now and going lower since temps have been below average in the region lately.

    It was very cold by early April this year, 2013.

    Animation of the past 30 days.

  11. Camburn says: “Mr. Romm has a very severe case of Skeptical Science Syndrome.
    His illness will soon cause him to take a drive in the country to get back in touch with reality.”

    But that would increase his carbon foolprint for the day.

  12. Bob Tisdale says:
    April 29, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Camburn says: “Mr. Romm has a very severe case of Skeptical Science Syndrome.
    His illness will soon cause him to take a drive in the country to get back in touch with reality.”

    But that would increase his carbon foolprint for the day.

    True Bob, but reality is just worth a little bit of that carbon foolprint……….isn’t it?

  13. Well, of course he is right, our life on this rock will end, sometime. However, it will not be due to “carbon pollution”.

  14. Thanks, Bob; as always.
    Even better that we have just had an excellent essay by Michael Palmer regarding the North Sea and flood defenses going back centuries.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Joe Romm is following the career trajectory of Harold Camping – “rapture” will occur in 5, 4, 3, . . . years, months, weeks, . . .

  15. When all you got to sell is BS , then that is what you try to sell . Romm is finding less and less customers willing to even look at what he has got to sell.

  16. ROMM! Sandy was not a hurricane. It was less than a hurricane, A SUBTROPICAL STORM. And there was nothing “super” about it. It was big and slow. So what?

  17. Warmth in that area is usually a feature of reversed easterly type wind flows becoming more frequent as the mid latitude jets sink equatorward due to low solar activity.

    In this case it was probably enhanced by the warmth of the USA in summer 2012.

    I recall the same phenomenon being commented on in the cold winter pf 62-63.

    The easterly flows cause some backing up of warm Gulf Stream water in the region around NE USA before it resumes travel across the north Atlantic.

    One of many signs of a cooling global climate regime.

  18. RE: RobRoy says:
    April 29, 2013 at 7:02 am

    You hit the nail on the head. The 1938 hurricane had winds over 180 mph atop the Blue Hills south of Boston, and right on the water in Boston Harbor they had hurricane force winds, while the eye of the storm was nearly across the state, heading up the Connecticut River valley far to the west. It must have been massive, and was heading north so fast it didn’t have time to weaken. If a hurricane like that came north now, and went up the Hudson River Valley, and hit on a full moon high tide like Sandy did, the tides would be ten feet higher than Sandy’s were.

    Storms of enormous size have come up the coast in the past. They rip into the dunes of the barrier islands, and can wash a lot of sand onto the marshes behind the dunes. Then, when geologists take a core down into the peat of those marshes, they can see the layers of sand, and date them.

    There is nothing “unprecedented” about such storms. They have happened before and will likely happen again. However that will never stop the likes of Romm and McKibben from attempting to milk them like a dry cow.

    It is so easy to predict those guys. Much easier than it is to predict a hurricane. Last year I wrote something called, “Hurricane Warning; McKibben Alert,” and Anthony was so kind as to publish it here. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/08/21/hurricane-warning-mckibben-alert/

    That was on August 21. Sandy didn’t hit until October 29. Romm and McKibben behaved exactly as predicted. I think it was one of my better forecasts. However what I couldn’t have predicted is that Romm would go on and on and on about it.

    It is just misinformation after misinformation after misinformation with that man. It really does get tedious, but I feel Bob Tisdale’s response is wisest: Hit Romm with truth after truth after truth.

  19. “…all but certain ruin for modern civilization if we don’t slash carbon pollution rapidly.”

    If Romm is right and we don’t slash “carbon pollution” rapidly we ruin modern civilization, ruining modern civilization will still slash “carbon pollution”.

    Alternatively, if we slash “carbon pollution” rapidly, we ruin modern civilization.

    Definitely damned if you do; possibly damned if you don’t and Romm is right.

    How about if we start cutting “carbon pollution” rapidly by turning off Romm’s electricity?

  20. Sea temps look to lag air temps five years. The late-40s high lasted about 10 years and beyond the mid-40s air temp decline.

    Here’s a prediction:

    As air temps drop in the next 5 years, the warmists will say that the ocean is a better predictor of global warming than the air, due to the energy content of water relative to air. And they will say that the ocean will release all of this heat and the air temps will soar. With this they will be able to discount 5 more years of air cooling with fingers pointing to the ocean, and then get another five years to say that we haven’t observed long enough. The result: CAGW “can’t” be proven wrong until >2023.

