Dueling press releases over tropical storm latitude shift – one hyped, one not

A couple of days ago NYT’s Andrew Revkin took exception to the use of the word “collapse” in headlines surrounding the paper suggesting that Antarctic ice sheets were in “imminent unstoppable collapse” there’s lots of hype surrounding this, and even the governor of California fell victim to it with a ridiculous claim of needing to move LAX airport.

Today we have a paper from MIT University of Wisconsin and NOAA that claims tropical storm intensity is shifting poleward by about 30-40 miles per decade. What struck me was this juxtaposition of the two press releases in the Eurekalert feed. It is almost as if they aren’t talking about the same paper. And, MIT had nothing to do with the paper’s publication, yet they are writing a press release about it. Here is a screencap of the Eurekalert feed:

dueling_tropical_PR

One seems hyped with inflammatory and scary language, the other does not. What was also interesting is that both PR’s were presented by women with  “Allen” as last names.  I present both press releases in full below, and you can determine for yourselves if one is hyped or not.

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Monica Allen
monica.allen@noaa.gov
301-734-1123
NOAA Headquarters

Tropical cyclone ‘maximum intensity’ is shifting toward poles

Researchers find that the average latitude where tropical cyclones achieve maximum intensity has been shifting poleward since 1980

Over the past 30 years, the location where tropical cyclones reach maximum intensity has been shifting toward the poles in both the northern and southern hemispheres at a rate of about 35 miles, or one-half a degree of latitude, per decade according to a new study, The Poleward Migration of the Location of Tropical Cyclone Maximum Intensity, published tomorrow in Nature.

As tropical cyclones move into higher latitudes, some regions closer to the equator may experience reduced risk, while coastal populations and infrastructure poleward of the tropics may experience increased risk. With their devastating winds and flooding, tropical cyclones can especially endanger coastal cities not adequately prepared for them. Additionally, regions in the tropics that depend on cyclones’ rainfall to help replenish water resources may be at risk for lower water availability as the storms migrate away from them.

The amount of poleward migration varies by region. The greatest migration is found in the northern and southern Pacific and South Indian Oceans, but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years.

By using the locations where tropical cyclones reach their maximum intensity, the scientists have high confidence in their results.

“Historical intensity estimates can be very inconsistent over time, but the location where a tropical cyclone reaches its maximum intensity is a more reliable value and less likely to be influenced by data discrepancies or uncertainties,” said Jim Kossin, the paper’s lead author, who is a scientist with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center currently stationed at the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Consistent with this poleward shift, many other studies are showing an expansion of the tropics over the same period since 1980.

“The rate at which tropical cyclones are moving toward the poles is consistent with the observed rates of tropical expansion,” explains Kossin. “The expansion of the tropics appears to be influencing the environmental factors that control tropical cyclone formation and intensification, which is apparently driving their migration toward the poles.”

The expansion of the tropics has been observed independently from the poleward migration of tropical cyclones, but both phenomena show similar variability and trends, strengthening the idea that the two phenomena are linked. Scientists have attributed the expansion of the tropics in part to human-caused increases of greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone depletion, and increases in atmospheric pollution.

However, determining whether the poleward shift of tropical cyclone maximum intensity can be linked to human activity will require more and longer-term investigations.

“Now that we see this clear trend, it is crucial that we understand what has caused it – so we can understand what is likely to occur in the years and decades to come,” says Gabriel Vecchi, scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and coauthor of the study.

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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-05/nh-tc051314.php

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Contact: Kimberly Allen
allenkc@mit.edu
617-253-2702
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Study: Dangerous storms peaking further north, south than in past

New analysis of cyclones shows migration away from tropics and toward the poles in recent decades

Powerful, destructive tropical cyclones are now reaching their peak intensity farther from the equator and closer to the poles, according to a new study co-authored by an MIT scientist.

The results of the study, published today in the journal Nature, show that over the last 30 years, tropical cyclones — also known as hurricanes or typhoons — are moving poleward at a rate of about 33 miles per decade in the Northern Hemisphere and 38 miles per decade in the Southern Hemisphere.

