Claim: East coast 'Monster hurricanes' linked to previous warm periods, current data suggests otherwise

A new press release from AGU, suggests past data shows this to be true, but Dr. Philip Klotzbach suggests this graph of current data and notes:

“Florida Peninsula and East Coast has seen a downturn in major hurricanes. Only 40% as many impacts the past 50 yrs.”


Monster hurricanes reached US Northeast during prehistoric periods of ocean warming

Joint release: AGU, WHOI, NSF

American Geophysical Union

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Intense hurricanes possibly more powerful than any storms New England has experienced in recorded history frequently pounded the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages, according to a new study. The findings could have implications for the intensity and frequency of hurricanes that the U.S. East and Gulf coasts could experience as ocean temperatures increase as a result of climate change, according to the study’s authors.

A new record of sediment deposits from Cape Cod, Mass., show evidence that 23 severe hurricanes hit New England between the years 250 and 1150, the equivalent of a severe storm about once every 40 years on average. Many of these hurricanes were likely more intense than any that have hit the area in recorded history, according to the study. The prehistoric hurricanes were likely category 3 storms – like Hurricane Katrina — or category 4 storms – like Hurricane Hugo — that would be catastrophic if they hit the region today, according to Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and lead author of the new paper accepted for publication in Earth’s Future, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

The study is the first to find evidence of historically unprecedented hurricane activity along the northern East Coast of the United States, Donnelly said. It also extends the hurricane record for the region by hundreds of years, back to the first century, he said.

“These records suggest that the pre-historical interval was unlike what we’ve seen in the last few hundred years,” said Donnelly.

The most powerful storm to ever hit Cape Cod in recent history was Hurricane Bob in 1991, a category 2 storm that was one of the costliest in New England history. Storms of that intensity have only reached the region three times since the 1600s, according to Donnelly.

The intense prehistoric hurricanes were fueled in part by warmer sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean during the ancient period investigated than have been the norm off the U.S. East Coast over the last few hundred years, according to the study. However, as oceans temperatures have slowly inched upward in recent decades, the tropical North Atlantic sea surface has surpassed the warmth of prehistoric levels and is expected to warm further over the next century as the climate heats up, Donnelly said.

He said the new study could help scientists better predict the frequency and intensity of hurricanes that could hit the U.S. East and Gulf coasts in the future.

“We hope this study broadens our sense of what is possible and what we should expect in a warmer climate,” Donnelly said. “We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years.”

“The risk may be much greater than we anticipated,” he added.

Donnelly and his colleagues examined sediment deposits from Salt Pond near Falmouth on Cape Cod. The pond is separated from the ocean by a 1.3- to 1.8-meter (4.3- to 5.9-foot) high sand barrier. Over hundreds of years, strong hurricanes have deposited sediment over the barrier and into the pond where it has remained undisturbed.

The researchers extracted nine-meter (30-foot) deep sediment cores that they then analyzed in a laboratory. Similar to reading a tree ring to tell the age of a tree and the climate conditions that existed in a given year, scientists can read the sediment cores to tell when intense hurricanes occurred.

The study’s authors found evidence of 32 prehistoric hurricanes, along with the remains of three documented storms that occurred in 1991, 1675 and 1635.

The prehistoric sediments showed that there were two periods of elevated intense hurricane activity on Cape Cod – from 150 to 1150 and 1400 to 1675. The earlier period of powerful hurricane activity matched previous studies that found evidence of high hurricane activity during the same period in more southerly areas of the western North Atlantic Ocean basin – from the Caribbean to the Gulf Coast. The new study suggests that many powerful storms spawned in the tropical Atlantic Ocean between 250 and 1150 also battered the U.S. East Coast.

The deposits revealed that these early storms were more frequent, and in some cases were likely more intense, than the most severe hurricanes Cape Cod has seen in historical times, including Hurricane Bob in 1991 and a 1635 hurricane that generated a 20-foot storm surge, according to Donnelly.

High hurricane activity continued in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico until 1400, although there was a lull in hurricane activity during this time in New England, according to the new study. A shift in hurricane activity in the North Atlantic occurred around 1400 when activity picked up from the Bahamas to New England until about 1675.

The periods of intense hurricanes uncovered by the new research were driven in part by intervals of warm sea surface temperatures that previous research has shown occurred during these time periods, according to the new study. Previous research has also shown that warmer ocean surface temperatures fuel more powerful storms.

The sediment coring and analysis by Donnelly and his colleagues “is really nice work because it gives us a much longer period perspective on hurricanes,” said Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. “It gives you something that you otherwise wouldn’t have any knowledge of.”


