Trenberth finds his missing heat in Hurricane Harvey

Record-breaking ocean heat fueled Hurricane Harvey

Ocean evaporation matched up with massive overland rainfall

BOULDER, Colo. — In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

These hotter-than-normal conditions supercharged the storm, fueling it with vast stores of moisture, the authors found. When it stalled near the Houston area, the resulting rains broke precipitation records and caused devastating flooding.

“We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean,” said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. “As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.”

Despite a busy 2017 hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey was more or less isolated in location and time, traveling solo over relatively undisturbed waters in the Gulf of Mexico. This gave Trenberth and his colleagues an opportunity to study in detail how the storm fed off the heat stored in that 930-mile wide ocean basin.

The team compared temperatures in the upper 160 meters (525 feet) of the Gulf before and after the storm using data collected by Argo, a network of autonomous floats that measure temperature as they move up and down in the water. To measure rainfall over land, the scientists took advantage of a new NASA-based international satellite mission, dubbed Global Precipitation Measurement.

An image of Hurricane Harvey taken by GOES-16
An image of Hurricane Harvey taken by the GOES-16 satellite as the storm collided with the Texas coast. (Image courtesy NASA.)

The study appears in the journal Earth’s Future, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. It was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and by the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR’s sponsor. Other co-authors of the paper are Yongxin Zhang and John Fasullo, also of NCAR; Lijing Cheng, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and Peter Jacobs, of George Mason University.

Matching evaporation and rain

As hurricanes move over the ocean, their strong winds strafe the sea surface, making it easier for water to evaporate. The process of evaporation also requires energy from heat, and the warmer the temperatures are in the upper ocean and at the ocean surface, the more energy is available.

As the storm progresses over the ocean, evaporating water as it goes, it leaves a cold wake in its path. In the case of Hurricane Harvey, the scientists found the cold wake was not very cold. So much heat was available in the upper layer of the ocean that, as the surface temperature was cooled from the storm, heat from below welled up, rewarming the surface waters and continuing to feed the storm.

The near-surface ocean temperature before the storm’s passage was upward of 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), and after passage the temperature was still around 28.5 C (83 F). Sea surface temperatures above 26 C (79 F) are typically needed for a hurricane to continue to grow.

Even after Harvey made landfall, its arms reached out over the ocean, continuing to draw strength (and water) from the still-warm Gulf.

“The implication is that the warmer oceans increased the risk of greater hurricane intensity and duration,” Trenberth said. “While we often think of hurricanes as atmospheric phenomena, it’s clear that the oceans play a critical role and will shape future storms as the climate changes.”

The scientists were able to measure the total loss in ocean heat, mostly due to evaporation, as the storm moved over the Gulf. They also measured the latent heat released over land as the water vapor turned back into liquid water and fell as rain. They then compared those two measurements and found that they corresponded.

The study highlights the increased threat of future supercharged hurricanes due to climate change, Trenberth said.

“We know this threat exists, and yet in many cases, society is not adequately planning for these storms,” Trenberth said. “I believe there is a need to increase resilience with better building codes, flood protection, and water management, and we need to prepare for contingencies, including planning evacuation routes and how to deal with power cuts.”



About the study

Title: Hurricane Harvey Links to Ocean Heat Content and Climate Change Adaptation

Authors: Kevin E. Trenberth, Lijing Cheng, Peter Jacobs, Yongxin Zhang, and John Fasullo

Journal: Earth’s Future


Alarmists Resurrect Dubious Claim That Global Warming Fueled Hurricane Harvey’s Record Rainfall

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May 11, 2018 2:07 pm

Well, this is new! Who could have guessed that more sensible heat would result in more rain? Big whoops.

M Courtney
May 11, 2018 2:12 pm

The scientists were able to measure the total loss in ocean heat, mostly due to evaporation

It’s good that they have discovered the latent heat of evaporation and how it dwarfs radiative effects.
It may be the beginning of a credible science of the climate.

May 11, 2018 2:14 pm

So how did the sensible heat make the storm stall and sit in one place

Rich Davis
Reply to  rogercaiazza
May 11, 2018 2:22 pm

I didn’t hear the question, but the answer must be CO2

Pop Piasa
Reply to  rogercaiazza
May 11, 2018 4:16 pm

No fair bringing blocking highs into the argument. That’s meteorology, not climatology.

