Report links severe weather to global warming

douglas_bradley_steger.jpg

What made “tornado alley” move 500 miles north — to Minnesota — this summer? Why have there been two major floods in Iowa in recent years, and annual flooding in the Red River Valley of Minnesota?

A report issued today by Environment Minnesota, an environmental advocacy organization, stops short of definitively saying the disasters are attributable to global warming, but said “extreme weather” is likely the result of a warming planet (See the report).

“This is not a coincidence,” meteorologist Paul Douglas (left above) said. “We’ve had an accumulation of coincidences. I tell people, ‘strip out the ideology. Look at the numbers. Look at the science.’ This has been an amazing year.” ()

Douglas acknowledges that one year does not a trend make, “but we’ve had 384 consecutive months where the global temperature has been warmer than the 20th century average. Now I’m all for serendipity, but at some point you step back, you connect the dots, you look at the pieces of the puzzle; something is going on,” he said.

The report said the sea level has risen by 8 inches since 1870, snow cover has decreased in the Northern Hemisphere over the last 40 years, and the amount of precipitation falling in the top 1 percent of rainfall events has increased 20 percent in the last century.

steger_climate.jpg “Just a month ago, the remaining largest ice shelf in the Arctic broke up. All of the ice shelves that I’ve traveled on in the Arctic and Antarctic have broken up, ” explorer Will Steger said at a news conference (), held at Douglas’ Excelsior weather forecasting company. “It was 700 feet thick.” Douglas says he’s starting a new company to make wind energy more profitable by providing more dependable wind forecasts for companies.

Those calling attention to global warming are usually reluctant to link weather events to climate change — especially during blizzards and cold snaps. “What’s happening on a planetary scale now is consistent with what climate scientists were predicting 20 years ago,” Douglas said. “Just the sheer number of coincidences, taken together, there’s no argument that greenhouse gasses have spiked 20 percent. There’s no argument that the amount of water vapor floating overhead has spiked by 4 to 5 percent. So we’re loading the dice… increasing the probability of these extreme events.”

But critics of the concept of climate change and global warming say there’s no saying for certain that what’s happened in Minnesota this summer, for example, is attributable to climate change. They want a smoking gun.

“By the time the last piece of the puzzle falls into place — and even the skeptics come around and say ‘yes, you’re right.’ It will probably be too late, Douglas said.

Additional audio:

Ken Bradley, director of Environment Minnesota, discusses the report. ()

  • Patrick from Anoka

    I have said it before–I don’t deny that the weather is changing. That’s obvious.

    I take issue with the notion that humanity is responsible for a significant fraction of it. We could all go back to live in caves, never drive anymore, and the weather and climate would not change.

  • ChicagoAndy

    @Patrick – sorry, but do you really think that humans have nothing to do w/climate change? You really don’t think that the pollution we produce has any adverse effect on the atmosphere? I guess you’re in the “it’s a natural cycle” camp then? That is interesting, given the seemingly endless amount of evidence that contradicts your ideas.

    Obviously there were weather patterns and cycles that have been occurring long before we (humans) were here and started keeping records, but I have to go with the evidence presented to me, that human pollution is only speeding up the process. Where that process leads us? We’ll probably be long gone before this one plays out, but you never know.

    Everything in the future is an opinion and an assumption I suppose, therefore I could certainly be wrong too.

  • Jim

    “By the time the last piece of the puzzle falls into place — and even the skeptics come around and say ‘yes, you’re right.’ It will probably be too late, Douglas said.

    Too late for what, Paul?

  • GregS

    Far more predictable than weather are the prattle of climate advocacy groups.

    These things always tend to follow the same sad pattern:

    First, a pious pronouncement linking this or that phenomena to global warming.

    Second, a cacophony of press reports mindlessly echoing the pronouncement.

    Third, the parade of peer-reviewed studies unlinking this and that phenomena from global warming.

    Finally, the chirping of crickets from the press when the unlinking studies are released.

    As for this brain-dead piece of piety:

    1. +.001C warming does not move “tornado alley” 500 miles. By the way, haven’t tornadoes always been a part of Minnesota summers?

    2. Increased flooding is caused by land-use patterns, not more water.

    3. The Red River flows NORTH. Flooding there is caused by ICE DAMS, a phenomena usually associated with cold, not warming (Hello fact-checkers?)

  • Bob Collins

    Fact checker here. the Red River flood — the last big one — was “caused by ice dams.” Not really.

    The problem started months earlier before the snow when it rained. A lot. So much that it saturated the ground. Then it snowed. A lot. So that the ground could not absorb additional precipitation, so it ran into the river, and headed downstream when it — here it comes — warmed up earlier than normal and caused the snow to melt.

    I was in Breckenridge when it flooded. There were no ice dams causing it. There were no ice dams in Moorhead or Fargo causing the flooding. If there were ice dams downstream, then the flood would’ve occurred in Grand Forks and worked its way back, not Breckenridge and worked its way north.

    It’s OK with me if you disagree with the climatologists, Greg. You can even criticize me if you want. But other than proclaiming incompetence of others, you should at least provide a good reason why a guy who works in a police agency is more qualified on the point than climatologists and scientists.

    Generally speaking, the more insulting a rebuttal is, the fewer facts go into it. That’s the problem with the discussion on the topic right now.

    Douglas is right. Something is going on. There ARE patterns on which there is agreement. So what is it that’s going on? That’s the question.

  • GregS

    Bob, the phenomena of flooding in the Red River Valley is well understood.

    I cannot speak to your experience, instead I will quote from NOAA.

    “This unique relationship between climate and geography makes the Red River Valley particularly susceptible to flooding during March and April (personal communication, Allen Voelker, National Weather Service meteorologist, Grand Forks, N. D.). In particular, the normal annual cycle in air temperature favors a south-to-north progression of the spring thaw, which is characterized by the melting of snow and river ice in the south during March while the downstream river channel remains frozen. These conditions favor flooding of the Red River and a backfill of the runoff into the river’s tributaries.”

