A Green And Pleasant Land

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach (see update at the end)

In England there was a recent partial collapse of the Whaley Bridge Dam. Of course, this couldn’t have been from, oh, I don’t know, bad construction or bad reservoir water-level management …

So naturally, the UK media is full of scary headlines.

The Whaley Bridge dam collapse is terrifying – but it will soon be dwarfed by far greater eco-disasters

Increasingly volatile weather due to climate change will mean events like these will become the norm. Unless we act to reduce our carbon emissions now.

Yeah, right … this totally ignores the facts that nobody has shown any correlation between rainfall and CO2 levels, and that climate models are notoriously bad at predicting precipitation … but I digress.

So I thought I’d take a look at the “increasingly volatile” rainfall that they are claiming. Here, from the good folks at the Hadley Centre, is the HadUKP monthly rainfall data for all of England and Wales :

Figure 1. Monthly Precipitation, England and Wales, 1766 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data (+0.2 mm per century).

No sign of the dreaded “increasingly volatile weather” in that data. But folks also say that although the total rainfall hasn’t changed, the individual storms are dumping more water. So I took a look at the daily rainfall data. It only covers back to 1931.

Figure 2. Daily Precipitation, England and Wales, 1931 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data.

No trend there … so I thought I’d look at just the days with big rainfall amounts, those days with over a third of the maximum daily rainfall. Here’s that dataset:

Figure 3. Days with the largest precipitation, England and Wales, 1931 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data.

In the daily, monthly, and daily largest precipitation data for England and Wales, the trend is less than 1 millimetre per century and is not statistically significant in any dataset …

Finding nothing, I thought that I should look at a smaller scale. The Hadley Centre also puts out regional rainfall data. The Whaley River Dam is located in the sector that Hadley calls “Northwest England”. Here are the corresponding three graphs for just Northwest England.

Figure 4. Monthly Precipitation, Northwest England, 1873 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data (+2.3 mm per century).
Figure 5. Daily Precipitation, England and Wales, 1931 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data.
Figure 6. Days with the largest precipitation, England and Wales, 1766 – 2019. Data from the Hadley Centre, UK. There is no statistically significant trend in the data (+0.5 millimetres per century).

Again, there is no statistically significant trend in either monthly or daily data. I’m sorry, but I’m not seeing any sign of increasing rainfall, either daily or monthly, that would cause any increased risk of dam collapses.

This is a recurring problem with climate predictions. Me, I need to see some significant variation in the actual record before I say that something has changed and that as a result, the future well may be different.

But far too often, climate scientists and the media make statements about future changes that are not at all supported by the actual record.

In other words … for the time being, at least, I’d say that the dams in the UK are safe from rainfall risks … although management and construction risks are an entirely different question …

Best to all on a lovely quiet summer evening here in the forest, with a bit of smoke from a small forest fire a hundred and fifty miles north …

w.

[Update] Steve Mosher pointed out in the comments that I hadn’t directly measured the “volatility” of the daily rainfall. I said if it were getting more volatile you’d see it in the daily records themselves … however, to cover all bases I went back and looked at the data. Volatility is measured as the standard deviation of the data. So I looked each year at the trailing 10-year standard deviation of the daily rainfall … here is that graph.

Figure 7. Daily rain volatility, Northwest England

As you can see, the period with the greatest volatility is not the present, but the decade ending about 1990.

My thanks to Mosh for pushing me to put the last nails in the coffin.

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113 thoughts on “A Green And Pleasant Land

  1. Love that final photograph, Willis. I’m thinking you must have a copy of Gary Snyder’s ‘The Back Country’ tucked away in your well-travelled rucksack…😊

  2. On a more relavent note, the image is so reminiscent of the Oroville Spillway washout. all the way down to the soil missing along the retaining wall to the right of the collapse area

    • That is exactly what I thought when I first saw this. Despite the Guardian doing its inevitable best to make this into a climate “crisis” issue, after about 3 days they did end on a comment about them looking into the question of possible maintenance issues.

      Spillways are designed to spill excess water. If they start to break up when water spills onto the spillway, they were either badly designed and constructed or not properly maintained.

      • A few years ago, whilst on a Strucutral Engineers’ Conference, I heard a great Geotechnical & Geological Engineer say, (whilst displaying slides of engineering “disasters” around the World), that “water has a way of seeping through every theory!” I found it very profound! Whenever I look at a subsidence issue with a property, if localised springs are discoverd (not unusual) I instruct remedial measures to remove the water from the vicinity via appropriate drainages works!

        The spillway had probably received little maintenance over the years, most likely due to budgetary constraints, I would put money on the fact that “engineers” had been telling the powers-that-be to spend some cash or expect the worst, “powers-that-be” take note re hurricane Katrina & the badly maintained levies! Engineers can create & edsign & build wonders, but they ALWAYS need money spent on them for maintenance!!!!

        • I have developed the opinion that many (most) government operated structures like this purposely delay maintenance so that the federal government will pay for some/all of the repair after failure. Happens to often to be a coincidence.

    • There certainly are similarities. Some of the best reporting on Whaley Bridge dam came on the blancolorio Youtube channel, precisely because Juan Browne had followed the Oroville story from day 1 and still reports on it, and so knew exactly what to look for: he managed also to get some useful on the ground local reports, including people who recalled past events there.

      Paul Homewood did a series of posts on the weather data starting here:

      https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/did-climate-change-damage-the-whaley-bridge-dam/

      He showed that there was nothing exceptional about the rainfall there, or rainfall trends. I suspect Willis might owe him a hat tip.

      Once again, the citizen reporters far outran the official media and TV for accuracy and insight and investigation of the dam’s past (it’s had problems on several occasions before, perhaps not surprising for something that started to be built before Queen Victoria ascended the throne).

      • Another thumbs up for the Juan’s Blancolirio channel, been following his channel ever since he started reporting on the Oroville spillway collapse. No-nonsense reporting at its finest! 🙂

    • The biggest difference is that the Oroville spillway collapse didn’t risk the dam itself collapsing, as the spillway was off to the side of the dam. At the Whaley Bridge dam, the spillway was constructed on top of the dam, so that the undercutting of the spillway actually weakens the dam itself. Fortunately it seems that they were able to stop the damage in time, before the dam was damaged to the point of collapse.

