Study: ‘worst drought of this century barely makes the top 10 ‘

From Brigham Young University:

Tree rings reveal nightmare droughts in the West

If you think the 1930s drought that caused The Dust Bowl was rough, new research looking at tree rings in the Rocky Mountains has news for you: Things can get much worse in the West.

In fact the worst drought of this century barely makes the top 10 of a study that extended Utah’s climate record back to the year 1429.

With sandpaper and microscopes, Brigham Young University professor Matthew Bekker analyzed rings from drought-sensitive tree species. He found several types of scenarios that could make life uncomfortable in what is now the nation’s third-fastest-growing state:

- Long droughts: The year 1703 kicked off 16 years in a row with below average stream flow.

- Intense droughts: The Weber River flowed at just 13 percent of normal in 1580 and dropped below 20 percent in three other periods.

- Consecutive worst-case scenarios: The most severe drought in the record began in 1492, and four of the five worst droughts all happened during Christopher Columbus’ lifetime.

“We’re conservatively estimating the severity of these droughts that hit before the modern record, and we still see some that are kind of scary if they were to happen again,” said Bekker, a geography professor at BYU. “We would really have to change the way we do things here.”

Modern climate and stream flow records only go back about 100 years in this part of the country, so scientists like Bekker turn to Mother Nature’s own record-keeping to see the bigger picture. For this study, the BYU geographer took sample cores from Douglas fir and pinyon pine trees. The thickness of annual growth rings for these species is especially sensitive to water supply.

Using samples from both living and dead trees in the Weber River basin, the researchers built a tree-ring chronology that extends back 585 years into Utah’s natural history. Modern stream flow measurements helped them calibrate the correlation between ring thickness and drought severity.

As Bekker and his co-authors report in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, the west’s climate usually fluctuates far more than it did in the 1900s. The five previous centuries each saw more years of extremely dry and extremely wet climate conditions.

“We’re trying to work with water managers to show the different flavors of droughts this region has had,” said Bekker. “These are scenarios you need to build into your models to know how to plan for the future.”

Bekker collaborated with researchers from the U.S. Forest Service, Columbia University and Utah State University. The team is currently working on a climate reconstruction based on tree rings that date back more than 1,000 years.

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67 thoughts on “Study: ‘worst drought of this century barely makes the top 10 ‘

  1. the west’s climate usually fluctuates far more than it did in the 1900s
    ===
    I know…..tree rings
    but at least it’s a start

  2. The most severe drought in the record began in 1492, and four of the five worst droughts all happened during Christopher Columbus’ lifetime.

    I’m going to need a fainting couch & some reparations (cash only, please), or my blonde haired, blue-eyed Cherokee ancestors’s ghosts are gonna haunt all y’all. –Something Elizabeth Warren very likely said

  3. As Bekker and his co-authors report in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association, the west’s climate usually fluctuates far more than it did in the 1900s. The five previous centuries each saw more years of extremely dry and extremely wet climate conditions.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————-
    So much for the weather growing more extreme due to rising CO2 levels.

  4. It’s worse than we thought! AGW causes droughts to time travel backwards!
    /sarc

  5. Please check the name of the University. It should be Brigham Young, not Bringham Young.

  6. Well, at least looking at tree rings for signs of past water availability makes sense, unlike looking at tree rings for trace gases and as treemometers.

  7. On the surface this sounds like a great analysis of specifically localized weather patterns, with no tie-in to AGW or temperature. the time frame given was prior to industrialization so humans can’t be to blame, right?

    Or am I missing something?

  8. Wonder which “environmental scientist” at the University of Virginia blamed human activity for the LIA & its extreme WX. Too bad Mann’s emails aren’t available:

    http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Little_Ice_Age_and_Colonial_Virginia_The#start_entry

    The Little Ice Age and Colonial Virginia

    Contributed by Brendan Wolfe

    The Little Ice Age was a climatic period, lasting from about 1300 to 1750, when worldwide temperatures cooled slightly, leading to extreme weather that, in turn, affected the colonizing ventures of Europeans in America. Before their arrival, Europeans assumed America’s climate would match that of lands situated along the same lines of latitude elsewhere. Instead, the New World was both hotter and colder than they expected. And as a result of the Little Ice Age, the weather was marked by wet springs that led to flooding, hot summers that led to long droughts, and particularly cold winters. Scientists disagree over the causes of the Little Ice Age, although an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia has pointed the finger at human activity. Regardless, scientists agree that the effect on weather was pronounced. In January 1607, a massive flood struck southwestern England even as the Thames River was frozen over. Both the areas around Roanoke and Jamestown were suffering from millennial droughts when the colonists arrived demanding food from local Indian populations. The resulting scarcity of food contributed to disease and conflict, both of which ended the venture at Roanoke and threatened the survival of Jamestown.

