AL.com thinks ‘global warming’ is increasing ticks in Alabama, except it’s cooled over the last century there

From the “you really should check the data before you invoke the universal boogeyman” department:

‘Very bad tick year’ expected for Alabama in 2017, and climate change a factor
BY DENNIS PILLION

2017 could be a record year for ticks and tick-borne illnesses according to one researcher who studies the arachnids in Alabama. “I would say this is going to be a very bad tick year because it was a very mild winter,” said Tim Sellati, chair of Southern Research’s Infectious Diseases Department.

In addition, Sellati said a warming climate has let certain species of ticks expand their range and those changes are reflected in tick surveys in Alabama and other parts of the United States. “The winters are warmer and the ticks recognize this, they sense this change in their environment,”

Source: https://goo.gl/sgrL0P

Uh, no. It has not warmed in Alabama in the last century according to NOAA’s own data. In fact the average temperature has COOLED since 1895:

The minimum temperature trend essentially flat:

And if “ticks recognize this, they sense this change in their environment,” according to Tim Sellati, chair of Southern Research’s Infectious Diseases Department, you’d think they would sense that Alabama is getting cooler, especially the daytime high temperatures:
Here’s the problem:
Tim Sellati is conflating weather with climate. Weather patterns typically span days to weeks, while climate is defined as a 30 year interval according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO):

Climate, sometimes understood as the “average weather,” is defined as the measurement of the mean and variability of relevant quantities of certain variables (such as temperature, precipitation or wind) over a period of time, ranging from months to thousands or millions of years.

The classical period is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).  Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.

And here’s where Sellati goes really really wrong, note the single end data point, December through February, the “winter” months for Alabama, there’s a nice warm spike there, though not as warm as the spike of 1932. There’s also an ever so slight, though statistically insignificant warming trend since 1895. Note in the legend, NOAA reports that as 0.0F per decade:

Source:
https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/us/1/0/tavg/3/2/1895-2017?base_prd=true&firstbaseyear=1901&lastbaseyear=2000&trend=true&trend_base=10&firsttrendyear=1895&lasttrendyear=2017

That one warm point at the end, that’s due to a weather pattern my friends. It’s called El Niño, of which there was a very large one recently that affected Alabama’s winter temperatures and precipitation.

Sellati might be a tick expert, but to quote one of the favorite lines of climate skeptic detractors: he’s not a climate scientist. While the data shows winter was warmer in Alabama, it isn’t part of a long-term trend and in fact, there were three other periods in 1932, 1950, and 1957 that were warmer than this most recent winter.

Seems a correction/retraction is in order.
Note: about 5 mins after publication, the title was changed to correct a misspelling.

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104 thoughts on “AL.com thinks ‘global warming’ is increasing ticks in Alabama, except it’s cooled over the last century there

    • …and food

      “Deer were rare in most of Alabama until recent years. In the early 1900s, it was estimated only about 2,000 deer existed in the entire state. After decades of restocking and management efforts, Alabama’s deer population was estimated at 1.75 million animals in 2000. In fact, many areas in Alabama are overpopulated with deer and have been for many years.”

      http://www.outdooralabama.com/white-tailed-deer-0

      • I have friends in Alabama, where there are so many white-tails, hunters may harvest a deer per day over a season that stretches from October to February. Only since 2016 have hunters even been required to report their take. Truth be told, a de facto limitless hunting situation exists in much of the state, and no complaints. They’re thicker than ticks on a ‘possum.

      • Yes, indeed. In my own lifetime, deer locally have gone from next to none seen to see them every day. Deer aren’t the only critters very common now, since we don’t actively limit them in the manner we used to do. Boys, the bears are back. Expect mountain lions to be back, too, since there are lots of deer these days.

      • Last year they made the same pearl-clutching panic prognostications here in CT, because of the mild El Nino winter. Guess what? Never even SAW a deer tick on any of the dogs or horses until October, and then for only about a week. Once again: Nature 1, Ouija board 0. ANYTHING claiming to “predict” the future should be dismissed out of hand as “Fake News.”

