Fact, Fiction, and Friction in the Hurricane Debate

Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt

Judith Curry and colleagues have an interesting (and possibly provocative) article, “Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis That Greenhouse Warming Is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity” in the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). The article provides a solid review of the recent developments in the science focusing on potential climate change impacts on tropical cyclones. However, the article is more novel in its approach than the typical scientific review article. For instance, it attempts to deal with the issue of how one should test hypotheses that reflect a complex causal chain of individual hypotheses. This is of course relevant to investigations of climate change influences on tropical cyclone activity, where one is attempting to connect a phenomenon (climate change) that is global in spatial scale and multidecadal in timescale, to a phenomena that is intrinsically “mesoscale” (that is, spans at most hundreds of kilometers) in space and lasts only a few days.

More unusually, the article also takes an introspective look at the role of scientists in communicating societally-relevant science to the public, and provides a critical review of how the science dealing with climate change impacts on tropical cyclones and hurricanes has been reported in the media, and how that reporting has occasionally deepened the polarisation on the issue. In doing so, the article revisits some of the “false objectivity” problems we have talked about before (see here and here). They also assess fairly the quality of the arguments that have been made in response to the Emanuel (2005) and Webster et al (2005) papers in the hope of focussing discussion on the more valid points, rather than some of the more fallacious arguments. The article is unapologetic in advancing their particular point of view, and while we generally share it, we imagine that some readers may disagree. We hope, as we suspect the authors do as well, that it will in any case generate a productive discussion.

243 comments on this post.
  1. Russ Hayley:

    If it is true that we have only got a limited amount of fossil fuels to last us, say, 50 years, before we have to go completely renewable, and the sea levels are only increasing a 1mm a year, and in the last 100 years we have seen a rise in sea levels, then what is all the fuss about?

  2. Wacki:

    Re #1 Ray Hayley,

    6 years ago oil was at $10 a barrel. now they are at $80.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2004/03/06/cmcomm106.xml

    The price will continue to rise. As price goes up we will see dirtier and dirtier fuels being used. Unless we start heavily investing in alternative energy now (which we aren’t) then the worlds economy and environment will go through some pretty radical changes.

  3. bender:

    In Curry et al.’s Fig 1. the trends are so obvious that no statistics are required to convince a skeptic of their significance. But the observations are for 5-year windows. Taking a moving average will tend to exaggerate a trend by reducing interannual noise. If they had presented annual observations, how much would that have fuzzed up the trends? How much would it have compromised the statistics? Their argument 1 on p. 1028 is fine … as long as the uncertainty surrounding the statistics is taken out of the picture. Why did the authors choose to eliminate the uncertainty by using a 5-year window? Because it simplified a story intended for a lay audience? Is this a simplification, or an oversimplification?

    “Science is what we have learned about how to keep from fooling ourselves.” – Richard Feynamn

  4. Dan:

    The Feynman quote at the beginning of the BAMS article is a true classic. It is an excellent paper and I urge people to read it.

    My concern focuses on the author’s interest in generating a “productive discussion”. Scientifically that is to be applauded. However, politically, that is just the sort of thing certain elements (political and otherwise) absolutely love to misinterpret as “proof” that the science is uncertain and “we don’t know yet”. I can hear it now: “Heck, even the scientists are still discussing it; therefore it needs more study, not action.” Yes, that is a gross, erroneous oversimplication but that is exactly how many denialists/skeptics will view that phrase. The sort of thing Inhofe and his ilk will use, taken completely out of context of course.

  5. Wacki:

    Re #3

    “If they had presented annual observations, how much would that have fuzzed up the trends? ”

    1886 was the busiest on record for the continental United States.
    http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/

    I think table 1 was far more convincing of than figure 1. However, table 1 didn’t include data from the very busy 1890’s. I’m sure sampling was a problem but from my quick skim of the article I didn’t see anything that properly addressed that decade. I will give this article more time after work.

  6. Doug Watts:

    I’ve long thought it unproductive for anyone to attempt to attribute the 2005 hurricane season to climate change. Short-term trends like one bad hurricane season are far too noisy to make any credible cause-effect link, even if a link may in fact exist. This reminds me of people in the early 1990s who said that destruction of the Amazon should be opposed because of the potential for life-saving drugs coming from plants in the Amazon. Obviously that is true, but it simplified the entire issue down to a ridiculously narrow contex which created a perverse blow-back: that if we can easily synthesize drugs in the laboratory then nothing is lost if the Amazon is destroyed.

  7. bender:

    Dan, is the science not uncertain? Are the uncertainties not downplayed for the purpose of keeping a complicated story simple, and manufacturing consent among policy-makers and the public? If so, would you be ok with that? Or would you prefer your policy-makers to take a bolder stance and declare drastic action is needed *despite* the uncertainties?

  8. Dan:

    There are various degrees of uncertainty in all science. The key concept here is that it is not as uncertain as the Inhofes et al of the world would like to think. And they portray uncertainty erroneously just to confuse the matter, not based on scientifically valid reasons. Scientific uncertainty within reason is no reason to continue to stall and further obfuscate, especially when there are things that can be done now that are not “drastic” at all. (There is a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. Do you not take appropriate preparatory action if you have outside activities planned?)

  9. Alastair McDonald:

    One of the fallacies that Curry et al. list is the fallacy of distribution which “occurs when an argument assumes that what is true of the members is true of the class (composition), or what is true of the class is true of its members (division).” It seems to me that scientists have been commiting a similar fallacy for several years now.

    They have been saying that you cannot prove that global warming is causing more hurricanes because that is the fallacy of Hasty Generalisation(not enough evidence.) But they have also argued that about the increase in forest fires, and melting glaciers, etc. By arguing that each member does not provide enough evidence, they are missing the point that when the evidence is added together it is true for the class.

    In other words, although increased hurricanes on their own do not prove antrhopogenic global warming (AGW) is happening, when you include forest fires, melting glaciers etc. then it is obvious that it is happening. Since it is happening, then it logically follows that it must be causiing more hurricanes, forest fires, melting glaciers etc. We don’t really need the temperature record to prove AGW! The symptoms are all there. What walks like a duck and quacks like a duck is a duck!

    By concentrating on indivdual events, like Katrina, or even classes like hurricanes, then claiming there is no proof, they are committing the fallacy of distribution. To avoid it you must consider the super class.

  10. Wacki:

    “Obviously that is true, but it simplified the entire issue down to a ridiculously narrow contex which created a perverse blow-back: that if we can easily synthesize drugs in the laboratory then nothing is lost if the Amazon is destroyed.”

    Drugs are what I do for a living. Destroying this planets diverse ecosystem would be a tremendous blow to the DISCOVERY of new medicines. Whether or now we can synthesize them in a lab is irrelevant.

  11. ike solem:

    This article fails to discuss what could be called “logical inconsistency in arguments” relating to the datasets that are used to define the ‘Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation signal’ and related effects on hurricane intenstity and frequency. There seem to be several mutually contradictory statements made by climate research skeptics who focus on hurricane activity.

    From the paper:

    “The North Atlantic hurricanes deserve special discussion in light of the relatively long historical record of hurricanes. There is no question that natural internal variability is associated with variations in North Atlantic hurricane frequency and intensity. The Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO; Delworth and Mann 2000; Knight et al. 2005; Kerr 2005) is of particular relevance to the central hypothesis because:

    -the AMO has a period nominally of 70 years (Knight et al. 2005);

    -the AMO is reflected strongly in the tropical SSTs of the North Atlantic (Delworth and Mann 2000) – in fact, the North Atlantic SST is used to define the periods of the AMO;

    -and data on the frequency of North Atlantic tropical storms going back to 1851 show strong minima of hurricane activity in the periods centered around 1850, 1915, and 1980 and maxima centered around 1875, 1950, and at the end of the time series (Elsner et al. 1999) – these variations are approximately in phase with the AMO (Knight et al. 2005).”

    Basically, the problem is this: The AMO/NAO is based on records going back some 150+ years and yet has a 70 year period. This is a very scanty dataset for extracting such a signal, as previous realclimate commentators with time series analysis experience have pointed out. How good is SST data from 1850 anyway? The El Nino signal is far more robust and the author’s allusion that the AMO and EL Nino are equally well-supported is just not true, in my humble opinion.

    Furthermore, the AMO is based on SST’s, and yet the denialists claim that the SST-hurricane link is not very robust when it suits their purposes – yet it is robust enough to state that the AMO determines Atlantic hurricane frequency and intensity? Hello? Landsea et. al have attacked the hurricane intensity data collected since the 70’s on the basis that wind speeds were underestimated in the past, and the article above includes the issue of poor data in the 70’s and 80’s -and yet Landsea et. al are big proponents of the AMO cycle – hurricane link – so are they saying that the data was somehow better back in 1850 and 1915? If this isn’t a logical inconsistency, what is it? (I also have yet to see any of the climate skeptics call for increased funding for satellite and ocean data collection). If someone can point out where I’ve gone wrong, please let me know.

    I’d be very interested in seeing a climate researcher explain the basis of the AMO in detail to non-experts in the field, particularly since major media networks relied so heavily on the AMO explanation of last year’s hurricane season; at the height of Katrina CNN was displaying graphics explaining how it was all just ‘the natural variability of the NAO’ – with absolutly no discussion of global warming included. That goes beyond “equal debate”; I’d say it was more like outright distortion.

    In addition the focus on the Atlantic hurricane issues is also biased; I think only ~10% of global hurricanes form in the Atlantic basin. Many dissipate out over the Pacific where no damage occurs, but look at these recent reports from the western Pacific:

    Guardian UK on China typhoon
    South Africa Business Day on China Typhoon
    http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/67149.html

    For some reason, just about all US media outlets (Bloomberg excepted) view the ‘biggest typhoon to hit China in 50 years” as not being a newsworthy item. Doesn’t that seem just a little odd?

    The article ends with an discussion referencing Thomas Friedman, intellectual commons, public communication strategies and the like. I’d suggest reading David C. Korten’s “When Corporations Rule the World” as an interesting counterpoint to Friedman’s “The World is Flat”. If the authors are going to plunge into a discussion of economics at the end of an article on hurricanes they have a responsibility to cover all viewpoints, just like journalists do.

    I just want to end my rather long post with a discussion of DNA and heredity (bear with me). A very hot and controversial topic in genetics right now is ‘extra-genetic elements of inheritance’ – these are based on recent reports of inheritance that apparently bypasses the DNA genome – perhaps a protein signal – perhaps an artifact. However, this kind of controversy doesn’t mean that the last 50 years of molecular DNA research is suspect – but that’s the kind of argument the climate skeptics are making every time some confusing new data pops up.

  12. bender:

    Dan, how do you measure the Inhofe’s uncertainty, how do you know the actual uncertainty, and how do you make the comparison? Or again, is it just gut instinct?

    To answer your question: cost factors into the analysis just as benefit does. I would carry an umbrella – but I wouldn’t go build a bomb shelter. The remedial action has to suit the risk. The case you have to make is that the policy options on the table are going to be as effective as my umbrella, and not as costly as my bomb shelter.

  13. SecularAnimist:

    Doug Watts in #6 wrote: “I’ve long thought it unproductive for anyone to attempt to attribute the 2005 hurricane season to climate change.”

    Just as it would be “unproductive” to attribute the death of an individual life-long tobacco smoker from lung cancer to their tobacco smoking, since after all, some people smoke tobacco all their lives and don’t get cancer, while others die of lung cancer who have never smoked tobacco.

    This is the argument that the tobacco industry used for decades to keep people confused about the link between tobacco smoking and lung cancer (and to keep smokers smoking), and it is the argument that the fossil fuel industry continues to use, and will use as long as they can get away with it, to keep people confused about the link between anthropogenic global warming and extreme weather events (and to keep them burning fossil fuels).

    No, you cannot say “this particular hurricane occurred at this particular time in this particular place with these precise characteristics because of global warming”. What you can say is that global warming is producing the conditions that will make larger, more powerful, longer-lasting hurricanes increasingly frequent and that we can already observe this is happening. In that respect the 2005 hurricane season, and specifically hurricane Katrina, are “linked to” anthropogenic global warming.

  14. ike solem:

    RE#1, Hi Russ, the US actually has enough coal to meet the US energy needs for the next 250 years; oil is a different story. The major use of coal is the produce electricity in the US; I think ~80% of electric generation in this country is coal-fired. So – if nothing changes (except the climate), look forward to electric cars and trains (and boats) for all. We are the Saudi Arabia of coal, and while we may feel inclined to go after the coal industry as a great climate culprit, the fact is that most of the web and the posts on this site are also coal-fired. We are all guilty.

    Amory Levins has estimated that by the time coal is mined, transported, burned, pumped over the wire, and used to light an incandescent light bulb, only 3% of the initial energy is available to the light bulb; 97% is wasted.

    There is an excellent recent fair-minded book on coal; see a review here:
    Big Coal, by Jeff Goodall.

  15. Dan:

    That’s just it about Inhofe: Despite having no scientific background he has no uncertainty at all. As is clear per his comments (“global warming hoax”, ad nauseum). That is not my “gut instinct”, just a statement of fact per Inhofe’s statements. An anti-science demagogue compared to peer-reviewed science – there really is no logical comparison to be made.

    The uncertainties of global climate modeling have been addressed here on RealClimate.org recently by commenters and the web host so I will not rehash that re: model resolution, etc. Issues of cost have also been discussed at length. The risks have been clearly identified as well.

    Which “umbrella” would you choose to remediate the risks?

  16. Gene Hawkridge:

    Although it is true that proven petroleum reserves are declining, the probability that large additional reserves that are not yet known is high. Therefore, one can predict that there is a lot more than 50 years of petroleum to be extracted.

    As oil prices increase, the incentive to covert tar sands, coal, and shale to gasoline is also increasing. This will add enormously to the potential use of fossil fuels.

    In other words, there remains plenty to worry about with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. However, all efforts by politicians to control oil prices should be resisted: artificially low prices do not send the right market signal to consumers.

  17. Hank Roberts:

    #1, Russ
    You make a very common error — you think if we change the rate of burning fossil fuel, a change in the rate of climate change happens right away. This is error, and worth understanding. If you need help searching for the information, post a request, someone knowledgeable will reply.

  18. wayne davidson:

    Right! I am still digesting this paper, An article very similar in meaning to Feynman’s quote at the outset. But I am first of all curious about the AMS, being an avid listenner of TV meteorlogists, who 95% of the time reject the faint possibility of AGW, is it unusual for the AMS to carry a paper which acknowledges that there is such a thing as AGW? Aside from that, the paper has strong points, but hesitates to make simple links. There are no hurricanes born over cold water, therefore, a much warmer ocean will expand the range, intensity and frequency of hurricanes. whether or not 10 more years of study is needed is largely academic. But they are correct in saying that hurricanes are not the best sign of AGW, case in point this years hurricane predictions, all falling flat, due to colder tropical ocean, along with 1997 pre El-Nino conditions. A better indicator of AGW would be to measure the absoute temperature of the atmosphere at key Global locations, anyone keen on that?

  19. Dan Hughes:

    Will someone kindly define ‘the fossil fuel industry’ and quantify its emissions of CO2 on a yearly basis. The emissions of the coal segment is of special interest because the US has so much.

    I’m certain that you’ll find that the industries that use fossil fuels to produce products and services that are demanded by everyone have very significantly higher emissions.

    Big Oil and Big Coal are not the problem. The demand for products and services that require the resources provided by these industries are the problem.

    Demand is the problem. Supply is not the problem. If you use electricity, transportation, paper, computers you are part of the demand. If you use any human-made product or service at all, you are part of the demand.

    If you don’t want to be part of the problem, go throw the mains switch on your electric panel, shut off other fuel supplies to your house, don’t use transportation, don’t eat food. Don’t do anything at all.

  20. Pat Neuman:

    RC … Please use my photos URI instead of the one sent in a message a couple minutes ago.

    At globalchange (re: Pat Michaels may be in a lot of trouble, message 11), I said that … climate change has not been a politicized field of study. The studies and research work by thousands of scientists on climate change have not been in disagreement. Politicization has been from non scientists. …
    http://groups.google.com/group/globalchange/

    Was I right about that?

  21. SecularAnimist:

    Dan Hughes wrote in #19: “Big Oil and Big Coal are not the problem. The demand for products and services that require the resources provided by these industries are the problem.”

    The “problem” with “Big Oil” and “Big Coal” is that they are profiting almost beyond conception from the growing demand for their products, and they thus have a strong incentive for wanting that demand to remain high and indeed continue to grow. They certainly don’t want the demand for their products — and consequently their profits — to be reduced by a large-scale, rapid move away from burning fossil fuels and towards climate-friendly renewables like wind and solar generated electricity. That’s why they have poured big bucks into funding a disinformation campaign to keep the public confused about the reality of anthropogenic global warming, so that the voters won’t demand governments implement policies to help bring about that transition.

    Dan Hughes: If you don’t want to be part of the problem, go throw the mains switch on your electric panel, shut off other fuel supplies to your house, don’t use transportation, don’t eat food. Don’t do anything at all.

    If you want to reduce your contribution to the problem, as a consumer, you could buy wind-generated electricity, as I do through my local utility. Then replace your natural gas fired appliances with electric appliances, as I plan to do this fall. At that point you are no longer relying on any fossil fuels for your residential heating, cooling, refrigeration, etc. If you have a sunny roof, then install photovoltaic panels and you can produce clean electricity yourself and sell the excess back to the utility (in most states). I hope to do this this fall as well, as part of the conversion of my HVAC and other appliances from gas to electric.

    I already grow some of my own food in my backyard organic garden, and buy the rest from local organic farmers (both local production and organic methods reduce the fossil fuel inputs and CO2 emissions associated with food production). I also eat a 100% vegan diet, which at least one study has shown reduces the CO2 emissions associated with food production compared to the standard American diet by an amount comparable to the difference between driving a compact car and driving an SUV.

    I already drive a 15-year-old Ford Festiva that gets nearly 40mpg in city driving and nearly 50mpg on the highway, comparable to today’s expensive hybrid cars, and I keep my driving to a minimum. I won’t buy another fossil fuel-powered car; I’ll drive the Festiva as long as I can keep it on the road and by the time it won’t run anymore pluggable hybrids that can run as pure electric cars (in my case powered by wind and/or photovoltaics) most of the time, with flex-fuel engines that can burn biofuels instead of gasoline or petro-diesel for long trips, should be available.

    I’m not claiming to be a paragon of virtue, merely pointing out that there is a whole lot that individuals can do to reduce their own demand for fossil fuels, besides, as you suggest, “nothing”.

  22. Wacki:

    “Demand is the problem. Supply is not the problem. If you use electricity, transportation, paper, computers you are part of the demand. If you use any human-made product or service at all, you are part of the demand.

    If you don’t want to be part of the problem, go throw the mains switch on your electric panel, shut off other fuel supplies to your house, don’t use transportation, don’t eat food. Don’t do anything at all. ”

    Let me guess….. anarchocapitalist?

  23. Harold Brooks:

    I must admit I’m a little disappointed in the discussion of Table 1 in the Curry et al. paper. They don’t discuss the data quality issue for the 1945-1955 era at al. From HURDAT, the number of US landfalling hurricanes is the same in both periods (26) and the number of category-3 or greater US landfalling hurricanes is the same (10). As a result, in the 1995-2005 record, 40% of all North Atlantic hurricanes reached category 3 status (45 of 112). 55% (41 of 74) did so in 1945-1955. If we break it down by US landfall vs. non US landfall, we get

    1945-1955 (US) 10 of 26 hurricanes were major (38%)
    1945-1955 (Non-US) 31 of 48 (65%)

    1995-2005 (US) 10 of 26 (38%)
    1995-2005 (Non-US) 35 of 86 (41%)

    Now, it’s possible that hurricanes away from the US became less likely to reach Cat 3 or higher in the last decade compared to the period 50 years before, but that seems unlikely to me, at least, and I think would be inconsistent with the Webster et al. work.

    There is a large change in the location of identified “things” in HURDAT between the two periods. Looking at the first time something is identified in HURDAT, there are only 20 tropical entities identified east of 50 W that move west to at least 60 W in the 1945-1955 period and 5 that never move west of 60 W. In contrast, there are 35 and 20, respectively, in 1995-2005. In total, there were 30 more features in the eastern part of the tropical Atlantic. It’s possible that there’s a physical change, but the data quality concerns should have been addressed.

    I don’t find Curry et al.’s final bullet point on p. 1032 convincing at all. A lot of the difference has to do with the observational capabilities.

  24. bender:

    “by the time it [Ford Festiva] won’t run anymore pluggable hybrids that can run as pure electric cars … should be available”

    Assuming your economy is intact, you still have a job, you can afford the new technology, etc.

  25. SecularAnimist:

    bender wrote: Assuming your economy is intact, you still have a job, you can afford the new technology, etc.

    Well the first two are anyone’s guess. As to the cost of electric car technology, I think that hybrid cars (pluggable or not) are expensive because they are so complex. On the other hand, a purely electric car should be inexpensive because of its extreme simplicity: a battery that powers an electric motor (which has ONE moving part, as opposed to hundreds of moving parts in an internal combustion engine, and even more in a dual-drive-train hybrid) and related control electronics.

    In fact, if electric cars were designed along the lines of personal computers, with an industry-standard architecture and swappable, upgradeable components using standardized form factors and interfaces, the automobile industry might be revolutionized the same way the original IBM PC revolutionized the computer industry.

    If you recall, the IBM PC spawned a whole industry of clones and third-party manufacturers of hard drives, video cards, memory chips, motherboards etc which were all interchangeable because IBM designed the original using a standardized open architecture and off-the-shelf components. That caused IBM to lose control of the personal computer industry but at the same time it created the industry that can now deliver 3Ghz personal computers with gigabytes of RAM and terabytes of disk storage for far less than the original, primitive PCs cost.

    I think the same thing could happen with electric cars. They would become commodities, like the personal computer: cheap and upgradeable as new technology is developed, with various manufacturers building the cars themselves with industry-standardized form-factor “bays” for motors, batteries, etc. with other companies specializing in manufacturing high-performance aftermarket/upgrade motors and batteries with industry-standard form-factors and interfaces. If someone develops a more efficient electric motor, you can swap your old one out for an upgrade; if someone develops a better battery, you can swap your old one out for an upgrade; etc. In this way you can increase the range and performance of the car without having to replace it.

    I know this is far off-topic not only for this thread but for a site that is about climate science. On the other hand, I have noticed that very often the comments on RealClimate discussion threads seem to veer off-topic into discussions of solutions to the problem of CO2 emissions, and I think that’s a positive thing. It’s something that we all should be thinking about, all the time.

  26. Eduardo:

    1) Basically, AGW hypothesis states that increasing CO2 causes global warming.
    2) CO2 levels have been rising steadily.
    3) Temperature must rise accordingly.
    4) As this causes an increase in hurricane frequency and strength,
    5) This hurricane season should have at least 11 hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean by this date.
    6) There have already been only 3 -and mere tropcal depression and storms. Where are the other 8?
    7) Into which fallacy is this observational reasoning classified?

  27. Wacki:

    The following is from curry’s house reform testimony
    ======================================================================
    - The influence of global warming deniers, consisting of a small group of scientists plus others that are motivated to deny global warming owing to the implications associated with any policy to control greenhouse gas emissions
    – The tendency of a large number of forecast meteorologists (including TV meteorologists) to deny global warming and in particular the possibility of a link between increasing hurricane intensity and global warming
    – The public statements by NOAA administrators and National Weather Service scientists that neglect the published research and deny a link between hurricanes and global warming
    ……

    This information being disseminated by NOAA is misleading, incomplete and one-sided, and does not accurately reflect the state of knowledge as reflected in the published scientific literature.
    ===============================================================

    OK, what could possibly be NOAA’s motivation for doing this? And why are meteorologists denying global warming? I thought this topic was beyond debate in the scientific community.

  28. bender:

    If you (or Dan) want to stay on-topic, why not reply to #3?

  29. Dan Hughes:

    SecularAnimist wrote, “The “problem” with “Big Oil” and “Big Coal” is that they are profiting almost beyond conception from the growing demand for their products, and they thus have a strong incentive for wanting that demand to remain high and indeed continue to grow.”

    Do you know the rate of return on the gross income of Big Oil and Big Coal? The recent news about ExxonMobile’s quartely profit made enormous headlines almost everywhere. But, nobody reported the rate of return; 10.4615% of sales. I’m certain that no one reading this would call that “profiting almost beyond conception” if it was the return on their personal investments.

    Do you know the real-world generating capacity factor for, say, wind farms? It runs at less than 25%. That means that there must be very significant base-loaded installed generating capacity. Some have estimated that significant reliance on wind will result in insignificant changes in the installed base-load capacity. In the absence of fission-powered generating capacity, the base-loading will be powered by fossil fuels.

    Do you know that burning fossil fuels to make electricity to charge electric batterys to power personal transportation results in more, not less, CO2 emissions into the atmosphere than buring fossil fuels directly in the transportation.

    Do you know that small private companies generally have higher rates of profits than large companies. Take Microsoft, Apple, BMW, for examples. Smaller companies also represent significnatly fewer headaches for the managers, at the same time making greater rates of returns.

    Which is more obscene, a higher rate of return or a large number for the return?

    As someone once said, “”Those who refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to failure.”

  30. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #26 – Got Shannon? Got aliasing … or is it, anti aliasing? ;)

  31. Gar Lipow:

    >This hurricane season should have at least 11 hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean by this date.

    In this case not a fallacy. False premise. Also conflation of trend with data point. (That is on average we will have more hurricanes. Not that same thing as “every single year we will have more hurricanes”. Hmm maybe that is a fallacy.)

  32. Gar Lipow:

    >The recent news about ExxonMobile’s quartely profit made enormous headlines almost everywhere. But, nobody reported the rate of return; 10.4615% of sales.

    Rate of return is not profit as a percent of sales, but profit as a return to capital investment. Basic financial accounting. Oil companies right now are making a whole lot more than 10% as a return to capital.

    Exxon’s return to capital in 2005 was 31%.

    Lastly in terms of renewable sources – you solve dispatchability problems by mixing wind, solar thermal electricty (with molten salt storage), hydro, geothermal. Thus by mixing dispatchable and non-dispatchable sources you end up with a fully dispatchable mix

  33. Eli Rabett:

    For # 19 CO2 emission data central. Click through to the actual data tables for detailed information on emissions in each area.

  34. Dan:

    re: 28. Your failure to reply to my “which umbrella?” question is noted. My original post (#4), which you replied to, was not in response to #3. It concerned “productive discussion” and the interpretation of “uncertainty” with respect to the BAMS article. In case you had not noticed, that is specifically “on-topic”. Therefore do not accuse me of being “off-topic”.

    BTW, your questions/strawmen, such as they are, can be readily submitted to the paper’s authors via email, or perhaps better still, as a comment to the article itself in the peer-reviewed BAMS…assuming they are on-topic.

  35. Eduardo:

    What about this study of 1997 -from AOML/NOAA?

    Intradecadal Variations in Atlantic Hurricane Activity

    Strategic Element: Decadal to Centennial Change

    Principal Investigator: Chris W. Landsea

    Objective: Basic physical understanding and forecasts of seasonal to multidecadal tropical cyclone activity. Climatological atmospheric and oceanic conditions. Economic and societal impact.

    Narrative: The North Atlantic is the only ocean in which there is a net northward flow of warm water in all latitudes. Sometimes the flow is saltier and warmer than usual; other times it is fresher and not quite so warm. The salty/warm and fresh/cool phases appear to alternate every 20 to 30 years. During the salty/warm phase, rain falls abundantly in West Africa south of the Sahara, European winters are cold, and hurricane activity increases. During the fresh/cool phase, there are droughts in Africa, mild European winters, and fewer hurricanes.

    The period of the late 1940s through the 1960s was a time of many hurricanes. In the 1970s and 1980s, the thermohaline circulation was in the fresh/cool phase and fewer major hurricanes formed. Apparently, the circulation changed back to the salty/warm phase some time between the late 1980s [when Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina, and Gilbert set a record (888 mb or 26.22 inches of Mercury) for the lowest sea-level pressure observed in the Western Hemisphere] and the hyperactive 1995 (11 hurricanes, 5 major hurricanes) and 1996 (9 hurricanes, 6 major) seasons. If the thermohaline circulation has truly changed, we would expect the active phase to last through the first decade of the next century. A particulary ominous aspect of this prediction is that the increase in activity appears most clearly as an increase in devastating major hurricane landfalls from one every other year to one every year.

    Duration: 1981 through the present.

    Reference:

    Goldenberg, S. B., L. J. Shapiro, and C. W. Landsea, 1997: Are we seeing a long-term upturn in Atlantic Basin major hurricane activity related to decadal-scale SST fluctuations? Preprints, Seventh Conference on Climate Variations, Long Beach CA, 2-7 February 1997, American Meteorological Society, 305-310.

  36. Hank Roberts:

    > 29
    …as someone once said …

    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.environment/browse_thread/thread/b1335639c717e410/31df8a0ac3720172?lnk=st&q=&rnum=1#31df8a0ac3720172

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/john_mccarthy.html

  37. Pekka Kostamo:

    #18. Global Climate Observation System (GCOS)is a well established World Meteorological Organization (WMO) program. Its workings (including observation station lists) are detailed in http://www.wmo.ch/web/gcos/gcoshome.html

    In short, the GCOS defines a global ground network of observation stations (both upper-air and surface obs) designed to provide a representative, minimum global sampling, based on stations which have the longest available records and an acceptable measurement quality. Unfortunately, the likelihood of future funding has also been among the criteria of selection, with some impacts in the developing nations.

    GCOS also covers new technology, such as the satellite systems. There the primary contribution is in definition of accuracy requirements and standardization of data exchange and archival formats.

    Anyway, the climate observations are primarily derived from the daily weather observations needed for operational forecasting needs. Climate measurement is just an additional requirement for these systems.

    As a typical WMO program, the GCOS operates as a committee of willing volunteers.

    in addition, the several centers doing the global temperature computations have developed their own network selections, based also on the existing weather observing stations.

  38. Steffen Christensen:

    On Alastair’s argument from #9, “One of the fallacies that Curry et al. list is the fallacy of distribution which ‘occurs when an argument assumes that what is true of the members is true of the class (composition), or what is true of the class is true of its members (division).’ It seems to me that scientists have been commiting a similar fallacy for several years now.”

    Perhaps a different approach is in order. Consider Bayesian analysis. The basic idea behind Bayes reasoning is that you begin with a set of alternative hypotheses with unknown probabilities. You then acquire data, and update the probabilities of the candidates being true as more data come in. At the end of the day, you can get tiny probabilities for some of the hypotheses – with is roughly equivalent to a tiny p-value in a frequentist context, or to a high statistical significance (many sigma deviations) in a physics context. The languages are different enough that I’ll use several to get my point across. So let’s consider the hypothesis that the Earth is warming as a result of humans burning carbon. Maybe in 1960, there wasn’t much evidence on the ground. Today, there’s so much that we’re getting 5-sigma temperature highs in Svalbard, Norway (see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/more-on-the-arctic/). Okay, there are a lot of stations on the ground, but the heat wave of 2003 in Europe that killed 35,000 people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave) was a 5-sigma event in Switzerland, and there are others coming. Pump these things through a Bayesian analysis, and the probabilities for “no warming” drop down to zero. Myself, I think that a lot of the recent superfast warming is due to clearing of the atmosphere of particulates and thus uncovering warming already going on, but whatever. My point is, once one hypothesis – the planet is warming – is pinned down to 99.9999%+ certainty, then other hypotheses naturally start following.
    Glacier melting is a pretty solid one. They certainly are. We expect that from warmer climate. QED.
    Lengthening summers in the Northern and Southern hemisphere and species migration as a result thereof is another 5-sigma, based on some research published in Nature a while back. So it’s a 99.9999% fact as well.
    Forest fires, the evidence is mixed, as forest management practices and tree damage due to new bugs are significant confounds. In the case of bugs, there’s some evidence that the bugs are moving north due to climate change, so it’s all circular.
    Hurricane number I don’t buy, but hurricane total energy seems physically plausible. Certainly we have more energy in the air and sea-surface now, but then again, the records, detections, and intensity measurement are so much better today than they were 50 and 100 years ago that it’s almost like two different civilizations taking down the numbers.