  9. None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.

    It was A E Douglass who first studied tree rings in the American west and related them to sunspots and to droughts.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._E._Douglass

    In trying to determine State claims to water in the Colorado River the US Supreme Court used a study of tree ring data to determine precipitation and thereby river flow. The study was done by dendroclimatologist Gordon Jacoby who appeared in a 1974 documentary titled “Where did the Colorado Go?” explaining what he did.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1426853/

    On the basis of these findings they apparently apportioned water to each State that turned out to exceed actual annual flow by 10 percent. As I understand Mexico didn’t get their portion.

  10. This research and documentation in a central DB is invaluable in providing rapid rejection of the next big scare to be attempted by the amoral warmist press. Thanks

  11. Nothing wrong with using tree rings if done properly. And for the right reasons. And in the correct context.

  12. There is a reason that you cannot mistake the swamps and foliage of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida for the deserts of the US Southwest. How could the West not have had much more dry climate than the rest of the US for many, many centuries. That is why all the alarmism of droughts of the West makes no sense.

  13. Why didn’t they go back farther? A study in Earth Sciences Review back in 2005 (http://blog.lib.umn.edu/stgeorge/geog5426/Cook%20Earth%20Science%20Reviews%202007.pdf) shows 2 droughts in the west of 200 years duration EACH between about 800 and 1300 AD. The conclusions in section 10 state:

    “These reconstructions, many of which cover the past 1000 yr, have revealed the occurrence of a number of unprecedented megadroughts over the past millennium that clearly exceed any found in the instrumental records since about AD 1850, including an epoch of significantly elevated aridity that persisted for almost 400 yr over the AD 900–1300 period. In terms of duration, these past megadroughts dwarf the famous droughts of the 20th century, such as the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, the southern Great Plains drought of the 1950s, and the current one in the West that began in 1999 and still lingers on as of this writing in 2005.”

    The current California drought is nothing compared with what has happened in the past and will likely happen again someday.

  14. Must be some pretty clueless reviewers that allowed this trash to be published. Everyone knows that tree rings are a proxy for *temperature*.
    /sarc

  15. I recall this sort of drought history being discussed in the late 1960′s. Drought periods of over 50 years were discovered in the same region. It seems as if modern paleo work is allowing for finer resolution of the drought periods. this information gives some perspective on the climate obsessed’s compulsion to claim every notable weather event is somehow unprecedented and due to CO2.

  16. Pfft, not like the Cult of Global Warming must pay heed to these findings. It will be as if this study, like all of the other hundreds of real climate research papers, was never published.

  17. In the early 1800′s the Great Plains were often referred to as the Great American Desert by cartographers and travelers alike. By the time large scale emigration started, climate had moved from the LIA into a bit wetter mode. There are many observations from early settlers that spoke of sufficient rain and the Term GAD disappeared from maps and minds.

    Best
    Doug

  18. “Scientists disagree over the causes of the Little Ice Age, although an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia has pointed the finger at human activity.”

    You know, if you slack up on offering the Sacrifices, these kinds of things happen every time.

  19. I think this is the big give away.

    Prairie grass.

    Do not plough up a drought resistant plant that can flower in a drought and replace with non drought resistant crops.

    Bison, hardy animal also good at surviving droughts.

  20. Hold on just a minute . . .
    Those rings are supposed to teach us all about temperature, don’t ya know, not moisture.
    Surely we’re not going to suggest that tree growth is influenced by multiple factors. :)

    —–
    Seriously, though, it is good to get an occasional long-term view to remind us that perhaps what we currently see isn’t quite as “unprecedented” as some would have us believe.

  21. ffohnad says:
    May 2, 2014 at 11:32 am
    In the early 1800′s the Great Plains were often referred to as the Great American Desert by cartographers and travelers alike. By the time large scale emigration started, climate had moved from the LIA into a bit wetter mode. There are many observations from early settlers that spoke of sufficient rain and the Term GAD disappeared from maps and minds.
    Best
    Doug
    —————————————————————————————————————————–
    But the settlers thought the change in climate was due to their agriculture and planting trees.
    Hence, “Rain follows the plough” and Arbor Day. It seems mankind is perpetually fooling themselves into thinking they have much more influence over climate than they do. Heh heh.

  22. These studies are only valid if the tree can be used for hockey sticks. It has to be able to flex and often blended with other wood for a composite of whatever feature the player wishes.

  23. So how did the seagull count fluctuate, when these mega missing moisture malaises occurred ?? This could be significant for the future survival of Brigham Young, as a viable and livable research institution.

    Why does my computer keep telling me that WUWT doesn’t have a legitimate “site certificate”, and windows update keeps on expunging it from my favorites list ?? Leave my “stuff” alone !!

  24. Tim Ball says “None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.”

    Absolutely. The focus on CO2 has misdirected our attention from the more powerfull natural causes of drought, The literature is chock full of similar studies for anyone who cares to seek the truth.

