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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stop the presses! Anthony Watts has mentioned the Californian drought - then does a Tisdale

Sou | 2:19 PM Go to the first of 49 comments. Add a comment

OMG! Anthony Watts has mentioned the Californian drought (archived here). You know, the one plaguing his home state. True, the mention was buried in an article he wrote about El Niño. Still, it's worth celebrating. So what I've done is put together an animation of California drought status, starting in July 2006. I've put in the charts from US Drought Monitor for July and December - that is, two per year in July and December, from 2006 through to the latest chart in July 2015:

To put this momentous event (Anthony mentioning the drought) into perspective, here are some facts and figures from the animation and the US Drought Monitor archives:

  • There is only one chart where there is less than 10% of the state in drought - July 2006.
  • There are only four charts (out of 19) where less than 20% of the state is in drought. 

In nine years, California had only a short reprieve from drought in 2010-11

Most of California has been in drought almost the whole time since December 2006, with a short reprieve in the middle. As well as July 2006 there was a break in the drought in 2010-2011. Looking more closely, the drought broke in much of the state in February 2010. By the beginning of March, "only" 36% of the state was in drought, dropping to  12% by July 2010. This reprieve pretty well lasted until toward the end of 2011.

However, it didn't last long. By December 2011 more regions were rated as in drought. By 6 March 2012, more than 96% of the state was in drought.

If you want to know what Anthony wrote, here it is:
California could see an end to their drought situation, with the jet stream pattern changing to bring more winter storms to the south part of the state (hello mudslides).
Let's hope California does get another reprieve. It would give more time to prepare for the probable dry years ahead.

Anthony Watts does a Tisdale

Anthony then went into full denier mode, Tisdale-style. He wrote as if the world hasn't been getting hotter from global warming:
If a record ENSO event occurs it would virtually guarantee that 2015 will become the warmest year “ever”, which will set off all sorts of calls for controlling global warming, 2C limits etc, even though El Niño has nothing to do with CO2 posited warming, being a natural event of its own

El Niño has been happening for a very long time. Yes, it's natural internal variability, though how it will change with global warming is something I've wondered. In any case, what Anthony doesn't say is that El Niño is happening on top of the relentless rise in global surface temperature from greenhouse warming. If it weren't then temperatures would be no higher now than they were sixty or seventy years ago, El Niño or not.

El Niño years are orange, La Niña years are blue, the PDO index is on the right axis. Data sources: NASA GISS, and Japan Meteorological Agency and BoM

From the WUWT comments

Anthony's article was about the El Niño, priming his readers for a strong event. There were lots of armchair experts making various predictions. Here's a sample:

Pamela Gray wrote:
July 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm
Something tells me that we will not be hot for long. The ’98 El Nino came after multiple years of strong recharge events, meaning that the ’98 El Nino didn’t exhaust all the heat absorbed in the previous years. Notice the spread of heat to the North Pacific area that was not the case during the ’98 episode. Could this heat be left over from then? And is now being evaporated? We haven’t had much in the way of recharge events since the ’98 El Nino. My conclusion? There isn’t enough heat in the oceans to keep us warm for much longer.
Another way to look at this is to think of an oil slick. At first the oil is thick at its source, but it eventually spreads out over a much greater surface. Just because the surface area is greater does not mean there is more oil than what we started with. Calm seas do that to heat. At first the heat is all mixed in thanks to the wind-blender. But when the wind calms, the heat spreads out. Doesn’t mean there is more heat. It’s just spread out.
She thinks the five La Niñas since 1998 and the (two since 2010) weren't "much".

Remember in 2011 when there was so much rain it caused a dip in the global mean sea level?

Data source: U Colorado Sea Level Research Group

The point being, that if people expect a La Niña to rescue them from global warming, it ain't going to happen. The best they can hope for is a year or so when it doesn't get too much hotter. At the same time, in some areas it will get "too much" wetter.

Ian Wilson has built a model, described in a couple of long comments here and here, and he explains how it is built:
July 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm
It is built upon a simple alignment pattern between the lunar-line-of-apse, the lunar synodic cycle and the seasons, such that:
9 years + 9 years + 9 years + 4 year (slippage) = 31 years represents half of a full cycle of 62 years.

