New Paper: Unprecedented 21st-century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains

GUEST POST by Bob Tisdale

That’s the title of a new paper by Cook et al. that’s been making the rounds in the mainstream media.

The paper is available from GISS here. The abstract reads:

In the Southwest and Central Plains of Western North America, climate change is expected to increase drought severity in the coming decades. These regions nevertheless experienced extended Medieval-era droughts that were more persistent than any historical event, providing crucial targets in the paleoclimate record for benchmarking the severity of future drought risks. We use an empirical drought reconstruction and three soil moisture metrics from 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show that these models project significantly drier conditions in the later half of the 21st century compared to the 20th century and earlier paleoclimatic intervals. This desiccation is consistent across most of the models and moisture balance variables, indicating a coherent and robust drying response to warming despite the diversity of models and metrics analyzed. Notably, future drought risk will likely exceed even the driest centuries of the Medieval Climate Anomaly (11001300 CE) in both moderate (RCP 4.5) and high (RCP 8.5) future emissions scenarios, leading to unprecedented drought conditions during the last millennium.

The paper has two strikes against it right from the get-go:  paleoclimatological data and climate models.

A COUPLE OF QUICK SPOT CHECKS

The Cook et al. (2015) paper states, where PDSI stands for Palmer Drought Severity Index:

PDSI is easily calculated from GCMs using variables from the atmosphere portion of the model (for example, precipitation, temperature, and humidity) and can be compared directly to observations.

So let’s take a quick look a couple of worst-case examples of how poorly the models simulated temperature and precipitation in the regions selected by Cook et al during the satellite era, the past 35 years.

They selected a group of 17 models from the CMIP5 archives, using RCP4.5 (moderate emissions scenario) and CP8.5 (“business as usual” scenario).  As a spot check, the following two model-data comparisons use the average of all of the models in the CMIP5 archive, with the historic forcings from 1979 to 2005 and the RCP8.5 scenario afterward.  If you’d like to redo the following graphs with only the models used by Cook et al., you’re more than welcome to do so. And also show us the outputs of the models that Cook et al. didn’t use.

Cook et al. also identified the coordinates of the regions they included in their study:

All statistics were based on regional PDSI averages over the Central Plains (105°W–92°W, 32°N–46°N) and the Southwest (125°W–105°W, 32°N–41°N).

And their paper included the boreal summer months of June-July-August.

For the data in the following comparisons, we’re presenting GISS Land-Ocean Temperature Index data, and CAMS-OPI precipitation data, which is a merger of rain gauge and satellite-based precipitation data.  The data and the climate model outputs are available from the KNMI Climate Explorer.

Again, we’re showing the worst case model-data comparisons.

For the Southwest United States region, the climate models are showing almost twice the observed June-July-August precipitation from 1979 to 2014. See Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1

And in the Central Plains region of the United States, the models more than double the observed warming rate.

Figure 2

Figure 2

CLOSING

My Figure 3 is Figure 1 from Cook et al. (2015).  Nice hockey stick.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Maybe at some time in the future, probably not in my lifetime, the climate science community will come to realize that model outputs showing “unprecedented” future values are indications the models are fatally flawed.

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184 thoughts on “New Paper: Unprecedented 21st-century drought risk in the American Southwest and Central Plains

  1. Well then, we’d better pump as much CO2 into the atmosphere as we can because it helps plants cope with drought.

    • Tabnumlock:
      That might seem like a joke to some but it is incontrovertible botanical fact that plants have reduced their stomata in response to increased atmospheric CO2. This means less water loss, hence less water requirements and greater tolerance by plants for reduced soul moisture.
      This principle was demonstrated in the surprisingly high yields during the last Midwestern drought several years ago, when yields exceeded forecasts. The greening of the Sahel is another demonstration of this principle. Simply put, under higher atmospheric CO2 levels, plants require less moisture.

  2. I took one look at the ‘study’ and saw they used the output of failed computer climate models as input to their untested computer drought model. I wouldn’t use the ‘study’ to line my bird’s cage.

      • I nearly stopped when I saw “unprecedented”, and slowed down even more at “state-of-the-art general circulation models”. But to honor Bob’s efforts at plowing through this nonsense paper, I forged on.
        Bob, thanks for summarizing this thing and saving me the pain.
        Now that Hansen’s gone, GISS can’t Jimmy the data, but they can still Cook it.

      • Don’t be so hard on people using models to predict drought.

        Abstract
        The Key Role of Heavy Precipitation Events in Climate Model Disagreements of Future Annual Precipitation Changes in California
        Climate model simulations disagree on whether future precipitation will increase or decrease over California, which has impeded efforts to anticipate and adapt to human-induced climate change……..Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter. These results are obtained from 16 global general circulation models downscaled with different combinations of dynamical methods…
        http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-12-00766.1

  3. Maybe at some time in the future, probably not in my lifetime, the climate science community will come to realize that model outputs showing “unprecedented” future values are indications the models are fatally flawed.
    YES 🙂 – Wild numbers are an indication something has gone wrong with the calculations.

      • Kelvin, apparently you have not read the study or the lead authors amendment to your understanding. I quote; “Michael Wood2014 Nov 30 07:45 a.m.
        As the first author of this study, I’d like to address a misleading headline that’s been making the rounds lately: the idea that this study says that people who believe 9/11 conspiracy theories are better-adjusted than those who do not. This grossly misinterprets our results: this study says nothing about mental health, and its results do not justify any conclusions about one group of people being more or less “sane” than another.
        The main basis for this misinterpretation appears to be the observed difference in hostility between conspiracist (pro-conspiracy-theory) and conventionalist (anti-conspiracy-theory) comments. On average, conventionalist comments tended to be somewhat more hostile. In the paper, we interpret this difference as the product of a fairly specific social situation in which the two rival opinion-based groups use different strategies of social influence according to their relative popularity, rather than as an inherent psychological difference. In fact, previous research by Marina Abalakina-Paap and colleagues has shown that dispositional hostility is positively, not negatively, correlated with beliefs in conspiracy theories – in other words, people who believe more conspiracy theories tend to be more hostile. However, that finding doesn’t necessarily justify the conclusion that conventionalists are better-adjusted than conspiracists. Either of these conclusions relies on the unstated premise that hostility is never good or justified, and that less hostility is always better. This is at least an arguable assumption, and there’s certainly no evidence for it here.
        In general, I would urge anyone who found this paper via the “sanity” article to please think critically about headlines in the future. It is tempting to believe without question self-serving headlines that validate your prejudices and beliefs, but that’s precisely when critical thinking is most important.”

