Drought, Hurricanes and Heat Waves – 2012 in Perspective

Guest post by Bob Tisdale

Drought, Hurricanes and Heat Waves – Climate Change and Global Warming in the United States – 2012 in Perspective

In this video, we’ll examine the exceptional and historic nature of the recent drought in the United States and see how well the IPCC’s climate models simulated precipitation in the US since 1900 and we’ll look at how well the models performed globally during the satellite era.

We’ll examine hurricane data in an effort to put the 2012 season into perspective, and we’ll plot the sea surface temperatures along Sandy’s storm track to see the impact of global warming on that hurricane.  We’ll also determine how well the climate models simulated the sea surface temperatures along Sandy’s track.

There was also a heat wave in the United States in 2012. Should heat waves occur more often in a warming world and how well do the IPCC’s climate models simulate US land surface air temperatures?

Last, we’ll briefly discuss global warming in general.


Regional and Contiguous U.S. Palmer Drought Severity Index data is available from NOAA here. The NOAA data for the U.S. National Percent Area that’s Moderately to Extremely Dry can be found at the webpage here.

The gridded NCDC precipitation data is available on a gridded basis through the KNMI Climate Explorer, as are the CMIP5 (IPCC AR5) climate model outputs, the HADISST and ERSST.v3b sea surface temperature data, the CAMS-OPI global precipitation data and the GHCN-CAMS land air surface temperature dataset.

The Reynolds OI.v2 sea surface temperature data can be downloaded on a gridded basis through the NOAA NOMADS website here.


As shown in this post, El Niño and La Niña events are the primary causes of regional precipitation variability throughout the globe. (The ENSO-related comparison graphs in this post are new. They were not presented in my book discussed in this section.)

Also, sea surface temperature records indicate El Niño and La Niña events are responsible for the warming of global sea surface temperature anomalies over the past 30 years, not manmade greenhouse gases. I’ve searched sea surface temperature records for more than 4 years, and I can find no evidence of an anthropogenic greenhouse gas signal. That is, the warming of the global oceans has been caused by Mother Nature, not anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

I’ve recently published my e-book (pdf) about the phenomena called El Niño and La Niña. It’s titled Who Turned on the Heat? with the subtitle The Unsuspected Global Warming Culprit, El Niño Southern Oscillation. It is intended for persons (with or without technical backgrounds) interested in learning about El Niño and La Niña events and in understanding the natural causes of the warming of our global oceans for the past 30 years. Because land surface air temperatures simply exaggerate the natural warming of the global oceans over annual and multidecadal time periods, the vast majority of the warming taking place on land is natural as well. The book is the product of years of research of the satellite-era sea surface temperature data that’s available to the public via the internet. It presents how the data accounts for its warming—and there are no indications the warming was caused by manmade greenhouse gases. None at all.

Who Turned on the Heat? was introduced in the blog post Everything You Every Wanted to Know about El Niño and La Niña… …Well Just about Everything. The Free Preview includes the Table of Contents; the Introduction; the beginning of Section 1, with the cartoon-like illustrations; the discussion About the Cover; and the Closing. The book was updated recently to correct a few typos.

Please buy a copy. Credit/Debit Card through PayPal. You do NOT need to open a PayPal account. Simply scroll down to the “Don’t Have a PayPal Account” purchase option. It’s only US$8.00.


For those who’d like a more detailed preview of Who Turned on the Heat?, see Parts 1 and 2 of the video series The Natural Warming of the Global Oceans. You may also be interested in the video Dear President Obama: A Video Memo about Climate Change.

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January 6, 2013 7:03 am

Thanks, Anthony.

January 6, 2013 7:15 am

what are we going to do here in the Uk with the rapid cooling since 2006, no wonder it was wet, cold, bad harvests.

January 6, 2013 7:17 am

another six years at this pace and we will be back to 1780s temps in the UK.

Stephen Richards
January 6, 2013 7:40 am

Bob, I loved the video. A terrific explanantion, analysis and display. Many, many thanks for your efforts.

January 6, 2013 9:19 am

Bob, I found you video very infomative, thank you for sharing it with us.
We have had our Met Office telling us in March that we were in for a longer period of drought caused by AGW. After the deluge that resulted us having the second highest annual rainfall since 1910, they are now telling us that we can expect more floods due to AGW!
Apparently the computer modelling they use for AGW they also use for forecasting the weather. Without a shadow of a doubt this modelling is wrong! I cannot remember the last time the Met Office got a forecast of over a few days, right. They have stopped making long range weather forecasts, because, as they have admitted themselves, they are always totally inaccurate.
Please, please send them a link to your video!

January 6, 2013 10:15 am

Great video, thanks. A good video really helps us non-climate scientists.

January 6, 2013 11:56 am

As usual, a good informative post. Even though the sea surface temperature trend for that portion of the Atlantic path of Sandy indicates no increase in trend, it does show the warmer waters proceeding north to the Arctic Ocean. So, that in itself could have been used to predict lower ice levels there, IMO.
Bob, I know you like to use the El Niño/La Niña for temperature constructions, but they can also be utilized for precipitation predictions. For twenty consecutive years I have accurately guessed the level of precipitation in my neck of the woods using those SST off the west coast of California.
Around a couple of years ago, I told a relative of mine about the upcoming drought in the corn belt, based on my understanding of the then current La Niña conditions, whereupon he invested in some sort of crop futures and made a bundle of money this year. It pays to understand weather and climate.
Keep up the good work!

January 6, 2013 12:24 pm

OOps! When I said “accurately” predict, I meant in terms of above average, around average, or below average.

January 6, 2013 3:38 pm

Thanks very much for your work Bob, I enjoyed watching this video.

January 6, 2013 5:25 pm

Excellent information, Bob. Do similar rules apply in the Arctic? I think the arctic is the NH heat sink. Warm water is transported there for rejection of heat to space, the cooler water exits in pulses and feeds lower depth and surface currents, depending on temperatures and winds in other regions. Cycles develop naturally which regulate this function (excess heat melts ice, opens more surface area to space, water cools and is covered by insulating ice until more warm water is fed into the system). It would always be out of balance I would think. Do you study that too?

January 6, 2013 8:20 pm

A “most excellent” video presentation, Bob, thanks.

January 7, 2013 1:02 am

Michael D Smith says: “Do similar rules apply in the Arctic? …Do you study that too?”
Very little. Here’s a link to a recent post:
The melting of Arctic sea ice is simply an aftereffect of a warming world—the vast majority of which is natural.

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