Matt G wants to move away from monitoring global warming by the rise in global surface temperature, or ocean heat content, or sea level, or melting ice. He's measuring it by the relative strength of El Niños.
July 24, 2015 at 1:15 pm
matthewrmarler July 24, 2015 at 11:44 am
There hasn’t been a strong El Nino since 1997/98 and the current one looks weaker based on similar time stages before they peak and also much cooler waters already developing off Peru. Since then CO2 has risen 35 ppm and yet 18 years later we still wait one to match it, never mind beat it. If it was CO2 related then why has taken this long and why have strong El Ninos occurred many thousands of years ago while CO2 levels were much lower? One mechanism that does match the change in the ENSO are the changes in global clouds and especially over the tropics. Changes in cloud levels in the tropics significantly affect the ocean absorbing solar radiation of which the ENSO is entirely derived from.

knr thinks there is a claim that cooling is proof of global warming. He or she is probably thinking about the hypothesis about the meandering jet stream bringing snow and coolish winters to some parts of the world. Globally, cooling is not evidence of warming. Well, you don't need me to tell you that.
July 24, 2015 at 10:34 am
Given that claim that cooling is ‘proof ‘ of global warming why do you think they will not jump on any increase in the temperature the El Nino brings will not also be jumped on has ‘proof ‘ ? 

Salvatore Del Prete is a denier who thinks that the greenhouse effect is an 'absurd theory', but he does accept some climate science, in a mish-mash with pseudo-science. He also thinks an ice age cometh:
July 24, 2015 at 6:54 amEl Nino is an earth bound intrinsic climatic factor which is not going to push the climate into some kind of a new regime.
The main climate drivers Milankovitch Cycles, Solar Variability. Geo Magnetic Field Strength ,Land Ocean Arrangements are trending toward colder times ahead.
In addition the PDO/AMO should trend to a cold phase and ENSO going forward will be featuring less El Nino’s after this one ends, if PDO reverts to it’s cold phase.  

Further reading from the HotWhopper archives

marke in the comments asked about the Californian drought and climate change, so here are some previous articles about papers on the drought, with links. (Sou 26 July 2105)


  1. Watts must realize at some point he will stop fooling people. Then what will he do - retire?

    1. By the time that happens the harm done will be so obvious that his red neck gun toting former fans will be baying for blood. Donor's Trust will be running an equivalent of a 'witness protection program' for all the high profile shills.

    2. I think increasing frailty will require him to fade out unbowed. Or bow out unfaded, whatever. Still not wrong is the main thing.

    3. There are always new people to fool. Look at tele-evangelist Peter Popoff caught red-handed pretending to be hearing God tell him about peoples' ailments when it was really his wife feeding him information via an ear microphone using cards the people had filled in. You'd think an expose like that would finish him off for good, but he's back with a multi-million dollar empire selling salt from the Dead Sea for miracles along with other bits of fraudulent idiocy, and his auditoriums are packed to capacity.

      That tells me Watts will do just fine till he's struck down by an extended heat wave that overtaxes his cholesterol-laden heart (not that I wish him dead or any harm at all---I'd prefer he live a long healthy life with all his wits relatively intact so he'll have a better chance to see how he's wasted his life on a fool's errand).

    4. It's been over a century and a half since Darwin published Origin of Species. I expect similarities by the sesquicentennial anniversary of James Hansen's 1988 Senate testimony. Motivated self-delusion is not easily eradicated -- and perversely, often becomes ever more entrenched and virulent as the evidence against it piles up. Snake oil salespersons are as ubiquitous as market demand for it.

    5. The notion that there will be a time during Watts's lifetime when he will fool no one is pretty loony.

  2. Salvatore Del Prete
    The main climate drivers ...Geo Magnetic Field Strength
    this explains all: since 1970s more electronics= more magnetic fields and then in the 90s all those windmills with their neodymium magnets=massive magnetic fields
    more fields = more temperature. Prete is just so right.

    Now if he would only explain how magnetic fields affect temperature we would be saved.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    2. Salvatore Del Prete has his own page over at another blogger's site one Chiefio who may be familiar from his being a computer programmer who is trying to be the Steve McIntyre of the surface temperature record, one who has teamed up with Joseph D'Aleo.

      [Reposted by Sou to comply with the comment policy.]

  3. Bert from ElthamJuly 25, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    Here is my latest astro image. It is of the Small Magellanic Cloud and a couple of globular clusters that have no relationship to this distorted galaxy.

