Study: Extremely stormy weather in California happened over 150 years ago

From the UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA – SANTA BARBARA and the “how did global warming reach back through time and cause that?” department.

Geologists provide evidence that a series of storms more than 150 years ago caused extensive erosion of the Carpinteria Salt Marsh

Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve is a unique estuarine ecosystem.
Photo Credit: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA

Flooding isn’t new to the Santa Barbara coastline. However, the inundation doesn’t always come from the mountains as it did last month in Montecito.

Back in 1861-2, a series of large storms washed beach sand more than a quarter mile inland into what today is the Carpinteria Salt Marsh. Although historical accounts document the inland flooding, little has been known about how those storms impacted a now heavily developed California coast.

In a new paper in the journal Marine Geology, UC Santa Barbara geologists provide the first physical evidence of coastal erosion and inundation produced by these storms. In the upper meter of marsh sediments, they found a unique deposit — in fact the only such deposit to have happened over the past 300 or so years.

“The deposit is comparable in scale to those caused by moderate hurricanes or even small tsunamis,” explained co-author Alex Simms, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science. “The deposit suggests that the 1861-62 storm season was erosive enough to remove coastal barriers, allowing extensive coastal flooding in areas currently developed today.”

The team conducted its work at the Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve, part of UCSB’s Natural Reserve System.

Lead author Laura Reynolds, a graduate student in Simms’ lab, and co-authors mapped the sand deposit within the Carpinteria marsh using 40 sediment cores, tubes of sediment up to 4 meters long. They confirmed the deposit’s age using the presence of European crop pollen as well as tiny grains known as spheroidal carbonaceous particles, which are created by the burning of fossil fuels.

The researchers compared the candidate storm deposit to sand from modern stream, beach and dune environments. They determined that the sediments from the candidate storm deposit were most similar to modern beach sand in terms of mineral content and the size of the sand grains. This suggests the sand was brought into the marsh from the beach, not from streams.

The storms of 1861-62 are hypothesized to have resulted from atmospheric rivers, concentrated zones of water vapor high up in the atmosphere that produce intense precipitation and river flooding along coastlines on which they occur. Although ocean flooding from tsunamis and other large storms has happened throughout the past 200 years in Southern California, no other event is known to have washed beach sand into the Carpinteria Salt Marsh.

This suggests that the storm season was unusually destructive to the sandy barrier that separates the marsh from the ocean. Therefore, efforts to prepare for a recurrence of storms like those that occurred during that time need to address potential coastal impacts.

“This is particularly troubling considering coastal systems that once took the brunt of storm events — dunes, beaches and estuaries — are today some of the most degraded and developed environments in coastal regions around the world,” Reynolds said. “Consequently, mitigation efforts for prolonged stormy periods should consider the effects of coastal erosion and inundation in addition to the effects of excess precipitation.”

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Paper: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.margeo.2018.02.005

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John Harmsworth

Yup! The good old days. Before this awful climate change.

zazove

“how did global warming reach back through time and cause that?” department?
Therefore all climate science is bunk. That’s what this means isn’t it? And yet you purport to have a blog about climate change.

Kaiser Derden

nice strawman … do you folks ever tire of putting words in other peoples mouths ? aka lying …

Gary Pearse

You aren’t wrong Kaiser, but you aren’t facing an obvious climate teaching moment with respect here, which is the hallmark of how “inconvenient” information tends to be handled by the left. Thls is how sceptics have actually been able to affect the converstation – throwing up stuff that shows that most of the things of concern with climate have happened int the past. It is a legitimate point that monster storms in the past tend to temper the hype of those in the present – it is simply logic.

MarkW

Showing that what is happening now has happened before does show that climate alarmism is bunk. However actual climate science does continue despite the best efforts of you trolls.

Wayne Townsend

Actually Climatology continues. “Climate Science” like anything else you have to put “Science” after is not science at all. If you have to call something science, you are showing your insecurity.