    My point is, once enough evidence backs up your proposal, you should get down to arguing about what effects are likely; what are we likely to see and so forth. A single 1:1,000,000 observation is solid enough to proclaim discovery of a new particle or solar system in physics. We have three, all pointing at the same direction. Even with a host of “possible observations” that we might have made in the reference, a proper Bayesian analysis will lead one to conclude that the warming is real, whether you like it or not. Bayesian logic of this sort underlies statements by ecologists, glaciologists and climate scientists who state, somewhat unconvincingly, “the more you learn about the evidence behind climate change, the more convinced you become that the change is real and accelerating”. We are all familiar with new “sciences” that deeper into the research and whose practitioners got more convinced of their own correctness – does phrenology ring any bells? Because of the different domains in which global climate change is being observed and followed, climate science isn’t like that. Even if you could explain away the 5-sigma events in one domain, you still have the others. The mesh of observations is solid, and myself I’d love to see someone do a Bayesian analysis to come with a probability of 10^-900 or something that the climate is not warming. Here in Canada, we even get fun anecdotes, like the fact that the Innu people of the High Arctic are seeing birds that they don’t have names for. Like the Robin. That suggests to me that over a couple of centuries at least the birds haven’t actually been there. Plus it adds a nice human face to the issue.

    Sorry for the vaguely off-topic post, I just tire of hearing individual (early) results being attacked by folks with an axe to grind.

  39. wayne davidson:

    #37 Thanks Pekka, the link does not work, interested in the program nevertheless.

  40. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #38 I think that the reason the link does not work is because the full stop at the end of the sentence gets added to the URL by your browser. Try this link: http://www.wmo.ch/web/gcos/gcoshome.html Look no period :-)

  41. Judith Curry:

    I have certainly found all of your comments very interesting. I would particularly like to respond to #27 re the ‘skepticism’ of forecast meteorologists and also NOAA’s response. My motivation for writing the BAMS article (which I started last October) was to try to understand my personal reaction to all the craziness last fall (sort of like Alice falling down the rabbit hole) and understand how this became such a contentious public debate. Owing to the review process on this paper (which was extremely interesting and unusual, possibly worth another post), some of the material in the originally submitted versions could not be published, and I touched on some of this in my congressional testimony.

    Early in the debate, the usual greenhouse warming contrarians were trotted out (e.g. Peter Webster’s ‘debate’ on CNN with Myron Ebell, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute). But the media quickly lost interest as a far more interesting debate emerged with Bill Gray and the National Hurricane Center, with their opinions echoed on TV across the country by TV meteorologists.

    Here is some of the text from the original manuscript that I was asked to remove during the review process:

    Most of these issues were raised by members of the hurricane forecasting community. The prevailing views on the topic of hurricanes and global change differ considerably between hurricane forecasters and climate researchers. The consensus view of hurricane forecasters is to attribute the warming in the North Atlantic and the associated in increase in hurricane frequency and intensity to natural variability. The consensus view of climate researchers is to attribute the warming, particularly since 1970, to have a substantial component associated with greenhouse warming. These discrepancies can be understood at least in part by clarifying the source of these differing perspectives. The hurricane forecaster focuses on predicting the path and intensity of land falling hurricanes, and also makes seasonal forecasts. They work on verifying their forecasts, and they are also experts on hurricane data. On the other hand, the climate researcher does not focus on forecasting but rather applies the scientific method to understanding the underlying physical processes and causes of climate variability. The climate researcher has expertise on climate data records and statistical methods.

    The richness of the meteorological community, including both scientific researchers and the operational forecasting community, provides the community with both benefits and challenges. As a result of the utility of operational forecasting and the utility of the reanalysis products, some sloppy practices have crept into the meteorological research community in terms of careful assessment of the errors of data sets and hypothesis testing. The public views the meteorological community in a monolithic way and seems prepared to accept the opinions of TV weather forecasters on issues such as global warming, in spite of the fact that this community has most often no expertise on this topic. A dichotomy has developed in the U.S. between the operational forecasting community and the meteorological research community, a dichotomy that does not exist in Europe. Some of the most challenging scientific issues that are also of the highest policy relevance are at the interface of climate change and weather extremes. The operational forecasting communities and the research communities need to work together on these issues, and NOAA and the AMS can play a major role in facilitating this collaboration. We must make every effort to avoid institutionalized scientific bias in our community, whereby an organization or group of scientists or other professionals discount what is not known by them personally or collectively, or a group of scientists becomes protective of a scientific research area as being their ‘turf’. The end result of this debate is likely to be that this public fragmentation of the meteorological community has generally lessened the possibility for this community to influence policy.

    While the subject matter of atmospheric science and forecast meteorology shares much common ground, forecast meteorologists operate in more of an engineering environment relative to the research branch of atmospheric science (I value a good weather forecast as much as anyone!). Bill Gray is an interesting ‘hybridâ’ in that while he worked for decades in the university environment and publishes frequently in the scientific literature, his heritage and mode of thinking seems to be more in line with the meteorological forecasting community (Bill Gray’s lengthy interview with Joel Achenbach would seem to support this characterization). Meteorologists with a B.S. degree (note many TV meteorologists do not even have this credential) would rarely take a course in climate and global change; this course is not even listed on the NOAA/NWS or AMS certification guidelines for meteorologists. This lack of knowledge even trickles up to the Ph.D. level in meteorology, where I suspect many Ph.D. meteorologists have never taken a course in climate and global change. Further, the entire meteorological education is focused on forecasting: understanding short-term weather patterns, looking for analogues, etc. and the ‘experience’ of weather forecasters is actually important here in being able to call up ‘analogues’ of past disturbances or seasons. Bill Gray certainly has more experience than anyone in this regard in the hurricane world, which is why he has made statements that he is the authority and that ‘we’ are not qualified (again, refer to the Achenbach article), and the length of his experience (50 years) contributes mightily to the support of his views in the hurricane forecasting community. This is vastly different from the research community, whereby a Ph.D. student can legitimately and effectively challenge the research of a Nobel Laureate through the refereed scientific literature. Further, owing to the emphasis on forecasting, this community does not operate in the same way that atmospheric science researchers (outside the forecasting community) operate in terms of hypothesis testing etc., which is why I focused the article in terms of laying out the scientific method, fallacies, etc. (note all of the fallacies came from the hurricane forecasting community via the media; I included specific citations in the 2nd version of the paper, but this was also nixed). Even among Ph.D. meteorologists, global warming is not widely accepted. In addition to the issues previously raised, there has been some ‘resentment’ among the meteorological community about the success (particularly in terms of funding) of the U.S. climate research programs, which they view as coming at the expense of meteorological/weather research (with initiatives such as STORM, the U.S. Weather Research Program, THORPEX receiving orders of magnitude less funding). This issue re funding for climate science has been mentioned numerous times by Bill Gray in the media. Am I criticizing forecast meteorologists? I highly value their forecasts, and believe that they are for the most part hardworking and honest human beings (although I have my doubts about of few of them in the private sector), and many of them are probably quite brilliant. But something is wrong with the system, and this brings us to NOAA (and to a lesser extent the American Meteorological Society).

    Mix all of the above with a ‘political agenda’ that is anti-greenhouse warming with the Undersecretary of NOAA (a political appointee) saying that we do not know what to attribute the recent warming to, then we have a complex situation indeed. NOAA is a large and complex organization, and I don’t envy anyone that is trying to administer all that. But the hurricane and global warming debate has illuminated some glaring problems in my opinion. There is a substantial disconnect between the various branches of NOAA: there are numerous NOAA agencies with substantial expertise in climate change global warming, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Boulder Labs, and GFDL to name a few. Apparently there is little to no interaction of these agencies with the National Weather Service NWS (although there is apparently some interaction with GFDL). This lack of interaction is to the detriment of both scientific research and the forecasts. The Europeans (notably ECMWF) do not have the dichotomy between forecasting and research, and weather and climate that we see in the U.S., and their forecasts are far better than those in the U.S. (particularly ECMWF).

    Now, to the American Meteorological Society, of which I am an active member and have previously served as Councillor. 20 years ago, the AMS was the main professional society for atmospheric scientists: NOAA, university, and private sector with the majority of members from NOAA. As atmospheric sciences broadened as a field and became more interdisciplinary, many of the university types became affiliated primarily with the American Geophysical Union, which is dominated by research scientists. Most of the ‘older’ atmospheric scientists (like me) have maintained a membership in the AMS, but the demographics of the AMS are now such that the membership is approaching 50% private sector. The AMS however maintains an excellent series of scientific journals which score at least as high as the AGU journals in terms of citations/impact. The AMS has struggled in recent years with the conflicts between public sector (NOAA) meteorologists and private sector meteorologists. There is obviously another challenge for the AMS in bridging the broader community of forecast meteorologists with the research community particularly on the topic of climate change.

    Particularly on the hurricane and global warming issue, Peter Webster and I are now ‘card carrying’ members of the tropical listserv (Emanuel and Holland are long term members) which is the main venue for communications mostly about hurricanes by operational forecasters with researchers mainly seeming to lurk and occasionally post (note this is not a blog, but a private listserv). I posted the BAMS article on this listserv, so far no one has posted any public responses (although I have received a few personal emails). Obviously a very different response from the realclimate community.

    We certainly live in interesting times, and the blogosphere adds a unique element to this, I appreciate the opportunity for a venue to post what I couldn’t publish on the topic.

  42. Jeff Weffer:

    I would like to see the HURDAT series plotted by year and then by year/category.

    Judith, why did your paper plot SSTs and global average temperatures by year but then fail to plot hurricanes by year when we have such a thorough HURDAT dataset series?

    Why highlight hurricanes for the 1945-55 and 1995-2005 decades only?

  43. Dan Hughes:

    re:#32. Yes, I used an incorrect nomenclature, but I said, “10.4615% of sales”. That is the way I frequently see profit results reported.

    etc….. [edited]
    Income Earn Market Cap Rev/ Emp Earn/Emp Cap/Emp Profit
    Company Employees Billions Billions Billions Thousands Thousands Thousands % P/E
    Oracle 42,000 10.6 2.9 66.0 252.38 69.05 1571.43 27.0 22.76

    BTW, how does 31% on the basis you report compare with other industrial segments?

    Thanks

  44. Leonard Evens:

    No one has addressed the contention that using five year averages distorts the data. I’m afraid I don’t understand that. In any time series, you will have a basic trend with additional noise. Is the contention that the noise is so great that no trend can be detected? This seems implausible to me given that five year smoothing does show a trend. Also, there are statistical techniques for checking this sort of thing which Curry, et. al. must be entirely familiar with. Perhaps I am guilty of appealing to authority, but I can’t believe this is a serious issue.

  45. Fiona Sullivan:

    RE #11 “For some reason, just about all US media outlets (Bloomberg excepted) view the ‘biggest typhoon to hit China in 50 years” as not being a newsworthy item. Doesn’t that seem just a little odd?”
    I would think that unless it was a slow news day, The media would consider this item no different than war in Rwanda, or famine in Africa etc, in other words it is about THEM, not US, distant, just something you read about.

    When the ozone hole caught the attention of the public it did so because it was simplified in the public mind down to…We will all die of skin cancer if we do not fix this!
    When the Love Canal issue really hit the media…the word that you heard the most was CANCER!

    When you discipline an unruly child, you say something like; “if you don’t stop now you will get a smack” or “you won’t get dessert” etc, etc… the punishment/consequence is close to home and immediate.
    When you tell a group of typical teens that if they continue to smoke cigarettes, they might well suffer from lung disease in X years…then you will still find most of them smoking for many years to come….the consequences are seemingly too distant and vague to be scary.

    Maybe the writers of this (extremely informative and interesting) site need to get together with a group of sympathetic child psychologists in order to figure out the best way to present the global warming issue to the public….or even (and I hate to suggest this) take a page from your opponents book and hire a publicity firm.

    It is obvious to me that most among you are unwilling to oversimplify the realities of global warming; I do understand that oversimplifying could also leave you more open to attack from skeptic groups, but the only way you are going to get the necessary public pressure moving against the government is if the public is convinced that this is an immediate issue that directly affects them….right now too many people are like that frog in “An Inconvenient Truth”, just happily sitting there while the water around it ever so slowly heats to boiling.

  46. Gar Lipow:

    >Yes, I used an incorrect nomenclature, but I said, “10.4615% of sales”. That is the way I frequently see profit results reported.

    I don’t know what context you are looking at information in. Sales margin is generally considered useful for comparing returns within an industry. It tells you if the company is keeping its cost down or cutting prices excessively. But in the end return to capital is what you care about. Think about buying stocks or bonds, or any investment you make as an individual. What you care about is return to to capital; you care about other information – margins and fees and such insofar as it affects your return to capital.

    >BTW, how does 31% on the basis you report compare with other industrial segments?

    Between double and triple, if you are comparing to average U.S. industrial return on capital.

    [Response: Fascinating as this is, can we keep on topic? No more sales figures discussion please… – gavin]

  47. Sally:

    Re #27. “OK, what could possibly be NOAA’s motivation for doing this? And why are meteorologists denying global warming? I thought this topic was beyond debate in the scientific community.”

    In the UK there is a distinct difference between the meteorologists from the BBC and those on the commercial stations. The commercial stations are often sponsored by energy companies, which makes sense, as domestic heating is driven by weather. As they say after every forecast, “Power, whatever the weather.”

    Is this driven by something so simple as sponsorship?

  48. Wacki - www.logicalscience.com:

    Judith Curry, thanks for the very informative response.

    “Here is some of the text from the original manuscript that I was asked to remove during the review process:”

    #1 It seems like all of your statements could have easily been fact checked. If your information is accurate, why the hell is the AMS censoring you?

    “Undersecretary of NOAA (a political appointee) saying that we do not know what to attribute the recent warming to”

    #2 Do you have a link quote? I couldn’t find him denying global warming. He denied the hurricane link, but not AGW.

    also from this article:

    “It quoted Don Kennedy, editor in chief of Science magazine, as saying, “There are a lot of scientists there who know it is nonsense . . . but they are being discouraged from talking to the press about it.”

    Last month, retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher Jr., the NOAA’s administrator, issued a statement saying that the media reports about muzzling NOAA scientists are incorrect. He urged the NOAA’s scientists to speak freely and openly.”

    http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20060326_noaa26.33812d4.html

    #3 Your story seems to fall inline with this. However, neither the suppression nor the hurricanes have a lot of credibility unless there is a list of scientists speaking up. I know of the 10K long petition vs Bush but you need one from NOAA. You also need one on hurricanes. Why aren’t more people stepping up? If Hansen and Piltz can do it, surely others can. If someone gets fired after the admiral made his statement 60 minutes would be all over it.

  49. Judith Curry:

    Re #48: for the record, the BAMS editor Ed Zipser did an outstanding job of handling the review process for a very controversial paper for the meteorological community. So I do not feel that I was “censored” by the AMS. It is up to them what they choose to allow in a peer reviewed article (as opposed to letter to the editor or whatever). Zipser made every effort, based on the reviewers’ comments, to judge what he felt was unnecessarily inflammatory (I am still not sure why in particular the first paragraph was deemed inflammatory). And I did not want the article to inflame the very people I most wanted to reach. What made the whole review process very interesting is that I received the 2nd round of reviews in mid-Feb, shortly after the infamous WSJ Feb 2 article of “brain fossilization” fame (this article is alluded to indirectly in our BAMS article). Direct quotes from two of the reviewers: “Assume you saw the Wall Street Journal article–how hypocritical can she be?? I am disgusted with the whole mess.” “In any event, it’s difficult to try to review this revised paper in isolation from the above context, which was a considerable embarrassment not just to our field, but to scientists everywhere. As a result of those recent events, it’s hard not to be more leery of a whole range of statements made in the paper, and to see inconsistencies, perhaps even hypocrisy, laced throughout.” Given all that, I would say that we got a very fair shake by the AMS in the review process. Re the “censored” comments, perhaps they are more appropriate for the blogosphere than a peer reviewed journal, so I am happy to have had the opportunity to post them on realclimate.

  50. wayne davidson:

    #41 Many thanks Judith Curry, as I posted earlier, I am a bit amazed that AMS has published a very well thought article on AGW, and perhaps there were many more, as you might have suggested, but the influence of such articles are clearly shown daily on all TV sets; none. TV meteorologists and the institutions providing their basic info, have a phobia with respect to AGW which is hard to understand. As far as each meteorologist education is concerned, there is plenty of time to learn after graduation,
    seminars, lectures, reading articles, a bit of self motivation and a little bit of curiosity will lead to the same conclusion, AGW is taking place big time. If meteorologists are not curious about what is driving this changing climate, who else? I believe that media meteorologists need to let go the stigma attached to AGW, and clearly explain, whenever incredible series of heat records happen for instance, either by themselves (I’ve seen one TV meteorologist say once “its because of Global Warming” in 30 years of watching) or let a guest, like yourself or RC moderators, or my favorite Dr Bill Nye (not a meteorologist but a science professor capable of explaining the process of AGW with remarkable ease to the masses) explain the very basic science driving the world to a warmer place, that would help, never thought that there is such things as Met Taboo’s aside from looking well dressed on TV.

  51. Judith Curry:

    Re #49, thanks for your comments. The Weather Channel has actually been “blazing the trail” with regards to TV meteorology taking on the global warming issue. Heidi Cullen has been doing an excellent job and I understand that the TWC climate programming will be considerably enhanced starting this fall. In a personal conversation, Heidi has mentioned the challenges of getting the the TWC meteorologists to accept global warming. Hopefully the TWC initiative will filter down to the other TV stations. “Letting go” of the AGW stigma will not be accomplished easily, which is why I have called on the AMS to try to help with this. Some simple things like adding a required course to the list for B.S. Meteorology Certification, inclusion of climate and AGW issues on the exams for broadcast meteorologist and certified consulting meteorologists, would go a long way towards motivating meteorologists to get educated on this issue.

  52. Judith Curry:

    Re #48 and VADM Lautenbaucher: I have heard him make such statements twice (most recently feb 05 in a talk given at Georgia Tech, in reply to a question asked by a student) “yes the globe is warming but we do not know what is causing this.” Some citations of his views:

    2002 interview, clearly in the “denier” category: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/stories/s732262.htm

    Widely publicized 2003 quote: ‘I do believe we need more scientific info before we commit to a process like Kyoto’

    From a 2005 hearing http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/homeland_hearings.html
    Senator McCain, who had stepped out for much of the testimony, reappeared to question Vice Admiral Lautenbacher about NOAA’s approach to climate change science. McCain opened his comments by accusing Vice Admiral Lautenbacher of remaining complacent on climate change, quoting him to have said, “we’d have to sleep 20-30 years before we’d know anything about climate change.” Citing a Government Accountability Office report from April 14, 2005, McCain charged NOAA with failing to submit a national global change research plan by November 2004 as required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. McCain also berated Lautenbacher for failing to notify the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee of any delay in progress. Shocking the audience with his sarcasm and criticism of Lautenbacher, McCain vowed to act “legislatively” to see that NOAA obeys the terms of the act that require the administration to prepare a scientific assessment at least every four years. McCain made his final criticism of NOAA’s climate change research by saying, “I want to express my deep disappointment in your complete lack of concern about future generations of Americans who are affected by climate change.” Reiterating the importance of climate change research, McCain ended the hearing by reading a statement released on June 7, 2005 by the Joint Science Academies from 11 countries that proclaims, “There is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring.”

    The VADM’s recent public statements by lautenbacher regrading “attribution” have been mostly avoided and carefully crafted and more circumspect than the 2002 statements. The perception is certainly out there that he is not taking a leadership role on the AGW issue, although he is certainly taking a leadership role on the global observing system. There is no clear (recent) statement from the VADM on the issue of attribution of global warming that I can find, and I believe that it is important for the undersecretary of NOAA to make a clear statement on this.

  53. wayne davidson:

    #51 Thanks again Judith, your proposed solutions are sound, but unfortunately will take a great deal of time to institute. Time, I am afraid, is running out fast. When by chance a contrarian expert speaks about AGW, we cited many of those on this RC site, speaking outright lies, mixing climate science with meteorology as if they were the same, and then….. Nothing, they toe their faulshood lines, or let them stay in the internet record, they keep their tenure, Meteorological and Climate societies remain mute, in essence the faulsity is out there like a cog in an otherwise well educated dysfunctionnal institution. Raises the question as to due recourse, aside from blogs, with respect to present misinformation designed to confuse and slow down progress on action against AGW. Basic science requires a mainstay of respectability. wouldn’t those betraying that trust be put up to task? In a fierce forum of debate, like a specialized science academy shunning those who stray away from basic tenets without giving rational explanations. There is freedom of expression, and there are those who use this freedom with malice, they are still free to do so, but why are the institutes so quiet?

  54. Steffen Christensen:

    Hey, Judith. Thanks so much for the fascinating insights into the goings-on and the less seemly underbelly of the meteorological community. I always wondered why this community was so skeptical about AGW, I met Lautenbacher once where he was keynote speaker, along with the Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau at an Earth-observation seminar. After the talk, I went up and pressed him about AGW and America’s policies on it. He suggested to me that the evidence for AGW is pretty clear, but the US’s approach to Kyoto was that it was not fair in terms of economic impacts to America, especially vis-a-vis China and India. My sense was also that he is under a great deal of pressure to be careful about what he says about GCC and AGW, as wayward comments about supporting the science could well be used to endanger America’s official policies of seeking a “Made-in-America” solution to AGW. Or at least a “Made-in-America-and-sanctioned-by-China-and-India” solution. Hence the official circumspection. I wish you all the best in your efforts. Certainly, the most recent Nature editorial from 3 August 2006 was unusually forceful in going after NASA’s new mission statement for removing “to understand and protect our home planet”. The new candidate hypothesis presents itself that an assault on the data gathering side may be underway, hmmm?

  55. Hank Roberts:

    Two of the scientist members of NASA’s science advisory committee were asked by the political managers to resign, according to the news yesterday — and three of the members did resign.

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/08/18/nasa.science.ap/

  56. Eli Rabett:

    WRT #55, NASA Watch has more. Evidently Griffin wanted the committee ONLY to give advice about lunar exploration and the three wanted to give advice about the entire science program. Not surprising given the people involved.

  57. pat neuman:

    In 48. it says: … Why aren’t more people stepping up? If Hansen and Piltz can do it, surely others can. If someone gets fired after the admiral made his statement 60 minutes would be all over it.

    I stepped up in a US national press release in Oct 2003 about climate and hydrologic change in the Upper Midwest and global warming:
    http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=22702

    On Fri Aug 18 in a message to Eli at the google globalchange group I explained how NWS went about officially removing me from government service in July 2005, after I had served the public with NWS in hydrologic modeling and river prediction for more than 29 years.
    Excerpt from my post at global change:
    The fact that everyone in the state and federal offices within
    Minnesota have been silent on climate change in Minnesota
    and global warming has been a big frustration for me for a
    number of years. For example, in January of 2000 I gave a
    coordinated spring snowmelt flood outlook for the Upper
    Midwest to an inter-agency winter/spring runoff outlook
    planning group at the St. Paul Corps of Engineers, which
    was part of my job with the National Weather Service (NWS)
    North Central River Forecast Center (located Chanhassen, MN).
    There were representatives from several state and federal
    agencies in attendance, including the Corps, USGS, many
    other state and federal emergency government people from
    Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa and
    Illinois, and individuals from the State Climatology office
    of Minnesota. I discussed observing earlier spring snowmelt
    runoff in recent decades in the Upper Midwest and ended
    my presentation with a statement made by the director of NOAA
    in 2000 that global warming was already happening and would
    have serious atmospheric and hydrologic consequences ahead.
    My comments led to the first of four suspensions issued to me
    as result of my trying to research and speak about climate and
    hydrologic change in Minnesota and global warming. NWS
    officially removed me from government service in a July 15, 2005
    memorandum from the acting deputy director of NOAA’s NWS
    Central Region office, after I had served the public with NWS
    in hydrologic modeling and river prediction for 29 years, 5 months.

    — Message 11 re: Pat Michaels may be in a lot of trouble — http://groups.google.com/group/globalchange/

    I think the answer for what’s missing is documentation. I’ve given my documentation to Christine Frank, director of the Climate Crisis Coalition group in the Twin Cities (3CTC), who may be reached at: 612-879-8937

  58. Dan Hughes:

    RE: #46. Gavin, If you are going to not allow discussions of actual financial numbers then you can not allow mentions of ‘Big Oil’, Big Coal’, or ‘Big Fossil’, and the associated ‘enormous’ and ‘obsence’ profits.

    ps,

    Requests for assistance understanding technical information is frequently ignored on RC. Maybe more feedback from RC on technical issues would help reduce the off-topic clutter.

    Thanks

  59. Wacki:

    Judith Curry, thank you very much for posting here at realclimate. It really saddens my heart to watch this fraud happen. I made a web page on Lautenbacher and I referenced you. I hope you don’t mind.

    http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptics/lautenbacher.html

    Quality scientists in this field will often assume people will trust them in a heated debate like this. This is fine when talking to people who are already on your side. However, this simply won’t cut it when you are trying to educate people who are already against you because they fear government intervention. It’s pretty important that I have a newspaper, video, or audio recording of Lautenbacher denying AGW. So if you know of a way to get a recording of one of his speeches or know of any other quotes please send the info my way.

  60. Hank Roberts:

    Pat, you should get a good attorney working on your employment issue.
    I’m not a lawyer, but I think a competent one will tell you public complaint is not only easy to ignore, but has to be ignored legally. If you have a case, take it to court.

    Publicly posting the story over and over makes you appear disgruntled, but also makes it appear you believe they did nothing wrong legally. It’s not helping you.

    You should have a professional tell your story for you — once, where it might make a difference — in court. When you complain in public forums, the employer is precluded from responding — so your complaint is, quite literally, inconsequential.

  61. Judith Curry:

    NOAA changes its hurricane-global warming tune (at least a little bit). I just received this info via email.

    On Aug 8 NOAA held a press briefing on the balance of this year’s hurricane season. Last year, NOAA repeatedly dismissed any possible connections between climate change and hurricanes. While still downplaying the connections, their statements, when asked direct questions, are not unreasonable.

    Here is location of files from the press release

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2006/s2678.htm

    Here are some notes from the press conference that I just received via email:

    The hurricane/climate change issue first came up during the initial presentation by Conrad Lautenbacher (undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator). He said current conditions conducive to hurricanes are “strongly associated” with the “multi-decadal signal,” and said above normal seasons in 9 of the last 11 years are “connected” to that signal. Towards the end of his presentation he added: “Some research suggests global warming is linked to rising ocean and sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico — which may have an impact on hurricane intensity. It is important to stress that there are many factors which impact hurricanes, and NOAA supports and values a wide variety of research which will help to identify those factors and theirimpact on hurricane frequency and/or intensity.”

    In his presentation, Gerry Bell, Like Lautenbacher, associated conditions since 1995 to “multi-decadal signal along with warmer than normal sea surface temperatures.” In that presentation, he said nothing whatsoever about climate change or global warming.

    In the Q & A, the first question was about climate/hurricane connection and what appeared to be a NOAA shift relative to last year. Lautenbacher responded by saying that NOAA supports a wide range of studies. Then he turned it over to Gerry Bell. Bell said climate change was a “very, very important issue.” He then said the multi-decadal signal also was very important and was a major climate factor. He said we have “two very important — potentially — climate factors that may be occurring at the same time. And the work done so far simply doesn’t allow us to say `global warming is contributing this much, the multidecadal signal is contributing this much.’ We cannot quantify that.” He cited ongoing research that will clear this up. He acknowledged studies with contradictory conclusions. Gerry Bell said there were studies suggesting increased intensities, but other work that suggested problems with the data used to draw those conclusions. He attributed Atlantic trends to a multi-decadal cycle — but then said the “jury is still out” on whether there are global trends. He said that whether or not there are trends, global warming of course still is important.

  62. Chuck Booth:

    RE# 35 A more recent article (mini-review?) by Landsea (et al) was published in the July 28 issue of Science (excerpt):

    Science 28 July 2006:
    Vol. 313. no. 5786, pp. 452 – 454

    Can We Detect Trends in Extreme Tropical Cyclones?
    Christopher W. Landsea1, Bruce A. Harper, Karl Hoarau, John A. Knaff

    Recent studies have found a large, sudden increase in observed tropical cyclone intensities, linked to warming sea surface temperatures that may be associated with global warming (1-3). Yet modeling and theoretical studies suggest only small anthropogenic changes to tropical cyclone intensity several decades into the future [an increase on the order of ~5% near the end of the 21st century (4, 5)]. Several comments and replies (6-10) have been published regarding the new results, but one key question remains: Are the global tropical cyclone databases sufficiently reliable to ascertain long-term trends in tropical cyclone intensity, particularly in the frequency of extreme tropical cyclones (categories 4 and 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale)?…
    Trend analyses for extreme tropical cyclones are unreliable because of operational changes that have artificially resulted in more intense tropical cyclones being recorded, casting severe doubts on any such trend linkages to global warming.
    There may indeed be real trends in tropical cyclone intensity. Theoretical considerations based on sea surface temperature increases suggest an increase of ~4% in maximum sustained surface wind per degree Celsius (4, 5). But such trends are very likely to be much smaller (or even negligible) than those found in the recent studies (1-3). Indeed, Klotzbach has shown (23) that extreme tropical cyclones and overall tropical cyclone activity have globally been flat from 1986 until 2005, despite a sea surface temperature warming of 0.25°C. The large, step-like increases in the 1970s and 1980s reported in (1-3) occurred while operational improvements were ongoing. An actual increase in global extreme tropical cyclones due to warming sea surface temperatures should have continued during the past two decades.

    Efforts under way by climate researchers–including reanalyses of existing tropical cyclone databases (20, 21)–may mitigate the problems in applying the present observational tropical cyclone databases to trend analyses to answer the important question of how humankind may (or may not) be changing the frequency of extreme tropical cyclones.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/313/5786/452 (subscription required for full article)

    As no one has commented on this article (at least not that I’ve seen on this thread- if I’ve missed something, I apologize), I’m curious to know what the experts here make of Landsea et al’s assessment.

  63. pat neuman:

    re 59.

    Hank,

    Finding an attorney to work for an employee dealing with the federal government (NOAA’s NWS) and global warming was impossible. There were none that I could find from 2000-2005.

  64. pat neuman:

    re 61. I should have said – finding a private attorney (not with a government agency) that would work with a federal employee dealing with the federal government (NOAA’s NWS) and global warming was impossible.

  65. Coby:

    With regard to meteorologists, it is worth noting that notwithstanding the apparent scepticism pervasive on the TV sets, the AMS officially accepts AGW, and is listed along with the rest of relevant and reputable scientific institutions here:
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/global-warming-is-just-hoax.html

    The AMS position is stated here as endorsing the joint statement of 11 national science academies.

  66. Ron Taylor:

    Re 62

    Pat, this is just a (perhaps wild) guess, but the ACLU might be concerned enough about the administration’s muzzling of scientists to take a look at this. It certainly appears that your treatment by the NWS was outrageous.

  67. Judith Curry:

    Re 48, 57: Pat, your experience is really very sobering and disturbing.