“The absolute value of the latitudes at which these storms reach their maximum intensity seems to be increasing over time, in most places,” says Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor and co-author of the new paper. “The trend is statistically significant at a pretty high level.”

And while the scientists who conducted the study are still investigating the atmospheric mechanisms behind this change, the trend seems consistent with a warming climate.

“It may mean the thermodynamically favorable conditions for these storms are migrating poleward,” adds Emanuel, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at MIT.

The implications are serious, since the movement of peak intensity means regions further north and south of the equator, which have not previously had to face many landfalls by violent cyclones, may now have greater exposure to these extreme weather events. That, in turn, could lead to “potentially profound consequences to life and property,” the paper states. “Any related changes to positions where storms make landfall will have obvious effects on coastal residents and infrastructure.”

Moving with the trade winds?

The paper, “The Poleward Migration of the Location of Tropical Cyclone Maximum Intensity,” was co-written by Emanuel, James P. Kossin of the University of Wisconsin, and Gabriel A. Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To conduct the study, the scientists used international data from 1982 to 2012, collected by NOAA’s National Climactic Data Center. They used the location of peak intensity of cyclones as a benchmark because it is a more consistent metric than statistics such as storm duration: The duration can be harder to estimate because of difficulties in establishing precisely when a storm should first be considered a tropical cyclone.

While there are regional differences in the poleward movement of cyclones, the fact that every ocean basin other than the northern Indian Ocean has experienced this change leads the researchers to suggest, in the paper, that this “migration away from the tropics is a global phenomenon.”

However, Emanuel notes, the global mechanisms underlying the trend are a matter for further research.

“We think, but have not yet been able to establish, that this is connected to independently observed poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation,” Emanuel says, referring to a large-scale pattern of global winds, which in recent years has also moved further poleward. The paper notes the potential impact of vertical wind shear, which inhibits cyclone formation; data suggests a decrease in wind shear in the tropics and an increase at higher latitudes.

Emanuel notes that researchers in the field are continuing to examine the links between storm migration and global warming. Over the past three decades, the incidence of cyclones in the tropics has actually diminished — because while tropical cyclones may become more intense in a warmer climate, it is actually more difficult to generate them.

Ocean temperatures between 82 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit seem to be “ideal for the genesis of tropical cyclones,” Emanuel says, “and as that belt migrates poleward, which surely it must as the whole ocean warms, the tropical cyclone genesis regions might just move with it. But we have more work to do to nail it down.”

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Written by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office

RELATED LINKS

Kerry Emanuel
http://eapsweb.mit.edu/people/kokey

MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
http://eapsweb.mit.edu

MIT announces new initiative on environment
http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/mit-announces-new-initiative-environment-0508

Bigger storms ahead
http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2013/bigger-storms-ahead-global-warming-0708

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Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2014-05/miot-sds051214.php

 

 

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46 thoughts on “Dueling press releases over tropical storm latitude shift – one hyped, one not

  1. I’m visualizing one as a platinum blonde, the other as raven-haired.

    “Hello, boys, I’m Salt!” “And I’m Pepper!”

  2. The only effective difference for critical thinkers is that one version slipped up and admitted it is for a three- decade period and a rate of shift cited per decade from the three. So you at least can think about this as another case of ignorance of multi-decade cycles and fooling the public that they don’t know what longer term cycles are either. It is a core tenant of alarmism.

  3. Surprisingly, The NOAA,s Monica is more level headed than MIT’s Kimberly.
    My guess of ages
    Kimberly: 23
    Moniva: 43
    The alarmist Kool-aid has been formulated for children.

  4. Resourceguy is correct.
    There exists too little accurate data,
    There’s too short of a recording period of what is hghly chaotic data.
    Give it another hundred years, then look again.

  5. “…says Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor and co-author of the new paper…” is in MIT press release so MIT did have something to do with it.

