Topsy-turvy climate science: ‘Global Warming Hiatus’ blamed for more intense hurricanes

From the UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA and the “but. but, warming is the cause of more intense hurricanes” comes this interesting study.

La Niña-like ocean cooling patterns intensify northwestern Pacific tropical cyclones

Another piece in the climate puzzle

The intensity and frequency of strong tropical cyclones, as well as cyclone landfalls, has increased in recent decades in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, raising speculation about the root cause of this surge in destructive Category 4 and 5 storms. Atmospheric researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) have recently published a study in Scientific Reports that demonstrates a strong connection between sea surface temperature patterns associated with the Global Warming Hiatus and changes in cyclone activity over the northwest Pacific Ocean, particularly increasing intensities in coastal regions of East Asia.

Cyclone Sinlaku making landfall in east China in 2002. CREDIT MODIS/NASA

Climate change has been marked by a persistent, if uneven, increase in global temperatures through time. Around the turn of the century, 1998-2012, the rate of temperature increase apparently slowed, a phenomenon that has since been labelled the Global Warming Hiatus. During this period, while the Indian and tropical north Atlantic Oceans warmed, the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean experienced La Niña-like cooling. La Niña is usually characterized by cooler sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific, pushing cyclone generation westward.

IPRC’s researchers Yuqing Wang, Jiuwei Zhao and Ruifen Zhan, found that during the hiatus, dominant equatorial easterly winds caused cyclonic (counter-clockwise) circulation in the northwestern region of the Pacific Ocean, favoring the formation, and intensification, of cyclones there. These conditions also pushed more storms westward into the coastline of East Asia, generating increased landfall frequency of these intense storms. Interestingly, in the southeast region of the northwest Pacific, local atmospheric circulation was the opposite, anti-cyclonic (clockwise), inhibiting cyclone generation and intensification in that region.

Map of the equatorial Pacific Ocean showing differences between hiatus and pre-hiatus periods: shading indicates sea surface temperatures (blue is cooler, red is warmer) and contours indicate change in the number of intense tropical cyclones ( green indicates increase, blue indicates decrease). CREDIT Zhao J., et al. (2018)

In conjunction with these wind patterns, the IPRC researchers established a strong correlation between areas of warmer sea surface temperatures and intense cyclone occurrence in the northwest Pacific Ocean. This supports the conclusion that the higher frequency of greater intensity cyclones over the last few decades is closely tied to the atmospheric circulation patterns and sea surface temperature distribution induced by the hiatus.

“Most previous studies have suggested that with general global warming, the numbers of tropical cyclones over the northwest Pacific will decrease. Instead, over the last couple decades, more tropical cyclones formed and intensified over the far northwest Pacific,” explained Wang. “Our study shows this was due to increased local sea surface temperatures and reduced vertical wind shear associated with the hiatus conditions.”

Wang and his co-authors emphasize their results also underline the importance of acknowledging that there are swings between warmer and cooler phases due to natural climate variability, even within an overall warming climate. When referring to global warming impacts, therefore, attention needs to be given to the variable responses to these different phase conditions.



63 thoughts on “Topsy-turvy climate science: ‘Global Warming Hiatus’ blamed for more intense hurricanes

  1. lol the globull warmists TRY TO step on EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE!!!!!!

    On Tue, May 1, 2018 at 6:00 AM, Watts Up With That? wrote:

    > Anthony Watts posted: “From the UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA and the > “but. but, warming is the cause of more intense hurricanes” comes this > interesting study. La Niña-like ocean cooling patterns intensify > northwestern Pacific tropical cyclones Another piece in the climate pu” >

    • Nothing…
      No…Not with China’s constantly increasing addition and the further additions of India
      Not THE control knob, just a slight input compared to the numerous other un-modeled factors.

  2. From what I experienced of the damage done in Queensland Australia by a cat 3 cyclone in the 70s & 80s & the much less damage done by cyclones labelled cat 3/4 cyclones today, I place as much trust in the claimed strength of cyclones today, as I do in catastrophic greenhouse warming caused by CO2.

