Australian Tropical Cyclone activity said to be at the lowest level in modern history

satellite_thumb[1]Jonathan Nott, James Cook University gave this presentation at the: Distinguished Lecture, 31 July, Asia Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) 11th Annual Meeting 2014, Sapporo, Japan.

Applying the Palaeo-tropical Cyclone Record

Palaeo-tropical cyclone records have to date been predominantly used to depict long-term trends as well as attempting to understand the causes of these trends. These records can also be useful for more immediate timescales such a reliably deriving the frequency and magnitude of events for present day planning purposes and also for assessing whether tropical cyclones are responding to global climate change.

Two examples of these uses of long-term cyclone records are presented here. The first […].

The second application is the use of high-resolution isotope records to assess whether tropical cyclone (TC) activity over the past few decades has changed substantially compared to the past 1,500 years.

[…]

High-resolution isotope records of TCs can be preserved within limestone stalagmites. Two records, one from Western Australia [since 500AD] and the other from Queensland [since 1400AD], provide insight into the nature of landfalling TC activity across the Australian continent. These records can be used to assess the role of humans in influencing the behavior of TCs […]. We developed a new index (Cyclone Activity Index – CAI), which calibrates the high-resolution, long-term isotope record of TC activity against the instrument TC record. The CAI allows for a direct comparison between the past and the present, and enables an examination of TC climatology at higher temporal resolution and on annual, decadal or millennial scales simultaneously, without the need to interpolate or extrapolate to account for missing data, which is a problem with the existing record of TCs. The CAI is the average accumulated energy expended over the TC season within range of the site, accounting for the number of days since genesis [of the storm] and the intensity and size of the storm relative to its distance from the site at each point along its track.

Our CAI for Australia shows that seasonal TC activity is at its lowest level since the year 500AD in Western Australia and 1400AD in Queensland and this decline in activity has been most pronounced since about 1960AD. This reduction in activity reflects the forecasts of TC behaviour for the Australian region from a suite of the most recent global climate models except this decrease appears to be occurring many decades earlier than expected.

Source: http://www.asiaoceania.org/aogs2014/doc/lecturers/SL/IG/IG2/IG2_Jonathan_Nott_Abs.pdf

h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard

 

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45 thoughts on “Australian Tropical Cyclone activity said to be at the lowest level in modern history

  1. Read the last sentence of the posting carefully. It says that this condition was forecast by the GCM’ s. watts up with that?

  2. Am I reading it right that an effect of AGW was forecasted to be fewer TC near Australia?
    If that is the case, then how are the dynamics different in NH where more and stronger hurricanes etc, are forecasted ( although we all know the 3100 days since a Cat 3 has hit US mainland). Could someone unconfuse me?

  3. 1. sleepingbear dunes says:
    July 31, 2014 at 12:27 pm
    Am I reading it right that an effect of AGW was forecasted to be fewer TC near Australia?
    If that is the case, then how are the dynamics different in NH where more and stronger hurricanes etc, are forecasted ( although we all know the 3100 days since a Cat 3 has hit US mainland). Could someone unconfuse me?

    Silly, Australia in in the Southern Hemisphere. That means everything is upside down compared to the USA. Less=more. Stronger=weaker. Hotter=colder. It’s all AGW regardless. See?

    /sarc

  4. Australian cyclones are only resting while they wait for the appropriate moment to lash out and devastate the government-in-denial, also known as the Abbott government. Afterwards, Tim Flannery will row to the rescue shouting “I told you so. I told you so”, or whatever the equivalent saying is in Australian.

  5. @mpainter:

    This reduction in activity reflects the forecasts of TC behaviour for the Australian region from a suite of the most recent global climate models except this decrease appears to be occurring many decades earlier than expected.

    The models are WRONG as they didn’t predict it to happen until decades later. See how that works?

  6. Mike Lewis:

    Your post at July 31, 2014 at 12:40 pm says in total

    @mpainter:

    This reduction in activity reflects the forecasts of TC behaviour for the Australian region from a suite of the most recent global climate models except this decrease appears to be occurring many decades earlier than expected.