  • GregS
  • GregS

    As for the influence of warming trends on flooding, let’s look at what actually climatologists have to say. I refer to climatologist Roger Pielke of the University of Colorado, who lists a number of important non-climatic factors that have the potential to influence flooding in the future, including deteriorating dams and levees, changes in land use, building in flood-prone areas, governmental policies, as well as other societal influences. Pielke, R.A., JR. 1999. Nine fallacies of floods. Climatic Change 42: 413-438.

    So why does the press fail to review the facts and continue to pass along the piety of people more motivated by religion than science?

  • Bob Collins

    It’s hard to tell between your adjectives, Greg, what your point is. Douglas’ point is: something’s going on.

    Is your point that something is not going on?

    But we’re not going to have the usual dueling links here, are we? Most climatologists agree that something is happening. As the piece stated, there is no — yet — smoking gun (by the way, Jim, the question to Douglas was “can there be a smoking gun AND still have time to do something about it?”)

    The climate change debate has changed over the years, from “man isn’t responsible for it” to “it doesn’t exist.”

    Which one are we having?

  • GregS

    From The University of North Dakota.

    WHY IS THE RED RIVER OF THE NORTH SO VULNERABLE TO FLOODING?

    (As I stated in the above post “The Red River flows NORTH”)

    1. SYNCHRONY OF DISCHARGE WITH SPRING THAW:

    The Red River flows northward. But, at the same time, spring thaw proceeds steadily northward along the Valley. Thus, along the Red River, runoff from the southern portion of the Valley progressively joins with fresh, meltoff waters from more northerly localities. If this synchrony is perfect, the consequences in the northern portion of the Valley can be truly disastrous.

    (Again as I state in my post, “Flooding there is caused by ICE DAMS)

    2. ICE JAMS:

    This factor is also related to a northward-flowing river system. Ice derived from the southern Valley progressively meets with freshly-broken ice in the central and northern Valley. Ice concentrations in this regime can only build, retarding or damming water flow.

    3. GLACIAL LAKE PLAIN:

    The Red River has incised a shallow, sinuous valley across one of the flattest expanses of land in the world: the floor of Glacial Lake Agassiz. Therefore, when the river floods onto this plain, areal coverage of the waters can become dramatic.

    The youthfulness, flatness, and slope direction of the Red River Valley all contribute to its susceptibility to flooding.

    Related to this physiographic factor is the young age of the Red River. In its present form, the Red River is about 9,300 years old and far too young geologically to have carved a significant valley-floodplain system. Therefore, the lake plain becomes the “floodplain” to this river.

    4. DECREASE IN GRADIENT DOWNSTREAM:

    “Gradient” refers to the slope of a river. In the region of Fargo-Halstad, the gradient of the Red River averages 5 inches per mile of length. In the region of Drayton-Pembina, however, the gradient drops to 1.5 inches per mile. During floods, the Red River at Drayton tends to pool due to lack of slope – the region becoming essentially a massive, shallow lake.

    Question: Why did MPR fail to report critically about this press release and at least provide some context to the readers?

    Obviously, Environment Minnesota is making inferences about flooding and tornadoes that cannot be substantiated by the peer-reviewed literature.

    Why does it take a guy from a police agency to provide scientific context?

  • Bob Collins

    //let’s look at what actually climatologists have to say

    Is that going to be the standard for determining whether “something is going on”? OK. In 2009, a survey by the University of Illinois found 97% of climatologists doing research believe there is global warming and humans are responsible.

    And 32 national science academies on the planet have said the same thing.

  • Bob Collins

    Your response to my rebuttal to your point that ice jams caused the flooding of the Red River is to cut-and-paste a web page that says ice jams are a contributing factor. They are. But that doesn’t diminish the timetable I gave you nor the fact that the biggest cause of flooding, is water.

  • GregS

    We are not debating global warming, we are debating the uncritical treatment that environmental advocacy groups receive from the press.

    This phenomena of linking this and that weather event to global warming is a tried and true scare tactic that has been repeated refuted by peer-reviewed literature….

    Why are we not told this?

    Why doesn’t MPR ask Environment Minnesota to provide substantiation for their claims about “tornado alley” or the Red River Flooding?

    You can bet if Michelle Bachman were to make a claim, that a reporter would ask for substantiation.

  • Bob Collins

    //y did MPR fail to report critically about this press release and at least provide some context to the readers?

    Because the context you want isn’t context, it’s a conclusion.

    I pointed out that the group does not have a smoking gun that extreme weather is caused by global warming. I pointed out that Will Steger says all the places he’s explored have broken up and I pointed out that Paul Douglas — like Paul Huttner — has pointed out that there have been 384 consecutive months of temperatures higher than the 20th century average.

    You have cut and pasted an 11 year old paper and concluded you’ve provided scientific context.

    You have not.

    I’ve provided the report — most of which involves words like “could” and “may.” In fact, the question I asked of the gentlemen focused on the words “could” and “may” and distinguished it from words like “is.”

    What you’re saying, on the other hand, is that you’ve shown “is not” is the operative word.

  • GregS

    “In 2009, a survey by the University of Illinois found 97% of climatologists doing research believe there is global warming and humans are responsible.”

    Check your facts, and be very careful.

    Climatologists know the wold has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age.

    No controversy there.

    Climatologist also agree that human activity is a factor. What they cannot know or prove is how much warming is due to natural phenomena and how much is due to human influence?

    Any opinion on that account is merely, like you say, “belief”

    However, what is not in doubt is that Climatologists are heavily funded to support a view that blames human for a warming climate.

  • Bob Collins

    //We are not debating global warming, we are debating the uncritical treatment that environmental advocacy groups receive from the press.

    Then I’m not going to debate that with you for obvious reasons. It’s a typical diversion to move a discussion from intellectual curiosity to talk-show nonsense.

  • Bob Collins

    Correct. There is no debate that the earth is warming.