    Scientists (particularly research scientists) aren’t trained to deal effectively in communicating with the public and certainly not in dealing with political issues in a public way. Further, most scientists don’t have any inclination to get involved in such activities; apart from the obvious time drain, they are typically not rewarded by their employers for such activities and worse yet, their scientific and personal reputations may suffer in the process. I was very much sobered by Nature’s inteview of Kerry Emanuel where he stated that as a result of all of the media attention and his interactions with decision makers, his research was 6 months behind. We have to be very careful of making sacrificial lambs of our best scientists, this is not the way to move the science forward.

    The scientists that risk the most by “stepping up” are gov’t employees and untenured university professors; they are potentially risking their jobs. While universities are much more liberal than govt and it would be pretty astonishing for a faculty member not to get tenure owing to “stepping up”, the time drain alone might be sufficient to diminish the faculty members publication list, and scientific peers tend to become somewhat suspicous of scientists that “step up” and may consider them to be light weights, have an agenda, etc. Senior (tenured) faculty members have much more freedom to engage in such activities. I must say that Georgia Tech has been enormously supportive of Peter Webster and my “outreach activities” this past year related to global warming, by trying to reduce teaching load and funding some of our travel to make sure that we aren’t receiving funds (even for travel) from any controversial groups with an obvious agenda, to make sure that we have the resources to do what we need to do, and providing media training. But people like Peter and myself are really ill prepared to work in this environment, no matter what our intentions.

    I have come to think that NGOs (think tanks, advocacy groups) have a critical role to play in this. Scientists working with the more responsible NGOs may be the optimal combination. We have also seen some senior “retired” scientists working with NGOs (notably Mike McCracken, Bob Correll) very effectively. Recently my colleague at Georgia Tech Bill Chameides “retired” after 25 years and became the chief scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund. Bill has heavy credentials (NAS) and is an outstanding communicator (he is also a trained actor); I expect that Bill is someone who can really make a difference. And there are many other such examples.

    I am hoping that science can educate the public and policy makers in an effective way without cannibalizing the top scientists. I realize that there is a whole body of literature out there on this, and people like Roger Pielke say that all scientists should be actively involved in assessing the policy implications of their research. But if scientists spend too much time doing that, the science won’t get done. I don’t think we want to see Kerry Emanuel’s scientific research productivity cut in half! Suggestions?

  68. pat neuman:

    re 59.

    Christine Frank is a professional. Regarding the point that I get an attorney, an excerpt from the initial draft of a case study by Christine Frank’s follows:

    Excerpt:

    THE WHISTLEBLOWER DISCLOSURE
    … Neuman had also attempted to blow the whistle on NWS management by providing information in 2000 to the Disclosure Unit of the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Within his rights to do so according to the Civil Service Reform Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act, Pat alleged a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety and gross mismanagement by officials at the DOE, NOAA, NWS and NCRFC because of their refusal to acknowledge the realities of climate change. Tracy L. Biggs, an attorney for the OSC, defaulted by refusing to enter into a policy debate regarding the scientific research on global warming and what NWSâ?? response should be toward it. She stated further, â??Because of OSCâ??s narrow statutory focus, we do not believe that the issues of global warming, unresolved as they are, fall within our criteria for a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.â?? The OSC evidently had a position on global warming by having declared the issue â??unresolvedâ??.

    You can discuss this case study further by contacting Christine Frank, director of the Climate Crisis Coalition group in the Twin Cities (3CTC), who may be reached at: 612-879-8937

  69. Judith Curry:

    Re #61 and Landsea’s Science Perspective

    Landsea has made a number of inconsistent statements (both published and to the media) during the last year.

    Landsea has stated in numerous refereed scientific publications that the North Atlantic data since 1944 are reliable. This followed a 1993 article that said that the intensities in thenorth atlantic prior to 1970 were overestimated (prior to using the dvorak technique), and he suggested a “fix” to the earlier data, which Kerry Emanuel subsequently used (and then was subsequently criticized by Landsea for using). Landsea only started criticizing the North Atlantic data subsequent to the publication of the Emanuel and Webster papers. The North Atlantic data clearly show that the last decade (since 1995) relative to the decade centered around 1950 (previous peak period) there are 50% more named storms, 50% more hurricanes, and 50% more category 4 and 5 storms. If you use Landsea’s 1993 correction for major hurricanes, the increase in cat 4,5 is even more substantial.

    With regards to their statements that the global data cannot be trusted since they don’t agree with climate model results (which suggest a smaller increase in hurricane intensity). Michaels and Landsea, in a paper submitted over a year ago (prior to Emanuel and Webster papers that was published in late 2005), they attempted to discredit the climate model simulations saying that they they were incapable of accurately predicting tropical cyclone intensity (which is mostly correct). But after the Emanuel and Webster papers were published, they are now using the inconsistency with climate models to discredit the data.

    WIth regards to the global data since 1970 used by Webster et al. (satellite era), there have been variations with time in how the data has been processed. There are anecdotal reports that some storms have been misclassified (some classified to high and some too low). However, at this point, no one has done a rigorous error or uncertainty analysis on the data, so Landsea’s statements about the trends are not supported by any rigourous analysis at this point. One thing of interest: At the meeting of the American Meteorological Society last Jan in Atlanta, coauthor Harper, after initially being skeptical of our results, made a presentation where he carefully reanalyzed the South Indian Ocean tropical storms in the Australian sector. He found that many storms were overestimated in intensity and many underestimated. That is, there was random error in estimation of intensity. Overall he found that the changes in intensity as found by webster et al. 2005 was correct. This is just one example of the inconsistencies of this group.

    What is needed is a reanalysis of the satellite data, applying a consistent method to determine storm intensity. This arduous effort is underway by Jim Kossin ( U. Wisconsin Madison). I understand that a paper is in the review process re data since 1983. While Kossin’s paper probably won’t be the final word on the data issue, it is probably the first important one.

  70. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    Thanks Judith Curry for posting your comments here on RealClimate. The behind-the-scenes perspective is very informative. Bill Chalmides is a trained actor! I’ll look for his movies in the video store ;)

    I think when we know the details of the process of getting papers published, we understand the science better. Your experience with publishing these AGW/tropical storm papers is really illuminating. I would look forward to a post on the review process.

    I see how the politics of environmental regulation has become particularly nasty and how the nastiness was brought into the scientific process. I did some regulatory work a few years ago, and I was surprised at how it has changed. I have wondered if some scientists and some publications might be reluctant to publicly speak about AGW because they don’t want to get involved in all the controversy and the politics.

    I do think it is good for the public discourse when scientists try to publicly explain the science for interested people, but I also understand why scientists would be reluctant to do it.

    I think blogs like RealClimate play an important part. I also think that the responsible NGO’s have set a good example by having their public relations departments explain the science, even with the political spin.
    For example: Environmental Defense
    http://www.fightglobalwarming.com/content.cfm?contentID=5338
    NRDC
    http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/fgwscience2005.asp
    Pew Trust
    http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/

    Maybe the scientific community can hire professional public relations types who have a good understanding of the science to speak for them. I know that some of the major labs have spokespeople, maybe some of the other labs and universities can follow this example. It would cost money, but it would free the scientists to do more research.

  71. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    I continued to be amazed and distressed that the debate seems largely to be between scientists, who need 95% certainty disaster is upon us, and denialists (industry, gov, loonies, self-righteous), who need 99.99% to 101% certainty disaster is upon us.

    Let’s also hear from loonies of the precautionary environmentalist side — the ones who had quite enough evidence in 1990 that AGW was a problem and would likely lead to many problems including increased storms (heat energy could become kinetic energy, they reasoned), so let’s start turning off lights not in use & a myriad of other measures that not only save the earth but save us money.

    Another big point is that, even if someone were to conclusively prove that AGW has not yet started increasing hurricane intensity, that in no way disproves AGW (or that it may increase hurricane intensity in the future). To think otherwise would also be fallacious thinking of some sort. But I think the media uses that kind of thinking to make people believe AGW is not happening. At least that has been the upshot of media coverage — my friends think AGW has been disproved.

  72. Peter Webster:

    Chuck,

    You asked for a comment on the Landsea et al. article. My colleague Judy Curry has covered almost all of the points but there is one more that I would like to address and one that is often overlooked. In our first study (Webster et al. 2005) we found a correspondence with increase in intensity and an increase of SST. Kevin Trenberth had made the association but only for the Atlantic. We decided to check if there was a global association and found that there was. But the important issue, ignored by Landsea et al. is that the tropical cyclone data and the SST data is absolutely independent. The chances of finding similar associations between two independent data sets in each of the ocean basins is extremely small: very small indeed. Hoyos et al. (Science 2006) quantified the relationship between SST and tropical cyclone trends and showed, incidentally, that other parameters of issue (e.g., vertical shear and etc..) were associated with interannual variability and not the longer term trends. Despite the oft-used statements by Landsea et al. and Gray (CSU) that SST and hurricane characteristics are not associated with SST, beyond the existence of a basic threshold (>26.5C), it is interesting to note that the Gray group (and NOAA as well) has decreased their forecasts of the number of North Atlantic tropical storms because the SST is less warm than predicted. Yes, the tropical cyclone data sets have warts. Yes, SST data sets have warts as well, albeit somewhat smaller warts than the cyclone data. Yet, the two data sets merrily follow each other in the basins of best data (e.g., the North Atlantic) and even in the worst (perhaps the South Indian Ocean). Coincidence? Possible but unlikely. Personnally, I find this association compelling although one that is ignored by Landsea et al. and the Gray group. My guess is that it is an inconvenient association and one best ignored!

    Peter W

    (response to comment 62)

  73. Judith Curry:

    Re # 65 and the American Meteorological Society:

    To make sure that there is no misunderstanding about the AMS. The AMS is really an excellent organization, the opinions on AGW of major segments of its membership notwithstanding. In addition to the the official statement of the AMS supporting AGW, AMS also has a Policy Program that has been very pro-active at sponsoring Congressional briefings on global warming (and other relevant) topics. Further, the Bulletin of the AMS (BAMS) is an excellent, interesting and informative publication, with many articles of relevance to the AGW issue.

  74. Judith Curry:

    New book coming from Chris Mooney

    If you have read the book The Republican War on Science, you know who Chris Mooney is. His next book will be on the subject of hurricanes and global warming, see his blog for details
    http://scienceblogs.com/intersection/2006/02/warming_and_storming_my_new_pr.php

    This promises to be a very interesting book, last i heard it was scheduled to be published around the first of the year

  75. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    This followed a 1993 article that said that the intensities in thenorth atlantic prior to 1970 were overestimated (prior to using the dvorak technique), and he suggested a “fix” to the earlier data, which Kerry Emanuel subsequently used (and then was subsequently criticized by Landsea for using).

    We had culled this from his old usenet posts several weeks ago :

    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.geo.meteorology/msg/7bc6802acd8530d9?dmode=source&hl=en

    I sure am glad this year is shaping up to be an off year thus far, it really is reducing my stress levels. Somehow, I don’t think it’s going to last, but hurricane off years do tend to follow several ‘hard’ years, in my experience.

  76. Ron Taylor:

    I heard an interview of Judith Curry and Bill Gray on the Diane Rheem Show on NPR a few months ago. Gray said that Curry was not qualified to conduct the study she had published and did not know what she was talking about. Rheem was aghast and basically scolded Gray, which made him furious. She had a right to expect better from a man who presents himself as a scientist.

    Please do not miss the larger picture. In every area, whether it is science, journalism, public policy development, whatever, the right wing tries to get its way through intimidation. Rather than debate the issues, they attack the personalities involved. (Does anyone really think that attacks on the “liberal press” have not changed the way news is handled? Where do you think “balance” comes from in the AGW debate?)

    So when scientists shy away from this kind of abuse, they are conceding the flow of scientific information to people who exercise control through intimidation. The process is both undemocratic and anti-intellectual. Thank God there are still those who will stand up!

  77. wayne davidson:

    #67 Yep I got one, a science academy forum, similar to CSPAN, which reviews complaints of faulse, erroneous or misleading presentations, live on TV and replayed often, effectively acting like science PR antibodies attacking and killing cancerous allegations which sometimes metastases and spreads in the common minds of people. Proponents and complainants square off, with a voting audience (by internet) of likewise specialists. The results of the vote made public instantly, and especially for Journalists to review… AMS or any society can start such forums, they are not time consuming and results from peers over a debate
    can be vindicating or devastating to the scientist being challenged. Can put a little fear in irresponsible scientists with tenure.

  78. Wacki:

    Quick question for the hurricane experts,

    I’ve been told that the water in the Gulf of Mexico has been 4 degrees Celsius hotter than average this year. However, there has been a complete lack of hurricanes in the Gulf. Instead they have had lots and lots of rain. Is there any validity to the argument that hurricanes have a sweet spot? (If it gets too hot you just get a lot of rain) Any theory as to why this year has been incredibly light on hurricanes?

  79. Real Science:

    We would like a forum that is something more than just endless debates and personal theories, I don’t speak about your forum Wayne, I haven’t even visited it yet, I’m just talking in general here, so don’t take it personally. I’m just sick and tired of the hundreds of scientific- or so it’s supposed to be- forums that do not provide further than personal thoughts.

  80. Person of Choler:

    Translation:
    There was an unusual number of big hurricanes in 2005, especially Katrina which was all over the news for a long time.
    Some of our people made a big deal out of connecting big hurricanes to global warming. This got all over the news as well. Expectations were set for another big year in 2006.
    The 2006 hurricane season has been a bust so far. The news media are of course ignoring this, but the global warming sceptics will be all over us if we don’t get some ripsnorting hurricanes soon; and we may not.
    So, somebody, please publish an article with lots of graphs that shows that the sceptics are illogical tools .

  81. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #79 I think you are making a good point there that last year’s record hurricane season could well be followed this year by a damp squib. The reason is fairly obvious if you look at this map of sea surface temperatures (SSTs) with above average temperatues in red and below average in blue. It is produced daily by the US Navy.
    https://152.80.49.210/products/NCODA/US058VMET-GIFwxg.NCODA.glbl_sstanomaly.gif

    This year the above average SSTs are further north in the Grand Banks. (The cod won’t be returning there any time soon :-() In the area west of Africa where hurricanes start, the SSTs are cooler than normal. So people ought to be getting ready with their excuses, and don’t forget that both Gray and NOAA were predicting an above average hurricane season too! It is not just the weather which is chaotic, so is the climate.

  82. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    Re #14:

    Ike, a little late (due to a trip to Iceland), and off-topic: the energy yield from source to user from different energy sources is quite different than what you quote.

    From a thorough analyses of primary energy use needed for an LCA (life cycle analyses) for different products in Flanders/Belgium: the pre-combustion energy needed to extract and refine ores/oil/coal, is for most types around 7%. That includes nuclear energy (near 60% of electricity generation in Belgium).
    The net energy yield for different electricity generation processes is from 30% (nuclear), ~45% (STEG – combined gas/steam electricity generation) to over 90% for combined heat/power generation. The average yield of all combined power generation facilities in Europe (hydro, gas, coal, nuclear, wind,…) is over 40%.
    Power distribution has a high yield (don’t remember the exact figures, but it is over 95%). Thus where the energy reaches the user, the average energy yield for electricity based on the theoretical value of the source’s energy is over 35%.

    The 3% you quote is probably the final energy that is effectively put into visible light by light bulbs (which is around 5% of the power use for ordinary light bulbs, the rest is transformed into heat). Halogen lamps do better with ~10%, but (compact) fluorescent light does much better with over 25%…

    The only realistic comparison I have found for electric cars vs. internal combustion cars was that CO2 emissions (if not mostly hydropower, like in Norway) and overall pollution (including exploration, refining and power generation) is better for electric in (sub)urban travel and worse for long-distance travel.

  83. Blair Dowden:

    Re #76: The “big picture” is when some people obtain a position of power, they use intimidation to keep it. This is no less true for the left wing than it is for the right. If we want action to improve the environment, we will need some kind of social consensus. The kind of polarisation you push gets in the way of that. Unless you are simply using enviornmental issues to push your left-wing agenda.

    Re #79: Well said.

  84. Chris Rijk:

    This is not so much a comment on the hurricane aspect of this thread, but on the general problem of trying to explain the weather and climate to the public (or reporters).

    One of the problems is explaining the global effects of various forcings and the feedback effects. Part of that problem is explaining the “lag” between a change in a forcing and the climate reaching a steady state again.

    The thought occurs… maybe using the examples of seasons would make it easier to explain these things? For example, June 21st (sometimes 22nd) has the most sunshine (most solar forcing) of the year in the Northen Hemisphere. So, if there was no “lag” of any kind, it should be the hottest day of the year on average, right? However, instead of June 21st being the peak of summer it is the start of summer. A good example of the climate lagging behind the forcing/feedback perhaps?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_radiation

    The average energy density of solar radiation just above the Earth’s atmosphere, in a plane perpendicular to the rays, is about 1367 W/m², a value called the solar constant (although it fluctuates by a few parts per thousand from day to day). The Earth receives a total amount of radiation determined by its cross section (~R2), but as the planet rotates this energy is distributed across the entire surface area (4 R2). Hence, the average incoming solar radiation (known as “insolation”) is 1/4th the solar constant or ~342 W/m². At any given location and time, the amount received at the surface depends on the state of the atmosphere and the latitude.

    I wonder how much winter/summer temperatures would vary on Earth compared to now if there were no feedback effects…

  85. Judith Curry:

    Re the 2006 hurricane season: I have learned much from mostly lurking on the tropical listserv. We can still expect an interesting and lively hurricane season in 2006, it is slow getting started owing to the so-called saharan air layer that is persisting longer into the summer than ususal. This air layer (which includes desert dust) keeps the midtroposphere warm and dry, which limits development of the storms. Sea surface temperatures are warm and wind shear is low, so once the dry warm air in the mid troposphere disappears, we will get some storms. We are also seeing hurricane season last much later into the fall, so there is plenty of time still for a significant season.
    The hurricane season in the western north pacific has definitely been “ripsnorting” this year.

  86. Chris Mooney:

    Re # 74,
    Thanks to Judith Curry for mentioning my next book….I think that you folks will enjoy it, but let me just add a point of clarification on timing. I’m still deep into the project; still doing interviews, still doing research. It is not done yet, and so it won’t be out by the first of next year. In fact, I would estimate summer/fall 2007 at this point. In any case, I’m confident this debate will still be around then….

  87. Ron Taylor:

    Re #83

    I have no left wing agenda. There is simply no precendent during my nearly seventy years for how scientists have been pushed around in recent years. Scientists do not determine policy, but policy on something like climate cannot be intelligently created unless the process is informed by the best available science. The illusion that we can define our own version of reality (Inhofe) is wishful thinking and it is potentially disasterous.

  88. Hank Roberts:

    > 78, Wacki, “I’ve been told that the water in the Gulf of Mexico has been 4 degrees Celsius hotter than average this year.”

    Who told you that? Why do you consider that source one you believe in?

    As Alastair points out in #81, you can look these things up, and check both the story and the reliability of the source.

    Besides the link he gives there is a historical archive here:
    http://marine.rutgers.edu/mrs/sat_data/?product=sst&region=gulfmexico&nothumbs=0

    And add logic — hurricanes don’t form in the Gulf of Mexico; you can look at ground tracks and the NOAA hurricane page to see where they form, and watch conditions there that Judith Curry describes in #85.

    Then you ask “is there any validity to the theory that hurricanes have a ‘sweet spot’?” — where did you get the idea, what did your source say leading you to think that’s a statement of a theory? And why do you believe what they told you?

  89. Alastair McDonald:

    You can see past Atlanitc hurricane tracks using the links at this page http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/index.html

    Last year, 2005, most seem to have started on the Carribean side of the Atlantic but in 2004 many started near the Cape Verde Islands closer to Africa, just north of the cold anomally SST on the map I posted.

    Here is the latest report from the National Hurricane Centre:
    TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
    NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
    530 AM EDT MON AUG 21 2006

    FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC…CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO…

    A VIGOROUS TROPICAL WAVE IS LOCATED A FEW HUNDRED MILES EAST-
    SOUTHEAST OF THE CAPE VERDE ISLANDS. THE ASSOCIATED CLOUDINESS AND
    SHOWERS CONTINUE TO SHOW SIGNS OF ORGANIZATION…AND SOME
    DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF DAYS
    AS IT MOVES WESTWARD TO WEST-NORTHWESTWARD NEAR 15 MPH.
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/text/refresh/MIATWOAT+shtml/210853.shtml

    Hank mentioned that there are archives of the sea surface tempertures provided by the US Navy. It is probably worth mentioning that the navy changed their climatology maps recently, so that the anomally maps today are now not compared with the same as in previous years. The new climatology maps are not as good as the old ones – see line at 60S 20E – and they are planning to change back :-) but not yet :-(

  90. Wacki:

    “And why do you believe what they told you?”

    I didn’t believe them. It didn’t make sense to me. Computers/biology are my field not hurricanes. So given my lack of expertise it would be pretty foolish for me to dismiss something so quickly when I have an opportunity to ask a professional. If I asked few questions I wouldn’t be armed with the tools to fight skeptics. If I never asked questions I would probably be a… climate change skeptic.

    As for you link, it’s very nice but there is no way for me to average out images that seem to change dramatically by the hour. So that data is pretty much useless. And yes I have tried googling but after reading 30-40 websites I gave up.

  91. Bryan Sralla:

    Judith Curry reports:
    Meteorologists with a B.S. degree (note many TV meteorologists do not even have this credential)

    As a non-weather earth scientist, this statement caught me by surprise. Can broadcast weathermen use the professional title “meteorologist” without having a degree in the subject? I was always under the assumption that a non-meteorology degreed weather reporter went by the title “weatherman” vs “meteorologist” for someone with at least a B.S degree in meteorology. Can someone with specific knowledge of this please clarify for me.

  92. Chris Rijk:

    Has anyone seen anything like this for outside the Atlantic?
    http://www.weatherstreet.com/hurricane/2006/hurricane-atlantic-2006-below-normal-season.htm

    As a side-note, I did a bit of reading around, and it seems that so far the 2006 hurricane season is rather like the one in 2002 so far.

  93. bender:

    Re #34 “Your failure to reply to my ‘which umbrella?’ question is noted.”

    It’s not a failure to reply. It’s a conscious choice to not reply, which I readily admit to. Note away.

    “#3. your questions/strawmen, such as they are, can be readily submitted to the paper’s authors via email, or perhaps better still, as a comment to the article itself in the peer-reviewed BAMS…assuming they are on-topic”

    My questions are not at all “strawmen”. IMO they are the issue. I asked the questions here hoping I could get a direct reply from the author, and I was disappointed. I will not be submitting my questions to the journal because this paper is relatively unimportant … except as an example. An example of what seems to be a systematic trend in documents fed to policy people – a trend toward the suppression of statistical information that would admit any uncertainty in our understanding of climate processes.

    I readily admit this is an unfounded allegation based on a small sample size. That is why I ask the author directly, in an informal arena. Questions like this would never make it to the scientific literature because they’re non-scientific in nature.

    [Response: But they are also extremely easy to check (at least for the Atlantic). Download the data from http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/hurdat/easyhurdat_5105.html and work it out for yourself. -gavin]

  94. Harold Brooks:

    Re: Inline response to 93:

    The data for Figure 1 are not in easyhurdat_5105.html. The HURDAT dataset is for the North Atlantic only. Figure 1 in Curry et al. is global.

    [Response: Noted and I changed the comment accordingly. The rest of the data must be around somewhere though…. – gavin]

    [Response: Update: try here: http://www.eas.gatech.edu/research/data.htm – gavin]

  95. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #85 – But sun angle is an inconvenient truth. If the cyclones don’t start cranking up by about mid September, it’s going to be a real sleeper of a season. And you (as well as Lloyds) can take that to the bank!

  96. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #87 – the biggest push comes from peers. And as the revolutionary Baby Boomer generation has replaced older ones, the main form of peer pressure has been to conform to norms hatched during the 60s and early 70s.

  97. Dan:

    re: 93.
    Upon further review, I withdraw my “strawman” comment. Consider it a “conscious choice”.

    While perhaps you may wish it so, the idea that the paper is “relatively unimportant” does not appear true in light of the fact that it has already received consider interest both within the peer-reviewed scientific community via BAMS and outside the community via media interest. Regardless of one’s perspective of the issue.

    Your comment about there being “a trend toward the suppression of statistical information that would admit any uncertainty in our understanding of climate processes” in documents fed to policy people certainly applies well to Senator Inhofe and his anti-science ilk. He is convinced global warming is just a big “hoax”, foisted by the UN through the IPCC. No doubt at all in his mind whatsoever and to heck with consensus science. Apparently the people feeding him that information are not providing him hoax uncertainty estimates. And as someone poignantly posted here previously for comparison, the relative uncertainties presented to the White House Science Advisor (now working for Exxon Mobil) re: global warming are now considerably fewer than they ever were re: the existence of WMDs in Iraq.

  98. Jeff Weffer:

    It’s August 21 and there has been only 1 Tropical Storm so far this year.

    Last year, there were already 7 Tropical Storms and 5 Hurricanes by this point in the year.

    Perhaps the NWS is right and there is no link to global warming.

  99. pat neuman:

    re 51. Judith,

    I think you are correct in saying that The Weather Channel (TWC) has actually been “blazing the trail” with regards to TV meteorology taking on the global warming issue. BTW, I made a post at TWC blog this morning.

    I agree there is a long way to go towards motivating meteorologists to get educated on climate change and global warming. I worked side by side with meteorologists for my entire hydrologic career with NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS).

    In 2002 or 2003, I attended a climate change seminar at the UM, Minneapolis Campus with presenters: Dr. Dennis Hartmann of UW Seattle, Ben Santer of LLNL and Richard Lintzen of MIT.

    My supervisor accompanied me to the seminar. My supervisor was/is the Hydrologist In Charge (HIC) of the NWS North Central River Forecast Center(NCRFC) in Chanhassen MN, a meteorologist with no formal education in hydrology.

    Although I have formal training as a hydrologist at UW Madison (1975), many of my co-workers with NCRFC were/are meteorologists. Many HIC supervisors at river forecast centers (RFCs) are meteorologists who use supervisory levels at RFCs for stepping stones in NWS, or to escape 24 hour shift work.

    A big part of the staff duties to serve in the public interest at NWS Weather Forecast Offices (about 120 NWS WFOs in the US) is to provide education to media and the public on weather, climate and water. NWS has not been helping to educate the media and public on climate change and global warming.

    Instead NWS has been telling people, off the record, that global warming was/is not a problem, and if it was it would probably be all natural and very slow warming.

    The majority of the members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), last time I looked, are meteorologists. I think many AMS members may have went along with statements made by a few at AMS, and off the record, continued to voice their skepticism on climate change and global warming to the TV media and public – with great damage to the work of others like Santer and Hartmann, and the garden of life on earth.

  100. Jeffrey Davis:

    Perhaps the NWS is right and there is no link to global warming.

    Theory: if you overfill a tire it will burst.

    The current tire has a dime size hole in it.

    We pump and pump and pump, and it never seems to get too full.

    So, are we now free to fill tires to 3000 psi?

  101. Sally:

    Re #98.

    Have you checked out the Pacific storms? Did you notice what Judith Curry said about them earlier? Perhaps you should look at the global picture.

  102. Steve Bloom:

    Re #96: Ah, so it’s not just a conspiracy of environmentalists, it’s a conspiracy of *hippy* environmentalists. Thanks for the clarification. :)

  103. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #102 – No conspiracy, just simple demographics. I know about this. I was doing my undergrad at a place of great “revolutionary” reknown a mere 9 years after a nationally newsworthy “uprising.” Those who led it were still largely in the area. I was a teenage / young adult radical, the whole shebang. I know a lot about those who “mentored” me at the time. Hey, at least I’m still a good steward and crunchy con at the personal level. I am very eco-correct ;)

    But I will not hold back on criticism where I think it is warranted.

  104. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #101 – A fairly rough year in the W Pacific for typhoons, whoop-tee-do. Look at the warm pool out there, owing to La Nina. East Pacific has had a non notable year to date. Confession – I am a tropical cyclone geek … :)

  105. Steve Bloom:

    Just to note that BAMS is a very rare journal in that the public can read it without charge here. Also, the very informative AMS seminars Judy mentioned can be seen here (with archives link on the left bar). Maybe these could both go in the RC links?

    Also, the Webster et al (2005) paper was not linked in the post, but can be viewed here, and the Hoyos et al (2006) follow-up paper is here. Thank you, Peter, for making these available.

  106. pat neuman:

    re 99. The meteorologists at local TV news stations are continuing to convey a message of skepticism on climate change and global warming to the local TV watching public in Minnesota.

    Although the meteorologists are not as direct in their message of skepticism on climate change as they were a year or two ago, their message continues to be skepticism on global warming happening or being a problem.

    Occasionally the meteorologists broadcast false and misleading information to the public. For example, in the late morning TV weather broadcast today, the meteorologist said that so far this month August temperatures have been normal, or normal. However, the average daily mean temperature data at Minneapolis shows that from the first of the month up to this morning, only 3 of the days in August have been below normal. The first six days of August were well above the 1971-2000 normals (and the average 30 year normals used from the NWS are increasing).

  107. Marcus:

    Re: #98: Mr Weffer, there is no way that this season can differentiate between the NWS contention of no global warming/hurricane link and the Emanuel et al. contention, since _both_ groups would have argued that this should be a high hurricane year. NWS because of their attachment to the AMO cycle, and Emmanuel because of the continued warming of the globe.

    Of course, to properly apply Emanuel you actually want to take the average SSTs in the south Atlantic and compare them to the # of hurricanes, because I believe that Emanuel believes that the global warming -> hurricane link is due to the global warming -> SST -> hurricane link.

    This still doesn’t help differentiate, because the AMO folk probably believe in an AMO -> SST -> hurricane link. Which means we have to wait until either:

    1) Both groups are totally disproved by a delinking of SST -> hurricanes, or
    2) in a decade or two, average SSTs either continue to rise (global warming) or start falling (AMO).
    3) Better historical statistical data helps differentiate between the two arguments.

    in any case, one year does not a trend make.

  108. pat neuman:

    re 106 – I meant my comment in 106 to read: … For example, in the late morning TV weather broadcast today, the meteorologist said that so far this month August temperatures have been have been below normal, or normal. …

    The voice emphasis by the meteorologist was on the below normal for August – which was false or misleading for the TV viewer.

  109. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #108 – Jet stream “wavyness” can be thought to indicate climatic season. The jet tends to get more “wavy” (e.g. steeper and more waves) in fall. In many ways, the “heat wave” during July had characteristics of an “Indian Summer” warm spell, such as the classic “multi barrel” High. But of course, with a July sun angle, it ended up being a major nasty heat event. Subsequently, a typical Fall pattern seems like it might be setting in, in terms of the jet. For example, the West coast, owing to a seemingly persistent deep digger just off shore (and I might add, not unlike some of our springtime persistent Siberia Express set ups I wrote about!), is experiencing the sort of “hint of the approaching rainy season” pattern that we normally see well into September (or even October further south) now. The jet, steep and wavy, manages to loop again all the way over to be coming south into Minnesota / the Upper Great Lakes. Whereas, it was in the 90s in the Dakotas and Minnesota in July, you’re now in the 70s to low 80s. The only 90s band at that latitude is a smidgeon of SW Montana and part of Idaho (but not for long).

  110. Richard Wesley:

    94: The data for all the basins are available at the Unisys weather page.

  111. Chip Knappenberger:

    I am not sure that there are many folks going around saying that SSTs do not influence tropical cyclone intensity. Surely there is contention about what caused the elevated SSTs (man vs. nature), but that is a separate issue from simply SSTs and tropical cyclone intensity. But, there does seem to me, at least, to be a significant number of folks who are going around downplaying the impact of anything other that SSTs (and enhanced greenhouse effect-raised SSTs, at that).