    It has nothing to do with this thread. Enjoy the 6.4x3.4 degree field. Bert

    1. Crumbs Bert, you're making me want to get the gear to do this myself!


    2. That's marvelous, Bert. Thanks for posting.

    3. Bert from ElthamJuly 27, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      Thanks for the nice comments.
      What is interesting is that I use RGB filters with my CCD detector to get a colour image. These data frames need to be corrected for bias and thermal noise of the detector. The noise of cosmic rays and satellites are eliminated by stacking and averaging many frames and rejecting outliers. The slight vignetting of the optic and dust also needs to be corrected with flats.
      Even now the image is still linear and needs to be 'stretched' to be visible and pleasing to human vision which is logarithmic.
      I am sure that a visual astronomer denier would say this image is not real! I have merely adjusted it to suit my agenda. He just cannot see this sort of detail and colour through his telescope! Bert

  4. Ah, this El Niño might bring rain to Califoria. Okay, we can talk about the drought now.

    1. Yeah, that thought occurred to me too, Neven. He didn't actually talk about it. The comment was buried fairly deeply.

  5. What is the story regarding this Californian drought?
    Is it considered definitive proof of climate change, or perhaps even just another snippet of evidence?

    I am not sure it is:

    Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years -- compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.

    1. Ask a stupid question and you get....

    2. marke I've added some links at the bottom of the article, so you can expand your reading on the subject. The papers referenced will themselves have references to other papers.

    3. Marke is a troll I see.

      I am getting tired of his snide remarks and straw men. He isn't worth the bother.

    4. Yeah, the last bit of his question: "or perhaps even just another snippet of evidence" was really amateurish.

      I believe the correct description for him is given here:

      "the concern troll does not agree with the consensus, but he tries to hide that"

    5. Millicent,

      the old "I agree with global warming, but..." routine :-)

    6. Hi All,
      My position is clear, as I have stated here previously.

      I accept the physics involved, accept the role of CO2 as a heat trapping gas, but query whether 'we' understand the whole system, feedbacks etc well enough, and query the accuracy and precision of short and long term instrumental and proxy data sets and all the adjusting therein.
      As Sou has noted previously, I like my data, and my science, to be dead simple.

      I also query 'the market' concepts of controlling CO2 emissions. What works brilliantly on a small scale, traded between users in one economy (sulphur emissions and poer stations) does not necessarily translate well to a situation of myriad sources, multi layered economies, multiple different economies and markets, different employment rates, skill and education levels, and with the World Bank and the UN as middlemen in spite of ' expert' assurances that it will. ( hey, why does the Euro suddenly spring to mind?)

    7. Thanks Sou, for addressing my point, and for the links.

      Griffin and Anchukaitis (2014) is a nice paper. But if the argument is that this current Californian drought is proof (of some degree) that the world is warming as per predictions, it seems to me there is a certain circularity in using this paper to support the argument.

      Griffin and Anchukaitis (2014) (GA2014) tells us, according to their assessment, "... the 2012–2014 drought is the worst in our combined NOAA-NADA estimate and 2014 is the single most arid case in at least the last 1200 years..."

      This is based on the use of the PDSI (Palmer Drought Severity Index) which is based on estimated soil moisture content. Which, in the case of this index, is calculated by using known precipitation, soil and temperature data. (in the case of GA2014, using instrumental data for recent times, and paleodata for the earlier years). It is apparent that calculated soil moisture data in 'paleo-data' must be calculated from the temperature and rainfall proxy data.

      In the article they state (in regard to precipitation data). Over the last 1200 years, we estimate that there are 37 occurrences of 3 year droughts and a total of 66 uninterrupted dry periods (e.g., every year below the 800 to 2014 mean) lasting between 3 and 9 years. We estimate that ∼44% of 3 year droughts go on to last 4 years or longer...." but, taking the paleoclimate temperature data into account, they then go on to state .. In terms of cumulative severity, it is the worst drought on record (−14.55 cumulative PDSI), more extreme than longer (4 to 9 year) droughts. Considering only drought episodes defined by at least three consecutive years all lower than −2 PDSI, only three such events occur in the last 1200 years, and 2012–2014 is the most severe of these.

      Further: However, (rainfall) deficits in 2014 are less severe than those reconstructed during punctuated dry periods in the late sixteenth (1571, 1580, and 1585), eighteenth (1721, 1765, 1782, and 1795), or nineteenth (1829, 1864, 1877, and 1898) centuries (Figure 2c). Moderately greater precipitation deficits were also reconstructed during the instrumental period (1934, 1961, 1990, and 2002).

