Claim: climate change forcing storms further North

From the WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE and the “Where were the storms during the medieval warm period?” department.

Off track: How storms will veer in a warmer world

Weizmann Institute of Science research uncovers the internal mechanisms driving storms toward the poles

Under global climate change, the Earth’s climatic zones will shift toward the poles. This is not just a future prediction; it is a trend that has already been observed in the past decades. The dry, semi-arid regions are expanding into higher latitudes, and temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward. In a paper that that was recently published in Nature Geoscience, Weizmann Institute of Science researchers provide new insight into this phenomenon by discovering that mid-latitude storms are steered further toward the poles in a warmer climate. Their analysis, which also revealed the physical mechanisms controlling this phenomenon, involved a unique approach that traced the progression of low-pressure weather systems both from the outside – in their movement around the globe – and from the inside – analyzing the storms’ dynamics.

Prof. Yohai Kaspi of the Institute’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department explains that the Earth’s climatic zones roughly follow latitudinal bands. Storms mostly move around the globe in preferred regions called “storm tracks,” forming over the ocean and generally traveling eastward and somewhat poleward along these paths. Thus, a storm that forms in the Atlantic off the East Coast of the US at a latitude of around 40N will reach Europe in the region of latitude 50N. Until recently, however, this inclination to move in the direction of the nearest pole was not really understood. Dr. Talia Tamarin in Kaspi’s group solved this fundamental question in her doctoral research.

Kaspi:

“From the existing climate models, one can observe the average storm tracks, but it is hard to prove cause and effect from these. They only show us where there are relatively more or fewer storms. Another approach is following individual storms; however, we must deal with chaotic, noisy systems that are heavily dependent on the initial conditions, meaning no storm is exactly like another. Talia developed a method that combines these two approaches. She applied a storm-tracking algorithm to simplified atmospheric circulation models in which thousands of storms are generated, thus eliminating the dependence on initial conditions. This allowed her to understand how such storms develop over time and space, and what controls their movement.”

Even such simplified models involve calculations that require several days of computation in one of the Weizmann Institute’s powerful computer clusters.

In the present study, to understand how the movement of storms may change in a warmer world, Tamarin and Kaspi applied the same method to full-complexity simulations of climate change predictions. Their analysis showed that the tendency of storm tracks to veer in the direction of the poles intensifies in warmer conditions. They discovered that two processes are responsible for this phenomenon. One is connected to the vertical structure and circulation near the tops of these weather systems. A certain type of flow that is necessary for them to grow also steers the storms toward the pole, and these flows are expected to become stronger when average temperatures rise.

The second process is connected to the energy tied up in the water vapor in such storms. In global warming, the hotter air will contain more water vapor, and thus more energy will be released when the vapor condenses to drops. “The hottest, wettest air is circulating up the eastern flank of the storm – to the northern side – and releasing energy there,” says Tamarin. “This process pushes the storm northward (or southward in the southern hemisphere), and this effect will also be stronger in a warmer climate.”

This is a Google earth storm track. CREDIT Google earth

The models of climate change predict that if average global temperatures rise by four degrees over the next 100 years, storms will deviate poleward from their present tracks by two degrees of latitude. The research performed at the Weizmann Institute of Science shows that part of this will be due to the mechanism they demonstrated, and the other part is tied to the fact that storms are born at a higher latitude in a warmer world. “The model Talia developed gives us both qualitative information on the mechanisms that steer storms toward the poles and quantitative means to predict how these will change in the future,” says Kaspi. “Although two degrees may not sound like a lot, the resulting deviation in temperature and rain patterns will have a significant effect on climate zones,” he adds.

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85 thoughts on “Claim: climate change forcing storms further North

  1. “She applied a storm-tracking algorithm to simplified atmospheric circulation models in which thousands of storms are generated, thus eliminating the dependence on initial conditions.”

    Seriously?

    • Alan Turing is rolling over in his grave. To think that his universal machine could be used to create abominations of science like this.

      “Independent of initial conditions”? The flawless logic of computers means the result was hard coded into the instructions which must have included algorithms that made storms move slightly north as the temperature increases. Running that 1000 times means getting the same basic result 1000 times.