  4. Thank for your short and sweet analysis and debunking of this paper. I saw it in the Washington Post this morning and groaned….models!

    • I sa w it on BBC and send it on but as usual Bob’s rebuttal is a lot more scientific compared to your’s and mine, also mine was a bit more pointed then a groan.

  5. A paper as dire as that would shame a fresher, never mind getting with NASA’s imprimatur. There’s no way I’d ever get into one of their cans nowadays.
    Pointman

  6. And there was me thinking that the whole cagw theory relied on the atmosphere holding more moisture.

    • It’s not all bad news. Some areas may get wetterdrier. Head for the hills! Or is that mountains?

      Abstract
      A warm and wet little climatic optimum and a cold and dry little ice age in the southern rocky mountains, U.S.A.
      ………Between A.D. 1100 and 1300 the potential dry-farm belt narrowed and finally disappeared with the onset of a period of markedly colder and drier conditions than currently exist. Finally, when the Little Ice Age terminated in the mid A.D. 1800s and warmer, wetter conditions returned to the region, another group of farmers (modern Anglos) were able to dry farm the area.
      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01092417

  7. I do not need climate models or soil diagnostics, because I am Robnac the Magnificent, and I see all, know all. Let me peer into my crystal ball and look at the future of North Carolina over the next century.
    Good grief! I see tornadoes pounding homes in my state! I see hurricanes of deadly force destroying our coasts! I see five to ten years of extreme drought (not all at once)! I see floods that swell the rivers of the state into killing machines of destruction! I even see earthquakes, although the ball is too cloudy to reveal much about their severity.
    And that’s not all! I see democratic presidents being replaced by republican presidents and republican presidents being replaced by democratic ones! I see great public scandals involving bribery and corruption! I see the Carolina Panthers winning the Superbowl, and Duke winning the NCAA basketball championship — wait for it — eight more times! I see UNC’s basketball program demoted to Division II after they fail to win a Division I game for twenty years! I see the ACC expanded to include UCLA and Hawaii (a very liberal definition of “Atlantic”, that)!
    Well, OK, two of those were wishful thinking on my part.
    But the rest and best — all of this will be due to human caused climate change!
    Prove me wrong.
    rgb

    • Of course you are wrong – you didn’t forsee an existential crisis which can only be resolved through a gross extension of government power, voluntary acceptance of reduced living standards and a new kind of economy.

      • That’s because that will never happen. What will actually occur is that our beloved government, acting in our best interests, will continue to take sober and well considered steps to resolve a global ecological challenge, and working together we will all become even more prosperous and free than we are now, following the successful development and deployment of thermonuclear fusion as a power source starting in 2020. By 2040 carbon based fuels will no longer be widely used for anything but personal transportation, and that in a carbon-neutral setting. But nobody will care by then, because long before that it will be clear that the predictions of catastrophe were nonsense and that the world climate and biosphere is in fact slightly better off with CO_2 levels around its eventual peak of 524 ppm, just short of twice its pre-industrial level and around 1.8 C on average warmer.
        By 2079 computation will have advanced to where GCMs actually work over century timescales with more than blind-squirrel predictivity and we will discover that we narrowly avoided starting the next ice age by burning so much coal. This will cause a brief resurgence in religion as a fad, as the last handful of priests in the world assert that this was all part of God’s Plan, but by 2087 the legal decision to tax churches and organized religions (2038 and 2048 in Europe, 2053 in the US, and finally 2061 worldwide) plus the widespread teaching of rational thought will cause the last incorporated church to close its doors and the few religious groups that remain (the Quakers and a handful of others) will be have no collective political or economic power.
        But this kind of detail is scary for people to know about — I rarely include it in a reading of the future. Similarly I don’t include the details of just where and when nuclear bombs are exploded in acts of war over the next century (17 in total in three separate conflicts), or the six wars that will be fought — three of them religious and one of those nearly globe-spanning.
        rgb

      • Oh ye of little faith. It already “almost” happened once, it has 85 more chances to happen again. Well, not exactly 85…
        But fine, I’ll give a specific year. In fact, I’ll give two. 2037 and 2042. But professional football will then take a double whammy hit in 2048 when a scandal reveals that organized crime and organized gambling has been routinely fixing games since before the start of the 21st century and that playing football reduces your life expectancy and IQ by one year and five points for every five years the sport is played, starting in high school. By 2051 the sport is eliminated from all public schools, and by 2056 the professional leagues fold.

    • Used to teach sciences at Chapel Thrill – wife worked at Duke Medical – interesting combo. Lived in Durham. Knew Dean and Michael J. Panthers winning anything for Jerry and Cam, who never returned to college. Natch is human caused. Beset by the beggars.
      But – “state-of-the-art general circulation models”, sure I believe. Proof enough! What more is needed?

    • Dear Robnac the Magnificent,
      It has come to our attention that you are “disseminating forecasts without fee”, in violation of the Forecasters Solidarity Agreement!
      We have searched our records and find no members dues paid to the Progressive Forecasters Union, and are giving notice, that you are in violation, of the Forecasters responsibility to maintain upward mobility for Forecasters everywhere.
      Therefor you will cease and desist all forecasts until we receive $22,172.33 in back dues, interest and penalties. Any violation of this notice will result in additional fines, and exclusion from future Forecasting contracts in North Carolina, and the Greater Atlantic Regional Forecast Zone.
      If you have any questions, we can be reached at 1-800-PSY-CHIC.
      If you are under the impression that forecasts can be given freely, and no one will be harmed, that is the exact opposite of what it means to be a forecaster. Our Solidarity is the difference between hope and despair. Don’t find yourself in the despair category, when hope is available to all that join the cause.