Crispin in Waterloo

Zazove
I don’t agree that ‘all of climate science is bunk’. However, all climate catastrophe alarmism and ‘action’ extremism based on that alarm, is bunk. All of it. There is no statistically discernible difference between what is happening now and the 10,000 year range of ‘normal’. It is a bit cooler than the long term average, sea level is a bit lower, and there is nothing to worry about.
On the other hand, a great deal of climate science is, in terms of experiments, poorly conceived and many would not pass muster in my labs because many times, the results are over-claimed. Unsupportable claims are made in excess.

Cointreau

Why doesn’t Anthony Watts comment more on the extreme cold weather we have been experiencing this winter? I perceive a lack of balance in the content displayed here. We are headed towards a little ice age yet there is barely any mention of it.

zazove

Yeah really plunging. smhcomment image

mairon62

I want to know the location where it is warmer now in this current decade than it was in the 1930s? I look at individual weather station data from around the world and I’ve yet to see a graph that looks anything like the NASA GISS estimate? However, I must admit that I haven’t examined any ship-bucket data pre-1950…my bad.

MarkW

Wow, it’s warmed up since the bottom of the Little Ice Age. Who’d a thunk it.

Latitude

I love that graph…..if you believe it…..temperature rose a fraction over 1 degree
…and no one noticed!!

MarkW

One thing missing from the chart.
Error bars. Accurate error bars would be between 5C and 10C for 1880.

Tom Halla

Citing GISS is rather like citing Infowars in politics.

higley7

The graph shown here is bogus, as it contains cooled-past and warmed-recent data as well as a lot unadjusted for urban heat island effect and the enrichment of urban temperature-monitoring sites due to drop out of many rural sites. The real temperature in recent years NEVER got close to being as high as it was in 1938.
Note above that 1978 is almost the same temperature as 1938. 1978 was the coldest year of our recent cold swing and our recent warming never got as warm as 1953, when we were already cooling from the 1938 peak. This alone show how much the data has been dishonestly adjusted to produce global warming on paper.

Edwin

I grew to hate the use of anomaly graphs years ago working with sea surface temperatures. I was fine when the person in charge used the same range to develop the mean to compare SSTs to. Then I noticed something odd happening. Turned out the guy that had been in charge had left and the new person kept change when the average, the benchmark dates being used. I wrote them twice. I got three different answers, two in writing and one later verbally. Now this, or at least I believed it was, before CAGW hit the big time. I was told verbally they had been ordered to change the basis for how the anomalies graphs were determined. The person who told me had asked but never got a straight answer. That was the beginning for me of questioning ALL data and ALL graphs produced by government.

zazove

Edwin: “questioning ALL data and ALL graphs produced by government.”
Questioning is one thing Edwin, but looking at that graph and saying “We are headed towards a little ice age” is just something a kook would say and that should be challenged. If this just a site for kooks to air their nuttiness without question then forgive my mistake.

Hivemind

Zazove, nobody here is looking at that graph and saying we are heading to an ice age. We are looking at that graph and saying, “Wow, look at how NASA have erased the peak of the 1930’s.” A major case of scientific fraud is self-evident.
The real data, which people here look at, shows slight cooling. And yes, the historical record does show that we are due for another glacial period.

MarkW

Why not back the time frame back another couple hundred years and include the Medieval Warm Period?

@ zazove…if you are going to show a graph at least have the honesty to show a current one.

C.K. Moore

Nothing says catastrophe’s-a-comin’ like the drama of fine resolution graphs.

At http://wermenh.com/wuwt/monthly.html I count five headlines with the string “cold” in them this month, five more in January, and another five in December.
There are other headlines like Amid a warming planet, snow falls in Southern Morocco – first time in 50 years
Those numbers sound reasonable to me for a season with a lot of meridional air flow that brings extreme temperatures to the temperate and arctic zones. We’ve had similar weather in the past so it isn’t all that remarkable.
How many articles should Anthony and the rest of us contributors have written this season?
I really wanted to write a post on the Blizzards of 1978, having attended a commemorative luncheon and talks sponsored by http://bluehill.org/observatory but didn’t have time. Of course, that was 1978 weather anyway….

