Extreme events

I had thought of writing about Hansen’s recent paper, but I’m not really sure what to say about it. I did read some of the reviews – Thorne, Archer, Ruddiman – and, unsurprisingly, there appear to be some valid criticisms. On the other hand, the rate at which we’re releasing CO2 is greater than it’s been released for at least 66 million years, so unexpected outcomes may not be all that surprising. If you’re interested in Hansen’s paper, Stoat has a post, I think Eli has one, but I can’t find it, and Chris Mooney’s article seems quite balanced.

Instead I thought I would write about another paper I encountered today. It’s by Michael Kelly, a Professor at the University of Cambridge. He was also part of a panel that assessed the Climatic Research Unit after the email controversy, typically referred to as Climategate.

The main conclusion of his paper can probably be gleamed from the first half of the abstract

It is widely promulgated and believed that human-caused global warming comes with increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the first half of the 20th century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change.

What I think he misses pointing out here is that his sources are not simply official weather sites and the scientific literature, but also blogs, many of which could justifiably be regarded as promoting science denial.

One major problem with the paper is that the figures are so poor that I couldn’t even read the axes labels, so I won’t bother posting many here. Instead I’ll just comment on some of what he did, and then comment on what seems to be a glaring error. His first figure is the rate of change of surface temperature from 1850 to today. He points out that the rates were supposedly larger in the late 19th and early 20th century. Well, firstly, this appears to be mainly highlighting variability and completely masking the long-term anthropogenic trend. Also, extreme in this context refers to high temperatures, not high rates of change of temperature. Additionally, given the larger uncertainties during the earlier period, it’s maybe not surprising that it shows larger apparent variability.

He then plots precipitation and landfalling hurricanes in the US. There are two key points here. What is expected is an increase in intensity and frequency of extreme events. To consider this, you should really consider events that are regarded as extreme, not simply all such events (i.e., extreme hurricanes or extreme precipitation; not all hurricanes or all precipitation). Additionally, these are rare, so it’s hard to extract a signal in the first place. Considering only one location makes it harder, and – in the case of hurricanes – considering landfalling events, even more so.

He then illustrates that damage from flooding in the US, as a proportion of GDP, has decreased. So what? How has GDP changed over the same time interval? What other changes have helped to minimise damage from flooding? If we really want to understand extreme events, we should consider the actual events, not some proxy from which it is hard to extract a reliable signal. So, he hasn’t really shown anything like what he claims.

However, what I was going to focus on was his claim that NASA has shifted the 1980 temperature anomaly relative to 1940. He claims that in Hansen et al. (1981), the 1980 temperature anomaly was about 0.15oC less than 1940. Now, it is supposedly 0.2oC higher, and that this shift produces a significant fraction of the century variation. He illustrates it using the figure below.
Kelly_2016
Ignoring the fairly obvious issue that our understanding of how to analyse temperature data has changed substantially since 1980, I think there is a far more obvious problem. The left-hand figure is a 5-year running mean. If you compare that with the right-hand figure, there are some quite similar features; there’s a peak at around 1960, a dip just before 1970, and a few wiggles after that. It doesn’t really look – in the right-hand figure – as though these have moved up (relative to 1940) by anything like 0.35oC. What appears to be the case is that the left-hand figure ends slightly before 1980 and, hence, does not include the fairly rapid increase (in the 5-year running mean) that starts just before 1980. He’s simply not doing the correct comparison, even if such a comparison were a reasonable one to make.

At the end of the day, detecting trends in extreme events is difficult. Given that nothing presented in this paper is a remotely reliable way of determining this, suggesting that there has been no increase is simply wrong. However, even if it is difficult, we do have some confidence that some extremes should show an increase in intensity and frequency; heatwaves and extreme precipitation events are two examples. Others are more complicated and uncertain, although there is some indication of an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme Tropical Cyclones in some ocean basins. However, if we keep adding energy to the climate system, it would be extremely surprising if it didn’t have any effect on the intensity of extreme weather events, and – given that there’ll be more energy – it might be surprising if the most extreme events didn’t become more energetic.

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104 Responses to Extreme events

  1. Since Michael Kelly is a physicist, I thought I might make a further comment. It’s hard to see this paper as simply a consequence of an arrogant physicist who knows better than others, because it is so obviously poor that you’d think that even hubris would not be enough to put one’s name to this. The journal itself is also on the list of possibly predatory journals and the Editorial Board includes the author of this (H/T Gavin Schmidt).

    In addition to the paper being largely nonsense, it’s also a very odd way to write a paper. As Raff points out, this is a Cambridge Professor and Fellow of the Royal Society who appears to have written a paper in which he simply takes figures from other sources and doesn’t appear to have done much original work. This might be fine if it were a review paper, but review papers are normally invited and written by someone who has a record of publishing in that area. A review paper would also normally review all the work, not simply cherry-pick a minority view and base it on sources like blogs. Also, the blogs are almost all blogs that would typically be described as promoting science denial (WUWT, Goddard, notalotofpeopleknowthat, and a site called c3headlines).

  2. I summarized the IPCC SREX & AR5 & more recent literature here, FYI (it answers some of the Qs you pose above):
    http://www.amazon.com/Rightful-Place-Science-Disasters-Climate/dp/0692297510/

    Cheers

  3. Roger,
    Thanks, I’m aware of that. I think I may even have a copy.

    What questions did I pose? I don’t think I posed any, but maybe I wrote things poorly.

    Also, given that you’re here, and appear to think that you have some relevant expertise, maybe you’d care to comment on this paper?

  4. I thought it hilarious that James D gets a Republican Senator and Cambridge Engineer muddled up. Has this prof. gone dolally?

    “In Figure 3 we show two pictures of extreme heat events in Australia, both taken from the same official sources [22,23]”

    Where Ref. 23 is the Joanne Nova web site! A master class in how to sink your credibility.

  5. Richard,
    It is bizarre. I make it that his sources include Anthony Watts, Paul Homewood, Joanne Nova, Stephen Goddard, Real Science. Has he no self-respect?

  6. Pretty sure I sent you a copy a while back … Do I appear to think I have some relevant expertise? Apologies for the false impression! I know where I stand in these parts. https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=WtqpmdIAAAAJ

    Do let me know if you read the book, and if you find any relevant expertise in there!

  7. MarkR says:

    The current version of GISTemp loaded at http://www.skepticalscience.com/trend.php says that the 5-year running mean ending in 1980 was about 0.1 C below the earlier peak.

    Pretty similar to the Hansen 1981 paper.

  8. Roger,
    Yes, I think you did send me a copy. I’m not sure why you chose to link to your Google Scholar profile. How does that tell me anything about what you think of this paper?

  9. MarkR,
    Indeed. In fact, if you use a 60 month moving average, you need to go to 1985 in order to get the peak at 1980, that he shows in the right-hand figure. No wonder Hansen’s paper published in 1981 didn’t show it.

  10. Make a deal with you — since you appear to be interested in the science of extremes and climate change, you tell me what you think about the short book, especially where you think it is incorrect, flawed, etc. and I’ll be happy to comment on the paper. If you have no time, interest, etc. no problem.

  11. ATTP … substantive commenting on specific claims requires doing work and maybe Roger, like the Cambridge don, is work-shy (or evidence-shy, or both).