      How do we know there will be any storms? As the temperature rises, storm energy decreases and they also move less because 4 degrees of warming would mostly impact the Arctic, reducing the temperature difference between there and the equator. Antarctica might be heated from -32 to -24. Big deal. Still frozen harder than a Rocky Stallone poster’s 6-pack.

      • This resembles real science the way internet pr0n sites resemble real love making. That is why I call it mathematical onanism.

      • You got that right Crispin.
        But we already knew…if you want to know what is going to happen with the climate, toss a coin, or break out the Ouija board
        Those methods will occasionally yield correct results by random chance, which when stacked up against the zero percent chance a “climate scientist” will get anything right is a substantial improvement in forecasting ability.

    • Hmmm
      So a 4C increase in temperature over the next 100 years equals a 2deg northward movement of the storm track.
      if a doubling of CO2 equates to 1C increase, CO2 would need to crawl up to (400 – 800 – 1600 -) 3200ppm by 2100 to move the respective storm tracks (1deg lat = 66.6 miles) 132 miles north and south.
      South Florida children might never know what a hurricane is.
      The Deserts of Mexico might become verdent Rain Forests.
      The lower 1/2 of the Sahara might become Green (again)
      The poles might see more storms bringing more snows in their respective sunless winters.

      • Your suggestion the Sahara would be greener seems borne out by the archaeological record. There were apparently crocodiles and hippos and lakes, and vast stretches of savanna, and a culture based upon herding cattle, where it is now a sandy waste. One reason for the rise of ancient Egypt may well be the browning of those lush lands created a wave of refugees and a lot of cheap labor.

        Also the Bible describes lusher landscapes for the Minoan and Roman Climate Optimums.

        It seems this paper focuses on the northern storm track, and fails to consider a southern one we still see to this day, where lows cruise from west to east through the Mediterranean. Apparently this southern storm track is altered in some interesting way when temperatures are warmer. Unfortunately Alarmists miss fascinating history because they feel an urgent need to plug disaster in the present, even to a degree where they deemed it was politically correct to “erase the Medieval Warm Period.”

        The Medieval Warm period was actually less warm than earlier climate optimums. It spoils the Alarmist narrative to look back and see a warmer climate made the deserts bloom.

        https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/clip_image006_thumb3.jpg?w=590&h=480

  2. She applied a storm-tracking algorithm to simplified atmospheric circulation models in which thousands of storms are generated, thus eliminating dependence on anything approaching reality.

    Fifh. I hope she appreciates my hard work.

  3. “The models of climate change predict that if average global temperatures rise by four degrees over the next 100 years . . . .”
    This alone should discount their studies to background noise.

    More importantly, if they want to test their ability to model storms, they should take their forecasts for a few test drives with actual storms. They should forecast storm tracks when storms are first formed, and see how well their system does. After a year or so of analysis they can publish where they said storms would go and where they ended up. Until they can document a valid system better than a monkey throwing darts, material like this should be ignored.

    • Your points are valid – but I have a small though untested suspicion that if a suitably calorific reward system was set up for target-hitting accuracy, monkeys may be better dart-throwers than you might otherwise think.

    • Meh- reality is obviously wrong! The computer has spoken!

      We’re all living in The Matrix anyway- so a truer statement was never spoken…..

  4. I thought the problem was the GCMs were not fine enough, from using blocks that are too large to develop useful results for the real world. So she used a “simplified” model, making the resolution worse? Geez.

  5. This tool might have some value……. in tracking the opposite outcome from long cycle solar changes and a long cycle ocean cooling as in AMO, as storms track lower from stronger jet stream in NH.

  6. Climate change is making the climate change.
    Climate change is making what has always happened, keep on happening.
    Climate change is making wind blow and oceans flow – that can’t be right.
    IWTWTWMAN
    (Its worse than we thought we must act now).

  7. Let’s see, 2 deg lat is about 120 miles and that’s with a 4 deg (!) increase. The tracks on the image appear to cover about 1200 mile about a 10% shift. So a storm that would be centered over Washington DC would be somewhere around Philadelphia. Yeah, real bid deal /sarc.

