Extreme weather more common?

The paper finds that global warming is putting extreme weather on steroids

Source: Guardian, vial RSN

Author: John Abraham

Emphasis Mine

One of the hottest areas of climate research these days is on the potential connections between human emissions, global warming, and extreme weather. Will global warming make extreme weather more common or less common? More severe or less severe?

New research, just published today in Nature Climate Change helps to answer that question by approaching the problem in a novel way. In short yes, human emissions of greenhouse gases have made certain particular weather events more severe. Let’s investigate how they arrived at this conclusion.

Lead author Kevin Trenberth and his team recognized that there are two potential ways a warming climate may lead to weather changes. The first way is through something called thermodynamics. We experience thermodynamics in our own lives. Warm air can be more humid than cold air; we feel that difference throughout the year. Also, warm air evaporates water more quickly. That’s why hair blow dryers and restroom hand dryers usually use heated air. It’s why puddles evaporate more quickly on hot days.

In short, the atmosphere can become either warmer and wetter or warmer and dryer, depending on where you are. The general rule of thumb is that areas which are currently dry will become drier; areas that are currently wet will become wetter; and rains will occur in heavier downbursts.

The scientists list the following questions as a guide to their study.

1. Given a particular weather pattern, how were the temperatures, precipitation, and associated impacts influenced by climate change?

2. Given a drought, how was the drying enhanced by climate change and how did that influence the moisture deficits and dryness of the soils, leading to a more intense and long-lasting drought?

3. Given a flood, where did the moisture come from? Was it increased by warmer ocean waters?

4. Given a heat wave, how was that influenced by drought, changes in precipitation, and extra heat from global warming?

5. Given extreme snow, where did the moisture come from? Was it related to oceans that are warmer?

6. Given an extreme storm, how was it influenced by sea temperatures, ocean heat content, unusual moisture transports?

7. Was a storm surge worse because of higher sea levels?

In other words, the authors take for granted that an event has occurred and they ask, how did climate change affect its impact?

The authors use a few well-known cases studies. “Snowmaggedon,” which occurred in Washington DC in 2010; superstorm Sandy; supertyphoon Haiyan; and the flooding in Boulder, Colorado. They found that for Snowmaggedon and Sandy, unusually warm waters made those events worse. In addition, for Sandy, the human-caused sea level rise added to the storm surge. They report,

It is possible that subways and tunnels may not have been flooded without the warming-induced increases in sea level and storm intensity and size. Putting the potential price tag of human climate change on this storm in the tens of billions of dollars.

For supertyphoon Haiyan which ravaged the Philippines in November 2013, the increased sea temperatures and ocean heating along its path increased its strength and this made the impacts worse. For the Colorado floods, the authors found that ocean temperatures off the coast of Mexico were very high. This was where much of the water entered the atmosphere before subsequently falling in Colorado. According to the authors,

the extremely high sea surface temperatures and record water vapor amounts that accompanied the event … probably would not have occurred without climate change.

Later, the authors make reference to the 2010 Russian heat wave and the current drought in California. This new study reconciles past conflicting studies where very little evidence of a climate link was found of general circulation changes, but evidence is clear in the thermodynamics.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, the authors also explain why other teams have failed to make a connection between extreme weather and a warming planet. In some cases, they have asked the wrong questions. In other cases, they have used tools that were too crude. For instance, calculations performed in 2014 by another team relied upon climate models that did not have sufficient resolution.

In summary, human warming affects weather in two ways. It changes the odds that any given extreme event will occur. But more importantly it makes the events more severe. I’ll leave you with the final paragraph from the paper which summarizes this as well as I could.

The climate is changing: we have a new normal. The environment in which all weather events occur is not what it used to be. All storms, without exception, are different. Even if most of them look just like the ones we used to have, they are not the same.


see: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/312-16/30885-study-links-global-warming-to-hurricane-sandy-and-other-extreme-weather-events

Conservatives Confuse Science For Religion, And Vice Versa

Source: National Memo

Author: Gene Lyons

Recently a friend posted a video on Facebook that he asserted would demolish the Godless theory of evolution. On it, a fellow sitting in a pickup and wearing a backward baseball cap smugly explained that Darwinian evolution contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics, a fundamental principle of physics.