  6. both agree that further research is necessary – i.e. job security and more conferences in exotic locales drives this foolishness

  7. The reason why is that until recently, they never bothered to name storms at 40N and 40W. Or name systems that had 1009 mb pressures. All they are saying is that by loosening the critera for naming storms, they are now naming more weak and irrelevant storms, those that are further north in the middle of nowhere. Those that they would never bother to name in the old days.

  8. This has got to be a joke.

    They eliminated the Atlantic basin in the N. Hem. in the first press release and then eliminated N. Indian basin in the S. Hem. in the second release.

    First release says: “… but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years.”
    It makes no mention of every other basin having changed.

    Second release says: “… the fact that every ocean basin other than the northern Indian Ocean has experienced this change leads the researchers to suggest, in the paper, that this “migration away from the tropics is a global phenomenon.” …

    Second release implies the Atlantic basin experienced the same changes.

    Sure seems like a lot of inconvenient data refused to follow the plot.

  9. Headlines provide the first impression and a strong impression. Often, the reader will make an assumption based on the headline and interpret the rest of the article with that assumption parked in their brain.

    Here is a recent example that effected an article of mine in our local paper.
    I had suggested a title “Climate Change from Natural Causes”. Instead, they used: ‘Carbon dioxide increase not to blame for global warming”

    To some people, that may seem like the same thing. However, in the article I state: “This is not to say that carbon dioxide is not a greenhouse gas. It may have been responsible for around half of the mostly beneficial 1 degree Celsius of warming since the Industrial Revolution”. This contradicts the title and many readers may only remember the title/headlines, which they don’t realize, did not come from me.

    http://www.courierpress.com/news/2014/apr/04/carbon-dioxide-increase-not-to-blame-for-global/

    I don’t think this was done intentionally(to paint me as a denier of CO2 being a greenhouse gas). This paper has printed numerous articles from me on this topic over the course of many years(I was a TV meteorologist for 11 years in this market) and in fact, has never rejected any. They allow both sides to be heard/read, so I think it may have been a lack of completely understanding a key element in the(my) position.

    The editor had been on vacation for a week, with this and lots of other stuff in his mail box and it may have just been him rushing to catch up. He actually told me 5 years ago over the phone that he believes me(after I called to ask if they would allow an additional article to defend the numerous attacks on me and my position, that came after an early 2009 article by me was printed. They allowed it.

    http://www.courierpress.com/news/2009/feb/24/warming-must-be-met-with-open-mind/

    As somebody that worked in the television media for 11 years, I saw plenty of liberal bias and distortion of facts……..often from biased individuals that think they are being objective. I also saw objectivity and good reporting. The problem is that the public usually can’t tell the difference.

    Regardless, we all knew that the goal, which was constantly hammered in, was to generate/increase ratings.

    The tropical storm story above, appearing in 2 different places, appears to be a good example for showing the difference in the title/headlines.

  10. Checked the LinkedIn Profile:
    Kimberly Allen is the Director of Media Relations at MIT

  11. Gary says:
    May 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm
    “…says Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor and co-author of the new paper…” is in MIT press release so MIT did have something to do with it.

    not necesaarily. More likely the MIT release is simply Kerry E having a vehicle of his own to put his spin on the original NOAA report. It’s a separate release and interpretation of another release but with the proper AGW hysteria spin applied.

  12. Consistent with this poleward shift, many other studies are showing an expansion of the tropics over the same period since 1980.

    Ha ha ha ha ha! Where do they get these clowns from?

    The tropics are between 23º 27′ N & S. They can’t expand unless the earth increases its tilt. In fact the opposite is happening – in 8,000 years the tropics will be almost 2º of latitude smaller than they are now because of changes in the oblquity of the ecliptic.

    In reality the paper is probably to take peoples minds off the fact that there has been no US landfalling major hurricane for eight and a half years.

  13. A small error in the post:

    Today we have a paper from MIT University of Wisconsin and NOAA that claims tropical storm intensity is shifting poleward by about 30-40 miles per year.

    That should be per decade, not per year.

