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Trends In Extreme Weather Events Since 1900

March 20, 2016

By Paul Homewood

 

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http://www.thegwpf.com/trends-in-extreme-weather-events-since-1900-an-enduring-conundrum-for-wise-policy-advice/

 

Mike Kelly of Cambridge University sends me his recent paper on extreme weather events:

 

ABSTRACT

It is widely promulgated and believed that human-caused global warming comes with increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the first half of the 20th century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change. The disconnect between real-world historical data on the 100 years’ time scale and the current predictions provides a real conundrum when any engineer tries to make a professional assessment of the real future value of any infrastructure project which aims to mitigate or adapt to climate change. What is the appropriate basis on which to make judgements when theory and data are in such disagreement?

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

There have been many reports on the future impacts of human related greenhouse gas emissions on a changing climate during the 21st century. Just two will suffice here: ‘Resilience to Extreme Weather’ [1] and ‘Climate Change: Evidence and Causes’ [2] were both published in 2014 by the Royal Society of London, the second report jointly with the US National Academy of Science. Both reports dwell on the expectation that in future, because of man-made global warming, we can expect extremes of weather to be both more intense and more frequent. By implication, one must allocate vast sums of money in mitigating and adapting to this future of more extreme weather.

The members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Working Group I are clear that man-made global warming started in earnest in about 1960, so it is reasonable to see to what extent the weather has been getting more extreme more frequently over the last 55 years. That same report suggests that IPCC scientists have low confidence in recent extreme weather events being specifically attributed to global warming [3]. Further, an additional IPCC report on ‘Managing extreme events and disasters to advance climate change mitigation’, (known as SREX [4]), relies heavily on papers that only start with data in 1950 [5] and 1960 [6]. The graphical data is not shown in SREX, as it is here, but a one-phrase summary is incorporated. Furthermore, they chose definitions of extremes that represent the upper or lower deciles of occurrence, rather than treating extremes as extremes.

It is therefore surprising to discover that by all the various real world data considered here, the weather in the first half of the 20th century was, if anything, more extreme than in the second half. I have not found any data, including in SREX, that contradicts these trends. Furthermore there are no signs of this trend changing (i.e. lessening and reversing) in recent years. The lack of public, political and policymaker appreciation of the disconnect between empirical data and theoretical constructs is profoundly worrying, especially in terms of policy advice being given. For example the first report cited above is without empirical foundation, the second is misleading, and the already modest claims in SREX are further weakened when compared with the longer term data.

A comment on etymology is in order: I am using the word extreme in the same way that the authors of references [1,2] to mean events that are several standard deviations away from the average of the distribution by which they are measured and described. I am not referring to the ultimate extreme in recorded history, although these would also support my case.

The approach taken in this paper is wherever possible to list the original source research yielding the data, but where that is not available to use the earliest accessible details. Not all the relevant data is located in the regular scientific literature. Much of this data is on official government-backed meteorological websites, while other data is only available secondarily or appears in appropriately derived form in various web-sites devoted to critiques in the global warming debate. To my knowledge, this material has not before been gathered systematically in the manner it has here. By referring to a much broader base than temperature data only, I hope to avoid the continuing debate on the myriad of adjustments made to original data that has almost without exception exacerbated the trends being sought, particularly in rising temperature over the 20th century. These adjustments are such that in some places (e.g. New Zealand) the inferred temperature rise is entirely a result of these post-hoc adjustments.

 

 

 

The full paper can be accessed here:

trends-in-extreme-weather-events-since-1900–an-enduring-conundrum-for-wise-policy-advice-2167-0587-1000155-1

17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2016 8:43 pm

    Useful
    Thanks again Paul
    Your posts are very helpful.

  2. March 20, 2016 8:58 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News.

  3. March 20, 2016 9:36 pm

    Very informative

  4. Dorian permalink
    March 20, 2016 10:43 pm

    This paper and many others have already shown that there were more extreme weather events in the first half of the last century than in the second, and yet, it means nothing to the overall debate of global warming. Frankly, I am starting to get tired of the endless amount of papers, studies and data that is supporting the failure of the AGW movement, and nothing comes of it. The AGW circus is still going strong.

    It is time for people to understand that this whole AGW nonsense has nothing to do with Science, but everything to with political expediency and personal gain. How many decades or centuries must past of time wasting, and regurgitating the same studies over and over again, before people realize that it is not doing any good? Or is the point of the whole exercise here is to scam the system like the AGW movement does for more money to do more pointless studies that have already been done many, many times!

    It seems to me that both sides of the AGW debate are guilty of the same “crimes” of science and connivance to elicit monies for their respective sides. We are truly beyond the point of “flogging a dead horse”. How many times does the tax payer have to pay for the same work that has been done many times before!

    It truly does appear that scientist (I choke writing that), are no better than hole diggers who seem to dig the same hole again and again and get paid for it. This AGW debate on both sides has now deteriorated into scientific farce, and financial skulduggery.

    The field of Science has truly gone decrepitly mad.

    • Dorian permalink
      March 20, 2016 11:17 pm

      An after thought:

      It comes to my attention and even I’m seriously giving serious support to the opinion that one of the reasons why Humanity developed so quickly since the beginning of the Industrial Age (starting about 1850) to about the 1980’s (of the beginning of the computer revolution) is because a large part of the monies and investment that was put into Science and Technology was put into a much more smaller, selective and capable set of hands. Since the 1980’s which is now some 30 years, much more money has gone into Science and Technology with these fields growing fantastically (in human terms), but the Science and Technology benefits returning have been very poor.