    • hmmm just can’t be a complete analysis because you did not say “all these horrors will come true unless the world pays you trillions of dollars” then they just may come true… or not… 🙂 that’s how the “real climatastrophists” work….. 🙂

    • Hello rgb
      You say
      “Good grief! I see tornadoes pounding homes in my state! I see hurricanes of deadly force destroying our coasts! I see five to ten years of extreme drought (not all at once)! I see floods that swell the rivers of the state into killing machines of destruction! I even see earthquakes, although the ball is too cloudy to reveal much about their severity.”
      —————–
      rgb
      Are you claiming that your country has suddenly turned in a tornado, a hurricane and an extreme drought country during the modern civilization era, the supposed ACC-AGW era ?!
      That will be a very wild claim you know.
      It is painful and ridiculous when such claims come from some considered academics, especially while driven by the intention to support and uphold a fallacy, in a very exaggerated .manner, with no scientific bearing at all. .
      All what you point at, have happened for ever in the land you call your country, long before your great-great grand fathers put the foot there.
      So what exactly is your point!?
      At least Cook at al. is saying and claiming that if ACC-AGW possible, than in a future with a “business as usual” high CO2 emissions (scenario), there will be some kind of man made severe droughts.
      He at least has the clarity of mind not to claim that up to moment any such impulse for droughts can be blamed on man.
      Contrary to what you imply in your comment.
      Also is very immature to pretend that all this will depend on what a President you will have in your country, at least from the rational scientific approach, unless you consider and imply the possibility of a mad-man president.
      Were you somehow implying that! I do not know, only you can say and tell for sure.
      You also say:
      —-
      “But the rest and best — all of this will be due to human caused climate change!
      Prove me wrong.”
      ————
      rgb
      If reality, the nature and universe is failing to convince you about your wrong, what chance does the rest have, you think?
      cheers

      • I can’t tell if you are taking my tongue in cheek comments seriously or not, but either way in NC since 2000 we have experienced the heaviest snow in 100 years, two moderately serious droughts, Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Floyd, and Sandy washed something like 1/3 of a mile of Shackleford Banks off into the mouth of Beaufort Inlet literally outside of my summertime door (and the fishing there still hasn’t recovered, dammit). The point being that extreme weather events happen, have happened, and will happen, with or without global warming.
        Personally I think that CO_2 drives temperature, logarithmically, at a non-catastrophic rate. But then, I fit the data to convince me myself, and understand the physics.
        rgb

    • How come you did not see that Oz would become part of Europe as we are eligible to enter the Eurovision song contest.
      Perhaps the extra earthquakes caused by CAGW have moved us to the Northern hemisphere and we did not notice.

  8. We use an empirical drought reconstruction and three soil moisture metrics from 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show…

    Excuse my ignorance but please could someone educate me?
    What is the meaning of the word “empirical”?

    • is a source of knowledge acquired by means of observation or experimentation.
      In this case the use of the term is a straight up lie as computer model don’t do science or experimentation.

      • Sun Spot, that is the old definition. That’s just a relic in dictionaries.
        The new definition must be different.
        Else, as you point out, Cook et al and the peer reviewers would all be liars.

      • steveta_uk February 13, 2015 at 7:49 am says

        Doesn’t observing the output from the model count?

        Now that’s an interesting new definition:
        empirical reality is the reality that can be deduced from repeatable runs of climate change models

      • The empirical data in this was the drought reconstruction of the region and the global climate at the time that resulted in the climate/weather/droughts of the region, both of which are based on proxy data and not empirical data. But I guess when you delve into the fantasy realm of CAGW computer modeling then any data you can actually touch becomes empirical data.

    • I think they just throw “empirical” in there to make it sound more science-y. Some people are mesmerized by words irrespective of their actual meaning.

    • It’s one of the climate science Alice in Wonderland words:

      “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
      “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
      “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
      Through the Looking Glass

  9. So, he combined the output of a drought model into the output of a climate model?
    Really?
    Doe anyone really believe this science fiction? Really?

  10. What is it now? over 4000 CAGW reports [and counting], with no empirical proof that CO2 is causing CAGW.
    It reminds me of the structural engineers of long past, who calculated with absolute certainty that Hummingbirds could not fly. The wings were too feeble or whatever.

    • I don’t know about humming birds but it was conclusively proved that bumble bees couldn’t fly. It is aerodynamically impossible apparently.
      And I’ve been waiting for the empirical evidence that CO2 is causing cAGW for years. Obviously I (or someone) misunderstood the meaning of ’empirical’.

    • Little change in global drought despite 400ppm and the ‘hottest’ decade and year evaaaaaah.

      Letter To Nature – 11 September 2012
      Justin Sheffield et al
      Little change in global drought over the past 60 years
      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/abs/nature11575.html

      US megadrouhts don’t have to be predicted – they are a regular feature, particularly west of the Mississippi. So even I can predict scary drought just as I can predict rain in Scotland sometime this year. Yaaaawn.

      IPCC
      IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
      Multiple proxies, including tree rings, sediments, historical documents and lake sediment records make it clear that the past 2 kyr included periods with more frequent, longer and/or geographically more extensive droughts in North America than during the 20th century (Stahle and Cleaveland, 1992; Stahle et al., 1998; Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998; Forman et al., 2001; Cook et al., 2004b; Hodell et al., 2005; MacDonald and Case, 2005). Past droughts, including decadal-length ‘megadroughts’ (Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998), are most likely due to extended periods of anomalous SST (Hoerling and Kumar, 2003; Schubert et al., 2004; MacDonald and Case, 2005; Seager et al., 2005), but remain difficult to simulate with coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Thus, the palaeoclimatic record suggests that multi-year, decadal and even centennial-scale drier periods are likely to remain a feature of future North American climate, particularly in the area west of the Mississippi River.

  11. “We use . . . 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show”
    Why wouldn’t ONE suffice? They are announcing their own lack of faith in GCMs.