    • The data obviously hasn’t been sufficiently homogenized. Best send it to the BOM in Aus, they are pretty good at homogenizing data until they get the desired trend.

  3. Thanks for the low down on the data Willis. Could you explain how you get your various gaussian low-pass filters to run right up to the end of the data? How are you padding the data to achieve that?

  4. Nice work, Willis.

    The Whaley Bridge Dam failure was nicely covered by blogger Paul Homewood of the UK, and some of his UK regulars. The dam was very old, the spillway constructed on an angle causing maximum force on the side that failed, and was in visibly poor repair.
    The improper spillway construction and poor repair facts are very reminiscent of the Oroville Dam fiasco in California.

    Both showing that UK and California money wasted on global warming and renewables would be much better spent on basic infrastructure.

    • Guardian: “UK reclaims place as world’s second largest arms exporter. Figures reveal record £14bn sales last year…”

      Should be a few bob left over to maintain some old bridges one would think?

  5. Congratulations Willis on a tidy bit of work using actual data to rebut the all too prevalent “meeja-hype” practised by the BBC and others. As you well know the chaotic weather in the UK is governed by several competing weather systems that overlap our “green and pleasant land”. Gives rise to wide variability with very little trending — it is why we play cricket over 5 days!

    imarcus

    • “it is why we play cricket over 5 days”
      It’s why we schedule cricket over five days. Better – no?
      Don’t seem to be doing too well at playing into the last day; probably too much of the ‘electric rounders’ in the county game to actually unearth, let alone prepare, Five Day specialists.

      Your comments on the weather, however, are top notch.

      Auto – depressed by the cricket at Lords – England 150-6 as I write.

  6. The alarmists are increasingly rejecting the IPCC reports as inadequate. link That means they have given up any pretense of an appeal to any kind of at least semi-credible science.

    At least the IPCC pretends to be based on science.

    I never thought I would have to hold up the IPCC as an example of semi-credible not-totally-fraudulent science.

    • The problem is when the green doomsday cult does distort and exaggerate the reports they just stay silent. So they are complicit in the misinformation that gets published along with media who never bother to actually check details promoted by activists. Griff is a prime example he has a truth and accuracy rate of less than 10% (I was keeping tally for a while) and when you look at his favoured source it is the Guardian.

      • And the Guardian’s favoured source is likely Griff (or some Griff). Ever the wheel of bulls**t turns. You can tell when the UK media get caught out by verifiable facts – they fall quickly and suspiciously silent, like a parrot with a blanket thrown over its cage. Apart from the BBC and their newsprint wing, who seem to change gear from alarmist hype to outright making things up in an effort to dig themselves deeper. I love it: each time they ramp up the hype and ‘jump the shark’ they lose a little bit more credibility in the eyes of the public. The more credibility they lose, the more they need to ramp up the hype.

  7. Willis,
    Hoping you mean the final photo, not the smoke, is 150 miles from home. Earth curvature and all that.
    Like you, I am tired of childish expressions like “when future rainfall/temperatures/floods/droughts are expected to become more severe/frequent/long lasting because of climate change”. Look at the past, as you did. Geoff S

    • The photo is from my kitchen, the fire is 150 miles away. Smoke blew this way yesterday, but today it’s clear.

      w.

  8. Every year they assure us, don’t worry, next year it will start getting bad. Then you will believe.

    “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, you’re always a day away”

  9. Exacting review. + + + +
    I live on Point Grey, which is as far west as you can get and still be in Vancouver.
    In looking to the view i can say that the ocean is definitely at sea level.
    No concerns here.

  10. Maybe the tech used in selecting personalized advertizing for individuals surfing the net would be useful in debunking lies by activists and all-in, paid-for climate weevils. When the unsupported lies about burgeoning climate change rainfall is printed, for example, Willis’s zero trend rainfall graphs pop up for both readers and writers of this stuff. Any ideas out there?

    I’m actually blown away that there is such a balance for a country and parts thereof with all the noisy data in a rainy nation. A millimetre or two a century ‘trend’ over two and a half centuries!! S’Truth that’s the most remarkable ‘nothing is happening’ I’ve ever seen.

    • They are already doing this, but in the opposite direction. For example, if you watch youtube videos on certain subjects, you will get a little box at the bottom pointing you to the “correct” information. For climate related issues, this is the “consensus” view (i.e. the alarmist position).

      The rainfall trend is, in my opinion, probably very stable as it won’t be greatly affected by urban heat islands. At least not to the extent that the temperature record is. Although, I’m not sure how much rainfall would vary if the climate was actually changing substantially. I imagine it would, but by what degree and in what direction would be quite difficult to predict in advance.

  11. Great article and homework, but there is a real problem.
    https://www.wwno.org/post/new-poll-majority-louisiana-voters-believe-climate-change
    First, you have to have to ask a dumb question with no qualification or definition given, second you have to be wedded to the statistical reliability of polls, third, you must have people answering in a juvenile way, fourth, this might provide an excuse to do something.

    So, as the article says, “I think [the conversation is] changing, frankly, because of what we’ve seen,” Cochran said. “Not only coastal impacts, but rainfall extremes all across the state.” I lived there for three decades, I doubt it.

  12. You need the 20/20 Climate Googles in order to see climate change in the data, now on special for $9.99. They make quite a fashion statement as well. Hurry, supplies are limited, and they are going fast. Just go to http://www.Clim4U.

  13. As I indicated on another piece at WUWT earlier today, the media’s obsession with their CAGW conjecture has become one of the worst threats to rationality since the tragedies that The Inquisition, Salem, Nazism, Dictatorial Communism, Jonestown, and the like inflicted on gullible societies.

    (On a more optimistic note, however, all the above-mentioned lunacies eventually ended. I hope the CAGW lunacy goes the same way sooner rather than later)

    • “all the above-mentioned lunacies eventually ended.”