Retired Kit P

Coin, how old are you?
After you have experienced the cold winters in the 60s and thought they were normal, you have a different perspective. Sure some said an ice age was coming.
Then we had some warm weather and some predicted that it would never be cold again.

D. J. Hawkins

In NJ the mid-60’s to mid-70’s were notable for warmer winters and virtually nil snow fall, despite generally dropping temperatures for CONUS.

Cointreau

I’m in my fifties and I well remember the cold winters of the seventies. Our climate is entirely governed by the Sun and the Sun is entering a quiet phase. We will freeze as a result.

neutronman2014

Cointreau, This season’s Weather is almost an exact repeat of the winter of 1962. The alarmist claimed back then that we were headed into a new Ice age, before they decided we were all going to fry to death.

Retired Kit P

California, where all the children are above average.
Got to love circular arguments based on statistics. Woman are more likely to die than men from …… .
Well of course, one thing is always statistically different than the other. So not useful.
As an engineer, sailor, and a traveler, I want a number to go along with the extreme. With a number you can mitigate the hazard. It also depends on what the normal is. Last year there was a heat advisory for Seattle for 90 degree F. Inland it always much higher than that. People in Seattle may not be prepared to cope with higher temperatures.
The Red River is above flood stage and we watch the sky for tornadoes. A normal spring!
So no California does not have extreme weather.

Retired_Engineer_Jim

Wait just a minute. The other day, the NWS labelled this current cool spell a “storm”. (They didn’t, however, name it.) Then the local weather forecast told us all bout the coming “bitterly cold” weather. This for Southern California. I really had to work hard to avoid laughing out loud over both attempts to scare me.

Retired Kit P

Our son works for a Vegas TV station behind the scenes. We make fun of the parkas the on camera folks wear when it gets down to 40.
It surprising how fast your blood thins.
We are now in Louisiana running the A/C and growing gills.

Zazove was a little premature. He shows the anomaly shooting past 1 dec C; .The latest GISTEMP shows the return from the last El Nino spike.with the anomaly falling below 0.8 deg C – if you can believe ANYTHING from GISS – see Wallace, d’Aleo and Idso, On the Validity of NOAA, NASA and Hadley CRU Global Average Surface Temperature Data & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding, June 2017

zazove

The point was to mock the idea that an ice-age is starting next year or last thanksgiving, or sometime in the next thousand years given the complete absence of anything resembling evidence.
Go on quibble about the minutiae. Choose UAH’s if it makes you more comfortable, it makes no difference to the substantive issue. Californian weather from 1861 is even less substantive.

Retired_Engineer_Jim

zazove,
Please let’s get some terms straight. The ice-age sisn’t starting next year. In fact, the Earth has been in an ice-age for a very, very long time. We are currently enjoying an interglacial period (actually, interstadial). It’s been running about 10,000 years, which is a bit long, so glaciation will start again. When? Don’t have a clue. But it is coming, regardless of the picayune amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And I didn’t see anyone suggesting that an “ice-age” is going to start next year.
As to California weather, it is just that, weather. But those poor folk for whom everyday is unprecedented, severe weather events have occurred, many times, long before we started using fossil fuels.

zazove

Cointreau
February 27, 2018 at 5:09 am
Why doesn’t Anthony Watts comment more on the extreme cold weather we have been experiencing this winter? I perceive a lack of balance in the content displayed here. We are headed towards a little ice age yet there is barely any mention of it.
“And I didn’t see anyone suggesting that an “ice-age” is going to start next year.”
Ok let me clarify: “this winter”
Splitting hairs Jim. The point of my post is that the statement “this winter” shows not only a gross misunderstanding of the difference between climate and localised weather, but also a gross misapprehension of what the climate data indicate. I.e. the opposite.
I can tell you why Watts doesn’t comment on this sort of thing – he doesn’t need to portray himself as a kook.