    The models are WRONG as they didn’t predict it to happen until decades later. See how that works?

    Actually, the discrepancy does indicate that the models are wrong because they have made a wrong forecast.

    The models forecast that there would NOT be a decrease in TC behaviour for decades, but such a reduction has happened.

    Which if any forecasts of the models can be said to have confidence when the models made a wrong forecast of the TC behaviour? See how that works: it is called assessing forecast skill.

    Richard

  7. Actually the admission that it was forecast is the first honest thing I have read out of the alarmist crowd. Equalization of energy throughout the hemisphere should lead to less violent storms. But the meme is contradicting that.

  8. sleepingbear dunes;
    If that is the case, then how are the dynamics different in NH where more and stronger hurricanes etc, are forecasted
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You have to be real careful with the official wording. In this case, IPCC AR5 Chapter 11 says:

    There is low confidence in near-term projections of increased TC (Tropical Cyclone) intensity in the North Atlantic…

    Once you parse the stilted language, you realize that they are cleverly disguising the actual projection. Their “lowe confidence it will increase” would be the same as “high confidence that it will decrease or stay the same”. Clever word smiths those IPCC authors. Of the rest of the world, they basically say there aren’t enough studies to make any kind of projection with any level of confidence. This is a climb down from the leaked Second Order Draft where they pretty much spelled out that TC frequency and intensity was expected to be the same or decline further at least until the year 2100. The politicians just couldn’t stand to have something like that in print, so they came up with the tortured language above which, if you’re no paying close attention, sounds like what you expect to hear. But it isn’t.

  9. It only takes one model in one run to predict/postulate/create a scenario that TCs will reduce in the Oz region for the claim of ‘The models are right’ to be broadcast far and wide.

    This then morphs into ALL of the models being right.

  10. If you carefully read the National Climate Assessment #3 or the IPCC AR5 they both admit that the climate models project fewer tropical cyclones in a warmer world. This is borne out by the Dec. 2013 US CLIVAR report and the NIPCC v.3 reports.
    My question is, “Where are the screaming headlines ‘Global Warming will result in Fewer Hurricanes’?” They just don’t seem to exist. Hurricanes were the literal poster boys of “An Inconvenient Truth” and now they’re no long on the CAGW radar. He he he.

  11. Burning coal reduces cyclones? Can we get someone to put that into jingle for the Indian market? the Bay of Bengal fishermen thank you.

  12. Well, of course the models are wrong but when this is cranked through the propaganda mill it will come out in banner headlines CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE NOW
    And so the death of the tropical cyclone becomes much lamented at sks- ha ha.

  13. kenw
    Thanks. I knew there was a very logical answer. :) Since the warmists have gotten (Ooops there is that word again) so many predictions wrong I thought they were prepping us for when they will be reversing all previous predictions to see if the rest of us catch it. Like “Oh no, All along we said there would be a 40 year period of virtually no warming.” Somehow they are going to have get out of this gracefully.

  14. This isn’t new.
    Published in Nature 505, 667–671 (30 January 2014).
    FWIW, around here (NE Oz) we know that the frequency of TS events has diminished. Had a number of years in which the BoM predictions turned out to be ludicrously over the top, to the extent that even they finally managed to put a sock in it and predict “normal”, whatever that is supposed to mean. This year they forgot to be cautious so had to make some adjustments, beat up some very marginal events not affecting the coasts to justify their predictions.

  15. sleepingbear dunes says:
    July 31, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    kenw
    Thanks. I knew there was a very logical answer. :) Since the warmists have gotten (Ooops there is that word again) so many predictions wrong I thought they were prepping us for when they will be reversing all previous predictions to see if the rest of us catch it. Like “Oh no, All along we said there would be a 40 year period of virtually no warming.”

    The UK’s Met Office has predicted five more flat years.

  16. Let’s model a huge sine wave, this way we’ll have ALL possible predictions in one model, and can always claim we predicted reality, only a few years off.

  17. An interesting fact is that along the east coast of Australia, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, where we used to get half a dozen cyclones cross the coast in most years, since 1976 NOT ONE TC has crossed the coast.

