Friday, January 8, 2016

Some good news from WUWT - climate change is getting more airplay

Sou | 3:26 PM Go to the first of 4 comments. Add a comment
We've had years of WUWT drought about the Californian drought, with very few articles at WUWT. Now that the drought is being alleviated by El Niño rain and snow Anthony Watts has written two articles in three days about the weather in California (see here). The good news is that Anthony tells us that "some pundits" are "declaring all of this as being driven by “climate change” and claiming that “severe weather is getting worse due to climate change”." I take that to mean that some people in the media are now talking about climate change when extreme weather is being discussed.

Unfortunately Anthony didn't give any examples, so I don't know if he was making that up or if he did find people on television or the radio or on the internet talking about climate change. That means I also don't know what anyone said. Given that Anthony decided to not give any examples, it's more likely that climate change was mentioned in the context of, um, climate change than that people were saying that climate change causes El Niño storms in California.

Whatever, it could be that people are talking about climate change more - and that would be a good thing. It would help offset the ramp up in science disinformation campaigns of the past few years, reported by Constantine Boussalis and Travis G. Coan in the journal Global Climate Change. Graham Readfearn has written about that study at the Guardian.

From Graham's article:
“We find little support for the claim that ‘the era of science denial is over’ - instead, discussion of climate science has generally increased over the sample period,” the study concludes.

The conservative thinktanks under the microscope are the main cog in the machinery of climate science denial across the globe, pushing a constant stream of material into the public domain.

The study, published in the journal Global Environmental Change, analysed more than 16,000 documents published online between 1998 and 2013 by mainly US groups like the Heartland Institute, the Cato Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.

Contrary to some commentators, the study found attacks on science had increased in later years. At the same time, the thinktanks were focusing less on policy issues.
When I saw the chart at the Guardian, I couldn't help but think how denialist's disinformation has ramped up as the temperature has risen, so I've shown this on a chart:)

From the WUWT comments

Ferdinand Engelbeen was a spoilsport and wrote how there has been unusual weather elsewhere:
January 7, 2016 at 11:03 am
it’s just unnatural pattern
Probably meant “a natural pattern”?
Meanwhile we had unusual warm weather up and including December in Western Europe and lots of rain in Ireland, North England and Scotland, but the cold is coming down now, starting with glazed frost in the North of The Netherlands…

Hugs did his sums wrong when converting Kelvin to Fahrenheit:
January 7, 2016 at 11:19 am
Nordic countries. Horrible here, 248K, that’s 446 in Fahrenheits !!!11! Must be climate change!!!1! 

Mark from the Midwest wonders if he is just acting like another wacked-out conspiracy theorist.
January 7, 2016 at 11:07 am
Anthony, I’ve been watching the drought maps from University of Nebraska, and in many spots in Northen California and Eastern Oregon the change, (or lack of change), on the map doesn’t seem consistent with the rainfall totals for October through December. Is it possible that local officials are under-reporting ground moisture in order to milk the Federal disaster relief coffers, or am I just another wacked-out conspiracy theorist? 
Yes, he is. The drought doesn't break till the rivers run and the reservoirs fill enough. It appears not to be a hard estimate, but a best estimate of experts, based on conditions, rain and snow. Here is the latest map of the west. Click to enlarge it:

Source: US Drought Monitor

Steven F describes it fairly well, I'd think. That's because he's echoed close to what I reported recently :D:
January 7, 2016 at 12:22 pm
The maps are probably not only based on rain fall. The map probably also includes soil moisture and reservoir levels. While Oregon and California now have normal to above normal mountain snow fall, very little of that water has appeared in the reservoirs yet because most is still frozen or has been absorbed by the dry ground. At least one larger reservoir near Francisco has actually lost water in the last month. That reservoir only get water from rain. So the likely explanation there is that the ground is soaking up all the water before it gets to the reservoir.
the weather forecasters are constantly reminding people in California that it will take years to erase the accumulated water deficit.

Casey K adds some information about the low water levels in Californian reservoirs:
January 7, 2016 at 5:31 pm
As of this morning, Jan 7th, Redding CA is sitting at 97% of normal.I live just east of Redding and in hte mountains and I’m running a bit ahead of normal in terms of rain/water but behind normal in terms of snow. Lake Shasta, the largest lake in CA is about 145 feet below the full level at 50% of normal for this time of the year and 30% of capacity overall. Trinity lake, the third largest lake in CA is sitting at 20 % of capacity and 30% of normal. Trinity depends more on snow melt to fill up where as Shasta gets filled up mostly from run off. As of this morning Shasta is 438,926 acre feet below what it was last year at this time while Trinity is 323,957 acre feet behind last year at this time. 

