NOAA hurricane scientist: news media should be cautious about linking hurricane activity to global warming

The news media should be cautious about linking hurricane activity to global warming, according to National Hurricane Center Science and Operations Officer Chris Landsea.

Christopher Landsea at the National Hurricane Center

In an interview with NBC News reporters, Landsea said he is concerned when hurricanes are used “as a poster child” for global warming (

“There’s periods where it’s busy and quiet and busy and quiet, but no trend,” said Landsea, “There’s no statistical change over a 130-year period. Since 1970, the number of hurricanes globally is flat. I haven’t seen anything that suggests that the hurricane intensity is going to change dramatically. It looks like a pretty tiny change to how strong hurricanes will be. It’s not zero, but it’s in the noise level. It’s very small.”

Responding to assertions that hurricanes are stronger now or retain their strength longer than was the case several decades ago, Landsea questioned whether that perception is due to modern technology. Today’s technology is able to immediately detect the full strength of a hurricane even when it is far out at sea.

Global tropical cyclone data, presented by meteorologist Ryan Maue at, show fluctuations from year to year but little if any long-term trend.

2017 was an active hurricane season in the North Atlantic, prompting the media to link hurricane activity to global warming. However, the 12 years before 2017 marked the longest period in recorded history without a major hurricane (category 3 or higher) striking the United States (

Landsea is one of the world’s leading experts on hurricanes, and famously resigned from the IPCC a few years ago, in protest over Trenberth’s attempts to cook the books.

Source: CFACT

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June 8, 2018 10:07 am
Bill Powers
Reply to  LexingtonGreen
June 8, 2018 10:37 am

I have always found that it doesn’t help to play at that game. Both the absence and prevalence of events or occurrences can be explained as proof in faith based religions. This is why they tout non-scientific nonsense such as consensus and shout down blasphemers who refuse to accept on faith and insist upon continuing the debate. There model is the Catholic Church of the medieval period. This is all about controlling the faithful and swelling their numbers. Don’t think you can sway them with records or data. Their mission is winning with votes for control over the rest of us. It is the only thing that matters to them.

Reply to  Bill Powers
June 8, 2018 12:13 pm

I’m in two religion-and-philosophy discussion groups which include a significant number of atheists. Climate change is mentioned occasionally in these meetings. My recollection is that all the atheists who have stated opinions on the topic think that global warming is a great threat to humanity. Indeed, it appears that some of their hostility to religion is because they think many religious believers are opposed to efforts to curb global warming.

Some atheists on the libertarian side oppose the climate catastrophe narrative, but libertarians are a minority in the atheist camp.

Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
June 8, 2018 12:34 pm

As free-thinkers and more scientifically literate than the general population, atheists are in my experience over-represented among CACA skeptics. Nobel Laureate Dr. Ivar Giaever, for instance, is an avowed atheist, as is a disproportionate number of all laureates.

Some prominent skeptics are indeed Christians or devotees of other religions, but IMO to no greater extent than in the US population at large. Worldwide, I can’t really say.

Regrettably, some skeptics, like Dr. Roy Spencer, are also creationists, which damages the scientific reputation of climate realists.

As prominent, militant atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins has pointed out, however, from a strict scientific standpoint atheists should call themselves agnostics, since the God hypothesis isn’t subject to the scientific method. Even if it can be ruled out at a confidence level of 99.99%, the conjecture can never conclusively be shown false by the scientific method.

The CACA hypothesis can however easily be shown false and has repeatedly been so.

Reply to  Felix
June 8, 2018 2:25 pm

“atheists are in my experience over-represented among CACA skeptics”

Really? Check out the following from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is “the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics)”:

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Felix
June 9, 2018 1:09 am

I am both a libertarian and an atheist and a proud global warming denier. I also do not believe in the following scams.