      • Q: what’s the difference between a tick and an alarmist climate scientist?
        A: ticks stop at some point because they get full.

      • In ’14 the early spring was fraught with ticks in my woods. This year I have found just one, so far. This winter was milder and deer crowd my woods thicker than back then. Maybe there’ll be less Turkey Gnats too?

    • As an Infectious Disease specialist I know this argument well. People have been claiming an increase of Lyme disease due to climate change for quite some time – especially in the northern Atlantic seaboard. There is an increase in both ticks and Lyme disease but it is easily explained by the reversion of a lot of farm land back to forest and the explosion of the host population of deer. I don’t doubt that real climate changes could play a role but there is little evidence of that in this case. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same issue of vector increase (deer population) isn’t present in Alabama, a location where ixodes ticks are known but Lyme disease is oddly not so frequent. It doesn’t appear these ticks are that tightly bound by temperature since there range extends quite far north into much colder climates than Alabama and most Lyme transmission happens in cooler, not warmer climates. It would appear that cooling would be more of an issue from that observation, but that of course would not be politically correct to mention.

      • Since ticks are parasites living on their hosts, deer as claimed in some articles here, their “climate” is the number of hosts available, and whether the weather is warmer or colder it would be irrelevant since their immediate “climate” is generally the body temperature of the host in any case.

    • Oddly, I was thinking about this in the shower today. How can ticks “ticks recognize” warming? They clearly do not have high enough functioning brains to do that. If Alabama winters were warming, the way ticks would increase on population is by not dyeing over the winter. Not by any ‘recognition’ or ‘sensing’.

      I hate when so called ‘scientists’ try to use personification in this way. It is not just this guy; health ‘experts’ often use it to describe how our body responds to various nutrients and toxins (e.g. “then the liver starts looking around to find more fatty acids…”). Drives me nuts.

      • Personification is only acceptable when applied to your mate’s genitalia, from my perspective.

  1. I expect that the tick population is responding to the same environmental programs as the mosquitoes —

    1) Reduced pesticide use
    2) Preservation of wetlands
    3) Recovery of natural areas

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you take actions to protect species, then those same actions will probably help protect all species — even the ones you don’t like.

    • I should add that the deer tick started in Connecticut because warming is not really the driver behind the disease. Otherwise it would have started in Mexico and made its way into Texas in Florida.

      • I am very surprised indeed to learn that the Deer Tick “ixodes scapularis” originated in of all places Connecticut!
        While it is native to the and temperate forests of eastern North America, I believe that is was Lyme’s disease which was first diagnosed in Lyme Connecticut, not the deer tick.

      • Sorry,

        I did not mean to confound the issue. I was referring to Lyme disease which originated in Connecticut, not the actual tick. I apologize to the over-simplification.

      • Deer in CT are known as “rats with hooves.” That’s how many we have. Fortunately, at least they’re good eating!

      • Deer in CT are known as “rats with hooves.” That’s how many we have. Fortunately, at least they’re good eating!

        So are rats – if you tenderize them right. :-)

  2. If you do the Maximum summer temperatures June – September it becomes obvious that summers in Alabama and the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys have gotten cooler.

    • If there is “no significant decline”, does that mean that there may or may not have been an increase?

      • Mostly there was no decrease at all or in other words and increase since 1895. Was a decrease of 11 years significant? Ah, I found the file:
        ST YYYY
        CA 2016 0
        CT 2016 0
        MA 2016 0
        NH 2016 0
        RI 2016 0
        NJ 2011 5
        FL 2010 6
        So 7 states less than ten and 5 an increase since 1895

  3. Without a 2 week span with temps below freezing at night the fleas will also continue to be real bad here in GA.

    Mac

  4. Climate change has been a blank slate for years now in the funding game. Honestly, I’m not aware of a single study pertaining to arthropods + climate change being turned down. It’s become comical at the annual entomological society of America meeting to see how many papers now relate to climate change. I can’t fault the presenters for presenting, it’s often a condition of the grants. But the luke-warm results are always disheartening because the “may”, “could”, “might” caveats abound. Many, as in the case presented above, actually directly contradict their own findings i.e. their data do not support the conclusions.