      • Like has been said before, average can still be wrong. Just look at the IPCC’s central temperature projections – fail.

        We use an empirical drought reconstruction and three soil moisture metrics from 17 state-of-the-art general circulation models to show that these models project significantly drier conditions in the later half of the 21st century compared to the 20th century and earlier paleoclimatic intervals.

        We have to wait for over 35 years to start observations against projection. Why is anyone paying for these ‘studies’? Why pay people for playing computer games?

    • But these are “state-of-the-art.” The art being climate science and the state of which is in disarray…they should have used 117 models.

  12. All these laughable climate models have runaway feedback loops hardwired into their programs so when the sum of the feedbacks start to approach 1.0, outputs start going all Buzz Lightyear “to infinity and beyond”….
    Nature absolutely abhors runaway feedback loops, but climatologists seem to love them…
    You can’t fix stupid.

  13. “…these models project significantly drier
    conditions in the later half of the 21st century compared to the 20th century and earlier paleoclimatic intervals.”
    There have been significant droughts in the past.
    http://www7.nau.edu/mpcer/direnet/publications/publications_m/files/Mensing_S_Smith_J_Norman_KB_Allan_M_Extended_drought_Great_Basin.pdf
    Refers to a Cook et. al. study showing one period of extended drought lasting from 900 to 1300 AD.
    Adding in other droughts, one might surmise that the southwest was abnormally WET during the last 200 years and that we’re, unfortunately, getting back to “normal”.

    • Looking at the last 1000 years, a 50-year or longer drought in Southern California wouldn’t be unprecedented at all. I suspect if real data allows a look back through the Holocene era over that region, it would not even be unusual. Big Deal.

  14. “… models and moisture balance variables, indicating a coherent and robust drying response to warming… .”
    Not only do the models fail to project temperature (even historically!) accurately, they are INSTRINSICALLY FLAWED:
    Colder = dryer
    Warmer = wetter
    .
    Cold Causes Drought
    Walker Circulation and Australia Drought Pattern (youtube)

  15. Amazing! They detail paleological severe droughts that have occurred in the historic past, yet can’t seem to do joined up thinking that there is the likelihood any future droughts would be natural, having recorded non-Human related ones in the past. Put simply, they’ve happened before, they’ll happen again! Isn’t man smart by learning to harness water for storage purposes in leaner times? (Well he is until the econuts start demanding dams & other such like facitilities be de-constructed because they aren’t natural!)

    • Plus we used the money that could have been spent for water storage and distribution for wind generators.

    • EVERY paper claims humans are heating up the planet even as we freeze to death in the Ice Age belt like the Great Lakes region.

      • 10,000+ papers initially used. Some 9,950 thrown out and Lew used about 67 papers to get his 97%. Yeah it should be 98% now with this paper.
        If we followed the same rules as Lew’s phony analysis of papers then we’d get 97% agreement on whether or not their is intelligent life on another planet. No facts are needed when you throw out 99% of papers and just use a few zealots that claim that intelligent life is on another planet. 99% say we just do not know enough, but Lew would turn it into 97% agree we know enough and they exist.
        They also agree that those aliens will kill us and you must send me money so I can research how to stop vastly superior intelligence that can travel the Universe and not just to their moon.

  16. Hmmmm. I wonder if the modeled precipitation output (which does indeed go up as the atmosphere is supposed to get wetter) was simply flipped and called the “drought” scenario. Something does not smell kosher here. Warmer does not default as dryer. Warmer is more often than not, wetter. So I say again, something does not seem correct here.

    • If you really want to see dryer, extend year round ice past the 45th parallel. But that would require a colder world. Pondering just how they got models to say “dryer”. Might someone have had a finger on the scale?

      • I don’t even need to read the paper and I can see that this is the garbage output when simply imputing the IPCC temperature projections into the GCMs and looking at what that would output for a desert region. If the absolute temperature goes up in the already hot and dry desert southwest, it would be very hard (or impossible) for the models to show an increase in humidity as well because that would lead to utterly unbelievable heat indexes, even for a CAGW cultist. Since the runaway warming was forced into the models, the models have no choice but to lower the relative humidity to stay inline with reality, and voila, unprecedented drought yada yada. Make sense? If instead they were forcing projected humidity levels into the models it would probably show that hot and dry regions would have their absolute temperatures decrease.

  17. “Unprecedented 21st-century drought risk in the American Southwest…”
    The Anasazi Indian’s Tribal Spokesperson was unavailable for comment.
    😉

  18. Yes this is a climate change paper. I recognize the words, “expected”, “could”, “might”.

    • Ralph, they are getting wise, they did not use, likely, presumed, probable, a chance, more or less, fifty/fifty, with a margin of error (… fill in the number > 20%) etc etc. ( i ran out for now). oh … possible, the models seem to show, seemingly …..

  19. I am always fascinated by climate heating models that predict drought, when virtually all paleo data of past hot climates show increased precipitation due to increased evaporation. This must be based upon extreme location cherry picking.

    • It’s based on them forcing projected runaway warming into the models. If you force an atmospheric model to show warming of a few degrees into a region that is already 50+ degrees C in the summer then the model has no choice but to lower projected relative humidity. This is just more GIGO based on GIGO…GIGO²?

  20. Time to replant drought resistant Prairie grass and graze Bizon that are also great at handling droughts. Same old, same old for the US though will these droughts be mega droughts of 100- 150 years.

  21. The GCMs and adjusted “data” have produced a limpy this time. Is this the yang for Mann’s hockey stick woody, er, ying? I wonder what would happen if they fed the model the rate of change of angels dancing on the head of a pin over time.

  22. Ice ages are dry. There is less snow and less rain both. Lots of water covered by ice so it doesn’t create rain conditions which requires moisture rising from somewhere.
    Tundra are dry areas, not wet. They have surface water only due to frozen ground conditions so water doesn’t percolate into the soil.

  23. This from Cook et al 2007:
    https://geosciencebigpicture.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/drought-american-west-cook-et-al-2007.png
    Back when he seemed to be incorporating a bit of actual data. While it is clear that generally during the MWP there were episodes of extreme drought, there were also intervals of above average rainfall. Forty years after the Anasazi left Chaco in 1130 there were two decades of near average rainfall. The grey lines are as instructive as the smoothed. This is an area of enormous variability.