    Tree stumps submerged beneath Lake Tahoe speak of unimaginable drought during colder times in an era when the atmosphere held 30% less CO2. Tree-ring studies reveal that droughts equal to the 1930s Dust Bowl and 1950s have occurred once or twice every century during the past 300–400 years, and a sustained mega-drought (a period of more frequent droughts lasting several decades) happens once every 500 years.

    Central Africa suffered extreme droughts during the Little Ice Age. The effects of Little Ice Age mega-droughts also caused the collapse of the city of Angkor in Cambodia, and the Khmer empire, and coincided with the disintegration of nearly all of the major regional kingdoms of southeast Asia. The Great Victorian Drought during the cool 1870s resulted in horrendous famine in southeast Asia and caused the death of tens of millions of people, prompting widespread rebellions against the colonial French and British.

    In North America, severe droughts lasting decades were centered around 1000 AD, 1500 AD, and 1800 AD. Reconstructions using lake and stream deposits as well as tree rings revealed a series of mega-droughts each lasting 20–40 years over a 400-year period. Reconstructions of California’s Sacramento River during the past 1000 years show the period beginning around 1350 AD was the driest 50-year period and the period beginning around 1140 AD was the driest 20-year period. The greatest frequency of extreme low river flow for the Colorado River occurred in the 19th century with “extreme event years in the 1840s and 1850s.”

    More recently, studies around Glacier National Park (GNP) indicate the late 1800s suffered a series of droughts lasting more than 10 years, with the single most severe dry period occurring from 1917–41. That drought caused GNP’s immense Sperry Glacier to lose 60% of its mass between 1900 and 1950. All those severe droughts have nothing to do with rising CO2 or increased evaporation. They are better accounted for by changes in the El Niño cycles and the position of the Hadley Cell

    read

    Benson, L., et al. (2003) Influence of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation on the climate of the Sierra Nevada, California and Nevada. Quaternary Research, vol. 59, p. 151–159

    Benson, L., et al., (2002) Holocene multidecadal and multicentennial droughts affecting Northern California and Nevada. Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 21, p. 659–682.

    Woodhouse, C., and Overpeck, J. (1998) 2000 Years of Drought Variability in the Central United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 79, p. 2693-2714

    Russell,J.M., et al., (2007) Little Ice Age drought in equatorial Africa: Intertropical Convergence Zone migrations and El Niño–Southern Oscillation variability. Geology, vol. 35. p. 21–24

    Buckley, B, et al., (2010) Climate as a contributing factor in the demise of Angkor, Cambodia. PNAS, vol. 107, p. 6748-6752

    Sinha, A., et al., (2010) A global context for megadroughts in monsoon Asia during the past millennium. Quaternary Science Reviews, 1-16.

    Mensig, S., et al., (2004) A Holocene pollen record of persistent droughts from Pyramid Lake, Nevada, USA. Quaternary Research, vol. 62. P. 29– 38.

    Cook, E., et al., (2004) Long-Term Aridity Changes in the Western United States. Science 306, 1015-1018.

    Cook, E., et al., (2010) Asian Monsoon Failure and Megadrought During the Last Millennium. Science, vol. 328, p. 486-489

    Woodhouse, C. and Lukas, J. (2006) Multi-century tree-ring reconstructions of Colorado streamflow for water resource planning. Climatic Change, vol. 78, p. 293-315.

    Pederson,G., et al., (2006) Long-Duration Drought Variability and Impacts on Ecosystem Services: A Case Study from Glacier National Park, Montana. . Earth Interactions, vol. 10, p.1 28

  25. wws says:
    May 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

    It’s not nice to stop appeasing the storm gods with child sacrifices!

    Now the Green Shirt druids have managed to remove their human sacrifice rituals from plain public sight. Also animals, of course, in the case of the windmill & solar panel sacrificial altars. And the odd light plane passengers & pilots.

  26. Others have made the point about tree-rings being used for precipitation and for temperature, but I would like to pursue it more formally. Unfortunately, this particular paper is pay-walled so I can’t check it further. My questions are:

    What feature or features of tree-rings is used to determine precipitation?
    What feature or features of tree-rings is used to determine temperature?

    The answers to these questions should presumably give a reasonable idea of whether tree-rings can legitimately be used for both.

  27. I am glad too see others posting about North American droughts. I have heard tell from my native friends that there was a terrible drought in the south east region USA during the first half of the 16th century, they called it “The Great Starving Time” ….. It was long and devastating. I have heard stories from my native friends out west about a terrible climate changing event due to volcanoes popping off in the Four Corners area of what is today the South West USA. Said change was the rain stopped. For decades. These stories should serve to teach our world civilization that weather and climate can be nice or nasty and remaining sober and adaptive is a sound strategy for survival.

  28. I have a problem with tree ring data. The obvious one, is that tree rings can be effected by numerous elements with the person(s) using the tree rings for their study doing the interpretation.

    We all know that temperature and rainfall are factors which are hard to separate out(a cold/short growing season for instance could look like a drought) but in many cases, CO2 levels are even more important.