      Think about it. The incredible developments we had from 1955 to 1985, for a fraction of the amount of capital that we invest today. For the 30 years since 1985, very little has Society changed. Why is that? As per my previous comment, I think it has very much to do with the fact that the field of Science has been watered down. We have so many average and poor scientists now to support that funds are diluted and the real good work is now being drowned by the pseudo/voodoo sciences like AGW. Now that is pure Social Entropy!

      Don’t start rattling off things like that Internet being invented in the ’90s, for it was invented in the late ’60s, or the cell phone and alike, those are benefits of the microelectronic revolution that started in the late 60’s too. Very little has come from Science in the last 30 years, it has truly been a very poor 30 years of advances. If you break down in 30 year periods, these last 30 years have definitely been the poorest 30 years in the advancement of Science and Technology compared to any other 30 year period going back to the start of the Industrial Age.

      $’s to 30 year period, this last 30 years has been the worse for ROI. It truly appears, that Science is no longer Science, it has become another form of welfare for the unproductive!

      This could very much explain the 2,000 tech. bubble implosion, and the huge economic bubble we have now, but with so little capital gain. We squandered to much $’s on too many stupid things like AGW, that have absolutely NO economic or worldly benefit for any of us, other than provide welfare for the incompetent. Eventually this will stop, but I fear, at what eventual cost!

      Its one thing to be in a train crash, as sorrowful that is. But is totally another thing, when you can see the train crash coming and there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it, other than feel very sad about what is ahead to come.😦

      Humans can really be dumb.

      • diogenese2 permalink
        March 21, 2016 1:25 pm

        “Humanity developed so quickly since the beginning of the Industrial Age (starting about 1850) to about the 1980’s (of the beginning of the computer revolution) is because a large part of the monies and investment that was put into Science and Technology was put into a much more smaller, selective and capable set of hands.”

        Dorian, the progress was made because the products endured the harsh audit of the market which judged their value. Much progress has been made since 1980 subject to the same stringent testing.
        The problem is with state funding which is only at risk if the outcomes do not meet the required criteria. Renewables do not have to work since their objective to just be there to support a delusion that fossil fuels are replaceable.

  5. John F. Hultquist permalink
    March 21, 2016 2:56 am

    What is the appropriate basis on which to make judgements when theory and data are in such disagreement?

    Actually the theory claims the Polar regions should warm more than the lower latitudes. This would make the temperature difference less. Temperature differences between air masses generate weather events. It seems the theory and the data are NOT in disagreement.
    Although I am puzzled by which is the more bogus, the theory or the data.

  6. March 21, 2016 6:57 am

    Pleasing to see an engineer, a practical person, weighing in with a assessment of what the climate record actually reveals.

  7. waterside4 permalink
    March 21, 2016 7:48 am

    Mr Kelly sounds like an engineer should, logical and practical.
    For his family’s sake I hope he has other talents, as his time at University is surely limited for publishing such a sensible paper.

  8. March 21, 2016 8:37 am

    Thanks, Paul
    Do you think this Kelly guy is a little bit of a sceptic? Cambridge Dept of Engineering always was a pretty down-to-earth outfit and it’s good to see that non-PC stuff can still see the light of day. Don’t know how far this particular journal is accepted outside of its own sphere, though.
    But I do feel that ‘extreme weather events’ is an area where climate alarmism is demonstrably wrong and perhaps we should concentrate on publicising such issues, as this is where the general public most takes the warmist cause on trust, and imagines that it sees climate change happening in real time, thus supporting the meme, when actually that isn’t so.

  9. Joe Public permalink
    March 21, 2016 9:38 am

    This link to an interactive site is useful. Click “All continents”

    http://www.emdat.be/disaster_trends/index.html

  10. johnmarshall permalink
    March 21, 2016 11:54 am

    The oft claimed mantra that warm air holds more moisture than cold air is true, in the laboratory. Reality shows that it is the cold periods that produce the wettest weather. Why, because weather is driven by the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles and during cold periods that difference gets larger. ergo, crap weather.

  11. R2Dtoo permalink
    March 21, 2016 12:09 pm

    This paper, and those with similar comparative analyses, are more important than many others. People don’t live in fear of a slowly warming world. Rather, they worry about the extreme events that can threaten life and property. If good analysis of existing data/information can decouple the weather events from slow climate change, the political traction derived from scare tactics should decrease. Although I agree with a lot of what Dorian says, There remains room for solid review papers that bring disparate information together. It’s the forest and trees meme.

  12. tom0mason permalink
    March 22, 2016 1:42 pm

    My advice to weather forecaster is to read the wisdom of the old ways…

  13. March 22, 2016 9:46 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    Executive summary: It is widely promulgated and believed that human-caused global warming comes with increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the first half of the 20th century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change.

  14. March 23, 2016 12:58 am

    also no trends in North Atlantic Hurricanes and Western Pacific Typhoons 1945-2014

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2630932

  15. Robert Lyman permalink
    May 26, 2016 8:13 pm

    I made reference to this article in a recent online exchange, and the response form the commenters who believe that humans are causing catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) was that the Journal of Geography and Natural Disasters is not a credible journal and that, in fact, it is on the “List of Predatory Publishers”, which I presume means that it accepts articles for a stipend and does not require peer review. I am used to having any argument that I make on this subject challenged by the CAGW crowd because of my alleged character flaws or my alleged income from the oil and gas industry (I keep hoping, but there’s been nothing in the mail.). This objection, however, was a new one to me. Has any person or organization challenged in good faith the data presented by Mike Kelly in this article?

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