  24. Water Vapor cycles through the atmosphere each 9 days. From evaporation to rainfall, it takes an average of 9 days. Or in other words, there is 40 times more rainfall than there is water vapor in the atmosphere at any one time.
    In the year 2100, global warming theory predicts that water vapor levels will increase by 23%. Yes, it is 23%.
    So it is just going to rain 23% more +/-.
    There is only 9 days of flux to play with. You can’t have water vapor accumulating on a never-ending basis for years on end without it simply raining more. It can increase by 23% but it is still going to rain out at roughly the same rate.
    Either that, or global warming models can’t be trusted to forecast precipitation. The last time it was 2.0C warmer on the planet, there was no deserts, and the whole land surface was one big forest. I guess CO2 makes all the difference in where rainfall happens.

    • The prediction is for a regional drought, not a world wide drought. There are regional droughts going one right now, for example. There are no indicators that the global warming models have ever predicted anything that has come to pass and so they have stopped calling their prognostications “predictions”. Theirs is a 95% confidence level in a SWAG based on a belief system that is guaranteed to produce grant money.

  25. Since multi-decadal droughts in the SW and intermountain region are well established from the paleo-record, it is clear that once again we see the climate hypesters using deceit to sell their papers.

  26. It’s too bad, but “Texas Toast” will fall by the wayside, as it’ll be too insensitive and politically incorrect to use the term, with Texas toasted.

    • Well, lol, you may be right, Mr. Robertson.
      On the other hand:
      Since much of the motive behind such “studies” is to use Envirostalinist regulations to make petroleum production as pseudo-costly as nuclear energy…..
      to thumb my nose at those lousy Enviro-thugs,
      I will LOUDLY AND PROUDLY PROCLAIM HERE: the term “Texas tea” (no matter what state’s ground it comes “a bubblin'” up from) will be here for a looooong time to come.
      “Black gold….. Texas Tea…. O’l, that is!” #(:))

      (youtube)
      Good ol’ Jed Clampet was doin’ okay until they “up an they moved” to California. That’s where everyone started trying to take their money.
      Just
      like
      today.
      ********************************************************************
      Note re: song: it’s style fits the “study” being debunked above.
      While Bob Tisdale’s work is impeccably scholarly, that of the IPCC and its gang is just a bunch of slick, fast-talking, backwoods, scientist-wannabes trying to sell their “Patent Medicine.”

      • @Janice , thanks for the chuckle but “The , Just Like, Today is sobering, Oh I forgot to check, how much rain did that “Pine Apple Express” deliver to California I was watching golf this and last week NADA! (Sunny and calm) Am I right? There were no end of California stories of floods or blocked highways or snowed in mountain passes what happened? ( we sometimes do have to look back even if it is for 2 weeks)

      • Hi, A Sybot!
        You are so very welcome (thanks for saying so). Okay, because I like you, I looked up the rainfall for the Bay Area during the Pineapple Express “event.”
        “More than 13 inches of rain fell in Venado in unincorporated Sonoma County… .”
        Source: http://kron4.com/2015/02/09/seasonal-rain-totals-back-to-normal-after-recent-storm/
        And that’s the weather, folks. Stay tuned for that cute polar bear story we’ve been promising you all evening long JUST TO MAKE YOU KEEP WATCHING OUR BORING NEWS SHOW, bwah, ha, ha, ha,ha, haaaaaaaaaaaa!
        Bye for now!
        Janice

  27. If I understand the main thrust of their argument it is that , although there will be increased cold season precipitation in some areas , eg california , it will be greatly offset by increased evaporation due to the higher soil temperatures . So they seem to me , a layman in these matters , to be relying on the forecasted global temperature rises in the RCP models to produce the lower moisture levels . I did not see much discussion of how weather patterns, and ocean circulation events are affected by the models , but that is presumably contained within the body of the models.
    If not taking into account actual weather systems , but relying mainly on estimated increased temperatures (which may not occur) then the paper , for all its impressive appearance , is actually a bit thin .
    Or am I completely out of my depth here?

    • EPA Drone reconnaissance reveals that you are in about up to your ankles.
      NSA blog intercepts confirm that you have publicly questioned gov’t “findings”.
      IRS computers just stuck your name on the audit list
      DHS operatives have moved your name to a domestic watch status.

      • Oh heck . In that case I had better find something nice to say about it ( see below in reply to Brandon ).

  28. I love “state-of-the-art.”
    That’s the state in which modelers finger-paint, and we’re all supposed to lower our gaze and say “Yessum NASA’ “.
    (I think they call it California.)

  29. In their favour, they admit there was a Medieval Warm Period which they renamed to avoid the implication it was ‘warmer’ in those days. I noticed they shortened its duration as well. Those are two pointers that it is very embarrassing to the CO2-only AGW hypothesis.
    Landscheidt predicted a severe drought in the US in 2018. If it materialises, both the barycentric and GCM method promoters will find solace. Interesting. A complication may be that it will be a lot colder by then, but the cold will be dismissed as weather while the drought will be blamed on CO2. We already know how that works, right?
    I think the paper is significant in that it says paleoclimate data support the warmer-than-now MWP. Is that a first for the Team in the past 30 years? Common sense is starting to prevail. Next thing you know there will be a LIA. Then, who knows…natural variation?

  30. ‘That’s the title of a new paper by Cook et al.’
    Sorry but even using industrial strength ones that sentence although broke the BS meter has it went right off the scale.
    So it hardly a surprise to find its ‘models ‘ and selective speculation all the way . The sad part is that although it is normal for climate ‘science’ to consider that you can tell has many lies as you like , your data can be worthless and your methods rubbish but all that matters is what press your ‘research’ gets , it is no less annoying that this BS has be making the rounds in the mainstream media.

  31. From the article:
    “… indicating a coherent and robust drying response to warming”.
    Couldn’t “a coherent and robust warming response to drying” also be true? Why did they not test that hypothesis to exclusion?

