Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

Photo Credit: Shadia Fayne Wood

Post by Dr. Ryan N. Maue

Update:  Andrew Revkin writes a nice piece at his DotEarth NY Times blog that “very politely” repudiates McKibben.  Remember, the NY Times editorial board completely agrees with McKibben on the Tar Sands pipeline issue.

Update: ThinkProgess spins a narrative that says Irene is worse from global warming.  (Disconnected, hand-wavy narrative)

Bill McKibben authors a bizarre piece in the Daily Beast where he not only blames the strength of Hurricane Irene on global warming but connects the storm to President Obama’s expected approval of the Keystone Pipeline transport of Canadian Tar Sands to terminals in the United States.  While the second part of his thesis is political in nature, the first part is quite easy to fact check, and comes up woefully short.  McKibben has no expertise in tropical cyclone science, and relies on the expert quotes of Weather Underground blogger Dr. Jeff Masters who has provided a laudable public service with his Irene coverage.

McKibben begins: “Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.”

I doubt there is a tropical cyclone scientist that would go on record and make such a foolish statement, but who knows.

Normally, says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, it’s “difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane.”  The high-altitude wind shear may help knock the storm down a little this year, but the ocean temperatures won’t. They’re bizarrely high—only last year did we ever record hotter water.

Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,” says Masters. “These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical, since much more water vapor can evaporate into the air from record-warm ocean surfaces. The latest precipitation forecast from NOAA’s Hydrological prediction center shows that Irene could dump over eight inches of rain over coastal New England.”

Masters is alluding to the process known as “extratropical transition” in which a fully tropical hurricane becomes enmeshed with the midlatitude westerlies and evolves into a more typical extratropical cyclone.  The “tropical phase” hurricane encounters upper-level winds that are very strong which causes significant vertical shear.  This shear “tilts” the hurricane inner-core — a situation that is not optimal for the maintainence of deep convection around the entire eye.  Also as Irene reaches the Virginia border, it will encounter cooler SSTs, almost 10 degrees C cooler than its present location in the Bahamas.  The combination of dry continental air entrainment and cooler SSTs will immediately decrease the inner-core convection and help to “poof” out the storm.

Here’s a model depiction of the rapid structure change expected with Irene:  snapshots from the simulated GOES-12 brightness temperatures from the NCEP-NAM 12 km model.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update 08/28/2011:  Here’s the verifying satellite image, about 8-hour behind the third simulated panel…model did pretty good.

08/28/11 16:45Z

After 72-hours, Irene will look like a Nor’easter snowstorm on satellite with very cold cloud-tops on the NW flank or comma-head of the storm.  Considerable rain will occur before Irene makes landfall, as well as during its trip up the eastern seaboard.  However, the symmetric appearance of a major hurricane with an eye will be long gone.

Masters is quoted that “bizarrely high” SSTs along Irene’s path will cause Irene to be a much wetter and apparently longer-lasting hurricane that normal.  This assertion is true if “all else is equal”.  However, before attributing the “anomalous SST” to global warming, one must control all other variables in this complex situation.  That requires considerable sensitivity research with state-of-the art numerical weather prediction (and climate) models.  With very poor in-situ historical observations of the global oceans, it is still a quite daunting task to attribute SST anomalies in the meandering and variable Gulf Stream to global warming.  This hand-waving theory may not hold up when a rigorous scientific hypothesis is tested, yet McKibben does not provide a citation or reference aside from Masters’ quotations, which are not peer-reviewed in the slightest.

I plot up daily the current SSTs as well as the anomalies for each August 25 from 1979 to 2011 for the North Tropical Atlantic here.  The path Irene is expected to take does not go over “bizarrely high” SSTs by any stretch of the imagination.  The 26-degree C isotherm is just about at its average location for the past 30-years.

If Irene occurred in September, the SSTs would be warmer than August, which does not imply that global warming aided the storm’s development.  Thus, one must look at the variability (variance) of local and regional SSTs as well as the actual SSTs to gauge an accurate understanding of tropical cyclone intensity change.  With the current track very similar to Floyd 1999, one should expect similar impacts in terms of precipitation and wind “if all else is equal”.  However, nature rarely operates in text book manner especially in the field of meteorology.

While some tropical cyclone scientists are probably sympathetic with McKibben’s political goals, I will keep my eyes peeled for one that will go on record agreeing with McKibben’s stretched scientific logic.  In his mind, Bush caused Katrina and Obama caused Irene.  Hopefully McKibben and the media will let this crisis go to waste.

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Steeptown
August 25, 2011 10:40 pm

Let’s face it; the world is full of nutters like McKibben. The amazing thing is that he is given any attention.

August 25, 2011 10:47 pm

The only thing predictable here, is McKibben’s “middle name” braying. His credibility is clearly zero. I’ll bet any public ‘confirmation’ from the likes of Dr. Masters would be intellectual suicide. Nonetheless, Dr. Maue, thank you for addressing the science. Haven’t all Gulf Stream-hugging hurricanes been a pain? These are the ones that beat the tar out of the east coast all the way to Newfoundland, are they not? The New Jersey governor’s assertion that this ‘could be’ a 100-year event? Say what? Isn’t this more or less a normal occurrence for hurricanes with this track?

August 25, 2011 10:56 pm

It would be very interesting to track/graph ACE during this storm and for the rest of the season. That should take some of the wind out of the blow-hards’ sails.

Admin
August 25, 2011 11:00 pm

Brian H, facts don’t matter to McKibben, he’s an AGW addict, only interested in the next fix via some clueless newstype who will listen.

Scottish Sceptic
August 25, 2011 11:12 pm

This is a blatant attempt to combine pagan weather gods with the Judeo Christian idea of “all sins must be paid for”.
Of course the “all sins must be paid for” …. usually meant it had to paid to the church, and the pagan weather gods were just a bunch of marauding hooligans who couldn’t care twopence about sin.
But, this new religion has some “interesting” facets.