The new research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Ocean Sciences.

The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing more than 60,000 members in 139 countries. Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.

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February 12, 2015 5:31 am

Read between the lines and alarmism and you find an admission: It was warmer in the medievil warm period and Roman warm period than it is today.

Bryan A
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
February 12, 2015 10:08 am

You are right, so could this paper be used to invalidate others that refute the existence of the RWP and MWP?

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
February 12, 2015 5:49 pm

It says, “However, as oceans temperatures have slowly inched upward in recent decades, the tropical North Atlantic sea surface has surpassed the warmth of prehistoric levels and is expected to warm further over the next century as the climate heats up.”

Reply to  Barry
February 12, 2015 7:51 pm

What if there is an extra factor involved such as the 30 year switch from warm to cool and back. First there is a 30+ year warm trend, which leads to an increase in sst temps. Then that is followed by the cooling down during a cooling trend. This leads to an extra temperature differential and a more powerful hurricane period. I took a look using the JG/U 2K tree ring study to see if there is any correlation between the years 1635. 1675, and 1991. Their graph is high resolution. All three of those storms appear to hit during a cold point low. Looking at their graph shows 1635 as a low which gradually rises over a period of around 15 years. Then there is around 10 years of a warm peak, which drops sharply into another 15 year period cold spell in 1675. The year 1675 looks to be the low point, after which the cold lingers for at least 10 years close to the minimum low before rapidly rising back to a warmer period. The year 1991 does not reach as low as the 1600s, but it does have a sharp drop from the preceding year that leads to a plunge to a low point. Here is a link to see the chart I am using….

Paul Mackey
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
February 13, 2015 1:08 am

Absolutely correct! They can’t have this and “2014 is the warmest year on record”. So which is it?

Reply to  wickedwenchfan
February 15, 2015 6:01 am

Yup. First thing i noticed.

February 12, 2015 5:40 am

It would seem to me that the nature and height of the barrier protecting the pond would vary a lot; particularly as a result of the the hurricanes themselves removing or adding sand. Does the article include studying the barrier to see if it’s remained intact? And that’s not to mention any recent AHB (Anthropic Hurricane Barriers) like trees, buildings and dredging.

Bryan A
Reply to  daved46
February 12, 2015 10:17 am

2000 years ago, North American construction methods wouldn’t support a hit by a major hurricane. Sounds like the people of the time would be rebuilding their entire society every generation as their construction methods allowed for reasonably quick construction but wouldn’t hold up in massive storms. If the larger Storms were in fact more common, the native settlements would, by necessity, migrate inland and away from a major food source (the ocean)
I certainly wouldn’t want to try and wait out a category 2 hurricane in a LongHouse

February 12, 2015 5:46 am

Warmer back then, pre CAGW, AND no Cat3 hurricanes in the US since Katrina, although CO2 has continued to increase during the past decade. A double hit for warminista fear mongers.

February 12, 2015 5:46 am

So wait, they claim higher sea surface temperatures cause stronger and more hurricanes to hit the US East Coast.
Yet they claim:

However, as oceans temperatures have slowly inched upward in recent decades, the tropical North Atlantic sea surface has surpassed the warmth of prehistoric levels

And the records show fewer and weaker hurricanes hitting the US East Coast in the recent past.
I may not be a climate scientists, but the plain facts they present would have led me to either A) current sea surface temperatures are LESS than those during the Roman and Medieval Warm Periods and our reconstructions of past temperatures are wrong, or B) higher sea surface temperatures, by themselves, DO NOT predict US East Coast hurricane numbers or intensity.

Eugene WR Gallun
Reply to  ddpalmer
February 12, 2015 5:59 am

Eugene WR Gallun

Reply to  Eugene WR Gallun
February 12, 2015 8:43 am

Wrap up tight. There’s was wind a blowin’

