Sorry alarmists: Hurricanes are developing more quickly today than 30 years ago due to the Atlantic ocean cycle

Pierre Gosselin writes:

Here’s something you don’t witness very often…German national public radio telling listeners that natural factors are behind observed changes in something related to climate.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the German media claim storms are linked to our disdainful energy gluttony. So it comes as quite a shock when you hear something about climate that doesn’t conform to Potsdam Institute dogmatism.

At their Die kalte Sonne site hereDr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt bring up an example of how German DLF national radio. I’ve translated the German text:

Hurricanes are developing more quickly today than 30 years ago due to the Atlantic ocean cycle

A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently made an exciting discovery: Apparently, hurricanes are developing more quickly today than they did 30 years ago. Earlier it took longer, but now maximum strength is reached sooner.

The scientists have found the culprit – drum roll – no, it’s not the wanton activity of mankind, rather it’s the Atlantic AMO ocean cycle, which fluctuates with a period of 60 years. During the course of the AMO cycle, hurricanes change accordingly.

Here’s the press release from May 9, 2018:

Powerful hurricanes strengthen faster now than 30 years ago

The storms intensify more rapidly today due largely to a natural climate phenomenon

Hurricanes that intensify rapidly — a characteristic of almost all-powerful hurricanes — do so more strongly and quickly now than they did 30 years ago, according to a study published recently in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

While many factors are at play, the chief driver is a natural phenomenon that affects the temperature of the waters in the Atlantic where hurricanes are powering up, according to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

They found that a climate cycle known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation or AMO is central to the increasing intensification of hurricanes, broadly affecting conditions like sea temperature that are known to influence hurricanes.

Stronger hurricanes in a day’s time

Last year’s lineup of powerful storms — Harvey, Irma, Jose, and Maria — spurred the scientists to take a close look at the rapid intensification process. This occurs when the maximum wind speed in a hurricane goes up by at least 25 knots (28.8 miles per hour) within a 24-hour period. It’s a rite of passage for nearly all major hurricanes, including the big four of 2017.

The team, comprised of Karthik Balaguru and Ruby Leung of PNNL and Greg Foltz of NOAA, analyzed 30 years’ worth of satellite hurricane data encompassing 1986 through 2015. The information came from NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Consistent with other studies, the scientists did not find that rapid intensification is happening more often nowadays.

But the scientists also looked closely at just how much the storms are strengthening. They found a sizeable jump in the strength of fast-growing storms — the storms are getting more powerful more quickly within a 24-hour period than they were 30 years ago.

The team found that the average boost in wind speed during a 24-hour intensification event is about 13 mph more than it was 30 years ago — on average about 3.8 knots (4.3 mph) for each of the three decades studied.

Several factors play a role when a hurricane gains more power rapidly, including the temperature of the surface of the ocean, humidity, characteristics of the clouds, the heat content in the ocean, and the direction of the wind at the surface compared to miles above. Among the biggest factors affecting the increase in magnitude in the last 30 years, according to the team’s analysis:

  • The amount of heat available in the uppermost layer of the ocean, known as the ocean heat content. The warmer the upper ocean, the more powerful a hurricane can become.
  • Wind shear: The less the vertical wind shear — the difference in the direction and force of the winds at the surface compared to several miles into the air — the more powerful the hurricane can become.

The influence of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

The team found that the biggest factor explaining the increasingly rapid intensification is the AMO. The result comes in part from analyses using 16 separate climate models to isolate the impact of global warming.

“This was a surprise, that the AMO seems to be a bigger influence in rapid intensification than other factors, including overall warming,” said Balaguru, the first author of the paper.

The AMO governs how the temperature of the waters in the North Atlantic cycles between warmer and cooler, with each period typically lasting a decade or more.

The cycling occurs for reasons scientists don’t completely understand, but it has broad effects on the environment.

For example, it plays a big part in determining the heat content of the oceans, an important factor powering hurricanes. The AMO has generally been “positive” — causing warmer waters — since the late 1990s.

Balaguru noted that while rapid intensification historically has occurred more often in the western Atlantic, that’s not where the team found the increasing strength of the last 30 years.

Rather, the phenomenon is strengthening more in the central and eastern Atlantic, especially to the east of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, which includes the Virgin Islands and Saint Kitts.

That’s the same area where the AMO creates warmer waters and boosts ocean heat content, in the central and eastern Atlantic.