Top Worldwide Scams and Lies
1) The idea of a supreme being
2) Man made (anthropogenic) global warming
3) CFC’s cause ozone holes. They are a minor cause compared to natural gases in the atmosphere. Ozone production varies over the earth atmosphere.
4) Dark energy and dark matter
5) The belief that digital music is better than analog. Digital music in reality is only a sampling of analog music.
6) Candles are harmless. They actually put billions of soot particles into your lungs.
7) Global poverty can be eradicated . All the world’s money supply leaves only $13,000 for each individual. That is nowhere near enough for individual retirement.
8) DDT and cancer. It was later shown to be harmless.
9) Acid rain is very damaging. The effects are very minimal.
10) Cell phone towers and cancer. No causation has been proved.
11) Statin drugs are necessary for heart patients. The side effects far outweigh any minimal benefit.
12) The belief that non-nuclear green energy can completely replace fossil fuels. Nuclear fission power will still be needed because wind and solar are intermittent commodities. Nuclear fusion will turn out to be impossible.
13) The idea that homosexuality is a choice or a disease. 80% of it is gene related.
14) Communism as an ideal society. In practice it only works with a dictator. 100 % socialism is impossible because there is no private wealth to pay for election campaigns and everywhere in history 100% socialism soon turns into a dictatorship or communist state.

15) The belief that stock market regulators can stop insider trading.
16) The numerous fraudulent medical cure alls . Acupuncture is one of these.
17) Situps are good for you. They actually damage the spine. Stewart McGill of U. of Waterloo has proved this but Gary Player seems to be an exception.
18) The belief in any one of the more than 1000 conspiracy theories circulating on the internet
19)) The belief that professional wrestling is real. Vince McMahon the president of WWE admitted in court that it was staged.
20) Large bank and financial firm bailouts will resolve a country’s fundamental financial flaws.
21) Governments can protect you against Bubbles and Ponzi schemes
22) Chiropractors can cure your aching back. Manipulative adjustments just bring on arthritis and inflammation and just ties you to a lifetime of adjustments by the chiropractor instead of treating the underlying cause of back pain.
23) The idea of a Santa Claus
24) Astrology, tarot cards and palm reading can predict the future. All false
25) The idea of free will. In actuality the brain creates an illusion of the self which actually doesnt exist.
26) Crime doesnt pay. For a counterpoint to this just examine places like southern Italy where most of the assets are owned by Mafia figures. It is this belief that encourages societies in not fighting crime enough.
27) The belief in UFOs. The distances are just too vast even for a spaceship travelling at half the speed of light.
28) The flat earth hypothesis. Dont laugh. There are some professional athletes that believe in it along with many flat earth societies.
29) Mercury itself is not a toxin to the human body. The real toxin is methyl mercury which is formed in the biosphere through very complicated biological processes.

Mike Macray
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
June 10, 2018 4:40 pm

Surely you don’t believe that this here homo sapiens is the smartest creature in the universe..? the odds of that are statistically up there with winning the Lottery…and I mean the big one.
I enjoy and am the wiser for your contributions to this discourse.
p.s. I hope you are wrong with #22 and I have reservations with your #21, 27 and 28!

Wallaby Geoff
Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
June 8, 2018 2:20 pm

Most atheists don’t have “hostility” to religion. They just don’t believe in god, and get on with their lives. I’m struggling with the concept that a non belief in god translates to a stance on the science of “climate change”

Robert B
Reply to  Bill Powers
June 8, 2018 8:40 pm

“I have always found that it doesn’t help to play at that game.” I don’t think that he was debunking anything except that you can’t use the tornado count as evidence that global warming has made things worse.

June 8, 2018 10:09 am

Well, what do you expect, … when you kill off the longstanding polar-bear poster child, you HAVE to have a good replacement.

Do stalling hurricanes have anything to do with melting sea ice that those poor bears rely on? Hey, maybe we could double up — hurricanes could, then, cause polar bears to starve. High winds cause skinny bears, and, of course, CO2 causes it all.