Scottish Sceptic
August 25, 2011 11:25 pm

I’ll spell it out … the weather gods were seen as gods responsible for the weather. So, the source of income for the “priests” of that religion was an endless stream of “you must pacify the gods (through me) in order that you do not have another … hurricane”.
Note the total absence of “deserving the weather you get”. In contrast religion in the first century BC took a sharp turn and stopped blaming the weather and started blaming the “sin of the individual”. This probably was to do with changes in society … less people directly connected with agriculture which was so weather depending. Growing greek influence with their philosophy of the individual and perhaps a bout of warming (Roman warm period?).
So, religion changed from “random moods of the gods who had to be persuaded not to do harm”, to “personal responsibility for sin which had to be paid for”.
Now, we are seeing a new type of religion which is “random moods of the (gaia) god, which is the personal responsibility of all those who have sinned (by burning carbon).
Our carbon, which art in heaven,
Damned be thy name,
Thy power be gone,
Emissions none,
On earth as it is in heaven,
Give us this day our daily rations,
And forgive us our emissions.
As we forgive those who emissions are greater,
For their need is more,
His name is Al Gore,
For his is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever, Carbon.

John H
August 25, 2011 11:36 pm

Whatever happened to the ‘Its only Weather not Climate’ mantra used for cold weather events.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
August 25, 2011 11:50 pm

Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,” says Masters.
1. Where’s the missing left-side double-quote mark?
2. Why the units shift? Does “0.6° to 1.7°C warmer than average” not sound alarming enough?

Mike Jowsey
August 25, 2011 11:52 pm

Get with the times McKibben – Climate Disruption, not global warming. If her middle name was Climate Disruption then anything goes and you might be able to bluster and arm-wave your way out of it.

Warren
August 26, 2011 12:04 am

@ Ryan Maue
I am tired of the rent-seeking parasites who have hijacked meteorology and contaminated it with their left-wing political agendas.
Amen to that

August 26, 2011 12:27 am

What’s her last name?

John Silver
August 26, 2011 12:50 am

Why bother with moronic trolls like this? It’s just a waste of good bytes.

Bloke down the pub
August 26, 2011 12:53 am

@ Ryan Maue
“I am tired of the rent-seeking parasites who have hijacked meteorology and contaminated it with their left-wing political agendas.”
Come on Ryan, stop beating around the bush and tell us what you really think.

August 26, 2011 1:02 am

Hi Ryan, one more chart is missing: SST record for the US eastern coast with the bizarre high SST
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadisst1_280-290E_25-35N_n_sua.png
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/ihadsst2_280-290E_25-35N_n_sua.png
http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/isstoi_v2_280-290E_25-35N_na.png
The same area, various datasets.
Who is Masters?

August 26, 2011 1:28 am

To the tune of “I Believed in Father Christmas”:
They said that the world was warming
They said we were gonna fry
They gave us the direst warnings
Repent for the end is nigh
And I believed in Global Warming
I fell for a big fat lie
But listen up folks
It’s only a hoax
A joke and a pig in a poke
They priced up our carbon footprints
They filled us with guilt and sin
Indulgences sold to order
To offset the mess we’re in
And I believed in…

Lawrie Ayres
August 26, 2011 2:13 am

Oh for the good old days when we heard there was a storm coming and to get ready. We didn’t know what was causing the storm nor did we care. We only cared if we had prepared well enough and that we had screwed down that loose sheet of corrugated iron. Those sure were carefree days.

Jeef
August 26, 2011 2:36 am

I am amazed that Americans give column inches to deluded fruitbats. Has McKibben been tested for senility yet?

TWE
August 26, 2011 2:58 am

If McKibben has any proper qualifications in science, I couldn’t find any. Just a bunch of cheap and meaningless honourary degrees.

rbateman
August 26, 2011 3:04 am

Global Warming causes Hurricanes?
I thought the ocean and atmosphere was responsible for that.
Anyway, it appears that Obama has contracted a version of the Gore effect, where nature goes wild every time he reverses course. Gaian Antibodies are generated, you see, when both speak.
McKibben may be coming down with that.
Is there a doctor in the house?

August 26, 2011 3:10 am

Global warming, global cooling…all get blamed for weather. Here’s Time magazines take on it when the world was in the grip of the global cooling fever (June 24, 1974):
“As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.
Telltale signs are everywhere — from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest…Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F.
Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds — the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world. Indeed it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa’s drought. By blocking moisture-bearing equatorial winds and preventing them from bringing rainfall to the parched sub-Sahara region, as well as other drought-ridden areas stretching all the way from Central America to the Middle East and India, the polar winds have in effect caused the Sahara and other deserts to reach farther to the south. Paradoxically, the same vortex has created quite different weather quirks in the U.S. and other temperate zones. As the winds swirl around the globe, their southerly portions undulate like the bottom of a skirt. Cold air is pulled down across the Western U.S. and warm air is swept up to the Northeast. The collision of air masses of widely differing temperatures and humidity can create violent storms—the Midwest’s recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.
…Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth’s surface could tip the climatic balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years.”
So, global cooling also causes violent storms and tornadoes in the USA. The last paragraph is interesting in light of the CLOUD results. A 1% decrease in sunlight reaching the earth’s surface is a ‘tipping point’. All this stuff sounds so familiar: just change the odd word and it’s the global warming meme.

August 26, 2011 3:42 am

They will do anything to gain attention to be published. Whether it is weather or the truth about some VIP, they are a waste of time in my opinion, and only attract those who want to hear lies to comfort their own beliefs and world view. Sad really there are so many of them.

