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Monday, June 13, 2016

Extra-tropical storms: Anthony Watts publishes more of Tim Ball's nonsense

Sou | 3:17 PM Go to the first of 12 comments. Add a comment

While Anthony Watts might have said something to Tim Ball to stop him writing about his favourite conspiracy theory about the One World Government, he hasn't stopped him from making up nonsense about climate science. Today he's published an article by Tim where he wrongly claimed that the world is cooling (archived here). Tim lives on a world of his own, not this one. In your world and mine, the global mean surface temperature has had four of the last four decades the hottest ever recorded. It's also had two of the last two years the hottest ever recorded, soon to be three of three:

In this article from the greenhouse effect denier, Timothy Ball, he was writing about mid-latitude cyclones, or extra-tropical cyclones. These are different to tropical cyclones. The Bureau of Meteorology website explains:
To a first approximation a tropical cyclone is like a heat engine - it derives its energy from the heat that is released when water vapour that has been evaporated from the ocean surface (assisted by high winds and low pressure) condenses in the middle of the atmosphere. Mid-latitude cyclones (low pressure systems associated with fronts) primarily get their energy from horizontal gradients in temperature.

Another important difference between the two is that tropical cyclones have their strongest winds near the surface while mid-latitude systems have their strongest winds many kilometres above the surface near the top of the atmosphere.

IPCC: Mid-latitude storms might or might not increase

The jury is still out on whether there will be more major storms as the world heats up. Scientists are more in agreement that the strongest storms will be stronger. This is what is written in the latest IPCC report, AR5. (Mid-latitude storms are extra-tropical storms):
While projections indicate that it is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged, concurrent with a likely increase in both global mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed and rainfall rates, there is lower confidence in region-specific projections of frequency and intensity. However, due to improvements in model resolution and downscaling techniques, it is more likely than not that the frequency of the most intense storms will increase substantially in some basins under projected 21st century warming (see Figure TS.26). {11.3.2, 14.6.1}

Research subsequent to the AR4 and SREX continues to support a likely poleward shift of storm tracks since the 1950s. However over the last century there is low confidence of a clear trend in storminess due to inconsistencies between studies or lack of long-term data in some parts of the world (particularly in the Southern Hemisphere). {2.6.4, 2.7.6} Despite systematic biases in simulating storm tracks, most models and studies are in agreement that the global number of extra-tropical cyclones is unlikely to decrease by more than a few per cent. A small poleward shift is likely in the Southern Hemisphere storm track. It is more likely than not (medium confidence) for a projected poleward shift in the North Pacific storm track but it is unlikely that the response of the North Atlantic storm track is a simple poleward shift. There is low confidence in the magnitude of regional storm track changes, and the impact of such changes on regional surface climate.

Tim Ball tells fibs about the IPCC reports

Contrary to that, Tim wrote the following in different parts of his article, without providing any evidence of course, because he has none.
  • Combine these confusions of natural and unnatural, normal and abnormal with incorrect science and you create myths such as the claim that with global warming storms will become more frequent and severe.
  • The focus on warm air created by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for their political agenda means that most people don’t know that the cold air dictates what happens in the atmosphere. 
  • The (IPCC) predict that with global warming these Mid-Latitude Cyclones will increase in frequency and severity. 
  • The fact that storms increase with global cooling will appear to support the myth that they are due to warming. Sadly, you only need one apparently substantiated myth to keep the entire mythology alive.

Yes, he's right that storms will continue to become more severe, as they have been. I don't know what he's talking about with his "focus on warm air", nor what he means by "political agenda". He's wrong about the IPCC predicting "more frequent". And he's wrong about his "one apparently unsubstantiated myth". WUWT survives only because foolish people want to believe any number of unsubstantiated myths, including contradictory myths and wacky conspiracy theories.