      In summary, if the point is that this Californian drought is proof of a warming world, and note that the precipitation data (used here, and assumed, for the sake of this discussion, to be accurate) is not unusual or out of normal range, then stating the current drought is significant in the context of AGW, is using the paleo temperature proxies to support the evidence that the paleo temperature data is correct and the planet is indeed warming as per predictions and modelling.

      Other notes:
      The PDSI chart (bottom chart, Fig 1, from the year 800 to 2014, that is, by eyeball, a pretty variable dataset. Also, by eyeball, I can see at least 20 or so cases where the PDSI is lower (worse) than the line showing the 2014 level. However in their Figure 4 showing PDSI vs Rainfall (only from 1293 to 2014) the 2014 figure is alone in its level.

      The precipitation paleodata (tree rings) used here correlated well with the instrument data used (1920–2014) (R2 = 0.82). Assuming the paleo temperature data correlated similarly with the available temperature instrumental data, even ignoring the likelihood of autocorrelation for the various tree ring datasets used (temperature proxies reflecting some rainfall effects, and vice versa) combining two sets of proxy data in an index must increase the uncertainty of the calculated index.

      The PDSI uses the Thornthwaite method of estimating PET and ... There are approximately 50 methods or models available to estimate PET, but these methods or models give inconsistent values due to their different assumptions and input data requirements, or because they were often developed for specific climatic regions (Grismer et al., 2002)..


    8. You've framed the issue poorly IMO marke. The question is not whether the Californian drought is proof that the world is warming. We already have ample evidence of that. In regard to the Californian drought, the question that scientists look at is the extent to which human activity has influenced it, and in what manner That is, how much different is this drought from what it might have been like if CO2 had remained at 280 ppm instead of 400ppm plus. (And what is the likelihood that there'd have been a drought - or how long it would have lasted, and factors like temperature, moisture etc)

      Different people have looked at this from different perspectives as the various papers I referred you to have shown.

    9. Marke

      As Sou has noted previously, I like my data, and my science, to be dead simple.

      You like your science to align with your politics. We have met before, elsewhere, so you can shitcan the disingenuousness.

    10. Nah, BBD, I really do. I hate running multi-factorial trials, whenever I can I run a simple treatment and control (well, maybe two treatments with the one control, but I hate overlapping treatments).

      That is probably more to do with my very basic grasp on statistics, but my aversion to adjusted data comes from seeing people get exactly the result that was wanted. Results not readily apparent before adjustments.

      I'm not really sure of my politics, now I am somewhere in the middle compared with my rightish wing younger days.


    11. Marke

      More drought in a warming world is a no-brainer. Trying to muddy the waters with arguments about fractional attribution is typical denialism pretending to be sciency.

    12. but my aversion to adjusted data comes from seeing people get exactly the result that was wanted. Results not readily apparent before adjustments.

      Nefarious intent paranoid conspiracy theorist crap.

    13. Marke: "but my aversion to adjusted data comes from seeing people get exactly the result that was wanted. Results not readily apparent before adjustments."

      That is interesting. Most people from your tribe think that climatologists are exaggerating the importance of climate change. Something with climatologists being politically of the wrong colour and writing up what Obama wants them to say (ignoring that politicians would much rather solve solvable problems). Just shows that they have no clue of how science works and what motivates scientists.

      Or did you simply not know that climatologists reduce the amount of warming with their adjustments?

    14. Sorry BBD, Victor, I did not make my point very clearly.

      In regard to "...but my aversion to adjusted data comes from seeing people get exactly the result that was wanted. Results not readily apparent before adjustments...." I was actually referring to trial work I have seen in different fields. Not necessarily deliberately creating the result, more a case of cleaning up messy data with a clear preconceived vision of what is should look like.

      I don't think climate scientists are likely to be deliberately crafting certain results, but think it is possible that similar bias to the above may potentially creep in to the mix.


    15. More insinuations that climate science is 'biased' and somehow untrustworthy.

      Self-serving politicised denialist bollocks for which not a single shred of evidence actually exists.

