Nature editorial dashes alarmist hopes of linking extreme weather events to global warming

Somewhere, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. is polishing his red button and Bill McKibben, Joe Romm, and “forecast the facts” Brad Johnson are clawing their eyes out trying to unsee this. It is damning of their hyped up claims.- Anthony

From Nature: Extreme weather

Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.

As climate change proceeds — which the record summer melt of Arctic sea-ice suggests it is doing at a worrying pace — nations, communities and individual citizens may begin to seek compensation for losses and damage arising from global warming. Climate scientists should be prepared for their skills one day to be probed in court. Whether there is a legal basis for such claims, such as that brought against the energy company ExxonMobil by the remote Alaskan community of Kivalina, which is facing coastal erosion and flooding as the sea ice retreats, is far from certain, however. So lawyers, insurers and climate negotiators are watching with interest the emerging ability, arising from improvements in climate models, to calculate how anthropogenic global warming will change, or has changed, the probability and magnitude of extreme weather and other climate-related events. But to make this emerging science of ‘climate attribution’ fit to inform legal and societal decisions will require enormous research effort.

Attribution is the attempt to deconstruct the causes of observable weather and to understand the physics of why extremes such as floods and heatwaves occur. This is important basic research. Extreme weather and changing weather patterns — the obvious manifestations of global climate change — do not simply reflect easily identifiable changes in Earth’s energy balance such as a rise in atmospheric temperature. They usually have complex causes, involving anomalies in atmospheric circulation, levels of soil moisture and the like. Solid understanding of these factors is crucial if researchers are to improve the performance of, and confidence in, the climate models on which event attribution and longer-term climate projections depend.

Read the full editorial here.

Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. has comments on this here

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. observes:

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noaaprogrammer

“the remote Alaskan community of Kivalina, which is facing coastal erosion and flooding as the sea ice retreats” … So when a floating ice cube melts in a glass of water, the water overflows the glass?”

noaaprogrammer

“Attribution is the attempt to deconstruct the causes of observable weather and to understand the physics of why extremes such as floods and heatwaves occur.”
I guess this requires that we observe every flap of all butterfly wings!

AndyG55

Noaa, chuckle.. it seems that a very basic fact has been missed, doesn’t it 😉
Archemedes would have understood.

KevinM

I think they possibly they mean an ice cube sliding across a glass of Arizona Ice Tea leaves a mark.
Nonsense either way, but analogies are fun.

Imagine a computable world. Imagine somebody can attribute a weather event to an increase in emissions.
Imagine now there is a decrease in emissions. It would then be possible to attribute different weather events to such a decrease.
And therefore anybody feeling the effects of these weather events would be able to sue the people behind the decrease. With wars to follow.

AndyG55

Weather is driven by “differences”. If the arctic warms more than the equator, there is LESS difference in energies to drive extreme weather events. Unfortunately, it can also mean that normal weather events can get “stuck” for longer periods. ie the recent “hot” cell in the USA.
I am rather concerned at the amount of heat that is coming out of the oceans in the arctic.
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2012.png
I suspect that when the temp drops, it is going to drop really fast, and the Northern Hemisphere could be in for a brutal winter. I hope I am wrong, because with many electricty supply systems in disrepair due to all the renewable junk, this could be a MAJOR disaster. !!

Doug Huffman

“Attribution is the attempt to deconstruct the causes of observable weather …” Deconstruct, now there’s a familiar word.
Again I wave the Sokal Affair flag! Deconstruct is meaningful only in the bulldozer-driver vulgate.

James McClellan

This is a suck-you-into-the-suffocating-consensus piece of C**p. You score points, Mr Watts, because you are a totally kind person whose goodness shines through every post you make. Your more politically-minded friends CRINGE at posts like this. My advice: ignore the politically-minded friends, and carry on calling it the way you see it.

SanityP

Now we’ll just wait for the MSM to jump on this like hawks and blast it all over their front pages, yeah !… or not.

jonny old boy

Do the alaskans drink their G&Ts on the rocks quickly to avert a spillage I wonder ?

“Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.”
= = = = = = = =
Hmmm —- —, what about instead of better modes they were to say that better model input is needed – or would that be the same as admitting they have been feeding their super computer-models with crap up until now?