    By which time they will be like Erhlich, rich, retired and holding an honourary board position of the David Suzuki/Al Gore Foundation.

  21. I find it very hard to hold any credence in the statement that “Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years on Northeast Continental Shelf”. SST measurements back as far as 1854 consisted of taking the temperature of the water from a bucket of water taken from the surface. Until 1967, in modern times, the temperatures were taken from the sea water inlets in the engine rooms which would show a bias due to the temperature of the ER. It wasn’t until 1967 that the SSTs were taken using satellites and it wasn’t until 1970 that a SST composite using satellite measurements was established. Even now, with the Argos system, if the accuracy of the system is as good as advertised, that would mean that we only have accurate SST records since the 1980s, hardly 150 years.

    People who make obviously outlandish claims like that in the title of their study, or the press release, make it very difficult to believe any further claims or predictions that they make in the body of their works.

  22. Michael Tremblay says: “I find it very hard to hold any credence in the statement that “Sea Surface Temperatures Reach Highest Level in 150 Years on Northeast Continental Shelf”. SST measurements back as far as 1854 consisted of taking the temperature of the water from a bucket of water taken from the surface. Until 1967, in modern times, the temperatures were taken from the sea water inlets in the engine rooms which would show a bias due to the temperature of the ER. It wasn’t until 1967 that the SSTs were taken using satellites and it wasn’t until 1970 that a SST composite using satellite measurements was established.”

    NOAA’s satellite-based sea surface temperature data starts in November 1981. NOAA does not include satellite-based data in their long-term sea surface temperature reconstruction. In 2008, they added satellite-based data initially to their ERSST.v3 data, but the powers-that-be at NOAA didn’t like it because the better coverage showed slightly less warming, so a few months later they removed the satellite-based data and renamed the dataset ERSST.v3b.

    Regards

  23. Caleb says:
    April 29, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Right ****ing on.

    The Nuccitelli spewance needs similar treatment.

    Someone did a back of the napkin and said something like(I can’t go back to the stink of that particular Gruniad love-in as it makes my skin crawl reading the inhabitants’ projections and insults) – “… 4 Hiroshima bombs a second in the deep ocean means 0.000015C per century …”

    I may be up to two orders of magnitude out with my memory – it still wouldn’t be measurable either way.

  24. Henry Galt “Someone did a back of the napkin and said something like(I can’t go back to the stink of that particular Gruniad love-in as it makes my skin crawl reading the inhabitants’ projections and insults) – “… 4 Hiroshima bombs a second in the deep ocean means 0.000015C per century …””

    I know what you mean, I feel dirty whenever I venture into that morass of wish-casting, mud-flinging and catastrophe-mongering.

  25. Bob Tisdale
    You posted a link about a week ago that showed how many “thermometers” (don’t know exactly what their called) they have/had measuring the ocean temps. I’m pretty sure it was a NOAA link. It went back to when they were hardly any to present day. I tried finding it, but can’t. Can you please post it again?

  26. “But that would increase his carbon foolprint for the day.”

    I don’t suppose that “foolprint” was an intentional typo, but it does help highlight what fools these global-warming scaremongers are becoming.

  27. Clyde says: “You posted a link about a week ago that showed how many ‘thermometers’ (don’t know exactly what their called) they have/had measuring the ocean temps. I’m pretty sure it was a NOAA link. It went back to when they were hardly any to present day…”

    I believe you’re talking about the links to the animations I created of the maps of the locations of temperature observations used in the NODC’s Ocean Heat Content data.

    Temperature sample maps at 250 meters (11MB).

    Temperature sample maps at 500 meters (9MB).

    Temperature sample maps at 1500 meters (6MB).

    I linked them in a few recent posts, like the following, under the heading of LACK OF OBSERVATIONAL DATA PRIOR TO ARGO:

    http://bobtisdale.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/is-ocean-heat-content-data-all-its-stacked-up-to-be/

    And the originals for the maps are from the NODC webpage here:

    http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/OC5/3M_HEAT/showfig.pl?action=start

    Note: The surface data locations in those maps do not appear to be the same as the ICOADS data used in sea surface temperature datasets.

  28. Louis says: “I don’t suppose that ‘foolprint’ was an intentional typo, but it does help highlight what fools these global-warming scaremongers are becoming.”

    It was intentional. The ‘”T” and “L” keys are too far apart for me to claim otherwise.