    • So if they have already noticed it moving north already with only .8 degree C increase since 1880, then the storm track has moved north by less than a 1/2 deg lat, or about 30 miles. Sort of in the margin of error of a big storm. I think the storm track is going to generate storms whenever the conditions are ripe for doing so, and that will be spread over an area of tens to hundreds of thousands of square miles and will rely on a dozen other changing factors as well. In theory maybe, but in practise will be indistinguishable as to effect since the heat is radiating away anyway.

    • Thanks for the latitude vs. miles info, I was going to figure it out myself since it seemed unlikely to be a big deal.

  8. Mikey Mann says Atlantic storm tracks are moving and will move more eastward, away from places like NYC. This paper suggests something quite different.

  9. I’m not as hostile to the report. They aren’t predicting storm tracks WILL move north (in the northern hemisphere), merely that temperature affects the average storm track. I like that they didn’t posture the report to assume that warming is a) a future fact, and b) that it is caused by humans. Just that IF there is a temperature increase of 4 degrees in the next century, storm tracks will shift north by 2 degrees of latitude.

    However, we know that others will take this report and apply their biases that temperatures WILL rise, the rise is caused by human activity (including Trump, though they don’t consider Trump to be human), and that therefore, there will be CATASTROPHE, DISASTER, DEATH and RUIN.

    • If we can get 4 degrees of warming in 200 years I will be impressed, in my grave. Four degrees would put us back in 8000 BC and by then the Sahara was grassland, filled with farmers and herds of wild animals like unicorns and trilobites, right? Tunisia will once again be a breadbasket but Egypt, sadly, still the basket case.

      If, between now and then, the lithosphere tilts 10 or 20 degrees due to off-centre ice masses in Antarctica and Greenland, it will change the ocean currents and we could get much more warming or cooling, depending on how the ocean currents are affected. A lot of land would be exposed around Indonesia if it suddenly moves north. For those who want to do the math, sea level at 45 degree latitude will change 1000 ft per 1/2 degree change in tilt.

      Vain imaginings and idle speculation are good, cheap, clean, wholesome sports you can play in your armchair. No game controller required.

  10. “Under global climate change, the Earth’s climatic zones will shift toward the poles.”
    This is an example of why substituting “climate change” for “warming” is nonsensical. In a warming climate it makes sense that climate zones will shift towards the poles. In a cooling climate the opposite will happen. Using the term climate change is meaningless in this case.

  11. How about doing historic research on where storms were during the Medieval Warm? BTW, if she is mentioning the Medieval Warm, she is disagreeing with His Holiness Michael Mann and his revelation that the Medieval Warm did not exist.

  12. Ffs, talk about living within a “special” reality, it makes you wonder if they received their degrees from a blue-light special at K-Mart.

    “It’s already occurring” means that they modeled it. And they only modeled it for one storm tract, the North Atlantic. Apparently they aren’t aware of basic meteorology. Storms vere towards the North Pole in this storm tract because of geography. And oh look, the storms vere around Greenland too, it must mean that Greenland is warmer than we thought!

    Publish or perish I suppose, even if it means publishing laughable garbage.

    • Gee. I thought the angle of the prevailing westerlies was a Coriolis force effect, storm or not. Who knew?

  13. So, what this is saying is that as it warms, polar latitudes get more precip, which will be in the form of snow and thus more snow will accumulate, increasing albedo resulting in cooling.

  14. “The dry, semi-arid regions are expanding into higher latitudes, and temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward. ”

    Name one.

  15. Another paper based on a mathematical model of some conditions in a hypothetical future scenario.
    *sigh*

    I miss the old WUWT which had some real science articles from time to time. Many of us learned a great deal from them.
    What ever did happen to Bob Tisdale?
    We used to have commenters like rgbatduke, now we get griff and crackers345,

  16. It is an interesting model. Whether or not it is correct, we will eventually know. The thing is that historical data indicates that a warming trend is followed by a cooling trend, and we are attempting to understand how this happens, and most importantly how much natural variation there is over the long term trend. Time answers all questions, we hope.