NikFromNYC

“Climate scientists should be prepared for their skills one day to be probed in court.”
Google search result: “The most common defendant to a civil RICO claim is not the stereotypical godfather figure, but is instead the CEO of a corporation, the controlling shareholder of a closed-corporation, the trustee of an estate or trust, or the leader of a political protest group.”
Gore’s palace would certainly work well as backdrop for a mafia flick:
http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2010/05/exclusive-estimate-carbon-footprint-of.html

Steve C

“Better models are needed …”
Or even a great deal more hard observational evidence, leading to greater understanding of the mechanisms at work in any given event. It’s easy enough to attribute this flood (say) to that storm, but attribution of that storm to anything beyond natural energy flows is, IMO, as yet impossible. A few centuries’ observations and (real) scientific work should start to fix that – then we’ll be able to start making models of the system with some hope of their being useful for prediction. Right now, just a quick glance at the “Potential Climatic Variables” page on this site ought to be enough to scare off any would-be modeller.
Their call at the end for the social sciences to be “more involved in shaping the production and
dissemination of climate knowledge” is worrying, too. It’s precisely this treatment of hard science as being subject to the same “consensus” style interpretation as the soft “sciences” that got us where we are today.

Ron

I am having the strangest feeling of wanting to sue someone or something over all this. Wait a second. It’s becoming clearer. That’s it! Al Gore. The whole world must sue Al Gore for all his ill-gotten gains.

Robert M

eptember 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm
Weather is driven by “differences”. If the arctic warms more than the equator, there is LESS difference in energies to drive extreme weather events. Unfortunately, it can also mean that normal weather events can get “stuck” for longer periods. ie the recent “hot” cell in the USA.
I am rather concerned at the amount of heat that is coming out of the oceans in the arctic.
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/meanTarchive/meanT_2012.png
I suspect that when the temp drops, it is going to drop really fast, and the Northern Hemisphere could be in for a brutal winter. I hope I am wrong, because with many electricty supply systems in disrepair due to all the renewable junk, this could be a MAJOR disaster. !!
—————————————————————————————————————————
People in Alaska are currently “Stuck” with a pattern that is bringing record amounts of moisture from the topics. We have been flooded with up to 17 (probably more by now) inches of rain, and for the 4th time in the past two weeks we are experiencing a storm with wind gusts in excess of 100mph. It is annoying that the weather service keeps reporting official gusts in the high fifties before their equipment breaks. “Unofficial” wind gusts have been up to 132mph. (Anchorage area)
Oh yes, one other thing. We have had a very cool and wet summer and fall. No heat waves here.

Gunga Din

“Better models are needed.”
Anybody out there remember Twiggy? She was the hot model of the time. Anorexia increased.
We need to dump the “hot models” Mann and Hansen have put forth.

Mike Rossander

re: noaaprogrammer and AndyG55 – Sorry, no. The Alaskan village’s legal argument has nothing to do with aggregate sea level. As you point out, sea level is unchanged when floating ice melts. However, local topography CAN be affected by changes in ice COVER.
Say, for example, your village sits near a section of coast that is usually covered by ice, both on land and a ways out to sea. The ice that extends out over the water serves as a shoal, diffracting, deflecting or simply absorbing the waves and in the process, protecting your shoreline from the crashing surf. Now take away the ice. All those waves start to pound on your tenuous soil. They erode land from one part of the shore, presumably depositing it somewhere else but that’s little consolation to your tiny village.
Note that the ice doesn’t have to completely melt away in this scenario nor does it have to stay ice-free all year. It is sufficient that there merely be a few more ice-free days than there used to be. Actually, it may not even take that much. It could be sufficient if the ice-free period is merely shifted to a slightly more stormy season.
Now I am not saying that the village’s arguments have any scientific merit. I consider that scenario improbable (and as the Nature editorial points out, currently impossible to prove). But to attack their argument by using a strawman about aggregate sea level is inappropriate.

corio37

Funny how rapidly people back-pedal from their claims when lawsuits might be involved…

Behold! A glorious picture of the mighty community of Kivalina:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kivalina_Alaska_aerial_view.jpg
Clearly they were an ancient civilization with deep roots until Exxon-Mobil destroyed their traditional way of life.

highflight56433

“Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.”
More money is needed to enhance the exceptional deception of man induced catestrophic global warming.
“which the record summer melt of Arctic sea-ice suggests it is doing at a worrying pace”
Let us focus on a local event, while Antartica ice expands…hmmm
“nations, communities and individual citizens may begin to seek compensation for losses and damage arising from global warming”
That is exactly my intention. I invested billions in property that should be shoreline by now!

