This classic was from Cameron Goodison at WUWT today (archived here):
Recently the Australian Goyder Institute released a report detailing the effects of climate change on rainfall in South Australia. The result:
‘Climate change will halve inflow to SA’s biggest reservoir.’
The ABC, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-17/climate-change-will-halve-inflow-to-sa-biggest-reservoir-mount-/6128832
To make such a alarming statement one would think the ABC has done its research. They must have first done a quick Google search of the average annual rainfall for the region to see if there is any sort of noticeable downward trend that would give such a statement some degree of credibility.
Yeah, right. Don't trust the detailed scientific report. All you need is a quick google search!
Cameron started off badly. The Goyder Institute is South Australian. He got progressively worse from there. Cameron is talking about a very detailed segment of a five year climate change study. This particular research was of a single water catchment! There is probably nowhere else to check, unless you want to do the same study yourself from first principles. Typical WUWT nonsense.
I'd better tell you about the study.
Scientists at the Goyder Institute for Water Research in South Australia have been doing research on how climate change will affect South Australia. That state is the driest state on the driest continent in the world after Antarctica, and water is a very precious commodity there. This particular project was investigating a major water catchment for Adelaide, and how it would be impacted by climate change. As stated in the introduction to the report's Volume 3:
The Onkaparinga catchment has been identified as the case study location for this project. The catchment was selected because of the availability and quality of observational data and its importance as a water supply catchment for the Adelaide region....
And from Chapter 3:
...This report provides hydrological model projections for three sub-catchments of the Onkaparinga catchment (Scott Creek, Echunga Creek and Houlgrave Weir), based on NHMM simulations of rainfall and potential evapotranspiration from 15 general circulation models (GCMs) and two representative concentration pathways (RCPs).
The Onkaparinga Catchment is important. It supplies up to half of Adelaide's water. You can read a short overview of the catchment from a WaterWatch website.
As an aside, George Woodroffe Goyder was an explorer who is best known for having identified a South Australian boundary beyond which land wasn't suitable for farming. This is known as the Goyder line or Goyder's line. Most of South Australia is unsuitable for farming because of the low and unreliable rainfall.
Below is a rainfall map of Australia. South Australia is in the bottom middle - the state boundaries are marked on the map. (Click to enlarge.) You can see Adelaide, the capital of South Australia in the bottom right of the state. Alice Springs in the centre, is in the Northern Territory. It's drier in most of South Australia than it is in Alice Springs, in the Red Centre!
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
As you can see, the average annual rainfall is very low. Adelaide is okay but has always had to overcome difficulties in delivering a ready supply of potable water.
Climate Change and Surface Water in the Onkaparinga Catchment
The Goyder Institute has released three volumes on Impacts of Climate Change on Surface Water in the Onkaparinga Catchment. The volumes are:
- Volume 1: Hydrological Model Development and Sources of Uncertainty (click here)
- Volume 2: Hydrological Evaluation of the CMIP3 and CMIP5 GCMs and the Non-homogenous Hidden Markov Model (NHMM) (click here)
- Volume 3: Impacts of Climate Change on Runoff (click here)
(It has also released a report on 'Statistically Downscaled Climate Change Projections for South Australia', which looks interesting and flags challenges ahead, particularly in regard to rainfall reductions.)
The ABC reported the Onkaparinga Catchment study. Here are some extracts:
The flow of water into the biggest reservoir in South Australia is expected to halve over the next century, scientists say. ...
...The data includes modelling that Mount Bold reservoir, the state's largest water catchment just south of Adelaide, will see a big reduction in inflow.
As a changing climate brings hotter weather and less rainfall by the end of the century, the scientists say the reservoir will be dry at times.
Institute director Michele Akeroyd says the Onkaparinga catchment which feeds Mount Bold reservoir will change significantly in the next few years.
"The worst-case scenario indicates a halving of inflows into the Onkaparinga catchment over the century. That is against the high emissions scenario, and if you look at the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) data, we are actually tracking on that scenario at the moment," she said.
There is also an article about this research at The Conversation, which starts with:
Imagine a future where the yearly flow into one of the largest water reservoirs of a major Australian city could halve within 70 years. This is a scenario that Adelaide could face if the world continues on its current trajectory of high greenhouse gas emissions...