Phil R
Reply to  Pop Piasa
May 11, 2018 8:04 pm

Pop Piasa,
With respect, you’re wrong. Climatology may be the bastard stepchild of meteorology, but is a legitimate discipline. Climate science, on the other hand, is not. And that’s one of the major problems with this whole GW/AGW/CAGW/CC/CD BS. as the terminology changes (to suite the alarmists), it gets pick up in the mainstream conversation.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
May 11, 2018 8:06 pm

Correct. The weasel word and neologism “climate science” allows GIGO computer gamers to call themselves “scientists”. Climatology is or was a science. “Computer science”, not so much. As in, not at all. Quite the contrary.

Reply to  rogercaiazza
May 11, 2018 6:35 pm

Too bad he doesn’t have the detailed data from the hurricanes of 1875 and 1886 between Baytown (east of Houston) and Indianola. A lot of their record breakers probably disappeared with towns that were erased….
My ancestors among those lost around the erased towns.

Reply to  rogercaiazza
May 11, 2018 9:50 pm

No, CO2 does that, makes storms worse. Just lucky the flood’s crustal loading didn’t trigger a CO2 earthquake.

May 11, 2018 2:18 pm

…and what about Wilma

May 11, 2018 2:19 pm

Where was the heat hiding between Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017?

Reply to  Felix
May 11, 2018 4:33 pm

“Where was the heat hiding between Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017?”
Satellites. That’s the real problem. Those sneaky hurricanes have been plotting a game of hide and seek ever since they appeared in the sky.
And they managed it for 12 years until that dickhead Harvey broke cover against all hurricane advice and decided he’d have some fun.
Honestly, these young kids today! What can you do with them?
Harvey has ADHD, you do realise that. Its not our fault y’know, we’re just his parents and he’s as bad at home as he is in school, but it’s up to you schoolteachers to teach him discipline, we’re only here to give him computers, mobile phones, ‘e’ numbered foodstuffs and fizzy drinks.

son of mulder
May 11, 2018 2:24 pm

So Trenberth accepts that hurricanes are cooling events. Are they in the models? How much cooling do hurricanes cause?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  son of mulder
May 11, 2018 4:21 pm

“Trenberth finds his missing heat in Hurricane Harvey”
A.K.A. “Gone With The Wind”

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
May 11, 2018 4:26 pm

Wake up!

Loren Wilson
May 11, 2018 2:29 pm

We have had high temperatures in the Gulf waters (as compared to the brief time we have data) for several years but no hurricanes. The proposed idea above (it does not merit the name hypothesis) has to address that fact as well as the one that they like.

Gary Kerkin
May 11, 2018 2:44 pm

The introduction to the paper gives the answers to “questions not heard”.

Hurricanes are normal events in summer, with an average of 12 named storms and 6 hurricanes in the Atlantic. However, in 2017 there were 17 named storms and 10 hurricanes, 6 of which were categorized as “Major”.

“Normal”? I think they mean “usual”. Compare that with this:

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA), the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) was 225% of normal.

where the word “normal” is used correctly. However, it begs the question as to how NOAA determined the “225%”? Measurement or modelling?

Several aspects of the 2017 season were not “natural”. The first was the role of human-induced climate change and the second was the role of preparedness.

Ah! “human induced climate change”—so now we know the tenor of the paper.

There is no doubt that the climate is changing primarily because of increased long-lived greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere …

Only Trenberth and his ilk would claim there is “no doubt”.

However, changes in certain extremes that have also been linked to such climate change (Trenberth et al. 2003) have a much greater impact on the environment and society (Garner et al., 2017; Lin & Shullman, 2017). These include increased risks of heat waves, drought and wild-fires at one extreme of the hydrological cycle, and increased heavy rains and risks of flooding at the other (Trenberth et al. 2003; Peduzzi et al., 2012; Lin & Shullman, 2017), associated with increased water vapor and higher temperatures in the environment.

Trenberth et al have been claiming increased frequency, strength, and costs of major events despite the evidence presented to the contrary (even the IPCC, although I expect that AR6 will claim such).

There may be fewer but more intense storms … (Knutti & Sedláček, 2012; Knutson et al., 2015; Sobel et al., 2016), in part because of changes in atmospheric stability; and in part because a few bigger storms can replace many smaller storms in terms of their impact on the ocean (Trenberth & Fasullo, 2008). However, these results largely arise from global modeling experiments which only
coarsely resolve tropical storms
, whereas dynamically downscaled experiments find increases
in both frequency and intensity (Emanuel, 2013).

My emphasis.
How “downscaled”?
Others are better qualified than I to assess the methodology. The paper is freely available (pdf) from the link given by Anthony.