Robbie
August 26, 2011 3:53 am

Ahhhh … McKibben again!: Just read the June 2011 issue of the National Geographic where McKibben is faced with the truth about China’s Green Policy.
Also figure out what role Wind and Solar Power will play for the future in that country in that piece. I think it was the first eye-opener for ignorant people like McKibben that we cannot do much about CO2 reductions at this point in time.
But I guess he still hasn’t learned much about that project.
I hope Irene will not cause too much damage on the East Coast of the USA.

August 26, 2011 3:54 am

Actually McKibben’s “logic” is marginally better than most Carbon Cultists. Most of them are also loyal partisan cheerleaders, attributing all bad things to Satan Bush and all good things to Lord God Obama. McKibben correctly understands that Bush and Obama are 90% identical on a policy level.
This matters because his failure to play within the official chalk lines will lower his credibility among the larger number of raw partisans.
While I’m at it, I’ve got to say that far too many commenters on the non-Cult side are also raw-boned partisans, attributing all good things to Lord God Bush and all bad things to Satan Obama. This is equally invalid and equally discrediting.

Carbonicus
August 26, 2011 4:06 am

We’re sick with you, Ryan. Best way to beat them is with real science, which is why your ACE work is so crucial.
Keep up the good work.
And Go ‘Noles!

Wade
August 26, 2011 5:00 am

From the article:

Masters is quoted that “bizarrely high” SSTs along Irene’s path will cause Irene to be a much wetter and apparently longer-lasting hurricane that normal.

This is why I don’t read Jeff Masters anymore. That statement is a lie. Ocean temperatures are much cooler this year than last year! Here is the proof. Below are the sea-surface temperature anomalies, according to NOAA, from the past several years at about the same date, starting with 2011. Pay careful attention to the SST around Irene’s path
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2011/anoma.8.25.2011.gif
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2010/anoma.8.26.2010.gif
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2009/anoma.8.24.2009.gif
http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/2008/anoma.8.25.2008.gif
When you go through those 4 years, 2008 was the coolest by far. 2009 was second coolest in Irene’s past and future path. 2010 was, bar far, the hottest of the 4. 2011 is the second coolest of the 4. Only in the mind of a true believer like Jeff Masters is cooler ocean temperatures “bizarrely high”. If ocean temperatures are “bizarrely high”, than Hurricane Irene is “bizarrely” strong and will be the strongest hurricane to strike North Carolina and New York city ever, once true believers like Jeff Masters find a way to weaken 1954 Hurricane Hazel (strongest to hit North Carolina) which was a Category 4 and the 1938 Long Island express hurricane which was a Category 3.
The forecast kept saying this storm was going to be a Cat-4. Not once, but several times. What happened? The 5 a.m. advisory shows it became a Cat-2. I know I am no meteorologist like Jeff Masters, but I have a basic knowledge of tropical cyclones. They are tropical because they feed off warm water. So I look at ocean temperatures with objective eyes and see there is less heat for a tropical cyclone to draw from. It doesn’t take a fancy computer model to know if a storm has less energy to draw from it won’t be as strong. The storm is moving over the Gulf Stream soon, so it will likely pick up some strength. If its path holds true, it won’t lose a lot of strength moving north because it will be moving fast over water, not because water temperatures are higher.
When it has been almost 1080 days since a hurricane made a direct hit on the US, you get crazy stuff like this.

Doug ski
August 26, 2011 5:32 am

I live in Vermont where Bill “english professor” McKibben is from. He spoke at my wife’s school and everybody was SO excited. I told my wife to tell them that he has no qualifications in science, he is an English professor at Middlebury College. Some of the people looked it up but others would not listen , as usual.
Joe D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi used sound predicting methods and said we would have East Coast huricanes this year. My father in law lived through a huge one in the 30’s, it flooded all of New London, Conn. and there were a lot of fatalities and damage. So we had an occassional big hurricane in the East back then, too.
I love the skiing in Vermont – no better place in the East. (By the way we had our second biggest snowfall year ever last year – and you guessed it, some people around here automatically think GW.) But I really don’t like living here – it is the Moonbat and Leftist capital of the US.

Frank K.
August 26, 2011 5:43 am

Ryan Maue says:
August 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm
“I am tired of the rent-seeking parasites who have hijacked meteorology and contaminated it with their left-wing political agendas.”
This is the quote of the month for me! Thanks Ryan. You could probably replace “meteorology” with “science” and still have a valid statement.
Also – I’m glad to see lunatics like McKibben speaking on behalf of CAGW scientists/activists everywhere. Let him rant for all the world to see.

Ian L. McQueen
August 26, 2011 5:43 am

McKibben was the “other” speaker on the topic of the proposed pipeline from the Alberta “oil sands” to Texas on Friday’s “The Current”, a week-day CBC morning program (from 0900). It can be heard for a couple of hours in following time zones Friday morning via cbc.ca. I expect that it will be available on-line from early next week.
On today’s program he was giving his usual spiel about “carbon” (word used repeatedly) consumption leading to a coming climate disaster, etc, and that the oil should be left in the ground.
I will probably send reference to this WUWT posting to the program. Unfortunately, Anthony’s comment: “Brian H, facts don’t matter to McKibben, he’s an AGW addict, only interested in the next fix via some clueless newstype who will listen” hits too close to home, it being the CBC and all.
IanM

Rick Bradford
August 26, 2011 5:45 am

Oddly, human nature dictates that when you’re running out of ammunition, you tend to fire at anything that moves.
McKibben confirms the observation.

Nuke
August 26, 2011 5:52 am

Steeptown says:
August 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm
Let’s face it; the world is full of nutters like McKibben. The amazing thing is that he is given any attention.

McKibben and his rubbish are portrayed as if he and his beliefs are mainstream, to boot.