MarkW

“heading towards a little ice age” is not the equivalent of declaring that it is going to start next winter.
Sheesh, do you take lessons in how to misread what is in front of you?

RHS

I think it is often forgotten that a tropical storm made landfall in Long Beach In 1939 and an even more rare hurricane hit San Diego in 1858. I can’t imagine what kind of damage those types of storms would make today.

Curious George

It would be a final proof of global warming. Damage done.

Well, obviously, the fact that California is have extreme/light/none/rain/drought/a pleasant day where you take your mom out for a nice brunch to say thank you for being a great mom weather is proof that Other People should be taxed/feed.

Don B

“Sixty-six inches of rain fell in Los Angeles that year, more than four times the normal annual amount, causing rivers to surge over their banks, spreading muddy water for miles across the arid landscape. Large brown lakes formed on the normally dry plains between Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean, even covering vast areas of the Mojave Desert. In and around Anaheim, flooding of the Santa Ana River created an inland sea four feet deep, stretching up to four miles from the river and lasting four weeks.”
An “enormous pulse of water from the rain flowed down the slopes and across the landscape, overwhelming streams and rivers, creating a huge inland sea in California’s enormous Central Valley—a region at least 300 miles long and 20 miles wide. Water covered farmlands and towns, drowning people, horses and cattle, and washing away houses, buildings, barns, fences and bridges. The water reached depths up to 30 feet, completely submerging telegraph poles that had just been installed between San Francisco and New York, causing transportation and communications to completely break down over much of the state for a month.”
“The flood decimated California’s burgeoning economy. An estimated 200,000 cattle drowned, about a quarter of all the cattle in the ranching state (the disaster shifted the California economy to farming). One in eight houses was destroyed or carried away in the flood waters. It was also estimated that as much as a quarter of California’s taxable property was destroyed, which bankrupted the state.”
The capital of the state was shifted from Sacramento to San Francisco for six months, after Governor Leland Stanford had to row to his office and clamber in through a second story window. After the waters receded (thank you Morgan Freeman), the downtown portion of Sacramento was raised by 10-15 feet. Governor Stanford built a third story on his mansion.
The 1861-62 floods extended far beyond the borders of California. They were the worst in recorded history over much of the American West, including northern Mexico, Oregon, Washington State and into British Columbia, as well as reaching inland into Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
This kind of flood has occurred about once every 100 to 200 years over the past 1,800 years. It will happen again. (This time it will be blamed on climate change.)
https://thelukewarmersway.wordpress.com/2016/02/16/climate-change-1861-style/

Richard of NZ

66″ of rain? Practically a drought then and they call that exceptional? When people live in deserts then any mild or. to many people. normal weather will seen to be extreme.

RWturner

Uhhh, you know climate is the long term prevailing weather of a region, right? Any outlier in weather is then considered “extreme.” 66″ is as much rain as New Orleans receives in a year, and that much rain in L.A. is as extreme as if New Orleans only received 10″ in a whole year. In short, “normal weather” depends on the climate of a region.

Steve Fraser

The bulk of the storm was in Oregon and Northern California. The depth of the central valley lake was 20 feet in places. The next great flood was 1927, in the Mississippi valley.

icisil

And then a catastrophic drought from late 1862 to late 1865 came after the Great Flood of 1862. Seems to be part of the normal climate of California.