That’s exactly the alley where hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria powered up rapidly last year. It’s a proving ground of sorts where many of the most powerful hurricanes strengthen dramatically.

Balaguru notes that teasing out the effects of the AMO from broader effects of global warming was beyond the scope of the current study but is a focus for scientists.”

Even the IPCC-trumpeting Deutschlandfunk (DLF) found this worth reporting. On May 9, 2018, listeners indeed heard on the daily program “Forschung Aktuell” (Current Research) the following points:

  1. Despite climate change, hurricanes have not become more frequent (which totally contradicts the usual DLF claims on this subject).
  2. The current faster strengthening of hurricanes has NOTHING to do with anthropogenic global warming (AGW), but rather it depends on the AMO phase.
  3. The causes of the AMO cycles are unknown and have nothing to do with AGW.

Yet, it is a pity that these revolutionary climate-realist claims (by DLF standards) were presented in just a very short report and that the inconvenient facts were not reported on in greater detail…you can listen to this small DLF revolution here (starting at 1:33).


Don’t hold your breath thinking this is a new media awakening happening in Germany.

Expect Stefan Rahmstorf of the alarmist Potsdam Vatican to order the science illiterate DLF editors to be led deep down somewhere in the catacombs, and be made to recant the heresy.

Full story at No Tricks Zone

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joe - the non climate scientist
May 14, 2018 8:52 am

After katrina – it was hurricanes will be more intense and more frequent
10 years later – it was hurricanes will be more intense but less frequent.

Reply to  joe - the non climate scientist
May 14, 2018 11:32 am

“…..hurricanes will be more intense but less frequent.”
This has been the accepted position by the scientific community for quite some time. What’s your point?

Reply to  Simon
May 14, 2018 11:35 am

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you actually believe you have refuted what joe wrote. Rather than just stating it in a different way.

Gary Mullennix
May 14, 2018 9:07 am

I also read that the Atlantic is cooling while the Pacific is not. Are not Hurricanes a cooling mechanism?

May 14, 2018 9:10 am

“The scientists have found the culprit –”….dropsondes
“In the mid-1990s, the National Center
for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), with
funding support from the National
Science Foundation, the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the German Aerospace
Research Establishment (DLR) developed
the first dropsondes that took advantage
of the Global Positioning System (GPS)”

Reply to  Latitude
May 14, 2018 9:43 am

And better and more powerful Radar, Satellites, planes along with much more frequent flights into the storms with better sensor arrays which all combine for much higher resolution observational data…….

Reply to  ossqss
May 14, 2018 9:54 am

exactly oss, I trust nothing in climate science…good or bad…..always look for another explanation….cause they sure ashell don’t

dodgy geezer
May 14, 2018 9:26 am

…The causes of the AMO cycles are unknown and have nothing to do with AGW….
Er.. I thought that if things were unknown then it MUST be CO2 increase, because we can’t think of anything else it might be….
…which is one of teh classic Warmist arguments.

Tom Halla
Reply to  dodgy geezer
May 14, 2018 9:36 am

Yeah, I thought some obeisance to the great god CO2 was required, just like old Soviet reports needed some reference to the class struggle.

Reply to  dodgy geezer
May 14, 2018 9:37 am

At least they have finally discovered the AMO. What might they discover next, if they keep their eyes open?

Reply to  goldminor
May 14, 2018 11:37 am

It wasn’t that many years ago that they were telling us that CO2 was so powerful that it would completely swamp all natural climate cycles. That’s why it didn’t matter that these cycles weren’t accounted for in the models.
So we are making progress.

Reply to  MarkW
May 14, 2018 8:13 pm

That is exactly what I remember hearing back in 2008, when I started following the argument.
I could never understand the argument that a grand solar minimum would only lead to about a 0.1 C drop in global temps; when it is so readily apparent that a La Nina can cause much steeper drops. The alarmist argument then being that a La Nina is more powerful than a GSM. Illogical to my mind.

May 14, 2018 10:07 am

In 1969, I lived through Camille in Pensacola. NOAA/NWS basically lost all its instrumentation. I sat through a briefing by the Navy the week after who had not lost their instrumentation. Camille went through at least two very rapid intensifications at least as rapid as what we saw last year. Interestingly NOAA has more than once tried to down play Camille, re-calculating their original estimates, e.g., lower wind speed, higher pressure, etc. I have never been sure exactly how they did that. Certainly the data we saw in the Navy briefing didn’t change. Of course in forty plus years since instrumentation, e.g., GPS, has dramatically changed. Since such instrumentation didn’t exist with the NWS back then it is kind of hard to see how they could “adjust” data collected at the time.