  14. Billy Liar says:
    May 14, 2014 at 1:31 pm
    “The tropics are between 23º 27′ N & S. They can’t expand unless the earth increases its tilt.

    The context of the report makes clear that redefining imaginary lines on a globe is not the purpose of this paper. Consider, for example, this phrase from the Wikipedia entry for the “Climate of Florida” – “. . . South Florida has a tropical climate.” Using the Tropic of Cancer as a marker, the term tropical climate for South Florida would be an error. Failure to consider the context of the paper is not helpful and distracts from reviewing what they do mean.

  15. John F. Hultquist says:
    May 14, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    Sloppy definitions are Ok for general chit-chat. Sloppy definitions are definitely not OK for science.

    Florida has a climate like the tropics – Florida itself is extra-tropical.

  16. “However, determining whether the poleward shift of tropical cyclone maximum intensity can be linked to human activity will require more and longer-term investigations.”

    And there kids is the expected funding request. Bedep Bedep Bedep, That’s all folks!

  17. And while the scientists who conducted the study are still investigating the atmospheric mechanisms behind this change, the trend seems consistent with a warming climate.

    The logical relation “consistent with” is extremely weak. A proposition may well be consistent with each one of two other propositions which are inconsistent with each other.

    For example 34 years passed since 1980. In the latter half of that period there was no warming at all. If, in spite of this, maximum intensity of tropical storms kept shifting poleward, the phenomenon should also be consistent with lack of warming. However, I am quite confident a warming climate is inconsistent with a stable one.

  18. In other words, the tropical area is, very slowly, getting bigger, and therefor the cold area is getting smaller.
    To me this says that the really nice area to live in on the earth is getting bigger.
    Whats not to like?

  19. Gary says:
    May 14, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    > “…says Kerry Emanuel, an MIT professor and co-author of the new paper…” is in MIT
    > press release so MIT did have something to do with it.

    It also says:

    The paper, “The Poleward Migration of the Location of Tropical Cyclone Maximum Intensity,” was co-written by Emanuel, James P. Kossin of the University of Wisconsin, and Gabriel A. Vecchi of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    We need a press release from the Univ. of Wisconsin too!

  20. note to self….
    Check wind insurance and shutters…..
    …it always does the opposite from what they say

  21. “…but there is no evidence that the peak intensity of Atlantic hurricanes has migrated poleward in the past 30 years.”
    —————–
    So, basically, in the US there’s no change in hurricanes.
    Except no mention of smaller and fewer, eh?
    Do they have an explanation for that, yet?
    Must be that darned Magic Gas CO2.
    cn

  22. The local news tonight said so far this season Oklahoma has had the fewest tornadoes in 25 years. They didn’t seem to hype the announcement.

  23. They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel by making it sound like they have come up with some sort of grand finding built on a sample size of 3 decades. Of course in order to even do it they had to disregard the data from N. Indian basin and Atlantic basin. That’s about 15%-20% of the data. I guess in their world only conforming data and people shall be deemed useful. Anyway, here is some data which might help to put their mongering into perspective.

    Tropical storm observations are recorded at 6 hour intervals. Here are some changes between successive observations for the Atlantic basin 1982-2011. I don’t have the other basins.

    average pressure change -0.19 hPa
    1 sigma pressure change 3.88 hPa
    maximum pressure change 57 hPa (Iris 10-09-2001) Landfall Belize/Guatemala
    minimum pressure change -54 hPa (Wilma 10-19-2005 Caribbean Sea)

    average latitude change 0.56 degree
    1 sigma latitude change 0.7 degree

    average storm travel 73 nm.
    1 sigma storm travel 47.58 nm.

    Sample size = 11536 observations over 369 storms.

    Note: 1 degree of latitude = 60 nautical miles = 69 statute miles

  24. I am guessing that it has shifted before.

    Why is it that every little twist or turn is presented as something odd. What do they expect, a steady state climate in a chaotic system? If yes then just look at THIS. Nuff said.