The odd thing is that there is one point where Tim seems to agree with the IPCC reports, or what he says is written in them. He wrote:
The IPCC say that global warming will occur more in the cold polar air than in the tropical air. The result of this reduces the Zonal Index and the energy potential for Mid-Latitude Cyclones.
Tim just added the last bit about energy potential all by himself. He again falsely claimed:
The (IPCC) predict that with global warming these Mid-Latitude Cyclones will increase in frequency and severity. The problem is this is scientifically incorrect, which creates the dilemma that either they are incompetent or intend to deceive: either way it is an indictment.
The false bit is that the IPCC predicted an increase in frequency, when it was in fact ambivalent on the matter. It is Tim Ball who is either incompetent or intends to deceive, and either way there is no dilemma, it is an indictment on Timothy Ball, Anthony Watts and WUWT. Here is another passage from the IPCC, in Section Extra-Tropical Cyclones:
Increases in midlatitude SST gradients generally lead to stronger storm tracks that are shifted poleward and increases in subtropical SST gradients may lead to storm tracks shifting towards the equator (Brayshaw et al., 2008; Semmler et al., 2008; Kodama and Iwasaki, 2009; Graff and LaCasce, 2012). However, changes in storm-track intensity is much more complicated, as they are sensitive to the competing effects of changes in temperature gradients and static stability at different levels and are thus not linked to GMST in a simple way (Ulbrich et al., 2009; O’Gorman, 2010). Overall global average cyclone activity is expected to change little under moderate greenhouse gas forcing (O'Gorman and Schneider, 2008; Ulbrich et al., 2009; Bengtsson and Hodges, 2011) although in one study, human influence has been detected in geostrophic wind energy and ocean wave heights derived from sea level pressure data (Wang et al., 2009b). 
There is more along the lines of a possible shift toward the poles in AR5 Section Atmospheric Circulation, plus a description of all the factors other than greenhouse forcing that will have an impact. This includes ozone layer depletion and recovery in the southern hemisphere, and in the northern hemisphere in the near term, natural variability may have as large an impact as anthropogenic forcing.

Tim mentioned the zonal index so I went again to the IPCC report. But first, the definition of Zonal Index that Tim used is straight from the AMS definition (except Tim's version didn't have links):
A measure of strength of the middle-latitude westerlies, expressed as the horizontal pressure difference between 35° and 55° latitude, or as the corresponding geostrophic wind.
The report only mentioned the zonal index three times, and that was only in citations, Li et al 2003 and Gerber and Vallis 2007. I did find this bit, however - another reference where the IPCC report stated that it's not clear if the frequency of extra-tropical cyclones will increase or decrease. So it's more evidence that Tim is making up stuff.
One of the most important factors is the change in the meridional temperature gradient from which extratropical cyclones (ETCs) draw most of their energy. This gradient is projected to increase in the upper troposphere due to tropical amplification and decrease in the lower troposphere due to polar amplification, and it is still unclear whether this will lead to an overall increase or decrease in ETC activity.

Tim spouts a conspiracy theory

Tim's articles are not complete if he doesn't say global warming is a hoax (or the equivalent). They are not complete without a conspiracy theory or two. This time Tim started his article with one of his favourites:
Some claim the entire notion that human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere is causing global warming is a deliberately created myth, that it was produced to isolate CO2 as a serious environmental problem that required curtailing the economies of developed countries. To enhance the threat required endangerment to plants, animals, and humans.
Substitute "some claim" with "Timothy Ball claims" and you'll recognise that this is his very own conspiracy theory. Right at the end Tim spins in recursive fury - I think he's saying that he expects storms to increase but that will be evidence of cooling (even if all the world's thermometers say otherwise):
The fact that storms increase with global cooling will appear to support the myth that they are due to warming. Sadly, you only need one apparently substantiated myth to keep the entire mythology alive.

From the WUWT comments

I waited and waited for lots of comments, to give you a better selection. The articles have been fewer lately, and the comments are no better for the wait. Here is a sample of the 49 thoughts in the past 8 hours:

climatereason thinks that "truly exceptional" storms are less likely to happen in a hotter world. He doesn't provide any evidence of that (Lamb's quotes from Tim were from the early 1970s, there's been a lot of warming since then). Nor does he say why he thinks that as the world keeps getting hotter this would continue. I'll assume he's talking about mid-latitude storms like Sandy and all the storms that have brought multiple devastating floods to the UK and Europe these past few years, not tropical cyclones like Pam and Haiyan.
June 12, 2016 at 2:53 pm
Whilst I can not agree with the author that the world is currently cooling there is no doubt that the truly exceptional storms occur during the cooler rather than warmer times.
Lamb is but one historical climatologist who noted this, there are numerous others, imcluding myself, who have also researched this subject. I use the extensive Met office recrds and the storms contained in such records put our current time into their mostly relatively benign perspective.
If we continue to warm we will hopefully escape some of the weather extremes of the sometimes cooler past.

