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New Hurricane Study Systematically Debunked By Roger Pielke

November 13, 2019

By Paul Homewood



Matt McGrath gives top billing to the latest piece of junk science:


The biggest and most damaging hurricanes are now three times more frequent than they were 100 years ago, say researchers.

Using a new method of calculating the destruction, the scientists say the increase in frequency is "unequivocal".

Previous attempts to isolate the impact of climate change on hurricanes have often came up with conflicting results.

But the new study says the increase in damage caused by these big cyclones is linked by global warming.

Hurricanes or tropical cyclones are one of the most destructive natural disasters. The damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was estimated to be $125bn, roughly 1% of US GDP.

One of the big questions that scientists have wrestled with is how to compare storm events from different eras. Is the increase in financial damages recorded over the last century simply down to the fact there are now more people living in the paths of hurricanes, who are generally wealthier?


Previous research has concluded that the rise in damages was related to wealth, and not to any statistically significant change in frequency.

However this new paper challenges that view.

Instead of looking at economic damage, the authors looked at the amount of land that was totally destroyed by more than 240 storms between 1900 and 2018, based on insurance industry databases.

As an example, the researchers examined Hurricane Irma that hit Florida in 2017.

Around 1.1 million people were living inside the 10,000 sq km closest to the storm’s landfall.


With the wealth per capita estimated to be $194,000, the scientists concluded that the overall wealth in this 10,000 sq km region was $215bn.

As the storm caused $50bn worth of damage, this was 23% of the wealth in the region. Taking 23% of the 10,000 sq km gave an area of total destruction of 2,300 sq km.

By working out similar figures for events across the last century, the researchers were able to make what they say are more realistic comparisons in terms of damage over the decades.


The authors found that the frequency of the most damaging hurricanes had increased by a rate of 330% per century.

And they believe that is mainly due to rising temperatures.

"Our data reveal an emergent positive trend in damage which we attribute to a detectable change in extreme storms due to global warming," they write.

The scientists involved believe their new method is solid and gives a more accurate picture of what is happening with the worst storms.

"The new method of looking at the frequencies is really robust," said Aslak Grinsted, from the University of Copenhagen, who carried out the study.

"The increase in frequency is not only in my own dataset but is also present in other datasets, so it is extremely robust, and I think that will help it become more accepted."

The study has been published in the journal PNAS.


The first thing to note is that the lead author, Aslak Grinsted, has no special knowledge about hurricanes, nor does he appear to have any expertise with economics.

Instead, most of his research has concerned sea level rise. He did write one paper in 2013, which unsurprisingly was on the lines of “hurricanes were worse than ever”, but this was quickly discredited by experts.

One scientist who has thoroughly researched the economics of hurricanes is Dr Roger Pielke Jr. He has been very scathing about this latest alarmist effort:


The Associated Press is hyping a new study that is claiming “The most destructive hurricanes are hitting US more often.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — Big, destructive hurricanes are hitting the U.S. three times more frequently than they did a century ago, according to a new study. Experts generally measure a hurricane’s destruction by adding up how much damage it did to people and cities. That can overlook storms that are powerful, but that hit only sparsely populated areas. A Danish research team came up with a new measurement that looked at just the how big and strong the hurricane was, not how much money it cost. They call it Area of Total Destruction.

But extreme weather expert Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. has some problems with the study.








Ironically there has just been another study on hurricane attribution by NOAA’s Thomas Knutson, which comes to the polar opposite of Grinsted’s conclusions:



Using the conventional perspective of avoiding type I error, the strongest case for a detectable change in TC activity is the observed poleward migration of the latitude of maximum intensity in the northwest Pacific basin, with 8 of 11 authors rating the observed change as low to medium confidence for detection (with one other author having medium and two other authors having medium to high confidence). A slight majority of authors (6 of 11) had only low confidence that anthropogenic forcing had contributed to the poleward shift. The majority of the author team also had only low confidence that any other observed TC changes represented either detectable changes or attributable anthropogenic changes.


This leaves the question why the BBC have chosen to give full coverage to the Grinsted study, even presenting it as “unequivocal”, and not just a theoretical piece of modelling. Yet they have not, as far as I am aware, reported on the Knutson paper, nor ever mentioned any of the various Pielke studies, such as last year’s paper which included this graph:





I will be producing my own analysis of the Grinsted paper shortly.

  1. November 13, 2019 12:39 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate-

  2. November 13, 2019 12:42 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  3. john cooknell permalink
    November 13, 2019 12:49 pm

    The editor was Kerry Emmanuel, says it all really.

    BBC Matt McGrath searches for idiotic stuff like this. Of course if you input the damage value caused by the strongest hurricane evah the study looks ridiculous. As Patricia caused lmited damage.

    • Broadlands permalink
      November 13, 2019 9:15 pm

      Seth Borenstein is not exactly an objective observer either. He has been a climate alarm promoter for decades.

  4. GeoffB permalink
    November 13, 2019 1:28 pm

    It was in the Express is well…here is my comment

    The statistics from NOAA show category 4 and 5 have actually decreased over the last 100 years. Category 1 and 2 appear to have increased, but that’s down to under reporting before satellites recorded everything. Using area damaged by analysing insurance claims, overlooks the fact that more people now want to live on the coast, hence more buildings!!!! to get damaged, The figures given look very suspect as well. It is just junk science.

  5. jack broughton permalink
    November 13, 2019 1:42 pm

    A new type of “science” has emerged via the IPCC: how many of a self-selecting group think that something is significant. This used to be called the Delphi method and was always a coarse assessment of noisy info. Of course the percentage chance assigned depends on the strongest in the group.

    I hope that the medical profession do not start using this to assess drugs!

  6. JimW permalink
    November 13, 2019 2:01 pm

    As someone who has a property in the Irma hit zone, I can say ‘unequivocaly’ that it was a damp squid. Its eye wall collapsed completely as soon as it hit Florida at Marco Island and was not even Cat 1 as it followed the 41 route north. It caused damage as would any tropical storm, but not on the scale of the monsters of past years. This report is rubbish.
    Yet it has been quoted on local news media in SW Florida as if everyone has suddenly lost their own memories, its not been ridiculed. Continuous slow drip brainwashing does work.

    • HotScot permalink
      November 13, 2019 8:32 pm

      LOL….I think you mean ‘damp squib’, referring to a disappointment or let down, like a firework that won’t light. Squib being the firework reference.

  7. Athelstan. permalink
    November 13, 2019 2:06 pm

    If you tell a lie, make it a big one and if you tell it often enough, stupidified, people begin to believe it.

    We go over and over the same ground, they TPTB through the media colons, claim colossal falsehoods and immediately the lies are debunked, they’ll be rolling out the melting snows of the Kilimanjaro = global warming – again and that was put to bed many years ago.

    Arctic sea ice disappearing, Antarctic ‘melting’, Greenland vanishing……….same old same old…………polar bears, penguins – all of it – LIES.

    Now the Hurricanes is bigger’n’worse ‘thanks to man made warmling’ thing. Repeat and on a loop. Again more false and fixed computer modelled wishful thinking and fake attribution all based on a very false premise, which is wrong, nothing but a doom mongering crock.

    All advertized by the beeb – Liars, such barefaced lying and the charlatans of spin know it, just as we do, the problem – this sort of guff is believed by the gullible, moreover it is spoon fed to children and promulgated as the truth and that is utterly unconscionable.

    I had hoped that realists were winning, but truth and facts have a funny way of being ignored in the media, political sphere and the boys who make billions out of it, and on the payroll.

    Follow the money, the green scam is all about green – big bucks, metaphorically and literally were being scammed defrauded and duped – whichever descriptor you choose, as taxpayers and consumers – we, are the ‘marks’.

    • HotScot permalink
      November 13, 2019 8:34 pm


      Always enjoy reading your posts mate.

    • November 14, 2019 11:36 am

      Great summary of it all.

  8. November 13, 2019 2:56 pm

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    In the article it states

    The majority of the author team also had only low confidence that any other observed TC changes represented either detectable changes or attributable anthropogenic changes.

    Yet despite this it doesn’t stop the BBC from going into full disinformation mode again with this Venice story front page. Emphasis added for the dog’s breakfast / Jennifer Francis regurgitation:

    Venice floods: Climate change behind highest tide in 50 years, says mayor

    Severe flooding in Venice that has left much of the Italian city under water is a direct result of climate change, the mayor says.

    The highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years will leave “a permanent mark”, Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted.

    “Now the government must listen,” he added. “These are the effects of climate change… the costs will be high.”


    Is climate change behind Venice flooding?
    By BBC meteorologist Nikki Berry

    The recent flooding in Venice was caused by a combination of high spring tides and a meteorological storm surge driven by strong sirocco winds blowing north-eastwards across the Adriatic Sea. When these two events coincide, we get what is known as Acqua Alta (high water).

    This latest Acqua Alta occurrence in Venice is the second highest tide in recorded history. However, if we look at the top 10 tides, five have occurred in the past 20 years and the most recent was only last year.

    While we should try to avoid attributing a single event to climate change, the increased frequency of these exceptional tides is obviously a big concern. In our changing climate, sea levels are rising and a city such as Venice, which is also sinking, is particularly susceptible to such changes.

    The weather patterns that have caused the Adriatic storm surge have been driven by a strong meridional (waving) jet stream across the northern hemisphere and this has fed a conveyor belt of low pressure systems into the central Mediterranean.

    One of the possible effects of a changing climate is that the jet stream will be more frequently meridional and blocked weather patterns such as these will also become more frequent. If this happens, there is a greater likelihood that these events will combine with astronomical spring tides and hence increase the chance of flooding in Venice.

    Furthermore, the meridional jet stream can be linked back to stronger typhoons in the north-west Pacific resulting in more frequent cold outbreaks in North America and an unsettled Mediterranean is another one of the downstream effects.

  9. Robert Christopher permalink
    November 13, 2019 3:13 pm

    Give the guy a break!

    As ‘most of his research has concerned sea level rise’, he needs an exciting hobby to break the monotony.

    Watching the sea rise by a millimetre or so a year, every year 🙂 , everywhere 🙂 , ignoring EVERYTHING else that is happening, what would you do?

    Yes, what would you do in his position, when it ensures continuing employment, pension, and other emoluments and, maybe, even a trip to a Climate Conference?

  10. Jackington permalink
    November 13, 2019 3:30 pm

    I love McGrath’s “Using a new method of measuring”. This means all previous methods have produced hogwash.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      November 13, 2019 4:08 pm

      Whenever you read ‘new method’ or ‘novel method’ in climate articles, it’s guaranteed BS.

  11. Sheri permalink
    November 13, 2019 4:42 pm

    I love statistics. It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Anything can be true, contradictory ideas can be true. It’s “Through the Looking Glass” of global warming fantasy. Except Alice never wanted to destroy the planet and humanity….

  12. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    November 13, 2019 4:58 pm

    With the wealth per capita estimated to be $194,000, the scientists concluded that the overall wealth in this 10,000 sq km region was $215bn.
    As the storm caused $50bn worth of damage, this was 23% of the wealth in the region.

    I don’t think this makes any sense!
    I’m reminded of the comment: “It’s turtles all the way down.”

  13. November 13, 2019 8:27 pm

    “looked at the amount of land that was totally destroyed”

    What actually does that mean? How does the land get totally destroyed?

    And, how can one determine how much land was ‘totally destroyed’ 100 yrs ago?

  14. November 13, 2019 10:55 pm

    How was the value destroyed measured? It doesn’t just reflect a general increase in insurance by any chance?

  15. November 14, 2019 1:50 am

    The relationship between AGW climate change and tropical cyclones in the data.

  16. November 14, 2019 9:36 am

    As Pielke Jr. says picking through economic data is a falsetrail. However the question of stalling hurricanes due to wind shear changes (perhaps) still remains.

    Nasa expert warns of stalling hurricanes

    • November 14, 2019 9:52 am

      They are pushing this idea here too, so expect to hear more of the same.

      Stalled weather patterns will get bigger due to climate change
      Relationship between jet stream, atmospheric blocking events
      Date: November 13, 2019
      Climate change will increase the size of stalled high-pressure systems that can cause heat waves, droughts and other extreme weather, according to a new study.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        November 14, 2019 10:14 am

        The endless post fact “evidence” that some weather event is caused by Climate Change is ridiculous. Assume there is Clu.ate Change and it will cause these events anfmd of course it seems like Climate Change is causing these events.

        Yet Climate Change theory never predicts these things before they happen. That’s not a huge problem?

      • November 14, 2019 11:38 am

        Yes sir. The key is the post fact thing.

  17. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 14, 2019 10:11 am

    “Using a new method of calculating the destruction, the scientists say the increase in frequency is “unequivocal”.”

    The BBC simply should not report in this way. A new method has ti be checked, replicated and shown to be able to forecast. Simply quoting g the author as if it is fact is shameful.

    And how exactly did everybody miss this vast increase? It’s a pretty extreme claim, so it needs pretty convincing evidence, not a “new way of adding up”.


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