Reply to  Gary Kerkin
May 11, 2018 10:09 pm

Holy crap Gary,
4 embedded blockquotes! Slowdown man.

Gary Kerkin
May 11, 2018 2:47 pm

Sorry about the formatting. I think I probably omitted a few back slashes in the blockquote tags. I’ll take a wet bus ticket punishment!

Reply to  Gary Kerkin
May 11, 2018 3:04 pm

Suggest run thru an HTML test site before posting.
I use this one, but there are many to choose from.

May 11, 2018 3:12 pm

It’s actually an interesting and pretty good paper. Why? Because, despite kowtowing to the alarmist Star Chamber (I know I’m mixing my metaphors with that), it actually discusses energy transfer resulting from a weather event. And then what do the authors blame for the resulting catastrophe? Bad engineering in Houston. That is in fact the real culprit, as it was when Hurricane Maria trashed Puerto Rico, and when bunch-of-wind-and-rain post-tropical Sandy came ashore in New Jersey.

Reply to  Titanicsfate
May 11, 2018 6:20 pm

Houston is flat. It always floods when a lot of rain falls in a short period of time.

Reply to  MarkW
May 12, 2018 12:18 pm

well, the whole purpose of ingeneering is to change things for the better. The ground is flat? dig something for water to flow away.

Reply to  Titanicsfate
May 11, 2018 6:44 pm

Important factors:
– Huge population growing out to the waters edge
– Subsidence
– data detail not available from 150 years ago
– inadequate zoning or engineered preparations
Hunters Creek in Houston did fine with some neighborhood engineered flood controls

May 11, 2018 3:36 pm

Why do Trenberth et al assume that very warm SSTs in the Gulf are attributable to humans (greenhouse gasses)? How is it known that these temperatures are unprecedented and nothing other than cyclically normal, or perhaps even a plus 2 or 3 sigma event but not human-caused?
Titanicsfate, I would not agree that bad engineering was at fault for Sandy’s damage in NJ. A landfalling hurricane (it really wasn’t an extratropical event at landfall) hadn’t happened along the NJ coast since 1903, and any such occurrence is going to devastate the immediate coast with a storm surge (rain was not causative, wind of course added to the storm surge). The tremendous building boom since the 1903 storm belied the vulnerability of the area to westward-moving tropical cyclones with a decent surge (i.e. 6 to 9 feet at new or full moon).

Reply to  4caster
May 11, 2018 3:47 pm

Had NYC done as Providence, RI did after the terrible storms of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, ie build a surge barrier, Sandy’s effect would have been minimal. So in that sense, the damage was a failure of engineering.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Felix
May 12, 2018 5:29 am

No it was a failure of policy—obviously you do not understand politics.

Richard M
Reply to  4caster
May 11, 2018 4:56 pm

According to this chart (H) SSTs in the Gulf have been going up for 400 years.

mike the morlock
Reply to  Richard M
May 11, 2018 7:33 pm

There were at least two hurricanes that wrecked Spanish fleets during the American Revolution. note the dates in the article
Earthquake too
the article details the hurricanes and is interesting history itself

Reply to  4caster
May 11, 2018 5:26 pm

How many ships did the Spanish lose due to hurricanes?
Global warming theology says there was only a few hurricanes per year.

See - owe to Rich
Reply to  4caster
May 13, 2018 12:17 am

4caster: Sandy may or may not have been extratropical at landfall, but it wasn’t a hurricane. No sustained windspeeds exceeding 74mph were recorded at or after landfall. I looked carefully at NWS data at the time.

May 11, 2018 3:44 pm

I wrote a post just after Harvey, showing the effects of its passage on SST. I think I showed an image here. Anyway, here is the picture of cooling in the wake:comment image
A few years ago I made a movie of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season, showing their tracks against a background of SST, which did indeed cool in many cases (but not all). The post is here.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
May 11, 2018 4:00 pm

Nick, that movie is great…….Isaac really cooled things off

Reply to  Latitude
May 11, 2018 6:13 pm

Thanks, Lat – yes, Nadine made a mark too, by being around a long time.

Reply to  Latitude
May 11, 2018 9:56 pm

Katrina and Rita did the same thing to GOM SSTs, this is not even news, more click recycling.

john york
May 11, 2018 3:45 pm

I’m curious about two possible heat sources in a hurricane. Here in SoCal we get compression heating from Santa Ana winds. It can be quite cold in the eastern desert and mountain areas, yet when the winds arrive at the inland valleys and coastal plains, they are hot due to compression heating.
>Do hurricanes create friction heating from the high velocity winds moving over the ocean?
>Do hurricanes create compression heating like Santa Ana winds?