    Let’s look at the observations from the Atlantic Basin. In our GRL paper (Michaels et al., 2006), we examined the period 1982-2005. Arguably a time of decent intensity records. We found that in order for a tropical cyclone to become a major (category 3, 4, or 5) hurricane, it had to experience a SST of at least 28.25ºC (but beyond that it didn’t matter much). During the 13 hurricane seasons from 1982 to 1994, 71 (or about 5.5 per year) Atlantic Basin tropical cyclones passed over 28.25ºC SST and 16 (or 22.5%) of them, became major hurricanes. During the 11-yr period 1995-2005, 124 (about 11.25 per year) passed over 28.25ºC SST and 42 (or 33.9%) became major hurricanes.

    There are several interesting things going on here. About twice as many tropical cyclones per year in the latter period encountered the critical SST as in the earlier period. This is strong evidence that the SSTs were higher in the 1995-2005 period than they were in the 1982-1994 period (another explanation could be that the storms were tracking over a different portion of the ocean and/or occurred in a different portion of the hurricane seasonâ??but probably this is not a large effect…admittedly though, I haven’t checked this). All else being equal (environmental conditions associated with the higher than critical SST were the same in the latter period as in the earlier period), we would have expected 22.5% of the 124 storms between 1995-2005 (or 28 storms) to have become major hurricanes. This is the number based on SST expectations alone (based upon 1982-1994 conditions). In actuality, there were 42 major hurricanes – 14 more than SST expectations. To me, at least, this argues that changes in other environmental conditions conducive to major hurricane formation must have also occurred. Simplistically, one could argue that SST increases were responsible for about half the increase while other environmental variables were responsible for the other half.

    And, as Hoyos et al. shows there is ample evidence that other changes were happening in the Atlantic during the past several decades that were making things more favorable for hurricane intensification – most notably, Hoyos et al. found a statistically significant decrease in vertical wind shear and a big decline (around 1995) in the moist static stability.

    Clearly, things in addition to SST are controlling the tropical cyclone intensification processes in the Atlantic Basin. The degree to which these other processes are trending in directions theorized under enhancing greenhouse effect conditions is unclear (and no one seems to want to talk about these trends). How much of the observed rise in Atlantic SST during the past 20-30 years is due to enhanced greenhouse conditions is also not agreed upon. But, we all should agree, that risings SSTs do make for conditions more favorable for the development of major hurricanes.

  112. Bryan Sralla:

    Tropical cyclone frequency and intensity are both extemely poor climate change metrics. Most of us who have endeavored to read the body of technical work should be able to arrive at some agreement on this point.

    Why would any student of the climate system then want to use a measuring stick where we cannot *clearly* read its numbers (tropical cyclones)? The climate science community has agreed on several clear, solid metrics. For good reasons, tropical cyclone frequency and intensity are not at the top of the list.

    Schmidt, in his explanation of possible changes in the ocean heat content anomoly (a completely vetted and agreed upon metric in the literature) says this:

    “This in turn can have had a number of possible causes: ‘natural’ tropical variability – for instance, the winter (DJF) tropical Pacific cooled over these two years, possibly as part of larger-scale ENSO variability. Alternatively, it may be due to a change in the forcings.”

    If a noted climate scientist explains multi-year changes in ocean heat storage in terms of “tropical variablity” or “weather”, I would suspect that any particularly intense tropical cyclone(or season, or multiple seasons) would surely also fall into this category of “tropical variability”. Schmidt has rightly pointed out on annual and multi-annual timescales, tropical weather is highly variable, and this variablity has a long list of potential causes.

    As professional earth scientists, why cannot we agree to move beyond this discussion, and leave the sensational to the media.

  113. ike solem:

    Part I
    Re#62 and #61;
    Those issues relate back to the AMO’s quite questionable role in Atlantic hurricane intensity/frequency and Landsea et al’s oblique attack on the more recent hurricane intensity data in Science which Chuck Booth links to. I think there are a great many questions to be answered regarding the AMO-hurricane link, and the media emphasis on the AMO is somewhat suspicious because of the previous attempt to link Arctic sea-ice decline to an Arctic oscillation.

    (here is a selection of news reports on the Arctic Oscillation issue since 1999):
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030225071423.htm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010709074127.htm
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/523065.stm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/12/991220082147.htm

    So how does the Arctic Oscillation relate to the North Atlantic Oscillation? Are they actually the same phenomenon? (see the links). While these oscillations may be quite real, the notion that they are responsible for the observed warming temperatures in the Arctic is not supported; how can an oscillation produce a long-term warming trend? Recall the long-term military submarine record of decreasing seasonal Arctic sea ice thickness that was kept secret for over a decade? How about the ongoing collapse of Antarctic ice shelfs? Increased warming in the polar regions is an old prediction of AGW models; prediction is now reality.

    These oscillations may very well be sensitive to increased temperatures and increased heat content in the northern polar region; to say that they are the cause of the warming makes no physical sense. Such oscillations might also alter hurricane patterns, but the main driver of hurricanes is warm sea surface temperatures >27C (we can all agree on that, I hope); atmospheric conditions also need to be conducive (see the above comment on this year’s rip-snorting season). It doesn’t matter what the atmosphere does if the SST’s are too low for hurricane formation. The Landsea-Gray group pointedly ignore these basic facts. A warmer Saharan air mass seems to match AGW predictions as well, yes?

    Thus, the correct discussion should be this: How will the Arctic-North Atlantic oscillation be affected by warming temperatures? Recall the RealClimate discussion of polar amplification:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/polar-amplification/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/more-on-the-arctic/

    Why does this matter to long-term climate predictions? Steadily increasing Arctic warmth could have large effects on the global thermohaline circulation (THC)(particularly in the Atlantic). What does this mean? Reduced oxygen content in the deep ocean is just one consequence; wind-driven upwelling of low-O2 bottom water can have drastic effects on marine ecology and fisheries, as seen of the Oregon coast. The notion that halting the THC will freeze Britain might be true in a glacial era, but seems unlikely in a rapidly warming world due to increased heat delivery from tropical zones. What could happen next?

    Increased heat storage in the upper polar ocean leading to destabilization of shallow-water methane hydrates and massive CH4/CO2 fluxes to the atmosphere would not be good news (I’m assuming I can skip a discussion of petroleum geology and the various routes of methane formation). Accurate and comprehensive data from the Arctic is needed – did Pielke really say that it’s only 10% of the oceans, so it’s not important?

    Part II
    Media reporting on AGW:

    Meteorologists tend not to worry about the oceans since they aren’t a major factor in short-term weather, but climatologists have to study oceans and ice sheets in detail for their forecasts. However, meteorologist and climatologists could no doubt learn a lot from each other – over-specialization in academic science is an ongoing problem in many disciplines. The various tribes of scientists should spend more time working together, although all the Science Napoleons will likely view this as turf intrusion: thus, remember that humility is always a good approach when entering foreign territory.

    It is clear that the media has given a very loud voice to a handful of climate science skeptics who have made multiple conflicting statements. This is what you call results-oriented science – the desired result being scientific proof that the notion of AGW is false. Similar research can be found in pharmaceutical circles (in that case, the desired result is demonstration of the wonderful health effects of the patented compound). See, for example, the RealClimate discussions of Gray and Lindzen’s opinions:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/gray-on-agw/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/02/richard-lindzens-hol-testimony/
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/lindzen-point-by-point/

    In less politically charged areas of science, such opinions are (usually) gently tolerated, but since those opinions have been widely help up in the media as evidence of ‘the controversial nature of climate science’, their multiple fallacies and inconsistencies need to be pointed out (which is a real waste of time for the rest of the climate research community). Journalists and their editors, by and large, have yet to appreciate this, since they keep dredging up the same suite of skeptics for contrary opinions.

    As far as the government science bodies go, remember that the ‘political managers’ of federal science bodies have a final bottom-line concern – the gutting of their funding and the concomittant layoff of many scientists under their protection. Science isn’t supposed to be done at the whim of various political and economic interests, but that’s what’s going on. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is a case in point; their funding has been subjected to more political reversals than I can keep track of. See also #67, #48, #57 in this thread. Very ‘sobering and disturbing’ but also fairly similar to current FDA practices. Chris Mooney’s book on this topic is worth reading.

    Part III
    Finally, a brief comment on renewable energy economics vs fossil fuel economics and the electricity system (not entirely off topic!): The goal is to use renewables to power the electrical grid as well as to produce liquid fuels. To do this will require a focus on ‘energy efficiency’ as well as massive deployment of existing technology and expanded research on new technologies. Now, this topic of energy efficiencies has been incredibly abused and misused in popular parlance (my 3% coal efficiency quote in #14, is sadly an example of this – my apologies, and see also #82 for more on the issue).

    First of all, there is always wide range of efficiencies for any given process, and you have to be very clear about defining system and surroundings. For example, you have to ship a barrel of oil halway around the world – relative to your personal energy supply, what are the most and least efficient methods? If you attach the barrel to a helium ballon and let it go, eventually the winds will blow it around the world and after some random time interval, it will appear in the desired location – a very efficient method, but not a very timely delivery. On the other hand, you can load it on an F-16 jet fighter and send it off; with a few in-flight refuelings the barrel will be delivered in record time but at a great energy cost (much more energy then could ever be extracted from the barrel of oil). So, what ‘efficiency estimate’ do you use for transporting oil? The point is this: if you every see a figure for “efficiency” without a clear explanation of the circumstances, it means absolutely nothing. This isn’t too far off-topic since thermodynamics and kinetics also are of fundamental importance in studying weather and climate, as is the definition of system and surroundings.

    Conclusion
    To sum up my post: (i) the climate skeptics are promoting junk science with respect to the hurricane-AGW story; (ii) there is a long history of scientific distortion of the AGW issue, politics are a main factor in this, and as a result the media has mostly done a poor job of reporting on climate science, and (iii) renewables are technologically capable of supplying the energy needed to support human societies.

  114. Stephen Berg:

    Re: #111, “Surely there is contention about what caused the elevated SSTs (man vs. nature)”

    No there isn’t. The cause of elevated SSTs is identical to the cause of elevated atmospheric surface temperatures, which is, primarily, human activities, as scientific organisations such as the AGU, NAS, AAAS, AMS, EGU, WMO, CRU, and most of all the IPCC have declared.

    Here is the post-1850 global atmospheric temperature record:

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

    Here is the post-1850 global and hemispheric sea surface temperature record:

    http://www.atmos.albany.edu/deas/atmclasses/atm305/temp2.jpg

    The trends are fairly identical, only with a bit of a lag, which accounts for the differing thermal inertia of the atmosphere and the oceans. This means it is fairly safe to say that the cause of both increases is identical.

  115. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #114 – Care to discuss the various caveats regarding the data as represented versus as gathered?

  116. pat neuman:

    re: 109 Steve,

    By limiting your discussion of July/August temperature averages to only one year (2006), your readers miss the increasing trends that are apparent in viewing 100 year temperature plots at northern Minnesota climate stations, particularly the average of overnight minimums.

    To view increasing average July-Aug minimum temperatures (trends) see the two northern Minnesota climate stations with the longest available high quality daily temperature records in MN (Leech Lake Federal Dam, Park Rapids 2 South) by going to summer at:
    http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/patneuman2000/my_photos

    Also important… Mark Lenarz with the State Department of Natural Resources said “If you’re a moose, and it’s the middle of summer, and you’re panting, you just have a lot less time for eating.” In the end, he says, many of these moose cannot cope with the added stress. Lenarz says the moose are dying in greatest numbers â?? within a year of a very hot summer.”

    http://www.kare11.com/news/investigative/extras/extras_article.aspx?storyid=11815

  117. pat neuman:

    Link to Kare11 story on Climate Change, Part 1 should be:

    http://www.kare11.com/news/investigative/extras/extras_article.aspx?storyid=118105

  118. Wacki:

    Dr Judith Curry, you said:

    The Europeans (notably ECMWF) do not have the dichotomy between forecasting and research, and weather and climate that we see in the U.S., and their forecasts are far better than those in the U.S. (particularly ECMWF).

    This is very interesting. Do you have more info on this? Any studies done? Thanks again for all of your very informative answers.

  119. Chip Knappenberger:

    Re: #114

    Dr. Curry’s whole BAMS article is about the contentiousness of the issue, including the causes behind the recent warming of the tropical Atlantic SST. I respect your argument, and even if it is the absolute and sufficient explanation, this issue is still, presently, contentious.

  120. pat neuman:

    re 113. ike – regarding your conclusion (ii) in 113,

    The link in 117. to the Twin Cities Kare11 Climate Change story works now. Note also that Rick Kupchella, KARE 11 News, includes a link to more information on climate change. I think you will agree that the work presented by Rick is very good and doesn’t fit with your “mostly done a poor job of reporting on climate science” like other media stations.

    I think it’s important to point out that Rick created the story and website on climate change at Kare11 with no assistance from the staff at the NWS in Chanhassen MN and without help from the Minnesota climatology people. Staff at NWS and MN climatology have refused to speak out about climate change and global warming by claiming that the science is too controversial and political for them to deal with. I disagree about the science of climate change being political. Non-scientists, and many federal meteorologists, have made climate science appear political for reasons which I don’t care to go into again at this time.

  121. L. David Cooke:

    As a general comment:

    I am finding I have more questions then answers after reading the study that is driving these comments. In reference to the three hypothesis presented in the top right hand column of the first page of the study there appears to be a problem with the logical linkage between them. As they are stated these hypothesis are each independent and not linked.

    1) the frequency of the most intense hurricanes is increasing globally;
    2) average hurricane intensity increases with increasing tropical SST;
    3) global tropical SST is increasing as a result of greenhouse warming.

    As each element, is independent it is just as likely that they are coincidental associative occurrences and are not related? Take the first statement this observation still remains in jeopardy, as the data we have publicly available with enough accuracy to trace the storm life cycle has only been available for about 10 years. The second statement other then a lack of a clear data trail and too small of a population sample is statistically constructed with two independent variables that cannot demonstrate a clear dependence. Finally, we have the third statement which this year is proving unabashedly to be false.

    Every indication is that an improved casual logical hypothetical progression should have been something more like the pattern below:

    1) Apparently, Greenhouse Warming is resulting in Global Warming.
    2) The increase of Global Warming is apparently resulting in increased global average tropical SSTs.
    3) The apparent increase in global average tropical SSTs are apparently resulting in increasing frequencies of more intense hurricanes.
    4) Therefore, Greenhouse Warming is apparently resulting in the increase of the global frequencies of more intense hurricanes.

    We can now suggest that the hypothesis chain is false. As in the chain of evidence, there continues to be an increasing CO2 component of Greenhouse Gasses, which is about a 23% contributor to Greenhouse Warming. There also appears to increasing Global Warming; however, there does not appear to be increasing SSTs in either the Atlantic or the Pacific according to the NOAA TOA or TOAST sites with regard to the ITCZ SSTs or the 20 Degree C isotherm depths. And yet, interesting enough there also does not appear to be storms now that the N. Atlantic SSTs are approaching the heat content and depth required to support them. (Of course, I could just be speaking too soon.)
    The question is why, if there is increasing Greenhouse Gases contributing to Greenhouse Warming and Greenhouse Warming is apparently contributing to Global Warming should not the SSTs be increasing? Dr. Elsner’s recent study blamed air temperature for increasing SSTs. This hypothesis simply can not be born out. The basic physics of the differences in density logically can not support it, (providing I understand my physics correctly). (Maybe there is some quirk of thermodynamics I have missed.) There simply is not enough warm air, hot enough, to warm the ocean to a depth of 80 meters. However, there is more then enough ocean to warm and humidify the air. Dr. Elsner has done an excellent job using the Granger Causality lag verification. As the conditions he identifies are a clear signal to SSTs that can support the development of an intense Tropical Storm. However, the apparent conclusion he outlines in the introduction appears to me to be flawed.

    I would suggest that looking at the original “casual” logic construct here in regards to the Curry, Webster and Holland study suffers a similar condition. I fail to see the simple ‘casual chain’ of logic in the example provided in the study. Have I missed something? Is it simply I just do not understand and my reading comprehension has failed? Or is it worse, is it that we fail to ask the correct questions and form them correctly? Is it that we simply do not have enough reliable information in regard to the questions to answer them well? Is it of political expediency that we race to attempt to extend information with unreliable data? Is it unfair that the request for funds to support good data to support good policy creation has been discarded in favor of rehashing formulas to try to squeeze good data from bad data; resulting in data saying what ever the requester wants to see?

    Dave Cooke

  122. Jeff Weffer:

    … in any case, one year does not a trend make. comment by Marcus – 21 Aug 2006

    Then why do we want the meterologist to immediately blame global warming the instant an unusual 2005 tropical storm/hurricane season occurs.

    It seems to me that the meterologists were correct to say “There is no link right now.” Why is everyone piling on top of them saying they have been coerced by somebody to not draw the direct global warming link.

  123. Thomas Lee Elifritz:

    Why is everyone piling on top of them saying they have been coerced by somebody to not draw the direct global warming link.

    Fundamental thermodynamics and observational evidence.

    Have you even read the papers?

  124. wayne davidson:

    119- The problem is with the apparent disconnect between science data and meteorologist presenters. Basic causalities should be asked, but especially answered, there are usually none, or just one now a days, called AMO. Judith Curry gave one already well established reason why there are fewer hurricanes in #85, not in defence of AGW, but from apparent causal effect. A well informed society knowing this fact would perhaps not conclude AGW bunk because there are so few Tropical Storms/ Hurricanes this season. Not quite the same defence can be given to any Hurricane forecaster attaching AMO, for the next 20 years or so to give lots and lots of hurricanes each year because of a 0.2 C degree SST cycle, they have made a flat out prediction, which so far seems wrong, although the season is not over, they would do well to inform the public as well as Judith has done, the blame game should be dropped in favor of explaining science well.

  125. Steve Bloom:

    Re #112: “If a noted climate scientist explains multi-year changes in ocean heat storage in terms of ‘tropical variablity’ or ‘weather’, I would suspect that any particularly intense tropical cyclone(or season, or multiple seasons) would surely also fall into this category of ‘tropical variability’.”

    Of course Gavin was discussing variability over a 2 year period, whereas Webster et al looked at 35 years. Notice a slight difference in the period? That was a very unscientific assertion for a “professional earth scientist” to make.

  126. Steve Bloom:

    Re #115: Sure, Steve S. Why don’t you start with a citation or two?

  127. Mag:

    Dan,
    Till now there isn’t any strong scientific background for that, otherwise we wouldn’t debate here about thoughts, opinions and personal theories. No one should claim certainty over such topic, you may review comment No.79 and see what’s behind.

  128. Bryan Sralla:

    Re #125: Steve, thank you for engaging me on this. It is always fun to see your thoughtful comments. I would argue that another way to look at the ocean heat content is over a five year span (2000-2005) vs two (2003-2005). Over this five year time span, the latest observations appear to show that the top of the atmosphere has been in an averaged state of radiative balance. In my interpretation of the literature, it has been agreed by most of the community that the OHCA is a much more robust metric than tropical cyclone variability. Peixoto and Oort (1992) in their book on climate physics show that even for timespans of a year, this metric provides a good snapshot of the planetary radiative imbalance at the top of the atmoshpere. Tropical cyclones, even for spans of 35 years have not been shown to provide such a solid indicator of climate change.

  129. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #126 – the burden is on Mr. Berg. He needs to present all the qualifications and caveats regarding the data. One could start with the caveats that are right there in the text below the figures. But that would only be scratching the surface. There is a whole metatopic here.

  130. Steve Bloom:

    Re #119: Chip, you’re forgetting your disclaimer.

  131. Stephen Berg:

    Re: #129, Mr. Sadlov, see the following:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/category/climate-science/oceans/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/06/on-a-weakening-of-the-walker-circulation/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/el-nino-global-warming/ (Especially the section: “How will the El Niño phenomenon be affected by a global warming?”)

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/tropical-cyclones-workshop/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/03/reactions-to-tighter-hurricane-intensitysst-link/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/can-2c-warming-be-avoided/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/01/is-the-amazonian-drought-caused-by-gw/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?s=SST

    Your turn now!

  132. Mike Neuman:

    I’d like to throw my 2 cents into this assessment before the debate closes. While not a frequent poster on Realclimate.org, I check in periodically when my brother Pat Neuman brings something to my attention (although I came here today on my own).

    First, I think the authors of article being discussed deserve credit for serving up the fodder for discussion. “Mixing Politics and Science in Testing the Hypothesis That Greenhouse Warming Is Causing a Global Increase in Hurricane Intensity” is a challenging undertaking.

    On the scientific issue of hurricane intensity, I didn’t think this year would see the high level of activity that we saw last year. The reason is that last year was no doubt an extreme, just like the European heat wave of 2003 was an extreme. Extremes don’t usually get repeated year-to-year. But they are more likely to be repeated as the years continue to pass since we have been on a continuous warming streak for over 30 years that shows no sign of slowing down nor does our knowledge of science give us any reason to believe that it will.

    That being said, the potential for the 2005 hurricane season in the Atlantic and the 2003 heat wave in Europe to have been repeated in immediately successive years, even with global warming, was extremely low. Any hydrologist will tell you that the probability of having two 100-year floods occur back-to-back is extremely low. When you experience one in one year, the chances are still one out of one-hundred that you will get another one of the same intensity the next year, even if the climate has become slightly more likely to produce an extreme flood.

    The issue of risking one’s own career to do the right thing on this issue – something both Pat and I have done over the past few years and suffered the consequences for as a result – deserves far more discussion than I read in the subject article or on this forum. In particularly, the article is way too kind to our mass media journalists, who it claims “are looking to develop stories that are timely and relevant, are wide in scope, have a particular thematic angle, relect conflict, and demonstrate human drama”. The fight by conscientious scientists to elevate the growing crisis of global warming into the limelight of concern over the last several years – higher that of the Iraq War and the World Trade Center catastrophe – fits all of those journalistic prerequisites to a tee. The prerequisite that it fails to meet is not even mentioned in the article – that the story must not risk the journalist’s job security, career or embarassment in any way, shape or form, as it would if there were written or unwritten orders from the “powers that be” to stay away reporting anything that particular topic.

    Scientists are one of the few groups who might be expected to assume that they have a responsibility to communicate their research findings and opinions to policy makers and the public at large when there are matters of life and death involved. Few other seem to have the ethics or the courage to do so, much less to appropriately report on it. Fear over their job security and ridicule prevent them from doing so.

  133. ike solem:

    Re#120,

    I read the article and I agree that he did a good job. The issue of biological responses to climate change is very complicated, but the report is very well-written and includes concerns which relate to human health as well. Heat waves are just as damaging to humans as to moose, as seen by the 100+ deaths caused by the recent California heat wave. The hot nights are particularly bad, since it is difficult to cool off in humid conditions. The impacts on the natural biota mimic the impacts on the elderly. The polar bear is also being impacted, but appears to be moving south and interbreeding with brown bears; wildlife biologists have found a number of hybrid offspring recently. The biological response is well ahead of the media response, it seems.

    Those who say that increased CO2 will increase agricultural productivity are ignoring the effects of highly variable weather on crop yields; this summer’s heat wave was estimated to reduce corn yields by 10-20% as I recall from news reports from the Midwest. Furthermore, nitrogen and phosphate are generally thought to limit photosynthetic productivity, not carbon dioxide; if abundant N, P, K, Fe etc. are present than CO2 does lead to short-term increases in photosynthesis. (But the Competive Enterprise Institute’s “CO2: We Call it Life” campaign is just ridiculous).

    The solution at the photosynthetic end of the carbon equation is to halt the ongoing global deforestation and to start planting long-lived trees (think of trees as carbon sequestration devices).

    RE# 128,

    Bryan, I’m still waiting for an acknowledgement of the scientific inaccuracy of your previous comments, in which I was accused of promoting ‘junk science’ regarding the conditions under which source rocks for oilfields form (as related to the quite relevant and topical issue of reduced thermohaline circulation and bottom water hypoxia). So, are you willing to admit you were wrong publicly? Why did you want to have a ‘private email exchange’ on the topic instead? If you aren’t willing to admit when you’ve made a fundamental scientific mistake about source rock formation (that relates directly to your stated profession of hydrocarbon geology), then why should anyone listen to anything you have to say, particularly when it comes to atmospheric and ocean sciences?

    Then you go on to state the following in #128:

    “I would argue that another way to look at the ocean heat content is over a five year span (2000-2005) vs two (2003-2005). Over this five year time span, the latest observations appear to show that the top of the atmosphere has been in an averaged state of radiative balance. In my interpretation of the literature, it has been agreed by most of the community that the OHCA is a much more robust metric than tropical cyclone variability. ”

    What latest observation? What literature have you been interpreting? Why can’t you provide references? What do you mean by “the atmosphere has been in an averaged state of radiative balance”? As far as I can tell, that’s just gibberish – what datasets were ‘averaged’ and what do you mean by ‘Radiative balance’? When is the atmosphere in a state of ‘radiative imbalance’? Radiative equilibrium takes place on very fast (microsecond or less) timescales, so what on earth are you talking about?

    Obviously, people are concerned about hurricanes because of their destructive potential; increasing SST’s and decreasing sea ice and ice sheet volumes are indeed better ‘metrics’ but we are looking at hurricane frequency/intensity increases as an effect of global warming, not as metrics for global warming (and polar region temp increases are also good ‘metrics’ for testing the model predictions). You’re a professional earth scientist: what do you use to date strata brought up from oil rigs? Forams (tiny, abundant sea critters) or dinosaur bones? Hurricanes, like dinosaur bones, are of great interest to the general public – just look at the effects of Katrina to see why. Tropical SST’s have clearly been increasing – look at any study relating coral reef die-off to SST’s – there are many studies on this issue.

  134. wayne davidson:

    As I wrote earlier, one must not under-estimate the intelligence found in lay persons not involved in the Climate or Met fields of endeavour

    http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1161

    Majority of Americans believe that we are experiencing GW, and also think that they are linked with stronger hurricanes like Katrina. This Majority should eventually translate eventually into action, hope it will come soon.

  135. Steve Bloom:

    Re #121: Dave, I think you need to look at all of this more carefully. For example, there’s a problem with your statement that Elsner’s recent study “blamed” increased air temps for higher SSTs. Here’s the abstract:

    “The power of Atlantic tropical cyclones is rising rather dramatically and the increase is correlated with an increase in the late summer/early fall sea-surface temperature over the North Atlantic. A debate concerns the nature of these increases with some studies attributing them to a natural climate fluctuation, known as the Atlantic
    Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), and others suggesting climate change related to anthropogenic increases in radiative forcing from greenhouse-gases. Here tests for causality using the global mean near-surface air temperature (GT) and Atlantic sea-surface temperature (SST) records during the Atlantic hurricane season are applied. Results show that GT is useful in predicting Atlantic SST, but not the other way around. Thus GT â??causesâ?? SST providing additional evidence in support of the climate change hypothesis. Results have serious implications for life and property throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and portions of the United States.”

    Note the use of quote marks around causes! If you would then read the study, you would see that he in no manner proposes some mechanism whereby the air heats the sea surface so as to account for the current trend of increasing SSTs. Instead he says the two are “correlated.” What that actually means is that they have a common cause, which is greenhouse warming.

    I think most of the rest of your stuff relies on similar misunderstandings, as when you say:

    “(…) the data we have publicly available with enough accuracy to trace the storm life cycle has only been available for about 10 years.” Where in the world did you get that from? Certainly data improve with time, but the metric that Webster et al made use of (maximum wind speed) is calculated from the comprehensive data base of satellite photos dating back to 1970. There’s certainly a debate about interpretation, but there’s nothing “missing.”

    “The second statement other then a lack of a clear data trail and too small of a population sample is statistically constructed with two independent variables that cannot demonstrate a clear dependence.” That just sounds like denial. Remember that the debate in the hurricane science community is only over the categorization of some storms from 1970 to 1990. I should emphasize that there is no dispute as to whether the information is available to do that job, just as to whether it has been done consistently. Webster et al state that they have looked at the data from that standpoint and believe that there is no significant problem with respect to maximum wind speed. There have been *claims* to the contrary, but no paper has yet been published showing that Webster et al’s assessment is incorrect. If you know otherwise, please inform us!

    “Finally, we have the third statement which this year is proving unabashedly to be false.” The long-term SST trend over the study period is absolutely clear. I haven’t had a chance to look at the data you refer to, but bear in mind that SST trends over such a short term are essentially weather (and like all weather metrics cannot be expected to increase monotonically), and SST trends globally should not be expected to be identical to those in the hurricane basins.

    Your last paragraph makes it seem as if you came to this issue with certain assumptions in mind.

  136. Steve Bloom:

    Re #128: I would second Ike’s comments and also note that when you say “it has been agreed by most of the community that the OHCA is a much more robust metric than tropical cyclone variability(.)” you’ve absorbed the style but not the substance of RP Sr.’s site. To my knowledge, nobody, and certainly no climate scientist, has ever suggested using tropical cyclones as a climate metric.

  137. Jeff Weffer:

    Has anyone actually posted/plotted all the data in the HURDAT historical hurricane dataset series. It is complicated and I don’t have time to collate it,

    But someone really should plot it BY YEAR going back to 1850 and then maybe someone can ACTUALLY state that hurricanes are increasing.

    So far we’ve just picked out a few years, here and there, and a few averages over a few periods.

    [Response: You can find the annual number of total named Atlantic TCs back to 1870 here. – mike]

  138. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #136 (you’ve absorbed the style but not the substance of RP Sr.’s site.)

    Steve, help me out a little here. What substance have I missed?

    (To my knowledge, nobody, and certainly no climate scientist, has ever suggested using tropical cyclones as a climate metric.)

    Sincerely, I do not follow this. This seems to me exactly what this discussion is about. If increasing severity of tropical cyclones were not being touted as such a measuring stick of increased warming, why are we having this discussion in the first place? Are you trying to make the point that they are not related subjects?

  139. Jeff Weffer:

    Mike, that data does not appear to be from the HURDAT set.

  140. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #133 Q:(What latest observation?)
    A: Lyman (2006)

    Q:What literature have you been interpreting? Why can’t you provide references?

    A:Peixoto (1992), Levitus (2000), Barnett (2001), Pielke (2003), Hansen and Schmidt (2005)here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=124, and here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=124

    Q:What do you mean by “the atmosphere has been in an averaged state of radiative balance”?

    A:The volume integral (heat balance equation) as presented in Pielke (2003) http://blue.atmos.colostate.edu/publications/pdf/R-247.pdf suggests that the changes in ocean heat storage averaged over a year are a snapshot of the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere. According to the latest observation by Lyman (2006)
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/ocean-heat-content-latest-numbers/ the heat content of the oceans is virtually unchanged since 2000, hence my comment.

  141. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #133. Ike, my e-mail is sralla@prodigy.net. I again offer my invitation to take this discussion of petroleum source rocks offline. If after this time, you want to cut and paste my offline response to you onto this website, you are more than welcomed to do so.

  142. Chip Knappenberger:

    By gosh you are right, Steve (re # 130):

    To all–posts #111 and #119 were made by someone (me) who has been, to some degree, funded by the fossil fuels industry since about 1992. So, feel free to disregard them…

  143. L. David Cooke:

    Ref #135

    Hey Steve;

    I am afraid I did come to the table with an agenda. I have been around this discussion for several years and as a common layman have been studying the characteristics of climate change since around 1969.

    I had read Dr. Elsner’s study and was amazed at his use of the Granger Causality Test of the data. This was quite similar to a study (Sun et al 1996)in which they applied the Granger Test of a A GT against the apparent global average CO2 levels. (They proposed similar to Dr. Hansen in his 2005 work, that there was a lag in the coupling of the GHG contribution and the rise of terrestrial solar insolation content.) Dr. Umberto Tricca returned with an evaluation of the Sun study and noted that there are several issues with the accuracy of the study, one being the issue of a moving average. In which when you have values of increasing medians you actually should not apply a normal Law of large number or Bell Curve type distribution analysis to the data. The unspoken indication from Dr. Tricca is that the comparison should be against the linear regression and the R2 values from period to period and not the values themselves. (Would this mean that the majority of the current statistical evaluations may have an inherent flaw?)