      Yes, but at what a cost in Human lives, suffering, & misery, not to mention environmental destruction with it, yes the National Socialists were great eco-bunnies, right up the until destruction of everything in its path became necessary!

  14. Thanks for all the work on this, Willis. I note however that, on figs 5 and 6 at least, what appears to be a visible uptick in the incidence of daily rainfall events of more than 30 mm from the mid-2000s onwards. I do not at all mean to attribute this to ‘climate change’, as I am fully aware of the randomess of rain events. But could these recent years with ‘more than average’ high rainfall events have been outside the design assumpions used by the designers of this dam, thereby contributing to the failure?
    As an aside, I live in Brisbane, Australia and you may be aware of the serious flood here in 2011 caused by poor water management of the 3 million megaliter Wyvenhoe dam. This dam has two functions, the main water supply of the city of Brisbane and flood mitigation, with 50% of the dam capacity nominally ‘reserved’ for each purpose. Unfortunately, the folk responsible for managing the dam water level failed to lower the water level before and during the ‘wet season’ here, and then had to fully open the floodgates to avoid damage to the dam after a couple of weeks of very heavy rain had both saturated the city and filled the dam to overflowing. This resulted in significant flooding of towns and cities downstream of the dam. Brisbane is sub-tropical, so we are used to high rainfall events – 300 mm in a day is not that uncommon here.
    Might poor management have contributed to the damage to the Whaley Bridge dam?

    • It certainly did. The principal cause of the damage was inadequate maintenance of the concrete spillway that was built over the earthen and clay core dam as an addition to the original spillway that sits to the side of the dam. The original spillway overflowed its bounds in 1964, so they decided to add the new one by about 1970. It consists of concrete slabs that aren’t particularly thick. The joints between them have frequently been allowed to deteriorate, with plants growing through the gaps, opening up paths for rain water to get underneath and scour the earth below. Frosts can also open up the gaps. During a major statutory inspection last November, the spillway was passed as OK. It should not have been. I’ve found pictures of the spillway (which has barely been used in anger) going back over quite a number of years that show the sporadic nature of maintenance.

    • Following a similar flooding in 1964 it was determined that the original spillway was inadequate to take the design flood and a new spillway was built (the one that failed here).

    • The media, even including the BBC , have pointed out the weeds shown growing through , and destroying, the concrete of the slipway before its collapse. So poor management is certainly one of the causes of the problem. However the story( if I have got it right) is a bit complicated because the dam was originally built to supply water for nearby canals when these were major arteries for local textile trade and industry. After nationalisation of public services after WW2 , canals and their maintenance were run by the British Waterways Board . However , i think it was the Chanceller George Osbourne who thought that it was too big a burden on public finances and transferred responsibility to a voluntary body : the Canal and River Trust , earning revenue from donations and charges on pleasure craft. This money is clearly inadequate , as you can see if you walk along any canal bank and look at the state of the locks.
      Concerned at the deterioration of the banks of the Macclesfield Canal I offered my services as a voluntary manual labourer to help with restoration , but they only wanted people to hand out tea and cakes to boaters passing through the locks . Some of the locks are getting quite bad even to my inexpert eye.

  15. The problem is not the IPCC, the problem is activism. And the dedicated followers of fashion

    • EternalOptimst
      August 14, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      Yes, good point…maybe you’ve coined a new term…”climate fashion”. Well done!

      Can I use that or are you expecting royalties? Or do I have to stick with “climate jet set”?

  16. These “scary” headlines simply help to create and promote the climate hysteria that is going on around us in a seemingly endless spiral. This type of fear inducing journalism affects people’s thinking and promotes needless fear and worry in the minds of the public. I have read that school children are taking authorities to court over the government’s apparent failure to control or mitigate global warming (another futile waste of money caused by juvenile emotion). Is there no way that a class action lawsuit can be issued against the IPCC and the MSM for the damage that they are causing by wasting taxpayers monies chasing something that has not been proven conclusively to be the responsibility of mankind (can we still use that word)? I understand that the litigation would be horrendously expensive, but when we consider the billions (trillions) of dollars that are being wasted on this goosechase, a few million dollars spent to corner these charlatans would be money well spent. Would the IPCC be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that CO2 is the monster that they claim it to be and is therefore responsible for changes in the climate experienced since 1850?

  17. But there’s several people walking over a remarkably spindly looking bridge, across a terrifyingly eroded dam, holding back gazillions of gallons of water, which would turn into a tsunami if the dam breached, sweeping them to their deaths amongst the rocks in the valley below.

    Ooops….sorry, dayglow safety jackets, they’re fine.

  18. The dam has been having issues since back in 1931. Concrete was added in 1969, after major problems from flooding in 1964 (remember, that was a time they were worried about global cooling). And it has been having problems ever since.

    But, hey, lets’ blame Other People driving fossil fueled vehicles.

  19. The wettest days recorded in the UK had been between the years 1929 and 1974.

    Highest 24-hour rainfall totals for a rainfall day (0900-0900 GMT)

    Country ———Rainfall (mm)—-Date————Location

    England———-279———-18 July 1955———Martinstown (Dorset)
    Northern Ireland-159 ———-31 October 1968—–Tollymore Forest (County Down)
    Scotland ———-238———-17 January 1974—– Sloy Main Adit (Argyll & Bute)
    Wales———— -211———-11 November 1929– Lluest Wen Reservoir (Mid Glamorgan)

    The highest 24-hour total for any 24-hour period is 341.4 mm from 1800 GMT on 4th to 1800 GMT on 5th December 2015 at Honister Pass (Cumbria).

    Source Met Office

    Notice that the wettest days recorded for each country have occurred no recent then 1974. The rainfall recordings from 1800 GMT until 1800 GMT were really cherry picking and stations in past history did not have them type of records before at least the 1980’s.

    https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/guides/observations/how-we-measure-rainfall

  20. ““increasingly volatile weather”

    unfortunately you didnt test that claim.
    you tested whether a linear model explained the data.

    wrong test.

    • ‘As you can see, the period with the greatest volatility is not the present, but the decade ending about 1990.’

      What would be the trendin volatility, supposed we bought into the theory it is increasing?