  12. Roger,
    It’s neither here nor there to me. I was only asking because you’re here. If you don’t have the time, or aren’t that interested, that’s fine.

  13. Glad there are some constants in life. TTFN

  14. Richard,
    Roger may well just be busy.

  15. Glad there are some constants in life.

    Ditto.

  16. Nick Stokes says:

    Good heavens. Steven Goddard and all. And in a fake journal. Did anyone give a link? I found it here.

    Fig 4 comparing 1980 and now is an old Goddard canard. It’s usually presented as adjustment to Gistemp. But there was no Gistemp in 1981. Hansen then used a dataset of “several hundred stations”, compiled by Jenne, at NCAR. He cautioned that the lack of SH data made it difficult to get a global average.

    People seem to forget the issues with getting datasets in 1980. You couldn’t download much, at 300 baud. It looks like in this case the data had to be transcribed from print. Things were just different then.

  17. Willard says:

    From the Amazon’s blurb:

    In recent years the media, politicians, and activists have popularized the notion that climate change has made disasters worse. But what does the science actually say?

    What is exactly referred as the “the science” and “made disasters worse” might deserve due diligence. In Chapter 2, Junior declares that his booklet seeks to answer one and only one question:

    Have disasters become more costly because of human-caused climate change?

    How to reduce worsening to a variation in costs and portray all this as “the science” is a rare thing of beauty.

    How costs are estimated may also deserve due diligence.

  18. MikeH says:

    He is citing from Australian climate crank blogger JoNova to suggest that Australia is not getting warmer. The Australian cranks have been on a campaign supported by the Murdoch press & some loons in the Federal Parliament to suggest that the Bureau of Meteorology has been fiddling the temperature data,

    But as Neville Nicholls points out, UAH v6 satellite data shows a “warming rate of about 2.4°C per century” over the period 1979 to 2015 compared to “1.3°C per century” for the BOM data. Version v5.6 shows a closer match to the BOM data although the trend is still higher.

    https://theconversation.com/the-weather-bureau-might-be-underestimating-australian-warming-heres-why-53982

    Kelley was also one of signatories to this 2012 letter to the WSJ that managed to repeat a substantial number of the usual climate crank memes.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204301404577171531838421366

  19. izen says:

    @-“Make a deal with you — since you appear to be interested in the science of extremes and climate change, you tell me what you think about the short book, … and I’ll be happy to comment on the paper.”

    Soliciting a book review in exchange for commenting on dubious aspects of a paper published in your field has the unfortunate effect if implying that personal status is more important than the integrity of the science in which one is involved.

    If the intention was to test the degree and depth of understanding of the incidence, attribution and effects of extreme events by assessing the response to your own popularisation of research in this field, it is probably not an optimum strategy for gaining that insight.

  20. I must admit to never having seen the citation of a peer-reviewed paper using a blog as a pass-thru. Yet, Kelly does it time and again. Apparently he couldn’t be bothered to actually find and read the sources himself.

    Kelly’s reference #24: Hansen J (1981) Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon
    Dioxide. Real Science.
    [the hyperlink is to Goddard per Kelly]

    Whereas we might expect to see something like: J. Hansen, D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, and G. Russell, “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”, Science 28 Aug 1981: Vol. 213, Issue 4511, pp. 957-966, DOI: 10.1126/science.213.4511.957
    [non-paywalled copy thru GISS here]

    The original in Hansen et al (1981) is clearly labeled “5-year running mean” – but the snippet shown by Goddard and used by Kelly is only the bottom 1/3 of the original and the label has been snipped with the upper 2/3s of the graph. Kelly also uses the quote-mine that Goddard used/found in Hansen et al (1981):

    A remarkable conclusion from Fig. 3 is that the global temperature is almost as high today as it was in 1940.

    The full paragraph reads:

    A remarkable conclusion from Fig. 3 is that the global temperature is almost as high today as it was in 1940. The common misconception that the world is cooling is based on Northern Hemisphere experience to 1970.

    I think this is why you’re supposed to read the source material – not someone else’s interpretation (or snippet) of it.

  21. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: I cannot help but wonder what RPJr thinks of…

    In-depth: the scientific challenge of extreme weather attribution by Roz Pidcock, Carbon Brief, Mar 11, 2015

    Personally, I believe that Roz Picock has a better understanding of this topic than RPJr ever will.

    PS – You might want to append your OP with a link to Pidcock’s in-depth article. It was reprinted on SkS today.

  22. Eli Rabett says:

    It’s the effing trailing average trick beloved of pat michaels and co. If you do a five year moving average to 1980 on GISTEMP (using woodfortrees) you get

    and if you extend it to 1985

  23. kap55 says:

    Not only that, but an examination of the point where the line *actually ends* in Hansen 1981, at the pixel level, shows that the final datapoint on the graph isn’t even 1980; it’s 1978.

  24. Nick,
    Thanks, I completely forgot to add a link to the paper in the post. I’ve added it now.

    I see everyone else has also found the glaring error with his comparison between the temperature data from Hansen (1981) and GISTEMP.

  25. Nick Stokes says:

    Eli,
    It probably doesn’t make much difference, but the correct WFT comparison is with GISTEMP dTs (met stations only), not GISTEMP land/ocean.

    The smoothing is an obvious issue, but I don’t think it explains the 0.35°C discrepancy. I think that is just due to the limited set of stations in 1940’s for the 1981 paper. The NH warmth has too much effect (over-represented) on the global.

  26. Nick,
    I agree with your point, but I think Eli is also right. Because these are 5-year running averages, the line in the left-hand figure doesn’t extend to 1980. It probably stops around 77/78. It only looks like it goes to 1980 because it happens to line up with the tick mark on the right-hand axis. The left-hand figure therefore doesn’t include the relatively rapid increase that started just before 1980. To do the comparison he’s doing, he should compare 77/78 in the right-hand figure with the end of the line on the left-hand figure, and the difference would – I think – be much smaller. Given the over-representation of the NH there probably will be a difference, but not nearly as much as 0.35oC.

  27. Tom Curtis says:

    Interestingly, Steve McIntyre manages to plot an honest comparison in 2007:

    Less honest is his commentary which fails to mention the expected differences given the low number of stations in 1981, and criticizes the 1880 cutoff without mentioning that for the 1981 temperature reconstruction, even in 1880, only two grid points out of 80 contained data. Pushing the data earlier with that sparse a coverage would hardly be justified.

  28. Tom,
    Very interesting, thanks.

    [Edit: I’ve emailed the link to McIntyre’s post to Michael Kelly.]

  29. MartinM says:

    It probably doesn’t make much difference, but the correct WFT comparison is with GISTEMP dTs (met stations only), not GISTEMP land/ocean.

    Correct in the sense that dTs is what Kelly used, or correct in the sense that dTs is more comparable to the 1981 data than LOTI? The former is certainly true, but I’m not sure how to address the latter question without considerably more information on the geographical distribution of the 1981 data than is given in the paper.

  30. Michael Kelly has apparently been told by more than one person that his comparison of Hansen et al. (1981) and GISTEMP is flawed and plans to issue a correction. Not sure what he plans to do about the rest of the paper, though 🙂

  31. Since Roger has asked me what I thought of his book, I’ll write a quick comment. Essentially I noticed what Willard has already pointed out. The book is about whether or not extreme events have become more costly. Perfectly reasonable thing to look at. However, the interesting science question is whether or not there has been an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme events, not whether or not they’ve become more costly. It may be possible to infer something from data about the costs of extreme events, but this is really just a proxy and – typically – seems to focus on the USA, rather than the world as a whole. If we really want to understand whether or not extreme events have become more intense and frequent we should – in my view – be studying the events themselves (physical climatology) not simply looking at whether or not there has been an increase in cost due to extreme events.

