Skip to content

Here’s The Inconvenient Truth Behind MIT’s Study Linking Hurricane Harvey To Global Warming

November 15, 2017

By Paul Homewood


It was only a matter of time before some junk scientist blamed Hurricane Harvey on global warming.

It is probably no surprise either that it comes from Kerry Emmanuel.

Fortunately Michael Bastach has been quick to tear it to pieces:


A new study is making waves in the media, claiming to finally address the question of man-made global warming’s role in Hurricane Harvey’s record-setting rainfall.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Kerry Emanuel, a renowned hurricane expert, and his colleagues published their findings on Monday, claiming global warming increased the of risk Hurricane Harvey-level rainfall in southeastern Texas grew since the last century.

There’s one huge caveat: Emanuel didn’t actually study Hurricane Harvey itself.

Instead, Emanuel’s study is based on thousands of climate model runs to find out the odds a storm will bring the amount of rainfall Hurricane Harvey did when it made landfall in late August 2017.

Emanuel told The Daily Caller News Foundation his study didn’t analyze any of the particulars that made Hurricane Harvey so devastating. “Yes indeed … that is the case,” Emanuel told TheDCNF.

Instead, his study models the statistical likelihood of Harvey-level rainfall based on a linear projection of how storms could change under a scenario with massive amounts of global warming.

Hurricane Harvey broke Texas rainfall records when it hit, dumping large amounts of rain over the greater Houston area for about five days. Cedar Bayou, outside Houston, saw nearly 52 inches of rainfall, breaking an all-time U.S. record.

Emanuel concluded there’s “a sixfold increase” in the odds of Harvey-level rainfall pummeling Houston in any given year. Emanuel estimated an 18 percent chance of Harvey-level rainfall by the end of the 21st Century.

At one point, Emanuel noted “Harvey’s rainfall in Houston was ‘biblical’ in the sense that it likely occurred around once since the Old Testament was written.”

But special circumstances were at play for Hurricane Harvey.

Harvey’s rainfall was only able to break records because it stalled over Texas, blocked by a high pressure ridge in the west. The high pressure ridge kept Harvey over Texas longer than it otherwise would have, concentrating rainfall over a smaller area.

“There is no question that the extraordinary magnitude of Harvey’s rain was mostly because it stalled,” Emanuel told TheDCNF.

Media coverage of the study glossed over this inconvenience, with The Washington Post reporting that “Climate change upped the odds of Hurricane Harvey’s extreme rains, study finds.”

The Atlantic ran with the ridiculous headline: “Global Warming Really Did Make Hurricane Harvey More Likely.” Apparently the writer didn’t read the study itself.

Some climate scientists were quick to blame global warming for Hurricane Harvey’s devastation. Climate scientist Michael Mann said warmer-than-normal temperature in the Gulf of Mexico gave Harvey more power and allowed it to hold more moisture, but other scientists were quick to shut him down.

So far, scientists have found little to no evidence global warming is having an impact on hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found in March 2017 that it’s “premature to conclude that human activities — and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming — have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.”

Emanuel was one of the scientists who came out linking Harvey’s devastation to global warming. Now, he’s published a study on this.

Studies like this usually take time to get published, but Emanuel “decided to use his status as a member of the National Academies of Science, which let him pick his own peer reviewers, who were likely to be friendly and get the review done quickly,” Ars Technica reported.

That means the “findings probably haven’t faced as rigorous a review as they might have,” Ars Technica reported, but it does show Emanuel is confident in his hurricane modeling, which has already been peer-reviewed. Emanuel’s study was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

Emanuel said he and his colleagues were looking into the atmospheric factors that could be increasing the likelihood of Hurricane Harvey-like events.

“Early results indicate that some of it comes from increased moisture in a warmer atmosphere but some of also arises from increased probability of storms stalling because of weak atmospheric flow. Hope to have some concrete results before long,” he said.


It is actually extremely worrying that somebody like Emmanuel can pick his own peer reviewers, as this corrupts the whole scientific process.

It was Emmanuel who was outed in 2012 as a Director of AlphaCat Fund Ltd, which specialises in reinsurance for natural catastrophes. Exactly the sort of business that would benefit from ramping up of climate hysteria.

Although he now no longer appears to be linked to AlphaCat, he has declared in this latest paper that he is an officer with a company called WindRiskTech. According to their website:

WindRiskTech, L.L.C., was founded in 2005 to provide estimates of tropical cyclone wind risk for any point on the globe, using the most advanced techniques available.

How much more revenue will they earn, if clients are encouraged to believe that hurricanes are getting much worse?

  1. November 15, 2017 12:35 pm

    As with so much of society today, now that integrity is no longer important–follow the money.

    • HotScot permalink
      November 15, 2017 2:00 pm


      “follow the money”

      I don’t agree with that. There is nothing more honest than money, until socialism gets involved.

      ‘Follow the socialist money’ is, I believe, a more accurate term.