  32. Unfortunately there is truth to the idea if you keep telling the same old lies again and again with little or no noticeable rebuttal (anything the denialist say is wrong), people will begin to believe all the lies. Meanwhile those who see and know the lies, get wore out and numbed by the same old lies.

  33. Corruption of science for political reasons is not new, but it is continuing apace…iStudy the science of NAZI Germany. Much of today’s government involvement in everything from food to climate was already hyped in that totalitarian regime. Per the dictionaries, totalitarianism is that form of government where government makes everyone’s decisions, and it looks more and more like the US has finally made it into the ranks…..

    • Already there. We have the strong, autocratic central government control characteristic of fascism. It is a challenge to find anything man made that doesn’t have some government content.

  34. So the victims of “warm and dry” are going to be forced to move to “cold and wet” in the future. I can sell my house, to one of the victims, at an absurdly high price, due to demand, and retire in comfort to “warm and dry”, with money to spare. Your horror story is my “fairy tale ending”. I was going to fund an IRA, but now I can spend the money, and know that Cook et al., has my back.

  35. Models…
    If it is going up, it will always go up infinitely
    If it is going down, it will always go down infinitely.
    If it is hot outside, we have dry air.
    If it has frozen outside, we have dry air.
    So predictable.
    Oh this infinitely model dumbfug.

  36. The paper has two strikes against it right from the get-go: paleoclimatological data and climate models.

    What are we supposed to use, Bob? Time travel?

      • mpainter,
        A proper skeptic would wonder how to control for human influences on climate without using paleoclimate data as a baseline. My little quip about time travel was me being nice.

    • Within its constraints it appears to be a respectable piece of work which says : if the RCP models are correct then the resultant increased temperatures will result in such loss of soil moisture that any changed weather patterns bringing increased cold season precipitation will not be able to compensate.
      Fine , but suppose the real world situation does not follow the RCP modelled temperatures .Already in the Great Plains there seems to be a deviation of actual soil conditions from that expected from their models.
      It is a solid piece of work which needed to be done to fill a hole in the literature , but it may not be as forewarning as the media hype suggests and hopefully it will not cause the President and all his good men and women to be panicked into emergency measures.

      • (eye roll) Oh, puh-leeze. Mike Waite, I realize you are running scared (per your comment here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/02/13/new-paper-unprecedented-21st-century-drought-risk-in-the-american-southwest-and-central-plains/#comment-1859089),
        but, “a solid piece of work?” Just how many years’ back taxes do you owe ANYWAY? You have my sympathy.
        Here: I’ll add this to save you from eternal self-loathing:
        CORRECTION to
        Mike Waite at 2:24pm on February 13, 2015:
        “… emergency measures. {/sarc}”
        #(:))

      • mikewaite,

        Fine, but suppose the real world situation does not follow the RCP modelled temperatures.

        We can suppose all sorts of things. One reason for nightmare scenarios is because policy makers want the worst-case supposition which is reasonably supportable. Every risk manager on the planet wants to know how bad it could possibly be, and what’s the least which can be done to reduce their exposure. AGW is no different.

        Already in the Great Plains there seems to be a deviation of actual soil conditions from that expected from their models.

        All models are always going to be wrong, or else they wouldn’t be models. NASA itself throws models under the bus: http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2202/
        The study suggests that current ice sheet modeling is too simplistic to accurately predict the future contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea level rise, and that current models may underestimate ice loss in the near future.
        So while you’re supposing benign future because “models are wrong” ask yourself why they must always err on the side of least alarming.
        My position is pragmatic. I understand that highly uncertain futures due to huge margins in the estimates are a risk in and of themselves. We know more or less what to expect with the planet in the current temperature regime. Maybe, yes maybe, that’s not the “optimal” temperature for humanity but how would I even go about defining “optimal” operationally? So I don’t look at it that way. I look at it in terms of where our present knowledge is most certain, and that knowledge is in what has transpired in the past leading up to the now.

      • Gates
        What is certain is that droughts will cause less harm with increasing atmospheric CO2. See my comment above. No need to wring your poor hands over this particular alarmist hype.

      • mpainter,

        What is certain is that droughts will cause less harm with increasing atmospheric CO2.

        You’re certain of this? Ok. Cough up the literature which expresses absolute certainty that reduction in water loss via stomatal restriction will happen with no net change in overall metabolism. Across all conceivable drought scenarios which means the VERY worst case must be considered. I’ll also need to know specifics about at what levels of CO2 these beneficial effects can be expected to occur. Do pick a paper which doesn’t use any models in its projections or I shall summarily dismiss it. Thanks.

      • @Brandon Gates at 8:57 pm
        Someone called “Cook” is the lead author of this paper. <b<Your point is _____________?
        <b<Your – because it is not clear to whom you refer. Regardless the answer is Benjamin I. Cook, the lead author of the paper. So the point is to cite the lead author of the paper, and there one can find the author’s affiliation, in case, there is need to contact said person. Hope that helps.

  37. Bob T “Maybe at some time in the future, probably not in my lifetime, the climate science community will come to realize that model outputs showing “unprecedented” future values are indications the models are fatally flawed.”
    All these “unprecedented” hockey stick model outputs are simply showing that a highly complex, non-linear system of partial differential equations cannot produce a stable numeric output. After a limited time the accumulated rounding errors involved simply drive the output in one direction or the other. Alternatively, or maybe at the same time, unlimited positive feedbacks drive the output out of control

  38. hmmm I only just skimmed this, but Im curious about the datasets on long term SW drought conditions used. I spent a few weeks going over this data a decade or so ago, and at the time there was a CLEAR 150 or so year trend cycling between wetter period and drier ones, with the iceages not warm eras being the extra dry eras. Even found historical references talking about how dry the area had been before the civil war, and as a wetter era was entered it became an easier place to farm and homestead. going by my past understanding whatever was driving those cycles would be expected to take the area affected by the dust bowl era conditions into the bread basket states into its drier era roughly now, give or take a decade or two.
    Granted we might simply have more or better data now, but this chart is very different then the past datasets I looked at, so I do wonder.