    To be clear, this isn’t a criticism of the book, simply an argument that the book is addressing a very specific question that is related to whether or not there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme events, but doesn’t necessarily answer that question specifically.

  32. Tom Curtis says:

    MartinM, in the 1981 paper Hansen comments that the data is biased in that “ocean areas are poorly represented”. Poorly represented is not the same as not represented, so I would argue the correct comparison is with the LOTI. That is reinforced by the use of a global grid, not a land only grid. If, on the other hand, it is argued that because they are poorly represented so that the meteorological stations only data should be used, you must be consistent and not attribute the differences to “corrections” by Hansen rather than to the biased spatial locations, and limited data set. IOW, either the 1981 data is adequate to its task, and the comparison should be made to the LOTI, or it is inadequate, in which case arguing that differences between Hansen 1981 and GISTEMP are due to dishonest adjustments rather than the inadequacies of the 1981 data itself represents special pleading, and massive dishonesty.

  33. tlsmith says:

    Extreme events could get more extreme. Or average events could get stronger. Or with night-time, winter temperatures getting warmer, weather events could get less extreme, because of smaller temperature gradients. It isn’t obvious to me at all.

    I haven’t seen the evidence that extreme event are getting stronger, but then there is no reason particularly why I would. My question is, is there such evidence, or is this idea based on well-developed theories, or is it just speculation?

  34. tlsmith,
    I’m a bit swamped today, so maybe some of my other commenters can provide some links. I’ve seen work that suggests that heatwaves are becoming more common. This seems pretty obvious given that we are clearly warming. Also, I’ve seen evidence that extreme precipitation events are increasing in frequency and intensity (in the UK and the USA, I think). Something to bear in mind about precipitation is that the water carrying capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 7% per K, but the precipitation is expected to increase by only 2% per K. Hence trying to detect such a change in overall precipitation is difficult. However, there is some indication that there is a more than 2% per K increase in the extreme precipitation events, which might suggest that we would expect more of our precipitation to come in the form of more extreme events.

    Things like Tropical Cyclones are harder to make strong statements about. There’s an Elsner et al. paper from 2008 that suggests an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme TCs in some ocean basins. What’s maybe more interesting about that paper is that I think they actually link it to sea surface temperatures.

  35. MartinM says:

    Tom: thanks; that’s basically what I was thinking, so it’s good to know I’m not going obviously wrong somewhere. It would be interesting to subset the current GISTEMP data to match the geographical distribution of the 1981 dataset over time, but there isn’t enough information in the paper itself to do so. Maybe I’ll try to track down some of the references later, if I get a chance.

  36. MartinM says:

    Well. I just looked at Kelly’s paper. Um. This is…bad? Potentially a contender for ‘worst climate paper ever published’ bad. Looks like he’s literally just laundered a bunch of other people’s garbage blog posts into a ‘peer-reviewed’ paper. That first graph of extreme temperature change? That would be temperature trends over 12-month periods. The blue line on the same graph is over 15-year periods. Great way to hide the incline, if you’re so…well, inclined. As a meaningful examination of anything of relevance? Not so much.

    To be fair to Kelly, why on earth would he have reason to suspect data provided by that well-known, unimpeachable scientific source, “Climate Conservative Consumer”? The article itself is called “Alarmist Propaganda: Does “Warmest” Year Mantra Mean Climate Squat?”. That practically screams ‘fair, objective analysis’, right?

  37. paulski0 says:

    Tom Curtis / MartinM

    There is no SST data used in Hansen’s 1981 reconstruction. I think it was only in the early 2000s that GISS started incorporating SSTs. Temperatures over ocean areas are produced solely by extrapolating (by 1200km?) from coastal and island land stations, hence poorly represented, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere.

    The correct comparison is to the GISS dTs data, which uses essentially the same method – land temperature data-only, but without land area masking.

    Hansen and Lebedeff 1987 provides the basic description of the method underlying the 1981 and current MetStation-only (dTs) products. See Figure 4 for an indication of coverage, and compare to the more recent figure. Station count is about four times higher thanks largely to data collection efforts in the 1990s, but there’s actually little difference in coverage, according to the GISS definition of an area being within 1200km of a station. More stations should have improved accuracy though.

  38. Tom Curtis says:

    paulskio, Hansen and Lebedeff and Hansen (1981) use quite different methods, at least in part because it was Hansen and Lebedeff that demonstrated the theoretical basis for the method used in it, and later GISTEMP products.

    With regard to LOTI vs dTs, because GISTEMP dTs uses a land mask, the coastal and island stations, which approximate to local SST are swamped by the inland stations, which represent a far greater area of the final product. In contrast, coastal and island stations are given equal weight to any inland stations they share a grid with, and a number of grids, particularly in the Pacific would only have contained island and/or coastal stations. Grid cells were given equal weight within each latitude band, with latitude bands weighted by area in Hansen 1981. That gives greater weight to the tropical grids, which again would be dominated by island and/or coastal stations. The net effect is very different from a land masked product. Further, with only a few hundred stations, coastal (in particular) and island stations would have made up a far greater proportion of all stations than is the case with the GHCN.

    Given all these factors, IMO the closest analogue to the Hansen 1981 data is the GISTEMP LOTI. However, if you reject that reasoning you still remain stranded by the dilemma outlined above (ie, if you reject the LOTI analogue, you are compelled to ascribe the difference to the poor distribution of stations in Hansen 1981 rather than to any problems with GISTEMP. At least if you are honest.

    Of course, the only correct way to make the comparison is to identify the stations used in Hansen 1981, find their current raw and adjusted data from the GHCN (or other dataset if necessary), and make a comparison using the Hansen 1981 method. That will allow you to determine how much of the difference is due to adjustments. A further comparison using the same stations and the GISTEMP methods (dTs including land mask, and LOTI) would allow a check of how much of the difference is due to the method used, and which of the current products is the better analogue. Absent that, we are to a certain extent guessing. However, absent that, the denier attempts to impeach Hansen on the basis of the comparison show a complete lack of intellectual integrity.

  39. John Hartz says:

    [tlsmith]:

    See:

    In-depth: the scientific challenge of extreme weather attribution by Roz Pidcock, Carbon Brief, Mar 11, 2015

  40. Willard says:

    > [T]he interesting science question is whether or not there has been an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme events, not whether or not they’ve become more costly.

    Another interesting question is how the damage costs indicator can settle the attribution problem at all. Everyone seems to agree (at least sotto vocce) that it’s far from obvious. Here’s how Things break some of these things:

    Ostensibly, [Junior] accepts all of the above [AGW, risks, whatever]. He just doesn’t want you to focus on this big picture. Instead [Junior] wants you to believe and to focus on the claim that we’ve seen no increase in “normalized” damages due to climate change. The fundamental conceit of this claim is that even though disaster losses are unquestionably on the rise, once you account for changes in the value of infrastructure being built in areas affected by disaster (due to population growth, inflation, etc.), there is no “statistically significant increase”.