      My hunch, looking at the data, is that it is positive, but not significant.

  21. “https://theconversation.com/whaley-bridge-dam-collapse-is-a-wake-up-call-concrete-infrastructure-will-not-last-forever-without-care-121423”

    “Torrential rain in the Midlands and North of England that saw half a month’s rain fall in one day ”

    The test that you wanted to run was a test for extreme events, not a test for linear trend.

    dam looks like typical shit ass British work, so combine shitty engineering with more extreme events
    and it is not a good thing.

    yep, the world is warming. There was an LIA. In a warming world you can expect to have more severe rain
    events. and yep, if you have shitty british engineering you can expect dam failures.

    call the dutch if you have half a brain.

    • Thanks, Steve. If the weather were “increasingly volatile”, we’d see it in the daily records. We don’t.

      As to “half a month’s rain in one day”, that’s on the order of 35 to 50 mm of rain, and that’s not a particularly uncommon occurrence in that area. Nor does it seem to be increasing.

      I also note that in Figure 6 I’ve analyzed the largest 1.3% of the daily NW England rainfall records … and there is no trend in those extreme values.

      But if you’d truly like for me to look at volatility, that’s typically measured as the standard deviation. I’ve done that and added it to the head post … here you go.

      As I said, we can’t see it in the daily records, and it’s not visible in the actual measurements of volatility either. Max volatility was in the 1980s.

      Thanks for pushing me onwards, I’ve added the graph to the head post.

      w.

      • umm and the rise and fall period correlate to solar cycles??? seem to be around 10ish yrs peaks

        • ozspeaksup August 15, 2019 at 5:50 am

          umm and the rise and fall period correlate to solar cycles??? seem to be around 10ish yrs peaks

          Umm, no. Here’s the scatterplot of the data shown above vs. sunspots.

          The problem is that we’re hardwired to see patterns even if there are none there. Stars have no pattern, but we see gods and beasts in the constellations.

          It’s evolutionary. The penalty for not seeing the leopard that is there is immensely greater than the penalty for wrongly thinking we see the leopard that isn’t there, so we often perceive non-existent patterns in random data.

          w.

      • Willis; the one thing I do not see in your graphs are massive raindalls, that is numbers several times larger than the largest of your highest daily/monthly rainfalls. I may be wrong but in my mind it would have to take rainfalls an order of magnitude greater than you have listed to cause the drastic changes in the course of rivers as shown from the satellite photos of rivers like the Mississippi River, Missouri River, etc. I am unaware of any major changes in the course of major rivers in the last fifty years.
        Am I wrong?

    • Nothing unusual about rainfall for short durations with not any been broken in recent years that occurred between 1893 and 1989. Rainfall over hundreds of years varies in different regions so it seems they are worse than normal, but they just occurred in different places before.

      UK rainfall records for short durations

      Minutes Rainfall (mm) Date Location
      Highest 5-minute total 32* –10 August 1893 –Preston (Lancashire)
      Highest 30-minute total 80 –26 June 1953 –Eskdalemuir (Dumfriesshire)
      Highest 60-minute total 92 –12 July 1901 –Maidenhead (Berkshire)
      Highest 90-minute total 117 –8 August 1967 –Dunsop Valley (Lancashire)
      Highest 120-minute total 193#–19 May 1989 –Walshaw Dean Lodge (West Yorkshire)
      Highest 120-minute total 155# — 11 June 1956 –Hewenden Reservoir (West Yorkshire)
      Highest 155-minute total 169 –14 August 1975 –Hampstead (Greater London)
      Highest 180-minute total 178 –7 October 1960 –Horncastle (Lincolnshire)

      * Approximate value.
      # Reservations about Walshaw value, Hewenden value is next highest accepted value.

      Source Met Office

      “Torrential rain in the Midlands and North of England that saw half a month’s rain fall in one day ”

      The test that you wanted to run was a test for extreme events, not a test for linear trend.

      There is nothing unusual about half of months rain in one day. In summer this often occurs almost every year because most days are dry. The average month’s totals are often varied by the presence or absence of torrential rain and thunderstorms.

    • Thanks Willis for your detailed colorful analyses. The most “recent” classic extreme weather event was the 1975 Banquoi Dam failure.

      The “perfect storm” that breached Banqiao Dam in China’s Henan province on Aug 5, 1975 was due to Super Typhoon Nina being stopped by a cold front (Britannica 2014, Ingomar200 2013). It dropped the area’s average yearly rainfall in less than 24 hours. That day’s 106 cm (41.7″) of rain dwarfed the 30 cm (11.8″) daily limit the dam’s designers had considered and the 10 cm forecast. Driven by political pressure of “primacy to accumulation and irrigation” above all else, Banqiao Dam had only 5 of the 12 sluice gates recommended by hydrologist Chen Xing. The deluge of 120% of annual rainfall in 24 hours breached the 387 ft (118 m) high Banqiao Dam, and the Shimantan Dam. That in turn destroyed ~62 downstream dams. Zongshu & Nniazu (2011) report that by 2003 China saw 3,481 dams collapse!

      See Will the Oroville Dam Survive the ARkStorm?

      Willis, PS Note that “weather” does not follow Markovian statistics but rather Hurst Kolmogorov Dynamics aka climate persistence”.
      d. Koutsoyiannis is one of the specialists in rainfall statistics.

    • Dear Mr Mosher,
      Thank you so much for bringing the words “shit” and “British” together twice within a few lines – a most intelligent, insightful and helpful contribution to this discussion on climate statistics.

    • Steve Mosher
      “dam looks like typical shit ass British work…”
      Just a cotton-picking minute!
      You want me to run through a few US engineering failures?
      You think that’s a helpful comment (especially from one who persistently supports the venal shroudwavers who promote the Global Warming scam?)
      Look at https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2019/08/03/whaley-bridge-update/#comments
      (Note -nearly a fortnight ago)
      See my comment there:-

      “As a Chartered Civil Engineer in the Coal Industry, I was (personally!) responsible for the technical management and safety of numerous tailings lagoons and dams (which fall under different legislation but which are every bit as deadly if they fail).

