JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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History rewritten? BoM wrong on “first” July cyclone, forgets 1935, 1954, 1962

Cyclones down the memory hole?

July 1935, Click to enlarge | Trove

A weak tropical cyclone has formed off the Solomon Islands, and the BOM is reporting that there has never before been a July cyclone in the Queensland region. But Warwick Hughes has already posted up details showing that there have been quite a few cyclones in July. The cyclone is hardly extraordinary, and certainly not “historic”, but what about the BOM?

Forecaster David Grant on the ABC:

“We’ve never had a July tropical cyclone in the Queensland region before.

Australia has only had one other officially declared July cyclone, which formed off Western Australia in 1996.

The official tropical cyclone season runs from November 1 to April 30.”

The July cyclone “first” scores headlines in both The Australian and The Courier Mail. “Queensland weather forecasters record first cyclone in July “. But it’s wrong. Commenter Siliggy on Warwick Hughes site found a HardenUp link listing cyclones and storms in Queensland. Some of the older July cyclones listed below may not qualify as “cyclones” under the new scale, but some clearly did — and rather than being far to the north near the [...]

CO2 is not making storms worse near Japan either

Yet more evidence that there is no relationship between CO2 and cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons. This paper from 2012 tests the theory that global warming made storms more severe and tried to find any effect on typhoons hitting Japan that could be linked to climate change since 1980.

There has been no increase in “super typhoons”. The typhoon season is not longer, nor is it delayed in starting. There has been no change in intensity. The wind speeds are not increasing. The minimum pressure is pretty much the same.

CO2 appears to influence storms in simulated worlds, but not so much in the real one. There is no sign of more severe storms in Australia, New Zealand or the South Pacific either. Nor is there any pattern in the Global Energy indicies, US Hurricanes, US Tornadoes either.

When will scientists and reporters make sure that their audiences know that?

The authors conclude:

“The results suggest that typhoons have not been influenced by global warming. In conclusion, global warming has not significantly changed the characteristics of typhoons, and there is no close relationship between the two.”

Figure 19. Number of super typhoons that develop

[...]

Playing politics with every disaster: Vanuatu cyclone blamed on “climate change”

So far 24 are confirmed dead in Vanuatu, a figure that seems likely to rise.  About 100,000 are homeless, according to the local Oxfam director, which, if accurate, is an awful lot in a country of 270,000. There is no doubt the nation needs help.

Despite the pressing need to solve immediate problems, the predictable claims are already starting. How many journalists will bother to check these claims against the history of cyclones in Vanuatu?  Accuweather lists a lot, including one in 1951 that killed 100 people when CO2 levels were just 311ppm. In 1987 another storm killed 48.

President Baldwin Lonsdale is blaming “climate change”.

Pacific nations regard themselves as at the frontline of climate change, given many are low-lying islands dangerously exposed to rising sea levels, and Lonsdale said changing weather patterns were partly to blame for the destruction.

“Climate change is contributing to the disaster in Vanuatu,” Lonsdale told reporters in Japan, saying rain had been unusually heavy this year.

Even President Hollande, host of the Paris UNFCCC later this year, is milking this disaster: “…the cyclone “is a new cry for the international community to take seriously its responsibility in the fight [...]

Category Five storms aren’t what they used to be

UPDATE: Data for Middle Percy Island has disappeared from the BOM site, but Jennifer Marohasy kept a copy. (I’m sure the BOM will be grateful!) The Courier Mail has an article quoting Jennifer.

The facts on Cyclone Marcia: the top sustained wind speed was 156 km and the strongest gust 208 km/hr. These were recorded on Middle Percy Island in the direct path before it hit land and apparently rapidly slowed.  The minimum pressure recorded after landfall was 975Hpa. BOM and the media reported a “Cat-5″ cyclone with winds of 295 km/hr. To qualify as a Cat 5, windspeeds need be over 280km/hr. The UN GDACS alerts page estimated the cyclone as a Cat 3.

The damage toll so far is no deaths (the most important thing), but 1,500 houses were damaged and 100 families left homeless. It was a compact storm, meaning windspeeds drop away quickly with every kilometer from the eye, so the maps and locations of the storm and the instruments matter. See the maps below — the eye did pass over some met-sites, but made landfall on an unpopulated beach with no wind instruments. It slowed quickly thereafter. The 295 km/hr wind speed was [...]

Disaster. Australian cyclone season is quiet! We have to stop that!

Get ready:

“Australia records its third quietest start to the cyclone season in 50 years.” ABC news, Jack Kerr

Bravo, I thought. ABC covers a good-weather story… but no, lo, for the climate oracles tell us this is ominous and bigger nastier storms are coming. Be afraid!

This weather is weird?

There have only been four occasions since the mid-1960s when cyclones haven’t crossed the mainland before February.

Only four. Golly! This year is almost as “bad”as the worst of the prehistoric era, i.e. ’68, ’80, ’88).

It’s not like the good ol’ days  — when people used to get decent cyclones all the time:

Back in 1870, when Cairns started life as a gold port, four to five severe cyclones would hit the Queensland east coast every decade. By 2010, that average was down to less than two.

Lucky them.

To see the effect of man-made global warming, look hard at this graph below.  Spot the… trend.