    This claim rests on our ability to account for factors which might spuriously inflate the damages caused by disasters, but also our complete failure to account for factors that have allowed us to avoid even greater losses.

    https://thingsbreak.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/nate-silver-falls-off/

    Fortunate be the ClimateBall players to whom “the science tells” them some things because it “does not tell” them the opposite.

  41. paulski0 says:

    Hansen and Lebedeff and Hansen (1981) use quite different methods

    There are some differences but the basic method is the same: Land-based meteorological stations are the sole data source and the globe is split into 80 equal-area boxes, covering the entire global surface area. Land-based measurements are therefore used to represent ocean areas, but in a limited way.

    because GISTEMP dTs uses a land mask

    dTs doesn’t use a land mask. Land temperatures are allowed to represent ocean areas out to 1200km, similar to/same as the 1981 and 1987 papers. If you want a graphical representation of the dTs product use the GISS mapping tool and select ‘none’ in the ocean data sources dropdown.

    IMO the closest analogue to the Hansen 1981 data is the GISTEMP LOTI.

    IMO, the current dTs method is closer than LOTI to Hansen 1981. Same data source (albeit extended), similar averaging method. LOTI introduces an entirely new data source and reduces the influence of coastal and island land stations. Of course, the improved data availability in current dTs probably makes some difference. As you say, you’d need to redo from scratch to find out how much exactly.

    Regarding adjustments, it’s known that the difference between GHCNv3 raw and adjusted shows global average land (land-masked) ~1980 temperature raised relative to ~1940 by about 0.1degC. Obviously there’s no evidence that this is nefarious in any way.

  42. I wonder how much peer review Kelly’s paper received. The publisher of the journal is on Beal’s list, and peer review with some of these journals can be minimal.

  43. Richard,
    You might like to think that it didn’t receive much, but you can’t really tell. On the other hand, you might expect even a poor reviewer to question a paper that largely lifts figures from blogs.

  44. geronimo says:

    “He then illustrates that damage from flooding in the US, as a proportion of GDP, has decreased. So what? How has GDP changed over the same time interval?”

    I think you’ll find that the data are normalised, as I think RogerPJr. was trying to indicate. “Normalised” means that increases in GDP and money values, property values (for damage) etc. are accounted for so they’re like for like comparisons. TTFN.

  45. Geronimo,
    I’m failing to see where Roger indicated any such thing. Also, I don’t think what you suggest really makes any sense given that what is plotted is “proportion of GDP”. Also, that doesn’t change the argument that this is still a proxy (i.e., it is not a direct indicator of the intensity and frequency of extreme events) and still only considers a small region of the globe.

    In fact, I’ve just found the bit in Roger’s book that discusses flooding. It says

    Even though there have been increases in what scientists call “extreme precipitation” there is little evidence to suggest that these increases have been accompanied by increasing floods.

    So, there is evidence for an increase in “extreme precipitation”; pretty much what the science suggests.

  46. John Mashey says:

    Folks: when you encounter a bad paper in what seems a dubious journal, I suggest:
    1) Checking Jeffrey Beall’s 2 lists, i.e., one for publishers and one for standalone journals. People did that.

    2) BUT, lest there be any more question, try a search like:
    Google: site:https://scholarlyoa.com/ OMICS

    To see if Jeffrey has done any blog posts. Try this and see what you get. (OMICS is notorious.)

    Even if the paper hadn’t been obvious junk, for anyone but a developing-world neophyte to publish in a predatory journal is an instant reputation-destroyer.

    Here’s another recent one, Antero Ollila, covered in different aspects by Jeffrey in Finnish Man Uses Easy Open-Access Journals to Publish Junk Climate Science and by Richard Telford at The peer review of Ollila (2016). Read the comments, including Ollila’s..

  47. Raff says:

    I wonder how much peer review Kelly’s paper received.
    From the paper:
    Received date: Jan 25, 2016; Accepted date: Feb 15, 2016; Published date: Feb 17, 2016

    Although I suspect a reviewer would not have needed many minutes to recommend “reject”, organising a review cycle within 3 weeks sounds like a challenge

  48. Victor Petri says:

    According to the metric Accumulated Cyclone Energy at least the last 40 years have not gotten worse in terms of global hurricane frequency and accumulated energy. This for very high energy events only.

  49. Joshua says:

    1) GDP increases
    2) Damages due to extreme weather do not increase as a proportion of GDP.
    3) More people are negatively impacted by extreme weather.

    1) GDP increases
    2) Damages due to extreme weather do not increase as a proportion of GDP
    3) The disparity in the impact of extreme weather on poor people as compared to rich people increases.

  50. Joshua says:

    Roger places a fair amount of his political advocacy in the context of GDP.

    IMO, while he presents some interesting arguments about the relative value of GDP versus other metrics for evaluating well being, he also fails to adequately address the inadequacies of GDP as a metric of well-being – in addition to failing to adequately addressing the inadequacy of GDP as a metric for evaluating damages due to continued and increasing aCO2 emissions.

    I have found Roger to be rather resistant against good-faith discussions about the comprehensiveness, or lack thereof, of his analyses. He seems to me to be rather thin-skinned and tends to play the victim card. Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.

  51. John Mashey says:

    http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/geography-natural-disasters.php
    Includes editorial board.

    But for folks expecting serious peer review through OMICS…
    I have a fine selection of used bridges at low cost or alternatively, the lads from Lagos may offer 419 posssibilities.

  52. anoilman says:

    Victor… Not sure where you’re going with that. ACE doesn’t measure the destructive power of a storm. At all.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accumulated_cyclone_energy#Competing_measurement_metrics

    I’m unaware of any papers discussing an increase on the speed of central air speed for Hurricane’s and Cyclones based on global warming, and that’s the metric you’re focusing on.

    http://eaps4.mit.edu/faculty/Emanuel/
    http://wind.mit.edu/~emanuel/anthro2.htm

  53. Joshua,
    There are also other obvious problems. The future impact of climate change likely depends on our future emissions. Just because some costs have dropped as a percentage of GDP does not mean they’ll continue to do so along all possible future emission pathways.

  54. John Mashey says:

    Oops, i firgot to mention that the E-i-C is at Northumbria U… Curiously assigned to Ukraine 🙂

  55. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    Although I haven’t had much luck in pinning him down on the issue, my sense is that Roger expects that future damages from extreme weather will grow, at least to some degree, as a function of increasing aCO2 emissions.

    That is why I am confused by his usage of “proportion of GDP” as a metric w/o a more comprehensive explanation of the limitations of that metric.

  56. Joshua,
    Well, yes, I think it’s always useful to be willing to discuss the limitations of one’s analysis.

  57. Marco says:

    I receive invitations to submit to OMICS journals (or conferences) on a regular basis. Usually the e-mail is signed by a very English-sounding name, which is highly incongruent with the English syntax and the words used in that same e-mail. For example, in their latest attempt to get me to submit to a journal (that of course is not within my area of expertise) they apparently “are sure that the eminent personality like you have a very busy schedule but on the other hand we have even more faith in your expertise that you will contribute to our Journal and will bless us with your valuable submission.”

    It says a lot if a company has its employees hide their official identity.

  58. Francis says:

    I’m no climate scientist nor have I read rpjr’s book, but I am a lawyer who’s spent a fair amount of time around water and flood control issues.