    Our academia & universities have made themselves so much less trustworthy by rolling in the research grants, generated by the scam.

    • I exepct hurricane measures have been taken. In Darwin, they’ve learnt after 1972, have hurricane shelters and even your back-yard shed must be resilient. The warnng tell people to stow everything so flyg debris doesn’t cause damage.

    • The real problem in recent years has been the exaggeration of storm intensity. What’s reported and what was actually recorded at or near ground level haven’t been jiving. They’ve been playing fast and loose with criteria for storm categorization, relying on models and estimations rather than real world instrumental observation in compliance with the scale in use.

    • Good on ya, Mate. That’s one of the first new things I’ve learned on the site in a long time. That’s a very well dragged out point. Oz’s weather bureau, cheating and lying and getting paid to conspire against our interests, is not giving the Aussie people a fair go.
      And it’s a shame to say that.
      All we want them to do is read a few thermometers and stuff and then tell their fellow Australians the dinky-die truth. I don’t know how these people can face their mates in the pub. We’re all educated enough to know the back o’ Bourke is still the drought ridden or flooded nowhere it always was, and that the bloody sea isn’t rising.
      You must live so far in outback Q.L.D. that Oz TV hasn’t polluted your mind.
      Good on ya,Mate.
      It just goes to show ya can even learn something from a Bananabender.
      Only joking, of course.
      This is my first comment after following wuwt from nearly when it was started.
      I spent 5 years writing a book on climate and learned quite a bit about it.
      I think one of the main things that regulates planetary temp is staring you all in the face and I haven’t seen one mention of it on wuwt or anywhere else.
      Maybe, so the examiner doesn’t turf me as a joker, and that I may be able to help the cause, I’ll say that JAMES HANSEN gives proof that he’s manipulating the figures right there in his own proof of the sensitivity to doubling CO2 in his book, Grandchildren, in the quick few paragraphs where he establishes 3°C, and from which he goes on as though 3°C is proven fact. He’s very clever, the way he masks the falsehood, and deserves his pay from whoever it is paying him to do what he does, but a good look at it and you can see how he lays the chicken with the egg.
      His “proof,” right there, is a blazing piece of deception, clear to see when you spot it.
      You have to have read the whole book, maybe a few times. His trick is that the reader expects the vital thing in his proof to be explained later, showing the details of how science quantified that figure, in the same way he details everything else FROM his fraudulent result, as well as giving pages to things like foraminifers, O18 and C14 dating and the rest . . but he never mentions it in the entire rest of the book because he simply plucked it out of the air, the unknown value that he simply quantifies to fit his preferred figure of 3°C, which is the perfect masked scare, that people can believe is happening while at the same time not noticing any change, because he knows they won’t, unless his guess turns out right. But a guess it is, and he knows it. He knows no science is backing him on his call in that proof. He had to calculate the figure himself to get it, because it doesn’t exist, and, later, crying for funds, he says it is one of the things vital that we must pay for to find out, just like a super-rare mention of clouds, in his book on climate.
      I see Earth’s heat content all in the ocean and when those Argo Bouys told me it had only risen 0.02-0.04°C, I saw it as all over and no way will it rise another 2.96°C, at that rate. 1349000 billion tons is a lot of water and these green artists are playing on people’s ignorance in saying stuff like 20 million tons a year of plastic puts in it is a danger. But thank the Tooth Fairy for the Corialis Effect, and the Northern Hemisphere can keep it. We look after our hemisphere and don’t need to pay for it to be saved. Worried about 26 million tons of plastic a year, calling it poison, and believing it, and you can mine and produce unanium from seawater at a commercial cost of $300 a kg, and it only costs that much because you have to wait a while for new water to move in as you extract it.
      That figure of ocean mass should be made known to all, by each time adding, “which is one part in 10 trillion.” Or x0000 times less than the amount of free radioactive uranium in the ocean.
      Letting people know there is already 52 times more CO2 in the sea than the atmosphere also slows their thoughts about it turning into an acid bath soon, if it remains seriously alcaline and always has.
      I’m sorry to have gone into all that on your reply, cob. I’ll just go on on my own one next. Thanks and Aloha.