    So we’re back to science. Do you believe that temperature has an effect on weather? Do you believe, as Paul Douglas says, there’s more water vapor in the air than in previous centuries? Do you believe Will Steger’s observation that the Arctic and Antarctic are melting? Do you believe that the ice caps have an effect on weather patterns? Do you believe that a melting of the ice caps raises sea levels? Do you believe that a warmer ocean has a different impact on weather than a colder one? Do you believe that an increase in water levels in the oceans has an effect on land?

    Those are all scientific and — in this case — meteorological determinations. The piece deliberately did not address the POLITICAL filter that people need to bring to the issue.

    The piece is about a warming planet and its impact on weather patterns.

    That’s entirely different from (a) whether anything can be done about it or (b) whether anything should be done about it.

  • GregS

    “You have cut and pasted an 11 year old paper and concluded you’ve provided scientific context.”

    Bob!!!

    Are you suggesting the geology of the Red River has changed in eleven years? And please tell me what is inaccurate about quoting from an authoritative source like NOAA?

    I also backed up my statement with current information from the University of North Dakota.

    In addition, I quoted from a peer-reviewed journal by one of the stars of climatology.

    What more does it take?

    Environment Minnesota is making a false inference. One that follows a repeated pattern of scare tactics by advocacy groups.

    This is a failure of ethics on their part and a failure to delve into the issue on MPR’s part.

  • Bob Collins

    //Are you suggesting the geology of the Red River has changed in eleven years? And please tell me what is inaccurate about quoting from an authoritative source like NOAA?

    Post the NOAA data that says the amount of fall precipitation and snow melt wasn’t a factor in the flood and we’ll talk.

    But let’s go with your observation — a correct one, of course — that the geology of the Red River Valley hasn’t changed in 11 years. But there’ve been two 100 year floods in the last 15 and the flooding has been more serious in recent years. If the geology isn’t changing, what could be changing?

  • vjacobsen

    Fine. Deny climate change. But there are other important reasons to change our behavior. I, for one, wish we could cut down on emissions from power plants, cars, and industry that cause an increase in pollution, leading to air advisories. It would be nice if we could stop polluting waters that I once was able to swim in, but now are frequently unsafe for anyone to go in. I’d LOVE it if my kids could have the satisfaction of pulling a fish out of the lake and having it for dinner later. It would be great if we no longer had to cozy up to adversarial countries just so we can power our cars.

    Oh, but if that means you don’t get to do EXACTLY what you want, all of the time, then forget it.

  • GregS

    Do you believe that temperature has an effect on weather?

    Yes.

    Do you believe, as Paul Douglas says, there’s more water vapor in the air than in previous centuries?

    Perhaps, paleoclimate is heavily problematic and highly political.

    Do you believe Will Steger’s observation that the Arctic and Antarctic are melting?

    Not really. Sea ice in the Arctic is at a 30 year low. Sea ice in the Antarctic is at a 30 year high.

    Do you believe that the ice caps have an effect on weather patterns?

    Yes.

    Do you believe that a melting of the ice caps raises sea levels?

    Melting in the Arctic has very little effect on sea level. There is no measurable change in overall ice mass in the Antarctic. By the way, climate General Circulation Models (GCM) predict MORE ice mass in the Antarctic.

    Do you believe that a warmer ocean has a different impact on weather than a colder one?

    No. Colder can influence weather just the same as warmer.

    Do you believe that an increase in water levels in the oceans has an effect on land?

    Yes, check the literature…..the South Sea Islands are GROWING mass. See Professor Paul Kench of Auckland University work, a case of a climatologist actually checking their facts.

  • John O.

    Thanks v! Spot on.

  • John O.

    GregS: Give it a rest. Go have some decaf.

  • GregS

    “But there’ve been two 100 year floods in the last 15 and the flooding has been more serious in recent years. If the geology isn’t changing, what could be changing?”

    YES!!

    YES!!

    YES!!

    Finally, a perspective question. It is NOT GLOBAL WARMING because neither the region nor the earth has warmed enough in 15 years to cause major impacts on the weather. Think a tenth of a degree, Bob. Confirm this with Paul.

    So what has changed?

    Could it be land-use?

    Gee…….Didn’t I just quote you a peer-reviewed article by a climatologist who says precisely that?

    Here email Prof. Pielke and ask him pielke@cires.colorado.edu

  • GregS

    “Fine. Deny climate change. But there are other important reasons to change our behavior. I, for one, wish we could cut down on emissions from power plants, cars, and industry that cause an increase in pollution, leading to air advisories. It would be nice if we could stop polluting waters that I once was able to swim in, but now are frequently unsafe for anyone to go in. I’d LOVE it if my kids could have the satisfaction of pulling a fish out of the lake and having it for dinner later. It would be great if we no longer had to cozy up to adversarial countries just so we can power our cars. ”

    I agree completely, so let’s stop listening to moronic advocacy groups lie about things that have been disproved over and over and over again, and let’s talk instead about what really matters.

  • Bob Collins

    Thanks for the answers. So now I have to make a choice. With two different answers to the same questions, which should I trust the most — meteorologists and climatologists, or you and those who make their living yapping on the radio?

  • Bob Collins

    //Melting in the Arctic has very little effect on sea level. There is no measurable change in overall ice mass in the Antarctic. By the way, climate General Circulation Models (GCM) predict MORE ice mass in the Antarctic.

    “The contribution from melting glaciers to sea level rise has been on the order of 25 mm since 1960. This small rate of increase indicates that the contribution of glaciers in the Arctic towards global sea level rise is an issue for later in the century.”

    “he sea ice area for the Arctic shows near-record minimums since 2002. The maps below show the areas for September (shaded) relative to the median extent (purple line) based on the period 1980-2000. The recent years represent a unique event because they show a year-to-year persistence of minimum ice extents (graph below). Sea ice area is now significantly below the level of the 1980s and earlier. ”

    //what is inaccurate about quoting from an authoritative source like NOAA?