    To start with, I would certainly hope that the cost of severe weather events would go down over time. That’s called learning.

    I also think that a fair analysis of the cost of severe weather events would be incredibly challenging. Building codes are continually evolving. What percentage of the cost of a house is attributable to lessons learned about weather damage? Here in California, flood control is handled at the federal (CVP and Colorado River), state, regional / special district, county and city level. That’s five different levels of government to dig into. And flood control is more than just building more and larger infrastructure; it includes soft failure modes like diverting overflow into open spaces like parks. How do you figure out how much all that cost? And how do you figure out the amount saved as a result? Beyond flood control and building codes, you also have to include good micro-level decisions — like siting sensitive machinery outside flood zones or hardening the site against weather damage. How do you compute those cost incurred vs costs avoided?

    Putting all of that aside, and looking forward only, the single best question to ask about the risk of severe weather in the US is whether there’s a competitive private insurance market to cover those risks. Since I don’t know the answer to that question, I’ll defer to other commenters.

  59. izen says:

    In some cases flood or drought incidence and attribution can be reasonably well established. But the degree of impact it has depends on many other factors, including the wealth and resilience of the people and society the extreme weather event affects.

    https://www.quandl.com/collections/syria/syria-economy-data

    In some cases a figure for GDP per capita to allow historical comparisons is no longer available.

  60. John Mashey says:

    Excellent and key comment by Francis:
    “Putting all of that aside, and looking forward only, the single best question to ask about the risk of severe weather in the US is whether there’s a competitive private insurance market to cover those risks. ”

    Insurance companies are paid to assess and price risks, and if they do it poorly, in either direction, they lose. Over longer term, insurance companies are really important, and folks like Munich Re and Swiss Re are very savvy about climate.

  61. anoilman says:

    John, Francis… Insurers are pulling out of the Eastern USA.
    http://www.thestormtrack.com/2006/04/insurers_continue_to_pull_out.php

    At the very least, you’ll pay a lot more, and may be subject to sudden insurance cancellation.

    Flood insurance where I live (Alberta Canada) has gone from available from every company possible to $10,000 a year from the single company willing to provide it. In fact, if you look into a lot of policies these days, you’ll find all kinds of riders excluding protection for terrorism to local weather phenomenon.

    I don’t know if there’s a solid trend yet, but its coming;
    http://qz.com/74480/no-happy-returns-for-us-taxpayers-as-climate-change-bill-comes-due/

  62. John Hartz says:

    tlsmith:

    Also see:

    What Weather Is the Fault of Climate Change?, Op-ed by Heidi Cullen, New York Times, Mar 11, 2016

  63. John Hartz says:

    tlsmith:

    And this recently released report:

    Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change (2016)

    published by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences.

  64. Willard says:

    I’m a bit busy these days, so I’m going to leave this here:

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/search?q=hurricanes

    To water your mouth, a quote:

    A large part of [Junior]’s argument consists of careful parsing of what others say, and he is quite capable of omitting important information when describing the work of others, for example Schmidt. For example, [Junior] states on his blog

    After a detailed look at the data they conclude quite properly:

    There is no evidence yet of any trend in tropical cyclone losses that can be attributed directly to anthropogenic climate change.

    They do speculate about a link based on the conclusion of IPCC 2007

    while, as Eli points out, if one reads Schmidt, et al, they say

    No trend is found for the period 1950–2005 as a whole. In the period 1971–2005, since the beginning of a trend towards increased intense cyclone activity, losses excluding socio-economic effects show an annual increase of 4% per annum. This increase must therefore be at least due to the impact of natural climate variability but, more likely than not, also due to anthropogenic forcings.

    In parallel with Eli’s ruminations, Nils Simon, has been thinking about the same issues and coming to a remarkable conclusion. [Junior] in a 2008 paper states that

    The normalization methodologies do not explicitly reflect two important factors driving losses: demand surge and loss mitigation. Adjustments for these factors are beyond the scope of this paper, but it is important for those using this study to consider their potential effect.

    but Simon searches in vain for any such consideration as has Eli.

    There are two reasons this is important

    First, it is obvious even to a stuffed animal that the costs of flood control and surge barriers to limit damage from storms has increased substantially over the last fifty years. If such expenditures have NOT been included in the storm cost estimates, and the trend without them is flat, the trend WITH such costs MUST increase substantially. Any estimate that neglects these costs must be stated as a LOWER LIMIT. Neither Eli or Nils can find any such statement, not just from [Junior]. Therefore in true “Honest Broker” form, Rabett Run concludes that (OK, draw your own conclusions from what [Junior] calls others who mis-state something)

    Second, and this is Nils’ insight, NOT to include such costs or deal with their effect when you are aware of them, is either dishonest or a statement that such adaptation has no effect. Since we have been adapting to increased storm damage like crazy. [Junior] is in Zugzwang.

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/02/zuzwang.html

    Vintage 2010.

  65. Tom Curtis says:

    paulskio, our discussion may be beside the point given that the database Hansen (1981) relies on definitely included SST, and artificial ocean stations were used in the paper Hansen (1981) linked to to discuss data biases. Given this, and given the far greater similarity between the Hansen (1981) reconstruction and GISS LOTI, the default assumption should be that Hansen (1981) also used the SST data available in the database they cited unless there is an explicit statement to the contrary by one of the authors.

    For completeness, here is a link to the paper Hansen (1981) cites to justify the maximum cell size in their reconstruction.

    Returning to the specific discussion, while the lack of a land mask in dTs weakens my argument, it does not invalidate it. Specifically, the mean area of a Hansen (1981) grid cell is 41% larger than a circle with a radius of 1200 km. That translates to a 41% greater weighting for isolated island meteorological stations such as at Hawaii, and a typically greater weighting for coastal stations than for interior stations. Given that there is a further bias in a sparse meteorological network for the stations to be found in major cities, which are also biased to being located on the coast, that could represent a bias towards stations that approximate to SST.

    Given the lack of a land mask, I will concede the argument is sufficiently unclear that an actual comparison between a reconstructed Hansen (1981) and GISTEMP dTs and GISTEMP LOTI would be needed to clarify the issue.

  66. Marco says:

    “… plans to issue a correction”. Forgot to comment on this one: I’d not put it beyond OMICS to demand payment for the correction, too. Another $700 taken out of his pocket (or rather, his groups pocket) to correct an error he should never ever have made. Let’s be honest, how many of the academics here would *not* tell a student that they should use original references. In fact, I expect Kelly to tell us students off when they cite e.g. Wikipedia.

  67. Indeed. Interestingly, he’s also acknowledged that his interpretation of the HadCRUT4 analysis might also be wrong (the larger variability simply being larger uncertainties in the early record, rather than an indication of more variability in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).

  68. Marco says:

    Ouch. I made an embarrassing mistake in my comment. Instead of “us students” read “his students”…

  69. dikranmarsupial says:

    Marco, there are occasions where references to blog articles etc. are a reasonable thing to do, for instance I used a couple of links to SkepticalScience and Ferdinand Engelbeen’s website in my paper on the residence time misunderstanding. Sometimes you do want to give an accessible introduction to something (but I agree in general it is better to cite original sources), depending on the nature of your intended audience.

  70. Dikran,
    Indeed, but I think in this case, it’s not only that the paper references blogs, but that a number of the figures are simply lifted from blogs. He should really have redone the analysis even if he wanted to credit the blog with where he got the idea from.