Bartleby gets very annoyed when people point out that the world is warming:
June 12, 2016 at 11:54 am
“There is added confusion in the climate debates because proponents continually interchange ‘natural’ and ‘normal.’”
This is most obnoxious when advocates of the AGW hypothesis deliberately conflate warming with anthropogenic warming, then engage in defying their opponents to demonstrate the planet isn’t warming in order to prove it isn’t being caused by humans. I can’t count the times I’ve listened to the smug liars take advantage of that technique, knowing full well their victims are trapped as soon as they take up the challenge.
They’ve so thoroughly trained both the general population and the media to automatically assume all warming is anthropogenic it’s never challenged. “Prove the world isn’t warming you denler!” runs the attack, and it almost always succeeds against the novice.
Thanks for the detailed discussion of cyclones and the forces that drive them.

Johann Wundersamer wrote an unrepeatable islamophobic comment to Toneb, for some inexplicable reason.

jccarlton hasn't read anything about weather or climate or mid-latitude storms, apart from the nonsense fed to him at WUWT. That doesn't stop him from lecturing climate scientists:
June 12, 2016 at 12:30 pm
Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
What the AGW people fail to understand is that energy transfer increases as the delta increases, not as the delta decreases. If storms are increasing in intensity, that means that more energy is being transferred which will only happen if the polar caps get cooler, not warmer. This is all basic thermodynamics, something the climate scientists must have failed at.
vukcevic is one of the many greenhouse effect deniers at WUWT, who thinks that climate scientists are deliberately lying. He doesn't explain the magic by which all the tens of thousands of scientists have produced research in accord with each other over decades:
June 12, 2016 at 1:08 pm
Neither they are incompetent or deluded; by now the ‘climate scientists’ know very well that the CO2 if anything at all, is by far the most insignificant player in the short, medium or long term climate change.

Thomas is keen for Tim to produce evidence of a cooling world. Tim doesn't oblige and neither did anyone else, which isn't surprising. (It doesn't exist.)
June 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm
Dr. Ball. Another excellent article. Thanks!
You wrote, “The current situation is problematic because the world is cooling as all the evidence of changing solar activity indicates.”
Where can I read more about that? 
Toneb (a genuine meteorologist, unlike Tim Ball) pointed out some of Tim's many errors:
June 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm (excerpt)
The problem is this is scientifically incorrect, which creates the dilemma that either they are incompetent or intend to deceive: either way it is an indictment.”

There is a third option.

That “they” know more than you Tim Ball.

The pressure difference is a function of the temperature difference, the greater the temperature difference, the greater the pressure difference the stronger the winds and the potential for more severe storms. The IPCC say that global warming will occur more in the cold polar air than in the tropical air. The result of this reduces the Zonal Index and the energy potential for Mid-Latitude Cyclones.”

This is true – but is not the only casual factor on developing mid-latitude baroclinic depressions. Release of latent heat of condensation in forced ascent being one. This will increase in a warming world.

PVA or +ve vorticity advection being another. This relates to the cyclonic spin induced by a jet stream, and is not entirely dependent on it’s strength, but also its curvature. A meridional PJS can, via increased cyclonic curvature in the driving upper trough of the long-wave (especially when combined with a fast moving short-wave or “jet-streak” ) result in forced ascent and “explosive” development.

Mr Ball HH Lamb published “Climate: Present, Past, and Future.” in 1972.