    The above data is from NOAA.

  • bsimon

    Is this a trick question?

    “should I trust … those who make their living yapping on the radio?”

    Regarding GregS’s statements, my takeaway is that we should find the self-proclaimed experts who reach the conclusions we prefer & tout their opinions as the last word on the subject. Clearly that is the surest way to convince people of the soundness of one’s argument.

  • GregS

    “With two different answers to the same questions, which should I trust the most — meteorologists and climatologists”

    The consensus among both meteorologists and climatologists is that there is no link between global warming and natural disasters.

    This link was an embarrassment to both Prof. Kerry Emanuel of MIT and Prof. Judith Curry of Georgia Tech when they made the link between global warming and hurricanes a few weeks BEFORE Katrina.

    The press treated them like rock-stars. They made the morning talk shows.

    They were idolized by environmental advocacy groups.

    Then they looked into it further and found….ooops..

    When they tried to correct their error….crickets chirped in the press.

    There is still no link with hurricanes, still no link with flooding, still no link with tornadoes…..but what do we get from the press? Constant misinformation from their ideological buddies in the advocacy industry.

    By the way, Bob. Half of meteorologists do not believe in human-induced global warming, fully a third say it is an outright scam. See Columbia Journalism Review http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/hot_air.php.

  • GregS

    “The contribution from melting glaciers to sea level rise has been on the order of 25 mm since 1960″ – Bob

    As I said, “Melting in the Arctic has very little effect on sea level”

    “The sea ice area for the Arctic shows near-record minimums since 2002″ – Bob.

    It is called multi-decadal Arctic oscillation. It is a phenomena that made the Arctic almost completely ice free in the 1920’s.

    Why aren’t we told this?

  • GregS

    Have fun, folks. I got a conference to get to.

  • Bob Collins

    //. Half of meteorologists do not believe in human-induced global warming,

    Again, you’ve injected “human induced” into the concept of global warming when the dialog — and post — is about the effects of a warming planet, not on the cause of it.

    By the way, your CJR article is one I wrote about here.

    and since you’ve cited Professor Wilson’s work as worth believing, you should also point out that what he actually said in his paper is that many of those who think it’s a scam, also INCORRECTLY apply meteorological models onto a climatology model.

    I also provided the audio of professor wilson, so you can listen to the whole thing.

    That’s right, Greg. I’m THAT good. (g)

  • GregS

    Bob,

    I am confused. On one hand you say, “Trust authority, trust climatologists and meteorologists because they are the experts.”

    But then when climatologists and meteorologists say over and over and over through the peer-reviewed literature that, “there is no link between the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and global warming”, you fail to convey that message to the listening public, instead you allow them to be lead into a false inference by people who know full well that they are lying through their teeth.

    Face it, Environment Minnesota, Paul Douglas and Will Steger know they can get away with creating scary, but false, scenarios because they can count on the favorable bias of the press.

    NEWS FLASH: the credibility of environmental advocates is in free-fall precisely because of stunts like this.

  • Ken Paulman

    Greg’s hit on exactly the part where people get confused.

    You can’t determine whether an individual weather event is 100% due to climate change, just as you can’t determine whether someone’s lung cancer is 100% due to smoking cigarettes. After all, some people smoke their entire lives, and never get cancer.

    However, just as smoking increases your *risk* of cancer, warmer, moister air in the atmosphere increases the *likelihood* of severe weather. That’s what climatologists have been predicting, and that’s what is happening now.

  • Bob Collins

    // On one hand you say, “Trust authority, trust climatologists and meteorologists because they are the experts.”

    This is the main problem with the debate. I never said that. It helps your argument to say I said that, but I never said that. What I asked was whether I should trust climatologists and meteorologists on matters of climate and meteorology, or should I trust someone who’s in another line of work?

    //But then when climatologists and meteorologists say over and over and over through the peer-reviewed literature that, “there is no link between the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and global warming.”

    (1) Are they saying there’s no link or are they saying there’s no conclusive proof of a link. The two are not the same.

    (2) It comes down to a preponderance of evidence. SOME climatologists and meteorologist have said what you have said. and SOME climatologists and meteorologists have said what Steger and Douglas have said. In terms of actual SCIENTIFIC research, what’s the breakdown?

    //by people who know full well that they are lying through their teeth.

    Let’s apply scientific and scholarly principle to your conclusion. You’re saying because they have said “something’s going on” and have said that there is no smoking gun, that therefore they are LYING. That requires some measure of proof.

    It’s what you THINK is reality. But it may not be reality.

    And that’s the problem with the discussion. It too often cherrypicks facts that support a conclusion already reached and ignores — usually as lies — that data which does not support a conclusion.

    Douglas went out of his way to point out there is no smoking gun. In order for that to be a lie, you have to have conclusive proof that just the opposite is true.

  • jtb

    With all this knowledge of the flooding in the Red River Valley, I would think that one would post a solution that the media is not talking about. What are the solutions?

  • GregS

    Sorry Ken,

    That is not what is happening. Study after study has confirmed that “there is no link between the intensity and frequency of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and global warming”.

    There is no association between intensity and frequency of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and regional warming.

    It is a faith-based thing. People who fervently believe in catastrophic global warming desperately need to see miraculous manifestations of their faith.

    They tend to see weeping Madonnas everywhere. In the Arctic, in the Red River Valley, in a face in a rock.

    The fact is – global warming can only been seen by squinting really hard through a fog of statistics.

    The trouble is, climatologists make lousy statisticians and they continually get savaged because they try to romp in a field (statistics) where they have no (or little) expertise.

  • GregS

    “Let’s apply scientific and scholarly principle to your conclusion. You’re saying because they have said “something’s going on” and have said that there is no smoking gun, that therefore they are LYING. That requires some measure of proof.”

    It is a false inference, Bob. One that is not supported by any scientific research.

    Seriously Bob, you stepping into dangerous journalistic territory.