    It didn’t reduce progressively as, say, ACO2 increased, it just stopped happening.

    That seems to be saying: this, like the “warming”, is just another natural cycle.

  18. I wonder if Australians will hear about this good news on our/their ABC . Doubtful I’d say.

    I also wonder if my Trpoical Far North Queensland house insurance will go down a bit from being outrageously expensive to just expensive. I can dream.

  19. The former official position of Australian climatologists. http://www.cawcr.gov.au/publications/BMRC_archive/researchreports/RR131.pdf

    “Recent studies suggest that the frequency of the most intense tropical cyclones has increased in many regions, while other studies highlight observational errors that makes quantification of trends difficult (Kepert 2007). While the apparent increase can not be unambiguously linked to the global warming that has already taken place.”

    and “Although recent climate model simulations project a decrease or no change in global tropical cyclone numbers in a warmer climate, there is low confidence in this projection. In addition, it is unknown how tropical cyclone tracks or areas of impact will change in the future”

  20. How are all the plants and animals going to cope with all that lack of weather? (research grant required).

  21. “Robin.W. says:

    July 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm”

    No mention of it at all. All we are hearing is that this July was one of the warmest on record.

  22. Surfing teaches you to read irregular, seemingly chaotic, wave patterns. The first thing you realize is waves come in sets, with sometimes long quiet periods of just gently bobbing up and down with the calm seas. when the first wave at the beginning of the set peaks, you’re looking out to see #2, and #3 building further out. Sometimes you get 4 or 5 waves in a set, each one bigger, until it stops. If there is a storm out to sea, the sets keep coming, and it’s surfer’s Nervana.

    We humans always like to believe the here and now we are living in is an exceptional period in history. Thats an illusion… an arrogance.

    Global TC frequency-intensity is probably running a similar fractal like pattern to surfer’s waves, that is scale invariant, and seemingly chaotic (unpredictable, as the TC forecasters with expensive models and past data must eat humble pie every year now) in frequency and intensity.

    Right now we’re just bobbing along, wondering when the next set of active years will arrive. Not exceptional, and that is scary to an Alarmist who needs to scare the public to keep their wallets open.

  23. Don’t they know yet, up North is in monsoon regions. Sure cyclones come around generally in summer, but some don’t land fall or their strength reduces. We get warnings well ahead of time.If holidaying we avoid the summer months if travelling to Queensland. One does it at the end of winter or early spring to avoid cyclones. But we get rotten storms too around the coast of NSW.
    We have high winds today August the first on the Northern Tablelands, but down south of NSW it is hitting them harder. No wind farms get, thank goodness.

  24. “bushbunny says:

    August 1, 2014 at 1:03 am”

    Having lived in Wellington, New Zealand, I always have a giggle when Aussies talk about a bit of wind.

  25. spangled drongo says:
    July 31, 2014 at 5:53 pm
    An interesting fact is that along the east coast of Australia, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, where we used to get half a dozen cyclones cross the coast in most years, since 1976 NOT ONE TC has crossed the coast. It didn’t reduce progressively as, say, ACO2 increased, it just stopped happening.

    True but some very powerful storms have swept down just off shore along that coastline during the past decade.

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

    What I’ve noticed seems related in that the more northerly cyclones used to come ashore from the SE and travel SW or south after crossing and deep into the interior (sort of like what Yasi did but Yasi went E-W). What I’ve notice since about the mid 1980s is that cyclones began turning earlier and tracked SSE parallel with the coast with greater frequency, either just off the coast, just on it, or just in land of the coast. We had another example this April with TC Ita (which recurved SE earlier than many other examples I could give (but it was dead when it stepped off the coast anyway)

    It seems the now common parallel coastal tracking is what’s been protecting the sub tropical coastline.

  26. So let me get this straight – the huge cyclone that came to Queensland a couple of years ago was due to global warming. And now, the fact that cyclones are found to be rarer than ever at present – that is global warming too?

  27. Cyclones are a response to heating. They cool the surface. Less of them means that we are not getting much heat to dump. i.e. we are already cooling.