      I also had responsibility for some large raised reservoirs which impounded water – mostly ‘legacy’ sites and including two large reservoirs originally constructed in the 1790s. (So 50 years older than Toddbrook). I was a member of the British Dams Society (an Associated Society of the Institution of Civil Engineers), whilst I was still working full time.

      There were numerous problems keeping old reservoirs safe and I had to spend quite a lot of money (and effort) on essential maintenance work.

      However, for the avoidance of doubt, the primary regulation for reservoirs is the Reservoirs Act 1975 (as amended over the years). This is easily available on line, although I have yet to see much evidence of ‘expert comment’ informed by this!

      Section 10 para (1) states:-
      (1)The undertakers shall have any […] high-risk reservoir inspected from time to time by an independent qualified civil engineer (“the inspecting engineer”) and obtain from him a report of the result of his inspection.

      The Engineers (whose necessary qualifications are set out at Clause 4 of the act), fall into a number of categories but the ‘Inspecting Engineers’ that I have encountered are extremely well qualified and practiced engineers. It would be very instructive to see a copy of the latest Inspection Report for Toddbrook dam!

      Of particular interest to the current problems is the fact that ‘high risk’ dams have to have an official inundation map which indicates areas likely to be affected in the event of a failure. And also the fact that the stability of the dam and its ability to withstand an extreme weather event is supposedly based on a 1:10,000 storm event. Obviously, (as Noah neglected to keep and preserve accurate & detailed records), this necessitates a fair amount of hypothesis and, no doubt, much computer modelling. Certainly the procedure for estimating a 1:10,000 storm event are complex in the extreme.

      The Beeb has informed us that the storm near Whaley Bridge was a 1:1,000 event. Gosh!
      ‘Unprecedented’, as they say. (A non-sequitur on stilts?)

      For the uninitiated, 1:1,000 is almost trivial compared to 1:10,000!

      Clearly there are some serious questions to be answered about the Toddbrook dam (although I’m not holding by breath that we’ll be told just yet, or even ever.). I’m not going to speculate as I’ve never been to Toddbrook and most of what has been reported is likely fake news. But Wiki does state:- “High rainfall levels resulted in damage to the dam’s main spillway in December 1964. The damage was repaired in 1965, but flood studies judged the spillway to be inadequate. As a result in 1971 an additional concrete spillway was added to the centre of the dam.” Certainly the old ‘normal’ spillway looks inadequate (although the odd glimpses the Meejah gives us haven’t been well photographed) and the state of the 1971 (?) armouring provided down the downstream face, speaks for itself.

      And, as has been pointed out, the Environment Agency is (Section 10 of the Act) “The relevant authoriti[y] for purposes of this Act shall be, in England F12… the Environment Agency.”

      They are the boys and girls charged with the responsibility for overseeing, regulating & ensuring the the provisions of the Legislation are correctly implemented. There should be a few EA employees to be interviewed under caution…

      Bearing in mind the Grenfell Towers disaster, it is hard to feel confident that the truth will necessarily be revealed anytime soon.”

      There is photographic evidence of the state of the spillway prior to the emergency:-
      https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7318299/Does-picture-neglected-Whaley-Bridge-dam-prove-disaster-waiting-happen.html

      It is blatantly obvious that the management of the Toddbrook dam was deficient and there are obvious answers needed both from the Supervising Engineer and the Inspection Engineer (from the statutory Panel of qualified and experienced Engineers.)
      There are also questions to be asked of the Environment Agency, who are supposed to ensure that the designated Engineers for these roles have been appointed, have carried out their inspections, produced certified reports and that recommended works of maintenance and improvement have been carried out and again certified by the Engineers.
      It is hard to imagine that the answers to these questions will make comfortable reading.

      But there again, whilst there has been a steep decline in the UK, of proper Universities running proper undergraduate courses in Civil & Structural Engineering, the prospects for the future aren’t looking promising. So much easier and so much trendier to take some dopey “Earth Science” degree from some dumb Polytechnic boosted up as an University by Tony Blair.

      But let’s have a bit of respect for the Engineering pioneers like Brunel, Locke, Stephenson & Smeaton and others from back in the C.19th and C.18th. (and for the people from whom they learned, including the master masons who built the great English cathedrals ).

      And also remember that the cathedrals we still see today in Europe are the ones that didn’t collapse during or after construction.

      • The Beeb has informed us that the storm near Whaley Bridge was a 1:1,000 event. Gosh!
        ‘Unprecedented’, as they say. (A non-sequitur on stilts?)
        For the uninitiated, 1:1,000 is almost trivial compared to 1:10,000!

        And for those whose math is not up to it -that means a similar storm can be expected about once in every three years.

    • “Steven Mosher August 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      …dam looks like typical shit ass British work, so combine shitty engineering…”

      Just like the sh1t ass American work and sh1tty engineering in Oroville, California, only a lot older and exposed to a lot more rain.

      • I was about to comment in a similar vein. So what about Teton?

        One of the problems with dams that are nearly 200 years old is that there was no theory back then and they were pushing the envelope. Perhaps the real astonishment should be shown to the fact that they survived this long. Incidentally, in respect to shitty engineering, one should perhaps just say ‘MCAS’ to silence our transatlantic pals.

    • Speaking as a Brit, you are a piece of shit.
      The ‘extreme’ rainfall on the day in question was 2 inches; more than 4 inches a day has fallen in that area many times in the past. Its known locally as the Peak District, it gets very very wet , often.
      When you write about stuff you say you know about you are often totally wrong, when you write about stuff you know nothing at all about , you clearly demonstrate what a fool you are.

    • Steven Mosher August 14, 2019 at 6:29 pm

      dam looks like typical shit ass British work, so combine shitty engineering with more extreme events
      and it is not a good thing.
      ————————
      it was built in 1840-41 It’s not done too bad.

      I don’t see much engineering being done at that time in the US that survives to today.

      • Mosher forgets we “sh1tty British engineers” have buildings that are over 900 years old, Winchester Cathedral for instance. The “OLD” one, or site there of, is 1500 years old. How many centuries older than 1776 is that?