There is a whole wealth of research since then…….
Toneb quoted from the IPCC third assessment report - you can read the rest of his comment here.

commieBob referred readers to the WUWT extreme weather events page:
June 12, 2016 at 5:29 pm
Extreme weather events are not increasing. I invite you to examine the wealth of data on the WUWT Extreme Weather Page.
I realize that you have presented some data that purports to show that storms have increased in a warming world. The bulk of the available data shows otherwise.
That WUWT page is of very limited value. Most of the focus is on hurricanes and tornadoes, which may not increase in frequency but are likely to increase in intensity. Much of the rest is outdated, going only to 2008. Some important charts are missing. Many are averaged across the USA, without making it clear that, for example, the west is getting drier while the east is getting more extreme wet. There is no reference to the excellent BAMS extreme events supplements that are published each year. Instead there are links to uber disinformer "Steve Goddard". Nor is there a reference to the Munich Re report, which shows just how much extreme events have been increasing. The green red and orange are weather and climate related (click to enlarge):

dbstealey put up a dubious (ie wrong) chart from a denier in a predatory journal, falsely claiming to be deaths from extreme weather, and said that means extreme weather events are declining. He's a dedicated disinformer.

Bill Illis is a right wing authoritarian follower who complains that he feels inferior to scientists. Serves him right.
June 12, 2016 at 3:44 pm
We all know these pro-warming scientists and their pro-green activist kin are dangerous people.
They are sacrificing the greater good for their own personal incomes and prestige and the need to feel morally superior. They need to pay for what they have done.
cut off the money and people can go back to being just normal human beings. Then the story will unravel and the greater good will return to holding the morally superior position.

JohnB thinks that maybe Tim Ball misquoted the Royal Society of 1709. It looks like a quote from New Scientist in 2009, three hundred years later.
June 12, 2016 at 5:09 pm
Not to be picky but the quote from the Royal society is sussed.
“and the soil froze to a depth of a metre or more”
The metre wasn’t around in 1709, it was defined in 1793. The quote cannot be correct.

Poor old Chuck Weise is a meteorologist (not a researcher) in very deep denial. His politics won't let him "believe" science and his disinformation antics over the years has him running scared of being caught up in RICO investigations.
June 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm
Tim Ball is spot on. It drives meteorologists crazy to repeatedly hear climate blather as he describes that runs contrary to everything that is taught in atmospheric science about severe weather and storm behavior.
The climate establishment is incompetent and has everything backwards with respect to meteorology and atmospheric science. It is actually the practice of environmental religion that is tied to left wing politics that use it to advance destructive political policies to control energy and create a new slew of regulations and taxes that will accomplish nothing except destroy the economy and job opportunities.
And if we look at the political circles that want to prosecute and silence dissent on this subject using the RICO statutes, it appears to me that academia, who is advancing this nonsense, would also like to insulate itself from ever having to accept any responsibility for the gross deceptions and incompetence they are placing upon the public. In their minds, I’m sure they feel if this continues as they would like the government to make it do, then their future funding would become free of any future scrutiny regardless of accuracy or incompetence. Just as some politicians would like so as to assist them in continuing to advance their destructive, controlling policies and taxes upon the public. It appears new and rich sources of revenue to government are more important than the truth. 


  1. "That WUWT page is of very limited value."

    Yes, that and several other WUWT 'reference pages'. Apparently there have been issues with the blog site hoster changing images to https format, and this has affected older charts in places other than WUWT, including Nick's place.

    This difficulty is generally overcome by clicking on the image, which updates it to the latest image provided by that source (so long as the link to the source has been maintained by the blog in question).

    However, trying that with the WUWT 'Global Temperatures' page you still only get:

    - Roy Spencer's version of UAH updated to December 2015 (i.e. before the latest record month in March 2016)

    - The Jan-Dec NOAA/NCDC global temperature data updated only to Dec 2014; immediately before the big noticeable jump in 2015

    - NCDC monthly ocean surface temperatures (via Ole Humlum's site) stopped at June 2015; immediately before a series of consecutive new monthly records were set from July to October 2015

    - HadSST3 monthly ocean surface temperatures (again via Ole Humlum's site) ending in Dec 2013; immediately before the numerous new record months set throughout 2014 and 2015.

    Lots of other charts are out of date too, but, unlike those mentioned above, these update when you click on the chart or source. Anthony seems to be in no hurry to update these links.

    He's very busy.

  2. It seems to me that people focus on two cyclonic parameters - number per annum and wind-speed - and forget a very important third: the amount of precipitation. It's quite possible that neither of the first two will change significantly but that the last will, and that in doing so there will be profound impacts on human society.