fhsiv

A couple of related anecdotes….
That year, the San Joaquin Valley turned into an inland sea that was 200 miles long and several miles wide. Opportunistic river boat captains piloted their paddle wheel steamers south from Stockton and sailed as far south as Bakersfield!!! When the waters receded, at least two of the paddle wheelers became landlocked in Buena Vista sink and tooled around there for some time before becoming permanently beached. I’ve seen pictures of the skeletons of the ‘wrecks’ that were reportedly still out there until the 1950s.
In the Los Angeles basin, the Los Angeles, San Gabriel and Santa Ana rivers reportedly coalesced. Meaning the entirety of the lowland areas from Santa Monica to Newport Beach e basin were flooded! There are probably 5 to 10 million folks living in these areas today. The magnitude of this historical flood was documented by friars at a church in Riverside who measured the height of the flood crest relative to the front stairs of their church. USGS estimated the size of the flood based on these measurements and found it to be three times greater than any of the subsequent flood years in 1916, 1938, 1969 and 1980. Much money has been spent on flood control facilities here since 1938, but I think that a repeat of an event anywhere close to the 1862 event would be humbling to flood control officials here in CA and would be beyond devastating for the rest of us poor saps who live here.

Roger Graves

A hurricane hit London in 1703 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Storm_of_1703). I shudder to think what damage it would cause today.Of course, nowadays it would be final proof of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change, whereas back then, without any real climate scientists to interpret things for us, it was just a very bad storm.

Whilst interesting, this is reinventing the wheel.
Many of these events are covered town by town and state by state in the ‘US weather review’ which was published monthly, collating all the weather data from numerous observers.
Every year there was a bound annual edition whereby the data was analysed. The US weather review and its predecessors began episodically around 1850 and lasted until this century when its data moved online.
I have physically read it in the UK Met office library so assume it must be available in many libraries in America itself.
Why do we keep forgetting our recent history?
tonyb

Auto

tony
Is it ‘forgetting’ – as you ask – or obliterating?
Never believe in a cock-up when a conspiracy is more likely.
Auto

Conveniently linked up above is what was going on inland (Oregon and Washington also suffered):
California’s past megafloods – and the coming ARkStorm

Recently highlighted in the Los Angeles Times: Salt marshes will vanish in less than a century if seas keep rising and California keeps building, study finds
Because of sea level rise and development . . “Salt marshes in California and Oregon could disappear entirely by 2110, according to a new study by a team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey.”
Speaking of the need for Trump to drain the swamp.

RWturner

Despite regional sea level falling throughout almost the entire west coast of North America due to uplift. If the uplift stops, we’ll need to pray that sedimentation of up to a whopping 3mm/year can save us from the deluge.

Mr Bliss

I hope the Geologists were suitable stunned by their discovery….

Probably not, they know Earth has seen calamities much worse than anything we’ve seen in the past million years or so. It’s only people used to their “living memory” who are stunned by these discoveries.

A Library Archivist

I’m a geologist. In my studies, we visited Limantour Beach in Pt. Reyes, north of San Francisco. The beach has a cliff with multiple “massive sandstone” deposits of around 1 meter each, indicating very LARGE storm events, large like hurricanes, and we roughly dated the events back over 300,000 years before they got uplifted by the faultline (San Andreas is less than a mile to the east of that beach peninsula. I haven’t found any academic papers on this with a cursory public search, but they probably exist. This is exactly the sort of evidence that irritates climate cultists because it ruins their “people are to blame” narrative.

Steve Fraser

Write the paper!

Thanks for sharing that, and yes I think I see an interesting connection. It looks to me that it is well correlated to the solar cycle, and I think that I also detect a secondary influence. Here is the basic correlation with the Sun using Dr Svalgaard’s great high resolution ssn graph. All of those cyclones match up with low ssn numbers, mainly with solar minima. I thought that 202 was an anomaly in that regard as it occurs during solar cycle 18, the big one. However, the timing of the cyclone appears to match up with a rapid and steep decline in ssn values during the height of that biggest of all cycles.
That is at first glance. I will study this. I feel in the mood so to speak, and it fits well with some other thoughts which I am working on.