This attribution business is nothing more then a political-ideological-sham. I strongly suspect that once in a court of law the rules of evidence will impose some discipline on all parties. Of course the rules of Mother Nature are in the end the only ones that count.

James Ard

When they’ve lost Nature, they’ve lost. Take a bow, Anthony, Roger and Steve.

Ron

James Padgett. The proverbial picture from 1999 that’s ‘worth a thousand words’.

Curiously, that was just about what Trenberth and Fasullo (2012) concluded with:
http://www.cgd.ucar.edu/cas/Trenberth/trenberth.papers/TF_RHW_JGR_2012JD018020.pdf
Their closing paragraph reads:
“It remains a challenge for climate models to correctly
simulate mean rainfall distributions, and as a result it is even
more of a challenge to reproduce anomalies and associated
teleconnections [Yang and DelSole, 2012], such as those
observed in 2010. However, unless the diabatic heating,
mainly from latent heating in precipitation linked to SST
anomalies, is properly simulated in both its spatial and temporal
character, it will likely not be possible to simulate,
predict, or fully attribute blocking events and climate
anomalies such as observed”

Will Nelson

Mike Rossander says:
September 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm
Kivalina sits on a gravel bar that was formed by wave action. It is a temporary feature and has lasted past its normal geological lifespan due to people trying to save it. Their latest troubles have come from land side though with the rain swollen river wiping out the sewage lagoon and contaminating the water supply.

cui bono

“Climate scientists should be prepared for their skills one day to be probed in court.”
Bring it on!

Jim G

“As climate change proceeds — which the record summer melt of Arctic sea-ice suggests it is doing at a worrying pace — nations, communities and individual citizens may begin to seek compensation for losses and damage arising from global warming.”
How about seeking compensation for damages caused by the LACK of global warming and all of the expense caused by the FALSE CLAIMS of pending doom. These target litigants can be identified, the Warmistas, while those presumed guilty for the presumed Global Warming would be not identifiable other than in a political sense, ie the industrialized world, non-third world countries.

pat

“Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.”
I am sure it shouldn’t he hard to program in a random heat wave or two. Then increase the the incidence of the same. Toss in a flood or two in the lower Himalayas. Drought on Siberia and forest fires in Alaska. Then declare the modelling ‘problem’ cured and CAGW much worse than could have ever been imagined.
Except it was imagined.

David

Great picture James. Apparently the people of Kivalina aren’t mad enough at Exxon to stop using their product to fuel the plane that is clearly seen landing on their community.

Ethically Civil

Modelling of chaotic PDE’s can’t predict specific effects of small changes to partially characterized boundary conditions. This is my shocked face.
😐
Um, folks, how long did it take someone to recognize this most fundamental principle of *chaotic* systems might apply to climate models?

Jeremy

I fully agree with Nature. Understanding the human causes of weather is very important for our bureaucrats.
The sooner we can model things like how a non-native Monarch butterfly flapping its wings in Australia can cause a crop destroying hurricane in Florida then the sooner we can start the claims in the WTO and the courts. I suspect the British are to blame (for introducing the Monarch to Australia in the 1800’s) and should pay compensation to the state of Florida. However, let’s allow the bureaucrats at the UN to pour a few billions into this science of this non-native butterfly problem before we spend millions more on the human rights lawyers in claims and counter claims.
It is exactly non-tractable illusory problems like these that are designed to keep the career academics and career bureaucrats and their legions of lawyers all on the gravy train until thy kingdom come.
/sarc off

Adrian

“Climate scientists should be prepared for their skills one day to be probed in court.”
I know this not your words, but civil cases are based on a “balance of probablities” standard rather than the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt” or the scientific “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” standards.
So phrases like the IPCC’s guesstimate of “It is likely that most of the recent warming is anthrogenic” (not an exact quote) would have bearing in a civil case.