A high bar means a long slow quiet start to the cyclone season.

At the start in 1964 CO2 was a wonderful 320ppm. Now it is at 400ppm and obviously (when seen through a computer [...]

There are fewer Australian tropical cyclones (thanks to climate change?)

UPDATE: Cyclone Ita is now Category 5 bearing down on Cooktown in North Queensland, the radars will show it soon. 175km NNE of Cooktown. Winds up to 300km /hr.  931 hPa.  See The BOM warnings. Thoughts for those in the path. (It’s clearly visible in the satellite image on the radar link).

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A new paper by Andrew Dowdy tells us that from 1980 to 2013 the incidence of tropical cyclones around Australia has been falling. If CO2 is influencing cyclones around Australia, presumably this implies we should burn more coal.

Those convinced about the power of CO2 will point out that the models predict an increase in intensity, not frequency. To that end, I say: see the BOM graph below. Note the red bars marked “severe”. Then tell yourself that the science is settled and we should spend billions to change those trends. The BOM say “the number of severe tropical cyclones (minimum central pressure less than 970 hPa) shows no clear trend over the past 40 years.”

Interestingly Callaghan et al 2010 goes back all the way to 1870. It finds the trend of severe land-falling cyclones has fallen by a whopping [...]

Do Tropical Storms correlate with CO2? In a word — No

Catastrophic killer storms are coming!

‘The Australian Greens say Tropical Cyclone Yasi is a “tragedy of climate change”.’

“DESTRUCTIVE hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita are likely to be more common … Tim Flannery warns.” “These hurricanes have been a catastrophe just waiting to happen.”

The IPCC concludes:

“Studies showed … future tropical cyclones would likely become more severe with greater wind speeds and more intense precipitation.” AR4 10.3.6.3 Tropical Cyclones (Hurricanes) pp786

Wow, that’s scary! Let’s look at the studies:

“These studies fall into two categories: those with model grid resolutions that only roughly represent some aspects of individual tropical cyclones, and those with model grids of sufficient resolution to reasonably simulate individual tropical cyclones.”

Oh? That’s models, or er… other models?

But where are the observations?

CO2 levels have risen to the highest level in a million years, presumably Hurricanes, Tornadoes and Cyclones are at all time highs, stronger and nastier than [...]

Questions real journalists ought to be asking about Yasi

When “experts” say that cyclones and extreme storms will be more common in a warmer world, and are “linked”, “connected”, “expected”, or “definitely” due to man-made CO2 emissions, journalists could try asking some real questions.

1. If storms are getting worse thanks to man-made CO2 emissions, why has there been no increase globally as man-made CO2 emissions rose over the last 40 years?

Last 4-decades of Global Tropical Storm and Hurricane frequency — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of TCs that reach at least tropical storm strength (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 34-knots). The bottom time series is the number of hurricane strength (64-knots+) TCs..

Source: Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Dr. Ryan N. Maue

2. So if you admit the global trend doesn’t change, but suggest that the local or regional trends will change, which parts of the world will get fewer cyclones?

If global averages are still “average”, things have to get better somewhere else right?

3. So if climate simulations project that Queensland will experience more cyclones, and be [...]

Yasi was a monster — but not an unusual one

Yasi — the super cyclone that isn’t so unusual

Random shot of some coral bits on a beach.

For all the other Christine Milne’s out there, who think coal mining causes cyclones, the empirical evidence inconveniently declares that super-cyclones have been hitting Queensland regularly for the last 5000 years.

As usual, it’s the name-callers who cling to 100 year time-frames and deny the long term evidence, while we “cherry-picking denialists” gravitate towards long term studies based on real observations. (The evidence lies in an obscure industry newsletter called Nature.) The way researcher, Jon Nott, describes it, things have been unusually quiet in our high CO2 world for the last few decades, but cyclones used to be a lot worse, and “worse” is coming back.

Thanks to The Australian for putting together a very timely piece about the historical pattern of cyclone activity.

[Johnathon] Nott is an expert on the incidence of super cyclones. By analysing ridges of broken coral pushed ashore by storm surges, he has catalogued the incidence of super-cyclones over the past 5000 years.

In a paper published in the scientific journal, Nature in 2001 his research shows the frequency of super-cyclones is an order of magnitude [...]

Hurricanes, storms take holiday too

Will a hotter world lead to more intense storms?

2010 might be on track to be the warmest ever (according to GISS), but right now, we may be about to set a new record of tropical storms — in inactivity. Ryan Maue tracks the global accumulated activity and reports that by the end of July we might break the record low we set last year.

Ryan N. Maue’s 2010 Global Tropical Cyclone Activity Update

July 15: If no additional ACE occurred in July, the 24-month global ACE total would be 1095 compared to last month at 1173. The previous 30-year low was 1091 set recently in September 2009. No lower values exist during the past 30-years.

Global and Northern Hemsiphere Tropical Cyclone Activity is near a record low

Looking at the National Hurricane Centre, it doesn’t seem like there is much activity on the way between now and the end of July.

Advisories issued for the North Atlantic, The East Pacific, The West Pacific, and the Indian Ocean are all the same:

There is no tropical storm activity for this region.

[...]