  71. dikranmarsupial says:

    Absolutely. It looks to me an example of the dangers of publishing research outside your main field of expertise without seeking collaboration with domain experts or rigorous peer review (to provide at least a basic sanity check).

  72. Dikran,
    Agreed. There may be occasions when someone can step into a different field and publish something good without having familiarised themselves with the field or spoken to others in the field, but I suspect examples of that are rare, if there are any.

  73. John Hartz says:

    Dikran:

    (to provide at least a basic sanity check).

    You set a high bar indeed!

  74. Marco says:

    I agree that references to blogs can at times be acceptable or appropriate, but the one case I highlighted (Hansen 1981 referenced to a blog by Steven Goddard) is not even close to being acceptable in my book. And in most cases Wikipedia would not be either (I’ll usually accept it if students cite WP for definitions, but definitely not for certain claims that have a direct reference in the WP article itself).

  75. MartinM says:

    The worst is probably referencing a graph from a tweet by Steve Goddard. No matter how outside his field he may be, Kelly ought to know better.

  76. Willard says:

    > I agree that references to blogs can at times be acceptable or appropriate, but the one case I highlighted (Hansen 1981 referenced to a blog by Steven Goddard) is not even close to being acceptable in my book.

    Why?

    ***

    > The worst is probably referencing a graph from a tweet by Steve Goddard.

    Why?

  77. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    Why?

    Because rabbit holes.
    And because it’s later than you think.

  78. Marco says:

    Willard, because it is not a reference to Hansen 1981, but a reference to a blog that claims to summarize information from Hansen 1981. If he had written that “according to Steven Goddard, Hansen 1981 showed…”, the reference would be acceptable as a reference, albeit scientifically so weak that any peer reviewer worth his money would say “read and cite Hansen 1981, not an indirect source”.

    The tweet in this context is also problematic, since the tweet does not provide sufficient provenance of the figure and information about its content (who made it? Based on what data? What does it actually show?). If you write a paper about tweets, I guess it makes sense to cite tweets. If you want to point out that someone responded in a tweet by saying “that’s not quite right” or similar things, I guess it would be OK.

    It’s bad enough that so many people cite papers after only reading the abstract (or only the first sentence of the abstract, see e.g. http://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/14442/), but citing a source that is so obviously an indirect source…that’s just not acceptable. Mind you, I can see a legitimate argument for indirect sourcing if it is really hard to get the original citation and that you indicate that you make an indirect citation.

  79. Russell says:

    The hard problem is how to fight disinformation without entering the fray on the side of semantic aggression.

    Science has a heavy enough load of jargon without piling on polemic neologisms designed to frame political positions or policy arguments.

    If it sounds like a true believer barking out the party line , it probably is

  80. paulski0 says:

    Victor Petri,

    Do you mean this dataset? For me the decadal variability is too large to make any simple robust conclusions, for or against an increasing trend (without even getting into the uncertainty in the data). A simple linear trend through the whole record is slightly positive, and I suspect it will become more positive over the next few years. The 2006-2014 period indicates a familiar “hiatus” response pattern, as seen in other climatic indices, particularly in the Pacific. It’s therefore reasonable to expect generally higher ACE values in the coming years, which will push up the trend. Based on that dataset I think a few more decades will need to pass before seeing a statistically significant result.

    I think possibly the more interesting chart on the WeatherBell page is one showing total hurricane frequencies and frequencies of major hurricanes.

    It appears to indicate a steady incline in major hurricane occurrence, with the most recent period at record levels (data up to September 2015). It suggests around a 50% increase in major hurricane frequency over the past 40-odd years.

    On the other hand there appears to be no trend in overall hurricane frequency, which suggests a static or reduced amount of smaller hurricanes. Another chart shows tropical storm frequencies. The trend is probably not robust again, but most likely points slightly downwards.

    So it seems frequency of smaller events is probably unchanging or declining, whereas major events are on the increase.

  81. anoilman says:

    paulski0: By the time that particular signal rises above the noise, we’d be in pretty serious doo doo.

    If you can’t tease out the information you want, then you need a better metric, or you need to look at data you do have.

  82. izen says:

    @-Willard
    ” Why? ”

    Is it because the only other research paper that references those blog sites is by Lewandowsky et al ?

    Or is that just conspiracy ideation…

  83. > The tweet in this context is also problematic, since the tweet does not provide sufficient provenance of the figure and information about its content (who made it? Based on what data? What does it actually show?).

    Thanks, Marco. My eyes glazed over Kelly’s paper, which follows the usual contrarian script:

    (0) I have concerns about CAGW.
    (1) To substantiate (0), here are some newsies.
    (2) These newsies rest on a claim.
    (3) This claim is suboptimal, i.e. wrong, false, misleading, whatever.
    (4) To subtantiate (3), here are contrarian sources.
    (5) Therefore CAGW.

    Goddard’s tweet was cited to substantiate this claim:

    Other data, not shown here, shows a 30% step down in the frequency of tornados of strength 3 and above in the USA in 1975, the year that global cooling turned to global warming [13].

    In effect, Goddard’s tweet refers to this image from NOAA:

    The image is still on NOAA’s website. This claim complements the preceding one:

    Нe third and fifth charts show the steady decline on average of both the frequency and power of hurricanes making landfall in the USA over the 20th century [12].

    The [12] refers to “(2014) Нe US Hurricane Drought in USA Today. Original NOAA data replotted.” My emphasis.

    So citing Goddard’s tweet looks perfectly fine to me. I don’t think the problem lies in the citation, but in the absence of explanation for Goddard’s additional lines in red, or the false factualness of Kelly’s “30%.” One of the most important asset of the “just the facts” rhetorical stance is that one gets to present only dots: connecting the dots is left to readers.

    No wonder this stance is pervasive in the auditing sciences.

    ***

    Incidentally, here was Kelly’s rationale:

    The approach taken in this paper is wherever possible to list the original source research yielding the data, but where that is not available to use the earliest accessible details. Not all the relevant data is located in the regular scientific literature. Much of this data is on official government-backed meteorological websites, while other data is only available secondarily or appears in appropriately derived form in various web-sites devoted to critiques in the global warming debate.

    http://www.omicsgroup.org/journals/trends-in-extreme-weather-events-since-1900–an-enduring-conundrum-for-wise-policy-advice-2167-0587-1000155.pdf

    Kelly’s assumption that Goddard presented “data” is clearly suboptimal, since all he took from Goddard are the red lines he superposed over a NOAA graph.

    The truth is out there.

  84. Compare and contrast.

    Junior cites his Amazon booklet:

    I summarized the IPCC SREX & AR5 & more recent literature here […]

    PaulM cites Junior’s list of updated key statements for an aborted Senate testimony:

    [Junior] wrote a useful summary of what the IPCC said about extreme weather events in its latest report AR5: […]

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2013/10/coverage-of-extreme-events-in-ipcc-ar5.html

    PaulM’s citation seems more relevant than Junior’s. It is cheaper too.

    Many thanks!