Elyse Scileppi et. al.
Sedimentary evidence of hurricane strikes in western Long Island, New York
[1] Evidence of historical landfalling hurricanes and prehistoric storms has been recovered from backbarrier environments in the New York City area. Overwash deposits correlate with landfalls of the most intense documented hurricanes in the area, including the hurricanes of 1893, 1821, 1788, and 1693 A.D. There is little evidence of intense hurricane landfalls in the region for several hundred years prior to the late 17th century A.D. The apparent increase in intense hurricane landfalls around 300 years ago occurs during the latter half of the Little Ice Age, a time of lower tropical sea surface temperatures….
doi: 10.1029/2006GC001463
Laurent Dezileau et. al. – 2011
Intense storm activity during the Little Ice Age on the French Mediterranean coast
…The apparent increase of the superstorm activity during the latter half of the Little Ice Age was probably due to the thermal gradient increase leading to enhanced lower tropospheric baroclinicity over a large Central Atlantic/European domain and leading to a modification of the occurrence of extreme wind events along the French Mediterranean coast….
Abstract – 1997
K. J. Kreutz et al
Bipolar changes in atmospheric circulation during the Little Ice Age
meridional atmospheric circulation intensity increased in the polar South Pacific and North Atlantic at the beginning (-1400 A.D.) of the most recent Holocene rapid climate change event, the Little Ice Age (LIA). As deduced from chemical concentrations at these core sites, the LIA was characterized by substantial meridional circulation strength variability,…
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5330.1294
The Little Climatic Optimum, with its persistent trade winds, clear skies, limited storminess, and consistent Walker Circulation may have been an ideal setting for migration. The Little Ice Age with its increased variability in trade winds, erratic Walker Circulation, increased storminess, and increased dust from volcanism may have helped prevent migration. Such changes in climate would influence the migration pattern through physical perception and decision making by the Polynesians, rather than having a direct impact.

Reply to  ddpalmer
February 12, 2015 8:36 am

They say:

The findings could have implications for the intensity and frequency of hurricanes that the U.S. East and Gulf coasts could experience as ocean temperatures increase as a result of climate change, according to the study’s authors.

On intensity I find:

Letter To Nature – 10 April 2007
Intense hurricane activity over the past 5,000 years controlled by El Niño and the West African monsoon
….Here we present a record of intense hurricane activity in the western North Atlantic Ocean over the past 5,000 years based on sediment cores from a Caribbean lagoon that contain coarse-grained deposits associated with intense hurricane landfalls. The record indicates that the frequency of intense hurricane landfalls has varied on centennial to millennial scales over this interval. Comparison of the sediment record with palaeo-climate records indicates that this variability was probably modulated by atmospheric dynamics associated with variations in the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the strength of the West African monsoon, and suggests that sea surface temperatures as high as at present are not necessary to support intervals of frequent intense hurricanes. To accurately predict changes in intense hurricane activity, it is therefore important to understand how the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the West African monsoon will respond to future climate change.

On frequency I find again:

Letter To Nature – 12 September 2002
Millennial-scale storminess variability in the northeastern United States during the Holocene epoch
…….Here we date terrigenous inwash layers in cores from 13 lakes, which show that the frequency of storm-related floods in the northeastern United States has varied in regular cycles during the past 13,000 years (13 kyr), with a characteristic period of about 3 kyr. Our data show four peaks in storminess during the past 14 kyr, approximately 2.6, 5.8, 9.1 and 11.9 kyr ago. This pattern is consistent with long-term changes in the average sign of the Arctic Oscillation9, suggesting that modulation of this dominant atmospheric mode may account for a significant fraction of Holocene climate variability in North America and Europe.

It’s worse than was thought!

Reply to  Jimbo
February 12, 2015 8:55 am

More on frequency using dated lacustrine sediments.

Abstract – 14 January 2000
10 000 yr record of extreme hydrologic events
Well-dated lacustrine sediments provide a hydrologic record indicating that the frequency and magnitude of runoff events, and by inference, storms, have varied over the past 10 k.y. in northern New England. We used five sediment cores and radiocarbon dating to develop a chronology of Holocene hydrologic events for the Ritterbush Pond basin, northern Vermont. Chemical and physical analyses allow us to identify 52 distinct layers of predominately inorganic sediment that represent terrestrially derived material delivered to the pond by runoff events. The thickness of some layers suggests hydrologic events at least equal in size to, and probably much larger than, any storm or flood recorded during nearly 300 yr of written regional history. Layer thickness and frequency and, by analogy, storm size and recurrence, change through the Holocene. The largest events occurred 2620, 6840, and 9440 calibrated 14C years before present (cal 14C yr B.P.). The most frequent hydrologic events occurred in three periods: 1750 to 2620, 6330 to 6840, and >8600 cal yr B.P. The recurrence interval of layer deposition during stormy periods averages 130 ± 100 cal yr, whereas the recurrence interval during less stormy periods is longer, 270 ±170 cal yr. The Ritterbush Pond event record illustrates the potential of inorganic lacustrine sediment to serve as a proxy record for estimating paleoflood frequency and deciphering climate change.