  3. Global warming hiatus blamed for more intense hurricanes — not correct. Historical data showed it is common feature.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  4. The ocean temperature map just looks like a La Nina, and how those are related to AGW is questionable.

  5. It might be interesting to even see if the premise is accurate. Are cyclones in the NW Pacific getting stronger?

      • But could it be that cyclones in both the Atlantic and Pacific were underrated back then and were actually stronger than the Category they were placed in? Today we estimate wind seeds differently than back then.

  6. Can someone explain to a non-scientist how a non-change (hiatus) can cause something to happen?

    • The argument is that the temperature didn’t change so the heat must have gone into doing something else other than warming the air.
      That ‘something else’ is assumed to be causing hurricanes.
      It’s plausible.

    • Trenberth’s “hidden heat” in the ocean rises up like Godzilla awakening from the cold depths to smash Japanese coastal cities…..

      … or something like that with an added tropical cyclone twist (pun intended)

    • Sure, hiatus is a nice fancy word that sounds like an explanation rather than “we have no clue”. The CAGW propagandists hope that most of the proletariat will not know what it means or start asking unfortunate questions. When you don’t know a word, two things tend to happen. Either your brain skips over it without assigning it any meaning, or you assume it means something similar to the words around it. Oh that Mary, and her immoral ideas, I heard she matriculates with thespians at that college of hers.

      So they can always say “we never denied there was a pause, we always talked openly about the hiatus”. At the same time the “low information voters” don’t get too confused. They are still convinced that global warming is a clear and present danger, because to them you are saying the cyclones or the massive snow storms are caused by GLOBAL WARMING (ahumena, humena). And of course a rapid cooling is also a hiatus from the warming trend, so if we start having snowstorms in the Sahara or the coldest April on record (oh wait…) we don’t need to honestly refer to global COOLING, or think in terms of global warming as a failed theory. No, no, no, no! It’s the GLOBAL WARMING hiatus, or just GLOBAL WARMING for short. Of course Climate Change (TM) is also effective for these goals. But you need to change things up to get folks to pay attention. Also, hiatus almost sounds like there must be some scientific theory behind it. It’s not just Climate FAIL, it’s so much more sophisticated than that. (You little people wouldn’t understand).

  7. Wait, I thought the new “consensus” was that the pause/hiatus never happened?

  8. I did a brief scan of the paper here:
    They compared the moderate warming phase (19801997) to the Hiatus (1998-2015) and saw a shift in the tracks of tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific toward the west. This means fewer TCs in the open ocean of the eastern-side of the basin and more TCs on the western-side which has more land area and hence population. They admit this may have more to do with the PDO than the amplitude in the atmospheric warming. We see a strong signal in TC activity related to these naturally occurring ocean cycles in all basins. The amount of over-all global warming during these shifts was a negligible in comparison to these ocean cycles. As usual, references to global warming are offered up as ‘red meat’ to journal editors. Your paper is more likely to be published if you demonstrate larger-scale implications.

    • After reading the following I stopped reading. The paper is a piece of junk because they used computer models.

      “Results from atmospheric general circulation model experiments demonstrate that the Pacific La Niña–like cooling dominated the Indian Ocean and the tropical Atlantic Ocean warming in contributing to the observed GWH-related anomalous atmospheric circulation over the Northwest Pacific.”

