Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Weather extremes all over...

Sou | 9:25 AM Go to the first of 28 comments. Add a comment

You won't read about this at WUWT.

The UK is suffering historic floods with excessive rainfall - the UK Met reported 372.2 mm (14.6") over two months and it keeps on pouring down.

Whether weather is bad is relative to what is expected.  On Cape York there was 1.2 metres (47.2") of rain in just seven days.  That's wet!

Here in Melbourne we've had the most catastrophic fire conditions since 2009.  That's only four years ago and the 2009 conditions would have been the worst on record.  We've had similar hot weather (40 degrees plus) for extended periods with little rain.  At least 21 34 homes have been destroyed by fire in the past day or so, most of them on the outskirst of Melbourne - but there are likely to be lots more.  We won't know until people can get into the area to check.

Thought it was worth a sanity check, given all that WUWT is reporting is the extent of snow in the USA, while ignoring the unusual warm weather in Alaska.


  1. Sou, for a site that apparently prides itself on (indeed often rests it's case on) scientific veracity, this article is surprising. Floods in the UK and on Cape York, and warmth in Alaska - these are weather events and shed nothing new on the subject of climate change. Now I realise you are just responding to the same nonsense about snow in the USA, but surely fighting fire with fire impacts on this site's credibility.

    1. ha ha - you are so full of it, Greig. Are you trying to be to HotWhopper what richardscourtney is to WUWT? The playground monitor?

      Get over yourself. I can write whatever I like - it's my blog. I've provided links to the sources of information and I assure you they are credible sources.

      As for weather and climate - I didn't mention climate I wrote about weather.

      Just the same - did you know that climate can be defined as weather that it expected. Given what we "expect" is changing so fast, these extremes of weather are rapidly becoming the new normal.

      For example - downpours are getting more intense. Okay - you walk around with your eyes shut, but I can assure you that's a fact.

      Some scientists are saying that with the changes in the Arctic, the UK will have to get used to more wet winters as time goes on.

      My home state Victoria used to get a major bushfire something like once every twenty or thirty years. Now it's a remarkable year when there aren't any major fires.

      It's called changing climate or climate change and it's caused by global warming.

      Get used to it or get over it.

      And quit your trolling. This is my blog not yours. I decide what I blog about not you. (Sheesh, as if Greig doesn't give us enough grief, now he's trying to tell me what I can and cannot write about :D)

    2. Greig, have you posted comments at WUWT, telling him that his posts of US snow are "impact(ing) on his site's credibility"?

      The point here is very clear: lower-48 US snow doesn't tell you about global climate. Sou doesn't claim that these events confirm AGW.

      Is this the new "play nice" approach? Tell people who criticize the pseudo-skeptics that they should be quiet (and let the p-s's control the dialog) ?

    3. Sou, you should know, I respect your right to blog on whatever topic you like, I didn't mean to offend you.

      did you know that climate can be defined as weather that it expected.


      My home state Victoria used to get a major bushfire something like once every twenty or thirty years. Now it's a remarkable year when there aren't any major fires.

      You are drawing on anecdotal evidence to create an observed correlation between bushfire incidence and climate change. There is no scientific evidence for your correlation. To be clear, there may be increased bushfire risk in the future, but it is not currently observed.

      Greig, have you posted comments at WUWT, telling him that his posts of US snow are "impact(ing) on his site's credibility"?

      I don't read WUWT, so why would I comment there?

    4. Greig, for some reason, your "respect" isn't in evidence and doesn't stop you telling me what to do :(

      As for bushfires - you might count a significant increase in the frequency of major bushfires and area burned in the past few years as "anecdotal". I don't. I've lived it. Here is the Climate Council's take:


      The biggest fires? Bearing in mind that we now have way better communication, helicopters to fight from the air and lots more people on the ground to spot fires - look at this and weep:

      1851 - 5 million ha

      Then forty seven years elapsed till
      1898 - 260,000 ha

      Then forty years elapsed till:
      1938-39 - 2,000,000 ha

      Only five years later:

      1944 1,000,000 ha

      Then another twenty one years to the first big fires I recall:

      1965 300,000 ha

      Almost another twenty years till the Ash Wednesday fires, that were considered a monster - and sparked mammoth changes to communication and firefighting technology:
      1983 510,000 ha

      Then twenty more years to these ones spaced only a three years or so apart - all of which affected me directly, and which had way improved communications and firefighting techniques and technology:

      2003 1,300,000 ha

      2006-07 1,200,000 to 1,300,000 ha

      And just when we thought there could be nothing left to burn along came unreal weather in 2009, which brought the killer Black Saturday fires - 450,000 ha

      And don't forget last year's horrific fires in NSW and Tasmania in particular. Victoria didn't escape unscathed either. Now this year - with almost as catastrophic conditions as in 2009 - the Grampians, Melbourne, Gippsland, northern Victoria and Far East Gippsland:


      That's not anecdotal - that's hard data.

    5. "I don't read WUWT, so why would I comment there?" Perhaps you should; he's in more need of your wisdom than Sou.

    6. Sou, the "hard data" you have provided does not even prove a trend in average area of land razed, let alone a correlation with climate change. A more comprehensive study shows no increase in risk to property over the last 100 years.

      I say again, all studies allude to an unquantified higher risk in the future arising from climate change. I am merely pointing out that we do not currently observe that increased risk.

    7. I'm talking risk of fire and you're talking risk to property. My criticism of the Risk Frontiers study is that their "normalisation" doesn't take the huge advances in fire fighting into account. (Risk Frontiers are Australia's answer to Roger Pielke Jr.)

      The data I showed is hard evidence. The frequency of large fires has increased out of sight. The frequency of facing catastrophic fire danger days has also increased out of sight.

      You and Risk Frontiers and other Roger Pielke lookalikes can torture the data to try to show that things haven't changed. Try telling that to the residents of Kinglake and Canberra. Try telling that to the scientists at the Climate Council.

    8. My criticism of the Risk Frontiers study is that their "normalisation" doesn't take the huge advances in fire fighting into account.

      Actually, it does. The report clearly states that the large increase in property susceptible to fire is balanced by the increase in firefighting capability, weather forecasting and communications. There is no mention of an increase in fire activity, because there is no evidence for it.

      The data I showed is hard evidence. The frequency of large fires has increased out of sight. The frequency of facing catastrophic fire danger days has also increased out of sight.

      Your "hard evidence" is the same as picking the 10 highest maxima in a temperature record over 100 years, and trying to prove global warming from the trend line. And that is without questioning the accuracy of measurement. I am still trying to understand why you would trust a figure for 1851.

    9. From the Climate Council's bushfire report
      "The influence of these weather conditions on the likelihood of bushfire spread is captured in the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) (In Detail 1), an indicator of extreme fire weather. Some regions of Australia, especially in the south and southeast (Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales) have already experienced a significant increase in extreme fire weather since the 1970s, as indicated by changes in the FFDI. The FFDI increased significantly at 16 of 38 weather stations across Australia between 1973 and 2010, with none of the stations recording a significant decrease (Clarke et al., 2013) (Fig. 18). "

      Not will happen. Has happened and is happening.

      "We found that fire danger in Victoria increased by over a third after 1996, compared to 1972-1996. The current level of fire danger is equivalent to the worst case projected for 2050, from an earlier analysis for the Climate Institute"

      More papers with the same story can be found here

    10. That's my point, Greig. They are putting the improved fire fighting on the plus side of the ledger. They are saying that *because* we've improved fire fighting then that's reduced the risk. If they put the improved fire fighting on the other side of the ledger then it's clear that the risk of fire is higher now than it was in the past.

      As I said, they are talking risk to property not risk of fire. And they are factoring in that we're adapting to the new conditions by improving fire fighting capability.

      (Do you know what frequency means? If conditions/fires happened forty years apart and now those same conditions or worse are occurring every three years as they are now, it means it's happening more frequently.)

    11. Mike,

      Since fire danger is related to climate variability (drought, wind patterns, fuel loads, etc) and in particular ENSO, showing a 20 year trend without normalising against climate variability is near meaningless in determining a correlation with CO2.