    CO2 levels hundreds of years ago, during these severe droughts were very deficient at well under 300 ppm vs today’s less deficient 400 ppm. At these lower levels of CO2, small changes in CO2 have an even bigger impact in plant response. Woody stemmed plants/trees are effected most.

    In the last decade, most scientists have underestimated these effects occurring right under their noses, so it’s hard to imagine that they are accurately estimating the effect of much lower CO2 levels on plants/trees response that lived hundreds of years ago.

    We know that the increase in CO2 in the last few decades is even causing deserts to green up.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130708103521.htm

    Plants under drought stress are most effected (positively by more CO2) (negatively by lower CO2)

    If I were comparing tree rings from the century prior to 1914, to those from the century after 1914, the older trees, growing with much less atmospheric fertilization should appear to have been subjected to more adverse conditions.

    Droughts of equal intensity in 2014 and 1814, will clearly show up as more severe in trees from 1814 because they were not afforded the adaptation benefits of the 400 ppm CO2 levels in the atmosphere that humans have blessed them with.

    Another related point that is a factor in slightly decreasing intensities of droughts since carbon dioxide have increased. This has not only caused massive increases in our planets vegetative health and plant growth and drought tolerance of plants but also increased evapotranpiration a great deal. As a result, there has been an increase in, especially, lower level atmospheric water vapor.

    I note this as a negative feedback with lower lifting condensation levels for clouds (increase in low clouds and cloud height) as well as increasing precipitation.

    With lower CO2 levels in the past, the reverse would be true, meaning droughts would be more likely.

    As somebody forecasting weather in the US Cornbelt for over 30 years, I can tell you about the micro climate that sets up every year after the densely packed rows of corn are developed and adding 5+ degrees to dew points (at certain times) over an area the size of more than half a dozen states at times.

    This does increase night time lows and the heat index but decreases day time readings, moisture stress and increases precip and soil moisture which causes additional contributions to future evapotranspiration, setting up a bit of a micro climate that is more beneficial to growing crops than before.

    https://www2.ucar.edu/atmosnews/opinion/4997/corn-and-climate-sweaty-topic

  29. Only Native Tribal legends capture the reality of worst case droughts. The White Man has not yet experienced the worst the Western US can offer.

  30. But droughts are getting worse than we thought! We must, for the sake of the little grandchildren, act now! Yeah, of course we must.
    Letter To Nature – 11 September 2012
    Justin Sheffield et al
    Little change in global drought over the past 60 years
    …….Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming4, 5……..Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation7 that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles8 that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years. The results have implications for how we interpret the impact of global warming on the hydrological cycle and its extremes, and may help to explain why palaeoclimate drought reconstructions based on tree-ring data diverge from the PDSI-based drought record in recent years9, 10.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/full/nature11575.html

    Abstract – 16 October 2012
    Changes in the variability of global land precipitation
    Fubao Sun et al
    [1] In our warming climate there is a general expectation that the variability of precipitation (P) will increase at daily, monthly and inter-annual timescales. Here we analyse observations of monthlyP (1940–2009) over the global land surface using a new theoretical framework that can distinguish changes in global Pvariance between space and time. We report a near-zero temporal trend in global meanP. Unexpectedly we found a reduction in global land P variance over space and time that was due to a redistribution, where, on average, the dry became wetter while wet became drier. Changes in the P variance were not related to variations in temperature. Instead, the largest changes in P variance were generally found in regions having the largest aerosol emissions. Our results combined with recent modelling studies lead us to speculate that aerosol loading has played a key role in changing the variability of P.
    Geophysical Research Letters – Volume 39, Issue 19
    DOI: 10.1029/2012GL053369

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2012GL053369/abstract

    These results are entirely consistent with global oddness.

  31. You American’s should count yourselves lucky today you don’t live in the Little Ice Age.

    Abstract
    Tree-ring reconstructed megadroughts over North America since a.d. 1300
    Tree-ring reconstructed summer Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI) are used to identify decadal droughts more severe and prolonged than any witnessed during the instrumental period. These “megadroughts” are identified at two spatial scales, the North American continental scale (exclusive of Alaska and boreal Canada) and at the sub-continental scale over western North America. Intense decadal droughts have had significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts, as is illustrated with historical information. Only one prolonged continent-wide megadrought during the past 500 years exceeded the decadal droughts witnessed during the instrumental period, but three megadroughts occurred over the western sector of North America from a.d. 1300 to 1900…….

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-006-9171-x

    It’s worse than we thought and it’s all man’s fault. We must act against climate change and the causes of climate change. Or is that global warming during the Little Ice Age? Of course and everything is entirely consistent with something or other.