    If MPR passes along the meme that “the “something is going on” is global warming”, are you not playing down the more obvious and scientific supported position that the something is isn’t land-use/land-cover LULC?

    What is the policy implications of that?

    Aren’t you telling people that, “hey, don’t worry about how you treat the river-shed, it’s all about global warming, something out of your control.”

    Floods can be mitigated by reversing the factors that created more flooding, not by passing along hysterical inferences about global warming.

  • GregS

    “Douglas went out of his way to point out there is no smoking gun. In order for that to be a lie, you have to have conclusive proof that just the opposite is true.”

    Oh, give me a break. You can’t hold a news conference and make an inference that is not only unsupported by research, but actually refuted by research, then say, “Well, there is no smoking gun to support what I just said”.

    No, Paul there is no smoking gun but there is a rich body of research to prove the opposite.

  • jtb

    Greg,

    I think you are stepping into dangerous territory when you infer that “playing down the more obvious and scientific supported position that the something is isn’t land-use/land-cover LULC”. It seems to me that you are treading on my property rights. Are you saying that I cannot develop where I want?!

  • Ken Paulman

    So, Greg, are you saying that there hasn’t been an increase in extreme weather events?

    Or, that while there has been an increase in extreme weather events, it can’t be attributed to increased atmospheric temperatures?

    And if it’s the latter, then what’s the explanation?

  • Bob Collins

    //Oh, give me a break.

    OK, then. this includes the scholarly portion of our discussion.

  • GregS

    “Are you saying that I cannot develop where I want?!”

    Develop all you want as long as you compensate property owners downstream for their economic losses due to your actions. Or should the taxpayers do that?

    Either way, someone has to pay the costs. This is where libertarians, liberals and conservatives tie themselves in a knot. If person A causes damage to person B’s property, who is responsible?

    A, B, or G (the government)

  • GregS

    “So, Greg, are you saying that there hasn’t been an increase in extreme weather events?”

    I know of no peer-reviewed study that supports the position that weather events such as floods, tornado or hurricanes, have become more extreme. If you know of one, please post it.

    We know the VALUE of economic loss due to weather is increasing in proportion to the increasing value of property.

    We know that flooding is increasing in proportion to the impact of development in the river-sheds.

    But nowhere is there evidence that weather events such as floods or tornadoes are more “extreme”.

    By the way, I am the only one today to have actually have cited peer-reviewed studies. How about someone who disagrees with me, doing the same.

  • Ken Paulman
  • GregS

    Sorry, Ken.

    The report you linked to by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research is a political puff piece. Not a peer-reviewed scientific report.

    People are still laughing about that report.

  • GregS

    Ken,

    Read Climatologist Roger Pielke Jr’s take on the CCSP report you cited above. The report made the mistake of citing Dr. Pielke.

    If they only read his studies……

    See http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/06/obamas-phil-cooney-and-new-ccsp-report.html

    Pielke writes: “Imagine if an industry-funded government contractor had a hand in writing a major federal report on climate change. And imagine if that person used his position to misrepresent the science, to cite his own non-peer reviewed work, and to ignore relevant work in the peer-reviewed literature. There would be an outrage, surely . . .”

    He then takes them apart one sentence at a time: “Lets take it sentence by sentence.

    Sentence #1 “While economic and demographic factors have no doubt contributed to observed increases in losses,346 these factors do not fully explain the upward trend in costs or numbers of events.344,347″

    Reference 346 is to a paper I co-authored:

    Pielke, Jr., R. A., Gratz, J., Landsea, C. W., Collins, D., Saunders, M., and Musulin, R., 2008. Normalized Hurricane Damages in the United States: 1900-2005. Natural Hazards Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 29-42. (PDF)

    In that paper we did indeed conclude that economic and demographic factors have contributed to losses related to hurricanes. In fact, we concluded that these factors accounted for all of the increase in hurricane losses over the period of record:

    The flogging goes on and on and on.

  • Jeanne

    GregS I have a couple of questions for you. The subject of global warming and whether or not it is an actual occurrence seem to be of great interest to you. You’ve obviously done a lot of research and reading on the subject. I’m trying to get to the heart of what you take issue with. Is it that you think environmental groups who put forth the global warming argument are telling half-truths? All in an attempt to sway public opinion? And, if so, for what gain. Political? Monetary? All or none of the above?

  • GregS

    Uh Bob………

    Remember this from this morning?

    “Fact checker here. the Red River flood — the last big one — was “caused by ice dams.” Not really.” – Bob.

    When you are wrong… You are really wrong….

    From The Canadian Broadcast Corporation See http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/03/30/north-dakota-flooding.html?ref=rss

    “A heavy weight lowered by a National Guard Chinook helicopter has failed to break up an ice jam that’s keeping water levels dangerously high on the Red River in North Dakota and Minnesota.

    The pilot tried placing a 1,400-kilogram concrete weight on the jam near Oslo, Minn., on Sunday, but only a few pieces of ice broke free.

    Officials will continue efforts Monday to break up the six-kilometre sheet of ice that is slowly moving toward the community.”

    Note: Oslo is just north of Grand Forks

    One can find a great summary of the 2009 Red River Flood on Wikipedia. They mention Ice jams over thirty times.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2009_Red_River_flood

    Scroll down to the section titled “Ice Jams”

    “On March 25, an ice jam formed north of Winnipeg, causing the municipalities of St. Andrews, St. Clements, East St. Paul and West St. Paul to declare a state of emergency. Flooding from the ice jam necessitated the evacuation of about thirty homes.[48] While the jam was broken, it reformed near Lower Fort Garry, causing the water to rise 4.5 meters (14.7 feet) in 2 hours.[49] On March 31, a state of emergency was declared for the city of Selkirk due to concerns over ice jams.”

    My favorite part starts like this… “The North Dakota National Guard used 160 pounds (73 kg) of C-4 plastic explosives on the 3 feet (0.91 m) thick ice placed into 80 holes.”