Richard Patton
Reply to  john york
May 11, 2018 4:17 pm

There is indeed adiabatic warming in a tropical cyclone. It is called the eye. In the eye, in contrast to the wall and the feeder bands, the overall motion of the air is downward, which causes warming and drying. That is why the eye is relatively if not entirely cloud free.

Donald Kasper
Reply to  john york
May 11, 2018 6:25 pm

Out in front of the West Indies is a hot spot on the ocean floor of enormous size called the Transatlantic Geothermal Mound or TAG. It is interesting that unprecedented warming of a few degrees C can cause such devastation and a huge geothermal mound erupting water at supercritical (374C) means nothing to cyclones passing over. Eruptive basalt at this site would be at 1250 C. El Ninos start over the Costa Rican spreading center. This appears to indicate that hot spots right on ocean gyres are a major climate influence.

May 11, 2018 4:05 pm

Where does he qualify his information on adjusted changes in comparative TCHP methodologies over time?

Russell Johnson
May 11, 2018 4:07 pm

SNIP ! That SNIP you feel Trenberth is POTUS Donald J Trump pulling out of the Paris Climate scam and defunding CO2 monitoring funded by the USA. Heat sources be damned.

May 11, 2018 4:14 pm

One potential problem with this particular analysis is that meteorologists at the time were largely attributing Harvey’s excessive rainfall to the “Brown ocean effect”, where rain which had already fallen on land then got pulled back up and fell again, perhaps multiple times. This doesn’t necessarily correlate well with claims that the excessive rainfall was caused by “ocean heat”.

Jim Whelan
May 11, 2018 4:15 pm

So, then the amount of water falling from the sky is equal to the amount evaporated into the sky. I think that’s the law of conservation of matter. Been known for a couple of centuries and, I think, something that has been true of every storm since the beginning of the Earth.

NW sage
Reply to  Jim Whelan
May 11, 2018 4:49 pm

I think the real point here is that the water (vapor) carries the energy to wherever it is going. When the carrying capacity changes – pressure drops, cooling, etc – the water falls out as rain and, in condensing, releases the stored energy; maybe in one place like Harvey, maybe in lots of places from a fast moving storm.

Reply to  Jim Whelan
May 11, 2018 6:24 pm

I believe the point was that water evaporated and water precipitated was measured by two different devices.
That the two numbers matched raised confidence levels that both numbers were accurate.

May 11, 2018 5:00 pm

“We show, for the first time, that the volume of rain over land corresponds to the amount of water evaporated from the unusually warm ocean,” said lead author Kevin Trenberth …
What on Earth is going on here?
Even Simple Simon knows that the volume of water that rained more or less equals the volume of water that evaporated. Where else would the rainwater come from? Combustion of hydrogen hanging around in the air nearby? Or of methane? By levitation above the ocean? What am I missing?
Next, consider the “unusually warm ocean” bit. We use, or should use, the Absolute temperature, expressed in K, for physics calculations. If the normal sea temperature in the region of interest was normally 293K ( a figure out of the air for demonstration use) and at the time of the hurricane it was 294K, that is a small change. Was it big enough to (a) initiate a hurricane that would not have started at the normal 293K; and/or (b) allowed significantly more rain to form? Variations of Clausius-Clapeyron suggest that the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7% for every 1 °C rise in AIR temperature. Was the air temperature also warmer than usual, the actual air in contact with the water during evaporation? Don’t know. Did the evaporation produce saturated vapour, or were the dynamics too fast? Don’t know.
Note further that the Clausius–Clapeyron relation characterizes behavior of a closed system during a phase change, during which temperature and pressure are constant by definition.
So, is air temperature, not water temperature, the appropriate metric? Is the hurricane system a closed one? Is the pressure constant during the hurricane formation?
How do we measure the rainfall? By gauges sprinkled about the region, then interpolation between them. Is their separation close enough to get a valid result, able to show the 7% that C-C say happens per 1K change? How does one treat the movement of the cloud from which the rain falls> Was not Harvey the one that moved so little that a big rainfall resulted in it getting more attention than a fast mover?
Conditions for hurricane formation are complex. They would be hard to model from first principles and so lend themselves to the parameterization approach of last resort used in the CGM case, with its known lack of CMIP5 correspondence with observation.
As my old boss used to say, “Too much muck and mystery.” Geoff.