  39. It could happen…. But that’s not science. After predicting this global warming disaster, then using the same data to predict droughts is a game of guessing and hoping. A major drought could happen. But predicting a drought so far out they run a 50 50 chance of it happening. If it is wetter then the longer the weather (climate) stays like that, the more like hood of a drought. Droughts in the west follow cycles. If we don’t go into a cold era, I predict a drought starting in or around 2038 for the US southwest. I didn’t have to use a super computer for that. I also predict that the next drought in the eastern US will be severe…. more people and no new reservoirs. What the heck, my guesses are at least as good as NASA’s.

  40. So something which hasn’t happened yet is already worse than something which was not supposed to have happened (the re-christened MWP) but did happen. And this thing is going to be unprecedented just as soon as we know what it is or if it actually happens.
    Of course, if any future drought is half as bad as the searing US droughts of the 1950s and 1930s they’ll find something unique and unprecedented about it. That’s the job of Cook et al.
    The only thing I don’t get is this connection between general warming and drought on the global scale. It works for SoCal, but that’s meant to be a semi-desolation. The way to bring drought and famine on much of the planet is to have a major cooling event like that of 2200 BC.

  41. I do not understand the problem any intelligent, well-informed reader has with this artcile.
    The author’s position is as as logical as the predictions “Global Warming Will cause more hurricanes” and “Global Warming will cause malaria to increase.” and are consistent with every one of those peer-reviewed IPCC-approved predictions.
    Everybody knows Global Warming makes the world hotter. After, the Antarctic continent is getting hotter and melting all of the ice cap even though air temperature is going down, right?
    And, the further south you go, the hotter it gets, right?
    Go far enough south and you get to Florida, and Florida gets hit by hurricanes. Obviously, the hotter it gets the more hurricanes will occur everywhere else.
    But it is even worse than that!
    Everybody knows that everything gets hotter the further south you go, right?
    And the Sahara Desert is south of Europe, and the American Desert is south of New York City (where everybody know everybody who is anybody lives!) and so …
    And the Sahara Desert is very hot, and the Sahara Desert is very dry. So, the hotter the world’s temperature goes, the drier the world will get. And you can’t argue with a peer-review article that appears in print.
    But we haven’t gotten to the worst of it all.
    The hotter it gets, the further south you go. (Or was that the other way around….Never mind, just infill the data: malaria, yellow fever, insects, rats, mice, plague, etc.)
    The further south you go, the more malaria and yellow fever and insects and jungles there are, right?
    Look, the example are endless: Everglades, Panama, Amazon, Congo, India … All of these are hot wet .. (well, we will ignore wet because it is going to get drier the more the earth warms) but ALL of these places have more malaria and yellow fever and dengue fever and they kill people ….
    So, deaths from disease and dead people will increase because of global warming.
    Obviously.

    • kathleenehrlich

      Since this paper is so easy to debunk, you’ll surely be submitting a counterargument to the journal, right?

      Just as soon as the anonymous people who signed off on the papers as “qualified peer-review” experts are identified. ‘Tis a shame to humiliate only the authors of a paper worth so little. Oh wait! We don’t know who peer-reviews anything, do we?
      More seriously, how many papers have you read, how many have you criticized in public? For that matter, how many have you praised in public?

      • “Just as soon as the anonymous people who signed off on the papers as “qualified peer-review” experts are identified.”
        Why is it essential to know who the reviewers are? If the paper has fatal flaws, those can be pointed out to the journal itself.

      • As if I’m going to stand up at a climate summit conference and criticize CAGW. I did that once, never again. I literally feared for my life. No one listened to what I was saying or allowed me to say it. .
        [Sobering. Thank you for your courage in making your presentation there. .mod]

      • “As if I’m going to stand up at a climate summit conference and criticize CAGW. I did that once, never again. I literally feared for my life. No one listened to what I was saying or allowed me to say it. .”
        Who said anything about standing up and speaking at a climate conference? I mentioned writing a letter to the publication raising your issues with the paper.

    • The counterargument is here. This blog is not controlled by the gatekeepers, too bad for the pseudo scientists, Kathleen. The public is learning the truth.

  42. Climate models over predict surface warming because the land surface models over predict land surface evaporation. Land surface models are known to predict too much evaporation which leads to unrealistically warm temperatures at the surface. Land surface models consist of millions of soil texture parameters that must be estimated from a few thousand observations of streamflow and precipitation (and a few actual measures of soil texture). Given that they are so over-determined, why should we believe them? Land surface models are completely un-validated, unreliable and based on bad science. This paper clap trap, pure and simple.

  43. News Flash: Catastrophic Global Warming Computer Models Predict US Desert Southwest Climate Will Be Warm And Dry
    Unprecedented …….statement of the obvious.
    Did rising atmospheric CO2 induced droughts drive the Anasazi from their ancestral lands in the desert southwest….. in 1200 AD? Not…….

  44. Frequency of occurrence of Hurricanes may comedown during around 2020 to 2050 and go up by around 2050 to 2080 and comedown by around 2080 to 2110, etc —
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    • Dr Reddy:
      If you could divide the population in India in to groups – averaging of course, but in rough numbers –
      How many people in India have a “European-comfortable” (or American-comfortable) lifestyle?
      Reliable electric power, insulated house with clean water, heat, air conditioning, sewage hookup to a regional water system that cleans everything before discharging, refrigeration, stove, microwave, entertainment (TV, radio, internet, etc.) and a house or apartment with no people sleeping in common rooms. Stores with food, clothing, services, and extras availble nearby (walking if in a city, or drivable if in the country)) ?
      How many have a 1850-1910 European or American lifestyle? No power, no sewage, no running water, no electric services at the house or apartment? No heat or A/C, no luxuries perhaps like a cell phone or internet, and food and shelter and cooking and cleaning available – provided by the poeple working, but still little different from the pre-electricity era over here?
      And how many are still in the 3000 BC to 1810 manual-labor, dirt-poor lifestyle?
      It is a hard question – If I knew the answer I would not ask. We (in the industrial west) are unique on the world in what we take for granted. But still, how many people in India (and around towards China) need the benefits of cheaper energy?