  • Bob Collins

    Don’t I feel embarrassed? If only I’d sat in my cubicle in 2010 and Google “Red river flood” and find a wikipedia page rather than — you know — actually GOING to the Red river Valley as I did and learn things firsthand.

    Here’s a gateway to some of my work there. You’ll note the dates on it area almost a full week BEFORE the dates you cite above

    Do ice jams affect floods. Of course. Do they cause the floods. To a degree. (A debris jam is also what exacerbated the Rushford flood). But the reality is that the flood of ’09 was caused PRIMARILY by significant fall rainfjall that saturated the ground, a freeze, an above-average snowfall, and a rapid snowmelt. Not to mention rainfall on the Monday. Ironically, it was a subsequent freeze and blizzard that saved the region. But the situation was caused primarily by weather months before the actual flood, and long before the ice broke up enough ..

    It’s also important to note that the reason ice breaks up is because of the pressure of rising water. So where we are back with the primary cause of floods: Water.

    I didn’t Google that. I learned that by talking firsthand with hydrologists in the area who study the hydrology of the Red River Valley. And I’m thinking they’re a better source of information that Google and Wikipedia on that particular subject.

    That’s also why I think a guy who’s actually gone to the Arctic and Antarctic over the last few decades is in a better position to tell me the condition of things (as is NOAA, which has provided similar data), than some guy who’s got a fast Internet connection and knows how to enter search terms in Google.

    Nowadays, some people believe that’s scientific curiosity.

  • GregS

    Jeanne,

    The Anthropomorphic Global Warming (AGW) community is divided. The split is best illustrated by the following statement by the late Steven Schneider,

    Note the phrases I marked in bold.

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both”

    I belong to the camp that is grounded in the scientific method.

    The sad fact is – environmental advocacy groups have shot their credibility with the general public. Confidence in AGW is in free-fall and the IPCC is in tatters, all because advocacy has trumped science.

  • GregS

    Bob,

    I am glad you were up there. You did a fine job. However, I believe I have proved my point about the Red River. It flows north and because of that simple fact, it is prone to ice-dam flooding.

    Despite your experience, ice jams were a factor in the floods, other reporters who experienced that side of the story said so.

    I do not believe their experience negated yours nor your experience negated theirs.

    Reporters report the story as they see it….unless they are “advocates” then who knows what to believe.

    But beyond that, increased flooding almost everywhere in the country is due PRIMARILY to land-use, not to climatic factors.

    By the way, the BIG ONE on the Red River Valley was in 1826, some 25 years before the official end of the Little Ice Age.

  • GregS

    “That’s also why I think a guy who’s actually gone to the Arctic and Antarctic over the last few decades is in a better position to tell me the condition of things (as is NOAA, which has provided similar data), than some guy who’s got a fast Internet connection and knows how to enter search terms in Google.”

    Uh Bob……

    My field of study was not criminal justice, it was Periglacial Geomorphology (Arctic Landforms).

    And yes, I have been to the Arctic many times.

    I do know a thing or two about the region, enough to catch the New York Times environmental writer Jonathon Yardley in an outright lie about “climate refugees” in Newtok Alaska.

    While the New York Times never bothered to check facts (when do they ever?) I looked up the changes in the active layer for the region and found the effects of “global warming” inconsequential.

    I then located BIA and Army Corps of Engineer reports that attributed catastrophic erosion in Newtok to lousy site planning and inappropriate construction techniques – instead of “global warming”

    A good fact-checker and a sharp editor would have caught this error….but ideology counts more in the news today than facts.

  • Bob Collins

    //Despite your experience, ice jams were a factor in the floods, other reporters who experienced that side of the story said so.

    And they’d be accurate. And it would be exactly as I said, as well.

    But that’s not what YOU said. What you said was:

    “Flooding there is *caused* by ICE DAMS” as you assailed the lack of fact checking. But as you’ve now learned, the ice dams kept water levels high, but did not create the high water levels.

    You also said the ice jams were related to colder weather, not warmer weather, and that’s not true either. Ice jams are caused by the breaking of ice caused by water temperatures AND rising water.

    And all of this comes back to the original point which was that Douglas believes that “something is going on.”

    You contend that nothing is going on other that development.

    Let’s leave it there and we’ll check back in 50 years and see who’s right.

  • GregS

    “But as you’ve now learned, the ice dams kept water levels high, but did not create the high water levels.”

    Bob,

    The North Dakota National Guard had to use 160 lbs of C4 on the ice dams. Here is a clue….warm weather does not make thick ice.

    Here is another clue, GCM climatic models predict LESS not more precipitation in the Great Plains.

    You contend that nothing is going on other that development.

    Land-use is a lot more complicated that “development”.

    For instance, do you know how much drainage tile farmers have been putting in the Red River Valley?

  • Bob Collins

    //Bob, The North Dakota National Guard had to use 160 lbs of C4 on the ice dams.

    You know that Bismarck isn’t on the Red River, right? That’s where the C-4 was placed. The Wikipedia entry that said it was on the Red River, cited a Chuck Haga MinnPost story in which Chuck noted the effort was in Bismarck.

    Bismarck is on the Missouri River.

  • GregS

    Here is the MinnPost article.

    Risks with explosives

    Explosives “are not always the first choice,” she said, as they may raise safety and environmental concerns and risks to levees.

    “But explosives can be effective if used in a right way,” she said, citing a successful effort to break up Missouri River ice jams near Bismarck last week. Because the ice cover was solid, on average 3 feet thick, charges could be set into the ice. The North Dakota National Guard provided 160 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive, which was packed into 80 holes drilled in the ice. Later, helicopters dropped road salt onto other parts of the river ice to weaken it..”

    It is not clear at least to me where the C4 was used, but I’ll take your word for it.

    I do get a kick from how Chuck led the story.

    GRAND FORKS, N.D. – As much as people in the Red River Valley want the sun and warmth of an honest spring, the colder than average temperatures of recent weeks have kept record March snowfalls from rushing into the Red River and its tributaries.