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
May 11, 2018 10:14 pm

No, unfortunately you didn’t miss anything.
Over any period longer than a few days, precipitation must equal evaporation.
That seems to be an epiphany though for Trenberth et al.

Gary Pearse
May 11, 2018 5:06 pm

Should have had more rain than that evaporated by the storm if the event left the the atmosphere cooler. The 30-31C SST prior to the evolution of the hurricane would have loaded the atmosphere with water vapour. Subsequent raining out of the hurricane evaporated water plus that of the now cooled pre-existing muggy atmosphere – higher rainfall.
The record rainfall at a locality of a stalled (blocked) hurricane is not a significant issue in terms of mass balance. Had the hurricane been free to sweep northwards into a cooler area, likely more rain would have fallen but no one locality would have received it all.
Hurricane Hazel in 1954 hit Toronto flooding the city and killing 81 people. It swept up from Cuba and washed a swath across the Atlantic States with devastating effect. I suspect it dropped more rain than Harvey to have had enough energy and water to devastate a locality as far north and inland as Toronto.

May 11, 2018 5:07 pm

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
H.L. Mencken

Reply to  Steve Heins
May 12, 2018 12:26 pm

“almost” is not needed. In the whole history, I know of only ONE man with, arguably, a wish to save humanity and no urge to rule. They say he was god alongside human.

David Chappell
May 11, 2018 5:14 pm

Trenberth will no doubt be expecting a Nobel Prize to add to his existing one.
Line 4 of the Introduction:

May 11, 2018 5:17 pm

Trenberth is correct in his conclusions. We really do need better building codes, flood control (and mitigation) and water management. That requires money, but we are spending money on “fighting the evil molecule ” instead. My problem is the Argo buoys themselves and what they claim they can do. At first when I went back to the webpage I said, oh yea, neat concept. Then I got to the supposed accuracy of the measuring devices, 0.002 degrees C, salinity to plus or minus 0.01 psu and pressure 2.4 dbar. All that wouldn’t be too bad, many folks overstated accuracy, that is until they got into a discussion, using salinity measurements as an example, of how questionable measurements are adjusted. Having spent time at sea chasing buoys of all sorts even a submersible buoy has a hard time staying where you put it.

Reply to  Edwin
May 11, 2018 6:37 pm

Given time, all the ARGO buoys will end up in the dread “Great Pacific garbage patch”.
I mean, they are not anchored are they ?

Roger Knights
Reply to  Edwin
May 13, 2018 8:30 am

Right. It sounds like he’s preaching adaptation:

in many cases, society is not adequately planning for these storms,” Trenberth said. “I believe there is a need to increase resilience with better building codes, flood protection, and water management, and we need to prepare for contingencies, including planning evacuation routes and how to deal with power cuts.”

Alan Tomalty
May 11, 2018 5:42 pm

You actually have to go beyond the abstract and read the details of the paper to get the true story of what is essentially another fraudulent climate study.
“To calculate OHC change before and after Harvey, we follow the method in Cheng et al.(2017)but perform the reconstruction for two time periods: 1-20 August (before) and 1-20 September 2017(after), and we remove annual cycle influences by referencing values to the climatology1961-90. ”
Any time you remove cycle influences you are risking larger errors.
Also I looked at the study that was referenced Cheng et al (2017) In that study note the following quote
“Since one can never re-observe the ocean in the past, some synthetic data should be used, for instance high-resolution model outputs, sea level data, etc. ”
As a previous poster said ; one cannot know where the extra heat came from.
According to the NOAA data from the ARGO floats there has been no increase in SST in the tropics over last 40 years. SST varies widely from different bodies of water just like land surface temperatures.
And as another poster said Where was the heat hiding for 11 years between major hurricanes? As Tony Heller has said many times. Climate scientists will go to any length to claim their fraudulent narrative.
We need more CO2 NOT less.