Taphonomic

Okay, I’m confused. Global warming became “climate change” because there hasn’t been any global warming over the last 15 years, contrary to model predictions. Climate change became “climate disruption” because climate change wasn’t scary enough and climate change has also been occurring naturally for ~4.6 billion years.
Now “extreme weather”, the alleged bellwether of climate disruption/climate change/global warming can’t be linked??? Say it ain’t so!

David Ball

cui bono says:
September 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm
Uhmmm, …… It is already on.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrybell/2012/09/18/climategate-star-michael-mann-courts-legal-disaster/

Bill Illis

I thought the climate models already had Act of God modules? (as in the insurance industry definition).

Taphonomic

James Padgett says:
“Behold! A glorious picture of the mighty community of Kivalina”
If you look closely, you can see a traditional airplane taxiing on the traditional runway. What’s the carbon footprint of that? Wonder how many families have those traditional snowmobiles?

starzmom

Jeremy–Those billions at the UN–so long as they are not our billions. Somebody else’s, please.

Joe Prins

James: Great picture. Do I see two cruise ships hanging about? Maybe all these tourists on these boats are the cause of the disappearing ice? Fun stuff.

polistra

BBC has just back-pedaled on the claim that West Nile Virus was spreading because of warming. They’ve now admitted it’s mainly because of global trade, specifically trade in tires since the 1980’s. Mosquitoes love to breed in the little pools of stagnant water in a tire, even a new tire being transported on a truck or train.

AndyG55

Taphonomic says:
Wonder how many families have those traditional snowmobiles?
That would be an interesting study. Which emits more CO2, the traditional 4 (times N) pawed snow mobile, or the more modern fossil fueled snow mobile.?

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7

Whether there is a legal basis for such claims, such as that brought against the energy company ExxonMobil by the remote Alaskan community of Kivalina, which is facing coastal erosion and flooding as the sea ice retreats, is far from certain, however.

In the past 20 years of US election cycles, I do not recall any significant discussion on the extent of damage being caused by the judicial branch. In my opinion, people should be much more worried about federal judges than actions coming out of the executive and legislative branches. It should be clear to anyone that the courts are simply not up to the task of deciding who is responsible for how much “climate change”. If Exxon is found liable for coastal erosion in Alaska, can they perhaps seek compensation by demanding a portion of increased crop yields caused by more CO2 and longer growing seasons in Nebraska and Minnesota? After all, if CO2 causes global warming, then both the bounty and the damages resulting should accrue alike to the responsible parties.
It is hard to come up with a workable mechanism to discipline rougue judges. But I think it’s time to end lifetime appointments to the federal bench. One 9 year appointment and then out unless nominated and confirmed again.

Ron

I think this article was mostly about whether data would stand up in specific legal circumstances.
Was it suggesting that the recent published attribution of some events was fraudulent or not valid? Because that’s how it seems to be being portrayed here and that’s not how I read it.

The US government will have to provide legal defense for oil and gas and coal companies and power suppliers to avoid litigation or all these companies will relocate offshore to avoid costly fines. If CO2 production is deemed actionable, then the same will be applied to manufacturers of any sort that produce CO2, car companies as well as steel manufacturers. Heck, even forestry and wood users, who reduce the carbon uptake as they reduce forest cover and then consume energy as they transform the wood into servicable products.
The litigious nature of American society is about to join forces with the eco-green Judge Dredd. If the EPA can say that CO2 is a pollutant, then someone is harmed and has, in principle, the right to seek redress. If coastal erosion is the consequent result of CO2 warming the atmosphere, then the same applies. The floodgates are about to open unless some reason comes back into our lives.
But perhaps there is an upside: Now the warmists need no carbon tax or cap-and-trade deals. Simply determine that the entire society is responsible for paying for the hurt of the few, and then apply a special tax to all activities that produce CO2 to the proportion of their CO2 production to pay for this financial remedy. Production of CO2 is discouraged and lawyers become the injured WFF and Sierra Club supporters best friends, second only to tax lawyers who take the new wealth offshore. Taxes require no special legislation, as proposals to pay for Obamacare has shown.