    • Half a brain could tell you that the UK is wetter during a warm AMO phase, and that a warm AMO phase is normal during a centennial solar minimum.

  22. Great article.

    A dam is building and a building is a machine. It flexes, has dynamic loads, vibrational load/harmonic loads and like all machines need to be maintained as each these types of forces and loads work to fatigue the structures. Why did the normal maintenance audits not catch the failing infrastructure?

    “…Unless we act to reduce our carbon emissions now…”

    This part of the “scary” headline is, at best intellectually dishonest if not an outright lie, even if we woke up tomorrow morning with a brand new carbon free energy source( ignoring the factor that we already have a couple that are not wind or solar) we would still need to dig/pump fossil fuels/materials from the ground to maintain our high technological, high engineering modern economies. Even building an electric car will still require these materials.

  23. Wiki has a decent article on the dam under the title “Toddbrook Reservoir”. It was built in 1838 – it’s 181 years old and was patched up from time to time, but always in an ad hoc way. It stores water for a canal with multi locks. In the early years of the industrial revolution, canals were hugely important modes of transportation and there are many such reservoirs still in use today, feeding the canals which now have major recreational use.

    The Whaley Bridge dam seems to have been badly built by our modern standards, but that was probably OK in those years when lives were cheap. Never mind the shoddy spillway, it isn’t even built on bedrock. Sited above a town, it was a disaster waiting to happen. It’s going to be rebuilt, at huge cost, and will almost certainly be safe for another 181 years, but you wonder how many other ancient dams are going to start failing as they enter their third century of indifferent maintenance.

    Ageing infrastructure is going to be a major problem for the industrialized world in the 21st century, and a much more real problem than you know what.

  24. Recently I looked into issues of volatility of time-series too. I used medians and IQR of 3*sigma volatility over fixed-width windows because I like colored bars in my plots, but a trailing standard deviation gives the same kind of information.

    My research was to determine whether temperature in 2019 has been more or less volatile than the reference period (for only one specific location, so far) and the quite unexpected result is that, despite cold and hot waves in April – July, the temperature has been markedly LESS volatile than climate reference.

  25. “I need to see some significant variation in the actual record before I say that something has changed and that as a result, the future well may be different.”

    A little OT but here’s some significant variation Willis, way outside 2σ for several years now.

    • Loydo, I made it so that your graphic is visible.

      Since that covers only 40 years and is known to start in a time of higher ice, I would be cautious about drawing any long-term conclusions … it’s possible that something is happening, but far from clear.

      I tried to go to the site listed in the bottom right, but once I’d signed into google.com/sites I got

      “We’re sorry, we were unable to locate the site /artischepinguin/home/global-sea-ice”

      Grrr … in any case, thanks. In the meantime, this post by Matt Ridley might be of interest. Here’s a quote from it:

      Would it matter if it did all melt one year? Here’s the point everybody seems to be missing: the Arctic Ocean’s ice has indeed disappeared during summer in the past, routinely. The evidence comes from various sources, such as beach ridges in northern Greenland, never unfrozen today, which show evidence of wave action in the past.

      One Danish team concluded in 2012 that 8,500 years ago the ice extent was “less than half of the record low 2007 level”. A Swedish team, in a paper published in 2014, went further: between 10,000 years ago and 6,000 years ago, the Arctic experienced a “regime dominated by seasonal ice, ie, ice-free summers”.

      See what I mean about short records?

      w.

      • Thanks Willis. I guess what might distinguish modern sea-ice change is the rate of change to a seasonal regime.

        Try this one:
        https://sites.google.com/site/arctischepinguin/home/global-sea-ice
        Interesting anomaly plot there spiking to 8σ.

        I posted this graph because I think it does flag a rapidly changing regime and that may begin to show up weather records if an ice-free Arctic affects Polar Vortices and Hadley cells as some suggest.

      • Supplementary question. If two noisy sets of relativly independant data (like Arctic +Antarcic sea ice area) are summed is the resultant data noisier, less or no different?

        • Errors on each data point can only be summed, so the resultant series will have higher uncertainty for each point.

          Regarding the series-level variance, I think it’s good practice to sum it as well. If one series has much higher variance, then the smaller one can be neglected.

          I wouldn’t trust any statistical wizardy that promises a reduction in variance.

        • If the sets are independant then it is stupid to combine them in the first place but the noise result is the sum of the two …. proof write it mathematically

          A±x + B±y = (A + B) ±(x+y)

          So the errors simply add.

          • LdB August 15, 2019 at 9:16 pm

            … the noise result is the sum of the two …. proof write it mathematically

            A±x + B±y = (A + B) ±(x+y)

            So the errors simply add.

            Close, but not quite. Errors add in what is called “quadrature”, with quadrature meaning the square root of the sum of the squares of the errors, viz:

            A±x + B±y = (A + B) ± sqrt(x^2 + y^2)

            w.

  26. The dam in Whaley Bridge is managed by the Canal & River Trust (CRT). The CRT holds the guardianship of in the order of 2,000 miles of canals and rivers, together with reservoirs and a wide range of heritage buildings and structures, in England and Wales. Launched on 12 July 2012, the Trust took over the responsibilities of the state-owned British Waterways.

    A charitable trust is an irrevocable trust established for charitable purposes and, in some jurisdictions, a more specific term than “charitable organization”. A charitable trust enjoys a varying degree of tax benefits in most countries. It also generates good will. It is also strapped for cash & therein lies the problem for Whaley Bridge. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canal_%26_River_Trust#Finance

    • The CRT ( formerly the state owned British Waterways) does not have a single practising Civil Engineer on the Board of Trustees or the Operational Main Board.

  27. “Increasingly volatile weather”.. No kidding ?

    Weather has been always volatile. Except probably over deserts and poles, save the hardly predictable quickly forming jerky cells and storms.

    That’s why old grumpy training captains and weather radars are amongst the most prized possessions onboard.

  28. This was absolutely down to intense rainfall. You can see the huge amounts of water sheeting over the top of the dam before the damage occurs.