      • A good question. In a nutshell I can answer your question: Hyderabad was a heritage city of parks and lakes and now it is a heritage city of pollution and corruption. India as % of the world land area is 2.3%; population in 2011 was 17.31%; water resources are around 4.5%; livestock population is 20%, etc. The people used live hale and healthy prior to 1960 [chemical technology based agriculture] with food-health security but after 60s slowly this was eroded and increased health hazards. This increased the pollution levels [air, water, soil & food] and large part of the income is now going for health care. Governments are spending thousands of crores of rupees [one crore = 10 million] to reduce the pollution in water bodies. All these are the result of poor governance, corrupt officials. For being corrupt, the government raises their salaries by 100% with out going in to modalities as the politicians need their support in elections and amassing wealth through illegal means. Even judiciary joining hands with such political regime.
        In fact India is producing the required power but the losses are over-riding. The poor earn and major part invest on alcohol. They never bothered on the type of living.
        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  45. These regions nevertheless experienced extended Medieval-era droughts that were more persistent than any historical event…

    Yes there apparently WERE “Medieval-era droughts” in the South West, BUT…
    A (very) quick look at historic data for these areas. The Chaco Canyon pueblo complex thrived between AD 900 and 1150, an unusually wet period in that area of New Mexico and the South West. That corresponds nicely with the peak of the MWP and Chaco thrived simultaneously with the Norse settlements in Greenland, although it was abandoned earlier than Greenland following several severe and prolonged droughts during the declining temps at the end of the MWP. So at first glance it would appear that the MWP warming produced, if anything, the opposite effect of what this paper claims in at least that area (near ABQ) of the South West. The MWP warming coincided with increased rainfall in the South West, and the cooling at the end of the MWP coincided with drought conditions. Interesting they forgot to mention that… I guess they forgot to tell those state-of-the-art models about it. Those girls are probably anorexic anyway.
    That said, the severe drought that triggered the “Great American Dust Bowl” does coincide with the warm period of the 1930’s and the less severe plains drought of the 1950’s also coincides with the mild warm spell in the 1950’s, so that might be taken as confirmation. HOWEVER, (and a big however, at that) our experience here in the plains (I live in South Dakota) since the beginning of the current warm spell and the “pause” has been pretty normal. A few drought years, a few very wet flood level years, and a lot of “normal” years, so the current warm spell does not appear to be associated with any significant drought.
    Soooo, based on some real world data, the presumed correlation between warming and plains/Southwest drought conditions is 0 for 1 in prehistoric data and 2 for 3 in modern data. Not exactly a slam dunk for this paper.
    [Disclaimer: The data above were compiled from an exhaustive 10 minute scan of the WUWT reference page and Google. The opinions derived from the data are entirely my own, and were paid for by everyone in the USA who recently enjoyed a steak from a steer raised in the currently wet grasslands of South Dakota, home of 800,000 humans and 3 million cattle]
    Addendum: After typing the above, I decided that while the first parts are supported by well known historic records and archaeological data, the last part about our experience here in SD was a bit too anecdotal. So I wandered over to NCDC and grabbed their data for a station near here (Platte, SD) for the 10 years from 2004 to 2013 and the 10 years from 1954 to 1963 (50 years prior) then did the same for the closest place to Chaco Canyon with good records, which is Albuquerque, NM. This required an additional 15 minutes of exaustive research and 3 minutes with the calculator on my State-Of-The-Art Linux desktop.
    RAINFALL TOTAL 1954-63, ABQ 75.80 —- PLATTE, SD 229.51
    RAINFALL TOTAL 2004-13, ABQ 89.97 —– PLATTE, SD 234.06
    Perhaps worth noting that the worst drought year in this data set was 1955 in Platte, and 1956 in ABQ while the wettest years were 2010 in Platte and 2006 in ABQ.
    As the (self appointed) spokesman for the dry-land farmers in the Great Plains, if this is an AGW drought, may we please have more of it!

  46. The projections that are made by these models differ in important respects from the predictions that are not made by them. Predictions support fallsifiability of claims and provide information about the outcomes of events. Projections do neither. Thus this paper is scientifically worthless.

    • And yet “warmist” and “alarmist” are applauded. And you snipped the whole entry, not just the offending word. I eagerly await my imminent banning for disagreeing with the party line.

      • “Denier” links to the Stormfront lot who hate for no reason people of a Semitic extraction. Unfair.
        Warmist has no meaning than ‘warming – ist’. That’s emotionally neutral and philologically equal. Fair.
        Alarmist has connotations of calling out “FIRE” inappropriately and so I see how that would be more offensive.
        But isn’t that what ‘newsworthy-AGW’ activists are accused of?

        • Warmist? Sure, why not. And alarmist is fair for those who are genuinely looking to cause alarm, which isn’t by any means true for all those of us who think we have a problem on our hands. However, the insulting “warmista” ,like “denier”, implies a specific political stance (in this case left-wing anticapitalist nutbar) that has nothing to with AGW. I don’t expect to be treated equally – this is your folk’s sandbox after all – but the snip of a whole post just for use of “denier” smacks more of not liking the message in the post rather than the single word. But it is a private blog, so no biggie.

  47. Hey Bob you might be interested if you can get this BBC programme when it comes out – they just started the ads for it but no start date yet – found the trailer on youtube.
    Climate Change by Numbers its on BBC4 – the BBC is largely pro-AGW so it should be interesting to watch.

  48. They said the magic words “state-of-the-art computer models”, a rubber chicken dropped down from the ceiling, and they won $100.

  49. Seeing that major cities like Boston, New York and LA already get their water from many miles away all we have to do is expand that system such that all regions are connected via canals, tunnels and aqueducts so that the wet regions can feed the dry regions. Use wind and solar to move the water up hills.
    We could prevent floods and droughts with this system. The floods would be prevented by siphoning off the excess from local rivers upstream from towns in flood prone zones.

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