Some good news about our changing climate. Enjoy it, for it might not last long.

Summary: A people can be shaped by controlling their information, altering their perception of the world by filtering what they learn. We see that today in the debate about one of the potentially largest challenges of the 21st century.  Climate scientists differ on their forecasts of future weather, which range from large to calamitous changes. Some activists find these inadequate, and resort to exaggerated claims about extreme weather today — and suppression of the good news. Today we look at the good news you might know. All these trends will change (that’s what climate does). But before we look ahead, let’s clearly see the world of today.

Extreme Weather
We don’t know what lies ahead

Contents

  1. Few hurricanes, weak hurricanes
  2.  It’s a slow year for wildfires (again)
  3. Another slow year for tornadoes
  4. Arctic sea ice rebounds
  5. The pause continues
  6. About trends in extreme weather
  7. For More Information

Click on the graphs to enlarge them.

(1)  Few hurricanes, weak hurricanes

No Named Storms First Time Since 1992 at Hurricane Peak“, Bloomberg, 10 September 2014 — Excerpt:

The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season has arrived and for the first time since 1992 there isn’t a named storm in the basin. … In records going back to 1851, Sept. 10 is the day when the odds are greatest there will be at least one tropical storm or hurricane somewhere in the Atlantic.

… There have been times when quiet years have shown up in the midst of active eras, Phil Klotzbach, lead author of Colorado State University’s seasonal hurricane forecast, said from Walnut Creek, California. Last year produced 13 named storms, one more than the 30-year average, yet the power of those systems was so weak it is considered a relatively quiet season.

Using an index called the accumulated cyclone energy, 2014 has only had 45% of  the activity that it should have produced by this time, Klotzbach said. “But we are still ahead of the ridiculously quiet season of 2013,” he said. “I would say that we need at least one more quiet year to really be convinced that we are heading into an inactive era.”

The last major landfall on the US was Wilma in October 2005; cyclone activity is also low in Australia. Global tropical cyclone energy has fallen from its peaks of 1994 – 2006, per this graph from WeatherBell.

Global tropical cyclone activity, 31 August 2014
Ryan N. Maue, meteorologist, WeatherBell

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Update: “Tropical storms not intensifying“, Nature, 13 November 2014 — Opening:

The potential intensity of tropical cyclones has not increased in recent decades, contrary to expectations in a warming world. James Kossin of the US National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina assessed past storm intensity by analysing 30 years of cloud-top temperature data from satellite imagery of tropical cyclones.

(2)  It’s a slow year for wildfires (again)

Second lowest number of wildfires YTD in the past 11 years (2013 was the lowest); second-lowest total acres burned YTD (2010 was smallest). From the National Interagency Fire Center.

Historical Wildfires
National Interagency Fire Center

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(3)  Another slow year for tornadoes

Update: “Tame tornadoes: Quietest 3 years for twisters on record“, USA Today, 13 December 2014

(b) From NOAA:

NOAA: tornado count
NOAA: tornado count

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(4)  Arctic sea ice rebounds

Today’s arctic sea ice area is the 3rd largest of the past ten years (the years with the smallest ice area minimums on the satellite record, starting in 1979). Less than 2005 – 2006; tied with 2009 and 2013. The extreme low was in 2012 (prompting fears of the “death spiral”). Perhaps the melting trend will resume, driven by a combination of warming, soot deposits, and wind patterns. But so far the dire forecasts of Al Gore and other activists have been proven wrong.

Update:  “Arctic sea ice volume holds up in 2014“, BBC, 14 December 2014 — Ice area in 2014 is 12% above the 5-year average.

Compare this year with recent years. 2014 is the yellow line. This year and 2013 were the largest minimums since 2006.

11092014: Cryosphere Today
11 Sept 2014, from Cryosphere Today at the U IL

(5)  The pause continues

The pause in the surface and lower atmosphere temperature is roughly 15 years old, visible in all the major global temperature datasets. This graph shows the lower troposphere temperature as calculated for NASA by a team at U of AL at Huntsville. See their August 2014 report. Source of the graph here.

UAH lower troposhere temperature.

(5)  About trends in extreme weather

To learn more about trends in extreme weather:

  1. About hurricane activity: global hurricane frequency (peer-reviewed version in GRL here); and a more US-centric version here. No clear trend.
  2. About droughts see the Contiguous US Palmer Modified Drought Index (PMDI) for 1895-2012, NOAA — The 2012 drought was not extreme.
  3. Drought frequency has not increased since 1901.
  4. Rutgers University Global Snow Lab has an easy to use graphs of northern hemisphere snowfall from 1967. No extreme trends.
  5. NOAA’s page on tornado historical records and trends
  6. NOAA’s US Climate Extremes Index — An excellent source of easy to review data.
  7. The Global Weather & Climate Extremes Archive of the World Meteorological Organization — Note the list of extremes & dates on the front page.

Truth Will Make You Free

(6) For More Information

(a)  Updates:

More good news about climate change: no sign yet of the methane apocalypse.

Prof Botkin gives us good news about our changing climate, 30 October 2014

Everything you wanted to know about California’s drought (except when it will end), 25 November 2014

2014 will be the hottest year on record! Except for the details, which ruin that narrative., 4 December 2014

(b)  Reference Pages about climate on the FM website:

  1. The important things to know about global warming
  2. My posts
  3. Studies & reports, by subject
  4. The history of climate fears

(c)  Posts asking if we’re prepared for past weather:

  1. Have we prepared for normal climate change and non-extreme weather?, 11 February 2014
  2. Droughts are coming. Are we ready for the past to repeat?, 12 March 2014

(d)  Posts about the extreme weather:

  1. Ignorance and propaganda about extreme climate change, 10 July 2012
  2. A look behind the curtain at the news of extreme climate events in the US, 22 August 2012
  3. Hurricane Sandy asks when did weather become exceptional? (plus important info about US hurricanes), 28 October 2012
  4. Has global warming increased the frequency & virulence of extreme weather events?, 10 February 2013
  5. The Oklahoma tornadoes can teach us about our climate, and ourselves, 22 May 2013
  6. The IPCC gives us straight talk about Extreme Weather, 4 October 2013
  7. The IPCC rebukes the climate doomsters. Will we listen?, 15 October 2013
  8. A summary of the state of climate change and extreme weather, 12 December 2013

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6 thoughts on “Some good news about our changing climate. Enjoy it, for it might not last long.

  1. Hmm, this makes me curious about how big of a role tropical cyclones play in transferring heat from the oceans to the atmosphere. It’s commonly proposed that the lack of atmospheric temperature increase during the pause is due to the oceans absorbing more heat; it seems reasonable that a reduction in cyclone activity would fit within those observations.

    Whether there is any causation at play, and in which direction it flows, is very interesting.

    1. Buzz,

      I too have wondered about the effects of the pause on climate trends, esp on the long-forecast but not yet visible increases in extreme weather (other than heat waves).

      Guessing as a layman, that might be the 4th wave of research — Is there a pause? Causes of the pause? Forecast duration of the pause?

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