    16. My response to the climate science is biased meme is to say that it certainly is - biased in favour of the truth.

    17. Our new pal is so determined to reject the science that he will adopt any stance, no matter how puerile, that suits the moment. And he claims its the scientists who are showing bias. If he wants to find bias he only has to look in the mirror. I'm not sure whether its his idiocy or hypocrisy that offends me more.

  6. Anthony denies anthropogenic influences in the CA drought but he's happy to anthropomorphise his state:

    California could see an end to their drought situation

    1. PH, are you saying there are clear and visible anthropogenic influences on this Californian drought?

    2. May I answer that? Drought is a product of water loss versus water gain. As the CO2 we have put in the air has made this planet 0.7C hotter then water loss is greater. So human activity certainly has an influence.

      I'd have thought anybody would know that. But then I suppose concern trolls have to pretend to know nothing in order to pursue their mission of FUD spreading. Mind you: as any fanboy straight from WUWT is unlikely to have picked up any real knowledge perhaps your ignorance is not merely feigned. Do please tell us if that is so.

    3. Millicent.
      This is the circularity I see:

      1. We know it is getting warmer because we can see how severe this drought is.
      2. We know this drought is more severe than previous droughts because we know it is warmer.

    4. "We know it is getting warmer because we can see how severe this drought is."

      We know it is getting warmer because measuring temperature tells us that is so. Were you really trying for the stupidest denier comment ever? Seriously: how do you come up with the idea I could say the world is 0.7C hotter because there's a drought in California?

      I do see some circularity. It exists entirely in your mind.

  7. As Sou already highlighted, for me the money quote is: If a record ENSO event occurs it would virtually guarantee that 2015 will become the warmest year “ever”, which will set off all sorts of calls for controlling global warming, 2C limits etc, even though El Niño has nothing to do with CO2 posited warming, being a natural event of its own.

    File under: summer heatwaves are just weather, winter cold snaps are another nail in AGW's coffin. It's all so drearily predictable:

  8. "If a record ENSO event occurs it would virtually guarantee that 2015 will become the warmest year “ever”, which will set off all sorts of calls for controlling global warming, 2C limits etc, even though El Niño has nothing to do with CO2 posited warming, being a natural event of its own."

    So Watts is finally acknowledging the invalidity of using the 1998 El Niño as the start of a spurious "pause". I expect that when Tamino reanalyses in six months the global temperature record, with the confounding effects of El Niño, aerosols and vulvanism removed, Watts will rush to repost Tamino's analysis in order to reiterate that El Niño events should not be used as points of reference when talking about a human-caused global warming trend.


    1. Not on your nellie, BJ. This tacit acknowledgement will be short-lived. Deniers will be eyeing off this year as the start of the next "pause" - though I suspect they'll be disappointed if the IPO/PDO has just entered a warm phase, which might be the case.

      If so, they'll have to put their next "pause" on hold for a few years. Even in deniersville a "pause" of less than 12 months doesn't do much for them.

      (What happens when you put a pause on hold? :D)

    2. Actually I expect to hear "no warming for 17 years" echoing on for more years yet. The phrase is embedded now and the passage of time will not erode it.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Does anyone know who Mike Tisdale is and what his qualifications are? Can't fund any expert of any sort under his name.

    1. You probably mean Bob Tisdale. Sorry about that, I should have been more explicit.

      Bob's qualifications are not formal. He's what you might call a qualified pseudo-scientist. A WUWT quack. He claims competence in downloading data from KNMI Climate Explorer and plotting charts. He claims to understand what he's plotting but rarely shows any evidence that he has the first clue. He has some understanding of the mechanics of ENSO, but nothing like the level of expertise he thinks he has. And he doesn't understand any of the science of climate. He uses Anthony Watts blog to sell tedious, mostly indecipherable, and very long pdf files.

      Bob is a greenhouse effect denier who suffers from Dunning-Kruger syndrome. (You'll have to look it up.)

      You can search for articles about his "work" using the search bar at the top of this page.

  11. What's so tough about understanding about natural variability being impacted by the warming of the entire system.

    Oh yeah, when one's goal is to remain stupid - it's easy.
    The know-nothings have it.
    Can't wait to see USA's Republican Presidential candidates debate AGW.

    1. That whole US Presidential circus is going to be something to watch, preferably from a safe distance. One hopes Republican fragility on the subject will encourage Clinton to get climate and the green economy up front in her campaign. Ideally all Democrats will do the same and get some sane governance back into Congress.


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