  32. I hear parts of Europe could get more droughts and floods. I suspect it’s part of that global weirding thingey.

    Abstract
    Alpine glacier advances in the “Little Ice Age” took place in the decades around 1320, 1600, 1700 and 1810. They were the outcome of snowier winters and cooler summers than those of the twentieth century. Documentary records from Crete in particular, and also from Italy, southern France and southeast Spain point to a greater frequency in Mediterranean Europe’s mountainous regions of severe floods, droughts and frosts at times of “Little Ice Age” Alpine glacier advances. Deluges, when more than 200 mm of rain fall within 24 hours, are most frequent on mountainous areas near the coast…….

    http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-017-3352-6_5

  33. Mike M
    You say that plants suffer more under drought especially with a higher C O 2 level. I strongly disagree and ask for research positing this opinion. I have personally done studies and I believe the majority of research supports the fact the with higher CO 2 levels plants become more drought resistant. I would be interested in your sources.

  34. Tree rings only responds to temperature, just ask Mann. To infer other than temperature out of that is heresy. You all know that draught is because of cold, so when the rings are narrow, it is caused by cold. How complicated could it be?
    By the way, global warming (climate change) also makes some places dryer, but it takes a climate scientist to deduce the prober connection.
    I might be a lttle biased, but i find it amazing how any change is consistent with AGW.
    Could they just tell which change would not be consistent with the AGW/CGW/CCC (catastrofic climate change).

  35. ffohnad says:

    “Mike M
    You say that plants suffer more under drought especially with a higher C O 2 level. I strongly disagree and ask for research positing this opinion. I have personally done studies and I believe the majority of research supports the fact the with higher CO 2 levels plants become more drought resistant. I would be interested in your sources”

    What are you looking at?
    Here is what I stated:
    “We know that the increase in CO2 in the last few decades is even causing deserts to green up.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130708103521.htm

    Plants under drought stress are most effected (positively by more CO2) (negatively by lower CO2)

    If I were comparing tree rings from the century prior to 1914, to those from the century after 1914, the older trees, growing with much less atmospheric fertilization should appear to have been subjected to more adverse conditions.

    Droughts of equal intensity in 2014 and 1814, will clearly show up as more severe in trees from 1814 because they were not afforded the adaptation benefits of the 400 ppm CO2 levels in the atmosphere that humans have blessed them with.”

    I do have one correction to make in my previous statement:
    “I note this as a negative feedback with lower lifting condensation levels for clouds (increase in low clouds and cloud height) as well as increasing precipitation.”

    That should be an increase in low clouds and DECREASE in cloud height.

  36. Tim Ball says: May 2, 2014 at 10:46 am
    “None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.”

    It’s not new in the IPCC either. The AR4 said, seven years ago:

    Multiple proxies, including tree rings, sediments, historical documents and lake sediment records make it clear that the past 2 kyr included periods with more frequent, longer and/or geographically more extensive droughts in North America than during the 20th century (Stahle and Cleaveland, 1992; Stahle et al., 1998; Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998; Forman et al., 2001; Cook et al., 2004b; Hodell et al., 2005; MacDonald and Case, 2005). Past droughts, including decadal-length ‘megadroughts’ (Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998), are most likely due to extended periods of anomalous SST (Hoerling and Kumar, 2003; Schubert et al., 2004; MacDonald and Case, 2005; Seager et al., 2005), but remain difficult to simulate with coupled ocean-atmosphere models.

  37. Big droughts particularly around the LIA cold period!! This drought business is a cooling scenario it would seem. The Sahel greened following the 1990s hot period. Don’t the CAGW folks have this backwards.

  38. george e. conant says:
    May 2, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    The worst was earlier. An entire civilization was effectively wiped out. The classical Mound Builders of the Mississippian Culture were devastated by the LIA that also destroyed the Greenland Norse. The great ceremonial center of Cahokia thrived for centuries during the Medieval Warm Period, which according to CACA adherents wasn’t global, if it existed at all, but was gone by AD 1400.

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

    Natural climate change with a vengeance. Turn up the heat!

  39. Tim Ball says:
    May 2, 2014 at 10:46 am
    None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.
    ==============
    Keep saying it Dr Ball. Every generation has its fraudsters who want to take credit for inventing the wheel. The role of the previous generation is to keep them in line.

    When you go back and read some of the old research, the meticulous records, you realizable how shoddy a lot of the modern work is in comparison. Publish or perish creates quantity not quality.

  40. It’s not new in the IPCC either. The AR4 said, seven years ago:
    =============
    “But the records (AR4 Section 6.6.5.5 ) were on display …”

    “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”

    “That’s the display department.”

    “With a flashlight.”

    “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”

    “So had the stairs.”

    “But look, you found the section didn’t you?”

    “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”

  41. Drought conditions mean fewer clouds from lack of humidity, which means not only hot summer days, but colder summer nights, and extremely cold and dry winters. If treering growth indicates that water levels were low from lack of rain and snow pack, you can bet some cold temperature records were broken.