    Maybe we should pass on the “colder than usual” message to the folks at Environment Minnesota. :)

  • Ken Paulman

    Here is the page listing the peer review information for the report I cited earlier that Greg is claiming was not peer reviewed.

    Pielke’s rebuttal (in which he “flogs” a single paragraph in the report) does not address the issue of increased *intensity* in storms, which is what Bob’s original post is about. Pielke talks about frequency of storms and economic losses — not the same thing.

    The atmosphere is trapping more heat and retaining more moisture, leading to stronger rainfalls and more intense storms. Call me naive, but that doesn’t really sound all that far-fetched.

    Greg – you strike me as someone who likes to have the last word. All yours…

  • GregS

    Sure, I’ll take the last word.

    Tacking an acknowledgement page onto a political hack piece like the CCSP report does not make it peer-reviewed science.

    The atmosphere is trapping more heat and retaining more moisture, leading to stronger rainfalls and more intense storms.

    So then theoretically, as one travels north and west from here, one should notice a decrease in the intensity of storms as the regional temperature declines and the climate dries?

    (Snarf)

    So we are supposed to believe that a rise in a tenth of a degree temperature as observed through a fog of statistics is supposed to suddenly give rise to the miraculous manifestation of biblical pestilences?

    This isn’t science, it is rehashed Christian Fundamentalism?

    You have to wonder why people come up with this crap?

    I know why.

    We have Paul Douglas who has built a business based on government subsidies to a fanciful and uneconomical wind-power industry, we have Will Steger whose business model morphed from Arctic exploration to global warming evangelism, and Environment Minnesota, who business is evangelism of the most strident variety……

    So what is their motivation to spread outlandish scary scenarios?

    Could it be money, money, money?

    That is my last word: MONEY.

  • Zebulun

    We live in the Red River Basin, along the banks of a small tributary to the big Red. It’s true that many factors contribute to a flood, some of which were mentioned above. But the primary contributing factor in the frequent spring floods of our basin, and the perennially flooded Devils Lake basin, since at least the 1990s, has been TOO MUCH WATER.

    We are in a wet period. There is no denying that. If it is cyclical, we are anxiously waiting for it end. If it has been exacerbated by climate change (increased water vapor in the atmosphere) then we are unsure what the future holds for the people and fertile soils of this landscape.

  • GregS

    There is a word for “Too much water”. It is called, a flood. The question is why?

    Is water backing up from ice dams? Sometimes.

    Is the flood a result of cold spring weather that does not allow the snow to melt and drain slowly? That was the case last year.

    Or the big one: has the basin changed? Have farmers tiled their fields? Have wet lands been filled in? Have too many ditches and dikes been built?

    All of these are important question.

    What is not an important question is: has supercomputers and an army of statisticians determined that the earth is warming a tenth of a degree per decade?

  • Ryan

    Have you looked at any pictures of the Arctic and/or Antarctic ice shelves? They are shrinking rapidly. To quote this article- “Just a month ago, the remaining largest ice shelf in the Arctic broke up. All of the ice shelves that I’ve traveled on in the Arctic and Antarctic have broken up…..it was 700 feet thick.” Another thing: there is a time lapse between the pollution we put into the air and when we see the effects. That lapse is 50 years. Basically, the warming we are seeing now is due to pollution from the 1960s. Also, you say only 1/10 a degree per year. That may not seem like a lot, but the effects, especially because its been around 20 years are enormous. We have had a temperature increase leading to temperatures on average about 2-3 degrees warmer. Temperatures in the Arctic have risen about twice as fast than elsewhere. The ice caps have shrunk by nearly 20% are are shrinking at 9% per decade, almost 1% per year. Don’t give me this BS about no global warming. If this keeps up, the US could lose 22,400 sq. mi. of coastline to rising water levels.

  • http://www.environmentminnesota.org Ken Bradley

    I was really amazed to read all the comments especially from Greg and the patience that Bob Collins demonstrated through his responses.

    It is disturbing to me that we continue to debate if global warming is really occurring. I really wish it was not occurring and could join those that doubt the overwhelming facts including the 97% of climate researchers that have established the earth is warming and primarily a result of man-made greenhouse gases. These are objective scientists that take no pleasure in sharing this information with the rest of the world.

    Besides scientists, the Vatican, the Lutheran, the Evangelical churches and many more groups of faith are demanding we take action to lower global warming pollution. Xcel Energy CEO Dick Kelly was recently quoted in a StarTribune article lambasting congress and others for not taking action on global warming pollution, for not creating a plan to reduce emissions. Various other leaders of industry have been urging our political leaders to pass legislation that puts a price on pollution and cap on emissions.

    I would like to be able to doubt the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that states we need to take action immediately and reduce global warming pollution, but I can’t and still feel I am doing my own duty to future generations. Doubting is only about shifting our problems on to the next generation and avoiding taking responsibility which is not fair nor just. It is time for action.

    Ken Bradley

    Environment Minnesota

  • GregS

    Mr. Bradley,

    The number of climate skeptics who argue that global warming is not really occurring is equal to the number of environmental advocates who suggest global warming is causing extreme weather events.

    In other words, both sides have their goofballs.

    What is being argued is how much warming is caused by nature and how much is caused by man and what this all means.

    The other thing that needs to be talked about is irresponsible people making money on the fears of others.

    Put bluntly, this concept that a tenth of a degree warming per decade can be manifested in extreme weather events is pure bull.

  • GregS

    Roger Pielke Jr, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, sums up the connection between global warming and flooding like this…

    “So what is the thing for journalists to say about climate change and recent flood disasters? Easy. There is presently no evidence for a signal of climate change (human-caused or otherwise) leading to an increase in flood disasters. If there is any signal, it is far too small to see and it will take many decades for such a signal to emerge.

    It seems like it would be easy and straightforward to simply say what the science shows, but making climate change connections with disasters seems to be like catnip for journalists and advocates alike.”