    The point is though Dr. Elsner appears to have done a great job with the analysis; however, to claim a correlation where it is more likely an association is my primary concern. (This is also the concern I am having with the (Curry et al 2006) current study.) That there is a one way associative cause and effect logic chain would appear to specify that increased SSTs are the result of increased ambient GW. Is that different from what you see in the conclusion?

    As to the comment of storm life cycle I am speaking of having absolute Doppler radar images of he storms from the development of the tropical wave off the Cape Verde islands to it eventual termination as a tropical storm somewhere in the Mid-North Atlantic maritime regions. (Meaning direct measurement of the whole storm and not derived or small samples of data.) When coupled with the new images from both the Calipso and CloudSat, there now exists a possible 3D view of the atmosphere and a clear indication that we really may not understand the adiabatic character of water vapor nearly as well as had been indicated in the past.

    As to the hurricane community, I have had an friendly association with one of the original hurricane hunters. This spiked my interest at the age of nine and has been one of the constants in my life, (That no matter what happens today tomorrow will likely be different, though the new day may have a starting place somewhere in what has happened the day before).

    At what point do you categorize a storm appears to be of great debate. When you do not have direct evidence then the character of Dr. Landsea’s analysis seems appropriate in measuring the data from what you do know, landfall. This way you are not arguing over who has the better model or has the more detailed estimation; in this case, you are comparing data. Now the question is do you have enough samples to create a statistically valid analysis? If you want to categorize the data according to latitude of landfall, or consider associative cyclonic or anti-cyclonic pressures zones that could have fed/destroyed the storms potential, or if associative pressure zones are not ground to space; but mid-level and hence could negatively affect the storms development, as long as you have the measured data that would be useful.

    Finally, the SSTs, this has been a new opportunity for me, to observe the NOAA robotic buoy data that covers the ITCZ and has been a welcome opportunity to analyze the character of the potential of La Nina this past spring. When coupled with the NCDC SRRS analysis and forecast charts it is amazing the accuracy that even I, an ignorant layman, can develop in predicting long term or seasonal storm development and the likely contributors. As to a study, sorry there isn’t one to my knowledge; however, the data is clearly there for all to see, I like that!

    Again Steve, you are correct I do come to the table with many questions; however, unlike some I am inclined to believe these are worthy of answers. (I guess I am just a little bit biased in my opinion.) I appreciate your assistance in trying to help me straighten out my misunderstandings; however, it does not seem to have helped much. I really am not trying to be hard headed or have a un-retractable opinion as I have no skin in this game. I am more interested in the correct application of science in search of answers. If it is that I am simply too ignorant to teach, my apologies, please direct me to some supporting texts so that I can learn to talk intelligently about the subject.

    Dave Cooke

  144. John Bolduc:

    RE #134, the Pew Center poll conducted last June is enlightening. 41% viewed global warming as “very serious” and 33% said “somewhat serious”. Only 41% agreed global warming is due to human activity. So most Americans appear to believe global warming is a problem, but a majority does not believe it is due to human activity. So convincing the American public that GHG emissions need to be reduced remains to be accomplished, according to this poll. You can see the poll results at http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=280.

  145. Steve Sadlov:

    RE: #131 – I was not asking you for a bunch of quickie links. I was asking you to personally state, in your own words, caveats. Was this not clear?

  146. Stephen Berg:

    Re: #145, “I was not asking you for a bunch of quickie links. I was asking you to personally state, in your own words, caveats.”

    Mr. Sadlov, why do I need to when a description of the data is presented here:

    http://www.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png

    http://www.atmos.albany.edu/deas/atmclasses/atm305/temp2.jpg

    Also, you can easily access the papers of reference and read what caveats exist in better and clearer words than I could regurgitate.

  147. Jerry Steffens:

    Can we please maintain a respectful tone?

  148. Stephen Berg:

    Steve S., please see the following PPT file which shows a correlation between Atlantic SSTs and Tropical Cyclones.

    http://www.youpload.com/files/general/0f9a3c8e9d/atlantic_sst_tc_correlation_ppt_atlantic_sst_tc_correlation_brief_powerpoint.htm

    Data is from:

    http://www.meteo.psu.edu/~mann/eos06/

  149. Steve Sadlov:

    Caveat: “Incorporating these uncertainties, Foland et al. (2001) estimated the global temperature change from 1901 to 2000 as 0.57 ± 0.17 °C, which contributed to the 0.6 ± 0.2 °C estimate reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [1].”

  150. Harold Brooks:

    Re: 137

    You can’t just plot the number of tropical storms per year without considering the inhomogeneities in the data. The Hurricane Research Division cautions against doing climatological studies of even the US landfalling data prior to 1900 in most of Florida, for instance. After that, there were large changes in data collection, most notably recon flights starting in the mid-1940s.

    Even in the recon flight era, some significant changes occur. If you look at the location of maximum intensity for each storm in the HURDAT database, since ~1962, the fraction of storms reaching their maximum intensity east of 60 W has been 0.6. Prior to that, it’s 0.8. It’s possible that there was an abrupt change in behavior then, but it’s also likely that changes in observational strategy took place. One hypothesis would be that the westernmost storms have been relatively consistently observed for a long time, but that the easternmost ones haven’t. If so, that would increase the number of storms in the mid-40s to early 60s by about 30%, compared to the official record. I’ve already noted in this thread (#23) that there are differences in the database around 1950 compared to now-Atlantic storms that don’t make landfall are much less likely to be rated Cat 3 or higher than they were 50-60 years ago.

    It’s important to know the limitations of the observational data sets for events that depend on special efforts to collect the observations, such as tropical storms. For instance, even today, in the absence of recon flights, different groups will get different intensity estimates. At one point during Cyclone Monica’s life near Australia this year, the US Naval Research Lab estimated the central pressure at 879 mb, associated with winds of 180 mph, while the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had it at 915 mb at the same time (Jeff Masters’s blog). Both groups were using mostly satellite information at the time. I have no idea what truth is in that case.

  151. Stephen Berg:

    Please change the upload link above to the following:

    http://www.file.sc/8b4f57/AtlanticSSTTCCorrelation.ppt

    Thanks!

  152. wayne davidson:

    #144 John, I know that AGW is a tricky thing to explain, and so we do, as best as we can. People in my own private very little surveys from two climatic zones are overwhelmingly aware that something is wrong with the weather, wrong or different. Their first questions are: “why?” Answers can be found everywhere else, from institutions to gossip papers, the disproportionate quantity of theories is healthy, but comes a time when they have to be narrowed down a bit, this is why I am in favor of fierce, sure to be very popular TV debates, along with data, super bright professors, especially including those tagged as the “regular contrarians”, in order to reduce the noise and increase the knowledge ratio. Looking forward to see authors of important papers such as those mentionned above. The more popular, the better, I am sure that Crichton can bring out his ideas on the fore, and then regain his reputation as a science fiction writer.

  153. Steve Bloom:

    Re #143: Dave, you’re being a little fuzzy on most of what you say.

    “An unspoken assumption from Dr. Tricca?” Citation, please? In any case maybe he ought to speak.

    “That there is a one way associative cause and effect logic chain would appear to specify that increased SSTs are the result of increased ambient GW.” (I assume you mean GT here.) Huh? I thought I just finished telling you that wasn’t the case. Can you quite some language from the paper to the contrary?

    “(…) to claim a correlation where it is more likely an association is my primary concern.” I don’t know much statistics, so perhaps you could enlighten me on the formal distinction between a correlation and an association.

    Regarding the data set, you present no specific argument why earlier data is insufficient. If you look at the HURDAT documentation, Landsea seems to think there’s no fundamental problem. Do you have a quote from him or anyone else to the opposite effect?

    On the SST data issue, it appears you conceded my point.

    Generally you seem to throw in a lot of extraneous material, e.g. “(…) clear indication that we really may not understand the adiabatic character of water vapor nearly as well as had been indicated in the past(.)” Huh? Less of that and more citations/quotes of peer-reviewed work would be helpful.

  154. Steve Bloom:

    Re #150: Harold, as I understand it the big advantage of sticking to the satellite observation era as the Webster group does is that it makes it more possible to have a consistent data set consistently applied through the whole record. From what Judy indicated at least part of that will be available soon, and I suppose the rest will closely follow. In the meantime the obvious presence of the inconsistencies you list doesn’t seem to have kept the reality-challenged crowd over at Climate Audit from engaging in yet another Triumph of Pure Statistics Over Applied Science by means of HURDAT. Let those guys loose with a data spreadsheet and they’ll overturn all of climate science in an hour or two! :)

  155. Steve Bloom:

    Re #138: Global warming has various consequences. Some are useful as metrics (literally to answer the question of how much global warming do we have). Others are not. We can measure global surface temps and say we have .6C (or whatever the current number is) of warming. The same can be done with ocean temps. We can’t say, e.g., “We had 8 category 4 cyclones worth of warming this year” (or whatever). Well, maybe we could, but I hope that just by putting it in those terms I’ve made it obvious how it would be less than useful. There are other non-temp quantities that might be a bit more suitable, e.g. growing season length, but they too have obvious limitations.

  156. Harold Brooks:

    Re #154: Steve-it makes it _possible_ to have a consistent data set, but unless there’s been a analysis of the satellite data to make the estimates consistent, the data set won’t be. Changes in practices over time and forecast center means that using the so-called best-track data won’t be consistent, unless those data have been reanalyzed for that purpose.

    As an example, Knaff and Zehr (2006, in press) have shown that the Atkinson-Holliday wind-pressure relationship that the Joint Typhoon Warning Center used to use to estimate winds resulted in an underestimation of winds in the western North Pacific from 1974-1987. (A different WPR was used before that from 1966-1973. It’s not clear what it was, but it also had underestimation problems.) Reanalyzing the west Pacific data, using a new WPR and environmental wind pressure data from the NCAR/NCEP reanalysis, Knaff and Sampson get 93 cat 4 or 5 storms from 1975-1989, instead of the 75 from the Webster et al. dataset (there’s an error in Table 1 of Webster et al. giving that number as 85). The fraction of all typhoons that are Cat 4-5 in 1975-1989 in the reanalysis is 39%, instead of 26% from Webster et al. Since the reanalysis doesn’t change the 1990-2004 value (42%), the increase in fraction of events that are Cat 4-5 is much smaller in the reanalysis.

    The 1970-1974 count of Cat 4-5 is 34, instead of 30. They also use data back to 1966, when the satellite era began in the west Pacific. They show a linear trend (the fit isn’t good) from 1966-2005 of an increase in Cat 4-5 events of 0.024 per year instead of 0.086 per year in the pre-reanalysis values.

    The limitation to satellite era also means that one can’t compare the current high-event frequency period in the North Atlantic to the previous ones, unfortunately. The dramatic changes in data content between those eras (satellite, more frequent recon, etc.) make those comparisons difficult to do in any case, so that it’s not at all clear what the best approach is. If we had satellite data or flight recon data on every event back for a century, the problem would be easier.

  157. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #155 Steve Bloom, on your point, it does not seem that we really have any disagreement here, but somehow I am not feeling the love.

  158. ike solem:

    RE#140

    See my post at http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/ocean-heat-content-latest-numbers/

    RE #141

    The issue of concern here (in my initial post) is what might happen to bottom water formation on a global basis due to anthropogenc global warming. Low-oxygen bottom waters mean that the microbial population of the deep ocean is limited in its ability to oxidise photsynthetically produced organic matter back to CO2; thus the sediments accumulate a higher proportion of organic matter. Those sediments may go on to form petroleum source rocks. This is very relevant in that it is a mechanism that relates biological photosynthesis to deep-water carbon burial, something that is thought to be of limited importance in the current ocean system. An introduction to studies like the Global Ocean Circulation Experiment (GOCE, HOTS, BATS, etc.) can be found at http://hahana.soest.hawaii.edu/hot/intro.html.

    The role of the oceans in climate variability is due to their sequestration, transport and storage of carbon and heat. Reduced ocean circulation will mean less ability to absorb both carbon and heat, as well as lower levels of oxygen in the deep ocean, and yes, that will lead to conditions conducive to source rock formation.

    So, what is the problem with this? Why did you say that “You are so far off base on this, that it is really hard to even begin to take what you said seriously. Wrong tectonic setting, wrong source rock environment, wrong reservoirs, wrong structural setting. Try again! Global ocean stratification forming oilfields? I have never heard of this in my career as a petroleum geologist. There is way too much junk science on this website.”

    Not only did you attack my comment on the basis of my fairly offhand reference to hydrocarbon formation, (my intial comment primarily related to the dead zone off the Oregon coast and its possible causes and effects) you used my comment to claim that this website, which is one of the few places where unbiased scientific discussion of global warming appears outside of strictly academic circles, has “way too much junk science”.

    You are the same Bryan Sralla who heads Hewitt Minerals and has recently been involved in bidding on oil leases, are you not? If I’m wrong about that, please accept my apologies. In the interest of complete disclosure, I am very interested in seeing renewable energy companies take over the energy markets from the fossil fuel sector, though my personal financial involvement is nil, at this point. Cheers!

  159. Steve Bloom:

    Re #157: If we don’t have any disagreement *now*, that’s nice.

  160. Steve Bloom:

    Re #156: That’s very interesting to hear about, Harold. So it sounds as if, from what Judy and Chris Landsea (in his recent Science piece) mentioned, there are at least three separate reanalysis efforts in various stages of completion. I guess I will be so bold as to ask where you think all of this is headed; i.e., is it possible that these efforts will produce the additional 150 early strong storms Peter Webster says are needed to reduce the apparent trend to insignificance?

    This may be a stupid question, but wouldn’t it be possible to get a more or less internally consistent analysis going back to early satellite days by reducing the quality of more current data (photos, as I understand it) to the same level as that of the early stuff? In other words, if what you have from 1970 are grainy photos from certain angles at certain intervals, couldn’t more current data be processed into the same format and quality? The results might not be correct relative to modern data, but as long as they were consistent wouldn’t that be useful for identifying trends?

  161. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #158, Ike, your e-mail has not shown up yet. The reason for my junk science comments:

    You compared the modern environment off the Oregan coast to middle East source rock formation. In this regard, your statements were indeed junk science in the classic sense of the word. I have studied the Middle East source rocks and oil fields. Have you? In what area is your academic and professional training? Biology? Here is some homework Mr. Biologist.

    References:

    Ala, M. A., R. R. F. Kinghorn, and M. Rahman, 1980, Organic geochemistry of the Zagros petroleum province southwest Iran: Jour. Petroleum Geology, v. 3, p. 61-89.

    Ayers, M.G., Bilal, M., Jones, R. , Slentz, L., Tartir, M., Wilson, A., 1982 Hydrocarbon Habitat in Main Producing Areas, Saudi Arabia AAPG Bull, v.66, p.1-9

    Arabian American Oil Company Staff (Aramco), 1959, Ghawar oil field, Saudi Arabia : AAPG Bull., v. 43, p. 434-454.

    Dow, W. G., 1978, Petroleum source beds on continental slopes and rises: AAPG Bull., v. 62, p. 1584-1606.

    Dunnington, H. V., 1967, Stratigraphic distribution of oil fields in the Iraq-Iran- Arabia basin: Inst. Petroleum Jour., v. 53, p. 129-153.

    Kamen-Kay, M., 1970, Geology and productivity of Persian Gulf synclinorium: AAPG Bull., v. 54, p. 2371-2394.

    Kent, P. E., and H. R. Warman, 1972, An environment review of the world’s richest oil-bearing region–the Middle East: 24th Internat. Geol. Cong., Montreal, Proc., Sec. 5, p. 142-152.

    Kirkland, D. W., and R. Evans, 1981, Source-rock potential of evaporitic environment: AAPG Bull., v. 65, p. 181-190.

    Law, J., 1957, Reasons for Persian Gulf oil abundance: AAPG Bull., v. 41, p. 51-69.

    Lees, G. M., 1950, Some structural and stratigraphic aspects of the oil fields of the Middle East: 18th Internat. Geol. Cong., London, Proc., pt. 6, p. 35-44.

    Murris, R. J., 1980, Middle East: stratigraphic evolution and oil habitat: AAPG Bull., v. 64, p. 597-618.

    Murris, R. J., and K. de Groot, 1979, Oil habitat of carbonate provinces: Cong. Panam. Ing. Petr., Mexico, Proc., sec. 1, paper 5.

    Powers, R. W., 1962, Arabian Upper Jurassic carbonate rocks, in W. E. Ham, Classification of carbonate rocks: AAPG Mem. 1, p. 122-192.

    Powers, R. W., 1968, Saudi Arabia , in L. Dubertret, Lexique stratigraphique international, v. 3, Asie, f. 10: Paris, Centre Natl. Recherche, Internat. Geol. Cong. Comm. Stratig., p. 177.

    Steineke, M., R. A. Bramkamp, and N. J. Sander, 1958, Stratigraphic relations of Arabian Jurassic oil, in L.
    G. Weeks, ed., Habitat of oil: AAPG, p. 1294-1329.

    Tissot, B., et al, 1974 Influence of nature and diagenesis of organic matter in formation of petroleum: AAPG Bull., v. 58, p. 499-506.

    Waples, D. W., 1980, Time and temperature in petroleum formation: application of Lopatin’s method to petroleum exploration: AAPG Bull., v. 64, p. 916-926.

    Wilson, J. L., 1969, Microfacies and sedimentary structures in “deeper water” lime mudstones, in Depositional environments in sedimentary rocks: SEPM Spec. Pub. 14, p. 4-16.

    After you finish reading these, I have a few more. If you choose to complete this study, and still hold to your opinions, then we will talk. Otherwise, for professional reasons, my comments must stand. This will be my last public comment to you on this matter. You can continue to badger me and google search all you want, but I will not be responding further in this forum. My e-mail is always open. I certainly hope we can be friends.

    Best Regards, Bryan

  162. Hank Roberts:

    Quick Study
    Hurricanes: Tempests in a greenhouse

    Greenhouse gases make Earth’s surface hotter than it would be if the planet were simply a blackbody radiator. That additional warming is an important driver of hurricanes.
    Kerry Emanuel
    http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-8/p74.html
    August 2006, page 74

  163. L. David Cooke:

    Ref #153

    Dear Mr. Bloom;

    First let me share that I do not believe I have been “fuzzy” in any of my communications. Based on the data references, I believe that I was quite clear, evidence for my statements are supportable within my list of references of which I will share a sub-set, (Note the references below we accurate as of April 2006; however, you will have to research your own answers as this is data and not a study that spoon feeds you.)

    The difference between an association and a correlation is twofold, The first characteristic of the data is that one variable should be independent and the other a dependent, meaning, one describes hypothesis the other supports the hypothesis. (This is where the one way truth statement comes into play.) Secondly, though two variables may be changing in the same direction at the same time does not mean there is a dependence relationship to the data.)

    As an example: Households in the US have a high percentage of multiple television sets; Households in the US generally enjoy a higher level of health compared to most third world households. (Note, two simple casual variables that are significantly provable.) However, to draw the conclusion that the multiple televisions are resulting in the greater general health of US households is likely a false conclusion.

    However, if your study was that there were a high amount of health related television shows observed in US households. And that there were multiple television sets in US households. To draw the conclusion that there was an increase in the general health of US households where these shows were observed as opposed to households that did not observe these shows would be a significant study and likely true.

    And finally, since we are discussing hurricane development here (You know a reference to the original issue rather than a discussion off the subject.) and the creation of Tropical Storms. As the development of a Tropical Storm relates to water vapor rising cooling and precipitating out. This transition of state of water relates to the basic physical processes of adiabatic cooling and heating of water vapor. In the CloudSat and Calipso data it is clear that in a Tropical Wave this process somehow does not apply. Funny, that even the saturated adiabatic process does not seem to operate well, at least based on the visable interior view of a tropical storm, I wonder what a IR view would show?

    I had debated if it was worth while to reply to your message for sometime, and when my system went south it appeared that the lack of response was decided. However, I was able to revive a fallback system and today have observed your process of engagement and though you appear to be confrontational you do do indicate an interest to learn. Hence, though I am not qualified to teach, I gladly share this basic sub-set with you so you can begin to learn on your own. If you are willing to apply yourself you might even be able to figure things out for yourself and can stop relying on someone elses studies.

    Note that the first three links under Atmospheric Temperature and Clouds relate to most of what I have shared to date. The rest are good references of participants I have observed as important in understanding how natural processes can effect weather, Good Luck!

    Aerosol Contributions

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/meetings/aerosols97/session2.html
    http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/florida_dust.html
    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/0618dust.html

    [edited for conciseness]

    Dave Cooke

    [Response: Complete downloads of every site you’ve ever read is neither helpful nor welcome. If you want to discuss these kinds of issues here, the watchword is focus. – gavin]

  164. Harold Brooks:

    Re #160: I’m not sure where things will end up. It’s enough outside of my specialty that I’d hesitate to predict. As far as I know, all of the people working in the field agree that the mid-70s-early 90s (with a couple of years on either side, depending on the details) had fewer tropical storms than the recent years. The questions are how much less, attribution, and what happened prior to that. Knaff’s work in the western Pacific suggests that the late 60s-early 70s max was about the same or slightly lower than the recent period. The trend from Knaff’s version of the west Pacific is pretty small (~0.024 major hurricanes/year, which might be more consistent with the prediction of several percent increase in wind speed for a 2 K SST increase from Knutson and Tuleya’s work-Webster et al. cite a 0.5 K increase, so I’d expect ~1-2% increase in the winds for that SST change, which would be hard to see in the storm record).

    Consistent data collection is probably more important, in some ways, than accurate data collection, so moderate quality satellite images might be OK. I don’t know the details of how good of an image is necessary to get a decent estimate from satellite. I know that the angle of viewing can be a problem.

    It would be nice to have a global reanalysis of satellite observations. It’s unfortunate that the time that I think would be the most interesting to know about in the north Atlantic (the last peak period) is prior to satellite. I’m not sure how much, if anything, can be said with a great deal of confidence about trends in events based on the observed record of events in databases such as HURDAT. There are great uncertainties in the estimates and I don’t see how to get around them. They also don’t include data on possibly important parameters, such as size of the circulation.

    My personal biases make me think that a project that identifies favorable environmental conditions and looks for changes in the historical distribution of those might be a good approach. We’ve had some success recently in trying to apply such a technique to large hail. The hail database is much worse in terms of quality than the tropical cyclone data base, but it is good enough to build fairly good relationships between necessary environmental conditions and events. Then, we can count how often and where those necessary conditions occur using either environmental observations or reanalysis data. The preliminary result shows a decrease in the occurrence of favorable conditions in the US from the late 1950s into the mid-1970s followed by an increase until the late 1990s of ~0.5-1.0% per year. The late-90s look a lot like the late 1950s. The big stumbling block on the hurricane problem for this approach, to me, is the question of initiation-I can think qualitatively about how to look at SST and shear, so that good environments should be countable, but the initiation question is hard. In general, because of my experiences with the severe thunderstorm databases, I’m much happier looking at environments that would support events of interest than counting raw reports. For hurricanes, that might not work as well because we might be observing the environments all that well. I think it’s a very hard problem and I’m glad other people are working on it and not me.

  165. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#161,158 and authors Bryan Sralla and Ike Solem.
    Before I add my 30 minutes pennyworth about the degree of caustic comments,junk science attributes, ridicule etc in these threads let me present my own credentials. Google scholar key words “dungworth g geology geochemistry and/or heat flow” as I’ve published in these multidisciplinary fields and worked in the Petroleum industry for many years.
    When you debate source rock formation in the geological environment the timeframe is enlarged. Average depositional rates vary widely in the region of 0.1mm per year. Sedimentary marine source rocks that generate oil and gas were deposited in time frames of millions of years. We combust these carbon sources thousands of fold faster than their earlier deposition rates. The mass of coal deposits exceed oil prone components of marine rocks, the former seams, often 10m in thickness in SE Asia were formed more quickly, each seam over ca. 100000-20000years. Chemically reduced carbon has to be sequestered in the crust to generate the excess of oxygen in the atmosphere. What has been omitted is the role of sulphur S in the crust.Reduced S or sulphide and sulphur have to be sequestered to produce a gross gain of O2. Sulphur is half as abundant as Carbon in the Earth’s crust, mass 2.2exp10^25g. Half of this sulphur is the oxidised form sulphate, found in sabhkas(evaporites) for instance, whereas only ca one fifth of carbon is in the reduced form;the majority is carbonate ie. limestone. Similarly, iron which is far more abundant in the crust, thermodynamically and kinetically prefers to exist as ferric(Fe111) in our oxidising atmosphere unlike its ferrous form in the crust eg pyrite. Biogenic cycles account for there far from thermodynamic equilibria in the biosphere.
    Climate change deniers often express that conditions were far warmer in the past. That’s true, but they fail to express the much longer timescales involved. For instance, the absolute pressure of the atmosphere is never mentioned. Higher O2(50% and N2(?%) pressures would create a much warmer climate, but the rate of change is measured over millions of years, something the deniers conveniently forget.
    For the timescale of climate change, perhaps only the prevalence of biogenic gas(methane) as clathrates in permafrost or the cold bottom water sediments represent a significant contributor to catastrophic climate change. Ike’s review of the source rock scenario is basically sound even though he probably lacks the working credentials of petroleum or organic geochemistry, by itself a huge multidisciplinary field.Also, as I’ve pointed out above it is peripheral to the other even more hugely multidisciplinary field.
    In my time I’ve also published in biochemistry and even heat flow. If I want to keep up with developments in these fields where do I go? Even universities do not maintain comprehensive coverage of hundreds of journals, even if we live in a university town. takes 3 to 4 Internet coverage is only limited to abstracts. It takes 3 to 4 years to get a basic degree. That reference list is for post graduates. It would take 1 year for an MSc candidate to read it, think about it and then perhaps spend another 3 years to get a PhD. If you stay the course you still haven’t a working knowledge re- a post doc publication record. It can take another 5 years to gain an international reputation yet still the chances are one doesn’t have tenure anywhere. All these years are spent on a minimal salary. By the time I had tenure as a lecturer I was aged 32 and disillusioned by across the board cuts of grants, nationally. All of this is specific to a single discipline. How long does one need to publish in a multidisciplinary field? Let me further add that often vitriolic debate at conferences is the venue for a multidisciplinary endeavour; it’s common to demand credentials and infer vested interests as was asked of Bryan but it’s underhand even though it is common practice amongst AGW debaters.
    What is unique about realclimate.org is the forum for real scientific debate exists no where else other than the private science forums, unavailable to the interested public. There are other forums but none which attract such a wide diversity of opinion. I hope you both can settle your differences and feel a measure of pride that others appreciate your posts.
    Finally, I’ve known a couple of Nobel Laureates and many other international gurus who accused each other of promoting junk science,that they had nothing useful to contribute, you stick to astronomy and we will stick to oil generation, you have nothing worthwhile to contribute,he never said that;it’s a lie I have the paper here to prove it, let’s face it other than physics there are a huge number of things that you know absolutely nothing about, get cycling Otto, shut up!
    So finally finally, I wouldn’t worry about the level of too heated debate in a scientific field that has becomevery politicised.All the chicanery and sculldugerry is still as relevant today as it was in yesteryear; drat all 40 minutes worth of my pennyworth!

  166. m.j.:

    global warming is in words from a 14 year old high school student bull sh*…is it though..idk because i cant find 1 good site with a debate about it…so help!

  167. Bryan Sralla:

    Re: #165 Thank you for your reconcilitory words. You said: It takes 3 to 4 years to get a basic degree. That reference list is for post graduates.

    This is exactly why interdisciplinary discussion is so difficult. We all have a great deal of time, effort, and sacrifice devoted to our areas of specialty (skin in the game). It is hard to have that invalidated by offhand comments from either side of a debate. It hurts feelings, and ruffles pride.

    To Ike, I sincerely would like to agree to disagree and move on to more relevant discussion of climate change. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a denialist. Your comments about sapropel and the basic workings of source rock genesis were indeed valid. You are obviously very knowledgeable in this area and others. It was only your application that I disagreed with.

    To clarify one additional point. I am not the head of Hewitt Mineral Corporation (I wish). I am a lowly staff geologist. My opinions are my own, and in no way should be taken to reflect the views of my employer.

  168. L. David Cooke:

    Ref #163 Dr. Schmidt Inline Comments

    Dr. Schmidt;

    Point taken, my apologies. The specific references are as follows:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Granger_causality
    http://isi-eh.usc.es/resumenes/122_41_abstract.pdf#search='Umberto%20Triacca
    “Global warming and carbon dioxide emission; An Empirical Study”, Dr. Linyan Sun and Dr. Muhong Wang, 1996, The Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 46 Issue 4 Pages: 327-343

    http://www-calipso.larc.nasa.gov/sample_products/images/CALIPSO_First_Light_7June06.pdf
    http://www.cloudsat.cira.colostate.edu/dpcstatusQL.php
    http://www.suominet.ucar.edu/index.html

    I erred in trying to share the basis of a case for non-anthropogenic GW causes here. This will not occur again.

    Dave Cooke

  169. Steve Bloom:

    Jim Elsner, Judy Curry and Kevin Trenberth talk about hurricanes, global warming etc. on NPR Science Friday today. Download available here after 6:00PM ET.

  170. Jerry Steffens:

    After reading some of the recent comments, I decided to refresh my memory on the “comments policy”. In particular, these two seem to be relevant:
    (3)”Only comments that are germane to the post will be approved.”
    5) “No … you said/he said type arguments are allowed. This includes comments that (explicitly or implicitly) impugn the motives of others, or which otherwise seek to personalize matters under discussion.”

  171. Alastair McDonald:

    Because there have been fewer tropical storms this year, the latest, Ernesto, has the initial letter E rather than the K for Katrina for the hurricane at the same time last year. However the area that is going to suffer from Ernesto could well be the same as suffered under Katrina. See: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at5+shtml/090759.shtml?5day

    Ernesto is heading for New Orleans, and “the vulnerable Galveston/Houston area” as the hurricane chief called it. See: FEATURE-Worst is yet to come, US hurricane chief says http://today.reuters.com/News/CrisesArticle.aspx?storyId=N18410596

  172. Dan:

    re 171. I understand your point but please keep in mind that the average hurricane forecast track error three days out is on the order of 300 miles (thus the “cone of error” indicated on NHC charts). So no one should be pinpointing locations now. At best this early, anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico is under a possibly threat.

  173. Alastair McDonald:

    Re 172 As I recall the 3 day track that was forecast for Katrina was pretty accurate, and at present if Ernesto continues on this path which has held steady for at least the last 24 hours, then it will hit the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. That is where New Orleans and Galveston-Houston are. Let’s hope it misses them.

  174. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#171 This prediction is premature. If you look at the loop for the Western Atlantic and toggle TFP at the top-
    IR2NOAA
    and then go to the active predicted loop for ERNESTO-
    5DayPrediction
    you will see that the live actual path has already deviated. If you substitute DEBBY in the url on the browser you can see how the actual path has deviated from the daily updated predicted paths. Also, Ernesto is still a tropical storm, not yet a hurricane so it is too early to predict landfalls. Additionally, Ernesto was spawned in the same locale just to the east of the Windward Islands as that for Hurricane Frances in 2004.
    Finally, if you want to see all former tracks of hurricanes globally visit-
    http://weather.unisys.com/hurricane/

  175. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#Apologies – For IR2NOAA
    http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/goes/east/natl/loop-ir2.html
    and for the 5 day prediction
    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2006/ERNESTO_graphics.shtml

  176. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#71&73 Overnight Ernesto has battered Jamaica with up to 70mph winds . Cuba is next and the predicted course has already changed to put Florida at possible risk. How do you quantify risk of Hurricane damage when the Ernesto storm might fizzle out or never become a hurricane? Positions of possible landfall are highly unpredictable.