Alarmists should be cautious about thinking, because sound reasoning with facts might blow their minds.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 8, 2018 10:55 am

They thought that they had absorbed the ALGORE as Spokesperson debacle, with barely a stumble. But is was just that, a politician, decrying life sustaining fossil fuels, with a provably false hockey stick diagram, claiming that a growing population of APEX predators was an endangered species that injected doubt into the minds of believers and appears to have triggered the demise of The Church of the Global Warmingists. Hence the scramble to re-brand the religion into the Church of the Climate Changer and post Weather Events as the children of the dire consequence. Ironic as it is that weather, previously not to be conflatable with Global Warming is now the poster child. Pity the Poor Polar Bear.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 8, 2018 11:23 am

I think if the reindeers can teach the polar bears to fly Santa is good to go.

June 8, 2018 10:13 am

Alarmists think Sharknado was a documentary.

Reply to  Greg61
June 9, 2018 3:59 am

And when polar bears and alligators fly along with the pigs there will be an aerial BBQ and we’ll all be doomed! It’s gonna be worser than we thought!

David Paul Zimmerman
June 8, 2018 10:17 am

Neat last name, and seems to not be part of the pack. I did notice the small downward trend towards the end of that graphic.

June 8, 2018 10:28 am

“Today’s technology is able to immediately detect the full strength of a hurricane even when it is far out at sea.”

…..and a sane person would have to deduce they are getting weaker

Since technology has improved this much………and there’s no trend

Tom Halla
June 8, 2018 10:29 am

Landsea must be all that popular with the green NGOs.

joe - the non climate scientist
June 8, 2018 10:30 am

Good article on Hurricanes. The folks over at Skeptical science have posted numerous times about how the warmer sea surface temps (SST) will cause Stronger and more intense hurricanes (though fewer) .

I pointed out that the SST temps have been rising for 150+ years while the trend line for Accumulated cyclone intensity has stayed flat for those same 150+ years and therefore there was no empirical basis for a change in the trend line. The responses were that the peer reviewed models were vastly superior to my presentation of empirical data – or as they characterized it “my uniformed denial of science”.

June 8, 2018 10:36 am

Landsea has always seemed reasonable. As mentioned he never really agreed with Trenberth and for that alone I’ve always been interested in his take on things. Much more of a moderate mindset. One might even say rational.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  buggs
June 8, 2018 12:25 pm

Kudos to Chris for giving that interview to NBC News. I’m sure they’ll suppress it. 😉
BTW, in the Climategate emails, after Chris broke with the IPCC, Trenbrerth (Trainbreath) suggested that NOAA should fire him.

Alan Tomalty
June 8, 2018 10:36 am

There are only 3 BAD things that can happen if the world heats up 1) ice caps melt and we all drown
2) heat gets unbearable and when air conditioners break down or we dont have one, we die of heat prostration 3) extreme weather events destroy our civilization