      I will be happy to accept that there is evidence of an increased frequency in bushfire incidence, when you point me at the data and associated peer reviewed studies. Until you can do so, you are only making assertions.

    12. Greig states "I am still trying to understand why you would trust a figure for 1851." after quoting a paper from Risk Frontiers which was based on their
      "PerilAUS database. This database has been compiled by painstaking
      examination of official records and early newspapers and records
      amounting to nearly 5000 natural hazard events from 1900 to
      2003. Data entries were derived mainly from archival searches of
      the Sydney Gazette and Sydney Morning Herald (dating from 1803
      and 1831, respectively)"

    13. Mike,

      The PerilAUS database is measuring property losses over time.

      Sou's 1851 measurement is an estimate of land area razed by eyeball observation over the area of Australia (which in 1851 was very sparcely inhabited).

      Spot the difference in validity of the data.

    14. Greig, you can leave off the 1851 data if you want to. (It's kind of funny that it's that ancient data that you query. There was hardly anyone back then to put out the fires, so they aren't comparable to those of today.)

      It doesn't change the fact that since 2000 in particular, there have been conditions probably never before experienced in hundreds or thousands of years. And not just once or just in one spot. The whole south east of Australia is much more prone to bushfire risk these days than it was fifty years ago. Drop a match on a windy day of 40 plus degrees after a few days of 40 plus degrees (temps of 42 plus are not something we were used to in this part of the world until recently - certainly not the 45 plus days and the frequency of them) and whoosh! Up goes the state. Or get an electric storm like we did a few years back - and suddenly the Great Divide is alight.

    15. The PerilAUS database includes area burnt.

      "The Bushfires Database was one of the first databases created."

      "Due to the very many different ways reporters described the magnitude of bushfires, the Blanche Scale of Bushfire Magnitude was developed"

      "A fire scored a “Blanche”scale of 1 (mild) if it was of slow spread, low intensity, low level of spread and involved a small area burnt (depending on duration) and usually only one ignition point. Such fires would often be associated with low temperatures, high humidity (noting wind direction), low wind speed, recent high rainfall, level or undulating terrain, a vegetation type not prone to prone, moist fuel and/or low fuel build-up. A fire scored a “Blanche” scale of 5 (extremely severe) if it was of rapid spread, high intensity (fireballs), high level of spread (crowning) and often involved an extensive area burnt and many ignition points."

    16. Greig is showing off his total cluelessness and gullibility again. The Risk Frontiers report that was quoted is infamous within the scientific community. It is written by known climate change deniers who are associated with the Lowy Institute, another right wing lobby group who lobbied against the Australian Carbon Tax. The report hasn't even been peer reviewed. Ever watched Australian Senate inquiries on the TV. The report has been scoffed at by the BOM.

      When you keep bringing up right wing propaganda material as the base for your arguments, you just look like another hawker.

    17. Dave, the report looks to be in a journal that has peer review. The salient point is that it isn't looking at fire risk per se, it is looking at the risk of damage to buildings through wildfire.

      It even effectively says in the abstract that the increased risk from climate change and more buildings is offset by the improvements in firefighting. (The "more buildings" might reduce the risk - more people in more settlements to fight the fires.)

      I know it's policy of CFA and DSE to protect property (ie buildings) as a priority over bushland and farmland. They do a great job of that too, but I also know that it's a very difficult decision. Eg protecting a planted forest of radiata pine vs protecting natural bushland filled with wildlife, rare orchids and other native flora and fauna. (I know people who agonised over those decisions. And it's not just a matter of factoring in the value of pristine bushland vs value of plantations - they've also got to factor in what is going to happen to the fire once they allow it to spread into whichever area they end up choosing. Sophie's Choice.)

      This study examines the bushfire (wildland fire) risk to the built environment in Australia. The most salient result is that the annual probability of building destruction has remained almost constant over the last century despite large demographic and social changes as well as improvements in fire fighting technique and resources.