    This sort of rainfall and overflow hasn’t been a problem in over 100 years this dam has existed. Twice the monthly rainfall within days was.
    https://metro.co.uk/2019/08/02/toddbrook-reservoir-dam-whaley-bridge-started-collapse-10504992/

    The UK now sees regular summer flash flooding and severe summer flood damage on narrow valleys/catchment areas on a regular basis due to the increased intensity of rain from climate change.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/19/cornish-village-coverack-begins-clean-up-work-after-torrential-rain-and-floods

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-35183443/uk-flooding-water-rises-in-manchester-city-centre

    • Hi Griff! As I have posted before. Why are you always wrong? Are you a very high level troll?

    • Griff,

      You are so wrong, the dam has been prone to leaks and collapse since its construction in 1834. It will now be replaced at last!

      It is a Cat A dam supposedly designed and inspected to withstand/pass through a one in ten thousand year flood, but it didn’t, something went wrong.

      It appears your credibility and careful research doesn’t even extend to looking at Wikepedia.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toddbrook_Reservoir

    • I have done a lot Root Cause Failure Analysis over the years.

      No Failure Mode I have ever seen has been one thing. It is a system of failures. And we have photographic evidence of structural failure from at two years prior. So either you did not read or you are being intellectually dishonest.

      In one of my comments from yesterday I had asked about how the maintenance audits did not catch the structural damage that lead to failure.

    • griff August 15, 2019 at 1:30 am

      This was absolutely down to intense rainfall. You can see the huge amounts of water sheeting over the top of the dam before the damage occurs.

      Griff, the clue is in the name. That’s not “the top of the dam”. Instead, that’s called the “spillway”, and there are “huge amounts of water” spilling over it by design. That’s what the water is supposed to do.

      As to increased rain, I put the actual records up at the top. Please point out the “increased rain”.

      w.

      PS—Given the photos and pictures others have posted of grass and trees growing up through cracks in the spillway, I found this part of your link hilarious:

      Professor Tim Broyd, Professor of Built Environment Foresight at University College London, said: ‘Dams are highly regulated structures, which includes regular structural inspections by highly qualified engineers. ‘It is unlikely therefore that the dam was in a previously unsafe condition.

      • Professor Tim Broyd is sadly deluded. The “highly qualified” personnel who perform these regular “structural” inspections are, sadly, all too frequently wrong.
        Firstly, they get jaded from looking at the same bits of infrastructure year after year. (If you look at the same wall every day, you won’t notice it getting gradually more dingy. But an irregular visitor will pick it up immediately and might say “Your house has not as spruce as when I last visited three years ago. Have you thought of getting it redecorated?”)
        Secondly, such inspection may not pick up deep underlying design errors. In the sad case of the I-35 bridge which eventually collapsed in Minneapolis, a ‘highly qualified person’ looked at the faulty 1/2 inch thick gusset plate on a regular basis. But they were unaware that it should have been 1 inch thick. With each inspection the fact that it was ‘bowed’ was written-off as “fabrication error”. (NTSB/HAR-08/03 PB2008-916203)
        Thirdly, there is a mentality of “it has always been done this way so I won’t buck the trend”.

  29. The Met Office historical monthly rainfall data goes back 254 years. It shows that July and August in the 20th century particulary the late 20th century were exceptionaly dry. With only July 1936 and the Augusts of 1946, 1927, 1956 ,1912 and 1917 making only two or three within living memory. On the other hand 11 Julys and 11 Augusts feature in the driest top 20 monthly data, one 21st century August also appears in the driest list.

    So folk memory is correct and UK summers have got wetter in recent years but folk memory (People between 20 and 80 years old) doesn’t go back far enough to include really we summers. It’s also why the Met Office and XR start their data at the end of the 19th century when data back to the 18th century is available.

    • Ben Vorlich August 15, 2019 at 2:17 am

      The Met Office historical monthly rainfall data goes back 254 years. It shows that July and August in the 20th century particulary the late 20th century were exceptionaly dry.

      Thanks, Ben. As usual, the situation is more complex than that. Here’s the monthly data for July and August from the source listed in the head post.

      Not sure what conclusion I’d draw from that …

      w.

  30. Willis
    I assume you’ve seen the photographs of the dam spillway taken a couple of years ago and showing the neglect? I have a feeling any inspections were of the “Yes it’s still there kind”.

  31. This is how far away it was from being “unprecedented”.

    I know it is tempting to jump on any passing bandwagon, but perhaps make sure it has some wheels! The number of reservoir failures and flood incidents has actually been decreasing just as the extreme weather events, claimed, have been increasing, correllation isn’t causation but really!

    76. Toddbrook Incident date: December 1964 Construction details The reservoir was constructed in 1840-41 to supply water to the Peak Forest canal. It is on the north-west edge of the Peak District National Park near Whaley Bridge. The embankment is 24 m high with 1:2 upstream and downstream slopes. Further details of the dam construction are given in Incident No. 23. Incident description The water level was one metre above the spillway crest for a period of 24 hours following heavy rain and it took another two days for the level to fall to normal top water level. Damage was caused to the lower part of the spillway channel. Some parts of the side walls were washed out and some erosion took place on the right bank adjacent to the downstream toe of the dam. The main deterioration was caused by excessive flow down the spillway. Response The 1964 flood damage was repaired in 1965 and subsequent flood studies confirm the spillway was inadequate to take the design flood. An additional spillway was built in 1969 with a 75-m weir built over the southern section of the embankment discharging over a concrete-protected portion of the downstream face. The sill level is above the original spillweir level. Lessons The incident showed that despite the dam being in existence since 1840, the spillway was inadequate. The incident instigated a flood study of the reservoir resulting in an additional spillway constructed.