      • To add to Alan Tomalty’s comment:

        “The atmospheric general circulation model (AGCM) ECHAM4.8 developed by the Max Planck Institute (MPI) was adopted to conduct five experiments as listed in Table 1.
        The ECHAM model was configured with 19 vertical levels and run at spectral T42 horizontal resolution with the mass-flux type convective parameterization scheme51,52. A detailed model description can be found in Roeckner et al.53.
        The control run (CTRL) was forced by the observed climatological monthly mean SST during 1980–2015.
        The hiatus run (HTS) was identical to the CTRL except that the monthly SST difference between the hiatus (1998–2015) and pre-hiatus (1980–1997) were added to each climatological monthly mean SST in the belt region (60°S–60°N; 0°–360°).
        To estimate the relative contributions of SST anomalies over the Pacific Ocean (PO), the IO, and the AO to the trends in atmospheric conditions controlling the ITCT change, we further conducted the PO run, the IO run, and the AO run. These three runs were also identical to the CTRL run except that the hiatus SST differences were prescribed only over the PO (60°S–60°N; 110°E–60°W), the IO (60°S–60°N; 0°–110°E), and the AO (60°S–60°N; 60°W–0°), respectively.
        The model was integrated for 30 years for all experiments and the last 20-year model outputs were used in our analyses.”

        Which explains why they achieved results different than historical storm strengths.

    • Mumbles McGuirck May 1, 2018 at 5:53 am
      I did a brief scan of the paper here:
      They compared the moderate warming phase (19801997) to the Hiatus (1998-2015) and saw a shift in the tracks of tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific toward the west. This means fewer TCs in the open ocean of the eastern-side of the basin and more TCs on the western-side which has more land area and hence population. They admit this may have more to do with the PDO than the amplitude in the atmospheric warming.

      Actually they ‘admit’ nothing of the sort. What they said is:
      “The global surface warming over the 20th century was found to slow down during 1998–2013. This phenomenon was referred to as the global warming hiatus (GWH) and has been discussed in numerous studies19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26. The GWH was shown to be characterized by a La Niña–like cooling in the tropical eastern Pacific (EP) accompanied with the Indian Ocean (IO) and the tropical Atlantic Ocean (AO) warming. Previous studies have proposed that the GWH could be triggered by the internal variability of the coupled ocean-atmospheric system, such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or the external natural forcing, such as volcanic eruption and aerosols, or both19,20,24,27,28. Regardless of its triggering mechanisms, the GWH has been demonstrated to have imposed important impact on the North American climate and the Asian monsoon variability29,30.”

      We see a strong signal in TC activity related to these naturally occurring ocean cycles in all basins. The amount of over-all global warming during these shifts was a negligible in comparison to these ocean cycles. As usual, references to global warming are offered up as ‘red meat’ to journal editors. Your paper is more likely to be published if you demonstrate larger-scale implications.

      Their reference to ‘global warming’ is to say that it might have a negative effect:
      “Nevertheless, it should be noted that although some previous studies attributed the increasing trends in ITCs to global warming3, care needs to be taken when a projection is made for the future since the global warming often displayed a permanent negative phase of mega-ENSO or a negative phase of the coupled trends identified in this study.”

  9. ” has increased”….the only thing that’s increased is they are reporting storms stronger than they really are

    • Perhaps but keep in mind that if the maximum sustained winds happen in only a tiny portion of the storm they still report it as such and they should. My question, as in my reply to another comment above, is that perhaps the strength of storms from earlier eras were under estimated because they could not find those small portions of winds that our instruments today can find.

      • No I think earlier era storms were reported weaker than they really were and today’s storms are better gauged.

      • In my family’s history, when those “small portions” found them, the towns were literally erased from this earth, any records, too. And some of my ancestors died – the only reason one would know the town ever existed.

      • Are rejecting your earlier claim that modern storms are being reported as stronger than they actually are?

  10. Global warming hiatus? Everyone knows it’s the Sun! Which, if true, means that this summer ought to feature weaker than normal hurricanes. I think Bastardi has predicted higher than normal ACE index, so the solar connection might be on thin ice.