    18. Dave,

      You have taken right wing conspiracy theory to a whole new level. :-)

      From 100 years of Australian civilian bushfire fatalities: exploring the trends in relation to the ‘stay and go policy’

      Databases on the occurrence and consequences of natural hazards in Australia havebeen compiled by researchers at Risk Frontiers (formerly the Natural HazardsResearch Centre) since 1994 ...as Blong (2004) noted, very few, if any, other countries have such a sound assessment of the impacts of natural hazards integrated into a single database as that held by Risk Frontiers. In 1999 the separate databases were integrated into one large Natural Hazards Database at Risk Frontiers via Access, a relational database.

      The Natural Hazards Database, refined and screened, underlies the PerilAUS CD-Roms, which were created in order to make the information available to the insuranceindustry for use in the formulation of underwriting strategies.

    19. Ahh, thanks Sou. I stand corrected, it is peer reviewed. My Bad. I admit that I actually didn't bother to download the paper. As soon as I saw that it was from Risk Frontiers I assumed that it was from their Senate submission for the Inquiry into Recent Trends in and Preparedness for Extreme Weather Events that other deniers have made me read. As the BOM have noted, they are aware of their research and have noted that it contradicts all their current research so far. Since they they have represented the Lowry Institute, and the BOM considers their research flawed, I consider them very suspect.

      They have also clearly stated their opposition to the Carbon tax.

      These guys are running a political agenda.

    20. I agree they are running a political agenda and are well known for that. I neglected to write the tail end of the abstract to their paper, which is really, really dumb. I reckon they've equated a town house in Lygon Street with a house in Kinglake. It must have gone down like a lead balloon with anyone who mattered, given it was published just four weeks after Black Saturday.

      Thus on average and if this risk was perceived rationally, the incentive for individual homeowners to mitigate and reduce the bushfire danger even further is low. This being the case and despite predictions of an increasing likelihood of conditions favouring bushfires under global climate change, we suspect that building losses due to bushfires are unlikely to alter materially in the near future.

      That looks as if it was aimed at insurance companies urging them not to up the premiums. It presumes too much. I can't imagine any of the emergency services would agree.

      Yet people of a certain political persuasion (or any political persuasion) tend to blame the victims of fires for building where they have. Just like some people think no-one should live within 20 km of a water course.

  2. Is there a peer reviewed paper out there that definitely links extreme weather events to man-made climate change? I don't remember seeing one referenced in the IPCC SREX.

    1. WIth regard to UK rainfall:


    2. There is something better. Much better.
      Hint: there was no 'hiatus' in this over the past two years either.

  3. Jude,

    for last two years there has been an attempt at an annual attribution report on extremes in BAMS. 2012 events, 2011 events (warning links are to large pdf files). There are plans afoot for at least a 2013 version to appear this summer and this is likely to constitute a long-term series. Then there are a whole bunch of individual attribution papers on things like the Russian heatwave, the 2003 European heatwave etc. etc.

  4. Sea level threat to force retreat of communities in Wales http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-26125479

  5. Adelaide has set a record for its most summer days of 40 degrees Celsius or more.

    The previous mark had stood for 117 years.

    There now have been 12 days so far this summer over 40.

    More extreme temperatures are expected in coming days.

    Other parts of South Australia also have been experiencing extreme weather, including near Port Pirie where a bushfire has been burning in the southern Flinders Ranges for 29 days.

    It has posed a threat to several towns and so far blackened 33,000 hectares.

    The Bureau of Meteorology says 20 areas across South Australia have had a record number of days of 42 degrees or more so far this summer.

    In the south-east where conditions are often milder, Mount Gambier already has had four days above 42 C.

    In the upper south-east, Lameroo has broken a 58-year-old record with eight days above 42 C.

    In eastern SA, Yunta has had nine days above 42 C.

    Keith, Eudunda, Kingscote and Maitland also have set records this summer.

    1. To put this into perspective, this increase in extreme heat is merely a taste of things to come - with respect to each of the magnitude of the extremes, the duration of the extremes, and the geographical range of the extremes.

      Anyone in Australia involved in land/environmental/climate policy/management - or in health management, or in economic management, or in social management - should be gravely worried.

      Instead, Nero has a whole orchestra backing him.


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