  177. L. David Cooke:

    RE #176

    Hey Graham;

    I don’t know that the possible landfall is highly unpredictable unless you are considering the level of accuracy. If you remember the original suggestion was that Ernesto would reach Hurricane strength by Tuesday and almost overnight it reached this boundary.

    By the same token originally the path was to the upper Gulf Coast and based on the current air pressure patterns the path looks to be changing hourly. For instance based on the URL:

    http://www.unidata.ucar.edu/data/suominet/loop/loop2/suomi_ani_zoom.html

    seems to point to a significant change in the last 8 hours. A floor to ceiling cyclonic event over the Alabama/Georgia area seems to have moved south slightly and a upper level high pressure appears to be forming off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. At the same time there appears to have been a loss of the Western Pacific Hurricane replaced by a new Tropical storm forming off the Baja coast. The low pressure area over Oklahoma and Arkansas seems to be losing some of it’s moisute content. And finally a low pressure zone appears to be forming off the coast of the Yucatan. The question is the low pressure of the Yucatan actually a different event or the top of Ernesto which seems to have most of its energy pushed to the east and south?

    Based on the observation it appears that the Gulf high pressue is more likely to remain in place or possibly retrograde. If this happens then the possibility of Ernesto moving further west may not be likely. Outside of this view is the precipitative water moisture over the area of the southern Central American and northern South American areas. If there is a strong low pressure zone then the possibility of a low southern movement of Ernesto is likely. If as the indications of the prior 12 hours are accurate then it is more likely to expect a strong northward movement.

    The question is are you saying the direction of a storm is not predictable with any accuracy based on current observation techniques? Or are you saying that through out the life cycle of the storm, being able to predict with a level of +/- 5% the precise path is not discernable?

    As to strength would this not be a factor of the surrounding pressure zones. Meaning if there is a strong outlet of warm surface air from Ernesto should there not be a strong inlet from an adjacent high pressue zone. And would the strength of Ernesto not be co-dependent on the adjacent pressue zones?

    Dave Cooke

  178. L. David Cooke:

    Ref #177

    Graham;

    My Error; The statement,

    “A floor to ceiling cyclonic event over the Alabama/Georgia area seems to have moved south slightly and a upper level high pressure appears to be forming off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas.”

    Should have been:

    A floor to ceiling ANTI-cyclonic event over the Alabama/Georgia area seems to have moved south slightly and a upper level high pressure appears to be forming off the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas.

    Sorry,

    Dave Cooke

  179. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#150
    The most important parameter is the maximum surface sustained wind when you are analysing the tropical cyclones intensity with the satellite pictures. Remember that 879 hPa match with 155 kt in the pressure-wind relationship used in the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific and the western North Pacific. The surface pressure in the eye depends on the environmental pressure of a cyclone and depends on the size. Monica formed in April, at the time of the year when the environmental pressure is rather high. Moreover, Monica had a rather small central structure. It is why for a given sustained surface wind, you can get two different pressures for two cyclones. Remember the North Atlantic with Georges at 937 hPa/135 kt in 1998 and Floyd at 921 hPa/135 kt in 1999.

  180. Karl Hoarau:

    RE #69
    As one of the authors of the paper with Chris Landsea, Bruce Harper and John Knaff (2006), I shall comment only the last part refering to the “global data since 1970″. I am afraid that there are more than anecdotal reports that some storms have been misclassified even if Dr. Curry told the contrary. She refered to a study made by Bruce in the area 90°E to 135°E. But she did not know that Bruce and the Bureau of Meteorology did not have the satellite pics before 1980 to reanalyze the cyclones. Moreover, [edit] the Cat 4& 5 TCs given by Webster et al.(2005) concerning the North Indian Ocean(NIO) and the South Pacific(SP), from 135°E and eastward, are completely wrong : only 1 for the 1975-1989 period and 7 for 1990-2004/ and 10 for 1975-1989 and 20 for 1990-2004, respectively. Actually, I made a reanalysis from the original satellite pictures :
    For the NIO : 7 TCs at Cat 4 & 5 for 1978-1989 and 9 for 1990-2004
    For the SP : 23 for 1979-1989 and 24 for 1990-2004
    As you can see, I did not have satellite data for three or four years period. But, we already lost the trend that Webster et al.(2005) thought to have found ! I already began a reanalysis for the western North Pacific (not completed) and I already found 99 TCs at Cat 4 & 5 for 1979-1989 while Webster et al.(2005) found 116 for the 1990-2004 period(only + 15% for the moment). I think that in the middle of 2007, my global reanalysis will be finished. But I can already tell that there was no near doubling trend for the TCs at Cat 4 & 5 between 1975-1989 and 1990-2004. Therefore, there is no inconsistencies in our group [edit].
    [edit]

    Sincerely,
    Karl Hoarau
    (response to comment 69)

    [Response: Comment was edited to preserve the information, but to remove personal comments. Dr. Hoarau, your comments are welcome, but please note that this topic is already excessively personalised and we won’t be adding to that here. -gavin]

  181. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#177,178
    Hello Dave-sorry I’ve been out all day. I don’t know how to answer your questions. You have raised 5 conditional statements and then summarised with a supposition about conditions over the Yucatan.
    The direction of these storms/hurricanes is predictable.Last year a dozen hurricanes tracked beyond Cuba.In 2004 Florida suffered badly with several landfalls. Currently, today, Ernesto became a category 1 hurricane but its path has diverged greatly from the earlier 5 day forecasts.This year hurricane Chris, developed in the same area as Ernesto but dissipated just to the north of Cuba and Haiti. One cannot a priori predict the lifetime of a storm/hurricane. A 5 day prediction of the landfall of Chris or the accuracy of its path track is conditional ie. were it to evolve. The 5 day prediction is also updated daily. The unisys data concerns storms that developed into hurricanes and does not include storms that didn’t develop into hurricanes.
    As to the theory of the quantitative strength of hurricanes I have learnt much from the early posts on this thread and haven’t anything of value to add.

  182. Judith Curry:

    Re #180: some clarifications on the Landsea et al. Science Perspective. It is my understanding that this was originally submitted to Science (with a total of 11 authors) as a Report, where it did undergo peer review. It was eventually published as a Perspective, with 4 authors. The analysis undertaken that Mr. Horau refers to is not anything close to adequate for establishing this version of the tropical cyclone data record for use as a climate data record. Rather, it points out (in an anecdotal way) that there are reasons to question the raw data used by Webster et al. Numerous efforts are underway to reanalyze the global tropical cyclone data; the studies that use the most rigorous and scientifically defensible methods, combined with thorough documentation, will eventually become accepted as a climate data record after careful scrutiny by interested scientists in the relevant fields. I suspect that we are a few years away from an accepted climate data record for global tropical cyclones, and I expect that Jim Kossin’s analysis since 1983 will be the first important word on this subject, but not the last word.

  183. Peter Webster:

    Dear Mr. Hoarau,
    Your reanalyis will be most welcome. But it is important that it is undertaken in a manner that enures objectivity. Please rember that our initial analysis was undertaken in the spitit of skepticism regarding Kevin Trenberth’s comments in early 2005. Your reanalysis was motivated because I believe (as you have indicated in countless comments to the tropical storms list) you could not believe that we could be right although this sentiment was stated a little stronger. This is why we have advocated an indepenedent reanalysis. I think I have learnt from you that there are many ways of intepreting satellite data. The question is how do we establish this standard? That is where, I believe, all of us can contribute.

    One other issue that is often ignored. The SST is all of the ocean basins has shown a steady and statistically significant trend over the last 30-40 years (e.g., see Hoyos et al 2006). Vertical wind shear is associated with shorter interannual variability. SST, by the way, is an independent data set. Can I turn the question around to you. If the SST has increased almost lineraly since 1970 but there is no trend in any of the other “necessary conditions” how can there not have been a change in tropical cyclone characteristics given what we know about rudimentary physics of these storms? What physical process would you invoke to explain this?

    I would be interested in your response.

    Respectfully

    Peter W

  184. L. David Cooke:

    RE: 181

    Hey Graham;

    Thank you for the clarification of your concerns about the unisys data, in light of your more recent commment, your original post makes sense to me now. I too have tried to apply the data from various NOAA publicly available data bases and have not been able to develop a clean statistical analysis. (I have difficulty getting access to data that meets statistical test and probability requirements along with setting up linear regressions so that they are valid.)

    The final questions I asked were to try to determine if the observations I offered coincided with yours. I was not casting aspersions, it was a poor attempt to share my understanding and to request a clarification of what you were stating.

    (Part of my observations include the character of a healthy storm Eye diameter -vs- Eye pressures. Over the years I have observed that when the pressure reaches a certain point, it seems that storms with small “eyes” open up. The process of the increasing diameter of the eyewall seems to involve a secondary eyewall forming to support surface air necessary to reach the top of the storm. It is almost like when the SSTs are too warm or the Tropopause is too cool the rising air is so great that the storm seems to self destruct by “eating its own eye”.)

    Thanks for your clarification and your response.

    Dave Cooke

  185. Urs Neu:

    Re 156,160,180

    Question concerning the reanalysis:
    As far as I understood from Knaff and Simpson, they used a new method from Knaff and Zehr (2006), which I couldn’t find, because it hasn’t been published yet.
    They did the reanalysis with this new method only to the dataset until 1987. However, they didn’t analyse the data from 1990-2004 with the same method. As far as I can see, Knaff and Zehr only analysed the N Atlantic and E Pacific, but not the W Pacific. So how can we be sure that there aren’t new inconsistencies in the analysis method? Aren’t we still left with two data sets for the two periods compared in Webster et al. which are analysed with different methods?
    A real improvement in estimating trends would be the analysis of the whole data set with exactly the same method.

  186. Karl Hoarau:

    I met John (Knaff) at the AMS Monterey Hurricane Conference in last April. And we have had the occasion to speak about the reanalysis that he made with Ray Zehr. The method is a way to estimate the maximum surface sustained wind over one minute which is the most significant data of a cyclone intensity. To get the wind, the authors used the minimum sea level pressure recorded by the reconnaissance aircraft in the western North Pacific, the size of the cyclones and the environmental pressure. Therefore, a reanalysis for the 1990-2004 period is not possible with this method as the reconnaissance endded in August 1987 in the western North Pacific.

    This work is very important for me because amongst my skills, I know how to use the Dvorak Technique (based on the thermal infrared pictures) to estimate the intensity of tropical cyclones. And my results are very closed to those found by Knaff and Zehr (2006): John gave me the intensity (wind)that they found. As I have the pictures for the western North Pacific from 1979 to 1987, I could make a comparison : here, we have two independent ways to reanalyse the intensity and the results did not confirm the trend found by Webster et al. (2005).

    Who has said that we have inconsistencies in our group ?

    Sincerely,
    Karl Hoarau

    PS : I was initiated to the Dvorak Technique (1975, 1984 and 1995) since 1996 and even if english is far to be my native language, currently I know all the points of the Dvorak’s Technique by heart. [edit – please no personal comments!]

  187. Judith Curry:

    Re #186: a few clarifications of why I am unconvinced by by Mr. Hoarau’s analysis:

    1) a credible reanalysis of the satellite TC record needs to start with a reliable data set. The satellite data set needs to be reprocessed, since the satellite data integrity has evolved with time also. This includes consistent calibration of the IR radiances.

    2) your reporting only of storms whose intensity should be higher (e.g. cat 4 and not 3), while not mentioning storms that went the other way (e.g. cat 4 to cat 3), particularly in view of Bruce Harper’s earlier analysis, lends your analysis subject to the suspicion that you have started with a conclusion and then analyzed and reported the data solely to support the conclusion, rather than presented an unbiased analysis.

    Note, in the BAMS article, my testimony, and in many public lectures, I have called for a reanalysis of the global TC data. The Webster et al. paper motivated such reanalyses, and now we can wait for the various reanalysis projects to be completed and to be assessed by a variety of different people. While many of us have been very concerned about Michael Crichton becoming a major spokesperson on the global warming issue, he does make one very important point. People collecting and processing data can interject bias (even inadvertently) into data sets, which is why the medical profession conducts double blind studies. We don’t have that particular option in our field, but we must make every effort to insure that our data sets are not biased by those creating them, and this can only be accomplished by multiple efforts evaluated by a number of different people. There is no “turf” to be had in climate data records; the best version of the eventual climate data record will be the one with the soundest, most objective and most transparent analysis method that stands up to scrutiny by a variety of different scientists.

  188. Peter Webster:

    Mr. Hoarau,

    It is a well known tactic to deflect criticism or to avoid tough questions by being outraged that someone might think of you as a charlatan. I have no idea where you have got this impression as certainly no one in my group has ever inferred it. But it is a convenient deflector as here I am addressing it. In any event, it is absolutely irrelevant! The issue is whether or not a reanalysis can be considered impartial and independent of one’s mindset prior to the conducting of the analysis. It’s as simple as that!

    Yesterday, I posed a simple question which you decided not to respond. I noted the data (independent data not depending on the identification of the intensity of tropical storms) indicates that there is no trend in all but one of the necessary conditions of cyclogenesis (wind shear, large scale vorticity and etc: see Hoyos et al. 2006) and that these parameters change only on interannual time scales. On the other hand, the one necessary condition that does have a trend is SST. I posed the question of how there could not be a trend in tropical storm characteristics given what we know from maximum intensity theory and from models. If you are correct with your numbers then you have a real physical problem to explain. And an exciting one!

    Be that as it may: back to the reanalysis and why I feel I should be skeptical of the results you come up with. In the Landsea et al. (2006) paper of which you were a coauthor, you state that in the North Atlantic there has been no trend in hurricane characteristics from 1960 to the present; a statement I might add, deplete of numbers or graphs. Yet, if one compares the average annual tropical storm characteristics between the two periods 1944-1964 and 1995-2005 one finds 50% more named storms, 37% more hurricanes, 167% more category 4+5 storms, 55% greater ACE, and 63% greater PDI. So I worry considerably about a reanalysis from someone who is party to this complete misrepresentation of what occurred in the North Atlantic in the last 40 years.

    Further, you dismiss the Harper results (who found random error in the Southeastern Indian Ocean assessment of major storms and no change in the trends found in WHCC) by saying that that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had no access to satellite data until 1980. This is, of course incorrect. The Australian BoM had satellite data that was used in the tropical meteorological centers after 1968 (see Holland, G. J., 1981: On the quality of the Australian tropical cyclone data base. Aust. Met. Mag., 29, 169-181. Here he looks at the impact of satellite data on the tropical storm identification and categroization after it became available around 1970. Greg or I can supply you with a copy if you would like). Perhaps you mistake when the Dvorak scheme was introduced: that was about 1980, and prior to that the NOAA NESDIS scheme was used. Irrespective, the Harper study suggests that it was irrelevant. But if one is going to reanalyze data that will be considered with credibility then one has to be accurate. In other words, get the Australian data situation correct. This will build up credibility in your efforts.

    Finally, you note that you are an expert in the use of the Dvorak technique. That is well and good although I do suggest you read the logical fallacy of “appeal to authority” in Curry et al. 2006. I do however, look forward to papers in the reviewed literature demonstrating your expertise which I have not been able to find. But please do not expect complete adherence to your reanalysis just because of your expertise anymore than I expect adherence to the conclusions in WHCC because I have written a lot of papers on tropical meteorology and climate. We are all fair game and so we should be! Skepticism makes the world go around. Despite the level of ad hominem attacks that have occurred in this discussion during the last year, getting to the bottom of the problem is the ring we should all keep our eye’s upon.

    Peter Webster

  189. Urs Neu:

    Re 186

    Thank you for your comment. Thus we are stuck with two different methods for the two different time periods for the NW Pacific, and still have to wait for a homogeneous analysis.
    Another problem is that Knaff and Sampson (http://ams.confex.com/pdfpapers/108298.pdf) find the strongest increase in cat.4/5 hurricanes compared to the best track data prior to 1973 , while Emanuel mentions in the supplement to his Nature article (ftp://texmex.mit.edu/pub/emanuel/PAPERS/NATURE03906_suppl.pdf) that the wind-SLP relation used for the best track data of JTWC, overestimated maximum surface wind speed prior to 1973 (Knaff and Simpson only report a “different” relation prior to 1973, without specifying). This seems rather contradictory. Any ideas?

  190. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#186
    I was wondering why Mrs. Curry did not speak about the reliability of the data set when she was refering to the statistics of Bruce Harper concerning the reanalysis of a very small sample of australian tropical cyclones ? May be because this study matched with the conclusion of Webster and al. (2005) ? Sorry to tell that the point 1) is very irrelevant while the people who I am working with have checked every thing !!! Moreover, I am working with all the satellites plateform : GOES, Meteosat, GMS, Noaa and DMSP !! And my team checked the differences in comparing the data for the same time !!!
    Your points 2) and 3) are irrelevant too because I quoted figures showing differences with Webster et al. (2005) and I did not quote particular cyclones upgraded from Cat 3 to 4 and vice versa. But when I shall publish a very serious study, you will see that I shall show examples of downgraded or upgraded cyclones !!!
    Mrs. Curry has accused me to begin a study with a well known conclusion : â??you have started with a conclusion and then analyzed and reported the data solely to support the conclusion, rather than presented an unbiased analysisâ??. I was wondering how someone could tell me this as I am working on the tropical cyclones climatology since 1996 !!! And each time, I am telling something, I quoted figures and I shall write them when I â??ll publish results showing that Webster et al. (2005) results are wrong !!!
    If I had wrote the same thing than Mrs. Curry (accusation), I gained the impression that the moderators would have cut my sentence : I know that I am a french !
    But I have arguments stronger than that !!! Sorry, Mrs. Curry, I made my analysis and my figures are very telling and I am quite sure that all the reanalysis will never confirm your results (Webster et al.).
    By the way, I even found cyclones originally classified at Cat 2 which should have been classified at Cat 4 !!!
    Concerning the reanalysis of tropical cyclones by Kossin et al. (Cimss), I already can tell that the results will :
    – not show a near doubling (far from that) in the number of Cat 4 & 5 tropical cyclones !
    – show less Cat 4 & 5 cyclones : when you are reducing the satellite resolution pictures at 8 km, you cannot see the right eye temperature of a cyclone (colder eye temperature). As the intensity depends on the eye temperature and the clouds tops temperature around the eye, this should lead to an underestimate of tropical cyclones intensity estimate by at least 15 kt or 0.5 T-number on the Dvorak scale.
    Another feature to consider, the Cimss reanalysis is an automated estimate (Advanced Dvorak Technique) which is not fully reliable : the cyclones from 75kt to 100 kt are overestimated and the cyclones from 115 kt are underestimated !!

    Sincerely,
    Karl Hoarau

  191. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#182

    Happy to know that you have some doubts about the raw data used by Webster et al.(2005)!!!

    It is very funny that you mentionned that we were 11 authors for our paper : this highlighted the deontology of the reviewers of our paper !

    Do not worry, you will see that I am implicated in official projects of tropical cyclones reanalysis !!!

  192. L. David Cooke:

    RE: #183

    Dr. Webster;

    Regarding your thoughts on the SST increases, I have noticed several apparent changes in the period between 1970 and 1980, when I was a resident of Central Fl. Up through about 1969 there was a character of a Fall Tradewind (@16-24 knot) that would normally sweep through from about November to about mid-Deccember, as a general rule, about every other year. (Observations from 1960-1969 , location Melbourne, FL.)

    Based on a comment by FerdEngb. on Ukweatherworld, I think there is a possibility that wind and low humidity could have easily explained the cooling of the Winter Caribbean/Gulf Stream surface waters. This cooler start to the following tropical storm season might have been enough to drop the SSTs and coupled with an approximate 3% higher ITCZ cloud cover would have delayed the surface heating the following Spring.

    Since the late 1960’s through around 1980 this process seems to have been suspended. Is this just a matter of perception on my part? I have seen no studies of this characteristic nor it’s possible change since around 1980. If as Ferdinand seemed to suggest, that the spring SSTs could be dependent on the Southern Trades coupled with the lack of saturation what would have removed this characteristic? Along with this observation was an apparent reduction of the southwestern extension of the Sargasso Weed “Sea”, and an apparent stagnant and persistent Bermuda anti-cyclonic pressure zone that was much closer to the US Atlantic seaboard during this time period.

    If this change were due to a steadily increasing change to a natural process I would have expected to see a trend in which the character changed slowly with increasing periods of doldrums. If the character was an anthropogenic based that the change would be to demonstrate the change occuring faster then via pure natural variability would change. However, the observations I made seemed like a switch being flipped. Are my observations without merit or are they indicitive of a trend that has been missed in recent studies?

    Dave Cooke

  193. Steve Bloom:

    Re #192: Dave, what’s the basis for your assumption that the rate of change of a given climate phenomenon is related to whether it has a natural or anthropogenic cause? I hadn’t understood that to be the case at all.

  194. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#184 Dave
    Beneath the Sun’s hot ill tempered breath,
    RE

    Ernesto rests and gathers strength,
    for 12 hours brooding above the Hispaniola trench,
    the Atlantic Ocean’s deepest 8 km point and Neptune’s lair
    where brooding in the vast abyss,
    he seeths against the warring anger of Janus above and stirs the four winds with his waves.
    Ernesto restless with foe in sight
    oblivion for such Earthly mortals.

    Until we get the science right can we keep an open mind on our predictions(lol).

  195. Hank Roberts:

    >192, 193
    I think the fast natural events are fairly obvious, aren’t they? A volcano, asteroid impact, are brief.
    Other than say a change in solar output, or the Solary System moving from clear to dusty space (as I think is expected in a few millenia) what else do we know of in nature that happens as fast and persists as long as the rate of increase of anthropogenic GH gases?

    Aside — thanks to all the climate scientists for participating here. It makes the whole process of doing science real, to see some of it as conversation (and argument). And thanks to the moderators for focus.

  196. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#188

    > Yesterday, I posed a simple question which you decided not to respond.
    > I posed the question of how there could not be a trend in tropical storm characteristics given
    > what we know from maximum intensity theory and from models. If you are correct with your numbers
    > then you have a real physical problem to explain. And an exciting one !

    [edit]
    You know that I am not a guy who does go away in front of a debate !!! You will have a response about this very soon !!!

    Concerning the Atlantic basin, you should ask to Chris (Landsea) or John (Knaff) since they are the specialists for this area. Do not worry for me, I am very objective while I am doing my reanalysis. And other analysts could contradict me if they want as they have an access to the same satellite data !!!

    > Further, you dismiss the Harper results (who found random error in the Southeastern Indian
    > Ocean assessment of major storms and no change in the trends found in WHCC) by saying that that
    > the Australian Bureau of Meteorology had no access to satellite data until 1980.

    If I well remember, Bruce Harper already gave you a response on this subject on another forum ! But even if the number of Cat 4 & 5 had really doubled in the Southeastern Indian Ocean, you could not have told that this reflects a global trend (do not forget the part of this basin compared to the rest of the other basin) !
    I exactly said “that Bruce and the Bureau of Meteorology did not have the satellite pictures before 1980 to reanalyze the cyclones” !!! This meant that they could not reanalyse the cyclones intensity before this date as they did not keep the pictures in their archives ! I never said that they did not receive satellite pictures before 1980 !!!

    > Perhaps you mistake when the Dvorak scheme was introduced: that was about 1980, and prior to
    > that the NOAA NESDIS scheme was used.

    Concerning the Dvorak scheme, believe me, I am more informed that you could be !!! The Dvorak’s Technique from the visual satellite pictures has been introduced in 1972 and published in 1975 !!! The thermal infrared Technique has been published in 1984 and updated in 1995 !!!
    Before the Dvorak’s Technique, there was the Vincent Oliver classification and I am quite sure that you are not the right person to teach me how to estimate the cyclones intensity from the satellite pictures !!!

    I do read the Curry et al (2006) paper you are refering to and at the page 1028 (right top), you wrote : the satellite-derived dataset of WHCC showed a global increased in the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes since 1970 ; I would love to know where you found the satellite data from 1970 and who has done the reanalysis in your team ?
    Do not worry, you will not wait for a long time before reading me on cyclones reanalysis !!! [edit]

    Karl Hoarau

    [Response: Karl, I do not want to have to edit your posts. Please stick to the science and do not cast aspersions on people’s credibility. Additionally, you might find you get a better response if you restrict the use of “!!!” to a minimum. -gavin]

  197. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#183

    > I think I have learnt from you that there are many ways of interpreting satellite data.

    You did not catch me right but it is normal : I am not sure that many people are able to understand the Dvorak’s Technique vocabulary at the first time. Actually, you should have understood that, in the Dvorak’s Technique, there are three ways to lead to a T-number which represents the intensity.

    >Can I turn the question around to you. If the SST has increased almost lineraly since 1970 but
    >there is no trend in any of the other “necessary conditions” how can there not have been a
    >change in tropical cyclone characteristics given what we know about rudimentary physics of these
    >storms?

    I am not sure that someone can tell how a condition like the vertical wind shear has evolved since 1970 as there was not very accurate data in the 1970’s or 1980’s like the Cimss chart today !!! It is why I do not trust the results of Hoyos et al. (2006) as I do not trust the results of Webster et al. (2005) !!! But I have more than an idea about the response to your question and you should have a response about that in a publication in late 2006 or at the beginning of 2007.

    Karl Hoarau

  198. Karl Hoarau:

    RE#196

    Gavin,

    it is curious that Mr. Webster has the right to found my reanalysis “suspicious” and I am not allowed to tell that Webster et al. (2005) and Hoyos et al. (2006) used wrong data. It is not personal attack but it is a critic about the philosophy that the scientist use the data to publish paper.

    If this forum was in France (the first historic country of freedom which helped the USA to become free), no sentence would have been censored like here !!!

    Therefore, this will be my last email for this forum.

    [Response: Karl, you are at complete liberty to discuss any possible issues with the data or Webster’s interpretation of them. But as I said before, personal remarks are not on. One should think of forums like this as an invitation to someone’s home; discussion and even disagreement are allowed, but there are limits which the hosts (i.e. us) set in order to foster substantive discussion. If you don’t like it, feel free to set up your own forum where you can set your own rules. We have found that the rules we impose work reasonably well, and I’m surprised that you feel that you can’t work within them. It is of course completely up to you. (Ça n’a rien avoir avec la liberté, c’est une question de politesse, et ça, je pense, existe en France aussi qu’aux Etats Unis). – gavin]

  199. Urs Neu:

    Hoarau presented in 2002 an analysis of satellite pictures of intense cyclones (more than 100 kts) over the south-west Indian Ocean for 1970-1999, stating that “the number of intense cyclones has a tendency to increase ; this is especially the case of the extreme cyclones (120 knots and more) …” (http://ams.confex.com/ams/25HURR/25HURR/abstracts/37996.htm)
    His analysis of satellite pictures (done in 1999) showed that frequency of extreme cyclones (120 knots and more, which corresponds more or less to cat. 4 and 5 cyclones) has doubled from 1970-79 to 1990-1999: 6 for 1970-79, 7 for 1980-1989 and 13 for 1990-1999. It is very likely that this trend also can be found for the periods 1975-1989 and 1990-2004, since there were more intense cyclones before 1970-1974 than from 1975-1979 and there were quite a number of extreme cyclones from 2000-2004 according to JTWC.
    (http://www.jean-paul.hoarau.com/Articles/Frequence.htm). Thus the trend at least in the South Indian Ocean seems to be robust, even after satellite reanalysis by K. Hoarau.

  200. L. David Cooke:

    RE: #193, 194, 195

    Steve;

    The basis of my assumption regarding the rate of change is a reflection of the basis of assumption of the AGW community. A steady linear change input to the thermodynamic radiator should result in a steady linear output. The rate of change indicates the rate of forcing. Natural processes in our current environment, due to natural varibility, would have nearly as many positive as negative forcings to balance out with a slight trend change. Anthropogenic forcings would cause a stronger sign of trend change. And finally, sudden output or reaction as the result of sudden input or action. (Hence, if Neutonian physics is accurate you get out in an energy balanced universe what you put in. Even though there may not be a large like for like energy exchange, there is a remarkable like for like reaction for an action. Now if you are suggesting that Neutonian physics does not apply or that the observations of the AGW proponents are invalid I am interested in hearing about it.)

    Graham;

    In relation to the state of the science you have a valid point. However, there has been a great deal of data collected to point and you would have expected after 40 years that the science would be mature enough to exceed the capability of simple observations of a precipiable water image loop offering more insight then the current sophisticated computer models.
    (As to your prose, I do not know that the depths of resource has near as much to do with the event as the surface heat content. (By my observations, The “Tounge of the Caribbean” or the Hispanolia Trench is typically pretty cool.))

    Mr. Roberts;

    Other then my commments to Mr. Bloom, let me suggest if your concerns of solar input to the “black radiant body” were valid I am sure the solar observitories and satellites would have been “Johnny on the spot” in noting it. Even so the DOE’s ARM and NASA’s Dr. Hansen et al 2005, data does not indicate more then a possible +0.0045% deviation or increase in total reaching the surface. From all the data I have found, the current Satellite data indicates less then a TOA deviation of less then +0.003 deviation. (Every indication of the NOAA evaporation pan experiment deviations appear to have more to do with the change in the surface moisture saturation.)

    All;

    I apologize if my simple observations appear to run up against your views of issues. I do not credit my observations being much more then possible miss-preceptions. As to any critism regarding my observations that there is a possible bias to them, I admit I look for data that supports my preceptions; however, IMO that is no different then the character of many of the studies I have seen of late.

    As Dr. Curry suggested maybe a double blind study or take a lesson from the Security Community, with a distribution of data supporting a study being sent blindly for processing. Or as suggested during the 27 July 2006 Congressional Committee on Commerce and Energy hearing, that a central global data base be created and the work of all these recent studies be applied to try to complete a long term data table that represents the relevant data points.

    In the meantime, I wait to see the detailed analysis from the CloudSat and Calipso programs as it helps provide a possible 3-D visual view of the water vapor cycle. I hope that including a similar (rather then a LIDAR) a vertically sweeping IR view on the next “bird” would help with the understanding the heat distribution of the process. I just hope I am around to see it…

    Dave Cooke

  201. Georg Hoffmann:

    Thanks Urs for the link to the article on South Indian Ocean hurricanes. The article (pub. 1999 in “Publications de l’Association Internationale de Climatologie, Vol. 12, 1999, 405-413″) ends with an interesting conclusion I would like to summarize here briefely. After in fact stating the rising trend in Hurricane frequency in the Indian ocean Hoarau asks at the end of the article if there is a connection between global warming and the growing number of tropical cyclones in various ocean basins. Based on a study of DeMaria and Kaplan (1994) Hoarau says that the limiting factors of most Hurricanes are in fact a) SSTs and b) the vertical wind structure. He seems to prefer the second possibility and ends literally with the sentence: “This would suggest an influence of global warming on the vertical wind structure”. It is surprising for me that all this fierce fighting here is not really on the trend of the Hurricanes, not even on a potential influence of global warming but just on the question if this influence acts by SSTs or by affecting the vertical wind shear. Anyhow here is the last part of the conclusions:

    Karl Hoarau:
    “Y-a-t-il un lien entre le réchauffement de la Terre donc des océans au cours de la dernière décennie et le plus grand nombre des cyclones tropicaux intenses répertoriés sur la même période dans les trois bassins évoqués dans cette étude? DeMaria et Kaplan (1994) montrent que seulement 20 % des cyclones de l’Atlantique Nord atteignent 80% ou plus de leur intensité maximale potentielle, cas dans lequel l’intensité atteinte par un cyclone est en équilibre avec la température de surface de l’océan en l’absence de contraintes dynamiques dans l’atmosphère. Pour eux, le cisaillement vertical du vent horizontal dans la troposphère est le principal facteur qui empêche la plupart des cyclones de parvenir à l’intensité que leur permettrait la température de l’océan. Par conséquent, la fréquence plus élevée des cyclones intenses durant la dernière décennie pourrait provenir d’un fléchissement du cisaillement vertical du vent horizontal. Cela suggérerait une influence du réchauffement global sur les vents de la troposphère.”