  42. Svend Ferdinandsen says:
    May 2, 2014 at 4:25 pm
    I might be a lttle biased, but i find it amazing how any change is consistent with AGW.
    ==============
    A question for Nick Stokes and climate scientists everywhere. What would it take to show that AGW was wrong? What set of events would have to happen for you to accept that AGW was an incorrect explanation for observed climate change?

  43. @Pamela Gray – Quite right! I lived north of the Adirondacks for a decade or so and most assuredly the colder the weather the less snow occurred , the dry cold arctic blasts would send the snow to the south of us routinely, the warmer winters were notably snowier. Warmer atmosphere definitely holds more water vapor than a cold one. Which again makes me ask : How do the CAGW climate scientists KNOW that tropospheric CO2 concentrations above 400 ppm will cause droughts ? Or perturbations of the jets streams? Or acidification of oceans? Or cause super storms? How do they calculate these and all the other predictive claims? Will a critical cross examination of the meta data and computer model codes explain / prove any of this or not?

  44. ferdberple says: May 2, 2014 at 6:56 pm
    ‘“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”’

    I had no trouble finding it. WG! documents are very systematic. You look in Ch 6, the paleo chapter. It is laid out in periods. The last, logically, is the last 2000 yrs. That is laid out in data type, with:
    6.6.5 Regional Variability in Quantities Other than Temperature
    As promised, that surveys regions, and sec 5 is on N America. I quoted the first para.

    The WG1 has lots of information. You can’t expect to find everything on page 1.

  45. Having visited Peru several years ago for the purpose of seeing the Inca sites of Cuzco, Machu Picchu etc we took a drive in January this year to spent a day in Canberra at the “Gold of the Inca’s/Lost worlds of Peru” exhibition.
    What is not often understood regarding Peruvian cultures is that the Inca’s were preceded by two significant civilisations who’s treasures were also on display, they were the Chimu and then the Moche. According to the exhibition notes amongst the treasures, and I quote this from a photo I took because I saw the funny side of it as it applies to our maniacal alarmists “The downfall of the Moche is linked to the disastrous consequences of a severe El Nino, which caused 30 years of flooding, then 30 years of drought. Such disruption undermined believe in the supernatural powers of the rulers.”
    In todays world the rulers would be the stupid ambitious politicians who’s ego’s are pumped up by the High priesthood IE; Mann et al. We should just be happy that human sacrifices are no longer in vogue. But I am sure, just as happened millennia ago, their supernatural powers are being weakened by the hour. We can only hope that they are exposed before they destroy our civilisation or have weakened it beyond its capacity to recover.

  46. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.

    Tim
    It’s not the IPCC that has set back climatology it’s climatologists. They have had the opportunity to stop this nonsense for 30 years and have failed to take it.

  47. The WG1 has lots of information. You can’t expect to find everything on page 1.

    Isn’t that the intention of the people who write the document.?

  48. Nick Stokes says:
    May 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Tim Ball says: May 2, 2014 at 10:46 am
    “None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.”

    It’s not new in the IPCC either. The AR4 said, seven years ago:……..

    Thanks Nick. Do you know where I can find a similar assessment of past North American droughts and mega droughts in the past 1,000 years or more in the CURRENT (AR5) report?

  49. RE: Old Farmer says:
    May 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    “…“The downfall of the Moche is linked to the disastrous consequences of a severe El Nino, which caused 30 years of flooding, then 30 years of drought. Such disruption undermined believe in the supernatural powers of the rulers.”…”

    The same may very well have contributed to social chaos in the Anasazi culture. Originally it was felt a great drought caused the changes, however the droughts don’t quite match the social chaos.

    An old 1996 NY Times article suggesting this can be seen here: http://cpluhna.nau.edu/People/anasazi_collapse.htm

    I like your idea that you can see our current “Climate Scientists” as being like ancient priests who are in hot water because the public’s “belief in the supernatural” has been undermined.

    There are all sorts of ideas about what happened to the Anasazi. Obviously their society was not static and stagnant during the hundreds of years it existed, (and continues to exist as Pueblo Cultures.) They saw the passage of centuries, the onset and departure of the Medieval Warm Period, the tree-line moving up the mountains and then descending, and made amazing adaptations. The fact they couldn’t adapt, all of a sudden, suggests social strife more than it suggests climate change.

    Some interesting trivia I have noted involves the fact the biggest Kivas used, as rafters for the roof, entire tree trunks that had to be moved over fifty miles by a society that apparently had neither wheels nor large draft animals like oxen or horses. This suggests people working with people. However those huge kivas were apparently destroyed by an uprising of the local folk. (Some try to blame invading Apache and Navajo, but they were few and scattered, and the timing isn’t quite right.)

    One thing that may have annoyed the local folk was the sort of summer thunderstorm that turns dry washes into raging rivers, in modern times. Apparently the rains were formerly gentler, and it was possible to build an amazing system of dams and canals, however when the downpours began not only were the dams washed out, but the bottoms of rivers eroded down too deep for water to go into the entrances of the irrigation canals.