I can’t see “East coast ‘Monster hurricanes’ linked to previous warm periods, current data suggests otherwise”. Maybe it’s there.

February 12, 2015 5:52 am

And another dose of “social sciences” science. It’s like applying Bayes theorem to nailing jelly to a tree and somehow feeling you’ve “proved” something. Given an assumed probability of increasing global warming (after 18 years of a temperature flatline), then there might just possibly mebbe be an increase in violent weather events (though it’s been remarkably quiet for years).
Quod erat demonstrandum.

Lance Wallace
February 12, 2015 5:54 am

Link please?

February 12, 2015 5:57 am

Facts are such pesky things:
Even IPCC’s 2013 AR5 report admits no increasing trends in frequency nor intensity of hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons for the past century…

Reply to  SAMURAI
February 12, 2015 6:21 pm

Storms lag CO2 don’tcha know?

Reply to  lee
February 12, 2015 7:55 pm

That is funny!!!

Reply to  SAMURAI
February 13, 2015 5:35 am

It’s unprecedented! The hottest decade was 2000 to 2010 I vaguely recall. Here are the results from the ‘hottest’ year and decade evaaaah – 38% sure?!$%

Washington Post – 1 December 2014
Unprecedented lull in major hurricane landfalls continues as Atlantic season comes to a close
The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to be a relatively inactive one, and it ended up with the fewest number of named storms in seventeen years. Only one tropical cyclone made landfall in the U.S. in 2014 — Hurricane Arthur, which came ashore in North Carolina in early July. 2014 continues an incredible lull in major hurricane landfalls in the U.S.…….

17 years! Co2 up, 18 years of temperature standstill in our excruciatingly hot world. We must act now?
Fun aside, these folks are ridiculous. Can’t they see the problem when we look at current observations??? Are they sick?

Reply to  Jimbo
February 13, 2015 5:44 am

Did global warming cause the lack of US hurricane landfall? Where are the major hurricanes smashing into the USA? Where are the Warmists defending this? No wonder they hate debate – they would be outed in double quick time and people will see them for what they are – fairy tale tellers.

Gary Pearse
February 12, 2015 6:02 am

“…find evidence of historically unprecedented hurricane activity along the northern East Coast of the United States,”
Unprecedented? Does he know what the word means? It means ‘not happened before’. Perhaps he means ‘unknown in recent times’? I’m afraid I’m seeing the continuing attenuation here of vocabulary of supposedly educated people where wrong words are doing double duty. Remember the word “oversight” used to mean something missed out (in a review) or a mistake, formerly heard in apology: ‘I’m sorry, it was an oversight’. I believe it was a senator from Alabama (and his colleagues, obviously) who didn’t know the correct word ‘overview’.
Press release: two things. One, I’m surprised that this fragile meter or so of unconsolidated sand of the Salt Pond barrier should have actually lasted so long, particularly with the “unprecedented” pounding it was taking from hurricanes. Who took the geology out of earth sciences? Remember the sand bar in Alaska that had a forced settlement built on it eroding away and twanging our heart strings over the calamity of global warming disasters. These things are definitely temporary, shifting, changing features. Maybe we should make a sand barrier for New York harbor. (sarc…)

Robert Ballard
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 12, 2015 6:57 am

Press release: two things. One, I’m surprised that this fragile meter or so of unconsolidated sand of the Salt Pond barrier should have actually lasted so long, particularly with the “unprecedented” pounding it was taking from hurricanes.
Your comments are spot on Gary. I was born in New Bedford and spent many wonderful hours “lost” in the dunes on Cape Cod. I will suggest that what was measured was not increased hurricane strength, but changes in the barrier due to local topographies and longer term wind patterns. I am amazed that the hypothesis is so facile. Low lying plants like arbutus and the dune grasses, which themselves are constantly being changed by myriad “forcings”, have a huge effect on the height and shape of the dunes.
(apologies to all here for the anecdotal information)

Alan Robertson
Reply to  Robert Ballard
February 12, 2015 8:17 am

No apologies necessary and in fact, thank you! Your words evoke imagery of the dunes and all they involve and what a pleasant little mental video that turns out to be.

D.J. Hawkins
Reply to  Robert Ballard
February 12, 2015 3:21 pm

Since you are more familiar with the area, how can we be sure that the depositions weren’t caused by N’oresters?

Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 12, 2015 7:11 am

Does he know what the word means?
how about “decimated” and “irregardless”? Or how about the thousands of “politically correct” terms that limit what you can say, but not what your neighbor can say, because they are a different race, or religion.
Last I looked, if it is OK for someone to say something because they are one color or religion, and not OK for a person of a different color or religion to say the exact same thing, then that is discrimination. Your rights should be blind to what color or religion you are.
Yet the same people that speak out in favor of limiting what people of a specific race or religion can say, while excusing the other race or religion from saying the exact same thing, these people claim they are against the very discrimination they are promoting.
But instead of race or religion, substitute climate beliefs.

Reply to  ferdberple
February 12, 2015 7:16 am

case in point:
Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Climate Files

Gary Pearse
February 12, 2015 6:05 am

Oops, and two, we went through a cold period in the middle of their range from Roman to Medieval: the Dark Ages. Well at least they are saying warm periods were “precedented”.

DD More
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 12, 2015 8:39 am

The prehistoric sediments showed that there were two periods of elevated intense hurricane activity on Cape Cod – from 150 to 1150 and 1400 to 1675.
Didn’t these guys get there dates wrong for warm temperatures?
As can be seen from this figure, and as Keigwin stated, the northern Sargasso Sea SST “was ~1°C cooler than today ~400 years ago (the Little Ice Age) and 1700 years ago [the Dark Ages Cold Period], and ~1°C warmer than today 1000 years ago (the Medieval Warm Period).” And with respect to his reason for conducting the study, which was to document natural climate variability in order to understand the effects of anthropogenic forcing, Keigwin stated that “over the course of three millennia, the range of SST variability in the Sargasso Sea is on the order of twice that measured over recent decades,”
My calculator says 2014 – 400 = 1614 & 2014 – 1700 = 314. Knowing the Gulf Stream flows north and the Sargasso Sea is south and put this water temperature record and dates says it is colder water that produces the Cape Cod Canes.

Mike Bromley the Kurd
February 12, 2015 6:10 am

Let’s face it. The whole claim disintegrates in a flurry of warmcoldwetdry in the first paragraph.

February 12, 2015 6:13 am

Maybe ‘someone’ has been adjusting the GASTA? Maybe the world has been cooling for over half a century? Maybe the ‘hiatus’ is over half a century in length?

Steve in SC
February 12, 2015 6:27 am

I remember Hazel in 1954. We left the coast of N.C. and did not go back. Headed for the hills literally.

Reply to  Steve in SC
February 12, 2015 8:18 pm

There is a comment close towards the top which I just posted. The year you mention would fit in with that pattern I describe above. The 2K graph shows that 1954 is a low point, and that there was a sharp drop in reaching that low.

Lance Wallace
February 12, 2015 6:29 am

Here’s the paper. Hope the link works.
The connection with the ocean temperature (SST) seems strained. In Figure 4, data from our old friend Michael Mann indicates high SST in the earlier time period (about 0 degrees C anomaly, lower (about -0.1 C) in the intervening hurricane-free period, and even lower (-0.2 C) in the more recent time (1425-1680). However, Figure 5 presents different SST data for just the more recent time period showing somewhat increased SST during the 1425-1680 period compared to shortly before and shortly after. To accept the authors’ conclusion that higher SST leads to more hurricanes requires dumping the Mann data, which of course is par for Dr. Mann’s results, but still leaves a bit of a question here.

William Yarber
February 12, 2015 6:52 am

“The prehistoric sediments showed that there were two periods of elevated intense hurricane activity on Cape Cod – from 150 to 1150 and 1400 to 1675. ”
If my memory is correct, the LIA was from approx 1450 to 1880. Since it has been proven that the LIA was a global event, that would strongly suggest the water temps in the North Atlantic were cooler than today from 1450 to 1675. But that was a period of higher NE storm activity. Maybe they need to consider the temperature differentials between NE and Caribbean areas and the impact that has on storm formation and logevity?

Reply to  William Yarber
February 12, 2015 7:23 am

from 150 to 1150 and 1400 to 1675.
these were periods of cooling. it makes sense that hurricane activity would be increased during periods of cooling, because it is the temperature gradient, not temperature itself that gives rise to storms. cold periods are associated with increased cooling towards the poles, with little change in the tropics.
all storms are heat engines. all heat engines need a warm side and a cold side to function. As you increase the temperature difference between the hot and cold side, the efficiency of the engine goes up, allowing it to do more work for a given amount of fuel. The “fuel” being energy from the sun, and “work” being the movement of air and water.
Thus, the recent decrease in east coast hurricanes as the arctic warms, reducing the efficiency of the global heat engine in the northern hemisphere.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  ferdberple
February 12, 2015 8:17 am

To clarify, tropical cyclones are driven by a vertical temperature difference while extratropical (midlatitude) cyclones are driven by a horizontal temperature difference. Never-the-less, the GCMs suggest that in a warmer world the mid-troposphere will heat faster than the lower troposphere lessening the vertical temperature difference. Hence, most climate models suggest fewer tropical cyclones in a warmer atmosphere. These results were deliberately buried deep within the IPCC AR5 and the latest U.S. Climate Assessment.

Mike M.
Reply to  ferdberple
February 12, 2015 8:26 am

I think ferberple is spot on. Warming should produce a lesser N-S temperature gradient which might well reduce storm intensity. And the Donnelly study might actually support that.
The Donnelly study seems to be hugely overhyped. Backbarrier overwash studies are nothing new and have been done in many locations. If memory serves, they seem to show a periodicity in large hurricane landfalls in the NE that is thought to be related to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. I think that is one of the main lines of proxy evidence that AMO has been going on for a long time.
Since these studies depend on storm surge, not hurricane intensity, they would show Sandy as having been a major hurricane.
I don’t think these studies are done behind unconsolidated sand bars; that would be pointless. They are done behind low dunes that are stabilized by vegetation. have no idea how they demonstrate the long term stability of the dunes.

Reply to  ferdberple
February 13, 2015 6:12 am

“while extratropical (midlatitude) cyclones are driven by a horizontal temperature difference.”
Seems like that would mean fewer mid-latitude cyclones during warming periods too, doesn’t it? GCMs predict warming will be greater the further you get from the tropics. So that would decrease the horizontal (at least in the north-south direction) temperature gradient.

Reply to  William Yarber
February 12, 2015 7:54 am

Bill: Some scientists define the Little Ice Age as covering the four Grand Solar Minimums: Wolf (1280~1350), Sporer (1450~1550), Maunder (1645~1715) and Dalton (1790~1820).
Some scientists don’t include the Wolf GSM, but it was an extremely cold period that wiped out roughly 25% of Europe’s population due to severe famines and frigid winters. Then the Bubonic plague started in 1352 which killed out another 50% of Europe’s population.

Russ R.
February 12, 2015 7:09 am

A 1.5 meter sand bar, repeatedly impacted by “monster” hurricanes, is now a reliable buffer, for the collection of historical reconstruction data. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Jon B.
Reply to  Russ R.
February 12, 2015 7:44 am

Well, I laughed… Just use Google maps’ street view, search for “Salt Pond Falmouth, MA”. Interesting to note this pond is approximately 700 meters from the gates of Woods Hole Institute – I think they call that a wicked huge travel budget, in the local vernacular. And to Mr Ballard’s point above, calling the barrier between Vinyard Sound and Salt Pond “dunes” would be quite charitable.

Bruce Cobb
February 12, 2015 7:31 am

“The risk [of losing our Warmist gravy-train funding] may be much greater than we anticipated,” he added.

There, fixed.

February 12, 2015 7:56 am

Dr. Ryan Maue on June 2011: “Since 2006, Northern Hemisphere and global tropical cyclone ACE [Accumulated Cyclone Energy] has decreased dramatically to the lowest levels since the late 1970s.”
“During the past 6-years since Hurricane Katrina, global tropical cyclone frequency and energy have decreased dramatically, and are currently at near-historical record lows.”
From Global hurricane activity at historical record lows: new paper (Dr. Ryan Maue. Watts Up With That? June 26, 2011)

February 12, 2015 8:02 am

How in the world this press release refuted the AGW theory and yet produced more AGW propaganda at the same time, is a wonder to behold. I am really impressed, to say the least.

Reply to  JimS
February 12, 2015 8:06 am

Two different mental levels in play; basic Pavlovian and skeptical minds.

Reply to  Andres Valencia
February 14, 2015 10:37 pm

The skeptics are unpatriotic in the Pavlovian, media programmed mind.

February 12, 2015 8:26 am

Is that Betsy (1965) in there on both maps?

Alan McIntire
February 12, 2015 8:32 am

That “Peak of the Roman Empire” to “height of the middle ages” covers a long, variable period..
There was problabley little ice in the Apls, and it was probably a lot warmer, when Hannibla crossed that range in the late 200s BC. There was a gradual cooling from there until around 500 AD, then a new medievla warming , when Eric the Red founded the Greenland colony and Leif Ericson colonized Vinland, peaking in the 1200s.
I suspect that the bulk of those hurricanes hit during the cooling period, when there was a greater temperature gradient between equator and poles.