  11. See

    I ran an actual calculation in “R” plotting “extreme weather events”(v), against time(t).

    lm(formula = t ~ v)

    (Intercept) v
    54.63091 -0.01394

    That minus 0.01384 means that the rate of extreme weather events has been DROPPING since 1910.

    It looks like my calculations agree with climatologist Roy Spencer’s calculation .

    MY guess is that a warmer climate would result in a smaller equator- pole temperature gradient, leading to a DROP in hurricanes. Conversely, a cooling world would result in a steeper pole- temperature gradient, leading to MORE hurricanes. One might argue that the 10 year hiatus in hurricanes hitting the U.S. was due to a slight warming, and the recent flux of hurricanes is due to global COOLING! This paper supports my hypothesis:;jsessionid=E6856142F91047B940E743AA3BD95576?doi=

    “. . Interestingly, the partial correlation between PDI and GT controlling
    for both year and SST is –0.24, consistent with
    the hypothesis that additional tropospheric warming
    decreases hurricane intensity (Shen et al. 2000). “

    • I think your guess is spot on, and as Richard Lindzen once said, is in agreement with any basic text on meteorology. The weather is most violent when large temperature DIFFERENTIALS occur, not when “average” temperatures are the highest.

    • What if we the planet is having hotter hots and colder colds? Half say the earth is warming, the other half say nonsense, meanwhile maybe climate change means more volatility between the hots and the colds. That would probably lead to more intense storms without the planet having to actually get warmer.

      If this concept were true, what might cause this to occur? Possibly holes in the Ozone layer. What causes holes in the Ozone layer?

      • The one place where I can think of hotter hots and in cooler colds is desert regions. There is a ‘horse latitutde’ band around the earth at around 30 degrees north and south full of deserts. During ice ages those desert bands expanded significantly. I think a world with hotter hots and colder colds would be a desert world.

  12. I think that they are correct with the La Nina angle influencing hurricane numbers. I said as much here at WUWT some 3 or 4 years ago. What is very interesting about the current conditions is the surface wind changes in the North Atlantic (due to this possible Gleissberg/GSM) have lowered sst numbers off of the west coast of Africa where the hurricanes spawn.

    I have recently been spending time over at Wunderground, much to the dismay of some. I noted someone mention that the only other period in which there was no hurricane sign in April going into May was back in the early 1900s, a year of very few hurricanes. In other words during the last Gleissberg cycle, and bingo the dots connected. That could be the proper analog for this hurricane season. Meaning that there will be few to none in this year. Very interesting. I mentioned that at Wunderground, again to the dismay of many, as they all want to see hurricanes storming across the Atlantic to prove AGW will destroy us all.

  13. Not too sure how the Asians measure the storm strength but NOAA has moved the goal posts in the USA over the past 8 – 10 years and report land falling storms as higher wind speeds than is being reported by ground based observations, by a category or 2. Historical measurements for ratings now seem to be replaced by maximum gusts or higher altitude modeled results. Change to using pressure related models rather than past ground based measurements?

    Who had a heavy hand influencing NOAA and NASA beginning about 10 years ago?

    • In most of the tropical storm basins other than the Atlantic, storm wind speeds are estimated from satellite pictures until landfall. Then they are based on observations from land stations. In the Atlantic, NHC will base its maximum wind speed estimates from aircraft reconnaissance (where available). Until about 2000 the specialists would reduce the aircraft measurements at 700mb by 75-80%. Then a new generation of dropsondes showed that the surface winds were about 90% of flight-level. So NHC began estimating the wind higher. Now days, they get surface wind measurements with an instrument called SFMR. These direct measurements are close to that 90% of flight-level estimate.
      But also note, these surface values are over open water. Once a storm moves onshore, the winds are reduced by friction and obstructions. Rarely do land-based wind observations come near to what the over water values were.

      • Also when they report the maximum sustained winds it is not that the entire storm or even the entire eye wall is at that speed. Those maximum winds are usually in a very small band somewhere around the eye wall and those speeds fall off fairly quickly as you move away from the eye. But it is important to report the highest winds, if you pay attention they will usually point out where they are, just in case you are one of the unfortunate ones that are in their path.