Ignorant sarcasm from WUWT
Cameron Goodison must be from somewhere far, far away from South Australia. He posted a time series chart to support his sarcasm. Problem is his chart was for all of southern Australia - including the southern half of Western Australia, most of South Australia and New South Wales, and all of Victoria and all of Tasmania.
The area the scientists were reporting on was the Onkaparinga catchment, which is a tiny portion of the state of South Australia, near to Adelaide!
I've put together an animation of maps showing the trend in annual rainfall, so you can see how things have changed over time. Each map is from the date specified to the present, going up in ten year increments from 1900 to 2014 through to 1970 to 2014.
|Source: Bureau of Meteorology|
As you can see, the trend over much of the continent declined quite remarkably from 1970. That period included the "big dry" - the very long drought affecting much of eastern Australia from early 2000s to 2010. Therefore it doesn't necessarily indicate future trends. What you can see, though is that from the 1950s onwards, the rainfall trend has been decreasing in the southeastern part of South Australia, which is ominous because that's where most of South Australia's population (and the most productive agriculture) is.
Water security is a very big deal in South Australia and particularly in its largest city, Adelaide.
Preparing for less water
The reports themselves are full of information. As you can see above, there are two full volumes discussing the hydrological and GCM models and confidence, as well as the report on projections.
I've animated Figure 3 from the third volume, which plots the projected percentage change in mean annual flow at Houlgrave Weir for two RCPs, for each of four time slices over this century through to 2100. It shows the expected decline in mean flow as climate change kicks in. (Click to enlarge it.)
I'd say that's definitely something that needs to be planned for. It takes a long time and a lot of money to build additional water facilities.
More conspiracy ideation from WUWT
WUWT is going great guns on conspiracies this week. WUWT-ers can't complain about Professor Lewandowsky's work, their conspiracy ideation is in your face, front and centre. Anthony Watts has been belting out one nefarious plot after another.
Cameron, while he did also post the trend map from 1970 to 2014, contributes his own effort of conspiracy ideation. Not only that, but he seems to expect the scientists to make projections of future streamflows and precipitation by guessing. Deniers don't like models - downscaled or otherwise. He wrote with what I think is meant to be sarcasm, denier-style (my emphasis):
Next what is the method used for making the projections??
Well the report says they used a CIMP5 model and combined it with a Markov model and a hydrological model and well the words are starting to get a bit big now so everything in the rest of the report is probably right. And we won’t the question the motives of the Goyder institute which relies on climate change for its very existence.
His article seemed pointless. He finishes with this:
So now the ABC has some science for its report they should probably go ask some politicians what they think. The Environmental minister says the report justifies his governments 1.8 billion dollar desalinisation plant which is costing 1 million dollars a day to produce water which currently isn’t needed. And so the ABC now has its typical climate change article in which the world is ending and we can only be saved by clever politicians, spending billions of dollars and a non-biased government funded media outlet.
Is he suggesting that the government shouldn't aim for water security? That South Australians should be left without any water from time to time this century?
Deniers really are weird and wacky, aren't they.
From the WUWT comments
cnxtim confuses short term variability affecting global surface temperatures,with long term projections of climate change. He or she also ignores the extensive volume detailing confidence and uncertainties. Not that Cameron, who wrote the article, was any help.
February 19, 2015 at 5:11 pm
they cant with any hint of accuracy predict the cause (or Pause) BUT they can predict the outcome, sheer genius!
Farmer Gez is an Australian, I'd say. He sums up the situation here very well.
February 19, 2015 at 5:50 pm
The high variability in Australian rainfall makes it a trend seekers delight. Start any line from the early 70’s or the 50’s and you will get a decline. Start at the 40’s or the first few years after 1900 then you get a slight increase.
An old farmer was once asked what was the average rainfall at his farm. “Sixteen inches, but we never get it” he replied.
poitsplace is another one who confuses short term natural fluctuations with long term climate changes.
February 19, 2015 at 6:19 pm
One of the big problems for anyone trying to tease out temperature/weather correlations from the modern data…is that it is dominated by ENSO and other natural cycles. The only remotely meaningful comparisons would be of similar global states, basically at the same point in the cycle. Sadly, once you do that…a great deal of the “climate change” goes away…and that reality just doesn’t make for good copy with the green cult. They’d rather lie about it and/or follow their sacred models. Sort of like when Bill Nye told a reporter that he feels they should mention “maybe its climate change” basically with all the extremes of weather.
poitsplace is wrong about the "dominate". Over the medium term, it's the greenhouse effect that dominates global changes. Look at the rising temperatures below and compare it to the PDO phases and ENSO (blue are La Nina and orange is El Nino years). The temperature rise is because of the CO2 we've added.
|PDO, ENSO and Global Surface Temperature: |
Sources: Nate Mantua, BoM and NASA
angech2014 is unusual for a WUWT-er. He or she is not just informed but is concerned about the dangers to the Murray River and environment. South Australians takes a lot of water from the Murray.