  202. Sally:

    Re#194
    Graham, if you can that for Ernesto, what can you do for Ioke?

  203. Hank Roberts:

    Babelfish http://babelfish.altavista.com/ translation:

    “[Is there] a bond between the reheating of the Earth thus of the oceans during the last decade and the greatest number of the intense tropical cyclones indexed over the same period in the three basins evoked in this study? DeMaria and Kaplan (1994) show that only 20 % of the cyclones of the North Atlantic reach 80% or more theirs potential maximum intensity, case in which the intensity reached by a cyclone is in balance with the temperature of surface of the ocean in the absence of dynamic stresses in the atmosphere. For them, the vertical shearing of the horizontal wind in troposphere is the principal factor which prevents the majority of the cyclones from arriving at the intensity that the temperature of the ocean would allow them. Consequently, the higher frequency of the intense cyclones during the last decade could come from a decline in the vertical shearing of the horizontal wind. That would suggest an influence of the total reheating on the winds of troposphere.”

  204. Steve Bloom:

    Re #200: Of course there’s some connection between the rate of the forcing and the abruptness of the effects, but that applies to natural forcings as well. On the purely natural side of things, it’s well-known that various climate events associated with deglaciations (e.g., the Younger Dryas) have been very abrupt indeed. Also consider the effects of large volcanic eruptions.

    Re #202: Great idea! Haiku seems right.

  205. L. David Cooke:

    RE: 204

    Hey Steve;

    You do understand the concept of factitious do you not? I was sharing a poor attempt to say that the observed processes that are toted as being real science by AGW proponents is not true. A simple example is the lifting of several tons with a crane, the kenetic energy expended is almost directly converted to heat and potential energy. My point was a like for like character input/output of an energy exchange is an invalid theory.

    The point is that solar radiant energy input versus ocean radiant energy output is not going to be a direct correlation nor even a correlation with a Granger Test lag. The main issue is an understanding of the physical processes regarding density and the energy transfer along with the conversion of radiant energy to mechanical energy and the currents of the oceans. For instance if the radiant energy input was increasing would there not be an increase in current flows (Other then the THC which is driven by a diferent process.)? Also there is the question of the efficiency of the energy transfere due to the density of the materials. Part of the density discussion is an extension of one from UKweatherworld; however, it relates to the heat exchange by convection between two different density mediums via physical contact (wind/water energy exchange).

    Everything I have seen in my studies indicates that SSTs and wind shear have much less to do with storm potentials then the air pressures due to the upwelling of saturated water vapor and the down welling of relatively cool dryer air. The only effect I have seen from increased SSTs is that the “season” is extended, meaning the possibility of a greater storm count. As to intensity the limiting factor apppears to be the combination of water vapor saturation and temperature difference between surface and the tropopause for prediction of the upwelling potential. In addition, remarkably there is an interesting correlation in the dimension of the upwelling eye that appears to limit the potential maximum pressure drop that will occur in the process.

    I do not know that this is fact only that there exists data that demonstrates this characteristic. The question is whether the prestigious scientific community has seen a similar correltation. Based on the current studies it appears they have not. But, as Graham indicated, the science is still young and with the current focus it maybe possible that this process is outside of supported research. Then again there is also the possibility I am wrong…

    Dave Cooke

  206. Steve Bloom:

    Re #205: Yep, Dave, the thing to do when you see something about the science that doesn’t quite make sense to you, especially something kind of basic and important as you have described it, is to assume the scientists involved are *idiots*. :(

    Alternatively, there are some on-line resources available where you could learn about hurricane theory; e.g. Kerry Emanuel’s site.

    [Response: Keep it calm please. – gavin]

  207. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#205 My initial concerns were about the path functions for hurricanes and not for the theoretical mechanisms of hurricane formation nor for the predicted relations of hurricane intensity with rising sst’s etc.
    Anyway, Emanuel et al’s interesting theory. We used to use the Carnot efficiencies to predict reservoir turnover for formation oil migration in the subsurface.
    I got down to equation4 on heat dissipation and wind friction transfer. Wind velocities are independent of conditions within the eye of the storm. The Carnot efficiency, based on temperatures but it can be recast as pressure differentials is determined from the eye of the storm, for epsilon=1/3 Tsubscript0 becomes 203Kelvin or -70Celsius, which appears fine. Note equation 4 is cast in intensive properties yet the velocity is dependent upon the extensive properties ie the outer diameter in area measure. To be fair he does say conditions but everyone talks about increasing eye diameters for increasing hurricane intensity and that is an extensive property
    Now the carnot efficiency is not central to the theory. You can still attain the same car velocity by accelerating gently. Hence it can spin up to the same equilibrium wind speed, it just takes longer but with a greater chance that the storm fizzles out. Re-frictional drag alone neglects enthalpic breaking.
    People often ask on these sites. Is a category 6 possible? I’ve been in tropical storms on the equator but never a hurricane. But there are notable differences. I was never hit by hailstones whereas I’ve mixed a few gin and tonics with fresh hail in summer camps at 40-45North.
    I don’t doubt that you are getting the right results. On phase change at constant entropy in an adiabatic process. There are many degrees of freedom for water vapour but few for ice crystals. The latent heat of vaporisation for rain is 570cal/mole. This is released as heat. At the same time ice(hail is formed). The latent heat of fusion for ice is 80cal/mole. There will be a page of derivation but this will end up as breaking energy tending to slow windspeed,as would a rain drop itself, but only if it doesn’t hail out on the ground ie. the hail must form in the hurricane but it phase changes before it rains out as water drops. Any evidence for hail in a hurricane? Re- the astrobleme impact, condensation of alumina, silicates etc will have the same breaking effect. So, the physics should condense to a very simple relationship, if you put the intensive factor
    f*((570-80/490)
    into equation 4
    the fraction becomes dimensionless, where f is Fractional part of ice/water in system, f=1 assuming all water is converted to ice in the ascending wall, it would place a break to maximum wind speed but also slow down the hurricane rate of formation. It’s a wonder that hurricanes are so rare with such high efficiencies.
    It takes about as much energy to melt ice/gram by the temperature differential(-70Celsius to 20Celsius) as it does to defrost it/gram.
    Does anyone measure the temperature of the rain? Does hurricane hail make it to the ground? When Ernesto or others returned to storm category was hail common? Finally,this will have been covered somewhere before in planetesimal formation during the accreting Earth.

  208. Steve Bloom:

    Re #204: OK, OK, by popular demand (and with apologies to Blue Oyster Cult):

    Who’s our super storm?
    Oh no, there goes Tokyo —
    go go Ioke!

  209. Graham Dungworth:

    Re# 207
    Correction:-
    ((570-80)/570)

  210. Harold Brooks:

    Re: 207. Hail isn’t common in tropical storms. The updrafts aren’t particularly strong (~10 m/s), so that large stones are unlikely to be formed. In addition, the environment tends to be warm through the troposphere, so the 0 C height is very high. As a result, any hail that does form would have a long time to melt on its way down.

  211. L. David Cooke:

    RE: 207

    Hey Graham;

    Actually, I have been in an eye of a Cat. 2 that dissipated to a TS. As to the temperature of the rain I can tell you that it is clearly warmer then a non-tropical thunderstorm, close to surface ambient air temperature. The drops are generally much finer in the outer bands then the inner band, kind of like a fractionalization by the storm winds. Generally, the temperature characteristic would be an indicator that the state change must have occurred at a failry high altitude. Evidence of this appears in the CloudSat first look images.

    It is true that the falling rain drops can provide much of the energy for the wind speeds. This is clear just looking at an example in a down blast in association with bow front straight line winds. Does the pressure difference drive the wind speeds? To some extent; however, the pressure dfferentals are more likely related to the movement of water vapor and not necessarily wind speeds, though your view is an interesting point of view I had not considered.

    Mr. Arhens, had always indicated that the pressure differentiations were more related to a hydrologic circulation balance between the inner band down drafts and the eyewall edge upwelling. Basically, the water vapor flow was described to me as a form of a Van De Graaff Generator. The saturated adiabatic process seems odd in the Cloudsat images of Tropical Storm activity so far. The altitude difference between the base and the tropopause would seem to indicate a limitation related to the terminal velocity of the rain.

    It is very hard to see how the temperature difference could account for the strength; but, might account for the size. How does your calculation help explain the upwelling that provides the water vapor feeds? Are you indicating that the water vapor upwelling source is not via the eye? Experiencing the edge of the eye I can tell you, the winds do drop prior to the clear sky being visable.

    Looking at the CloudSat data does not provide the heat signatures; but the visable reflectivity signature. It is clear that there is a high reflectivity and IR imaging does indicate very cold temperatures at the cloud peaks; however, the band of very high reflectivity is small and only seems to extend from between 12 to 16km. Below this level it is clear that the reflectivity falls and the likelihood that the heat is high enough for the ice to return to liquid state; note that the standard of reflectivity and water vapor state/temperature has not been established, yet.

    Dave Cooke

  212. James Lindgren:

    Although I found the Curry et al. BAMS paper mostly persuasive that there had been a very large increase in category 4 hurricanes since 1970 (with drops or no change in the other categories of hurricanes), I see three problems with the paper.

    Starting at 1970. First, the paper dismisses concerns that the choice of 1970 as a starting point may give a misleading account because of the evidence that there was global cooling from 1940 to 1970. They treat this legitimate concern as a logical fallacy, but they never explain coherently what’s fallacious about potentially choosing start or cut-off dates that are unrepresentative of larger trends or that give misleading measurements of the strength of any overall trend.

    Double Counting 1994 Hurricanes? Second, if the authors actually did what they report having done with their data, then the BAMS paper should never have been published. In two charts showing the main hurricane trends, they report the data in five year periods, except for 1994, which is included in two periods, 1990-94 and the six-year period 1994-99. This may be just a typographical error, but they make this error three times in the paper (in most of the most important charts). And exactly the same error appears in another paper they published in Science in 2005 using related data, so it may well not be a typo. If these are not merely typographical errors, and they did what the article reports that they did (i.e., double counted 1994 hurricanes), then the paper should never have been published.

    False Statements to the Public About Category-5 Hurricanes. Third, although the article ended with a substantial discussion of responsible argumentation over the issue of hurricanes and global warming in the mainstream press, as an apparent model they pointed to their own public commentary:

    In our AAAS press release . . ., given the recent devastation associated with Hurricane Katrina, the main public message that we wanted to communicate was

    The key inference from our study [in Science released along with the press release] of relevance here is that storms like Katrina should not be regarded as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event in the coming decades, but may become more frequent. This suggests that risk assessment is needed for all coastal cities in the southern and southeastern U.S. . . . The southeastern U.S needs to begin planning to match the increased risk of category-5 hurricanes.

    Katrina was a category-5 hurricane at its peak, but it was a category-3 hurricane when it hit the Gulf Coast, and it was only a category-1 hurricane at New Orleans (95 mph), though it was just below the threshold for a category-2 hurricane.

    But the data presented in the BAMS paper show what looks to be a very small and statistically insignificant rise in category-5 hurricanes from 1970 through 2005 (these data include some Pacific as well as some Atlantic hurricanes). The big increase shown in the BAMS paper is almost a tripling of category-4 hurricanes; other classes of hurricanes seem to show significant drops or no significant changes.

    A 2005 Science article co-authored by the same group as the BAMS paper–Webster, Holland, Curry, & Chang, “Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment”–does look at Northern Atlantic hurricanes 1970-2004 separately from Pacific ones, but lumps category-4 and category-5 storms together, showing an increase for the combination, not reporting anything on category-5 hurricanes alone. I went to the data source cited in the 2005 Science paper and this is what I found for 1960-2004 hurricanes (the Science study covered 1970-2004, excluding the first two rows below and the 4 category-5 hurricanes that occurred after the period of their data, in 2005):

    Category 5 Hurricanes in the North Atlantic:
    1960-64 . . 4
    1965-69 . . 2
    1970-74 . . 1
    1975-79 . . 2
    1980-84 . . 1
    1985-89 . . 2
    1990-94 . . 1
    1995-99 . . 1
    2000-04 . . 2

    As you can see, in the data they claimed to have used in their Science article (as I counted the events), there is absolutely no trend in category-5 hurricanes in the period of their study: 1970-2004. Indeed, the 1990s showed insignificantly fewer hurricanes than either the 1970s or 1980s. Thus, all of the increase in the North Atlantic category 4-5 storms reported in the 2005 Science article must be due to an increase category-4, not category-5 storms.

    Neither paper reports any data that would show a statistically significant increase in category-5 storms that would form the scientific basis for their public claim, made along with their release of the 2005 Science article: “The southeastern U.S needs to begin planning to match the increased risk of category-5 hurricanes.”

    What increased risk?

    If they have the data to support that claim, they should make it public. Anyone reading that claim would think that their Science paper showed such a significant increase. But it didn’t. Even after I added the 2005 data on category-5 hurricanes, which they did not use because the season wasn’t over yet, the quick regressions I ran didn’t show any statistically significant increase in category-5 storms.

    Did they just fabricate this claim of “increased risk” of category-5 storms?

    If they don’t have such data – and it appears that they don’t – then it’s irresponsible for a scientist to imply a scientific basis for such a fear-inducing claim released along with a scientific paper. And it’s particularly odd that the authors of the 2006 BAMS paper actually discuss and criticize the mainstream press for poor environmental reporting that gives too much weight to critics of the environmental orthodoxy. The authors tell us that their scrupulousness put themselves at a disadvantage in public debate because they restricted themselves to making claims that were supported by peer-reviewed articles and data. Yet their own peer-reviewed data would seem to me to show that they had no scientific basis for saying that “The southeastern U.S needs to begin planning to match the increased risk of category-5 hurricanes.”

    Bottom line:

    1. The new BAMS article shows persuasive evidence of a huge jump in category-4 hurricanes 1970-2004, but declines or flat trends in the numbers of stronger and weaker hurricanes.

    2. The BAMS article does not deal adequately with whether its choice of a relative cool period (1970) as a starting time influenced the results.

    3. In both their 2005 Science article and their 2006 BAMS article, the authors appear to double count data from 1994, but it may just be the result of repeated typographical errors in both journals.

    4. In the BAMS article, the authors criticize others for irresponsible public statements on global warming and praise their own caution, yet the press release they quote asserts an “increased risk” of category-5 hurricanes threatening the southeastern U.S., but neither their own two articles, nor the data they claim to have used, show any such statistically significant trend.

    5. If the quality of peer review and editing in this field is only as careful as it seems to be on the BAMS paper, then I think it prudent for educated lay people to continue to be skeptical about the research and public assertions of climate experts, especially those who tell you to just trust them or who insist that they are just relying on what their data show. Wouldn’t expert reviewers of the BAMS paper already know that there had been no increase in category-5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic, and thus that the public statements that the authors proudly trumpet were irresponsible? Certainly, this brief foray into the literature leads me to be less confident of the conclusions of climate researchers, no matter how fervently they are asserted.

    James Lindgren
    Professor of Law
    Northwestern University

  213. Steve Bloom:

    Re #212: A brief deconstruction of your summary points:

    1. The new BAMS article shows persuasive evidence of a huge jump in category-4 hurricanes 1970-2004, but declines or flat trends in the numbers of stronger and weaker hurricanes.

    Reply: OK.

    2. The BAMS article does not deal adequately with whether its choice of a relative cool period (1970) as a starting time influenced the results.

    Reply: The BAMS article shouldn’t (and couldn’t) have recapitulated the entire contents of it references. Webster et al (2005), which you say you read, addresses the issue thoroughly:

    “We deliberately limited this study to the satellite era because of the known biases before this period (28), which means that a comprehensive analysis of longer-period oscillations and trends has not been attempted. There is evidence of a minimum of intense cyclones occurring in the 1970s (11), which could indicate that our observed trend toward more intense cyclones is a reflection of a long-period oscillation. However, the sustained increase over a period of 30 years in the proportion of category 4 and 5 hurricanes indicates that the related oscillation would have to be on a period substantially longer than that observed in previous studies.”

    3. In both their 2005 Science article and their 2006 BAMS article, the authors appear to double count data from 1994, but it may just be the result of repeated typographical errors in both journals.

    Reply: You could have easily confirmed that it was a typo by comparing the graph with the table immediately following it in Webster et al (2005). The total number of 1990-2004 cat 4-5s in the table matches the number shown in the graph for the three five-year periods from 1990-2004.

    4. In the BAMS article, the authors criticize others for irresponsible public statements on global warming and praise their own caution, yet the press release they quote asserts an “increased risk” of category-5 hurricanes threatening the southeastern U.S., but neither their own two articles, nor the data they claim to have used, show any such statistically significant trend.

    Reply: This amounts to an argument that land use and disaster planners in hurricane-vulnerable areas should plan only for an increase at cat 4s since an increase in cat 5s was not found over the limited period of the study. That would be extremely bad advice. There is no scientific basis for thinking that an increasing storm strength trend would limit itself permanently to cat 4s, and as noted below a good basis for thinking otherwise. As well, bear in mind that extensive areas of the U.S. were vulnerable to cat 4s/5s before this increasing trend was discovered.

    Here is the quoted passage in its full context (from a AAAS interview with Peter Webster):

    “Q. Given that increased intensity, what are the possible ramifications for policy-makers, generally? Would your research have any bearing, at least potentially, on decisions regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans and Gulf Coast?

    “A. The key inference from our study of relevance here is that storms like Katrina should not be regarded as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event in the coming decades, but may become more frequent. This suggests that risk assessment is needed for all coastal cities in the southern and southeastern U.S. for category 5 storms, and for the more northern cities (e.g. New York City) probably for category 3 storms (note the categorical risk for coastal cities at higher latitudes needs to be assessed using typhoon data from the Pacific). The southeastern U.S. needs to begin planning to manage the risk of category 5 hurricanes. There is an additional issue of communicating this increased risk to the public. Past strategies for “weathering the storm” will not work in the face of increased hurricane intensity.”

    So Webster was not implying that Katrina was a cat 5, but rather was using it as an example of the type of disaster that could occur elsewhere. Note also that the vulnerability of New Orleans to strong hurricanes is not that unusual for a populated area. New York City, Chesapeake Bay and Houston are very vulnerable to similar events where the bulk of the damage results from storm surge. As well, Andrew and the somewhat weaker Rita showed that more ordinary stretches of shoreline can host major disasters.

    “Q. More generally, what sort of hurricane activity should the Gulf Coast and the East Coast of the United States expect in the years ahead?

    “A. Besides the overall global trend of increasing hurricane intensity, the key issue of concern raised by our study is that the hurricane intensities in the North Atlantic for the last decade have been lower than elsewhere on the globe. It is likely that the differences among the different ocean basins is associated with natural variability. This implies that at some point within the next decade, there is the risk that the intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes could increase rapidly to the global average (with possibly a concurrent decrease in another ocean basin). The variation of Atlantic hurricanes relative to hurricanes in other basins in the context of known cycles of natural variability needs further investigation.”

    5. If the quality of peer review and editing in this field is only as careful as it seems to be on the BAMS paper, then I think it prudent for educated lay people to continue to be skeptical about the research and public assertions of climate experts, especially those who tell you to just trust them or who insist that they are just relying on what their data show. Wouldn’t expert reviewers of the BAMS paper already know that there had been no increase in category-5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic, and thus that the public statements that the authors proudly trumpet were irresponsible? Certainly, this brief foray into the literature leads me to be less confident of the conclusions of climate researchers, no matter how fervently they are asserted.

    Reply: I think this is where you started.

  214. Hank Roberts:

    The descriptions “proudly trumpet” and “fervently … asserted” are rather odd in the context.

  215. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#213,214,215
    I read nothing odd or out of context. James’ brief? foray into the scientific literature represents the best critique I’ve ever read within the peer review system! This multidisciplinary field with interdisciplinary interpretations has political and social ramifications.
    James is a “new kid” on the block.
    Like Cicero before him said “if you want any friends in this game, buy a dog”.Cicero was the first lawyer of merit and the last Republican leader of the Roman senate before he lost his head,hand and tongue, a consequence of his big mouth.

    The bottom line is to replot the data according to James’ implications and put them upfront on this forum.

    Ideally, the authors of the Bam report are most suited to do this, as central to the critique is that of “data selectivity” that might affect preconceived opinions.This BAM report primarily addressed hurricane intensity and it’s possible relationship with global warming.
    James’ quote-
    “In the BAMS article, the authors criticize others for irresponsible public statements on global warming and praise their own caution, yet the press release they quote asserts an “increased risk” of category-5 hurricanes threatening the southeastern U.S., but neither their own two articles, nor the data they claim to have used, show any such statistically significant trend.”
    may give cause for some to question the wider role of climate change and not solely global warming, that are induced by anthropogenic emissions, changes in land use, water quality etc for which there is direct empirical data in the form of images, and not in mathematical treatments of theory and simulated models.

    James has provided a very perceptive critique. We should contemplate Cicero’s advice and shoot the messenger(lol).

  216. Steve Bloom:

    Re #215: Er, did you read my response? Liking the conclusions James came to is a poor reason for endorsing his analysis. Also, if it’s the best critique you’ve ever read, perhaps you need to do some more reading.

  217. wayne davidson:

    I really enjoyed Professor Lindgrems critique, a perfect example, shows the pitfalls in translating a science paper to the legislative process quite well. As it should not be, rather an attempt to prop up a point of view contrary to the intent of the text. Implying incompetence or worse a bent interpretation of the facts. The very stuff of a legislative process, imperfect as it is as well, coming up with expected laws (or no regulations at all) from a war of words full of emotions instead of a search for correct dry quite cerebral facts. Is a wonder we got here so far at this advanced stage of civilization, but the science is way ahead of democratic processes, finding comfort in words rhetoric and irony and making decisions from them.

  218. James Lindgren:

    Re #213, 212, & 215:

    In #215 Graham wrote about my post (#212):

    “James’ brief? foray into the scientific literature represents the best critique I’ve ever read within the peer review system!”

    Thanks, Graham, for your extravagant praise. You are indeed too kind.

    Graham wrote in part to disagree with Steve Bloom’s attempt in #213 to provide what he calls “A brief deconstruction” of my summary points in #212. Given some of the odder comments here (e.g., #216) that seem to attack me because I am a law professor, perhaps I should have added that I have taken over a dozen courses in statistics and statistical inference over the last few years and am nearing the completion of my Ph.D. in Sociology at the Univ. of Chicago, with a concentration in social statistics. So to the extent that you are trying to criticize my argument based on the field from which I write, you should know that I approach these things, not as a law professor, but rather as a social scientist with fairly heavy training in statistics.

    First, it appears that Steve and I agree on what I view as the main accomplishment of the BAMS paper:

    1. The new BAMS article shows persuasive evidence of a huge jump in category-4 hurricanes 1970-2004, but declines or flat trends in the numbers of stronger and weaker hurricanes.

    Next, Steve takes issue with my argument about the possible implications of the 1970 starting date.

    My second point (in #212):

    2. The BAMS article does not deal adequately with whether its choice of a relative cool period (1970) as a starting time influenced the results.

    Steve’s Reply (in #213): The BAMS article shouldn’t (and couldn’t) have recapitulated the entire contents of it references. Webster et al (2005), which you say you read, addresses the issue thoroughly:

    “We deliberately limited this study to the satellite era because of the known biases before this period (28), which means that a comprehensive analysis of longer-period oscillations and trends has not been attempted. There is evidence of a minimum of intense cyclones occurring in the 1970s (11), which could indicate that our observed trend toward more intense cyclones is a reflection of a long-period oscillation. However, the sustained increase over a period of 30 years in the proportion of category 4 and 5 hurricanes indicates that the related oscillation would have to be on a period substantially longer than that observed in previous studies.”

    My Reply:
    I had read the passage that Steve quotes before I posted, and it seems to confirm my point, since it tends to emphasize what the authors wrote in the BAMS article about a cooling period ending in 1970. I did not accuse the authors of the BAMS paper of bias; I did not say that they should have chosen a different period. I said that “the paper dismisses concerns that the choice of 1970 as a starting point may give a misleading account because of the evidence that there was global cooling from 1940 to 1970,” and that they do “not deal adequately whether [their] choice of a relative cool period (1970) as a starting time influenced the results.”

    The authors admit that 1970 is near a minimum. They argue that the world cooled from 1940 to 1970. So it would seem that Steve has pointed to the precise language to support my prior concern over start or cut-off dates that might be ‘unrepresentative of larger trends or that give misleading measurements of the strength of any overall trend.”

    I don’t know how extensive Steve’s statistical training is, but if it is extensive, then he must recognize the potential problems I raised: using 1970 as a start date may give a misleading picture of the larger trend or it may give a misleading measure of the strength of that trend. These are hardly contentious observations (and do not involve a suggestion that the authors made a mistake in starting at 1970 because of the poor quality of data before 1970). In any event, thanks, Steve, for quoting language from the Science article that so clearly supports my point.

    My third point (in #212):

    3. In both their 2005 Science article and their 2006 BAMS article, the authors appear to double count data from 1994, but it may just be the result of repeated typographical errors in both journals.

    Steve’s Reply (#213): You could have easily confirmed that it was a typo by comparing the graph with the table immediately following it in Webster et al (2005). The total number of 1990-2004 cat 4-5s in the table matches the number shown in the graph for the three five-year periods from 1990-2004.

    My Reply:
    Steve, I wonder whether you are serious in this argument. The authors’ repeated claims that they included 1994 in two different periods (1990-94 and 1994-99) are clearly errors, and there is no way to tell whether they are typos or something more serious from just looking at the two papers.

    First, the graph immediately preceding the table does not have any data labels, so one can’t compare and confirm whether the authors double counted 1994 or instead made 4 typos in two different papers (as you are certain they did). All one can do is eyeball the data in the chart, which is not at all clear whether it matches the data table. Indeed, from my eyeballing of the data, I would have estimated more than 270 cat-4 and cat-5 hurricanes 1990-2004 in the chart you point to, not fewer than 270, as the data table you point to shows.

    Second, even if the chart were drawn in such a way that one could tell whether it exactly matched the data table (which it most definitely isn’t), one still couldn’t know whether they double counted 1994 or instead made 4 typos. If the authors mistakenly counted 1994 hurricanes in two of the three groups of years comprising the 1990-2004 period–and summed their three groups to get the total for 1990-2004–then the chart and the table would match exactly and the data would still be wrong because they double counted 1994. You may have some other basis for knowing that the errors are just typos, but the basis that you give would not persuade any sophisticated, fair-minded reader.

    My fourth point (in #212):

    4. In the BAMS article, the authors criticize others for irresponsible public statements on global warming and praise their own caution, yet the press release they quote asserts an “increased risk” of category-5 hurricanes threatening the southeastern U.S., but neither their own two articles, nor the data they claim to have used, show any such statistically significant trend.

    Steve’s Reply: This amounts to an argument that land use and disaster planners in hurricane-vulnerable areas should plan only for an increase at cat 4s since an increase in cat 5s was not found over the limited period of the study. That would be extremely bad advice. There is no scientific basis for thinking that an increasing storm strength trend would limit itself permanently to cat 4s, and as noted below a good basis for thinking otherwise. As well, bear in mind that extensive areas of the U.S. were vulnerable to cat 4s/5s before this increasing trend was discovered.

    Here is the quoted passage in its full context (from a AAAS interview with Peter Webster):

    “Q. Given that increased intensity, what are the possible ramifications for policy-makers, generally? Would your research have any bearing, at least potentially, on decisions regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans and Gulf Coast?

    “A. The key inference from our study of relevance here is that storms like Katrina should not be regarded as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event in the coming decades, but may become more frequent. This suggests that risk assessment is needed for all coastal cities in the southern and southeastern U.S. for category 5 storms, and for the more northern cities (e.g. New York City) probably for category 3 storms (note the categorical risk for coastal cities at higher latitudes needs to be assessed using typhoon data from the Pacific). The southeastern U.S. needs to begin planning to manage the risk of category 5 hurricanes. There is an additional issue of communicating this increased risk to the public. Past strategies for “weathering the storm” will not work in the face of increased hurricane intensity.”

    So Webster was not implying that Katrina was a cat 5, but rather was using it as an example of the type of disaster that could occur elsewhere. Note also that the vulnerability of New Orleans to strong hurricanes is not that unusual for a populated area. New York City, Chesapeake Bay and Houston are very vulnerable to similar events where the bulk of the damage results from storm surge. As well, Andrew and the somewhat weaker Rita showed that more ordinary stretches of shoreline can host major disasters.

    My Reply:
    Steve, you write: “Here is the quoted passage in its full context.” This is false.

    You claim to show the passage that I quoted “in its full context,” but you don’t include the sentence that I quoted (and criticized), which was taken directly from the 2006 BAMS paper. I quoted ALL of the indented quotation that appeared in the BAMS paper. Here is the exact wording of the BAMS paper that I quoted. (The ellipsis is in the BAMS paper itself; I added the bracketed phrase):

    The key inference from our study [in Science released along with the press release] of relevance here is that storms like Katrina should not be regarded as a “once-in-a-lifetime” event in the coming decades, but may become more frequent. This suggests that risk assessment is needed for all coastal cities in the southern and southeastern U.S. . . . The southeastern U.S needs to begin planning to match the increased risk of category-5 hurricanes.

    I took issue with the last sentence, pointing out that there was no evidence in either the 2005 Science paper or the 2006 BAMS paper of an increased risk of category-5 hurricanes. – Steve, you claim to present this quoted excerpt in its full context, but you do not include the sentence that I challenged.

    You also claim that my comment “amounts to an argument that land use and disaster planners in hurricane-vulnerable areas should plan only for an increase at cat 4s since an increase in cat 5s was not found over the limited period of the study.”

    I said nothing of the kind.

    My goodness, New Orleans was so badly protected that it couldn’t withstand a category-1 hurricane, which is what Katrina was when it hit New Orleans. It may have been fortunate that Katrina had been a cat-5 hurricane at some point, because the New Orleans levees may not have been able to withstand the next cat-2 hurricane, which might not have been scary enough to lead to as extensive an evacuation as happened with Katrina. I wasn’t at all objecting to the advice, which seems eminently sound; I was objecting to the idea that the authors’ data showed a significantly “increased risk of category-5 hurricanes.” It doesn’t.

    Remember that in the 2006 BAMS article, the authors claimed that they were only making arguments that were supported by good scientific data. But in the one indented passage that they quoted they made an argument that was not supported by their data, which presumably is the best available.

    This brings us to your next argument: “There is no scientific basis for thinking that an increasing storm strength trend would limit itself permanently to cat 4s, and as noted below a good basis for thinking otherwise.”

    Steve, your speculation is an entirely plausible one (and it occurred to me before I posted)–but it’s just that, speculation. So far the data reported by the authors of the BAMS and Science studies do not show significant support for your view. If a tripling in cat-4 hurricanes does not lead to any significant increase in cat-5 storms, it’s hard to imagine what kind of a dramatic increase in cat-4 hurricanes could lead to a significant effect on cat-5 storms.

    Steve’s Reply (in #212) continues, quoting a 2005 interview of Webster:

    , what sort of hurricane activity should the Gulf Coast and the East Coast of the United States expect in the years ahead?

    “A. Besides the overall global trend of increasing hurricane intensity, the key issue of concern raised by our study is that the hurricane intensities in the North Atlantic for the last decade have been lower than elsewhere on the globe. It is likely that the differences among the different ocean basins is associated with natural variability. This implies that at some point within the next decade, there is the risk that the intensity of North Atlantic hurricanes could increase rapidly to the global average (with possibly a concurrent decrease in another ocean basin). The variation of Atlantic hurricanes relative to hurricanes in other basins in the context of known cycles of natural variability needs further investigation.”