    • Yep …… seems to me to yet another chicken and egg scenario.

      If the storm tracks move north, then the temps will rise ….. or if the temps rise, the storms move north.

      I think the former is more likely.

  17. 4°C causes… a shift of 2° Lat. Well their is no possible way there will be 4°C rise in 100yrs, having never happened before and, trust me, your error with the computer climate game will be far greater than this piddlingly shift, even if the method was of any value!

    I’ve noted for some time and commented over a number of years that most the new climate grads are women in a previously very mannly pursuit. It suggests that men have been abandoning ship since Climategate. Don’t expect social scientists to touch this diversity development. It would be an interesting trend to study, though. This might explain the impossible 4C/100 yrs stuff that men also abandoned- a sort of right of passage.

    • I heard on the radio today that university women studies purport that climate change affects women more than men.

    • “Well their is no possible way there will be 4°C rise in 100yrs, having never happened before”

      It did happen, at the end of the Younger Dryas, and nobody has a clue why.

      • We know these were caused by huge changes in ocean circulation especially in the North Atlantic region. What caused these apart from a change in ocean salinity is less understood.

  18. The latest word has it that forces driving the pole- ward shift are in fact accelerating at an exponential rate and will cause the storms to overshoot the top and come halfway back down the other side of the planet.

    This change is due to the tripling of global electric power consumption by Bitcoin miners and the arms race for the latest “world’s fastest” mining rigs, built under the auspices of shaky governments and third- rate universities, deceptively touted as “save the planet” climate- modelling supercomputers.

    • Soon they will turn so northward that they will turn inward on themselves and open the dimension to where these researchers came from.

  19. As for the captioned photo, it says “This is a Google earth storm track.” No, those are storm tracks, the ones that form in the North Atlantic storm tract. — Signed, Captain Pedantic

  20. I am far from being an English professor but this, “……… that mid-latitude storms are steered further toward the poles in a warmer climate.” makes me want to scream. What is wrong with writing “nearer” instead of “further towards?”

    • Which strums the heart strings the loudest?
      “They” were driven further from their homes…
      “They” were steered nearer to…

      Poor things, after all. (sob)
      It’s all so unfair! Someone needs to stick up for them.

  21. hmmmm “Storms mostly move around the globe in preferred regions called “storm tracks,” forming over the ocean and generally traveling eastward and somewhat poleward along these paths.” this seems to miss the fact that the damaging hurricanes/storms that hit the US and others started over the ocean and moved north and west and not to the east…… guess this fact will be attributed to man made gorebull warming too? though the weasel word “mostly” probably lets that one slip by too. Would be interesting to see what direction the most damaging storms go on their way to damaging landfall.

    Cheers!

    Joe

  22. I posted my last comment before reading the full article I now have noticed this “…this inclination to move in the direction of the nearest pole.” What is wrong with saying towards instead of “in the direction of”. Is the writer paid by the word?

    • I suppose if a storm was at 23 degrees latitude and moved northwards to 28 degrees latitude it could be said it is moving “in the direction of the nearest pole”. Very general and not really meaningful. Using “towards” could imply it was close to the pole and getting closer.

  23. Around here in middle Alberta, as a rule, cold and snow storms come from the north and north west. Any storms that come from the southwest are only in the summer months, and are always locally generated when day time heating is forced up against the mountains. when the rising heat meets cold air it generates thunder storms.

    • Here in Northern Ohio, those winter “Alberta Clipper” storms track from Northwest to Southeast and bring a quick burst of cold and snow.

    • Here in the northern Midwest (Illinois/Wisconsin), those storms tend to come right toward us from the northwest to the southeast, too. Sometimes we really get hit. Just depends on how much humidity there is. Snow I don’t mind. You can shovel snow. You simply can’t shovel wind off to the side yard.

  24. Here in the UK we had a run of poor summers from 2007 to 2012.
    This was in part due to the jet stream tracking further south then normal during these summers.

  25. Re: “if average global temperatures rise by four degrees over the next 100 years”

    That’s a very extreme “if,” probably at least 3× reality.