    22. Toddbrook Incident date:1977 Construction details The 24-m high dam consists mainly of boulder clay with sands and gravels. There is doubt about the existence of a puddle clay core even though it is shown on the original construction drawings. The dam is founded on fluvio-glacial sand and gravels, glacial till overlying a faulted sequence of mudstones, sandstones and shales of the Millstone Grit Series and Lower Coal Measures. Incident history The dam has a history of leakage. Since 1880, there were complaints about leakage into mine workings. In 1930 leakage was observed at the toe of the downstream slope. As a result of an Evidence Report – Lessons from historical dam incidents 124 investigation into the leakage,a depression was found on the upstream slope. This was investigated in 1931 and the area was then reinstated. Incident description In November 1975 when the reservoir was low, a depression was noted in the same position on the upstream face as the 1931 depression. In Autumn 1977, 120 mm of subsidence was measured since 1975. The reservoir was emptied to inspect the full extent of the depression and revealed a crater approximately four metres across at the upstream toe partly infilled with silt and into which a tree appeared to have been sucked. Investigations Extensive investigation included boreholes, sampling and piezometers. Exploratory shafts were sunk on the upstream and downstream faces between 1978 and 1980. In 1981, a 1.2-m diameter masonry culvert was found beneath the dam, possibly for stream diversion during construction. Tracer tests showed this to have formed a leakage path through the dam. Remedial works In 1981, a compacted clay blanket was placed over the suspect area of the upstream toe and the bed of the reservoir. To solve the leakage problem, a single row grout curtain 60 m long within the clay core was formed using the tube-à-manchette system. The reservoir was refilled in December 1983. Lessons Until the reservoir was drawn down, the extent of the crater caused by erosion was unknown. The good practice of periodic inspection of the upstream face of a dam is illustrated by this incident. References: Anon, 1977; Anon, 1978; Binnie, 1987.

  32. Willis,
    Many thanks for another great post. It shows once again how hard empirical scientific data wins every time.
    Data is the one thing we can depend on – everything else, including the climate models, are just opinions. Unless of course the data has been “adjusted”.

    That data shows something else – that rainfall hasn’t got smaller due to climate change. Only recently a report in the Telegraph referred to how “parched Britain” was suffering from climate change. But the data shows clearly that Britain is notably un-parched. Anyway, this is Britain for heaven’s sake! What we’re never short of is rain.

    Some years ago the New Scientist ran an article referring to Australia entitled “The continent that ran dry”, blaming the then-drought on – surprise, surprise – climate change. But when I looked up the rainfall data at the BOM, it was blindingly obvious that the article was nonsense. Overall, Australian rainfall had if anything been increasing. In the drought affected areas the rainfall had been falling somewhat in recent years – but it was merely returning to its long term average after increasing earlier.
    Once again the data trumps the doom mongers.
    By the way, I no longer buy New Scientist – I refuse to buy a magazine that supports scientific fraud.
    Chris

  33. Willis Eschenbach August 14, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Would it matter if it did all melt one year? Here’s the point everybody seems to be missing: the Arctic Ocean’s ice has indeed disappeared during summer in the past, routinely.

    One Danish team concluded in 2012 that 8,500 years ago the ice extent was “less than half of the record low 2007 level”.

    See what I mean about short records?
    ——————————
    Some of the places warmed by the amoc (driven in part by thc) will be much colder – enough for crop failures – should the current stop. This is in part driven by the THC which is a result of arctic sea ice.

    8000 years ago there were not monoculture crops designed for todays climate. A crop (were there any – they were hunter gatherers?) failure would have been disastrous. BUT would we know about it? In uk we “find” lost (for a mere 350 years) towns depopulated by possibly the black death. It is unlikely we would find any evidential stuff from 8000 years ago for crop failures! Stonehenge was built only 40000 years ago!

    Today if all northern Europe, Russia and Canada etc had to move 1200km further south I think there would be slight problems wit the people resident in those places!

    The Arctic sea ice is important!

    • We learned to preserve and store in good years. Not anymore! We just dial-in now. I have a bit of a laugh when I see people wonder where the plastic wrapped pack of beef steak actually comes from. When I tell them an actual living animal gave it’s life so that they could eat that steak, is met with shock reactions!!!

  34. Willis, I apologize for coming in late, but that seems to be my norm these days.

    When the UK media say: “Increasingly volatile weather due to climate change will mean events like these will become the norm,” they are really talking about a single summer! This one. They are assuming that most people don’t remember anything beyond the last few months. Then they ascribe the – as it has indeed been! – volatile weather in the UK over the past few months to “climate change.”

    In my neck of the woods, south-west of London, we had an exceptionally warm and dry May, the coldest and wettest first half of June I can remember, a pretty decent late June and July with some really hot days, and August so far is much like June. The average (climate): Normal. The variance (weather): More variability than usual.

    Mr. Mosher’s suggestion was indeed a good one, and I appreciate your response. But I don’t understand why you smoothed your Figure 7. Variability is a year-on-year thing, no? Why not just plot the variability year by year? I’d expect that plot, if you will the “variation in the variance,” would be all over the place.

    As an encore, you could scatter-plot the variance in the rainfall in a particular year against the mean temperature in that year. That might go some way towards testing the hypothesis that “climate change causes more variable rainfall.” Or you could try temperature or rainfall variance against mean temperature or rainfall. You might even try some different seasons of the year!

    • Neil Lock August 15, 2019 at 1:23 pm

      Mr. Mosher’s suggestion was indeed a good one, and I appreciate your response. But I don’t understand why you smoothed your Figure 7. Variability is a year-on-year thing, no? Why not just plot the variability year by year? I’d expect that plot, if you will the “variation in the variance,” would be all over the place.

      Thanks, Neil. Figure 7 is not smoothed. I just calculated the 10-year trailing standard deviation year by year. Seems like what you want is the variability within each year. Here’s that graph.

      Best to you,

      w.

  35. Aehmmn .. yes, but — this is not data that has been approved by the Supreme Council of Climate Aöarmists plus it also needs to be blessed by Holy Greta by maybe counting the CO2 molecules that have been released to the air by making this. Only someone with the vast powers of Holy Greta could pull off such a miracle. Oh, she is on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic now in order to get to New York so we will have to wait. Never mind that without modern – fossil fuel powered – fabrication methods, the boat she uses could not exist. Also, without modern – fossil fuel derived – IT this would be a very risky endeavor. But back to the data. Those are measurements – no comparison to the very sophisticated simulations the Grand Council of Climate Alarmists use. Never mind they are always wrong – they are sophisticated and that’s what counts. No mere measurements.

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