    My Reply:
    Steve, since Webster’s data shows no statistically significant worldwide increase in cat-5 storms, to the extent that this claim is supported by evidence Webster is arguing that a worldwide increase in cat-4 hurricanes may lead to an increase in cat-4 storms in the North Atlantic. They have no data showing a significant increase in cat-5 storms either worldwide or in the North Atlantic, so this statement that you quote does not bear on my claims at all. It deals with the distribution of cat-4 storms to different basins, not to the risk that cat-4 storms will turn into cat-5 hurricanes.

    Conclusion:
    Steve, it would be hard to imagine a less successful “deconstruction” of my comments, but I think your passion may have gotten the better of you.

    As I said at the beginning, the BAMS article shows very good evidence of a big rise in cat-4 hurricanes in the 1970-2004 period.

    Why do you also have to pretend that the clear errors I point to are not errors?

    This is academics. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes; we can all learn from each other if we have an open mind for both the merits and demerits of new research–on global warming and on other topics.

    James Lindgren
    Northwestern University

  219. Dan:

    re: 218. If you truly beleive that there were “clear errors” (a gross assumption), you ought to email the paper’s authors directly or better still, submit your comments to the peer-reviewed BAMS.

  220. Graham Dungworth:

    Re# that’s correct Dan. James is perfectly entitled to do that but there’s one rider and a caveat involved.
    Firstly, the senior author of the BAMS paper, Judith, does not regard these commentaries on realclimate as any ordinary blog. Infact she has replied in over 10 posts so far, and there is no reason why she isn’t in the process of responding to James’ critique at this moment.
    I no longer work in academia.That’s the caveat. It is virtually impossible for the public to gain access to the vast majority of scientific journals, subscription prices are prohibitive. Steve Bloom refers to this in his comment 105, that it is rare for a journal to allow free public access, BAMS is a rare exception.

    On a few occasions in the past I have posted a comment, by no means a criticism, to a journal re- a particular paper. The editor will often publish an addendum to the paper in a later edition along with response(s) from the authors. There, the matter ends. The editor requests that further discussions are continued in private.

    The future potential of such commentaries on realclimate.org for one, is immense. For the first time in history an educated public can participate in a multidisciplinary field.This of course requires access to the job. In the UK, free access is allowed subject to the possession of a free library membership card. Town or city dwellers are not denied access to the web. Furthermore, the public if they so wish can participate in using their computers for a variety of boinc projects such as the one I am involved with; the model simulations of climate research eg. as at climateprediction.net.

    This debate and such activities could not be continued on the pages of a scientic journal. If it were then they the editors would have to further request cited references to many of the posts on this blog. It is not at all about providing ammunition for climate change deniers, it is about getting the science right. Any challenges by the deniers will be similarly subject to scrutiny. A vast opportunity now exists, through cyberspace, one not solely for me as a scientist by background, nor for you as some peripheral specialist in a remote discipline, but for everyone.

  221. James Lindgren:

    Re: 218-219.

    Dan: Some of the things I note are clear erors. For example, the only dispute about the authors’ including 1994 in two different periods in 2 published papers is whether they are simply typographical errors or whether 1994 was double counted. From the two papers alone, one can’t tell.

    For some of my other claims, such as starting in 1970, I am not claiming error, simply pointing out limitations on the generalizability of the results. I should have been clearer in my sentence in the conclusion of #218 (I was clearer when I posted the same comment at another blog where Steve and I both posted.)

  222. James Lindgren:

    Re: 219:

    I have already emailed Judith Curry pointing out the double listing of 1994 and requesting her 1970-2005 data by basin by year by hurricane category.

  223. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    The blog that James Lindgren is a contributor to and refers to in #221 is the volokh conspiracy.

    From answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/the-volokh-conspiracy
    “The Volokh Conspiracy is a weblog which mostly covers United States legal and political issues, generally from a libertarian or conservative perspective.”

    The contributors who control the site are from conservative advocacy groups like Cato and the Mercatus Center who have a hostile view of regulation and the science that supports it.

    #220 (Graham Dungworth) “It is virtually impossible for the public to gain access to the vast majority of scientific journals.”
    Usually you can find many of the articles on sites that don’t charge fees, but usually not until a few weeks after they are published. I don’t subscribe to any journal, but I can usually find the articles online.

  224. James Lindgren:

    RE #223 & 217:

    Joseph,

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of Cato or Mercatus, nor have I ever given a paper at these organizations, nor have I ever attended a scholarly conference at these organizations. Indeed, I don’t even know what Mercatus is.

    The implication that the Volokh Conspiracy, which I believe is the most popular group academic blog in any field, might be anti-science is frankly ridiculous. Indeed, while it would be hard to generalize about a range of posters, we might be more fairly accused of being hyper-rational.

    One of the norms of academic debate is that one deals with the merits of evidence and one does not deal in unnecessary ad hominems. Combined with an earlier attack based on my being a law professor (#217), I have to say that some of the posters here — though certainly not most of them (kudos to Steve Bloom for his substantive response)–seem to want to do just as Graham facetiously suggested and shoot the messenger (#215).

    [edited]

    [Response: Keep it focused people. – gavin]

  225. Judith Curry:

    Wow, I just spotted all this traffic starting with #212. I am on travel, currently in the UK at ECMWF, have been out of email and internet contact since friday afternoon, and have to prepare two talks this week so I don’t have much time to reply at the moment.

    First, the 1994 thing is a typo. Second, our data is publicly available on our website (and has been availble since the publication of the 2005 paper) at http://www.eas.gatech.edu/research/hurricane_Webster.htm

    A few comments before I have to sign off for now.

    1. Pushing the global tropical cyclone data back to 1970 is apparently already pushing the limits of reliable data, there is no way to go back prior to 1970 for global tropical cyclone data. In the North Atlantic, the period 1970-2004 does introduce a slight positive trend if the AMO does in fact contribute substantially to tropical cyclone activity in the North Atlantic. In terms of going back prior to 1970 to identify a trend associated with global warming, it simply doesn’t make any kind of sense to attempt to construct a linear trend in the time series for the last 100 years given the slight global cooling of the 1950’s and 1960’s. The data in the North Atlantic goes back further, but the data on intensity particularly prior to 1970 is being hotly debated at present.

    2. In terms of our statements in the press release issued in sept 2005, specifically the Q&A from Science, we had NO IDEA that anyone would even pay much attention this, particularly a year later. We never anticipated this paper and subject to become such a big deal. We were as careful as we could be (given our inexperience with press releases and media in general, and specifically were very careful not to overplay the global warming issue). Yes, most of the increase 1970-2004 has been category 4 storms, but of course 2005 set the record for the number of category 5 storms, and records on hurricane intensity and duration are being set in the pacific this season.

    3. People (especially lawyers and frequent bloggers) need to realize that most scientists actively publishing scientific research have “day jobs” that pay our salaries, and that we work well over 40 hours per week. In my case, I administer an academic department with 28 faculty, 150 students, and over 200 people actually employed. I also teach. I have funded research on a variety of other topics besides hurricanes. I do not have all day and night to monitor the blogosphere and a year ago i was almost totally inexperienced with the media. We did not expect this kind of media attention nor did we ask for it. At this point we are doing the best we can to deal with the public requests for information on this topic (including the blogosphere)

    We appreciate the comments and the debate, and I have come to think that blogosphere is a very useful medium for the rapid exchange of ideas. I am amazed that some people have the time to post so much on so many blogs. Unfortunately I do not. I will try to get back to this once my talks for ECMWF are prepared.

  226. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Just out of curiosity, was there ever a category 6 hurricane? Maybe Galveston, TX in 1900? I don’t know one way or the other. Is there a theoretical limit on the size of hurricanes, given the energy available in Earth’s atmosphere?

    -BPL

  227. savegaia.de:

    @226
    The Beaufort scale has a hurricane 6 since may 16.

    Today, hurricanes are sometimes described as Beaufort scale 12 through 16, with the standard Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale Category 1 equivalent to Beaufort 12, Category 2 to Beaufort 13, and so on.[citation needed] Category 1 tornadoes on the Fujita and TORRO scales also begin at the end of level 12 of the Beaufort scale.

    On the morning of May 15, 2006, mainland China suddenly introduced the extended scale to Force 17 without any prior notice. [1] This extended scale was immediately put into use for Typhoon Chanchu. Hong Kong and Macau keep using Force 12 as the maximum and adopted a set of simpler descriptions for public.

    Beaufort scale wiki

    The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale is a scale classifying most Western Hemisphere tropical cyclones that exceed the levels of “tropical depression” and “tropical storm” and thereby become hurricanes

    Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale wiki

  228. savegaia.de:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaufort_scale
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saffir-Simpson_Hurricane_Scale

  229. Judith Curry:

    A few further comments:

    1. The key statement of contention was in our Q&A with Science, which was made in response to the following direct question:
    Given that increased intensity, what are the possible ramifications for policy-makers, generally? Would your research have any bearing, at least potentially, on decisions regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans and Gulf Coast?

    It is not a statement that we made in our Science paper, nor in the news release issued from Georgia Tech. Rather, it was a statement made on a short time fuse at a request from Science, to respond to policy makers and to the catatstrophe in New Orleans. In hindsight, I don’t thing we would change a word that was said. What is said by a scientist in peer reviewed publications in done in a very different context from interacting with the media. Scientists are expected to respond to questions outside of their field that they are ill prepared to deal with, and do not directly follow from their scientific research. This is the so-called value gap between scientists and policy makers that was addressed in the BAMS article.

    2. With regard to category 5 storms, there is no point to trying to identify a trend only in the category 5 storms, owing to the small numbers and the uncertainties in classifying storms with the strongest windspeeds.

    3. It has been very interesting to me to follow the blogs from different segments of people that are interested in this work. In addition to realclimate, there have threads on prometheus and also climateaudit that I have responded to. In addition, I had substantial interaction with the tropical storm community through email (not on public blogs). I could almost write a follow on article from comments from the blogosphere, broadening it to include input from statisticians, lawyers, policy scientists, etc. Some very different perspectives, and I have learned something from many of the posts, but mostly that there are very many perspectives on both the science and policy associated with this issue.

  230. James Lindgren:

    Re: 225, 229

    Judith,

    Thanks for responding so quickly, especially over a holiday weekend. I also have a day job and a research agenda of empirical projects, one of which was my main focus this weekend. I was not expecting a quick response from your group, and I emailed you solely because for some reason some commenters seemed to think that, rather than simply posting comments on a website discussing the issues raised by your paper, I should contact you directly. In any event, thanks.

    1. I am happy that you have confirmed the ‘1994’ errors I found in your two papers, and I am also happy that they are typographical, rather than substantive.

    2. You justify your choice of 1970 as the starting date for your study. My criticism was not whether the starting date was the best one (it probably was), but rather how choosing a relative minimum as the start date should affect the interpretation and generalizability of your results. I think we have both said our piece on this issue; I doubt that further discussion will resolve things any further.

    3. I was pleased that you acknowledged that, as I had pointed out, the data on cat-5 hurricanes shows no significant trend, an observation that was the main focus of my comments (#212). On this point, you wrote:

    With regard to category 5 storms, there is no point to trying to identify a trend only in the category 5 storms, owing to the small numbers and the uncertainties in classifying storms with the strongest windspeeds.

    Of course, statistical significance is determined not only by sample size, but by the strength of any relationship and the variability in the data. From eyeballing your data, it appears that, if the relationship for cat-5 storms worldwide had been as strong as the powerful relationship that you nicely established for cat-4 storms, then the sample size of cat-5 storms was probably large enough to show statistically significant results. So the fact that there is no significant trend in cat-5 storms is due to the absence of a strong relationship in the data, as much or more than to the relatively small sample sizes.

    As for my criticizing your assertion of an increase in the risk of cat-5 storms, which you now acknowledge that your data do not show, you wrote:

    In terms of our statements in the press release issued in sept 2005, specifically the Q&A from Science, we had NO IDEA that anyone would even pay much attention this, particularly a year later. We never anticipated this paper and subject to become such a big deal. We were as careful as we could be (given our inexperience with press releases and media in general, and specifically were very careful not to overplay the global warming issue). . . .

    The key statement of contention was in our Q&A with Science, which was made in response to the following direct question:

    Given that increased intensity, what are the possible ramifications for policy-makers, generally? Would your research have any bearing, at least potentially, on decisions regarding the rebuilding of New Orleans and Gulf Coast?

    It is not a statement that we made in our Science paper, nor in the news release issued from Georgia Tech. Rather, it was a statement made on a short time fuse at a request from Science, to respond to policy makers and to the catatstrophe [sic] in New Orleans. In hindsight, I don’t thing we would change a word that was said. What is said by a scientist in peer reviewed publications in done in a very different context from interacting with the media. Scientists are expected to respond to questions outside of their field that they are ill prepared to deal with, and do not directly follow from their scientific research. This is the so-called value gap between scientists and policy makers that was addressed in the BAMS article.

    I did not rummage through your group’s responses to the press to unearth something your co-authors said in dealing with the press back in 2005. In your 2006 BAMS article, which I was commenting on, you purported to quote just three sentences from your group’s 2005 dealings with the press. These were the sentences that your new 2006 paper chose to emphasize. These were the three sentences that I quoted, taking issue with the last sentence:

    “The southeastern U.S. needs to begin planning to manage the increased risk of category 5 hurricanes.”

    Since, as you now kindly acknowledge, your data show no increased incidence of cat-5 hurricanes–indeed, you argue that “there is no point to trying to identify a trend only in the category 5 storms”–I objected to your group’s use of the phrase “the increased risk of category 5 hurricanes.”

    My criticism thus seems eminently sound, with one strange, but important caveat.

    In #229, you write that the passage I criticize was said in response to a question posed by Science about precautions for hurricanes and you quote those questions. But the phrase that I objected to–“the increased risk of category 5 hurricanes” –does not appear in the
    interview you referenced
    . Webster referred instead to
    “the risk of category 5 hurricanes.”
    In the interview, Webster later refers to “this increased risk,” but in context he appears to be referring to a range of risks from cat-3 through cat-5 that the public needs to address, so there is nothing objectionable about such a reference.

    Judith, can you point me to any place where Webster or anyone in your group actually uttered or wrote the words that you quote in your 2006 BAMS article?

    Or did someone (mistakenly) rewrite Webster’s answer to add a scientific assertion that is not supported by the data you present (i.e., “the increased risk of category 5 hurricanes”)?

    You write: “In hindsight, I don’t thing [sic] we would change a word that was said.” But if you just pointed us to the right source for the text you quoted, it appears that someone (mistakenly) did “change a word that was said”–and changed it to something unwarranted by the scientific data your group presents.

    Is there any way to correct the online version of the 2006 BAMS paper so that the charts are labeled correctly and so that you don’t make a claim of an “increased risk of category 5 hurricanes” if Webster didn’t actually say that in the passage you purport to quote.

    [Response: James, instead of micro-parsing of Webster’s comments, think about the physics. All theory and all observations show that tropical storm/hurricane strength is a relatively smooth distribution. Near the extreme end, sampling and the statistics of small numbers make it much more difficult to find significant trends. However, by increasing the categrories (4+5) or (3+4+5) there is clear evidence (given the limitations in the data records) that the distribution of hurricane strength has shifted towards more intense storms. There is no theoretical support for the idea that potential intensity will only increase in the mid range, rather than over the whole range. If the data therefore support the idea that increasing SST is leading to an increase in potential intensity then the conclusion from that is that Cat 5 hurricanes will also increase – because there is no theoretical model that would not lead to that conclusion. How many more Cat 5 might make landfall is another question because that is a small (non-random) subsampling of all storms and is more uncertain. But Webster’s statement is a valid inference based on the underlying model that they are working with.

    At the risk of confusing the discussion, think about an analogy: take a pair of die that I suspect may be loaded towards the number 6. After a number of throws, I note that the numbers of 9’s 10’s and 11’s have increased in a statistically significant way, consistent with 6’s being slightly more common than normal. However, I have not had enough double 6’s to see a statistically significant trend. Given my results, and the model through which I have interpreted them, it is completely valid to expect an ‘increased risk’ of a double 6, even though I have not yet seen a trend. For hurricanes the inference is very similar and is based on the theoretical underpinnings of how data is interpreted. Each category is not an independent variable – they are dependent on the underlying distribution, and it is that distribution that Webster et al are trying to investigate. – gavin]

  231. Judith Curry:

    Jim,

    I don’t have a lawyer’s interest in the exact nuance of wording nor the time or inclination to track down the history of the wording that you are concerned about. Two further points about this:
    1. I agree with Gavin’s comment to your latest message. We were asked to project what might happen in the future, with continued warming. It would have been absurd to extrapolate our analysis to infer that we would see only a continued increase in Cat 4 storms. Based upon our conceptual model of what was going on, we would expect the intensity to continue to increase, so that we would be seeing more Cat 5 storms in the future.
    2. The main point of that section in the BAMS article is that we did not start out talking about global warming, either in our paper or our initial press releases, but rather were forced into this by the media

    Also one further point regarding 1970, and in hindsight I wished I would have included this in the BAMS article. One of the hoped for advantages of breaking our arguments down into the causal change was that we would not continue to be expected to address the global warming detection/attribution issue. The global surface temperature record for the last 100 years is well characterized and the attribution of the variations (including the cooling ca 1940-1970) is well understood and characterized in a large number of publications and assessment reports. Given this, what is going on with the tropical cyclones? The period since 1970 is the period associated with the largest greenhouse warming signal, which coincides with the data set on tropical cyclones that is available. Consider the following scenarios for what the tropical cyclone data from 1940-1970 might say:

    A. 1940-1970 shows tropical cyclones with lower intensity than in the 1970s
    B. 1940-1970 shows tropical cyclones with higher intensity than in the 1970s but lower than that since the 1990s
    C. 1940-1970 shows tropical cylones with higher intensity than the period since the 1990s.

    Which scenario would best support our global warming arguments? Not A, but B! Our arguments state that average TC intensity follows the average trend in SST. So with 1940-1960 warmer than the 1970s, we would expect more intense storms in 1940-1960 than in the 1970s. If the data showed A, it wouldn’t refute our arguments related to global warming but it would certainly raise a lot of questions. Scenario C would arguably refute our hypothesis. So efforts to identify hurricane intensities that are high in the 1940s-1960s are futile in refuting our hypothesis unless intensities are identified to be greater than those we have seen in the past decade. Finding that there is no linear trend since 1940 would not help in refuting our arguments.

    Judy

  232. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    Thanks to all the scientists and James Lindgren for taking the time to comment on RealClimate.

    Some of the friction in the Hurricane and in the larger global warming debate is the result of a clash of different processes of obtaining knowledge and coming to decisions.

    I don’t think that #217 was an attack on Mr. Lindgren because he was a law professor, I think it was about how different the political and legal processes are different from the scientific process. Mr. Lindgren’s parsing the language of Dr. Curry’s comments is something normally seen in legal procedures when analyzing the language of a law or a court decision. It’s not bad or wrong, it’s just not the way science works.

    It’s like trying to combine different games with different rules. It’s good when you tackle someone in football but it isn’t good in baseball, and because hockey is played on ice doesn’t mean basketball should be played on ice!

  233. Graham Dungworth:

    Re#230 and 232
    Gavin, I’m not certain whether you mean that James has been overly rigorous in requesting precise meaning or that no more causes of hurricane theory be inferred than are necessary to account for observed data. Do we need such precision? Today in the UK “The Times” under a banner headline “Ten-year deadline on Global Warming” are three misleading quotes. One by an obscure Professor Emeritus extolls the politicians to act now citing a ten year irreversible tipping point and that it will take a natural disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina for them to act. He never said it was a category 5 nor did he mention New Orleans but it’s now media folklore, it’s what “the Times” infers for its educated readership despite what we now know from the commentaries in realclimate, where James refers to this misunderstanding.

    You cannot implore James to think on the physics, not because he’s a lawyer or a even scientist. There’s many a scientist, called a botanist, who used to classify bats with birds based on morphology, to the indignation of zoologists and they in their turn to geneticists. You would demand rigour for a mathematical proof. Is it wrong for James to demand precise meaning of what constitutes “increased risk”?
    I’m a scientist with a track record but I’m also an educated layman when it comes to Global Warming or Climate change. Neverthelss, my gut reactions place me firmly in the pro camp. There’s one paper I published in 1974 in the Earth Siences that I like to forget, although it was cited a few times. Two years later a rebuttal was published, quite properly, because some of the empirical data I obtained were discovered to be contamination, introduced by the procedure I used. Yet , despite fallacious evidence,the theory I advanced was later shown to be correct. Nevertheless, I still take solace wrongly, in being right for the wrong reasons.

    Hurricane theory is still incomplete. I read the references in detail; we still don’t have empirical data to support several values of the parameters. We fit theory to the data and not vice versa. That’s why many would have binned much of Einstein’s General Relativity.
    The die analogue is great but it has one great flaw in that supposition. If you threw 3 straight sixes within 30 casts you wouldn’t presume the dice was loaded. No, you’d ask for for more throws. That’s what we all now know in detail from both James’ and Judith’s work and her commendable involvement in this forum. We need more data over many more years, yet we all know we may not have time to act, to reverse deletrious change to the environment.

    Judith has made her current position clear. It is not too late for James to send a comment or reply to Judith et al’s paper. It is too late to change the article. Gone? are the days when journals sent out paper addenda for librarians to glue in dusty journals. The Editor may well be perplexed somewhat for a non scientist to break into a “closed shop” but it’s the best case I’ve read for a precedent. Gone are the days when it cost nothing to publish. In this case I’d pay upfront privately and definately not re-allocate from any other grants.

    There’s many a scientist became a magistrate and many a magistrate who might have preferred to become one. Hopefully, James will continue to critically review further research and not otherwise disappear into obscure sociological pursuits. His unique talent as a lawyer is a “sine qua non” for this field.

    Finally, some of you occupy a rather unique position.
    Global Warming, as an aspect of Climate Change, is not about what will one day become obscure albeit accurate references by individuals with polished prose, in obscure journals. It is not even about the media’s perception of the Kyoto Agreement nor its implementation and informing for the common man’s depth of thought.

    What it is about and what it will become is the ridicule that a Great Nation will experience, through greed and self interest, for having failed to act.

  234. wayne davidson:

    #232 , I didn’t mean anything else in my #217, understood by O’Sullivan and perhaps most readers. This said, I am infinitely more curious about Curry’s and Webster’s opinion, if any, on current ENSO status, apparently getting warmer daily, on the effects it may have on Pacific Typhoons and Atlantic Hurricanes.

  235. Judith Curry:

    Here is the latest ENSO analysis from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. It looks like we are heading into weak El Nino conditions. El Nino implies low TC activity in the Atlantic, and elevated activity in the Pacific

    IDD20730
    Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology
    Northern Territory
    Darwin RSMC – Australia

    Weekly Tropical Climate Note
    at 1300 CST Tuesday 5 September 2006

    El Nino-Southern Oscillation Update
    The 30-day SOI remained fairly steady this week, and at 02 September was -14. Contributing pressure anomalies were 1.9hPa at Darwin and -0.2 at Tahiti. Positive values of the SOI during the past southern hemisphere summer peaked at +20 in mid-April. Since then the SOI has dropped, and been mostly one standard deviation or more below the long-term mean since June. The official monthly SOI for August was -15, and its 5-month running mean centred on June was -5.

    Since May, sea-level pressure anomalies over northern Australia have been persistently high, while pressure anomalies over the tropical eastern Pacific have been mostly lower than average. Over the last month or so warm sea-surface temperature [SST] and upper-ocean heat content anomalies have increased in the near-equatorial central Pacific, while the SST cool tongue in the near-equatorial far-eastern Pacific has weakened, with warm anomalies now evident there. In the atmosphere, there has been an increase in convective activity in the central Pacific, with a typhoon developing in that region during
    August.

    The recently observed conditions described above are consistent with the developing stage of a weak El Nino event, though have occurred somewhat later in the year than is typical. Interestingly, most ENSO forecast models are not predicting the development of a strong El Nino event, and instead indicate the SST pattern in the Pacific will remain below thresholds typically associated with El Nino events. Given current circumstances though, there is a risk that the trend toward a weak El Nino-like state may continue in the short-term at least, and this will be monitored closely. See the Bureau’s “ENSO Wrap-Up” at http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/ which includes links to a compilation of ENSO model predictions.

  236. Hank Roberts:

    Gavin’s inline comment is, I hope, clear enough.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/08/fact-fiction-and-friction/#comment-18696

    Another analogy — forest fire size. In fire conditions, we can always see an increase in midsize fires. Even in the worst fire years we don’t always see one or more huge conflagrations. No fire manager argues that there is no increased risk of huge fires and only a greater risk of midsize fires.

    Viewing the same facts in the light of the law, an argument can be made (“it is arguable”) that nothing in the facts demonstrates such an increased risk. That’s true. The known physics and chemistry are not “in” the facts on the table, and would have to be ‘established’ to the satisfaction of the judge by expert testimony. This is a surprise for scientists who don’t work with lawyers regularly.

    Those who can live with this stretch get to make policy.

  237. Hank Roberts:

    > 233: “You cannot implore James to think on the physics …”

    No, seriously, it’s important he be able to do so, because he’s trying to understand the nature of the world, going beyond just the words on the page.

    Why does it matter?

    “Russel Seitz, a physicist in Cambridge, MA, has an interesting essay published in op-ed of WSJ (Nov 11, 2005): “Congressional Math” —
    US Congress Assembled contains two physicists, two chemists, two biologists, one geologist, 234 lawyers and an astronaut.”
    http://sun-bin.blogspot.com/2005/11/lawyers-engineers-and-scientists.html

    That’s why we can implore James to understand the physics — because scientists need to learn how to explain the natural world to people who’ve studied law.

    Google “+physics +lawyers” for many anecdotes about the gap in understanding. Many younger lawyers do have physics backgrounds, since patent law has become a major area — but they aren’t yet moving into political office.

  238. Hank Roberts:

    Last thought for a while — is the observed increase in the height of the troposphere a measure of storm strength? I’ve thought that the height a thunderstorm could reach before going flat as an ‘anvil cloud’ was the limiting factor on its convective strength, and that’s been increasing for a while. I’d think storm strength would increase along with it?

    http://www.nersc.gov/news/annual_reports/annrep03/advances/5.1.fingerprints.html

    “… One of the most dramatic applications of this “fingerprinting” technique recently answered the question of why the tropopause has been rising for more than two decades. The tropopause is the boundary between the lowest layer of the atmosphere”the turbulently mixed troposphere”and the more stable stratosphere. The “anvil” often seen at the top of thunderclouds is a visible marker of the tropopause, which lies roughly 10 miles above the Earth’s surface at the equator and 5 miles above the poles.

    “The average height of the tropopause rose about 200 meters between 1979 and 1999. In their first comparison of observed data with computer models, Santer and his colleagues concluded that the increase in tropopause height was driven by the warming of the troposphere by greenhouse gases and the cooling of the stratosphere by ozone depletion1. But to quantify the influences (or “forcings” in climate jargon) even further, they considered three anthropogenic forcings – well-mixed greenhouse gases, sulfate aerosols, and tropospheric and stratospheric ozone – as well as two natural forcings – changes in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols – all of which are likely to influence tropopause height.”

  239. wayne davidson:

    #235, Thanks Dr Curry, Now that NOAA has declared a weak ENSO event as well, triggerred at an unusual time….. Unusual, that is it! A good question is why, likely because there is a warming accross the equator, not only at the equatorial Pacific, there is a drought in the Amazon, other equatorial regions may also have temperature or weather anomalies, I have not heard of them though. There is a larger image, which is seldom discussed. Perhaps this is why some hurricane forecasters project the wrong numbers…

  240. Hank Roberts:

    Has James Lindgren pursued this somewhere else?

    I’m dismayed he’s not followed up here, and hope he will.

    I thought Gavin’s explanation in particular would help; and hoped my analogy to forest fire conditions/fire risk/fire size was appropriate.

    Science relies on, and takes for granted, information that lawyers don’t ordinarily find relevant in their day to day work. It’s a huge gap in perception.

    Anecdote — I recently edited a draft brief for a law student, which basically consisted of advising a client to continue pumping water out of an aquifer at its full rate, since the state law from the 1930s says that’s the only way a company can keep its right to withdraw water (the ‘defense’ is proof of continuing take). I pointed her to extensive USGS documentation that the aquifer, a sand layer under heavy mud, has been collapsing due to overdrafting by both longterm and new industrial users and local governments. I pointed her to the geology — once a loosely consolidated aquifer is overdrawn the grains collapse together, so no subsequent rainfall can “expand” it again. Capacity overdrafted is lost forever.

    I tried to make the argument that defending the right to withdraw water by activities that — since the 1930s case law was decided — are now known to destroy the storage capacity was “destroying the aquifer in order to preserve the right to use it” and made no sense, and suggest attacking the problem in some other fashion. (The USGS has also been pushing water users to address the problem, there’s no lack of scientific approaches, just a lack of lawyers willing to consider them.)

    That’s the kind of situation I see repeatedly when lawyers base their decisions on precedent and language while reality differs. So, here’s hoping.

  241. Hank Roberts:

    Ok, Google’s catching up; Lindgren is publishing the same criticism here:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=803#comment-44138
    and here:
    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2006_08_27-2006_09_02.shtml#1157158094

    where the audience is more supportive of his critique, seems to me on a quick skim. Still hoping he returns here.

  242. Hank Roberts:

    The thread at http://volokh.com/posts/1157158094.shtml was last active with a post from Mr. Lindgren on 9/5, after Dr. Curry posted there referring back to this one.

    No progress yet. Still hoping. Others there also tried to make clear the point that the line drawn between a ‘5’ and a ‘4’ is arbitrary and the risk of strong storms is based on physics of large weather systems not on the category number assigned.

  243. wayne davidson:

    William Gray overestimated hurricane forecast has been explained by himself and al.:

    http://typhoon.atmos.colostate.edu/forecasts/2006/sep2006/

    “4.3 Causes of August 2006 Over-Forecast

    We view our overestimate of the 2006 hurricane season as a result of our inability to predict the substantial amounts of tropical Atlantic mid-level dryness and the extensive amount of African dust that enveloped this area in August. Rainfall in the African Sahel has also been lower than expected.

    Another factor leading to a less active hurricane season is the continued development of El Nino-like conditions in the eastern Pacific. This has resulted in a modest suppression of 200 mb upper tropospheric easterly wind anomalies in the tropical Atlantic, thereby increasing vertical wind shear in the western Atlantic. Also, there has likely been an increase in subsidence over the tropical Atlantic due to an eastward shift of the Walker Circulation as waters have continued to warm in the central and eastern Pacific.

    The increase of this year’s August hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific is another indication of suppressed Atlantic conditions. These two tropical cyclone basins have tended to be negatively correlated in recent years. When eastern Pacific activity is enhanced, as it has been this August, Atlantic activity is usually suppressed. ”

    Overestimate is an overstatement, forecast numbers have been changed 3 times. So this AMO cycle of 2005 like hurricane seasons for 10 to 20 more years…. Is out of the window? Or not???

    Gray gives his standard rebuke of Global Warming has having nothing to do with hurricanes, but first he has to really be convincing with the forecast numbers, I am not at all impressed….

    I do unique Northern Hemisphere GT projections as a way to understand if I get a refraction theory correctly. I don’t change the estimate during the season in question, modifying a forecast mid-stream is like changing a bet during a horse race, sticking to my original estimate forces me to get it better next time…

    EL-nino was seen warming since April, I’ve often wrote this year was like 1997, the dust from Africa is quite known, interesting, I wonder if it is linked with a warmer North Africa?