Reply to  Edwin
May 14, 2018 11:16 am

Quite by accident we did a brief before and after Camille study on the Chandeleur Islands. The tallest sand dune (about 12 feet high) was not topped (barely) and Katrina tore it up much worse, but it has been steadily degrading. The lighthouse on the N end survived Camille but not Katrina, but Breton Island (S end) was torn up badly.
Germany was very interested in N Atlantic oceanographic conditions before WWII and some was even published. Periodic variations, at least for the Gulf Stream were known. As also some about storm pressure variation. Difficult to see how it would affect Gulf hurricanes, but strange currents do occur.

Reply to  HDHoese
May 14, 2018 12:46 pm

HD, funny, my drill instructor went out with helicopters to outlying islands. They tried to evacuate people staying there. Some went, some refused to go. He went back as a part of the recovery crews. Some of the islands they had visit pre-hurricane no longer existed. Of course what gets damaged and what survives in a hurricane or differently between hurricanes as a lot to do with the direction of landfall, tide, the amount of erosion that has taken place, etc, etc.

May 14, 2018 11:21 am

Oh Boy! AGU will be in D.C. this year. Expect turbulence and loud noises from NASA, NOAA, NSF and a clown car filled to the top.
Hau Hau

May 14, 2018 12:08 pm

Serious question: Do the most rapidly increasing in intensity hurricanes have a relatively small (area wide) cloud cover (especially on the leading front) once an eye has formed while traversing over warm/hot water, all other atmospheric things being equal?

May 14, 2018 12:27 pm

Hurricanes have become more powerful and develop more intensely because of overblown hysteria by more people witnessing them more often, and focusing on them more intensely, and hyping them more intensely, and building more structures than ever before that get blasted by them, causing overblown hysteria, witnessing, focusing, hyping, building, oh, I forgot, manic reporting using those crawling thingies across the screens of every electronic viewing device known to man, with accompanying beeping alarms, updates, detailed analyses, program emergency alerts, … just ridiculous media partying, as if hurricanes were space alien invasions never before witnessed.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
May 14, 2018 1:44 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head! Single blow sunk it as far as possible!

John in Oz
May 14, 2018 1:58 pm

I am no scientist but…

For example, it plays a big part in determining the heat content of the oceans, an important factor powering hurricanes. The AMO has generally been “positive” — causing warmer waters — since the late 1990s.

If the AMO is causing the water temp to change, the changes in the AMO should precede the temperature changes. The graph above shows:
c.1900 – AMO negative phase starts – c.1905 temps start to fall – AMO LEADS
c.1917 – temps start to rise – c.1922 AMO starts to rise (but still negative) – AMO FOLLOWS
c.1945 – temps falling while AMO is only half-way through a positive phase – AMO IRRELEVANT
c.1956 – temps rising while AMO still at a positive peak and continue to rise even though the AMO goes through a full positive/negative/positive transition.- AMO IRRELEVANT
If the AMO ‘plays a big part’ then there is obviously something else playing an even bigger part (cue the ‘CO2 controls everything and we’re all going to die’ trolls)
Willis – is it worth you waving your magical P wand at this data?

Keith J
May 14, 2018 2:21 pm

Oceans heat by radiation and cool by evaporation. Hotter air increases evaporation rate leading to cooler oceans.

May 14, 2018 3:08 pm

It’s the AMO, it’s the AMO!
(Can’t be the elephant in the room….)comment image?w=720&h=326

Roger Knights
May 15, 2018 5:21 am

“The team, comprised of Karthik Balaguru …”
Should be “COMPOSED of”

Scott Koontz
May 15, 2018 7:28 am

“the temperature of the surface of the ocean, humidity, characteristics of the clouds, the heat content in the ocean, and the direction of the wind at the surface compared to miles above.”
Nice to see that Watts admits that ocean temps are warming, humidity is rising, etc. If you take each article here they tend to contradict themselves, so the very next article say state that land and oceans are not warming and the duped readers and go back to that nonsense.

May 17, 2018 3:42 am

How on earth did they get published? Definitely politically incorrect.

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