Okay point by point

1) I have made many posts about this but here is summary

This whole sea level rise threat is such a farce anyway. Even if all 200000 glaciers in the world melted the sea level rise would only be 400mm. That is less than 16 inches. Antarctica will never melt; even if global average temperatures go up 4C; because almost all of the continent is way below freezing even in the Antarctic summer. Since the Arctic ice sits on the ocean; sea level will not rise even if the whole Arctic melted. What is left to melt? Greenland. Okay Consider this. So even if the CAGW alarmists are right and the temp rises to 4C over today, how much of Greenland would melt? Well in the vast interior of Greenland only the very top of the ice melts in the summertime. Even the IPCC has stated that a 3C global rise in temperature over the next 80 years would only result in a 1 metre rise in sea level. I dispute that because the vast majority of Greenland’s ice sheet never even comes close to reaching 0C. It would take a much larger increase of temperature to melt it. Everybody just seems to take the alarmist view on this without looking at the actual size of ice that would have to melt. Recently an engineer calculated that it would take 105000 years to melt the Antarctica even if you had all the energy of the world running blowtorches melting the ice. Greenland is not nearly as big but to try and melt even a thousandth of Greenland even if you had access to industrial melters on every last inch of the Greenland interior, would be a futile task. Greenland has 2,850,000 km3 of ice.
All of it would have to melt to raise sea level by 7 metres. This is just not going to happen especially even with a 4C average global temperature rise which is at the high catastrophic range of IPCC predictions. You just cannot melt that large a block of ice with air temperatures 4C higher . This is because you are dealing with averages here. The summit which is 2 miles above sea level in the interior has an air temperature range of -26C in winter to 0C in summer. Summer in this part of Greenland is only 2 months long. Temperatures in the other 10 months of the year are below
-10 C. So 2 months of summer is just not enough time to melt an appreciable amount of ice. Increasing the average global temperature by 4C will not make the interior go above freezing because of the elevation.
Additionally, the weight of the Greenland ice has depressed the interior of the continent and disrupted any drainage that existed prior to being covered in ice. If the ice should be completely melted, a significant fraction of the water won’t make it to the oceans until isostatic rebound removes the ‘bowl.’ The bottom line is that theoretical calculations converting the ice volume of Greenland to an increase in ocean level overstates the immediate effect.

I would also like to draw your attention to this graph

It shows the alltime record summer temp for Summit station in inland Greenland. Notice that it barely got above 0C. Since summers are only 2 months long here how in the hell is Greenland supposed to melt any appreciable amount even if global temps went up 4C. The summit is 2 miles high and the mean thickness of the ice in all of Greenland is 2135 metres or 7000 ft. Since this total of ice is 2850000 km3 , how would this melt in 2 months? It wouldn’t. fall and winter would come and the ice would refreeze. Spring would come again and as you see on the graph there wouldn’t be any melting in the spring even if global world temperatures soared above an increase of 4C. Sure Greenland has been losing ice mass over last 20 years but this has happened thousands of times in the past. There was less ice at the end of the 1930s in Greenland than there is today. A new study by Niesen et al.,2018 shows that 8000 years ago was 2-3 C warmer than today with peaks as high as 5C higher and the greenland ice mass diminished only 20% in 3000 years at those increased temperatures.

To further cement this hypothesis of Greenland ice sheet not melting from of top, there have been studies that the melting is happening from underneath because of a volcanic ridge extending from Iceland right to the Arctic. Even the alarmist scientists are admitting that the top of Greenlands interior ice sheet is not melting and that the upper surface every year gets fresh snow/ice and the reason that there is a net loss of ice is the amount of icebergs calving off on the shore line. These icebergs have calved off for millions of years and the volcanic activity has come and gone for millions of years.The alarmists will argue that the calving of the icebergs on the coast of Greenland is increasing with global warming.
However, that demonstrates a lack of understanding of just how calving works. Calving is a breakup of ice shelfs at the coast caused by pressure from the ice sheets as the ice is forced to the sea. Calving is just as likely to happen when it is cold or warm. Calving has been going on ever since Greenland formed ice sheets.

2) I dont see what the problem is even if CO2 caused a 4 degree warming. The earth in the past was as high as 25C average. Now it is 15C. So an increase to an average of 19 would still not melt the ice sheets. See above The global average is just that an average. The North and South Poles and Greenland would still be less than 0 and they probably wouldnt even increase by 4C. So we wouldnt have any more melting (except maybe for some glaciers) But even if all 200000 glaciers melted completely the earth oceans would only rise 400 mm That is only 40 % of a metre or less than 16 inches. Like Dr. Willie Soon said; If you are afraid of the sea level rising 16 inches in 68 years then if you are too slow to move to higher ground in that time frame THEN YOU DESERVE TO DROWN We in Canada would love the 4C increase. Fires are caused by dry conditions, not by temperature. Why wouldnt there be even more rainfall under the bogus CO2 theory since the forcing of temperature is really caused by increases in H2O according to every alarmist in the world? So there wouldnt be any appreciable sea level rise and no increasing droughts nor wildfires, It is is already too hot in the arrid parts of the world in the summertime to spend time outdoors anyway. We have air conditioning for that. Most of the worlds poor do not live in deserts. If it becomes too hot in certain non desert places people can always move towards the poles if they cant afford air conditioning. They will have plenty of time to start packing. 2084 is a long way off. I am really stretching my thinking powers to try to come up with 1 negative of a 4C increase. SO WHATS NOT TO LIKE?
I think 4 C average increase is just what the doctor ordered. It isnt like it is going to happen all at once anyway.