  85. This might get interesting. Again, compare and contrast.

    One of Junior’s key statements:

    “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin

    http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2013/10/coverage-of-extreme-events-in-ipcc-ar5.html

    From the executive summary of AR5 Chapter 2:

    Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities. However, it is virtually certain that the frequency and intensity of the strongest tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic has increased since the 1970s. {2.6.3}

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/wg1/WG1AR5_Chapter02_FINAL.pdf

    Interestingly, here’s Junior’s epilogue:

    There is really not much more to be said here — the data says what it says, and what it says is so unavoidably obvious that the IPCC has recognized it in its consensus.

    I’m not sure how data can say “what it says” with low confidence.

  86. Frank says:

    Willard: The summary from AR5 Chapter 2 directs the reader to Section 2.6.3, which shows RPjr’s statement is reasonable.

    Regional trends in tropical cyclone frequency and the frequency of very intense tropical cyclones have been identified in the North Atlantic and these appear robust since the 1970s (Kossin et al. 2007) (very high confidence). However, argument reigns over the cause of the increase and on longer time scales the fidelity of these trends is debated (Landsea et al., 2006; Holland and Webster, 2007; Landsea, 2007; Mann et al., 2007b) with different methods for estimating undercounts in the earlier part of the record providing mixed conclusions (Chang and Guo, 2007; Mann et al., 2007a; Kunkel et al., 2008; Vecchi and Knutson, 2008, 2011).

    As usual, the IPCC’s summary leaves out important caveats. And you chose to use bold font for the IPCC’s second sentence about the North Atlantic, while the IPCC actually used bold font for the first sentence.

  87. Frank says:

    ATTP: Some of your criticisms of Michael Kelly’s paper are accurate. However, suppose in some alternative reality you were a skeptical about some aspect of climate science (perhaps because the investigation you participated in never asking Phil Jones if he had ever destroyed any data that was the subject of an FOIA request and somehow lose precisely the FOIA request Phil Jones was discussing by email when he threatened to destroy data). How would you scientifically research the possibility that the importance of extreme weather had been exaggerated?

    First, you might recognize that negative results are published and cited far more often than positive results. For example, in the IPCC’s discussion of hurricanes (above), the increase in North Atlantic hurricanes is discussed in detail, but the studies of Pacific and Indian hurricanes that must have found no increase (for there to have been no global increase) either weren’t cited or perhaps were never published. This bias against publishing negative results exists in all fields, not just climate science and is widely criticized by statisticians because p values become meaningless when a dozen groups try an experiment and only the group that that obtained positive results publishes a paper. So, a scientist responsibly investigating the possibility that extreme weather has been exaggerated should logically go skeptical blogs for leads.

    The problem is whether or not to BELIEVE anything one reads at a skeptical climate blog. (In general. I don’t.) Should Professor Kelly personally “audit” the blog post by: 1) downloading the raw data, deciding the best way to analyze and present the data, and checking for distortions (cherry-picking data, trend lines lacking confidence intervals, etc). However, it would be appropriate to show (rather than plagiarize) any analyses found to be correct. Now we have created a great deal more work for Professor Kelly, which I personally would have done before putting graphs from blogs in a publication with my name on it. Should Professor Kelly also personally have audited the results from peer-reviewed papers? Steve McIntyre has shown that auditing peer-reviewed paleoclimatology papers can uncover a great deal of dubious work.

    I personally would prefer to look at what the SREX says about extreme weather, but I will keep in the back of my mind Professor Kelly’s criticism in his second paragraph: 1) most of their data begins in 1950, which may not provide an adequate baseline for identifying changes in extremes and 2) that their definition of extreme is the top and bottom decile.

    I think the topic sentence of your closing paragraph is exactly correct: “At the end of the day, detecting trends in extreme events is difficult.” The changes that have been detected are trivial, especially compared with those that are coming in the next century. We really shouldn’t have politicians running around like chickens with the heads cut off screaming that today’s weather is already more extreme. People suffer less today from extreme weather than a half-century ago.

  88. Frank,

    How would you scientifically research the possibility that the importance of extreme weather had been exaggerated?

    I would read the literature, talk to people and do some research of my own.

    We really shouldn’t have politicians running around like chickens with the heads cut off screaming that today’s weather is already more extreme.

    Firstly, scientists are not responsible for the behaviour of politicians. In fact, I think scientists do have to be a little careful of how they respond to what politicians says, because their response could itself be seen as political. However, there is evidence for an incresse in the intensity and frequency of some extreme events, so it’s not true to say that there is no evidence.

    People suffer less today from extreme weather than a half-century ago.

    Indeed, but that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been an increase.

  89. Frank,

    As usual, the IPCC’s summary leaves out important caveats.

    What do they leave out? As far as I can tell, the IPCC reports (WGI at least) is full of caveats and uncertainties. Some even think it’s too conservative. So, what should they have included that they didn’t?

  90. MartinM says:

    As usual, the IPCC’s summary leaves out important caveats.

    Nonsense. Those caveats are present in the first, bolded, sentence.

  91. Tom Curtis says:

    Frank:

    “in the IPCC’s discussion of hurricanes (above), the increase in North Atlantic hurricanes is discussed in detail, but the studies of Pacific and Indian hurricanes that must have found no increase (for there to have been no global increase) either weren’t cited or perhaps were never published.”

    This does not follow. All that is necessary is that there be no statistically significant trend in the other basins, which by diluting the positive trend in the NA, leave a weak positive trend globally that is not statistically significant. As it happens, the IPCC SREX says (at least twice) that there are no statistically significant trends in other basins.

  92. Willard says:

    > And you chose to use bold font for the IPCC’s second sentence about the North Atlantic, while the IPCC actually used bold font for the first sentence.

    I emphasized what Junior left out, and I also emphasized what Junior said instead.

    ***

    > As usual, the IPCC’s summary leaves out important caveats.

    Nothing that Junior said wasn’t in the IPCC’s summary. Yet you find that Junior’s “statement” was reasonable. Fancy that.

    ***

    > The summary from AR5 Chapter 2 directs the reader to Section 2.6.3, which shows [Junior]’s statement is reasonable.

    From that statement about our current lack of knowledge, Junior infers something about what the science or the data “says.” This is a non sequitur. A second one is to assume that unless we have a definite centennial trend, Junior can “declare victory,” as he himself says. About what, he doesn’t say, of course.

  93. Willard says:

    > The changes that have been detected are trivial, especially compared with those that are coming in the next century.

    That’s false: there are changes that have been detected. Some of them are far from being trivial. None of them are present in Junior’s key statements.

    Fancy that.

    ***

    > We really shouldn’t have politicians running around like chickens with the heads cut off screaming that today’s weather is already more extreme.

    We shouldn’t have honest brokers running around declaring themselves ClimateBall winners about something they say we lack evidence.

    We shouldn’t have peddlers lukewarmingly peddling CAGW memes.

    Yet here we are.

    ***

    > People suffer less today from extreme weather than a half-century ago.

    This can’t be attributed to weather if we accept that we haven’t detected any change. At least one variable is missing. An important caveat you omit there, Frank.

  94. Willard says:

    For good measures, here’s where we can find the SREX:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/report/srex/

    A summary:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srex/SREX_FD_SPM_final.pdf

    Our official honest broker, the IPCC, already offers a free summary.