Spector
August 26, 2011 6:02 am

In order to be as concerned as he appears to be, assuming he is intellectually honest, McKibben must have a picture in his mind of CO2 being a thin grey infrared blanket that is getting ever darker as more anthropogenic carbon dioxide is inserted into the atmosphere and now we are on the verge of reaching a point where positive feedback will cause this process to run away out of control. Thus, it is his responsibility to do all in his power to arouse public awareness and stop this disaster.
Bill Nye promoted this very picture of CO2 in an appearance on the Bill O’Reilly show with Joe Bastardi some months back with two tubes of slightly darkened fluid.
Alarmism sells. Most articles in the popular press on the greenhouse effect do not ever mention that this is a logarithmic effect limited by a law of diminishing returns and carbon dioxide primarily effects only a short band of wavelengths around 15 microns. Except for a small fringe on either side, this band is already totally blocked by absorption in the atmosphere. Added CO2 only causes a slight widening of this band as the fringes darken. A speculation on the consequences of a runaway greenhouse effect will attract more readers than an article about thermostatic mechanisms in the atmosphere.

Alan D McIntire
August 26, 2011 6:07 am

As someone posting here on an earlier thread pointed out, the earth is a giant heat engine, transferring heat from the equator to the poles, producing weather as a side effect.
The maximum efficiency of a Carnot heat engine is 1 – Tc/Th
where Tc is the temperature of the cold reservoir, the poles, Th is the temperature of the warm reservoir, the equator.
Carnot heat engine link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_heat_engine
With global warming, the temperature of the poles is supposed to increase FASTER than the temperature at the equator. That would REDUCE the efficiency of the heat engine, leading to less extreme weather, as this paper points out.
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL047138.shtml
If the frequency and strength is INCREASING, that’s a sign of global COOLING.

amabo
August 26, 2011 6:29 am

Well, I blame global warming on hurricane Irene!

Kaboom
August 26, 2011 6:30 am

What with the low number of hurricanes and the long time one made landfall in the US, he has to grab at what he can.

Louis Hooffstetter
August 26, 2011 6:32 am

“These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical.”
Let’s pause for a moment to savor this quote…
Hurricanes are violent cyclonic storms characterized by intense, driving rains blowing at >72 mph. Does it get any wetter than that? Bill, let’s see some “typical hurricane wetness” data, and/or typical hurricane rainfall data that supports this nonsense. Maybe Kevin Trenberth has some left over from his Scientific American article: “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes”: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=warmer-oceans-stronger-hurricanes
“Climate Experts” espouse this scientific horse poop and then lament the fact their scientific credibility with the general public is falling? Please, just keep on talking.
Willis Eisenbach recently demonstrated how cloud formation in the tropics regulates sea surface temperatures. Hurricanes are another manifestation of this same process. Warm water vapor is transferred from the ocean surface to the upper atmosphere where it condenses and releases heat.

Alberta Slim
August 26, 2011 6:36 am

Scottish Sceptic says:
August 25, 2011 at 11:25 pm
Re; your Gore Lord’s prayer.
Very good. You had better get it copyrighted. You may be famous.

Frank K.
August 26, 2011 7:10 am

Wade says:
August 26, 2011 at 5:00 am
Masters is quoted that bizarrely high SSTs along Irenes path will cause Irene to be a much wetter and apparently longer-lasting hurricane that normal.
This is why I dont read Jeff Masters anymore.

I have permanently deleted any links on my browser to “wunderground” – Jeff Masters has long gone off the deep end on Global Warming, and I no longer wish to help him with his weather business. Besides, there are MUCH BETTER weather sites – I use Intellicast.com (far superior radar summary than wunderground ever had, site layout is much cleaner too).

Pete H
August 26, 2011 7:23 am

We need so many more like this bloke. Nutters help the public see who the sane people really are!

August 26, 2011 7:44 am

Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,”

Of course that “average” is an extremely short period of time. We have no idea what SSTs anywhere were like 300 years ago or more.

August 26, 2011 7:48 am

McKibben was on MSNBC last night (I don’t usually watch that channel, but was bored and nothing else was on). He said that if the Alberta Tar Sands were tapped into, it would be bye-bye to the climate, since it’s an extremely large reservoir of carbon. He also talked about Irene as mentioned above.
No opposing view provided.

August 26, 2011 7:48 am

Also, the Daily Beast is blocking posts.

tom T
August 26, 2011 7:51 am

Funny how a couple of the biggest global warming alarmists Mckibben and Gore claim we are anti-sceince and we should only listen to climatologists, yet they don’t even have science degrees.

tom T
August 26, 2011 7:58 am

Maybe I am colorblind, but I don’t see bizarrely warm water in her path at all.
http://hurricane.accuweather.com/hurricane/atlantic/basin.asp?partner=accuweather

August 26, 2011 8:12 am

While all the hystericals are busy with Global Warming, I just got a reminder that winter is around the corner. It was 61F this morning, in late August, in my former Confederate state. The wife is miffed at me for not bringing in more wood these past couple years. Gonna have to buy some, I suppose. I’m sure 61F isn’t abnormal, but it’s sure a very welcome surprise after so much heat.
As for Hurricanes, I lived in the Tampa Metro area for 9 years, from 1997-2006. I saw some huge hurricanes pass right over my head. Other than some broken tree limbs and a few missing roof shingles, I never had any property damage. I ain’t sayin’ that hurricanes can’t be devastating! But ask any Floridian, the hype gets unbearable after awhile. People eventually just shut their televisions off. God knows I did. I once had 6 named storms pass over my house, in one season. Nothing more than sideways rain and constant wind. There was a green parrot in my 40 foot palm that stuck out an entire hurricane merely by gripping one frond with its feet and another frond with its beak. Poor guy. I checked on him regularly, He was there through the worst of it and only disappeared after it was over. Me? I had to clean up some limbs and fronds, but that was it.
I’ll watch the storm and hope for the best for those folks on the coast. I’m sure there will be damage. But that’s the risk of living on the coast. Storms.