  • http://www.myspace.com/boinerz/blog Charles Prichard

    Latency Theory -C. Prichard

    Warming must have triggered ice ages in the past. I think it is happening again. The Milankovitch Astronomical Theory suggests a variation in arctic sunlight occurs periodically every hundred thousand years. There are other theories, but none seem to explain how the ice ages begin. I’ll argue against the Milankovitch Theory charging it does not explain coinciding glaciation in mountain glaciers at various latitudes around the Earth.

    Several changes have occurred, setting up a trending pattern in weather dominated by warming oceans. It is feared that melted ice caps and reduced ocean salinity may soon halt the oceanic current that is called the “conveyor belt.” This is already happening, slowing transport of thermal energy from equatorial regions nearly to the arctic. As a result, more solar energy is absorbed into the atmosphere both as water vapor and wind. The transport of energy still happens on a large, nearly incomprehensible scale, but is different, occurring in observable atmospheric weather patterns, and phenomenon.

    Over the warming oceans, atmospheric masses with energy move northward applying pressure to cold arctic masses moving against weakness in continental masses. Result is thermal and energy exchange occurring with vacating cold masses surging regularly southward over the continents. The air masses increasingly hold more energy (than before the conveyer belt slowed, ) as pressure seen in forms of both vapor and wind of resulting weather events.

    Combine this emerging atmospheric pattern with a slight amount of latency in ice caused by its ability to reflect light and energy, retaining a frozen state. In melting, more energy than is released in freezing, is required to revert from solid to liquid. (Not much information is freely available about this effect. It is discussed in both chemistry and physics, as a concept in explaining conservation of energy.)

    Thus, two things are set up by large masses of ice and its property of latency.

    a.) The polar ice masses stored over thousands of years are acting to absorb more energy in melting, effectively stabilizing climates of the entire Earth. Decreasing masses will be less effective at regulating climate. The resulting change effectively transfers energy in ocean currents to atmospheric currents.

    b.) The latency will become apparent with increasing water vapor in continental masses received as snow in huge, abnormal amounts. The snows will be so deep that summer heat melts only a portion of winter accumulation.

    It will take thousands of years to reverse each trend that is effectively controlled by latency in the water-ice transformation, and water salinity. The latency effect also parallels that of oceanic salinity that affecting the oceanic conveyor belt. Both effects enforce each other increasing probability that as warming raises the state of polar ice to water, the resulting climatic effects are obvious.

    Eventually, to reverse a period of extreme glaciation, oceanic salinity increases to the extent that the conveyor belt begins to circulate thermal energy again. As this occurs, latency of ice turning to water retards the effects of thermal transport, in effect regulating a term of climatic stability.

    Until the deep continental snows begin to occur, the importance of latency will not seem obvious. Accelerating the global warming trend will only result in greater conflicts between air masses, bringing on deepening continental snows.

    We now observe springtime effect in North America similar to one in summer occurring between cool masses slipping off the Rocky Mountain plateau, interacting with warm, moist gulf masses to spawn tornadoes. In similar fashion, cold continental masses of late winter, or early spring now interact with gulf air to spawn tornadoes in a different area, east of the one in summer. This effect in atmospheric weather quite probably portends effects of more extreme climatic change, particularly the effect of deepening continental snows to depths unimaginable, and indicative of a new trend that will see rapid increases in glaciation.

    Data should soon indicate more cloudy days, indicating increasing oceanic evaporation which has its own embedded effect on overall warming. Remember that the cause of warming is accruing greenhouse gasses that trap waves of energy in the atmosphere. Will several degrees of warming occur before deep continental snows begin? Probably not. Only a consistent pattern is required to push moist arctic air southward throughout winter and spring seasons. Commonly, arctic air has been dry, under-riding moist gulf air to create snowy precipitation. Last winter it seemed that an arctic front passed through Minnesota every week into springtime. We have not yet seen deepening continental snows but the consistent winter pattern of plummeting arctic air through the middle of the continent is possibly indicative of something imminent.

    It is my prediction that complete absence of polar ice will see onset of deepening continental snows. The pattern of air flow will continue with reduced arctic cooling, yielding moist arctic air that then surges southward to interact with cold continental masses. In winter, it will be as if the Earth tips upside-down as warm, moist air presses southward, rising above colder continental masses. The snowfalls will be incredible, piling up tens of feet in a winter-spring season.

    What does this say about the future?

    It says that weather caused by strengthening interactions between oceanic and arctic air masses will affect all human activity. At some point, increased warming will raise ocean levels forcing inland migrations at a time that deepening continental snows are also forcing migrations to temperate regions southward, and outward, toward the oceans. Fresh water will become more abundant, but with human population already declining from economic factors driving increases to costs of necessities, particularly food. Competition for habitable land will intensify, as many major cities will be under water. In general, surviving humanity will be driven back to agrarian subsistence, reliant on much domestication of animals.

    I see a reverted world making use of stone structures to protect absolute autocratic rulers. Many humans seeking refuge for survival will be put before authorities to formally beg for their lives. Amid screaming, they will be judged, and in most every case sentenced to die immediately, their blood streaming down stone steps. Such will be the fate of humanity, struggling desperately to survive long-term impacts of war, religion, greed, capitalizing industrialization, ignorance, and lax democracy on the Earth. Through this dark period of human decline, oceanic currents will increase, gradually moderating climates. High ocean levels will begin to fall. In a sense, the Gods will be appeased.

    Glaciation will eventually stabilize and begin to reverse, allowing human expansion to recur, but with likely evidence of the present period that escaped natural erosion.

    It says that we as humans are subject to witness and to serve much of the seemingly inherent ugliness of a minority that as capitalist humanity seeks to stratify, empower, and differentiate enabled societies, using religion, waging war, and perpetrating industrialization, ignorance, and lax democracy on the Earth to satisfy boundless human greed.

    The latent part of humanity causing global warming is the unstoppable greed.

    -CP