    Even the IPCC predicts only 1.5&deg’C to 4.5°C ECS warming per CO2 doubling after several hundred years (or ~⅔ of that shorter term), relative to the Little Ice Age — and we’ve already seen about 1°C of that warming.

    That said, she could still possibly still be right about the storm tracks. If so, that would presumably lead to a few more storms landing at higher latitudes, and a few less at lower latitudes.

    That tendency, however, might be swamped by the opposite tendency in storm formation. Earlier this year I had a conversation with meteorology Prof. Gary Lackman of NCSU (a confirmed warmist, but a nice & approachable guy), in which I mentioned James Hansen’s 2009 prediction that the, “increasing temperature gradient [between high and low latitudes] is going to drive stronger storms,” as lower latitudes warm faster than higher latitudes — which is exactly backwards: polar amplification and negative temperature feedbacks in the tropics are causing a reduced temperature gradient between high and low latitudes. If I recall correctly, Prof. Lackman replied something to the effect that “we” (I guess he meant he and his NCSU colleagues) expect an increase in tropical cyclones (due to warmer ocean water), but a decrease in extratropical storms (due to the reduced temperature gradient).

    • Sigh. Well, I just can’t type anything, today. I intended to write:

      Even the IPCC predicts only 1.5°C to 4.5°C ECS warming per CO2 doubling after several hundred years (or ~⅔ of that shorter term, i.e., TCR), relative to the Little Ice Age — and we’ve already seen about 1°C of that warming.

      That said, she could still possibly be right about the storm tracks. If so…

  26. “the movement of storms may change in a warmer world.” MAY change – says it all really. So no evidence from the last 50-100 years: just another set of unproven model runs.

  27. They made an error in their conclusion. It should be…

    Claim: Climate change will cause more pleasant weather at lower latitudes by pushing storms farther north.

    They always leave out the benefits.

  28. “temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward.”

    What? So all of Canada and Siberia will become habitable?

    Bonus.

  29. Look at the bright side. If storms are moving towards the poles the effect on North America, Europe, and Australia will be greater which are mostly inhabited by white people. (sarc)

  30. Please pardon my “French” — but this study is models-of-models finding an infinitesimal, unmeasurable-in-the-real-world difference, then assigning the difference (which I suspect falls well within its own true error ranges) to a speculation.

    Two degrees of latitude, for those in the know, is about 140 miles — less than my daily commute when I worked at IBM International Headquarters in Armonk, NY.

    It may be true that storms would shift northward if there was a planet-wide warming of 4 degrees C over the next century — and Santa Claus might quit bringing gifts to children turning the task over to the Easter Bunny, but I wouldn’t base my prediction on this type of speculative research.

  31. Under global climate change, the Earth’s climatic zones will shift toward the poles.
    Color me skeptical on this, the paleo-climatic reconstructions just show the arctic zones becoming temperate, but do not show the tropical zone expanding. And that is the climatic difference between hothouse and interglacial.

    • You might also ask why does she use the word ‘hot’ to describe a 1 to 2 degree overall change? It is SO misleading.

      I don’t think these climate peeps should be allowed to use certain words. They tend to exaggerate everything, which alerts us to their misleading statements. Instead of “hot”, they should be allowed to use ONLY “warm”, as in warm, warmer, warmest. Oh, yes, I know – it would lack sufficient scare factor and no one would read the articles they publish, but it would be more proper of them to stop shouting “HOT!” when they can’t even detect a real 1 to 2 degree temperature change.

  32. I don’t think these climate peeps should be allowed to name storms, use certain words that exaggerate an effect, or run models ahead of collecting real data.

    But that’s just me.

  33. Under global climate change, the Earth’s climatic zones will shift toward the poles. This is not just a future prediction; it is a trend that has already been observed in the past decades. The dry, semi-arid regions are expanding into higher latitudes, and temperate, rainy regions are migrating poleward.

    Not mentioned under this scenario, rain forests would expand into sahel/savanna and the sahel/savanna would encroach on deserts. Those would be good things, so they are not mentioned. Global warming/CO2 can only be responsible for bad stuff, after all.