    • The really stupid thing is, in CT you find ticks on you and pets in the early spring and late fall, because the thing that apparently triggers them to notice and target you and latch on is the temperature DIFFERENCE between the ambient air temp. and a warm-blooded animal. Once the daily highs get into the 70’s and above, you barely ever see a deer tick until the first frosty nights of fall. Sometime these “researchers” should consider actually going out of doors . . . but they’re probably afraid they’d “catch” TICKS! ;-)

      • Actually, its because the third stage adults molt out of the second stage nymphs in late summer. The nymphs feed on white foot (field mice) in late spring and summer. Adults feed on you and deer starting in November, and through the winter whenever its above freezing. The last ones for that ‘years’ batch will feed, lay eggs, and die in early spring as temps remain above freezing. Why we always hope for cold and tracking snow during our Wisconsin deer hunt. When its above freezing with no snow we have to ‘tick check’ every evening.

      • When I want to fry a Warmist’s brain, I wait until they’re wringing their hands about it being “so much hotter than normal.” I say innocently, “So what’s NORMAL?” Not a ONE can give me an answer. Average of the last 30 years has what validity? Um, not much!

    • climatological standard normals

      As the world became more “connected” discussions about reporting weather information (& climate) became international in scope. This was back in the 1920s and 1930s. It was also before digital computers so working with massive sets of numbers was time intensive. [With modern computers and automated systems there is diversity in how reporting is now done.]

      People reporting weather information wanted some consistency and wanted to report numbers a person reading a newspaper could relate to.

      The 30 year interval was selected by international agreement, based on the recommendations of the International Meteorological Conference in Warsaw in 1933. At its 1934 Wiesbaden meeting the technical commission designated the thirty-year period from 1901 to 1930 as the reference time frame for climatological standard normals.
      Now there is the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

      It was decided to use a 30 year interval for comparisons, only when a decade ended (years ending in ‘0’).
      Examples: 1971-2000; 1981-2010; and next 1991-2020

      The following page shows (on the left) three sets of “normals” from which you can select. The table supplied if for the Period of Record : 09/06/1946 to 06/09/2016.
      http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?wa9465

      Many people question the use of the word “normal.”
      In fact, ‘normal’ also means perpendicular and has been used in giving title to a school where teacher training is the main goal – places such as Clarion State Normal School [now Clarion University of Pennsylvania], and many others.
      There are definitions of sand, silt, and clay. There is a definition for vampire and another for doppelgänger.
      There is a definition for climate normals. You may not like the definition nor the word, but you did not get a vote.
      This is a really simple thing.

  5. The density of ticks depends only on temperature. It is the most reliable proxy known to climatobiologists.

    • I live in the woods, and there are lots of ticks about, but I noticed during the extremely hot summer of 2010, when I went out every day to water the trees, and walked all over the place, through all sorts of tick country, for over a month and never got one tick on me. In fact, I didn’t see hardly any moving living thing during that period. I did see one lone raccoon perched up in one of the trees I was watering, and that’s it. Everything, even the ticks, were laying low during this heat wave. I think I spent $130 dollars on my water bill that month where it is usually about 30 dollars.

  6. I think you are giving this guy too much credit. He’s not conflating weather and climate, he’s just reading from the “everything is due to climate change” script.

  7. Remember that he has to “save the world”
    …but don’t get hurt, don’t confront, don’t this, don’t that…

    And his mama had the city hospital doctor “slap his butt”
    …and placed him, as a babe, in an isolation chamber for weeks!
    Is it any wonder that he is a bit overbearing confused?