Chris D.
August 26, 2011 8:16 am
Pamela Gray
August 26, 2011 8:19 am

I bet a poll would show that overall, younger folks march to the tune of “unprecedented” while older folks yawn at the next big thing.

DirkH
August 26, 2011 8:24 am

Pete H says:
August 26, 2011 at 7:23 am
“We need so many more like this bloke. Nutters help the public see who the sane people really are!”
Greenpeace membership: 2.86 million (2008)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenpeace

August 26, 2011 8:52 am

“Funny how a couple of the biggest global warming alarmists Mckibben and Gore claim we are anti-science and we should only listen to climatologists, yet they don’t even have science degrees.”
So very true Tom T.

David
August 26, 2011 8:59 am

He might have even a tiny bit of credibility if his piece over at the Daily Beast didn’t end with a hotlink for his new book that you can click on for purchase at Amazon. Every natural disaster is just another opportunity to promote his book. Nothing more.

Mack
August 26, 2011 9:15 am

If only hurricanes were as predictable as the alarmist crowd.

pat
August 26, 2011 9:30 am

McKibben is baiting that idiot Diane Sawyer for a TV interview.

HaroldW
August 26, 2011 9:42 am

Dr. Maue,
While I agree with you on the nonsense of McKibben’s remarks, I wouldn’t characterize them as “bizzare.” From dictionary.com, bizarre means “markedly unusual … outrageously or whimsically strange; odd.” Given McKibben’s past writings and utterings, blaming Irene on Satan. Carbon does not strike me as odd; it’s perfectly consistent. He has also blamed global warming for Katrina, and no doubt for many other weather events.
[i was using bizarre b/c it was the word describing the warm SSTs]

August 26, 2011 9:52 am

Alan D McIntire:
Thank you for your comment; I hadn’t seen this argument expressed in terms of the Carnot cycle before, but in terms of a smaller temperature difference between the tropics and the poles leading to a reduced tendency towards stormy weather. But it is essentially the same.
But logic is useless; we must give full weight to our feelings!
Global warming is BAD.
Storms are BAD.
Therefore global warming means more storms. QED.

Ed Scott
August 26, 2011 10:54 am

“Questioning things is the essence of science. Just accepting things the scientists say is the essence of religion.” – Graybeard

Phil Nizialek
August 26, 2011 11:21 am

I’m with all of you calling into question Jeff Masters’ alleged “bizarrely high’ East Coast sea surface temperatures. Masters seemed to pick this meme up several months ago from some other warmist group which had predicted a wicked 2011 hurricane season, in no small part because of alleged anomalously high N. Atlantic SSTs. I have been trying to find those outrageous SSTs all summer. They have never shown up on Unisys, or any other SST measurement that I have found. Maybe Dr. Jeff doesn’t know the N. Atlantic from the N. Pacific, where ther is a wickedly warm pool of surface water this summer.
In any case, it seems that once Masters makes an assertion, he sticks with it no matter how much contrary evidence develops. By the way, it’s nice to see that Irene seems to be hitting the down ramp early, even thogh she’s moving into those hellishly warm waters Jeff has his eye on.
[his choice of area for record high SST is a portion of a Gulf Stream eddy, 5×5 degree box]

Bruce Cobb
August 26, 2011 11:29 am

“This is what climate change looks like in its early stages.”
“If the president goes for business as usual, we’re going to get planet weird.”
With McDumbo and his fellow eco-whackos screaming about carbon-created climate doom, I think it’s here already.

Spector
August 26, 2011 11:36 am

Unfortunately, Mckibben and a former Vice President may be unwittingly contributing to a growing antiscientific public attitude by over-championing a flawed cause.

David
August 26, 2011 11:47 am

You ever notice how global warming only gets credited for the bad, destructive storms. Right now, TD 10 is also out in the Atlantic. The models are in agreement that even if it turns into anything, it will be a harmless fish storm. Is that because of global warming too?

gary
August 26, 2011 11:49 am

I thought we’d passed the threashold here, where there was consensus amongst the hurrican experts that both in the Atlantic basin and the world, that the both the number of cyclones and the total energy released, was greater during the 1st half of the 20th century than the 2nd half.
And, of course, it’s a given that there would have been more TS’s and cyclones during the 1st half of the 20th century of which there is no record of – nobody saw, or recorded them.

clipe
August 26, 2011 12:07 pm

Speaking of Moonbats…New moon this weekend.
..STORM SURGE AND STORM TIDE…
AS HURRICANE IRENE APPROACHES THE COAST…THERE IS AN INCREASING
CHANCE FOR COMBINED STORM SURGE AND ASTRONOMICAL TIDE WATERS UP
TO 8 FEET ABOVE MEAN SEA LEVEL WITHIN AREAS CLOSER TO THE COAST…
RESULTING IN WORST CASE FLOOD INUNDATION OF 4 TO 8 FEET ABOVE
GROUND LEVEL SOMEWHERE WITHIN THE SURGE ZONE.
THE LOCATIONS MOST LIKELY TO REALIZE THE GREATEST FLOODING
INCLUDE COROLLA. LOCATIONS ALONG THE ALBEMARLE SOUNDING CAN
EXPECT 2 TO 5 FEET. HOWEVER LESSER VALUES WILL OCCUR UP THE
RIVERS. THE MOST LIKELY PERIOD OF IMPACT WILL BE SATURDAY
AFTERNOON AND SATURDAY NIGHT.
THERE IS AN ELEVATED THREAT TO LIFE AND PROPERTY FROM COASTAL
FLOODING. THE CONCERN IS FOR THE CHANCE OF MODERATE TO HIGH
COASTAL FLOODING TO OCCUR IN AREAS WITHIN THE SURGE ZONE…
RESULTING IN DAMAGING AND LIFE THREATENING INUNDATION. IF
REALIZED…PEOPLE WITHIN THE THREATENED AREAS WHO FAILED TO HEED
OFFICIAL EVACUATION ORDERS WILL HAVE NEEDLESSLY PLACED THEIR
LIVES IN DANGER. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE FOR THOSE STAYING BEHIND
IN VULNERABLE LOCATIONS SUCH AS HOMES AND BUSINESSES NEAR THE
SHORE…AND ONE STORY DWELLINGS IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS. SEVERAL
ROADS IN FLOOD PRONE AREAS WILL LIKELY BE CLOSED.
…INLAND FLOODING…
A FLOOD WATCH IS IN EFFECT FOR THE ENTIRE AREA. SEE LATEST
FORECAST FOR LATEST INFORMATION. LISTEN FOR POSSIBLE FLOOD
WARNINGS FOR YOUR LOCATION…AND BE READY TO ACT IF FLOODING
RAINS OCCUR.
8 TO 12 INCHES OF STORM TOTAL RAINFALL IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE
AREA WITH THE HIGHEST AMOUNTS CLOSER TO THE COAST. LISTEN FOR
POSSIBLE FLOOD WARNINGS FOR YOUR LOCATION…AND BE READY TO ACT
IF FLOODING RAINS OCCUR.

http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=AKQ&product=HLS&format=CI&version=1&glossary=1

Nuke
August 26, 2011 12:31 pm

Bizarre? These people live in a world where everybody believes the same thing and nobody, but nobody questions those beliefs, until like a tidal wave, a new belief just sweeps over them. And they never, ever concern themselves about whether the new belief totally contradicts the old belief.

Scott in VA
August 26, 2011 12:32 pm

Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground is very good at blogging about the tropics. Unfortunately, he is a full on worshiper at the alter of the church of anthropogenic global warming, which is too bad because I enjoy reading his posts.
[ryanm: jeff is on record saying as much]

August 26, 2011 12:39 pm

Isn’t it obvious that anthropogenic global warming is to blame? Nobel Laureate and Oscar Winner Albert Gore invented the term “hurricane” by naming the first one in 1980. Never before then was there any damage due to wind storms (Tornadoes too started cropping up only in the 1970’s). Don’t you guys know your weather history?
Lest you bring up Galveston 1899, you should know that really that was a mass case of vandalism perpetrated by those who were upset that McKinley chose Teddy Roosevelt as a running mate!

Matt Rogers
August 26, 2011 3:53 pm

Good grief, we’re in the positive Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation cycle which began in 1995. We’re supposed to see warmer-than-normal Atlantic temperatures during this period. Despite the warmer-than-normal Atlantic, the U.S. hasn’t had a major hurricane landfall since 2005- six years ago! Take that, tipping pointers!

August 26, 2011 4:00 pm

Anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan throws Bill McKibben a doggie treat. “Good boy!”.
Recall Gelbspan’s much-repeated 2005 Boston Globe article http://www.boston.com/news/weather/articles/2005/08/30/katrinas_real_name/ which started out saying “The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming”.
Since it is his trademark, Gelbspan said later in the article, “For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.”.
Brilliant tactic on hammering a simple 3-part mantra into the minds of the uninformed public: Scientific consensus / corrupt skeptics / no reason for the media to listen to skeptics.
For some of those following my focus on that unsupportable mantra, I asked a major network news outlet why this supposed ‘too fair of media coverage for skeptics’ NEVER occurred at their news program, and I was not given a straight answer. See “PBS and Global Warming Skeptics’ Lockout” http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/08/pbs_and_global_warming_skeptics_lockout.html

Joe Bastardi
August 26, 2011 4:41 pm

Bizarrely warm?? Dr Masters, please, study the 30s through 50s and the warm AMO then and the amazingly strong hurricanes then. 1938 and 1944 blow this out of the water and 3 majors in one year up the east 1954, which was one of my analog years from the preseason ( also the great heat and drought in the southern plains) are simple ways to show that this is something that is overdue.
Whats Bizarre is either you not knowing, or knowing and still saying this.
So which is it. Do you know the history of the east coast hurricanes of the last warm amo, or dont you

Richard M
August 26, 2011 5:03 pm

It appears Irene is weakening and may be a cat 1 before landfall. Must be all that warm water. 😉

clipe
August 26, 2011 6:31 pm

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 100 MPH…160 KM/H…WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. IRENE IS A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST BEFORE
IRENE REACHES THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA. SOME WEAKENING IS
EXPECTED AFTER THAT…BUT IRENE IS FORECAST TO REMAIN A HURRICANE
AS IT MOVES ALONG THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST ON SUNDAY.size

clipe
August 26, 2011 6:32 pm

MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS REMAIN NEAR 100 MPH…160 KM/H…WITH HIGHER
GUSTS. IRENE IS A CATEGORY TWO HURRICANE ON THE SAFFIR-SIMPSON
HURRICANE WIND SCALE. LITTLE CHANGE IN STRENGTH IS FORECAST BEFORE
IRENE REACHES THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA. SOME WEAKENING IS
EXPECTED AFTER THAT…BUT IRENE IS FORECAST TO REMAIN A HURRICANE
AS IT MOVES ALONG THE MID-ATLANTIC COAST ON SUNDAY.

August 26, 2011 7:00 pm

Since it is his trademark, Gelbspan said later in the article, “For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.”.

And most people don’t know that Steve McIntyre was one of those 2000+. They had to threaten to have him removed to to get him to stop asking for transparency and honesty in the IPCC process. There were others in that 2000+ who asked difficult questions, which were simply dismissed as irrelevant much of the time.

August 26, 2011 8:49 pm

Irene is forecast now to fizzle out rapidly: per NWS at 11 pm EDT,
FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS
INIT 27/0300Z 32.6N 76.9W 85 KT 100 MPH
12H 27/1200Z 34.2N 76.4W 80 KT 90 MPH
24H 28/0000Z 36.7N 75.5W 75 KT 85 MPH
36H 28/1200Z 39.8N 74.0W 70 KT 80 MPH
48H 29/0000Z 43.8N 71.3W 60 KT 70 MPH. . . INLAND
So much for a monster storm…

Tom
August 26, 2011 8:54 pm

Is Global Warming responsible for Irene being the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since 2008?

August 26, 2011 9:30 pm

When you worship at the alter of the Green God, facts and logic don’t matter because it is their faith in this false idol which sustains them.

sceptical
August 26, 2011 11:55 pm

Seems this article has things backwards. Weather is dependent on climate and we know the climate is warmer than it was in the recent past which means this weather event is dependent on the current climate which has been warmed globally. It would seem Hurricane Irene could only be doing what it is doing because of the current climate which has been influenced by recent warming. There is no evidence the same storm would be happening without recent global warming.

Larry in Texas
August 27, 2011 12:50 am

A fascinating explanation by Dr. Maue! I was wondering earlier this afternoon when I was looking at Irene on NOAA’s doppler radar why the eye of the storm looked so funny, like there wasn’t much of an eye left at all. Now I know.

Andrew Harding
Editor
August 27, 2011 2:02 am

Mr McKibben, you have broken the golden rule of climatology in that you cannot ascribe one event to a trend that may be happening. If you think that you can, please expain why in the North East of England, I cannot cut down the 30 foot conifer in my garden which died as a result of the severe frost here last December, because it is raining heavily? Also the temperature is 11.5 celsius at 09:45 when I would expect it to be at least 10 degrees higher. We are an island influenced by sea temperature and the sea is at its warmest at this time of the year. Explanation please!
Our thoughts are with the US citizens on the east coast in the path of Irene, I have seen the winds are dying down and we all pray that it will continue.
The 9:00 BBC radio news said that all public transport in NYC will be shut down later today and 2,000,000 were being evacuated from the coast. Is this correct? Our PC, Leftist, AGW friendly BBC downplays any cold weather but anything that can be put down to AGW is exaggerated. It is a national disgrace.

Richard S Courtney
August 27, 2011 2:36 am

sceptical:
Your post at August 26, 2011 at 11:55 pm is nonsense. It says, in full;
“Seems this article has things backwards. Weather is dependent on climate and we know the climate is warmer than it was in the recent past which means this weather event is dependent on the current climate which has been warmed globally. It would seem Hurricane Irene could only be doing what it is doing because of the current climate which has been influenced by recent warming. There is no evidence the same storm would be happening without recent global warming.”
There is no evidence that hurricane Irene is different from previous hurricanes.
There is evidence hurricanes stronger than Irene happened in the past when you assert it was cooler. And in the past when you assert it was cooler there were more frequent hurricanes than recently.
So, your assertion that
“It would seem Hurricane Irene could only be doing what it is doing because of the current climate which has been influenced by recent warming”
is a non sequitor.
Unless, of course, you are claiming that recent warming has caused hurricanes such as Irene to be weaker and less frequent.
In reality, the data does not provide any discernible relationship between global warming and hurricanes.
Richard

August 27, 2011 4:29 am

But Richard! Sceptical isn’t using data! /sarc

RandomThesis
August 27, 2011 9:03 am

It appears that the ‘scientists’ predicting the extreme danger from Irene learned how to predict the future from ‘scientists’ exposing CAGW. The politicians just follow along. Reality however has a way of interfering with these futurists.

sceptical
August 27, 2011 9:16 am

Richard, you are missing the point. I never said there were not hurricanes in the past. Hurricane Irene happened in this paticular climate. this climate is warmer than the recent past. This climate has influenced Hurricane Irene. Your assertion that climate has no influence on hurricanes is nonsense.

August 27, 2011 9:28 am

sceptical says:
“This climate has influenced Hurricane Irene. Your assertion that climate has no influence on hurricanes is nonsense.”
It appears that the ‘influence’ of a warmer climate on hurricane Irene is that warmth has reduced the winds and damage, validating my repeated assertion that CO2 is harmless and beneficial. Isn’t it time you accepted that obvious fact?

sceptical
August 27, 2011 9:44 am

Smokey, “It appears that the ‘influence’ of a warmer climate on hurricane Irene is that warmth has reduced the winds and damage, validating my repeated assertion that CO2 is harmless and beneficial. Isn’t it time you accepted that obvious fact?”
Why does it appear this way to you? What evidence do you have that this hurricane would have been more powerful in a cooler climate? Are you claiming there can be no storms more powerful than this one in a warmer world?

August 27, 2011 9:57 am

McKibben begins: “Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.”
McKibben has a middle name, and it’s “crackpot”

EternalOptimist
August 27, 2011 10:08 am

Maybe I am old and cynical, but I bet there are a few out there that are deeply sorry that Irene didn’t do a lot more damage and kill a whole load of folks. It’s a bit sad really

Richard S Courtney
August 27, 2011 11:00 am

sceptical:
Your comment to me at August 27, 2011 at 9:16 am says, in total,
“Richard, you are missing the point. I never said there were not hurricanes in the past. Hurricane Irene happened in this paticular climate. this climate is warmer than the recent past. This climate has influenced Hurricane Irene. Your assertion that climate has no influence on hurricanes is nonsense.”
I did not say,
“climate has no influence on hurricanes”.
I said,
“In reality, the data does not provide any discernible relationship between global warming and hurricanes.”
And what I said is true.
Please accept some friendly advice. Try to remember that it is better to let people think you are a fool than to post something which proves you are a fool.
Richard

sceptical
August 27, 2011 11:17 am

Richard, you can pull insults all you want, it does not change the fact that this hurrican was formed and exists in the present climate which is based on a global warming of recent years. It is foolish to think this or any hurricane exists outside of the present climate, a warmer climate than in the recent past.