Alan Tomalty
May 11, 2018 5:52 pm

Scenario number 1
Mankind outputs 36B tons /year of CO2 = 2ppm net in atmosphere
18B tons per each 1 ppm net in atmosphere
IPCC says that mankind will increase the content of atmosphere by 468ppm ( geometrical estimate of today ‘s rate of 2 ppm net increase for 100 years if nothing is done.
468 * 18 Billion
= 8.4 trillion tons of CO2 emitted in next century if nothing is done to mitigate
IPCC says that that will cause 4 degrees C of warming in next century
Therefore to forestall 1 degree C you must cut back by 2.1 trillion tons of CO2 in atmosphere
therefore we will shut down all fossil fuels on this planet for
2.1 trillion/ 36 Billion per year
= 58.3 years just to prevent 1C of warming.
Even if the emissions stayed at 36 billion per year over the time period of the next century that would mean
3.6 trillion tons emitted. Then to cut back by 1C you would need to cut 3.6 trillion/ 4 = 0.9 trillion tons
therefore we will shut down all fossil fuels on this planet for 0.9 trillion/ 36 billion per year = 25 years
Scenario No 2
If the IPCC is wrong and if man nets increase of 1000 ppm in next century if nothing is done then
1000 * 18 Billion = 18 trillion tons of CO2 emmitted ; then if the warming that would be forestalled is still 4C then
to cut back 1C then you would have to cut back by 4.5 trillion tons
4.5 trillion/36 billion per year
= 125 years of no fossil fuels
If instead the limit of emmissions were held to 36 billion tons per year over whole range of 100 years then you would have
again 3.6 trillion tons emitted if nothing was done and you are back to scenario no. 1.
Scenario No.3
However in this new scenario if the ppm were increased 1000 ppm and instead of it causing the same 4 C increase let us change it to causing a 10 C
change in global temperature. In that case you would only have to cut back 1.8 trillion tons
which will be 1.8 trillion / 36 billion per year = 50 years. Under this scenario assume again that emissions total a constant 36 billion tons per year over time period of the 100 years, then you would have again 3.6 trillion tons emitted if nothing was done. So to forestall 1C out of a 10C change you would have to cut back 0.36 trillion tons over the 100 year period.
therefore 0.36 trillion / 36 billion per year = 10 years. Dont forget that means shutting down all fossil fuels in the whole world for 10 years and you would only forestall 1C of warming. If you tried to only do 50 % of that each year you would have to lengthen the time to 20 years. If you did 25% reduction the time period would go to 40 years. A 10% reduction would make the time period 100 years. So in the best case scenario you would only forestall 1C of warming in a 100 year period but you would have to cut back all fossil fuel production by 10% forever. Dont forget that under this scenario you would still have 9C of warming at the end of the 100 years. Any attempts to forestall higher amounts of warming would necessitate higher cuts in emissions forever.
Scenario No. 4
However if you say that our emmissions will be greater than 36B tons per year in the next 100 years let us say double that on average if nothing is done to mitigate. Therefore 72 billion = 4ppm net in atmosphere and the resultant CO2 level after 100 years would be scenario 2 except that now the average input is 72 billion CO2 into atmosphere but it is still 18 billion CO2 produced for every net 1ppm into atmosphere
Therefore as in scenario 2 you have approx the same net of 1000 ppm into atmosphere after 100 years
1000 * 18 billion = 18 trillion tons of CO2 emmitted then you either have scenario 2 or scenario 3 depending on how much warming you will forestall.
Scenario 5
Let us say that somehow the earth’s atmosphere nets double per CO2 emitted so that instead of 18 billion tons for each 1ppm it takes only 9 billion tons per 1ppm increase then you have
9 billion *1000 ppm = 9 trillion tons of CO2 emitted then the situation is even worse than the other scenarios. Because then you have
even if you forestall 10 C of warming you have ; then to cut back 0.9 trillion tons to forestall 1C you have
0.9 trillion/ 9 billion per year = 100 years So in this new scenario, it will take you the same amount of time to completely shut down the earth’s fossil fuel as the target time you are aiming for, Therefore, to forestall 1C every 100 years you have to have 0 emissions for that 100 years.
Scenario 6
Immediately convert all non aviation and non industrial use of fossil fuel use to electricity and convert all of the possible industrial use of fossil fuels to electricity generated by nuclear power. This would mean a drop in emissions of CO2 by 75% to 9B tons per year.
Therefore in 100 years you would emit 900 Billion tons of CO2. If climate only increases 1C in that 100 years because our output is 25% of present (,25 * 4C ) = 1C then you have met your target. Obviously this scenario isnt possible.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
May 12, 2018 12:41 pm

You forgot the most important: Nature sucks CO2 out of atmosphere. More of it, than it did before.
It is more like we gas out ~4ppm/year, while Nature eats up ~2ppm/year.
If we stopped emiting, CO2 would go down at ~2ppm/year.
We need to burn fuel to make ~20 Billion ton CO2 just to keep the current CO2 level. May be more as time goes, because CO2 is turned into green things that keeps eating more and more CO2

May 11, 2018 6:10 pm

Read through Trenberth’s absurd conclusions from nebulous details wondering small thoughts like;
Trenberth measured actual ocean temperatures? To what depth? Hurricanes are well known for stirring oceans to much deeper than surface waters, through wave and wind actions. Before taking into account tornadoes and waterspouts hurricanes generate.
Trenberth alleges he can measure the amount of evaporated water and separate that measurement from rain and hail.
Trenberth makes multiple claims for supercharged storms.
Causing one to think that models are involved. i.e. More confirmation bias.
Then I came across this little paragraph.