    • That may go along with the lack of ticks I discovered during the heatwave in Oklahoma in 2010. I walked all through the woods for over a month watering distressed trees and never got one tick on me during that entire time. The 2010 heatwave was as hot a summer as any I have ever experienced.

      The year 2010 is what CAGW looks like, except this kind of extreme weather would have to continue year after year and encompass the whole world. Happily, it didn’t do that, and it seems CAGW is just a fantasy.

  8. A good example of why the junk science coming from government departments must be fixed. Bet if you ask this guy where he gets his climate info it would be NOAA or another government agency.

    The comment about much higher deer populations is also on the money.

    • These days if you know what to look for (gratuitous scare headlines, weasel words) it’s possible to see Fake News from SPACE. If you took all the Fake News and babbling moron opinions by “celebrities” out of the papers, there wouldn’t be much between the front page and the classifieds any more.

  9. “The winters are warmer and the ticks recognize this, they sense this change in their environment”
    Stop the presses! Critters have the ability to respond and adapt to changes in their environment! This is amazing news. They should get a Nobel prize for this discovery.

  10. particularly vulnerable are people in the wild without head cover and inadequate footwear.

    Som one should tell Sellati.

  11. The winters are warmer and the ticks recognize this, they sense this change in their environment …

    Some critters will breed in response to environmental conditions. Musk deer, for instance, don’t breed well in captivity due to crowding conditions. link

    That isn’t the case for ticks. If they get a blood meal at the right time, they lay their eggs. That’s it. ‘Recognize’ and ‘sense’ don’t come into it. link

  12. The worst area for ticks that I know of is Bratsk in Siberia where winter temperatures are regularly below minus forty.

    On the other hand where there is a lot of deer there is a lot of ticks, irrespective of climate (and the species of deer).

  13. Ticks from across the overheated US have been flocking to Alabama to escape the heat. In fact, Alabama’s been on the up-tick for decades now.

  14. My oh my! What a site this WUWT. The education surpasses any other source. Tick talk and now I’m a passible expert in ticks in Alabama (and half the, USA).

  15. In my experience, tics multiply in uncut meadows and grasses. Where grass is cut regularly tics are rare.

    • That’s because the intermediate nymoh stage typically feeds on white footed mice (field mice) and those don’t inhabit mowed grasslands. No food, no shelter, so no mice, so no ticks.

      • ristvan April 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm
        That’s because the intermediate nymoh stage typically feeds on white footed mice (field mice) and those don’t inhabit mowed grasslands. No food, no shelter, so no mice, so no ticks.

        The author appears to agree with you, the sentence that was omitted from the original report said:

        “The warm, wet winter and spring have created conditions for dense undergrowth in forests, which allows ticks to thrive.”

    • Not that I know of, however a lot of deer are getting flat when they run out in front of cars and trucks.

  16. Climate is not the only thing this article’s author and cited tick ‘expert’ got wrong. Ticks, especially deer ticks, are relatively impervious to prolonged cold. We have them all over Wisconsin thanks to the large deer population. The only difference is they are inactive (not feeding) in winter unless the temperature is above freezing. Adults start feeding in November, and finish if necessary in the spring. The only ‘climate control’ is prolonged summer drought, because the nymph stage (feeding typically on mice) cannot control body water content after feeding and during summer molt to adult. In low humidity dry conditions they dissicate and die. Never reach adult stage to feed again and lay eggs, so two yars after a drought there is a marked reduction in adults. Just researched this at U. Wisconsin and U. Rhode Island entomology sites.
    Whole piece is alarmist unscientific drivel.

    • In low humidity dry conditions they dissicate and die.

      We now live in such an area, and it is also cold in winter. The very eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains of Central Washington.
      There are fewer ticks here than in any other place we have lived.

    • “so two years after a drought there is a marked reduction in adults.”

      In 2010 we had one of the hottest summers around here in my memory and the ticks just disappeared. It had been very dry for the preceding few years also, before the extreme heat of 2010 hit.