Louis Hooffstetter

James Padgett nails it!

An Opinion

If Trenberth had his way, all weather events would automatically be caused by global warming, unless you could prove otherwise.

Tom in Florida

“As climate change proceeds — which the record summer melt of Arctic sea-ice suggests it is doing at a worrying pace — nations, communities and individual citizens may begin to seek compensation for losses and damage arising from global warming”
There it is folks, in black and white, right in front of your eyes. Nobody really cares about the climate, just how much money they can steal. Even our old pal R Gates couldn’t miss this one. It is now, and always has been, about the money. The real deniers are those who refuse to admit it.

leftinbrooklyn

“Better models are needed before exceptional events can be reliably linked to global warming.”
highflight56433 said it. Insert more money. Software upgrades. It will become ‘planned obsolescence.’ The perfect business model.

Skeptics, due to our science backgrounds, we are not the ones who fell victim to brazen deception by a rogue band of cynical and nihilistic profiteers, so we would not have as good a case as the US government itself or thousands of endowment funds that invested in green energy funds or thousands of bankrupted families who sincerely believed media interviews with Hockey Stick team leaders who inspired their kids to pursue environmental studies majors or perhaps most anybody who isn’t a skeptic who never again wants half a billion R&D dollars to be siphoned away from diabetes, antibiotics and cancer research for a whole Enron/Solyndra decade at a time.

Henry Clark

Monday, September 17, 2012
New paper shows warming causes decreased extreme weather
In the words of Trouet et al. (2012), “an increasing number of high-resolution proxy records covering the last millennium have become available in recent years, providing an increasingly powerful reference frame for assessing current and future climate conditions,” and, as might be added, for assessing the validity of the climate-alarmist claim that warmer conditions typically lead to increases in the frequency and/or ferocity of stormy weather. In the present study, therefore, Trouet et al. searched the scientific literature for evidence pertinent to their climate modeling concern, which also happens to be pertinent to the concern about global warming and what it does or does not imply about concurrent storminess. So what did the search reveal?
Among other things, the three researchers report that (1) “the content of marine-source ssNa aerosols in the GISP2 ice core record, a proxy for storminess over the adjacent ocean through the advection of salt spray [ss], is high during the LIA [Little Ice Age] with a marked transition from reduced levels during the MCA [hereafter MWP ]
… [The] onset of the LIA in NW Europe is notably marked by coastal dune development across western European coastlines linked to very strong winds during storms
… [In] an analysis of Royal Navy ships’ log books from the English Channel and southwestern approaches covering the period between 1685 and 1750 CE, Wheeler et al. (2010) note a markedly enhanced gale frequency during one of the coldest episodes of the LIA … towards the end of the Maunder Minimum [MM]
… [snipping a bunch of additional data and examples]
… Given such findings, for this particular portion of the planet, it should be very clear that relative coolness, as opposed to relative warmth, typically leads to more extreme storms, which is just the opposite of what the world’s climate alarmists continue to contend.

That does not even surprise me. Global warming is primarily arctic and high-latitude warming, with very little warming near the tropics. Accordingly, global warming reduces temperature differences between the pole and the equator. For any object, down to what engineers work with on small scales, decreasing temperature differences between two regions is something which would decrease convection between the regions by default in itself aside from any other factors. (For instance, as a thought experiment, if Earth was magically stopped from rotating so it had a super-hot side continuously facing the sun and a super-cold side in constant darkness, there would be extreme convection in the atmosphere for heat transfer driven by the increased temperature difference).
Global cooling, like the LIA (Little Ice Age) examples, is rather what would increase the temperature difference between the arctic and the tropics. As an exaggerated analogy, have an air conditioner going on one side of a room with a heater on the other, and more convective heat transfer and airflow occurs between the sides of the room than if the room was closer to uniformly warm throughout.
But one can predict what the utterly dishonest CAGW movement will say about anything by what would be convenient versus inconvenient for the cause, just like warming frozen regions and CO2 fertilization must be presented as a net negative to agriculture.

Henry Clark

I forgot the link for the quote in my prior comment a moment ago:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/09/new-paper-shows-warming-causes.html