Reply to  Alan McIntire
February 12, 2015 8:51 pm

Hannibal crossing the alps, with elephants no less!

Reply to  asybot
February 14, 2015 10:44 pm

…a not-so-subtle clue from history…

February 12, 2015 8:39 am

“The study is the first to find evidence of historically unprecedented hurricane activity along the northern East Coast of the United States…” As long as it’s “unprecedented” it’s in the Kool Kiddies Klimate Klub.

February 12, 2015 9:05 am

What has happened globally during the ‘hottest’ decade evaaaa? No conclusions can be drawn here.

Reply to  Jimbo
February 12, 2015 8:36 pm

Every peak on that graph correlates on the MEI with the lead into an El Nino, or on it,s way to the peak of an El Nino event.

Reply to  goldminor
February 12, 2015 8:37 pm

I should have pointed out that I am referring to the 2nd graph.

Reply to  goldminor
February 12, 2015 8:40 pm

I also should have added that the low points all line up with La Nina in the same fashion. Isn’t that interesting!

Reply to  goldminor
February 13, 2015 1:42 am

The cool thing is that during the ‘hottest’ decade evaaaa (2000 to 2010) there is no upward trend – for major hurricanes or ACE energy – it went up then down. Co2 does not appear to be the control knob here.

February 12, 2015 9:46 am

This is astonishingly stupid, oh it hurts. “Monster hurricanes” is seriously in the title? I’m almost at a loss for words. There isn’t a single mention of ENSO or the WAMI, both of which are known to influence Atlantic cyclone intensity and frequency.
It’s also amazing that they have somehow deduced wind speeds from sediment cores, simply astonishing.

Reply to  RWturner
February 12, 2015 8:42 pm

Take a look at the comment above yours.

February 12, 2015 10:32 am

The most powerful storm to ever hit Cape Cod in recent history was Hurricane Bob in 1991, a category 2 storm that was one of the costliest in New England history. Storms of that intensity have only reached the region three times since the 1600s, according to Donnelly.

Where “region” is pretty small and “recent” is shorter than what people tell stories about. While we don’t talk much anymore about the 1635 hurricane (which apparently was a remarkable storm), we don’t talk much about Hurricane Bob either. OTOH, the Hurricane of 1938 and those of the 1950s are talked about by people who experienced them and people who didn’t.
Why aren’t those hurricanes on the Salt Pond stratigraphy? Most, perhaps all, hit a little further west.
Then there are nor’easters. They produce more damage to the northeast coast than hurricanes do. The 1978 blizzard 10 years of erosion to the outer cape, destroyed a thousand homes and killed 100 people. It’s enough to make you think perhaps people shouldn’t build on the coast.

February 12, 2015 10:40 am

In prehistoric times there were no hurricanes,none,nada,zilch

Reply to  Alfred Alexander
February 12, 2015 12:02 pm

Alfred Alexander, what these folks want us to overlook are the terrible northern hemisphere hurricanes at the onset of the Little Ice Age. They want us to ignore the enhanced temperature gradient.
Great storms of the Little Ice Age
Storminess Of The Little Ice Age
Take a close look at this graph. Can you see stormy V temperature? LIA V MWP?

Elliott M. Althouse
February 12, 2015 12:18 pm

Southeastern Virginia had our only historical major hurricanes during the LIA~!

Jim Clarke
February 12, 2015 12:43 pm

How much does the quality of the fuel impact the top speed of your automobile? It is a very small percentage of the total speed. A Viper will go many times faster than a go-kart using the exact same fuel. In other words, the quality of the fuel is just not that important, when compared to all the other factors.
Sea level water temperatures of about 80 degrees F qualify as fuel for tropical cyclones. Increasing the temperature of the water just doesn’t make a huge difference in the strength of the storm. Other factors, especially atmospheric conditions and tendencies, are vastly more important than water temperature, once the minimum threshold had been crossed.
The phrase, “…all else being equal…” is only relevant if there was any chance that all else could be equal. It is just not reasonable to draw any conclusions about hurricanes and water temperatures from the historical record, since the atmosphere has always been in flux, and that flux is orders of magnitude more important than a degree or two of water temperature.

Doug Proctor
February 12, 2015 2:00 pm

The big thing here is that the AGU report states that the older period was considerably warmer than the current one. That is at odds with Michael Mann’s position and the eco-green who say today is “unprecedented”.