      • But the NHC and thus the press continue to use the last Hurricane Hunter data long after buoy and land station data show that the storm has weakened. They are crying “Wolf” and sooner or later the people are going to pay a price for that.

    • The evil hand influencing NASA is the Director Gavin Schmidt. hopefully NOAA will turn around now that Tim Gallaudet is Assistant Secretary of Commerce for NOAA.

    • Despite such manipulations, they STILL can’t show any increase in frequency or severity of hurricanes. Which should tell you what a heap of steaming crap all the hype about “climate change” really is.

    • Irene and Sandy. I followed those two very closely. Had already seen issues with prior storm reports so I was watching closely. NOAA lost credibility in my eyes.

      If they couldn’t report it correctly due to extreme political influence …. well, time to call it for what it was or reap a stained legendary status.

      • I monitored every reporting buoy and land station for several hours as Irene came ashore in the US and I concur with your assessment. Let us hope a real monster does not come ashore in any of the places where the people have been subjected to the hyping of the strength of a hurricane in the last few years.

  14. Well the storm spirals make nice graphics for Al Gore propaganda films. Never mind science and outcomes and fact checking.

  15. So…. by logical extension, would an actual temperature increase now DECREASE hurricane intensities?

    Hard to keep track of the narrative. Well, at least if you’re looking for consistency beyond ‘it’s all terrible, and all the fault of ‘human-caused’ climate change.

    • There is more to it than temperature contrast. Many other variables. For example, El Nino years mean fewer and less powerful Atlantic Tropical storms because of up welling easterly winds that cause sheer that inhibit storm development and tend to keep those that do develope to the east of the US mainland.

  16. Comrades! Hearty May Day greetings to you all.
    There has never been a hiatus in Climate Change (TM)!

    May I point out that in the past 14 days around these parts, the temperature has gone up by at least 15 degrees C. Just as I warned! Only it’s so much worse than we feared. At this rate, lead will melt on the surface by September 18th at 11:27:42.623 UTC (plus or minus a few milliseconds according to the models).

    There is no good reason to believe that the trend will not be linear. Think of the children.

  17. Atmospheric researchers at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa (UH Mānoa) International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) have recently established a direct connection between published alarmist CAGW articles and University Funding Levels.

  18. “The intensity and frequency of strong tropical cyclones, as well as cyclone landfalls, has increased in recent decades in the northwestern Pacific Ocean”

    Maybe but the longer term trend is no increase

    The frequency of tropical storms goes up, goes down and varies geographically

    These blokes carried out true long term study of landfalling typhoons and found a slight increase over 500 years but that decadal and multi-decadal variation masked any trends possibly attributable to global warming

    So equally…
    La Niña-like ocean cooling patterns weaken southeastern Pacific tropical cyclones

      • Well it looks like a cat in 2D to me. Is it named ‘Corollis the cat’? Or is it the shadow of Schrödinger’s cat? Or is it even a cat? ;-)

      • On my field trip south of the equator we all looked at the draining sink and flushing toilet to see if Mr Corollis had figured it out.

        Gotta admit that our anti-dosal observation data from many observations due to strange food, new intestinal bugs and such indicated at least some of the drain swirls rotating clockwise. OTOH seems most of the storms in the south rotate opposite of those in the NH. So I guess the hypothesis is worthy of study.

        The cat diagram doen’t explain the “effect”.

        Gums contributes…

    • One mo’ thing about the storms, being a lifetime vet of the Gulf storms.

      A few of our local weather folks that also look at climate patterns and such have adbanced a hypothesis that we get less hurricanes and tropical storms whwn there is a decent El Nino. They reason that upper level winds are different than during a La Nina. Nothing to do with Atlantic or Gulf sea temperature and more to do with wind shear. So the El Nino years see more storms curving early and hitting the east coast.

      Gums postulates…

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