    1. You're right there Bernard J. This is mentioned quite a bit in some scientific papers on the subject, probably more than in the IPCC report itself.

  3. yes there has been some discussion about this topic - especially relevant to Europe atm

    and it seems that the major change is not only the total amount of precipitation, but also that the storm travels slower - hence a greater amount of rain falls over a smaller area

    1. Rain (and dry) systems moving more slowly is a prediction of global warming. It is due to the reduced temperature contrast between the poles and the equator.

      Australia just had it's warmest autumn on record. And the ski season started today - but I don't think there is much snow.

    2. Tadaaa, I agree about the slow travel with some systems, but they can be very large. The one in Europe recently flooded a fair amount of territory, and the one in Australia last week stretched from Queensland right down to Tasmania - it was monstrous and lasted for ages.

    3. @ HT and Sou

      in my limited knowledge of meteorology (from sailing), and taking into account a sort of "Reverse Dunning Kruger", I always sort of thought that with the Artic warming it would decrease the pressure gradient across to the equator - hence wind speed etc

      when I did try and look into it, it appears that the mega storms are effected much more by wind sheer in the upper atmosphere, so are sort of unaffected by the above phenomena

  4. You say Tim Ball lives in a world of his own and these lyrics pop into my head:

    We'll build a world of our own
    That no one else can share.
    All our sorrows we'll leave far behind us there.
    And I know you will find
    There'll be peace of mind
    When we live in a world of our own.

    They could be the denier anthem but that would spoil the legacy of one of Australia's great gifts to the world.

  5. So, to summarize (and I'm neither a climate scientist nor a meteorologist, nor do I play either on TV)"

    Higher temps could lead to stronger storms, because higher temperature = more energy = higher winds. Also, higher temps = more evaporation, so more moisture in the air to fall as rain.

    So while the number and frequency of storms might not change, the severity might (in both wind speed and moisture content = flooding). Also higher storm surges, due both to higher winds and higher sea level.

    There are differences, however, between tropical storms and mid-latitude storms; the former might tend to track more toward the equator, the latter more toward the poles. Tropical storms might be affected more by heat and moisture because they are fed more from energy closer to the ground than are mid-latitude storms.

    Finally, because the temperature difference between the poles and the equator is decreasing (i.e., the poles are warming faster than the rest of the world), this could tend to make storms slower-moving, which would tend to increase the effect of the storms upon the areas over which they pass.

    Is that about right?

    1. I'll also add that in as far as slower-moving storms spend more time over the ocean before landfall, that would tend to give them more opportunity to collect moisture (= more rain, more flooding) and heat energy from the ocean (= higher winds).

  6. Actually, cause speaking about french floods and increase RR, I can expand a bit about this. There is many things totally crazy with the floods. France has an oceanic climate (excepted for deep south east, Marseille représente ! ). It rains 10 or 15 day every month, with about 60 mm, and from clim there is no dry or wet month. From year to year some months are drier, some wetter but in the end rains is very homogeneous. So floods are driven by ETP, wich hit a low in winter. So winter flood, summer hydrological drought. This year it was totaly crazy and up side down ( right words ? ) with a winter drought and summer floodings... December 2015 was dry (so far ok) and warm (this is already weird, in our climate dry winter months are cold) and rivers and lakes hit low water level like in august ( and sometimes like un august 2003 without exageration...). Totally crazy and probably unheard in the last millenia. And in 6 months and againt the seasonal cycle we go from drought to floodings... Some rivers (la sauldre et le loing actually hit record high well above the famous january -january...- 1910 floods), the chateau de chambord was besieged by waters probably for the first time since its construction (officials from the casstle are going to check the records but it is something unheard of) and so on. For the Seine watershed in the last millenia there is very few june floods, to my knowledge 2, the 1856 floods and another one in the 17th century, the two after a cold and wet winter and spring wich delay the snow melting and the water peak. Here, record floods with no cold temperature, no late snow, and only the "strenght" of the rains. Feeling more like moonson climate than oceanic cliamte actually. I dont know what is the craziest thing in all this crazy things but going from record and winter drought to record and summer floods is a clear sign that something is totaly wrong


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