    Regards

  29. Doug Proctor says: “Sea temps look to lag air temps five years. The late-40s high lasted about 10 years and beyond the mid-40s air temp decline.”

    The 1940s are a tough time to judge temperature variations. The Hadley Centre just modified that period, starting with the 1945 “discontinuity” even though that discontinuity appears in other datasets. Also, AMIP climate model simulations use sea surface temperature data as inputs to see how the atmosphere in the models responds, not vice versa. In fact, Compo and Sardeshmukh (2009) found that the majority of the long- and short-term variations in land surface air temperatures were responses to changes in sea surface temperatures:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/people/gilbert.p.compo/CompoSardeshmukh2007a.pdf

    Regards

  30. I remember reading that I think it was NOAA down graded the size of Sandy to if I remember correctly the 4th largest storm in the history of Atlantic storms (satalite era). Anyone else remember tthat?

  31. Joe’s been predicting doom and chaos for years. He gets even more ranty as every month goes by – I think it is the current lack of warming that really makes him scared.

  32. Well done, Bob. Let me point out a totally separate way that they have hugely overestimated the importance of this finding.

    The area of the Northeast Continental Shelf is on the order of 230,000 square km. This is not 1% of the ocean area of the planet.

    Heck, it’s not even a tenth of a percent of the global area.

    It is just under five hundredths of one percent of the ocean.

    So. Let us divide up the surface of the ocean into 2,233 parts, with each part being the size of the Northeast Continental Shelf. In a given year, what are the odds that one or more of these sections will OMG! BREAK A HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEAR RECORD!!

    To calculate that, we have options.

    1. Simplistic. If the earth is not generally warming and the temperatures are quick analysis in R says that in the 151st year, we’d expect about fifteen of the areas to set 150-year records.

    2. Slightly less simplistic. The earth has been warming for the last several centuries. So in fact, every single year we’d expect more than fifteen of these Northeast Continental Shelf sized areas of the ocean to show records. How many more? Well, back to R …

    OK, if we assume a 1°C warming trend over the 150 years, that jacks the number of 150-year records from fifteen to about forty records set in the 151st year..

    Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill …

    Regards to all,

    w.

    R Code used for the analysis:

    testsize=2233 # increase for more accuracy, I ran it at 223300
    mybox=matrix(rnorm(testsize*150),nrow=150) # matrix of random numbers, 150 rows
    mymaxline=apply(mybox,2,max) # get the column maxima
    myshortline=mymaxline[-length(mymaxline)] # remove the last data point
    myfirstline=mybox[1,][-1] # make a line for comparison from the first row, excluding the first point
    length(which(myfirstline > myshortline)) # compare the new data point to the maxima
    
    
    
    warming_trend=seq(0,1,length.out=150)# temperature increase of 1°C in 150 years
    warm_matrix=matrix(rep(warming_trend,testsize),nrow=150,byrow=FALSE) # make a matrix of it
    warm_box=mybox + warm_matrix # add the warming trend to the random data
    
    warmmaxline=apply(warm_box,2,max) # as before
    warmshortline=warmmaxline[-length(warmmaxline)]
    warmlastline=warm_box[150,][-1]
    length(which(warmlastline > warmshortline))
  33. But I guess we’ll need some storms even more destructive than frankenstorm Sandy before the nation wakes up to the reality that climate change is unfolding much as scientists had warned — and that means all but certain ruin for modern civilization if we don’t slash carbon pollution rapidly.

    Joe Romm. Why don’t you lead by example and give up ALL modern conveniences (and when I say modern, I mean anything after the Paleolithic age). We would ALL be better off if you and all the other alarmists stopped using carbon-spewing computers, and clogging up the Internet with pollution.

  34. Caleb says: It is just misinformation after misinformation after misinformation with that man. It really does get tedious, but I feel Bob Tisdale’s response is wisest: Hit Romm with truth after truth after truth.

    I think the word you’re looking for is disinformation, as misinformation is simply erroneous. The former is intended to deceive.

  35. Bob said – I believe you’re talking about the links to the animations I created of the maps of the locations of temperature observations used in the NODC’s Ocean Heat Content data.

    Thanks for the links, but the one I’m looking for wasn’t included. They are presented in a graph. You have to scroll down a bit after you click on the link. You posted the link in a reply to a comment. I will try to find it later today. If i do I’ll post it on this thread.

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