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New Extreme Weather Claims Based On Flawed Data

March 24, 2018

By Paul Homewood

 

Latest junk science  from the “Bad weather is due to climate change” Dept:

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Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% this decade, and are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980, according to a new report.

Other extreme climatological events such as storms, droughts and heatwaves have increased by more than a third this decade and are being recorded twice as frequently as in 1980, the paper by the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (Easac) says.

The paper, based partly on figures compiled by the German insurance company Munich Re, also shows that climate-related loss and damage events have risen by 92% since 2010.

Prof Michael Norton, Easac’s environmental programme director, said that greenhouse gas emissions were “fundamentally responsible for driving these changes”.

“Trends towards extremes are continuing,” he said. “People have experienced extreme weather already – big switches [between] warm and cold winters – but the frequency of these shifts may be changing.”

“Some of the underlying drivers of extreme weather which were speculative four years ago are now looking less speculative and [more like] credible hypotheses. That is the weakening of the Gulf Stream and the meandering behaviour of the jet stream.”

The Easac study, Extreme weather events in Europe: Preparing for climate change adaptation, looked at new data and models focused on a potential slowdown of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, due to an influx of freshwater from melted ice sheets in Greenland.

It was compiled by experts from 27 national science academies in the EU, Norway and Switzerland, although the data was not peer-reviewed.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has assessed the probability of a slowdown before 2100 at more than 90% – or “very likely”. However, a complete “switch off of the gulf stream – or Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) – is increasingly thought possible by some scientists.

Some studies say this could lower land temperatures in the UK, Greenland, Iceland and Scandinavia by up to 9C.

UK arrays positioned in the north Atlantic measured a 30% drop in AMOC strength between 2009-10, the Easac study says. And while uncertainties persist about the pace and scale of possible future changes, the decline in Gulf Stream strength itself has now been “confirmed”.

Citing “gathering evidence of an emerging negative phase” in Atlantic temperature swings driven by a weakening Gulf Stream, the study calls for research to be stepped up.

“With potentially substantial implications for the climate of north-west Europe, it is clearly desirable to quantify this risk further,” it says.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/21/flooding-and-heavy-rains-rise-50-worldwide-in-a-decade-figures-show

 

The report by the EASAC is centred around the MunichRe database of natural catastrophes:

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https://easac.eu/publications/details/extreme-weather-events-in-europe/

 

Yet, as the EASAC’s previous report in 2013, which presented a similar graph, spelt out:

Extreme weather-related events may have great humanitarian impacts entailing loss of lives, in addition to the economic and partly insured losses. Data collected since 1980 by the insurance industry provide one indicator of trends in extreme events. Although these are not direct measures of extreme weather events per se and may not have recorded all perils in the earlier record, they show weather-related catastrophes recorded worldwide to have increased from an annual average of 335 events from 1980 to 1989, to 545 events in the 1990s and to 716 events for 2002–2011

In other words, the data is worthless, and cannot be used to prove trends in weather events. This alone wrecks the central plank of the report’s claims, that extreme weather events are increasing. (It is also relevant to point out that the report itself states that the MunichRe data has not been peer reviewed).

The report then goes on to look at two specific areas, where more comprehensive data is available – thunderstorms in the US, and floods in Europe:

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It gives us this explanation of how the numbers are arrived at:

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This process of normalisation is in itself highly subjective, and should not be accepted in any way as “factual”.

But one wonders why they did not use the official NOAA tornado data, if they wanted to assess storm trends. (Most of the thunderstorm damage would, presumably come from tornadoes, as the 2011 spike indicates).

EF3-EF5-t

https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-information/extreme-events/us-tornado-climatology/trends

We can see that the number of violent tornadoes has clearly been declining since 1954. There is simply no need to use insurance data, with all of its inherent bias, when we already have the accurate climate data anyway.

According to the MunichRe data for Europe floods, there does not appear to be much going on, other than a big spike in 2002, the year of the big Central European floods.

image

However, we also know that in the UK the 1970s and 80s were a “flood dry” period. This coincided with the cold phase of the AMO, which tends to result in lower rainfall over N Europe (see NOAA here).

We would therefore actually need to go back much further to identify meaningful long term trends.

The IPCC’s AR5 did just that, and concluded that there was no evidence of any trend in either magnitude or frequency in floods, either in Europe or globally:

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https://ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/

Attempts to link the increasing economic losses from weather disasters with climate change are bedevilled with unknowable variables and bias. What we do know though is that they are reducing as a proportion of GDP:

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https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/weather-disasters-as-proportion-of-global-gdp-1990-2017/

 

Gulf Stream

There is a strange section in the report about the weakening of the AMOC (Atlantic meridional overturning circulation). It even discusses the possibility that it could switch off entirely “with substantial implications for Northwest Europe’s climate”.

And there is the usual nonsense about “melting Greenland icecap”, which is going to be responsible, which the Guardian hypes up to maximum alarm.

In fact, what the report reveals is something much more banal. There are signs that the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) is about to enter its negative phase, which will bring lower temperatures to much of the NH for the next thirty years.

There is no secret about this, as the AMO works on a 50 to 60 year cycle, and it has been positive since the mid 1990s.

Neither does it have anything to do with global warming, as it is a perfectly natural process which has been around for at least the last millennium, and probably much longer.

As the report identifies, freshwater plays a key role in the process. During the warm phase, higher temperatures across the Arctic lead to increased rainfall. This finds its way back to the Arctic Ocean, particularly from rivers in Siberia.

This freshwater freezes more easily than saltwater, thus beginning the process of increasing sea ice extent, just as it did in the late 1960s, a period known as the Great Salinity Anomaly between 1968 and 1982, marking the bottom of the AMO:

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/cgi-bin/gcos_wgsp/tsanalysis.pl?tstype1=91&tstype2=0&year1=1895&year2=&itypea=0&axistype=0&anom=0&plotstyle=0&climo1=&climo2=&y1=&y2=&y21=&y22=&length=&lag=&iall=0&iseas=1&mon1=0&mon2=11&Submit=Calculate+Results

 

Hot/Cold Winters

The Guardian also mentions:

Prof Michael Norton, Easac’s environmental programme director, said that greenhouse gas emissions were “fundamentally responsible for driving these changes”.

“Trends towards extremes are continuing,” he said. “People have experienced extreme weather already – big switches [between] warm and cold winters – but the frequency of these shifts may be changing.”

It is not clear where he gets this ridiculous nonsense from. As far as the UK is concerned, at least, these big switches from warm to cold have always been commonplace.

UK Mean temperature - Winter

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/pub/data/weather/uk/climate/actualmonthly/16/Tmean/UK.gif

 

The MWP & LIA

Claims that a warmer climate is leading to more extreme weather contradicts what we know about climate history, in Europe at least.

Brian Fagan wrote about the Middle Ages, in his book “The Little Ice Age”:

For five centuries, Europe basked in warm, settled weather, with only the occasional bitter winters, cool summers and memorable storms. Summer after summer passed with long, dreamy days, golden sunlight and bountiful harvests. Compared with what was to follow, these centuries were a climatic golden age.

Fagan goes on:

throughout Europe, the years 1560-1600 were cooler and stormier, with late wine harvests and considerably stronger winds than those of the 20th Century. Storm activity increased by 85% in the second half of the 16th Century and the incidence of severe storms rose by 400%.

HH Lamb came to similar conclusions, “there was a greater intensity, and a greater frequency, of intense storm development during the Little Ice Age”, in his book “Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe”.

Lamb believed that “it is likely that the increased intensity of storms in the Little Ice Age had to do with the source of potential energy in the, at that time, enhanced thermal gradient between the colder ocean surface in the seas about Iceland and the ocean south of 50-55N and the Bay of Biscay”

Many other studies come to similar conclusions, see here.

And if you need more convincing just how extreme Europe’s weather became during the 17th and 18thC, just read historian Geoffrey Parker’s account of storms, floods, cold and drought in his masterpiece on the Little Ice Age, “Global Crisis

In short, a warmer climate is a less extreme one.

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20 Comments
  1. Joe Public permalink
    March 24, 2018 7:39 pm

    There’s nothing like scare stories to condition the gullible into paying higher insurance premiums.

    • George Lawson permalink
      March 25, 2018 8:00 am

      … and The Guardian are the World’s leaders in scare stories. No wonder their circulation is plummeting.

  2. March 24, 2018 7:56 pm

    Trust the Grauniad to repeat non-peer-reviewed group-think nonsense. How long before it is also repeated by the BBC with added lies from Greenpeace.?

  3. Jack Broughton permalink
    March 24, 2018 8:20 pm

    The “Green-meja” will report this along with their repeated claims of polar bears dying and ice melting as part of their Fear-campaigns … As a more serious point, on examination of the data above, it is clear that a minimum of 60 years is required to define climatic temperature variations, rather than the 30 years stated by the WMO and UK Met office. Even worse, the shorter timespans often used for comparison in temperature-anomalies are clearly totally biased values.

  4. John F. Hultquist permalink
    March 24, 2018 8:48 pm

    German insurance company Munich Re
    one of the world’s leading reinsurers
    Reinsurance is insurance that is purchased by an insurance company.
    reinsurance allows insurance companies to remain solvent after major claims events

    Munich Re becomes more profitable if they can raise rates.
    Why raise rates?
    Well, predicted damages/costs say we should.
    Who predicted those damages?
    Munich Re.

    Off da!

    • Keith permalink
      March 25, 2018 10:01 am

      Yes, quite right, Munich Re are a bunch of insurance sharks. They’ve been at this game for a long time and making a lot of money out of it.

      • Keith permalink
        March 25, 2018 11:44 am

        Perhaps my observation on Munich Re is bit strong, but I wonder why it is necessary to distribute such a flawed one sided report bearing in mind the Insurance industry will take it as fact. But then the industry is fully bought into the Climate scam, so they won’t challenge it. The only reason I can come up with is that it will help to maintain high insurance rates, therefore, enabling the factors made by John plus increased profit.

  5. March 24, 2018 9:49 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  6. markl permalink
    March 25, 2018 3:19 am

    “Some of the underlying drivers of extreme weather which were speculative four years ago are now looking less speculative and [more like] credible hypotheses. That is the weakening of the Gulf Stream and the meandering behaviour of the jet stream.” Credible hypothesis? So four years ago they were guessing and now they think the guesses were accurate? Based on what empirical proof of the hypothesis?

    • paul weldon permalink
      March 25, 2018 7:42 am

      Is it not the gulf stream pushing high up into the North Atlantic that creates the meandering behaviour of the jet stream? If that is correct then one can have either one or the other but not both!

  7. March 25, 2018 9:03 am

    A flood has to have something to inundate. So more built-on land is likely to mean more flooding, other things being equal – and obviously more so in areas where spare land is on or near known flood plains. One of the worst flood areasd in Houston last year was on the site of a former reservoir!

    Now that global warming has been sidelined in favour of so-called extreme weather, the difficulty of pinning any of that on the man-made portion of a trace gas in the atmosphere is even higher than before.

  8. Bloke down the pub permalink
    March 25, 2018 10:22 am

    Paul, is there a time series of Atlantic salinity that you use? It’d be interesting to compare it to temperature to see how they correlate.

  9. March 25, 2018 12:39 pm

    I would recommend a book by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery (I have heard Mr. Avery and met him–an Agricultural Historian with very impressive common sense), “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years.”

    A flaw I note in the “Greenland is melting” hand wringing is that it is gradual. A significant hypothesis for the extremely rapid onset of the Younger-Dryas as we came out of the last ice age and then plunged back in for 1300 years is the Gulf Stream and Lake Agassiz.

    The giant Lake Agassiz, formed at the end of the last ice age with the rapid melting of the huge Laurentide ice sheet. This lake occupied most of modern-day Canada between the Hudson Bay and the US border. However, about 8000 years ago it suddenly drained through the St. Lawrence, allowing an estimated 100,000 cubic kilometres of fresh water to rush into the North Atlantic. Researchers now say they know for sure that this catastrophic event shut down the Gulf Stream.

    A detailed study of sediments on the floor of the Labrador Sea show clear signs of major changes exactly when the lake emptied and the temperatures dropped. Findings include an abrupt build up of fine sediment from the land, coinciding with a sharp drop in the amount of particles of magnetite normally carried to the area by deep ocean currents. The study also shows that the changes were abrupt, happening within a decade or so, in warm climate conditions not unlike those of today.

    Not surprisingly, not all scientists agree with this analysis. We seem to be dealing with somewhat predictable cycles coupled with “catastrophic” events (sudden draining of Lake Agassiz). As the Vikings found Greenland inviting nearly 2000 years ago, it is obviously cooler now than then.

    Sudden draining seems to be a quite “normal” pattern as glaciers melt. The Scablands of eastern Washington State are an example of multiple sudden drainings of Lake Missoula when ice dams broke. Huge amounts of water suddenly cascaded towards the Pacific, carving the the enormous fantastic shapes which are mirrored on a tiny scale in stream beds.

    • March 25, 2018 6:00 pm

      A weakness of sudden draining theories of glaciers is that they are known to leak from the base.

      • March 27, 2018 11:31 am

        However, a point comes when the ice dam simply collapses allowing for a “catastrophic” sudden draining. It is that sudden huge influx of fresh water which seems to be the culprit.

  10. dennisambler permalink
    March 25, 2018 2:23 pm

    Keith: “Perhaps my observation on Munich Re is bit strong,”

    Not really, they have indeed been at this a long time,
    https://www.munichre.com/topics-online/en/2015/11/fight-against-climate-change

    https://web.archive.org/web/20120104080540/http://www.theclimategroup.org/our-news/news/2008/12/2/the-climate-principles-finance-leaders-launch-first-global-climate-change-framework/

    “The new code, titled The Climate Principles, is the first comprehensive industry framework for the sector’s response to climate change and has been adopted by Crédit Agricole, HSBC, Munich Re, Standard Chartered and Swiss Re.”

    https://web.archive.org/web/20081009061620/http://www.munichre.com/en/press/press_releases/2008/2008_10_06_press_release.aspx

    Munich Re is to collaborate with Professor Lord Nicholas Stern and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to substantially advance research into the economic consequences of climate change.

    The five-year cooperation agreement with the LSE’s newly established Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, chaired by Professor Stern within LSE’s Grantham Research Institute, is to provide significant new findings in evaluating the economic impact of climate change.

    Munich Re is a founding corporate partner of the Centre and is sponsoring an independent research programme there to the tune of £3m (nearly €4m).

  11. Paul Smith permalink
    March 25, 2018 7:19 pm

    It’s fascinating to speculate why the Munich RE lend their name to this. My profession is insurance and the fact is, that since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the insurance industry has been gripped by an absence of Catastophe losses. Historically Insurers looked to make a return on capital of 15 percent, but in effect the absence of true catastrophes in the last ten years has meant ever declining prices for this type of business. Even the hurricanes of 2017 have been absorbed.

    Another incidental fact is that as the world economy develops the scale of Insured losses for a given weather event tends to increase simply because the quantum of insured losses is necessarily greater. It does not follow the event itself is more severe.

    When it comes to insurance there is a simple rule, follow the money and not the ‘science’, it’s far more objective.

  12. JasG permalink
    March 28, 2018 1:40 pm

    All that and this..
    “The Easac study, looked at new data and models focused on a potential slowdown of the Atlantic Gulf Stream, due to an influx of freshwater from melted ice sheets in Greenland…”

    If such so-called ‘experts’ could be bothered to keep up-to-date with real science then they would know that the Gulf Stream has long been known to be wind-driven so ‘melted ice sheets in Greenland’ make zero difference to it!
    http://ocp.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/div/ocp/gs/

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