3) Every database in the world that collects statistics on extreme weather events shows you that there are no more than there ever were.

So if the 3 BAD things can’t happen THEN WHAT IN THE HELL ARE WE WORRIED ABOUT?

joe - the non climate scientist
Reply to  Alan Tomalty
June 8, 2018 10:45 am

Concur – All the ice cores in greenland and antartica show ice layers during much warmer periods than today. So if the ice didnt melt then – why would it melt this time (when is colder than before)

The warmists argue that it will melt his time because of why?

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  joe - the non climate scientist
June 8, 2018 11:09 am

Faith in the religion of global warming. Ye have to believe. Yours is not the right to question the high priestess of global warming with facts and logic. Repent now by ridding the world of fossil fuels or die.:)

June 8, 2018 10:39 am

Unfortunately, that leaves out Al Gore, FSU faculty, and other current events hucksters.

David Chappell
June 8, 2018 11:29 am

Mr Landsea should give James Kossin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a call.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  David Chappell
June 8, 2018 12:34 pm

Dr. Landsea often communicates with Dr. Kossin. But Jim has his mind made up, and chooses to dismiss contradictory information, any way. At that point, talking is useless.

Mumbles McGuirck
June 8, 2018 12:37 pm

I just watched the TV interview. John Morales (WTVJ Miami) has been an outspoken alarmist. I am surprised he used Chris’ interview, but he did try to counter his arguments as best he could. BTW, earlier this year Morales refused to moderate a climate debate sponsored by FIU. He claimed it would give an undeserved platform to climate skeptics.

Reply to  Mumbles McGuirck
June 8, 2018 4:29 pm

I was at that debate and James Taylor did an excellent job as a climate realist. Sadly the alarmist side stated repeatedly that the data doesn’t matter. (There rally said that!) I gathered their logic was that it was so settled anyway we don’t have to prove it anymore. HENCE — the alarmists have become true deniers since they ignore the data that are readily available. As for Dr. Landsea, I use to work with him (ate the Hurricane Research Division) and I remember our sock (and dismay) when Kevin Trenberth decided to state the the very busy 2004 hurricane season was the result of man-made global warming!

John Morpuss
June 8, 2018 2:31 pm

Of topic I know, But is this guy related to Chevy chase?

June 8, 2018 3:25 pm

Is that really his name? Landsea? It’s just too perfect for his job.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Ulaanbaatar
Reply to  David Anderson
June 8, 2018 7:31 pm

It is a phenomenon called “nominative determinism” – your name is your fate. There are numerous humorous examples especially in the sciences.

David Walton
June 8, 2018 3:37 pm

Nice to see some honest climate analysis. Could this signal a trend?

June 8, 2018 3:46 pm

I had a huge amount of respect for Chris Landsea and his work with William Gray before he joined NOAA. It increased when I read his letter of resignation from the IPCC. It’s been a while, and the Prometheus site at the University of Colorado no longer exists. That was the best source for Landsea’s letter, I believe it had a fair amount of discussion.

This will do, though it is just the letter. Well worth reading.

Here is Trenberth’s position:

Reply to  Ric Werme
June 8, 2018 3:51 pm

While hunting down the letter, I came across a twitter discussion about hurricane Harvey that perturbed me until I saw the author.