The above was meant as a reply to observa’s comment lower down. Sorry.

observa

See any pattern in TCs hitting Onslow the TC capital of Australia CO2 fans?
http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone/history/wa/onslow.shtml

This went up above on first attempt. ————————————————————————–
Thanks for sharing that, and yes I think I see an interesting connection. It looks to me that it is well correlated to the solar cycle, and I think that I also detect a secondary influence. Here is the basic correlation with the Sun using Dr Svalgaard’s great high resolution ssn graph. All of those cyclones match up with low ssn numbers, mainly with solar minima. I thought that 202 was an anomaly in that regard as it occurs during solar cycle 18, the big one. However, the timing of the cyclone appears to match up with a rapid and steep decline in ssn values during the height of that biggest of all cycles.
That is at first glance. I will study this. I feel in the mood so to speak, and it fits well with some other thoughts which I am working on.

I meant to add that given the current low ssn count that is highly probable that Australia will face big tropical cyclones over the next 3 years, according to the pattern which I see.

And another thought pops up. Note how the graph starts with the cluster centered around the solar minimum in 1915/16. Other than that activity is a bit quiet from the start up until 1935. That period is the first several decades of the warm trend from 1915/16 to 1946/47, my view of the system. Now take a look at where the second several decades of lesser activity occursaround 1970 and the switch to renewed warming starts in 1976/77. There is that one big TC at 1975 and that lines up with the heart of the solar minimum between solar cycles 20 and 21. I suppose after looking further that it would not be amiss to suggest that the next 18 to 24 months will be peak seaon for TCs according to your graph.
Otherwise I see two periods of several decades each of where there are less than average TCs, both of those multiple decade periods correlate with the advent of a warm trend. All of these warm or cool trends start from the South Pole, imo. The SH leads the NH, or that is what it now looks like to me.

One more bit to add. It is readily apparent that the cool trend from 1946/47 to 1976/77 is the period of greatest TC activity. If I was to fit a 60 year cyclic pattern to that graph. Then it would run from 1915 to 1975. The first 30 years from 1915 are a warming trend and there is less TC activity. Around 1945 TC activity picks up as the globe enters into its 30 year cool trend. That cool period ends in 1976/77. The next warm trend starts up, and TC activity goes quiet again with the exceptions of TCs close to solar minima years.
Finally, to bring this story up to present times, TC activity starts to pick up after the cool trend starts in 2006/07. There are the TCs around the time of the solar minimum of 2008/09. The year 2010 is analogous to 1950, imo. That would suggest that the amount of TC activity seen between 1950 to 1965 is what should be expected to be seen in the period from 2010 to 2025. That is my best guess according to the clues which I see.

Here is some more detail after studying this further. There are 43 total TCs shown on the graph. Of those, there are 12 which occur after the sunspot number rises above 100. Some of these are well into the max of the cycle, but they all have one thing in common as far as I can tell with the ssn graph used. The common link is a steep drop in a short period of time. The most unusual example occurring in the heart of SC 19 when the ssn count drops around 170 points from a peak. That is when TC 202 strikes around mid 1958. Looking at the MEI, it shows that the TC, and rapid drop in sunspots correlate well with a peak El Nino of 1.4+C around late 1957/early1958 which then plunges to around 0.3C by around July/August 1958.
And Bingo, a large TC forms to punish the wicked townspeople, who have lost their way and gone over to the Evil One.

@ observa…I notice that the TCs displayed on the graph look like they almost all occurr in the middle of the year. Is that correct?

I found the page with the dates for each TC.

RAH

My crystal ball clearly shows there will be extremely stormy weather striking California 150 years from now. Where is my grant?

1sky1

Causal-event attribution in geophysics is always tricky. There was a good-sized locally generated tsunami on December 21, 1812 that inundated most of the south-facing coast near Santa Barbara. Did the authors consider the possibility that their sediment study revealed the consequences of that event, rather than of the storms half a century later? If so, by what criterion did they discriminate between the two potential causes?