“The scientists were able to measure the total loss in ocean heat, mostly due to evaporation, as the storm moved over the Gulf. They also measured the latent heat released over land as the water vapor turned back into liquid water and fell as rain. They then compared those two measurements and found that they corresponded.”

Measured? What they mean is they modeled.
From supplemental information:

“Fig. S1. Alternative rainfall maps for various product combinations for 17-31 August 2017 in mm. The bottom left is IMERG from the Early run, the top right is IMERG from the Final run, the top left is the combined Final 17-25 Aug + Early 26-31 Aug, and the lower right is from GPCP.”

Definitively, models.
Another self satisfaction exercise seeking glory.
Oceans were not measured to depth.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  ATheoK
May 11, 2018 9:26 pm

Keen eye ATheoK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If each climate study was subjected to WUWT peer review there would be very few that would be passed for publication. Of course anyone that depended on model results would immediately fail.

richard verney
May 11, 2018 6:22 pm

In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
I would like to see the data.
Hurricane Irma followed shortly thereafter ans the SSTs were not particularly warm. Viz:comment image
In fact judith Curry commented on Irma as follows:

The surprising thing about this development into a major hurricane was that it developed over relatively cool waters in the Atlantic – 26.5C — the rule of thumb is 28.5C for a major hurricane (and that threshold has been inching higher in recent years). On 8/31, all the models were predicting a major hurricane to develop, with some hints of a Cat 5.
So why did Irma develop into a major hurricane? We can’t blame 26.5 C temperatures in the mid Atlantic on global warming.

Reply to  richard verney
May 11, 2018 10:36 pm

“In the weeks before Hurricane Harvey tore across the Gulf of Mexico and plowed into the Texas coast in August 2017, the Gulf’s waters were warmer than any time on record, according to a new analysis led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).”
When we consider that the mixed layer is at foremost involved in the atmosphere-ocean interaction when it comes to hurricans we should look at the SST of this region. According to the ERSSTv5 dataset this gives this picture for the time span 1900 to 2017:comment image
There is much internal variability (AMO). It’s influence on the hurricans is well known from the literature.
The gulf- SST in august were warmer than 2017 in the following years: 1941; 1958; 1962; 1998; 2010; 2011; 2015; 2016.
IMO the cited claim should be rejected.

Reply to  richard verney
May 11, 2018 10:42 pm

PS: I forgot 2005, sorry!

May 11, 2018 6:46 pm

If K. Treberth is correct then organic life is a zero sum game, or it must be for energy in to equal energy out.
How does that square with and expanding human population?

Reply to  tom0mason
May 11, 2018 6:50 pm

Oops porof-raeding failrue again —
Should be —
How does that square with an expanding human population?

May 11, 2018 8:28 pm

I do not doubt the unprecedented high rainfall totals for the greater Houston area.
A stalled out rainmaker like Harvey on a coastal region can do that in late August.
I do not doubt that northern Gulf SST was anomalously high in late August 2017.
No hurricanes had traversed those waters since Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Now You be the judge.
Argo floats in the Gulf.
And the rainfall bands that fed in water from the Gulf between the critical days of 26-28 August.

Gunga Din
May 11, 2018 8:39 pm

Mann “post-predicted” Harvey’s flooding was caused by Man-made “Climate Change”.
Trenberth claims the Man-made “missing heat” finally showed up in Harvey.
We need one more Man-made Harvey claim for a losing Trifecta!

May 11, 2018 9:45 pm

” .. said lead author Kevin Trenberth, an NCAR senior scientist. “As climate change continues to heat the oceans, we can expect more supercharged storms like Harvey.” …”
Yeah right, not like that happened for every major cyclone during the Holocene. Oil that squeaky-wheel.

Bengt Abelsson
May 11, 2018 11:44 pm

The surface temperature is of course intresting, but a minor part in the energy flow.
It takes 2260 kJ to convert a kilogram of liquid water into gaseous water vapour.
To warm a kilogram of liquid water, from 26 to 30 C, the enegy needed is 17 kJ.

Reply to  Bengt Abelsson
May 12, 2018 12:58 am

The “SST” are taken in a depth of about 5…10m. The mixed layer during summer is reaching down to 15m, see . That means that the upper 15m of the gulf have the same temperature shown in the figure above. SST is NOT the skin-temperature! 15m water depth should be enough to estimate the energy flowing to the atmosphere?

Dodgy Geezer
May 12, 2018 1:23 am

…“We know this threat exists, and yet in many cases, society is not adequately planning for these storms,” Trenberth said. “I believe there is a need to increase resilience with better building codes, flood protection, and water management, …
Hang on a second! When this Climate Change scare started, you said we had to prepare for hot, dry conditions….

May 12, 2018 1:31 am

Trenberth, the man who blatantly lied to me about his mate Phil Jones. The man who claimed the “evidence” for man caused global warming is sea levels.
Who in their right mind would believe anything he says?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Tony
May 12, 2018 2:31 am

Can you fill us in on the details of 1st statement?

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
May 12, 2018 3:32 am

I wonder, what is new news in this? Cyclonic activity covers cold clouds hundreds of square kilometers and thus bring down the temperature on waters or on land.
Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

May 12, 2018 5:37 am

It’s clear that global warming will result in bigger storms and greater rainfall. Time for cities, counties and states to prepare.

May 12, 2018 7:01 am

I once asked a meteorologist who had studied hurricanes if upwelling could be a factor in weakening of storms. This was after Hurricane Allen in 1980 which pulsated but pressure was rising at landfall. The cautious answer was that dust could do this, S Texas and N Mexico with plenty. The continental shelf gets thinner as you go down the Texas coast and it is not rare that summer beach temperatures are cooler off Brownsville (Allen strike area) than Corpus Christi, about two degrees of latitude farther north. Claudette in 2003 went in on the middle coast at Pt. O’Connor and strengthened right on the coast going from a low 1 to a high 1 or maybe a low 2. It then headed towards California, not exactly typical.
Hurricane Allen was back in the days before ‘scientists’ became saviours preaching in their papers. I am sitting here in Harvey land watching structures go up, some dumb, some smart, problem is not science, but engineering and politics.

May 12, 2018 9:32 am

Great, as the NH hurricane season approaches, the hurricane scare-mongering season gets underway. Be afraid, be very afraid.

May 12, 2018 10:26 am

“As climate change continues to heat the oceans,…”
Climate CHANGE heats the oceans?
Isn’t it the other way around?

May 12, 2018 12:46 pm

Trenberth, the Flat Earth man. Not just flat, but non rotating, too. And homogenous.
The wonder is, some people still care about what he says.
Hell, if this man keeps his budget the way he figures Earth’s energy budget, he sure filled bankrupcy. I bet he doesn’t.

May 12, 2018 3:01 pm

I do like Trenberth’s classic Global energy balance chart. Give the guy credit. You can show someone rather easily how insignificant a couple of watts of CO2 IR is compared to 80 watts of water evaporation, and that IR heat loss from ground to sky, surface emission minus back IR, is less than evaporation heat loss. You can even use it to show someone how much change in albedo due to extra clouds, the result of additional evaporation, would counteract the additional CO2 warming effect. All in all, a handy tool to bring warming hypists back to reality, using info from their own hero. Willis Eschenbach’s version of it is better.

May 12, 2018 3:04 pm

I am surprised that Trenberth commented on “we think of hurricanes as being atmospheric phenomena”. I believe it has ALWAYS been known widely that they are stimulated by relatively warm patches of water and that the water over which they move is cooled, hence the result that no two cyclones/hurricanes will follow exactly the same path in any short period of time.
He should also understand, but doesn’t want to, that the development of a cyclone depends on temperature differences across the water, NOT simply a general overall high temperature which they believe will come with “Global Warming” .No wonder the AGTW crowd always gets it so wrong!!! .

May 13, 2018 11:13 am

So, all of the “missing heat” is located in the North Atlantic? Not the Pacific, Indian Ocean, or South Atlantic?

May 13, 2018 1:22 pm

Does Trenberth imply that these events will be more frequent because my analysis has showed that this El Niño of 2015 was entirely predictable. This same El Niño occurs every 60 years in the record at the same point in the pdo/amo 60 year cycle. Right about the middle of the downward leg of the cycle a huge El Niño occurs. I even predicted it.
According to my reading of the pdo/amo cycle we now have 15 more years of relatively slightly cooler temperatures before we will see another large El Niño.

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