February 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm
Seeing that good Queensland, New South Wales and Victorian water being diverted from it’s river bed to feed the South Australians in Adelaide who will not build their own dams and hence cause massive silting and degradation of the Murray mouth with wetland destruction and bird deaths over the last 20 years makes one happy that they have built a desalination plant. Can they turn it on and save the Mighty Murray River?
Where is Greenpeace when you need it?
Drinking Lattes in the Adelaide Art Museum and street cafes, no doubt.
schitzree calls on some "they" who he or she wrongly thinks made predictions of permanent drought. No-one has predicted that. What will happen is that some areas will get a lot drier in already dry Australia. Droughts will get worse, not just from lack of rain but from the higher temperatures. The climate is changing.
February 19, 2015 at 7:22 pm
Didn’t they make these same predictions a few years ago? Just before the floods came again to overflow the dams kept at maximum level because of their predicted ‘Permanent Drought’? And didn’t they then claim that Floods were also consistent with their predictions? And now their back to drought.
These Prophets of Doom only seem to be able to predict whatever weather we’re currently getting.
Jack doesn't know if he's coming or going. He's a conspiracy theorist by inclination, assuming "dodgy data", and "advantageous" starting date and site. Perhaps he thinks the scientists should make up data that doesn't exist. And I don't know whether he expects the researchers to look outside the Onkaparinga Catchment to report on the Onkaparinga Catchment - or what. He does agree the desal plant is a good investment for South Australia.
February 19, 2015 at 8:29 pm
Dodgy data again by selecting the most advantageous starting date and sites.
They are not the only ones. Other states select data from low monsoon periods as the low jet cloud moves to and from the equator belt.
To be fair though South Australia is a dry state. It could not exist economically without big draw downs from The Murray River. It is one place where a desalination plant is useful. By 2016 the increased water charges, whether the plant is used or not, will have paid for it.
The point is that the desalination plant should be fully commissioned. 3 reasons.
The draw from the Murray River is expensive due to the cost of water.
The groundwater reserves are fully allocated and expensive to treat and the recharge is problematical in dry years.
The dams and weirs on the catchments can be systematically dredged and deepened by using the desal plant to take up the slack through their extensive pipeline systems.
Algal blooms cause a distinctive smell in Adelaide water and the cost of treatment is high. So by using the plant instead of abusing water rates payers, South Australia can virtually renew their whole water system.
Climate change has nothing to do with it. It is just good policy and forward thinking.
But then Jack wanders down the rabbit hole that Cameron pointed him to, writing (extract):
As for the start point 1970, that is laughable when Australia is one of the oldest and most weathered continents in the world. A lot of South Australia is desert. So if you bodgy your site selection around, you can make it fit any scenario.
Does he know that the "start point 1970" goes back as far as possible in the records - and is actually 1969 - and is streamflow data, not rainfall? (Rainfall records used go back as far as 1889.) I don't think anyone at WUWT understood what the data is or why it was selected or even where the Onkaparinga Catchment is. I'd say most WUWT-ers didn't have a clue that this was about a particular catchment - not all of South Australia.
Volume 1 discusses the data sources in a lot of detail, explaining what data was available, its reliability and why the data that was used was selected. Nor do I know why they keep talking about a start point of 1970. For rainfall data, the report has this:
Teoh  identified 93 rainfall records from the Bureau of Meteorology within and surrounding the Onkaparinga catchment. They then selected a subset of 23 gauges that have long records and are evenly spaced over the region....The timespan of each gauge is shown in Table 3 with the majority of gauges covering the entire record from 01/1889 to 06/2011. Days are defined as the 24 hours prior to 9 am.
And for streamflow data, the report has a table showing the length of the records and a detailed discussion of the data, including missing records. You can only work with what you've got. (The standout was Scotts Creek, which apparently had a continuous unbroken record from the first record in 1969.)
They are nothing but a bunch of fake sceptics at WUWT, believing without question the rubbish that Anthony Watts feeds them.