  95. Frank says:

    Willard challenged two of my statements above (which were written in a rush). “The changes that have been detected are trivial, especially compared with those that are coming in the next century”. Obviously I should have qualified the statement to: “changes in climate attributed to anthropogenic GHGs and aerosols”. That statement is based mostly on the IPCC’s conclusion that GW over the 20th century has been net beneficial. (The US is also less vulnerable than the average country to GW.) If the change has been NET beneficial, then the modest changes in extreme weather are trivial (IMO). [For example, Hurricane Sandy was a disaster, but less than six inches of anthropogenic SLR made the coastal flooding only modestly worse. Tides change hurricane flooding by several feet. The IPCC admits that the upward trend in Atlantic hurricanes can’t currently be attributed to rising GHGs. Of course, without aGHGs Hurricane Sandy could have followed a different track, but the same could be true of that butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil or the hurricane that didn’t arrive in 2015.] American politicians have far more important issues to discuss than current extreme weather: increasing polarization and gridlock, national debt and unfunded liabilities that will crush the next generation without robust economic growth, lagging economic growth since the Great Recession, increasing radicalization in the Muslim world (especially Pakistan), increasingly assertive China, Russian, Iran and North Korea, increasing “income inequality”, persistent pockets of poverty amid affluence, the expense of reducing CO2 emissions (and worse, spending money and failing to reduce emissions enough), etc.

    Obviously increasing technology and affluence over the 20th century has reduced the damage (as a percentage of our wealth) caused by extreme weather. I can think of reasons why this trend might not continue in the future, but there have always been exaggerated fears about the future. The opening 1:30 of this TED talk presents a more optimistic and rational view:

  96. Frank,

    That statement is based mostly on the IPCC’s conclusion that GW over the 20th century has been net beneficial.

    I believe that is based on a single paper, the result of which was dominated by a single study.

    The opening 1:30 of this TED talk presents a more optimistic and rational view:

    A pity that a great deal of Matt Ridley’s rational optimism is based on a rather flawed understanding of this general topic.

  97. Joshua says:

    ==> American politicians have far more important issues to discuss than current extreme weather: increasing polarization and gridlock, national debt and unfunded liabilities that will crush the next generation without robust economic growth, lagging economic growth since the Great Recession, increasing radicalization in the Muslim world (especially Pakistan), increasingly assertive China, Russian, Iran and North Korea, increasing “income inequality”, persistent pockets of poverty amid affluence, the expense of reducing CO2 emissions (and worse, spending money and failing to reduce emissions enough), etc

    [..]

    …Obviously increasing technology and affluence over the 20th century has reduced the damage (as a percentage of our wealth) caused by extreme weather. I can think of reasons why this trend might not continue in the future, but there have always been exaggerated fears about the future. The opening 1:30 of this TED talk presents a more optimistic and rational view:

    Hmmm.

    The world is not falling apart. The kinds of violence to which most people are vulnerable—homicide, rape, battering, child abuse—have been in steady decline in most of the world. Autocracy is giving way to democracy. Wars between states—by far the most destructive of all conflicts—are all but obsolete. The increase in the number and deadliness of civil wars since 2010 is circumscribed, puny in comparison with the decline that preceded it, and unlikely to escalate.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/12/the_world_is_not_falling_apart_the_trend_lines_reveal_an_increasingly_peaceful.html

    It’s always interesting to see where folks focus their alarmism, optimism, and rationality, respectively.

  98. Frank says:

    ATTP: The caveat the IPCC left out was that the upward trend in hurricanes in the North Atlantic currently can’t be attributed to anthropogenic factors. With long-term natural variability in the North Atlantic – the AMO which is likely to influence hurricanes – could easily be responsible for the observed trend. (Do down-scaled AOGCMs predict we should have seen a significant trend by now?)

    If one created a “pseudo-data set” of hurricanes from noise with appropriate auto-correlation, randomly partitioned it into four oceans, and allowed an arbitrary choice of starting dates from 1940 to 1980 for detection of a significant trend in one of four oceans, how often would one find a “significant” upward trend?

  99. Frank,

    The caveat the IPCC left out was that the upward trend in hurricanes in the North Atlantic currently can’t be attributed to anthropogenic factors.

    Is this true, and where did they claim attribution? My reading of the IPCC documents indicates that they’re very careful about making statements about attribution.

  100. > Obviously I should have qualified the statement to: “changes in climate attributed to anthropogenic GHGs and aerosols”.

    Let’s plug in Frank’s qualifier:

    The changes [in climate attributed to anthropogenic GHGs and aerosols] that have been detected are trivial, especially compared with those that are coming in the next century changes

    This was in response to AT’s:

    At the end of the day, detecting trends in extreme events is difficult.

    The fact that attribution is not the same thing as detection suffices to indicate that Frank plays “look, squirrel!.” Also notice this other switch. The “GW over the 20th century has been net beneficial” meme belongs to level 2 of the Contrarian Matrix:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/do-not-panic/

    while the “but politicians” meme is a level 3:

    https://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/do-no-harm/

    ***

    Let’s note once again that it may be hard to attribute anything to that lack of trend, e.g. that it was beneficial.

    ***

    A cursory glance at the SREX shows that Junior’s overall argument is not supported by the SREX:

    There is evidence from observations gathered since 1950 of change in some extremes. Confidence in observed changes in extremes depends on the quality and quantity of data and the availability of studies analyzing these data, which vary across regions and for different extremes. Assigning ‘low confidence’ in observed changes in a specific extreme on regional or global scales neither implies nor excludes the possibility of changes in this extreme.

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srex/SREX_FD_SPM_final.pdf

    Yet Junior came here to sell a booklet where the “science says” something stronger than that.

  101. Frank says:

    Frank asked: “How would you scientifically research the possibility that the importance of extreme weather had been exaggerated?

    First, you might recognize that negative results are published and cited far more often than positive results.” … “I personally would prefer to look at what the SREX says about extreme weather, but I will keep in the back of my mind Professor Kelly’s criticism in his second paragraph: 1) most of their data [in the SREX] begins in 1950, which may not provide an adequate baseline for identifying changes in extremes and 2) that their definition of extreme is the top and bottom decile.”

    Ignoring the discussion that followed my question, ATTP answered:

    “I would read the literature, talk to people and do some research of my own.”

    Given these limitations in the literature and potentially in the SREX, what would you do – besides ignore these limitations? IF there is any point in doing new research on the problem (for example, you were assigned this research topic), one should approach the problem from a different perspective. Certainly the easiest way to find information about the absence of an increase in extreme weather is to start with information (allegedly from national weather services) posted at skeptical blogs AND see it it stands up to closer scrutiny. The problem isn’t Kelly’s source of data; it is his apparent lack of scrutiny of that data. The data isn’t wrong simply because it was posted at WUWT; it may be misleading because a biased or inexperienced authors made poor choices or a gross mistake. Kelly talks about a decrease in extreme weather in the last half-century, but he don’t mention whether the downward trend lines in extreme weather on his graphs are statistically significant. IF the downward trends were significant, he needs to look at the SREX and primary literature it cites to determine why different conclusions were reached. Perhaps there is no real disagreement about what the data means. Maybe it is “likely” there has been a downward trend in tornados, which primary literature cited by the SREX calls statistically insignificant. Perhaps we are being told about “likely” (but statistically insignificant) increases extreme weather, but not told about “likely” (but statistically insignificant) decreases in extreme weather. Perhaps one group is looking at EF3 and above, while the other group is looking at all tornados. If so, has our ability to characterize EF3 and above changed with time?

  102. Pingback: Research integrity | …and Then There's Physics

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