February 12, 2015 2:15 pm

This makes good sense because during periods in which zonal flow predominates, as from 1965 to the present, high amplitude Rossby waves in the polar jet stream would tend to redistribute tropical heat poleward more efficiently than in periods in which zonal flow predominates, with lower amplitude waves, as from 1909 to 1965. Under zonal conditions, the lack of high amplitude Rossby waves to transfer tropical heat toward the poles would be compensated for by hurricanes performing that function.

February 12, 2015 2:41 pm

I’d propose a new drinking game involving the phrase “much greater/worse than we anticipated/predicted,” but I fear we may all die of alcohol poisoning.

February 12, 2015 4:22 pm

Now at a record stretch of years without ANY major hurricanes!

February 12, 2015 8:58 pm

From the article;
A new record of sediment deposits from Cape Cod, Mass., show evidence that 23 severe hurricanes hit New England between the years 250 and 1150, the equivalent of a severe storm about once every 40 years on average. Many of these hurricanes were likely more intense than any that have hit the area in recorded history, according to the study.
The operative word in that paragraph is “likely”. Are there any records of permanent settlements along the East coast that long ago, can someone point me that direction? Because as I remember my history, some of the early settler’s descriptions and records are that they found little evidence of that until they travelled further inland.

John F. Hultquist
February 12, 2015 9:13 pm

Some folks predict and some folks plan. In the case of the already developed US east coast, none of this will matter. When the next “unprecedented hurricane takes a big chunk out of that development the response will be to rebuild it – with other people’s money.
Improvements are possible. After Hurricane Andrew (1992):

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
February 13, 2015 3:37 pm

I have never understood why they allowed building on the ocean side of Rt. 9 (also the GS Parkway) in NJ. Seriously go look. The ocean is literally right there and you are maybe one or two feet above it. To make it worse, the are back bays on many communities that dot the Jersey coast.

February 13, 2015 4:21 am

I would ask a hurricane expert what increase in power could be expected by an x increase in ocean temps.
The last response I heard was that if ocean temps rose to the extent they were expecting back at the time of Katrina (a lot), the max wind speed would hardly have been affected – perhaps 5 mph faster. Hurricane experts provide the best evidence.

February 13, 2015 11:32 am

It occurs to me that those who believe global warming causes more (or more powerful) hurricanes simply don’t understand hurricanes. Warm oceans, in and of themselves, do not cause hurricanes. It is the temperature difference between the ocean surface and the upper troposphere. Yes, hurricanes tend to occur in the summer, when the oceans are at their warmest. But that is because seasonal warming is caused by more direct sunlight and less atmosphere to penetrate, and thus acts more directly on the surface, with a smaller effect on the upper atmosphere. The upper atmosphere is always cooler than the surface, so if the surface warms more than the upper atmosphere, the temperature difference INCREASES, resulting in a higher probability of hurricane formation.
Greenhouse warming, on the other hand, has its most direct effect on the upper atmosphere (that’s where the greenhouse gasses are after all). Only a fraction of the additional heat in the atmosphere finds its way back to the surface, so the upper atmosphere warms more than the surface. Again, the upper atmosphere is always cooler than the surface, so warming the upper atmosphere more than the surface necessarily REDUCES the temperature difference, thus decreasing the chance of hurricanes.
Of course, we are always going to have hurricanes in the summer, whether global warming continues (resumes?) or not, because, seasonal warming is much more powerful than the man-made portion of greenhouse warming. But it is obvious that greenhouse warming, if anything, will LESSEN the probability of hurricane formation, and those that do form will tend to be less powerful.
This is all Meteorology 101. Why should we believe the rantings of global warming alarmists when they are so BADLY mistaken on the basics of weather?

February 14, 2015 2:21 am

So how is it that WeatherAction UK can predict these extreme events many months in advance without using Global Warming theories? Just a laptop, not 93 Million pounds worth of super computer like the UK Met office?

February 14, 2015 3:03 am

It appears that only the abstract is released, along with Supporting Information. That seems about par for the “proof by press release” course.
Their Figure S4 (on page 9 of 15 (SI)) shows tracks for Cat 2 or above storms making landfall in New England over the past 162 years. Hurricane groupies know that the northeast quandrant of storms packs the biggest punch. Only one of the seven storm tracks shown on Fig S4 placed the subject Salt Pond in that quandrant. “Close enough” counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, but not hurricanes. It is extremely difficult to project even regional frequency from a single pond. It’s like looking for your lost car keys only under the street lights…

February 14, 2015 3:01 pm

The 1915-1964 total of major hurricanes striking USA’s Florida peninsula or East Coast from 1915 to 1964 should be 22, not 23. The pair of maps have both of them showing the same 1965 hurricane.

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