Richard S Courtney
August 27, 2011 12:55 pm

sceptical:
I have made no insults, and I am saddened that you failed to adopt my friendly advice.
Richard

sceptical
August 27, 2011 3:25 pm

Richard, what climate do you feel this hurricane has come from if not the present climate?

Roger Knights
August 27, 2011 3:59 pm

@sceptical:
But the present climate has been generating less total hurricane power.

Colin in BC
August 27, 2011 4:16 pm

When it fits the AGW narrative, localized weather events become climate, or a product of climate.
When it does not fit with the AGW meme, we’re told “it’s only weather.”
Interesting…

Richard S Courtney
August 27, 2011 5:20 pm

sceptical:
Please stop making a public fool of yourself.
I stated the truth that
“In reality, the data does not provide any discernible relationship between global warming and hurricanes.”
And your response is to pester me at August 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm by asking me:
“Richard, what climate do you feel this hurricane has come from if not the present climate?”
I answer, the present climate, you twit. But that does NOT mean there has been a discernible relationship between the strength and/or the frequency of hurricanes. THERE HAS NOT.
I could be as innane as you by asking you what sheep do you think a recently sheared fleece has come from if not a live one. The question and its answer provides as much information about sheep as your question about climate and for the same reason.
I shall ignore all further posts from you because responses to you seem to encourage you to make posts which provide doubt concerning your mental faculties, and I see no need to encourage you to make such posts.
Richard

Colin in BC
August 27, 2011 5:33 pm

sceptical says:
August 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Richard, what climate do you feel this hurricane has come from if not the present climate?
Sceptical, every conceivable weather phenomena is a product of the climate. But, using your logic, it’s tantamount to declaring, “Water is wet!” Not much of a useful observation. Frankly, it’s a downright useless observation.

sceptical
August 27, 2011 7:51 pm

Richard you fool, how can you claim global warming has no effect on hurricanes but then say the current hurricane is a product of the present climate which has experienced global warming. Your posts are contradictory you twit. Seems you know as much about hurricanes as you do about global warming. So sad you feel it prudent to write about that which you have no sensible knowledge. Perhaps you should stick to the ramblings about the end of world and increase the size of your cardboard plack.

sceptical
August 27, 2011 8:27 pm

Colin in BC, “Sceptical, every conceivable weather phenomena is a product of the climate. But, using your logic, it’s tantamount to declaring, “Water is wet!” Not much of a useful observation. Frankly, it’s a downright useless observation.”
So why was there so much disagreement to it when Mr. McKibben said as much? Could it be that any mention of global warming brings about an irrational response from certain blogs and bloggers who are dependent on there being misinformation about the subject?

QuickieBurialAtSea
August 27, 2011 11:20 pm

When did the “present climate” begin, Sceptical ? What period is covered ? Or is this an “instantaneous climate moment”, that you are referring to ?

Richard S Courtney
August 27, 2011 11:22 pm

Friends:
Please ignore the posts provided under the alias of ‘sceptical’.
Either sceptical is
(a) a troll deliberately disrupting the thread
or
(b) is an individual with so severe a mental disorder that he/she thinks the statement
“In reality, the data does not provide any discernible relationship between global warming and hurricanes.”
equates to
“global warming has no effect on hurricanes”.
In either case, I think it is best to let sceptical’s illogical rants speak for themselves.
Richard
[ryanm: 🙂 i enjoyed the logic of the arguments]

QuickieBurialAtSea
August 28, 2011 12:02 am

Richard, but Sceptical seems the perfect stand-in loon for Bill !

Aerianne
August 28, 2011 1:09 am

“Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.” Guess he forgot the last name. May I suggest it’d be Fraud,

Interstellar Bill
August 28, 2011 10:57 am

The oxymoronicly named ‘Skeptical’ repeatedly recites the mindless AGW mantra
“based on a global warming of recent years”
WHAT global warming of WHAT recent years?
The truth is that the next Solar Minimum has already started,
and we will see that same things as in previous ones:
1. Prolonged, bitter winters
2. Increased cloudiness
3. Weakened jet stream leading to blocking events, more heat waves & floods.
4. Reduced agricultural output (alleviated by higher CO2)
5. Falling sea level

Philip N.
August 29, 2011 3:16 am

McKibben jumped the gun — the relationship of hurricanes to global warming is still problematic, to say the least. But a number of scientists who have devoted their professional lives to the study of hurricanes are starting strongly to suspect that there IS such a relationship — for example, Prof. Kerry Emanuel of MIT. Emanuel’s studies have found that the overall strength of tropical storms, annually, has increased by something like 50% since the 1970s. It is trends like this, rather than the appearance of one storm however destructive, that are telling. Since we all have an interest in getting this right, we might do well to turn down the volume of our invective and look at all the arguments — not just the ones that appear, at the moment, to support what we assumed a priori. Once we have established what is going on, then, and not until then, should we have a good political cat fight over what to do about it.
REPLY: McKibben didn’t “jump the gun”, he shouted out a belief. For him there’s no starting line and no finish line, no rules of any kind. He’ll say whatever it takes. – Anthony
RyanMaue: Dr. Emanuel’s study is from 2005, and since there have been literally dozens of high profile papers that have come to different “conclusions” that Emanuel using the same data. My recent paper in GRL (2011) uses Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) which on yearly time-scales correlates to the Emanuel power index r=0.98. I show the global activity was at a record low. It is possible that the North Atlantic is the only place where hurricane activity is being increased by global warming, but it is way to early to make general conclusions especially when the rest of the world was very inactive for the past 4-years. Thus, it is more than a simple “water is warmer” therefore hurricanes stronger link.

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