    Just imagine you were the Anasazi “Climate Scientist” in charge of making it rain, and all of a sudden there are summer thunderstorms that wreck everything. I imagine the smart ones packed their bags and snuck out of town in the dead of night. I imagine the stupid ones tried to blame the farmers.

  50. Jimbo says:
    “Do you know where I can find a similar assessment of past North American droughts and mega droughts in the past 1,000 years or more in the CURRENT (AR5) report?”

    Yes. They have a section devoted to it, 5.5.5, entitled Megadroughts and Floods. eg
    “During the last millennium, western North America drought reconstructions based on tree ring information (Figure 5.13) show longer and more severe droughts than today, particularly during the MCA in the southwestern and central United States (Meko et al., 2007; Cook et al., 2010b).”

  51. Nick Stokes says:
    May 2, 2014 at 5:16 pm
    Tim Ball says: May 2, 2014 at 10:46 am
    “None of this is new and no I am not tired of saying it, although I imagine some are tired of hearing it. It illustrates again how much the IPCC set back climatology.”
    ==============================================
    It’s not new in the IPCC either. The AR4 said, seven years ago:

    =================================================
    That is not relevant Nick, because they still preach the disaster policy of the precautionary principle. What is somewhere in the body of the report, and what is blazoned across global headlines is two very different things.
    Your use of the “fine print” which is what it is compared to the headlines, is a disservice to truth

  52. From the New York Times, in 1994:

    “BEGINNING about 1,100 years ago, what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years and the second 140 years. Each was much more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3,500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.

    “The evidence for the big droughts comes from an analysis of the trunks of trees that grew in the dry beds of lakes, swamps and rivers in and adjacent to the Sierra Nevada, but died when the droughts ended and the water levels rose. Immersion in water has preserved the trunks over the centuries.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/19/science/severe-ancient-droughts-a-warning-to-california.html

  53. Nick Stokes says:
    May 3, 2014 at 5:17 am

    Jimbo says:
    “Do you know where I can find a similar assessment of past North American droughts and mega droughts in the past 1,000 years or more in the CURRENT (AR5) report?”

    Yes. They have a section devoted to it, 5.5.5, entitled Megadroughts and Floods. eg
    “During the last millennium, western North America drought reconstructions based on tree ring information (Figure 5.13) show longer and more severe droughts than today, particularly during the MCA in the southwestern and central United States (Meko et al., 2007; Cook et al., 2010b).”

    Thanks for that Nick.

    In your earlier first IPCC reference I also see:

    Thus, the palaeoclimatic record suggests that multi-year, decadal and even centennial-scale drier periods are likely to remain a feature of future North American climate, particularly in the area west of the Mississippi River.

    So can I conclude that even with rapid curtailment of man-made greenhouse gases “multi-year, decadal and even centennial-scale drier periods are likely to remain a feature of future North American climate”?

    I found your AR5 link which was a whopping pdf of 4.5MB!

    ……The mid-14th century cooling coincides in southwestern North America with a shift towards overall wetter conditions (Cook et al., 2010a; Cook et al., 2010b). In the Pacific Northwest, contrasting results emerge from lake sediment records, indicating wetter conditions during the MCA (Steinman et al., 2013), and tree-ring data showing no substantial change (Zhang and Hebda, 2005; Cook et al., 2010a)……

    This contrasts just a little with this.

    Abstract
    Tree-ring reconstructed megadroughts over North America since a.d. 1300
    Tree-ring reconstructed summer Palmer Drought Severity Indices (PDSI) are used to identify decadal droughts more severe and prolonged than any witnessed during the instrumental period. These “megadroughts” are identified at two spatial scales, the North American continental scale (exclusive of Alaska and boreal Canada) and at the sub-continental scale over western North America. Intense decadal droughts have had significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts, as is illustrated with historical information. Only one prolonged continent-wide megadrought during the past 500 years exceeded the decadal droughts witnessed during the instrumental period, but three megadroughts occurred over the western sector of North America from a.d. 1300 to 1900…….
    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-006-9171-x

  54. Old Farmer says:
    May 2, 2014 at 9:34 pm
    —————————————–
    I watched a documentary on the Chimu a few weeks back. While it is true that a long period of flooding had a profound effect on that culture (the main city of Chan Chan was irrigated using canals up to 20 km long dug by the Chimu) it did not mark their end. They switched from irrigation-intensive farming to trading with the inland peoples. The fortunes they had amassed within the walls of their great city eventually raised the interest of the Incas who conquered the Chimu and took much of their gold – according to the program.

    Also of note, a 43 person grave has been recently uncovered featuring the skeletal remains of prepubescent children (10-12) who were sacrificed in a ritual slaughter, probably to please the rain gods. The children were opened at the breastbone and their hearts removed.

