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Friday, September 6, 2013

Six Grand Challenges - 12 Extreme Weather Events in 2012

Sou | 7:23 AM 6 Comments - leave a comment

While Anthony Watts is scurrying around trying to think up an angle to "prove" that the world's top climate scientists "don't no nuffin'", he's drawn attention to a new analysis by 78 scientists from around the world.  The analysis is of several extreme events last year (2012) and has been published as a special supplement to the latest issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

The paper is called "Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective".  There is a news release from NOAA here.  It states in part:
The report shows that the effects of natural weather and climate fluctuations played a key role in the intensity and evolution of many of the 2012 extreme events. However, in several events, the analyses revealed compelling evidence that human-caused climate change was a secondary factor contributing to the extreme event. “This report adds to a growing ability of climate science to untangle the complexities of understanding natural and human-induced factors contributing to specific extreme weather and climate events,” said Thomas R. Karl, LHD, director of NCDC. “Nonetheless, determining the causes of extreme events remains challenging.”
In addition to investigating the causes of these extreme events, the multiple analyses of four of the events—the warm temperatures in the United States, the record-low levels of Arctic sea ice, and the heavy rain in both northern Europe and eastern Australia—allowed the scientists to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of their various methods of analysis. Despite their different strategies, there was considerable agreement between the assessments of the same events.
The second paragraph is interesting.

Six Grand Challenges

I have only started reading the report myself and really like the style of the introduction.   Here are the opening paragraphs:

One of us distinctly remembers in graduate school when a professor put the first ever satellite image of a tropical cyclone on the screen and explained various features of the storm. Then he proceeded to editorialize by pointing out that someone wrote his entire PhD dissertation based on this one image and how we started graduate school too late because all the easy projects have been done. Now with decades of definitely not easy scientific analyses under our collective belts, we can look back and realize how wrong the professor was. The “easy” science of decades ago only looks easy now because its results seem obvious. Their work was difficult then and our work is difficult now.
However, among the difficult work we have before us, a few grand challenges arise. These are challenges (i) that have specific barriers preventing progress, (ii) where targeted research efforts would have the likelihood of significant progress over the next 5–10 years, (iii) that have measurable performance metrics, (iv) that can be transformative, (v) that are capable of capturing the public’s imagination, and (vi) that can offer compelling storylines (WCRP 2013). The World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) has identified six grand challenges that meet these criteria. Prediction and attribution of extreme events is one of them. It is gratifying to see that scientists from across the world are taking on this grand challenge. This includes the scientists that contributed to this collection of analyses, which assess the causes for 12 specific extreme events that took place around the world in 2012 (Fig. 1.1).

You can download a copy of the report here.

Does Anthony Watts not believe global warming can influence weather?

What Anthony Watts writes says all you need to know about him (archived here).  First his headline, where he describes NOAA as "alarmist" for reporting what the scientists have found:
NOAA goes full alarmist with new publication, seeing AGW in extreme weather events. 
In other words, he thinks the 78 scientists are exaggerating.  Why does he think that?  He hasn't figured out an angle yet but he does make a promise:
I’ll comment in detail later, but for now I’ll simply provide the report
What's the bet he'll renege on his promise to "comment in detail later"?  He often says he'll do that without anything appearing "later".  Mostly I think he just says that in the hope that someone will offer in the comments something he can use - or maybe get one of his "guest authors" to write an article for him.  He's not that good at dreaming up angles that he can sell to anyone but the most dismissive of the 8% dismissives.

So it would appear that Anthony Watts doesn't think global warming can influence weather.  You'd not think two people in the world could be so dumb, but it's so.  There is at least one other person, Cheshirered who says:
September 5, 2013 at 1:27 pm
Weather is not climate.
It takes 30 years, apparently.
So how does climate change become weather?
Confirmation bias, writ large.
And a large cheque, writ.

How does climate change become weather, Cheshirered asks.  Does Cheshirered know that climate is just a description of expected weather and when climate changes then - well, you can guess the rest (I hope).

Global warming means more energy in the earth system.  It affects all weather.

There is a nice Q&A on climate change and attribution with NOAA's Thomas Peterson here.

Peterson, T. C., M. P. Hoerling, P. A. Stott and S. Herring, Eds., 2013: Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 94 (9), S1–S74.


  1. Thanks for your blog. Great posts.
    I have never understood how people like Watts can agree the world has warmed and then claim this has had no effect on the weather. Another denier contradiction.

  2. Watts is a clown who is playing to an audience of buffoons.

    In point of fact, the scientists do not see "AGW in extreme weather events" in all cases. There are two studies into the extreme rainfall over Eastern Australia in 2010-2012 period. One "couldn’t find much evidence that the human influence on the climate had played a significant role", the other using a slightly different methodology found "a small influence from man-made climate change on above-average rainfall that fell in March 2012".

    As the following summary explains "while some recent studies have clearly detected substantial human influences on extreme temperatures across Australia, including the record summer temperature of 2012-13 and the record temperature for the last 12 months, the ability to detect the human-induced effects on extreme precipitation events over our continent remains elusive."

  3. 2007

    and then it happened

    1. Don't be shy:

      ~ ~ ~
      ~ ~ ~

      "The impact of climate change on extreme rainfall and coastal sea levels over south-east Queensland."

      Part 2: A High-Resolution Modelling Study of the Effect of Climate Change on the Intensity of Extreme Rainfall Events

      Deborah Abbs, Kathleen McInnes and Tony Rafter CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research Private Bag 1, Aspendale, VIC 3195
      February 2007

      Prepared for the Gold Coast City Council
      ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

      In Australia, flooding causes the most damage of all natural disasters and each year extreme rainfall events cause significant damage in the highly urbanised regions along Australia’s eastern coastline. The coastal regions of northern New South Wales and south eastern Queensland are the most flood-prone regions of the country. The Gold Coast and Broadwater region of south-east Queensland contains large areas of developed flood plain spanning several catchments, including the Nerang, Coomera, Pimpama and Albert/Logan, that are at risk of flooding during extreme rainfall events. These regions are also subject to high population growth.

      Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its “Summary for Policy Makers” (IPCC, 2007) based on the Working Group 1 Fourth Assessment Report. That summary states, “It is very likely that hot extremes, heat waves, and heavy precipitation events will continue to become more frequent.” Consequently, . . . "

  4. cool post, good info.
    thanks for the info Sou,

    Unfortunately, I'm out of circulation for a while ;- )

    1. Hope you're back soon CC. Stay in touch :)


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Click here for instructions on how to view the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting sessions, how to navigate the program, plus more. (This notice will remain as a sticky until after AGU14 finishes.)