Check out

Who do you think wrote this?

This is an embarrassingly bad paper. Please submit it for peer review and see. Old data used to draw a conclusion about current conditions. Misapplication of a model average forecast to a specific storm. Failure to cite recent contradictory published papers…

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Ric Werme
June 9, 2018 8:00 am

I’m trying to figure out if someone else wrote that Trenberth position page in the “Related Science” list in Trenberth’s CV – there is no author listed. I suppose it was Trenberth, writing in the second person, quoting himself.

While looking for the link on the main CV page I could not help but notice that this guy is “hard over”, that judging from his paper and presentation titles at least, he is 100% convinced of having understanding and insight into the numerous bad aspects of the coming Global Warming and Climate Change.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Randle Dewees
June 9, 2018 1:40 pm

I mean “third person”.

June 8, 2018 4:42 pm

I’m sorry but the media didn’t make that fiction up. “Scientists” did, and the media of course, with no research or attempt at balanced reporting or actual journalism, picked it up and spread it as gospel. I’m afraid that cat has been out of the bag far too long and been to far too many places to get it back again. Perhaps some “scientists” should be held responsible for making up that fiction? The media were just the willing messengers.

Robert B
June 8, 2018 8:41 pm

and famously resigned from the IPCC a 14 years ago, in protest over Santer’s attempts to cook the books?

June 9, 2018 1:14 am

Landsea resigned from being an ‘expert witness” for IPCC because they refused to take into account his submissions, without providing any rebuttal. They just ignored his input because it did not fit the agenda.

June 9, 2018 5:43 am

Chris Landsea is highly credible – a reputable scientist. new server

Atlantic Hurricanes are NOT becoming more frequent or more intense – in fact, the opposite is true.

I assembled these graphs in 2005.


Updated August 2005

Chris Landsea was one of the co-authors.
Eric S. Blake, TPC Miami
Edward N. Rappaport, TPC Miami
Jerry D. Jarrell, TPC Miami (retired)
Christopher W. Landsea, HRD Miami
Tropical Prediction Center
National Hurricane Center
Miami, Florida

June 9, 2018 7:23 am

This past February I attended a lecture at University of New Mexico by Adam Sobel a hurricane attribution specialist and Director of the Columbia Initiative on Extreme Weather and Climate. The first half he raved about climate change and ghgs. The second part he posted some lame autoregression forecasts as his resulting work product.
Some will note the shell game as they play it endlessly. I’ll repeat to emphasize. Initially, a great deal of hype about climate change, hurricanes and extreme events, and perhaps more about his great CV, and some strategic name dropping. We endured this hype from the promotional material until half way into the lecture. Then while eyes have glazed over, the actual work product was introduced. Not a climate change model or prediction, but a conventional autoregression calculation (and hardly a mention of the AMO). To use autoregression is to intrinsically Not attribute an external cause. So there was no point in his time (and by extension ours as the audience) spent on climate change indoctrination, other than indoctrination.
Landsea is on the right track, and I hope he next works to critique these practices by his colleagues. He’s not helping anyone by limiting mild rebukes to nameless media. It is his colleagues who are fueling the flames.

Tom Dayton
June 9, 2018 8:53 am

Instead of short popular-media interpretations, and short assertions about those interpretations, I suggest that folks read this recent summary by climate scientists. Landsea might not even disagree with this detailed, specific, nuanced, careful, set of interpretations of concrete evidence:

Reply to  Tom Dayton
June 10, 2018 6:24 am

Hi Tom,

Based on the authors and the scientific evidence, I suggest that this paper is cr@p.

By Stefan Rahmstorf, Kerry Emanuel, Mike Mann and Jim Kossin`

June 9, 2018 9:39 am

Ah-oh. This guy just lost serious brownie points w/his masters, and has to look out for harassment or grant-cuts.

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