This hoary chestnut has long been a favorite of creationist apologetics — appearing to use scientific evidence to support a theological conclusion. Never mind that the fellow’s science was as backward as his baseball cap. The Second Law states almost the opposite of his description. Indeed, if it said what creationists claim, not only evolution but life itself would be impossible.

But what struck me as equally significant was the implied attitude toward scientists. Because if what the fellow claimed was even halfway right, it could only mean that every physics professor in every university in the world was part of a vast conspiracy of silence against God.

And why would they do that? I suppose for the same reason that climate scientists worldwide all but unanimously warn that increased levels of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere are contributing to a potentially catastrophic warming of the planet.

No less an authority than Sarah Palin once characterized them as employing “doomsday scare tactics pushed by an environmental priesthood that capitalizes on the public’s worry and makes them feel that owning an SUV is a ‘sin’ against the planet.”

The ex-governor’s use of religious metaphor is no accident. To millions of Americans calling themselves “conservatives,” at least for partisan purposes, science is religion, and religion science. Hardly anybody acts on this stuff in real life. People don’t quiz their veterinarian about Darwin.

However, when it comes to climate science, people who wouldn’t dream of diagnosing the family cat feel comfortable hearing the entire worldwide scientific community described as engaged in a gigantic hoax. Supposedly for the sake of one-world government or some similar absurdity.

Clearly, such people simply don’t know what scientific inquiry consists of, how hypotheses are tested, theories arrived at, and consensus achieved — all the things about science that make large scale conspiracies impossible.

Individual scientists are certainly as prone to temptation as anybody else. However, a single instance of serious fraud — misrepresenting experiments, faking data — is fatal to a career. The higher the profile, the more dramatic the fall.

So what happens when ideologically motivated pundits single out scientists for abuse? We may be about to learn from the lawsuit filed by renowned climatologist Michael Mann against the National Review. Do defamation laws protect even famous scientists from politically motivated smears against their professional integrity and private character?

Is calling an internationally known scientist “intellectually bogus,” a “fraud” and “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science,” as National Review blogger Mark Steyn did, a First Amendment-protected opinion? Or is it libelous, a provably false allegation published with reckless disregard for the truth and the malicious purpose of harming Mann’s reputation?

“[I]nstead of molesting children,” Steyn’s post explained, Mann “has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science.” Does it need to be added that National Review provided no evidence of same? Mann asked for a retraction and apology. Receiving none, he sued.

The director of Penn State’s climatology program — hence the Sandusky reference — Mann drew the ire of climate change deniers as the inventor of the “hockey stick graph.” First published in Nature, it combined so-called “proxy records” — tree ring studies, ice core and corals — of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 1,000 years with contemporary thermometer records.

It showed the climate trending irregularly cooler until the Industrial Revolution, when temperatures trended sharply upward — the blade of the metaphorical hockey stick. Since then, numerous studies based on different data have drawn the same conclusion: Earth’s climate is warming rapidly, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Mann’s misfortune, however, was getting caught up in the largely phony “Climategate” controversy. Admiring emails referencing “Mike’s trick” of sophisticated statistical analysis were made to appear sinister. Eight investigations by everybody from Penn State’s science faculty to the British parliament have vindicated Mann’s work in every respect.

However, Mann’s not a shy fellow. His book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, constitutes not only a lucid explanation of his own work, but a vigorous defense of climate science against industry-funded denialists. In a recent pleading filed in the D.C. Court of Appeals, National Review argues that this makes him a public figure and fair game for abuse.

In a separate article editor Rich Lowry alibied that the offending post was merely “a loose and colorful expression of opinion that did not allege any specific act of fraud in the literal sense.

In short, accusing a respected scientist of faking data and comparing him to a child molester was just a colorful way of saying they disagree with his conclusions.

Welcome to Washington, professor.

Emphasis Mine

See: http://www.nationalmemo.com/conservatives-confuse-science-religion-vice-versa/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=NM_Master_List&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%20-%20August%2014%202014