    In addition to irrigation the Chimu dug out their fields (20-30 ft below surface) to just above the water table in order to minimize water requirements. When the rains came (continually) their fields were constantly flooded. You can’t wait 30 years for the rain gods to reverse the switch so the Chimu started trading with others, using their stash of gold as currency.

    I have a terrible memory but I think the Chimu also viewed clam shells as very valuable. The wealthy would have these shells crushed and someone walking in front of them would scatter the shell dust on the ground so they could walk in richness. If that doesn’t spell the end of a civilization then what does?

  55. The drought that hit the middle colonies (the Virginia Tide Water areas) during the 15th Century was a millennial drought (according to tree rings one of the worst droughts to hit North America since the 9th Century). Spanish missionaries arrived there first (circa 1560); but it was so hot and dry they abandoned their missions and set up shop in present day Saint Augustine, Florida. Later, in the 1600s, English colonists arrived in the midst of an ever worsening drought. The colonies at Jamestown and Roanoke suffered terrible – most of the colonists either starved to death or became lost in the wilderness in search of water).

  56. The Little Ice Age was not kind to the Mexicans. Parched throats, disease, misery, death, water conflicts and so on.

    Abstract
    Megadrought and Megadeath in 16th Century Mexico
    The native population collapse in 16th century Mexico was a demographic catastrophe with one of the highest death rates in history. Recently developed tree-ring evidence has allowed the levels of precipitation to be reconstructed for north central Mexico, adding to the growing body of epidemiologic evidence and indicating that the 1545 and 1576 epidemics of cocoliztli (Nahuatl for “pest”) were indigenous hemorrhagic fevers transmitted by rodent hosts and aggravated by extreme drought conditions.

    ……The epidemic of cocoliztli from 1545 to 1548 killed an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population of Mexico (Figure 1)……

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730237/

    ————————

    Conflicts Over Water in ‘The Little Drought Age’ in Central Mexico
    A general trend of climatic drying……..the severe droughts noted for the later 16th, 17th and 18th centuries perhaps reflecting the impacts in the tropics of the changes associated with the Little Ice Age.

    http://www.environmentandsociety.org/sites/default/files/key_docs/endfield-ohara-3-3.pdf

  57. Picking on semantics here….with a little snark thrown in…perhaps they meant the worst drought since…..2000? This century? Wouldn’t surprise me since the typical propaganda scare machine works in this fashion.

  58. @Jimbo:

    Sounds like Hanta Virus to me…

    @All:

    FWIW, Florida gets warmer and wetter when the rest of Europe / Western USA gets colder and dryer. It looks like the process is that the Gulf Stream / North Atlantic Drift slows down and that brings cold / dry to Europe and the heat backs up into Florida / Caribbean basin. Somehow this also results in drought out West. I referenced a paper in this write up:

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/d-o-ride-my-see-saw-mr-bond/

    but that link is now dead. Don’t know where to find the paper now. It was at:

    http://www.ndsu.nodak.edu/pubweb/~ashworth/webpages/g440/Grimm_et_al_Lake_Tulane.pdf

    I likely have a copy of it saved somewhere ( as I started archiving anything I found of interest once the AGW Langoliers started to erase anything that they didn’t like…) but it would take a few hours to find it ;-)

    My text describing it said:

    What I find particularly interesting about this one is that it shows that even Florida is anti-phase to Greenland. Mostly it is based on water, rather than directly on cold, but that’s fine. It finds that during the glacial (when Florida was about twice as wide as it is today), the way rains were controlled by warm / cold was about the same. When it is cold, not much rain. When it’s warm, lots of rain. Now that happens between winter and summer, then it shows up as a climate shift.

    So every Heinrich Event shows up as cold in Europe, but wet in Florida (so the pine trees grow and the pine pollen spikes up) as Florida gets wetter and warmer. When it’s warm in Europe, Florida is more cool, so dry, and you get oaks. There’s a lot more in the article. Grasses and some other plants too. GISP Ice cores.

    The key takeaways for me were simple. That 1500 year cycle keeps on happening. Though sometimes with a partial skip (weak cycle). It is water mediated with the Gulf Stream taking a break for a while and both Arctic and Antarctic deep water formation being involved. Something outside natural ocean oscillations drives it as it stays on the same periodicity despite a variety of ocean changes and ice changes and even strength of event changes. The metronome doesn’t shift much (though the effects sometimes skip a beat).

    Whatever “it” is, it effects ocean circulation on a very wide scale, and the ‘backing up’ of the Gulf stream in particular, and other places in general, will cause various shifts of wet / dry and warm / cold to happen.

    But perhaps most comforting, for me, is just the realization that a D. O., or Heinrich or even Bond Event while a global event has different local impacts. So if, right now, a Bond Event happened and England were starting to freeze over: Florida would be getting a bit warmer and have plenty of rain to grow tropical food plants. (So all you folks in the UK, get your passports ready and “Come On Down!!” ;-)

    If anyone finds a link to the paper again, please let me know.

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