  25. The NYT has revealed why it has become such an alarmist joke.

    “Ms Abramson, 60, [just removed as editor] said: “I have loved my run at the Times … we successfully blazed trails on the digital frontier and we have come so far in inventing new forms of story-telling.”

    They sure have.

  26. Kate Forney on May 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm
    Resourceguy says:
    May 14, 2014 at 12:32 pm
    It is a core tenant of alarmism.
    ==============================
    And maybe even a tenet.

    ——-

    Core tenant? Maybe the CAGW gang are claimg squatters rights? They don’t own the argument, but still think it’s theirs because they’ve been there long enough!

  27. Berényi Péter said in part on May 14, 2014 at 2:49 pm:
    “For example 34 years passed since 1980. In the latter half of that period there was no warming at all. If, in spite of this, maximum intensity of tropical storms kept shifting poleward, the phenomenon should also be consistent with lack of warming.”

    The lack of warming in the past 17 years is only a complete lack of warming in one major global temperature dataset, one of the 2 major satellite-based ones. And, that 17-year period has a century-class El Nino shortly after its beginning. It seems to me that a more realistic start time for the pause of warming is sometime in 2001.

    Meanwhile, I don’t see in the press releases any evidence of the tropical cyclone trend being discerned for subsets of the past 34 years, which as a whole had significant warming according to all major datasets.

  28. In the Atlantic basin, it seems that TCs were mostly absent at more northerly points from about the mid 70s until very recently. Prior to the mid 70s they were more common. Meanwhile here on the Pacific, it has been a really, really long time since any TC related weather made it past the US-Mexico border. And by TC related weather I mean showers from decaying feeder bands, as that’s the most we’d ever see with our cold ocean.

  29. RE: The reason why is that until recently, they never bothered to name storms at 40N and 40W. Or name systems that had 1009 mb pressures. All they are saying is that by loosening the critera for naming storms, they are now naming more weak and irrelevant storms, those that are further north in the middle of nowhere.

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

    Mid latitude systems (mid latitude cyclones, nor-easters, etc) are getting named now. Heck, even winter storms are getting named (but I don’t think they are counting those in the count …. yet!).

  30. I cant deiced if its naming everything that forms into a storm that is the problem or the fact there have been no major storms to name and they are bored…. But then reality sets in and I remember the Liberal Control agenda and the need to have them to create fear.. so people will give up their freedoms willingly for perceived government safety..

    Ben Franklyn was right;
    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty. ”

    Only fools will give up liberty for safety as in the end they will have neither..

  31. ‘the fact that every ocean basin other than the northern Indian Ocean has experienced this change leads the researchers to suggest, in the paper, that this “migration away from the tropics is a global phenomenon.” ‘

    so global except where it ain’t

  32. My first inclination was to think about SSTs for this data, since Tropical storms are big heat engines feeding off the delta T between warm water and convection cooling to dump the heat into the upper colder troposphere.
    But as I thought about what they say here, (I need to read the papers) it occurs to me it is more likely an effect of strengthening trade winds either kicking them out away from the equator to strengthen and/or those that stay in the equatorial band are disfavored (convection tops sheared off) from developing by stronger trade winds.

    The key to this finding physical data (they didn’t use models, so it’s real and needs a real explanation) is in the trade winds.

    A song comes to mind:
    The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer…..

  33. On further reflection, a question that MUST be related if this is tropical storm data is real:

    Has the ITCZ moved poleward also in those basins? If it hasn’t, then this is most likely noise and a regression to mean will occur with longer measurements.

  34. Any Press Release writer can embellish and cherry-pick elements from a story to follow the direction they choose-generally to suit the client. I speak from experience.

    So the question follows: ‘who is the client?’

  35. High variability of storm tracks, history that shows storms have gone far north in the past. This study seems a likely companion to the lobster cannibalism hype paper that fell apart under reasonable scrutiny.

  36. It would be helpful if we could see the mean and standard deviation of the locations of these hurricanes to see the statistical signifiicance of any “shift”.

    And how is the location of these events defined? They move quite a bit. Maybe this info is in the actual papers.

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