Marcus voices an irrelevant thought the popped into his head without any prompting:
January 7, 2016 at 11:10 am
Sooooo, in other words, all the liberals in CaliPornia are extra stupid !!! 

Pat Frank complains that the rain by-passed the southern San Francisco peninsula:
January 7, 2016 at 11:27 am
It’s climate change, Jim, and just as we know it.
Here on the southern San Francisco peninsula, none of the promised thunderstorms showed up. Disappointing, but there was a bonus non-appearance of power outages.
I checked the weather forecast several times a day over the last few days. It literally changed hour to hour. Predictions of rain then no rain, Thunderstorms then no thunderstorms. Rain Thursday and Friday, then not.
It seems that when the weather systems are varied and strongly dynamic, the weather models become less reliable. This implies that the ostensible reliability of weather models for 3-7 day predictions rests more on the linear translation of the weather systems than on the physical accuracy of the model. 

Ian W claims that anchovies aren't linked to El Niño events. He's wrong:
January 7, 2016 at 11:31 am
There was a successful anchovy catch this year. Therefore, by definition, there has been no El Nino. The fact that scientists have come up with a metric for SSTs in virtual boxes in the central Pacific does not appear to affect the anchovies. This means that the historic El Nino and La Nina records based on anchovies cannot be pasted onto the NOAA/NASA SST series – they are obviously different events.
The catch might have been successful, but the quota was halved from an already low previous quota, because the numbers of anchovies were way down.

James at 48 is disappointed so far:
January 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm
Even as El Ninos go this is pretty much a squib so far. A couple systems early in the current Zonal Flow episode were a bit juicy but yesterday’s front was pretty weak. The ones prog’ed for this weekend and next week look even weaker. Looking at Squall the prog for the jet takes it into a split out at 120 hrs and the northern branch goes meridianal. Still no real Pinneapple Express events, the fronts are coming from the Bering Sea.

Richard's favourite extreme weather event was a big flood back in 1862. He complains that no-one is interested in talking about it.
January 7, 2016 at 6:38 pm
Every time I read some moronic article about how powerful this El Nino is, and just how things are so much worse than ever before, I can’t help but tell them about the Great Flood of 1862, which apparently was not El Nino related and occurred decades before anthropogenic CO2 started “causing” severe weather never before seen in California.
They ignore me.

References and further reading

Boussalis, Constantine, and Travis G. Coan. "Text-mining the signals of climate change doubt." Global Environmental Change 36 (2016): 89-100. doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.12.001

Era of climate science denial is not over, study finds - article by Graham Readfearn at the Guardian


  1. Pat Frank must have done something to piss off the weather gods because we've got 2 inches sitting in our rain gauge from midweek and had received 6 inches more since Christmas Eve. We're probably less than 20 miles from him and not in the foothills.
    Pointless aside: I guess it's a quirk of Aussie English, but we don't tend to use the adjectival form "Californian" in that way, we'll say "California drought" or use the possessive form, "California's Governor, Jerry Brown". A person is a Californian. A object can *be* Californian.
    Meh. Vive la différence.

  2. So much misinformation about El Nino out there... whether its the media calling it a series of storms or people thinking that we should be getting atmospheric rivers for the next three months (californian reporting in).
    El Nino does not favor AR events, the zonal flow of the subtropical jet serves as a conveyor belt of mid latitude storms and escorts them into the west coast. the stronger the el nino, the stronger the sub tropical jet. this also cuts off the pineapple connection that we often see associated with ARs in california (that is just one kind of AR), as the moisture cannot cut through the jet. The end result is more consistent rainy days, and medium sized storms (not to preclude the possibility, just less likely) rolling through often. End result is a lot of accumulation, and hopefully not all an all at once epic flood that just washes out to sea.
    Currently the STJ is battling it out with a ridge over baja that is pushing the storms more north than a typical el nino episode, with central, northern california and the PNW benefiting the most.
    Rest assured that the STJ will win out eventually and, as demonstrated last week, southern california will be above normal precipitation as well. in such a dry climate, just a few moderate to large events put us well over the top.
    The drought is another concern all together, and it WILL take YEARS to get out of it, and the land will never fully recover where the aquifers have been pumped dry, collapsing the matrix that allowed water storage in the first place. land subsistence is a direct result of this.

    1. Thanks, SE. That's the sort of detail/local info I can use :)

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