  2. November 15, 2017 12:56 pm

    ‘Money alone sets all the World in motion.’ Publius Serius (sic) 63 BC
    The more things change, the more they remain the same!

  3. Gamecock permalink
    November 15, 2017 1:26 pm

    Bookmark this publication.

    The National Academy of Sciences is corrupt. Whenever it is cited in the future, provide above link to show that anything they say is of no value.

  4. quaesoveritas permalink
    November 15, 2017 1:30 pm

    If you create a model to prove that Hurricanes are caused by “climate change”, it should be no surprise that it did.
    Simply run the models until you get the necessary proof.
    We wouldn’t have heard about this study if it had not provided proof.
    It is called confirmation bias.

  5. Gerry, England permalink
    November 15, 2017 1:41 pm

    Taking pal review to its limit it would seem. It would be unlikely to have been seriously reviews anyway I suspect.

  6. Taylor Pohlman permalink
    November 15, 2017 1:42 pm

    This situation (his involvement in windrisktech, LLC) is an example of why Scott Pruitt recently ruled that scientists can be on EPA advisory boards or receive funding from EPA, but not both.

  7. November 15, 2017 2:01 pm

    The theory linking hurricanes with emissions goes through SST. Emissions drive SST warming and SST warming in turn increases the proportion of storms that reach cat 4 or higher. But the data do not show that emissions drive SST warming.
    Also this

  8. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 15, 2017 2:24 pm

    “… based on a linear projection of how storms could change under a scenario with massive amounts of global warming.”

    A one-line Excel spreadsheet can do that. Two lines can make it not do that,

    All a model does is what it is told to do. It is not evidence in any way whatsoever.

    • Curious George permalink
      November 15, 2017 3:03 pm

      Climate models should carry a standard warning: “past performance is no guarantee of future results”.

      • Broadlands permalink
        November 15, 2017 4:53 pm

        One would have to agree. Given Paul’s recent analysis of the performance of the many models…except one?

  9. November 15, 2017 3:07 pm

    Power corrupts, alarmist “climate science” corrupts absolutely.

  10. Broadlands permalink
    November 15, 2017 4:34 pm

    “Harvey’s rainfall was only able to break records because it stalled over Texas, blocked by a high pressure ridge in the west.”

    Are high pressure ridges made higher because of our addition of CO2? Or, are they part of natural variability?

    • November 15, 2017 6:10 pm

      The jet streams come into play. What causes jet streams and/or what do jet streams cause is the tricky part. Climate propagandists will claim whatever suits them as usual.

    • Tom O permalink
      November 16, 2017 1:17 pm

      There is nothing to indicate that the “ridge” was higher than normal, it was just there. Harvey was well predicted by weatherbell analytics, including that it would be a devastating rain event. Just recall that the hurricane took 5 days to break a record that was a couple inches less, but dropped in far less time. If it was so massively worse than “normal” for stalled storms, it would have broken the real record which was the 24 hour rainfall event, also in Texas. I’d like to quote the amount, but I don’t have it front of me. I am not even sure that Harvey broke the rainfall record in Houston.

      As for the damage caused, most of the high dollar amounts come from the fact that housing is far more expensive now and that all the floodplains of the rivers and streams are now infested with housing that probably should never have been allowed in the first place. Flat land doesn’t exactly drain well, and it is positioned where it will frequently experience very heavy rainfall events. there was actually nothing particularly unusual about Harvey when viewed through the lens of past events. Trouble is, it seems about every 15 to 20 years, we forget the past ever happened and think everything that happens now is “unprecedented.”

  11. November 15, 2017 5:25 pm

    LAT’s jumped on the story a few days ago, with this headline: “In Texas, odds of Hurricane Harvey rainfall could rise to nearly 1 in 5 per year by 2100,” and quoted Emanuel:

    Finally, the models suggest that hurricanes will likely move more slowly, allowing them to dump more water over a small area of land.

    “We’ll see more cases of stalling, where hurricanes kind of meander around, which is what Harvey did,” Emanuel said.

  12. November 15, 2017 10:02 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:

  13. November 16, 2017 1:12 am

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  14. November 16, 2017 10:10 am

    More on insurance salesman Emanuel here: “In the Eye of the $torm – Kerry Emanuel – The Non Political Scientist”

  15. Bitter&Twisted permalink
    November 16, 2017 4:21 pm

    “Professor Kerry Emanuel, a renowned hurricane expert”,
    “Professor Kerry Emanuel, a renowned hurricane story-teller and scamster”
    There fixed it for you.

  16. Richard Jones permalink
    November 17, 2017 8:47 am

    Two statements from the paper that tell you all you need to know:

    Acknowledgments: I am grateful for additional thoughtful reviews by Michael Mann…

    Conflict of interest statement: K.E. is an officer of WindRiskTech, LLC, a firm that provides hurricane risk assessments to clients worldwide

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: