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Matt McGrath Blames Global Warming For Floods & Fires

November 15, 2019

By Paul Homewood

 

It’s amazing how a slightly warmer climate seems to make everything much worse!!

 

 image

With homes under water in South Yorkshire, near record flooding in Venice, and burgeoning wildfires in Australia, many people are asking if and how climate change is connected to these extreme weather events.

What can we say about the role of climate change in floods like those seen in South Yorkshire?

There are some basic physical factors that help explain the scale of the downpours that recently swamped the village of Fishlake and other locations in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.

The very scientific sounding Clausius-Clapeyron equation is one key element.

Clausius and Clapeyron are the surnames of the German and French meteorologists who discovered that a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture. For every 1 degree C increase in temperature, the air can hold about 7% extra water vapour.

When you get the sorts of storms that generate rapid cooling, you get heavier rain falling rapidly out of the clouds, as happened in parts of England last week.

Fishlake Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Soldiers helping out at the flooded village of Fishlake in Yorkshire

"As temperatures are warmer we get more intense rain, which by itself bring more floods, even if the number of storms hitting our shores don’t change," said Prof Piers Forster from the University of Leeds.

"When coupled to warmer, wetter winters generally, as expected from climate change, the ground becomes more saturated so any rainfall will give a greater chance of flooding."

This is, in essence, the scenario that played out in Fishlake last week.

Will we see more such flooding in the near future?

UK scientists observe and predict a 10-20% increase in rainfall during the wettest days, so it is very possible that we will see other examples of this type of downpour across this winter.

In coastal areas, the chances of flooding are made worse by the rise in sea level.

However, the chances of an area flooding or not is also complicated by human factors such as farming practices, the building of houses on flood plains and the vagaries of the British weather.

What about Venice?

Venice has been hit by floods that have seen more than 80% of the city, a Unesco world heritage site, under water when the tides were at their highest.

The Mayor of Venice was very quick to attribute the floods to climate change. Critics though have pointed to delays and corruption in relation to the installation of a major floodwater defence system that might have limited the damage.

floods Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Flooding in Venice is the worst in 50 years

Climate scientists, however, see a clear relation between rising temperatures and the inundation.

"Sea level rise is rising globally and it is also rising in the Adriatic," said Prof Gabi Hegerl, from the University of Edinburgh.

"Venice is also subsiding a bit, so you have a bit of a double whammy.

"The immediate flood has been caused by the Sirocco wind and the high tides but it wouldn’t have been as high without the sea having risen as well."

What about the Australian fires – where’s the climate link?

The latest Lancet report on health and climate change "found that human exposure to fires had doubled since 2000".

"Wildfires not only cause deaths and health damage but had significant economic and social impacts," it found.

fires Image copyright ECMWF Copernicus Image caption An image from the Copernicus satellite showing the extent of fires in New South Wales

In Australia, the bushfires this year have come far earlier and on a larger scale than seen previously.

While climate change doesn’t directly cause fires like these – it is major factor in creating the right conditions for fires to take hold.

"In areas like Australia where we have had prolonged dry periods, you can’t definitely attribute this to climate change but the environmental conditions are increasingly ripe for these sorts of things," said Prof Nigel Arnell from the University of Reading.

"The precursors are all going in the direction of increased fire risk in those fire-prone regions."

Other researchers also point to indirect links.

"Most droughts are found to be in part caused by climate change," said Prof Piers Forster.

"Stronger winds, again associated with more energy in the climate system, add to the fire risk and make them more intense and faster moving."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-50407508

 

So let’s take each assertion in turn:

 

South Yorkshire floods

If we assume that the Clausius-Clapeyron equation is correct, and that there are no offsetting factors which the actual data would indicate, Sheffield would have received an extra 6mm of rain last week.

Is McGrath, or any of his scientist buddies, actually saying this would have made any noticeable difference to the current flooding, or that the floods would not have happened? The idea is simply absurd.

And does he actually have any evidence that floods in Britain are any worse than in the past? No, I thought not, all he can offer is theoretical modelling.

Piers Forster also claims:

When coupled to warmer, wetter winters generally, as expected from climate change, the ground becomes more saturated so any rainfall will give a greater chance of flooding.

If he had not noticed, we are currently in autumn, and rainfall in England is not increasing in autumn, or for that matter in winter either:

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/climate/maps-and-data/uk-temperature-rainfall-and-sunshine-time-series

 

And just to complete the equation, last month was not abnormally wet either:

  

 

Venice floods

As even the Venice mayor had to admit, flooding was even worse in 1966.

Of course, nobody can dispute the fact that seas are gradually rising and will exacerbate natural flooding events in Venice. However sea levels have been rising in Venice since at least 1909, and the rate of rise has slowed significantly in the last 50 years.

There is no evidence that rising seas are connected to man made warming:

270-054_meantrend

270-054_50yr

https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=270-054

 

 

Australian wildfires

We are told:

The latest Lancet report on health and climate change "found that human exposure to fires had doubled since 2000".

Yet wildfire experts say that globally wildfires are now burning less acreage than they did in the past.

What, of course, may be true is that many more people are now living in fire prone areas.

McGrath then moves on to droughts, which Forster claims are found to be in part caused by climate change.

If he had bothered to check, he would have found out that NSW rainfall in the last few months has not been unusually low:

rranom.nsw.0608.7213

rranom.nsw.09.7641

rranom.nsw.10.20972

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/index.shtml#tabs=Tracker&tracker=timeseries&tQ=graph%3Drranom%26area%3Dnsw%26season%3D10%26ave_yr%3D0

 

As for longer trends, NSW used to be a much drier place:

rranom.nsw.0706.25704

 

Still who needs “facts”?

41 Comments
  1. Broadlands permalink
    November 15, 2019 2:01 pm

    “With homes under water in South Yorkshire, near record flooding in Venice, and burgeoning wildfires in Australia, many people are asking if and how climate change is connected to these extreme weather events.”

    You and the “many” people are asking the wrong question, Mr. McGrath. You should be asking what if anything can be done about it in those next 12 to 30 years you tell us we have. If you did ask the answer might give you pause to continue your scare-mongering.

    Jonathan Franzen…His latest is an opinion essay for the New Yorker titled, “What If We Stopped Pretending?” The subtitle sums up his argument: “The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.”

  2. November 15, 2019 2:03 pm

    Venice has been flooded several times in the past. For example, on 8 December 1600 at Venice, Italy, a strong southeast wind caused the highest tide. “Inundatio ventis 6 ped. temp. Sirocco.” [translation from Latin: During the Sirocco, the wind caused a 6-foot surge/overflowing.] [Sirocco is a Mediterranean wind that comes from the Sahara and reaches hurricane speeds in North Africa and Southern Europe.]
    Source: John Lowthorp, Philosophical Transactions and Collections to the End of the Year 1700, Volume 2, Fifth Edition, London, 1749.
    The current flooding is also caused by the same source, the Sirocco.

    • I_am_not_a_robot permalink
      November 15, 2019 9:06 pm

      Indeed:

      View of the flooded Piazza San Marco, 9 December 1825 by Vincenzo Chilone (1758-1839) as reproduced in latest GWPF email.

  3. LeedsChris permalink
    November 15, 2019 2:09 pm

    But they always forget that because Venice and its islands are man-made and, basically, made of silt dredged out of a lagoon, they have been sinking into the lagoon for centuries. I understand this process has been exacerbated with the industrialisation of the mainland coast of the lagoon, post-war and the extraction of bore-hole water. The information I have seen is that the northern section of the lagoon is subsiding at the rate of 2-3mm a year and the southern lagoon subsiding by 3-4mm a year. Over a century or so that would mount up to a foot or so in old numbers. No wonder if flooding is becoming more common. I despair that journalists never investigate and report properly and fully any more.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      November 15, 2019 9:43 pm

      You make the mistake of assuming that some ‘journalists’ actually want to do journalism. They certainly don’t at the BBC when it comes to global warming.

  4. November 15, 2019 2:09 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate- Science.press.

  5. jack broughton permalink
    November 15, 2019 2:16 pm

    As you point out so elegantly, both history and simple common sense show a different picture from that presented by our media moguls. The tragedy is that no one is allowed to question their foolish pontifications. The Lancet long-ago lost the plot in forming a climate change committee entirely comprised of “believers”, but like the rest of the media they will not publish any letters questioning their belief.

    The quoting and mal-attribution of the Clausius Clapeyron equation to meteorologists rather than thermodynamicists is further evidence of their desperation: it relates to the thermodynamics of phase changes. The phase changes in clouds are not at all understood and none of the models can predict cloud formation / rain with any accuracy. Cloud cover has generally decreased since the 1970s due to clean air policies, so how can the extra rain be due to more clouds?

  6. November 15, 2019 2:40 pm

    As with any of these daily doses of doom, it takes little time to find that there is nothing unprecedented with weather events. I do not seek to minimalise the impacts on those affected. A random look through this archive gives an entry for November 17th 1894, in the Thames Valley:

    https://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20150110001115/http://booty.org.uk/booty.weather/climate/1850_1899.htm

    “At the upper Thames recording point of Shillingford Wharf, the flood-level was 46.96m above OD, the second highest at this point, (and up to 2003), in that record. The Thames burst its banks and affected scores of towns / hamlets along the river, and many thousands were driven from their homes. (The peak date of the flood events is given as the 17th November.)

    The floods were stated at the time to be so spectacular and widespread as to be regarded as the greatest floods ever, and a ‘yardstick’ by which future inundations are measured. Flooding was also reported from other parts of southern England, following high rainfall in both October & November.”

  7. Terry Breverton permalink
    November 15, 2019 2:43 pm

    I was there in the 1966 flooding of the square, when duckboards were swamped.[No-one was blaming too many cars then]. It was one of the reasons for renewing flood defences, which have not been completed owing to corruption. If the defences had been completed, no-one would have panicked. One wonders if the alarmists have heard of Milancovic Wobbles or have studied climate change over the millennia…

    • LeedsChris permalink
      November 15, 2019 4:01 pm

      And wasn’t Autumn of 1966 the year of those really devastating floods that struck Florence. I can remember as a child seeing the TV coverage of the scale of these floods. Many people volunteered from around the world to help with rescue and restoration.

  8. November 15, 2019 3:02 pm

    The climate change scam continues unabated. I didn’t think it was possible to get any worse, but it has. There now seem to be several news items a day (and many other programmes) which relate something-or-other to climate change and claim it is getting worse.

    Climate change is now an excuse used by politicians and bureaucrats to hide their incompetence.

    • keith permalink
      November 15, 2019 4:32 pm

      And for the media like BBC/CNN to maintain their Fake News position.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      November 15, 2019 8:03 pm

      Phillip, IMHO, I think the alarmists know that a ‘cold sun’ is about to take over and douse the AGW scare: they have to make hay before the sun stops shining (so much).

  9. Henning Nielsen permalink
    November 15, 2019 3:09 pm

    Near record flood in Venice…it is pathetic when alarmists have to use “near”, even less convincing than “slightly pregnant”. Now let us see…how large were our co2-emissions 50 years ago?

  10. Saighdear permalink
    November 15, 2019 3:10 pm

    …………. and if it had been 1 or 2 degrees colder ON THE DAY, it may have been a case of ( am I correct ) 1foot of snow for every INCH of rainfall – so that would have made at least 6FEET of snow – what would they all be saying then?

  11. Saighdear permalink
    November 15, 2019 3:13 pm

    Damit – meant to say 1 or 2 degrees colder in Yorkshire……

  12. Hugh Sharman permalink
    November 15, 2019 3:20 pm

    But Matt is a real, widely admired, Climate Scientist! https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-mcgrath-a558b94/?originalSubdomain=uk
    How dare we to question his credentials?

    • November 15, 2019 7:29 pm

      Just like all the other BBC climate scientists such as Roger Harrabin and David Shukman..

  13. Jason permalink
    November 15, 2019 3:27 pm

    BBC “science” hacks are propagandists.

    Green policies connect a lot of these events directly. Fires because of lack of proper woodland management because of insane green laws. Flooding because of inadequate river maintenance because of insane green policies. Cosstal flooding will come to England because of a green policy of not maintaining sea defences: the BBC will point the finger at climate change. And so it goes on.

  14. Ian Wilson permalink
    November 15, 2019 4:08 pm

    It seems to be common to blame climate change for events, such as the Venice floods, which are then quoted as “the worst for X years”. This happened, too, with the Tokyo typhoon, “the worst for 60 years”. No one seems to ask about previous events of long ago.

    Last night’s Panorama on Climategate, which was such a travesty of the facts, portraying the perpetrators as victims, that I hope you will cover it in a post of its own, at least twice quoted temperatures as “the worst for 1,000 years” without presenters asking the obvious question of what happened 1,000 years ago. Vikings growing barley in Greenland? I don’t think they used SUVs or diesel longships.

    When I tackle people ranting about more extreme weather I refer them to Daniel Defoe’s account of the 1703 storm.

  15. MrGrimNasty permalink
    November 15, 2019 4:29 pm

    “Yet Reverberi also, like many others who care about such things, realised that the city of Venice had stood precariously upon the rafts and piles for 500 years and was slowly sinking into the Adriatic Sea, and wished to raise awareness of Venice’s potential loss. What was created by European ingenuity was being destroyed by European neglect.”

    “In recent years, Venice’s potential loss to the sea has been used to justify the globalist politics of climate change, which is what man-made climate change theory is really all about. The propaganda is always steered towards rising waters rather than sinking buildings. Yet the globalist elites are not really interested in Venice other than in its political usefulness.”

    Those of a certain age will remember the unforgettable ‘Venice in Peril’ from the 80s.

    https://mjolnirmagazine.blogspot.com/2019/07/rondo-veneziano-venice-in-peril.html

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      November 15, 2019 6:17 pm

      And the donation by Pizza Express to the Save Venice fund, years before Climate Change was a thing.

  16. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 15, 2019 5:17 pm

    I remembertthe Venice floods of the 1960s. I also remember that subsidence was a problem even then, stretching memory to its limit I think that there was concern about foundations because Venice is built on the river Po delta and medieval builders weren’t big on foundations. I can’t imagine much remedial work has been done in the intervening years.

  17. swan101 permalink
    November 15, 2019 5:22 pm

    Reblogged this on ECO-ENERGY DATABASE.

  18. Iain McPhee permalink
    November 15, 2019 5:42 pm

    In regards to flooding in Venice surely the fact that elevated duckboard walkways have been installed previously and that hotels dole out temporary welly boots to guests mean that any flooding problems has been well known for decades and that Italy has done sweet FA to protect Venice and/or their antiquities.
    Similarly wildfires have always happened in Australia and years ago the fire load was managed down by the indigenous peoples/farmers/authorities, whereas in recent decades federal and state governments have just ignored their responsibilities and done nothing to prevent/minimise the effects of these wildfires.
    Whether or not one believes in man made climate change/warming the fact is the land/rivers needs managing and in pretty much all cases humans have failed to do this. Why are these obvious sentiments not pointed out in any mainstream media? Emperor’s new clothes?

  19. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 15, 2019 6:14 pm

    “It wouldn’t have been so high without…” True but that’s what, a few mm?

    Utterly swamped (pun intended) by the natural effects.

  20. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 15, 2019 6:20 pm

    “Stronger winds”?

    I thought wind speeds had dropped slightly because of climate change?

  21. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 15, 2019 6:22 pm

    https://cosmosmagazine.com/climate/the-wind-is-slowing-down

    Got to love Climate Change – we get both faster and slower wind speeds because if it, probably simultaneously.

  22. November 15, 2019 7:14 pm

    Bushfires and Climate Change
    Eucalypts represent a firebomb. To limit the severity of a forest fire one must periodically reduce the accumulated debris that naturally accumulates at ground level that in turn assists the growth of an ‘understory’.

    When a catastrophe is about to occur, one must look for a firebreak, that lies in the path of the fire and burn back from it, against the wind.

    On an everyday basis people seek shade and shelter for their houses. Arid zones, including all of Australia, are greening due to the presence of more CO2 in the atmosphere. Plants need less water when CO2 is more available. Regulations that ban construction within a fire prone area (the entire continent) are useless when householders desire the shade and shelter that the bush can provide.

    Without active ongoing management, no property is safe. Every autumn I get a permit and burn part of my bush. I delight in new growth and renewal. Even though fire was the primary tool of our early settlers for thinning the bush, removing debris and create favorable circumstances for grazing, today, the act of ‘burning off’ is rare. In my youth I remember grannies with rakes lighting up damp leaves and twigs and putting up with a lot of smoke. Now when my wife lights up a passing motorist reports the fire and the local fire brigade turns up with four trucks. The focus has shifted from prevention to reaction. Reactive fire management has become institutionalized. But reaction is no more effective in a catastrophic situation of the sort we see today than it was thirty years ago before we had fire trucks and water bombing planes. Reaction is never going to cut it. The more we are successful with reaction, the greater the risk will become and the worse the eventual outcome. There are times when a fire must be allowed to burn. That time is after the first rains, in autumn, in the evening, not in the heat of the day.

    Governments should promote and facilitate pro-active reduction of the risk. That way we can live in harmony with the native vegetation that provides shade and shelter. We can live in a ‘bush garden’. But like all gardens, the bush needs maintenance.

    The key to avoiding disaster is prevention and that is in the hands of you and me, not the government and not the fire brigade.

    Australia has always been prone to drought and fire. What we see today is not unusual. What is unusual is the accumulation of people, their fire prone assets and the resources employed to nourish vegetation with mulch, fertilizer and stored water.

    Blaming ‘climate change’ is hysterical nonsense. Your grandfather knew what to do. You, the grandson, are just a twit, and if you work for the government and are actively making new regulations you are probably a twit, squared.

  23. john cooknell permalink
    November 15, 2019 8:05 pm

    What Matt, or his so called scientists fails to show us, is how the attribution model studies he has such faith in, how they actually work out that an event is attributable to climate change.

    As far as I can tell they take the event stick it in their world or regional climate model and if it matches the models projections, then that is their proof. I think it is called circular thinking, in other words utter rubbish in, utter rubbish out. The model predicts the model.

    I know it must be disappointing for people like Matt and his climate science pals, that actual climate records do not show any sign of a climate emergency, but this is getting utterly ridiculous. They really are just making it up.

    I know the 1998 MBH Hockey Stick (so prized by the idiots like Matt) was inaccurate and just a figment of dodgy science, as 20 years later, if it were real, I would be feeling quite warm today but instead I feel freezing cold and have very wet cold feet!

    Impressive flooding in the Avon Valley today, water as far as the eye can see, but I have often experienced worse.

    My forecast for the rest of the UK winter is dry and cold, and I produced this forecast without a climate model in sight.

  24. mjr permalink
    November 15, 2019 8:09 pm

    Can i echo Ian Wilson’s comments about the Climategate programme. Just watched it . When i saw the subject i thought it unusual for BBC to cover this. Then watched and realised it was basically usual propaganda to say that the any doubt about the veracity of CRU, Mann and the mad Monbiot that the emails indicated was wrong (and related only to changing graphs to remove dodgy tree ring data that did not match the narrative to avoid confusing us all (having just spent half the programme explaining how the temperature series was taken back a 1000 years using …….. tree ring data. This programme needs out host’s usual thorough debunking please

  25. Huw THomas permalink
    November 15, 2019 8:11 pm

    This report came from a BBC climate zealot. Sacking him would be a good idea. But that would not defuse the central problem of the lies and scaremongering and propaganda that come from the BBC on a daily basis. They are constantly in breach of their charter and are totally unrepentant about this bias. The BBC are a central problem and need to be dealt with. A massive act of civil disobedience involving withholding license fee payments and demonstrations against the BBC on a huge scale is needed. I suspect that none of the above will happen but we cannot let them continue with their green propaganda. And worst of all we are paying for it!

  26. November 15, 2019 8:30 pm

    Bushfires and Climate Change
    On an everyday basis people seek shade and shelter for their houses. Arid zones, including Australia, are greening due to the presence of more CO2 in the atmosphere. Plants need less water when more CO2 is available. Regulations that ban construction within a fire prone area, the entire continent, will always be ineffective because rational people desire the shade and shelter that the bush can provide.

    Fire was the primary tool of our early settlers for thinning the bush, removing debris and creating favorable circumstances for grazing. Today, the act of ‘burning off’ is rare. When my wife lights up a passing motorist rings 000 and four fire trucks appear. The focus has shifted from prevention to reaction. But reaction is no more effective in a catastrophic situation than it was thirty years ago when there were very few fire trucks and no planes spewing fire retardant. The more we rely on reaction; the worse will be the outcome.

    There are times when a fire must be promoted, after the first rains, in autumn, in the evening.

    What we see today is to be expected. What is new is the accumulation of people, their fire prone assets and the resources employed to nourish vegetation with mulch, fertilizer and stored water.

    Blaming ‘climate change’ is hysterical nonsense. Your grandfather knew what to do. You, the grandson, are a twit, and if you work for the government and are actively making new regulations related to building activity, chances are you are a twit, squared.

    To limit the severity of a forest fire one must periodically reduce the accumulated debris that naturally accumulates at ground level including the ‘understory’.

    When a catastrophe is about to occur, one must look for a firebreak, that lies in the path of the fire and burn back from it, against the wind. But this is not what you really want to be doing in a dry season, in the middle of summer.

    • Malcolm Skipper permalink
      November 15, 2019 9:27 pm

      Where is this, please?

      • November 16, 2019 2:21 pm

        The plaque that marks record flood levels in Stratford-upon-Avon.
        Todays local paper.

        Put your mouse or finger over the image and long or right click … then select “Search google for this image”

  27. Henry Dodwell permalink
    November 16, 2019 9:44 am

    Piers Forster has addressed your analysis in a series of tweets. This is his supporting evidence, none of which actually refutes what you said.

    1. UK precipitation link to AGW is peer-reviewed https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-014-1095-2

    2. BOM drought index:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/archive/20191008.archive.shtml

    3. SL rise connected to AGW according to the IPCC:
    https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/home/

  28. November 16, 2019 2:18 pm

    BBC radio just had the latest edition of their in depth reporting prog From Our Own Correspondent.
    In the past it used to very good, but now like a lot of BBC progs the reporters make great effort to Virtue Signal how *woke* they are.
    So in the report on the Australian bush fires Phil Mercer tosses the PR words around “scientists say” “the deniers” etc.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07v5hzl

  29. saparonia permalink
    November 16, 2019 2:25 pm

    All you need to do is look at place names. e.g. Parkgate Retail world recently was flooded. Parkgate is at the bottom of RawMARSH. It’s pretty amazing how many floods happen in places with water references in their names.
    The floods in Rotherham and Sheffield along the River Don are to be expected when they muck about with them, try to restrain them, build things like MeadowHall Shopping Centre on top of them, don’t see to storm drains or leave roo for natural meadering.
    They need to look at the work of Victor Shauberger, e.g this very very good video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyOGdjWDVM4&list=PLHCuUEnflw23S2kewg_TrYapSPUhDKLwx

    • November 16, 2019 8:52 pm

      Paul will know, but AFAIK Meadowhall was built on spare land left when the steelworks closed
      I don’t think it is super likely to flood.
      It does sit in a valley that’s why the M1 next door is on the Tinsley Viaduct as it crosses this wide valley

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