    I note in passing that reference to 500 AD. The nominal start of The Dark Ages is about 535 AD (likely inside the error bands…) and it is about one Bond Event ago. ( 535 + 1470 = 2005 or about when the heat topped out…). Yes all “cyclomania” and “numerology”… Yet ‘It Moves!’ comes to mind… Headed into a projected minescule solar cycle, and with a one cycle lag for onset of cooling showing in some ‘evidence’…. The next decade ought to be a very interesting one. ( likely a ‘fish or cut bait’ moment for the cyclomania folks, IMHO, and for the solar uber alles folks too… )

    From my POV, I see a ‘loopy jet stream’ like that of 60 years ago, with tropical storms missing Florida and heading up to whack New England (as they have done often in the past, particular in times like now). Likely we’ll also get to see a slow down of the Gulf Stream and how the UK and EU handle it. (Shown to happen in referreed papers in known journals during cold times).

    So folks down under can enjoy their low cyclone energy… but watch out for ice ;-)

  28. Patrick, yeah, we are wind bags aren’t we? LOL But we are beating you at the Commonwealth games.

  29. The climate changed up North after the last ice age, and became monsoon in some areas. But to me the change of seasons like come September we do get warmer, we do tend to get more storms. More evaporation from the oceans and of course the trade winds.

  30. Smithy, yeah, climate is one thing we can’t change although some of these alarmist nuts think we can – almost like King Canute stopping the tides. Although to give that old fellow some credit, he didn’t believe he could. Just some sycophant courtier trying to get some credit with him.

  31. Smithy if the last ice age is an example, at its peak, the sea level changed and dropped. But few glaciers on the mainland, then joined to PNG and Tasmania plus off shore islands. The tree line dropped, no rain forest or little up north. There may have been some glaciers in the Snowies, and in Tasmania, but nothing on the mainland. Surface water did not evaporate as quickly as it does now, but the Aborigines managed OK. Kept to the coastal areas in winter where they could harvest shell fish etc. But some parts of Australia got more rain. When it ended we got more estuaries and sea levels rose, and the monsoons up North.

  32. E.M.Smith says:
    August 1, 2014 at 12:37 pm
    Cyclones are a response to heating. They cool the surface. Less of them means that we are not getting much heat to dump. i.e. we are already cooling.

    Sort of, but no. Heat is one component, the others are upper and lower level vorticity that coincides, wind shear and atmospheric humidity level.

    These all have to optimally coincide to get a cyclone, or else you just get other forms of less organized or convection from the heating – like super-cell storms.

    The supposition that we’ve been cooling all along is not the case, it’s in fact been extremely hot during some years over the period (and dryer than normal, especially during the 1990s and early 2000s major droughts) and we got few and occasionally zero coastal cyclones with that heating.

    1998 was a perfect case example of extreme heat in the north east and coral sea, and few storms and the few that did form were quite weak or else fairly asymmetric.

    1998–99 Australian region cyclone season

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1998%E2%80%9399_Australian_region_cyclone_season

    AIMS:
    “Over the past decade, widespread coral bleaching has occurred on several … of 1997-1998 was one of the hottest recorded on the Great Barrier Reef in the 20th … ”

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=Coral+bleaching+event+during+1998&btnG=Search&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&client=firefox-a&channel=sb&gfe_rd=cr&gbv=1

    So heating alone does not generate cyclones, nor even promote extreme cyclones – it seems the reverse can be true. All of the required conditions (listed above) must coincide in space and time for the cyclones to form, and then to strengthen to severe intensity. Take one away just one of them and the storm either does not form, or if it has, it weakens and atrophies, falls apart.

    Well, a lot of them didn’t form, and a lot of them have quickly fell apart, or else could not strengthen.

    So the question is, which preconditions have changed so that the cyclone numbers have been lower, plus generally less intense, and also changing their prior typical paths.

    Winds aloft and shear seem to be the likely ingredients, and higher heat is less the factor, and appears to be almost incidental.

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

    The recent years since Yasi, in 2011, have been particularly quiet for coast-crossing cyclones in the north as well, though I would add that the summers have certainly been milder and SE trades dominating for the past two years as well.

    Prevailing regional winds seems to completely control these storms, and the character of the individual cyclone seasons, and those varying wind patterns are altered by the positions of the hot and cold pools in the oceans.

    And going by the numerous posts on WUWT, JoNova and other inquiring blogs RE the topic of ocean heating and cooling, we don’t know what’s controlling that yet, so we don’t know what’s determining cyclone numbers and intensity, either.

    But it certainly is not the stale melodramatic “we’re overheating!!!” hyper-pap that the IPCC and cAGW warmisseds have been sprouting off (and living off) for the past 25 years.

    I want the real answers and not these IPCC-guided crap-bombs and models vomit that’s still masquerading as respectable research. Observations (all of them, not just some) and empiricism for me, please.

  33. There was a water spout that drove through inland a few years ago. Can anyone remember that and where it was. Damaged a few homes and knocked down trees. A one off. When I lived in Bermuda, these are very low islands, it was a drought. But from where we were living we had a 180 degree look over the ocean and causeway to St.George island, i.e. Blue Hole hill. We saw many water spouts, but because the island is so low and narrow they never reached the land. Edge of hurricanes too. But most of the homes are built with limestone blocks and good sturdy roofs. Actually the weather in Bermuda is rotten I thought. Cold in winter, 39 F one night, the coldest I had experienced since leaving England. And bloody humid from May onto September.
    So humid, one had to keep a closed heater in the walk ins to stop leather getting mouldy. Air conditioning in the bedrooms. The biggest ants and cockroaches I’ve seen. Oil on the beaches, but the water was almost tepid. No mossies though. Talk about Peyton place? That’s another story, no wonder the police commissioner and governor got assassinated, it was the beginning of the black power movement.

  34. bushbunny says:
    August 1, 2014 at 10:05 pm
    There was a water spout that drove through inland a few years ago. Can anyone remember that and where it was.

    Not a one-off bushbunny, but a two-off, the first one was in Townsville and was confirmed by radar to have come in as a water spout which turned into a tornado. It first hit the combined RAAF and Army helicopter base at Garbutt airport then tore through Vincent and Aitkenvale (lots of damage to houses and businesses) then it crossed Ross River into Anandale, then skirted right between the Army base at Lavarack and the largest regional hospital, which is beside James Cook University, which it also narrowly skirted past. It happened at 4AM. At dawn I drove past the contents of people’s pantries, which had been scattered all over the road, along with pillows, shoes and clothes. Finding boxes of cocoa pops and cans of soups plus parts of trees and roofing on the roadway raised more than a few WTFs, as we still didn’t know why any of it was there.

    http://www.news.com.au/national/mini-tornado-rips-through-townsville-reports/story-e6frfkvr-122630476867

    The other one was in Bundaberg last year but it was a bit less severe, or rather, it hit less populated areas:

    http://www.news-mail.com.au/news/man-critical-mini-tornado-rips-through-bargara/1732768/

    There a multiple accounts of waterspouts doing this in the past.

  35. Bushbunny says:
    “There may have been some glaciers in the Snowies, and in Tasmania, but nothing on the mainland.”
    There were indeed glaciers in the Snowies. Which are on the mainland. Most of the Kosciusko plateau was ice-covered.
    And there was quite a sizable icecap in Tasmania. And several montane glaciers in New Guinea. And incidentally they were all on the mainland back then since Tasmania, Australia and New Guinea were one landmass.

  36. The sad part is that even with a centre-right govt replacing the Eco-loons in power, it will still be verboten for anyone to mention “GW suppresses TCs, in both the models and the peer-reviewed data.” So the low info voters will still blame AGW for every storm.

  37. You’re all missing the most basic point.

    With fewer cyclones the rainfall drops. Drought therefore becomes “the new normal” and the flim flam man claims he was right all along.

  38. tty -Thanks yes the snowies are on the mainland. But no glaciers to the extent that were in the Northern Hemisphere. There are some Aussies I have met, who say the cone like features of New England and valleys were caused by glaciers carving their way through. But I do know the tree lines were much lower during the last ice age, and one third of the tree cover was not there until after the last ice age cut off Tas and PNG and off shore islands. Nor were tropical rain forest.
    Actually cyclones do circle Australia but we are given prior warning. Now new homes are built to withstand cyclone forces, so we don’t get a repeat of Darwin in 1976. For those who don’t remember, it flattened Darwin. People were evacuated by plane who were homeless. Even some pets. It was rebuilt and is quite a nice city now.

  39. My grandfather was in the R.N. in the 1890s. Went to PNG to collect it as a protectorate/colony. The Germans had the other half. He mentioned that near Morten Bay, in Queensland, there was a hurricane (cyclone) and the American fleet was lost. They were still mast and steam then.

  40. JohnB says:
    August 2, 2014 at 6:20 pm
    You’re all missing the most basic point.
    With fewer cyclones the rainfall drops. Drought therefore becomes “the new normal” and the flim flam man claims he was right all along.

    But that’s not so, this undercuts it, both logically and empirically, the lower number of cyclones does not mean less rain-bearing tropical lows and troughs, the available heat still induces higher humidity levels, for more of the year, and more rainfall areas enter the interior. Have a look, the wettest two year period on record:

    The BOM is now naming any malformed tropical swirl that emerges and calling it a Cat-1 when anyone can see it’s a barely formed tropical storm with no closed circulation or inner wall.

    Frankly at least 50% of the cyclones named Cat 1s in the past 15 years were not, so the numbers of cyclones are lower again.

    At least the US sends out aircraft and deploys dropsonds to measure what the reality is along a few transects and the data is laced on online for all to see, so there’s no doubt about where it’s at in terms of hurricane strength development. And whenever the BOM declares a cyclone warning the first thing I do is check the US navy tropical cyclones site to see what they’re saying, as they’re vastly more objective and reliable in terms of forecast track maps, current intensities and forecast intensities and movement. As far as I’m concerned it’s not a cyclone until the numbers they show define it to be a cyclone. Basically BOM’s cyclone forecasting has made itself irrelevant to my requirements.

    http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/TC.html

  41. bushbunny says:
    August 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm
    Now new homes are built to withstand cyclone forces, so we don’t get a repeat of Darwin in 1976.

    Careful there BB, our standards are to withstand a cat-3 level storm and BOMs Cat-3 definition is a LOT weaker than the US Cat-3 definition (though our Cat-4s and 5s are very similar).

    Just goggle the structural failures in Innisfail from Larry Cat-4 and what occurred to the houses in Cardwell, Tully and Mission Beach from Yasi low Cat-5. They were torn apart.

    I’m 100% confident that if Yasi had hit Townsville, or Cairns, directly, it would have made what happened with Cyclone Tracy in Darwin pale almost to insignificance, both in houses destroyed and lives lost. Yasi was a vastly more dangerous storm, we just got extremely luck, it could not have hit a more ideal location for minimizing the damage to both cities. Have a read.

    Historical Impacts Along The East Coast

    http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/eastern.shtml

  42. Yes but one town that was hit by a cyclone rebuilt and was not so effected as others by Yasi or a previous cyclone. Even in Armidale before the big storm of 1996 when hail and wind damaged 80% of roofs, my husband sold PAAL (steel frame) kit homes. The Armidale Council insisted two extra A frames were added to the basic structure, to cope with more than 4 inches of snow. This happened in 1985 when snow cut off Armidale for a few days, and power cuts at Moonbi down near Tamworth. Roads were closed because of ice on the Waterfall Way from Armidale to Coff’s Harbor. But the PAAL Frame director would not consider selling cyclone proof kit homes to Queensland. Too expensive and he could not test their reliability in super high winds.

  43. All I need to emphasize is building standards can be improved to adapt to extreme weather and earthquakes. You know the Kyoto earthquake, (1985 I think) it killed 5,000 people. Mainly those that lived in traditional Japanese homes. They had heavy tiled roofs, but their support was only timber. They were built to sustain typhoons and cyclones, not earthquakes. The supports gave in and the heavy roofs buried people and of course started fires. Now they are building earthquake proof homes as well as typhoon proof. if Australia does this too, it would help, as well as build levies from flood prone areas around rivers near populated towns.

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