      It seems to me that in the six years since that time there is a noticable reduction in tick numbers around here even still. I get very few on me, and my dogs hardly ever get any, although they are restricted to my fenced-in yard and don’t wander through the brush.

      I suppose if you have extreme heat that kills off the population of ticks, it takes them a while to build their numbers back up. Lucky me! :)

  17. A couple things wrong with this analysis, allow me to Mann up and fix it for you. First, you need to start your temperature trend data at 1965, that’s the time period that’s relevant because that will show a warming trend. You also need to Karlize your data; simply take all the data and homogenize it to Birmingham, that should make the data appropriate for official government use.

  18. This is nothing. I have it on good authority that climate change will cause polar bears to fall from the sky. I kid you not.

  19. No, deer ticks are so common because deer are so common because hunting is now so politically-incorrect. The deer ticks have become increasingly common here in the mid-Appalachians for the same reasons. There are consequences for Bambi increasing its numbers.

    • Yes. In my farm’s part of Wisconsin deer hunting went from buck only my first hunt year 1983, to two deer (one buck, one doe) mid 1990s to now mandatory doe first unless you have an unused carryover buck tag from last year. Minimum two tags. Plus for every deer checked you automatically get another deer tag, two if you ask, rule still doe before buck.
      Wisc. DNR begs you to harvest them. Any meat you don’t want the state will take and process for school lunch and prison meal programs. State Goal is to harvest >800,000 deer per year. Last year with poor weather only made 650,000. Herd estimated at ~1.8-2 million, and the target herd is under 1.5 million. Best hunt we had was 7 hunters, 11 deer in three days. On just 280 acres.

  20. “Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system.”

    This always gets me too. Using the word you are attempting to define in the definition.

    No wonder I think this whole thing is a bleeping joke.

    Andrew

  21. The World Met Org. has a 30yr period for climate. Everyone with even a passing acquaintance with the subject knows the complete cycle is 60yrs. They don’t go for this for two reasons : first they didn’t acknowledge that there was natural variation and second, they needed a short period of time for alarmist purposes. Waiting 60yrs for a definitive signal left things up in the air.

    You’d think having ridden the cycle down and clarioned the arrival of the ice age because of man’s activities and then riding the 30yr rebound up to scare us with a firey future because of ourselves, that the truth would soon be out. Karlization of the Pause gave a few years respite but, the other half of the cycle down is going to kick them in the a55es. Another adjuster taking it for the team and retiring won’t work too well this time.

  22. W Briggs said it all a few years ago:
    “Incidentally, isn’t it curious that if the organism sticks, pricks, poisons, pesters, wreaks havoc, or carries diseases, scientists claim it will thrive in the coming climate. But if it’s gentle, delicious, cute, cuddly, or photogenic, the animal will whither in that same climate. What a coincidence!”

  23. I was under the impression that dog tick populations might decline in AL, Fl and TX IF summer temperatures increased….. ” The ADTSIM results indicate that with the proposed climatic change scenarios at certain southern locations (Jacksonville, FL, and San Antonio, TX) American Dog Tick populations will disappear owing to adverse effects of high temperatures and low humidity, while at certain northern locations (Missoula, MT, North Bay, Ont., and Halifax, N.S.) populations will increase because of warming with adequate moisture. For most other U. S. locations, tick densities either declined moderately or remained the same with various weather scenarios.” http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/docs/001-365/001-365.html

  24. The tick population is increasing because of its positive correlation with SEC football revenues. We need a football tax.

  25. Northern Wisconsin story:
    A friend of mine used to visit a man and his family that grew up in the woods.
    The man was well known as someone that could get you anything you wanted, be it bear, raccoon (one of which drowned one of his dogs), bobcat, deer, you get the idea ?
    Anyway, there was a certain bartender at one of the multitude of bars that necessitated an appearance during his reconnoitering that he didn’t like (I’m sure he had his reasons, he was that type of guy).
    He (as I was told) had a tick or two in some kind of container, that he would throw onto said bartender.
    He’s gone now, and the world is a lesser place.

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