    FFS

    • As I mentioned in an earlier comment, archaeology (and also what was written down in earlier times) suggests warmer was wetter, all through the Mideast, and westward into the Sahara. I have a hunch the storm track we currently see travelling west to east through the Mediterranean was not merely nudged north, but altered in some way we are not even considering. Perhaps there was even a tertiary storm track. In any case, there were crocodiles in the middle of the Sahara Desert 6000 years ago.

      If people are going to play around in model land, I wish they’d try to figure out what sort of weather pattern made the Sahara green. I haven’t seen a good explanation.

      • Almost certainly a stronger summer monsoon penetrating further north. Note that the traffic of animals and plants was all from south to north, not the other way around.

      • I didn’t know that about the animals. I know savanna animals like giraffes headed north, but the cattle were originally a northern species I think.

        I don’t think think the desert moved north much, because (as I recall) the Caspian and Aral Seas were larger, and there were some other “seas” further east in Asia that have since dried up.

        A winter storm track across north Africa may have been able to generate more rain if the landscape was wetter to begin with. But I am just guessing.

  34. In a warming world, weather now common in warmer areas will move North and South into previously colder areas. No S*** Sherlock, who would have guessed ? My theory is that if the climate warms on the small damp island in the North Atlantic which is my home, I will be able to grow crops that require warmer temps.
    It’s only a theory at present of course, but time will tell.

  35. researchers provide new insight into this phenomenon by discovering that mid-latitude storms are steered further toward the poles in a warmer climate.

    They ‘discovered’ no such thing. Discovered would only apply if they analyzed tracks of thousands of actual real world storms. This isn’t what they did. They ‘simulated’ thousands of storms with computer models. Computer models aren’t reality and their use in this way isn’t science.

  36. This article claims of storms moving North in future are contradicted by scientific evidence over recent decades. It is fair to say there is no scientific evidence here as it is just modeled. The jet stream is by far the biggest cause of storms moving nearer or further away from the poles.

    Evidence for a wavier jet stream in response to rapid Arctic warming

    “Overall, the pattern of frequency change is consistent with expectations of a more amplified jet stream in response to rapid Arctic warming. Amplified jet-stream patterns are associated with a variety of extreme weather events (i.e., persistent heat, cold, wet, and dry) [22], thus an increase in amplified patterns suggests that these types of extreme events will become more frequent in the future as AA continues to intensify in all seasons.”

    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/10/1/014005/meta

    1) A more amplified jet stream pushes the jet stream much further south.
    2) A zonal jet stream pushes the jet stream much further north.
    3) Arctic warming when the AO becomes negative is a well known seasonal behavior that has always occurred.

    4) Arctic warming when the AO becomes negative more frequently, occurs during quieter solar activity periods.
    5) Storms moving further North need the jet stream to become more zonal, but the opposite has been observed.
    6) The AO being negative has occurred many times previously especially during some of most extreme cold winters in the past.
    7) The jet stream was observed moving North and therefore becoming more zonal during the 1980’s and 1990’s, but that soon ended after.

    It is impossible for the Arctic Oscillation to increasingly become negative and storms move further north at the same time, negative feedback is everywhere including here. The behavior in the jet stream over recent decades only indicates that the pause has not really gone away.

    • “Evidence for a wavier jet stream in response to rapid Arctic warming”

      Which is why there was a major Jet Stream around 1977..

      Pretty much the Coldest period in 100 years.

    • Matt:
      “Storms moving further North need the jet stream to become more zonal, but the opposite has been observed.”

      A merdionally wandering PJS takes mid-latidtude depressions further north precisely becaue it is meridional. Your pic shows the ‘storms’ generated below the cold plunges. There is a reciprocal ridge of warm air pulsed north between. Depressions are taken furth north as the advancing baroclinicity between the ridge and the trough is engaged by short-wave troughs swinging through the long-wave pattern flow.
      In short – a slacker PJS produces extremes of latitudinal storm tracking, whereas a zonal PJS has them on a more ‘focused’ mean track.

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