Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Hurricanes 2018

There was a lot of press about the 2017 hurricane season. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, killed thousands, and left untold more injured. By themselves, these three storms caused an estimated $265 billion in damage to the U.S. That figure is from January 8, 2018 and is likely to be even higher by now. Official records show 64 deaths in Puerto Rico, but analysis indicates this number is extremely low and the real number of fatalities lies between 1000 and 5000 people.

The question that was immediately asked was how much manmade global warming had to do with all of this. The deniers in government responded that 'this wasn't the time to talk about that.' Of course not. They didn't want to be held accountable for their actions. But, that didn't stop the conversation and the analysis. The conclusion? Yes, AGW most certainly made these storms worse. Attribution science shows global warming made the storms stronger, slower, and wetter. They are also growing in strength faster. Three independent studies last fall found that human activity made the damage from Hurricane Harvey more intense. The disastrous rainfall from Harvey was three times as likely as from a storm a hundred years ago and 15% more intense. The seven day rainfall was as much as 40% greater than from a similar storm even a few decades ago. The lead researcher on one study, Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, stated,
This multimethod analysis, drawing upon both observed rainfall data and high-resolution climate models, confirms that heavy rainfall events are increasing substantially across the Gulf Coast region because of human interference with our climate system.
[Of course, much of the damage could've been avoided if not for the climate-change denying director for the Harris County Flood Control District, Mike Talbot, who insisted climate change was a hoax and allowed construction in known flood plains for many years. It would be wonderful if Talbot was arrested for his crimes, but it won't happen.]

The problem is that the average hurricane strength has remained pretty constant with the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) remaining relatively steady. But, while the ACE has remained constant, there has been an increase in storms in recent years of such incredible strength they are being referred to as category 6 storms, which would constitute a new level in the Saffir-Simpson index used to categorize cyclonic storms and would consist of storms with constant winds exceeding 175 or 180 mph.

The science is clear - global warming is resulting in cyclonic storms that develop faster, become stronger, move more slowly, and dump more rain. And, at the same time, the total energy of storms has remained fairly constant. How do you reconcile this contradictory information? One way is that small storms and large storms are both becoming more common. This results in the average remaining nearly the same. Another way is that very active years (2017) alternate with relatively quiet years.

This year, 2018, appears to be one of those slow years. The July forecasts are for below-average activity with eleven named storms and four hurricanes. Despite the fact that we've already had three full-strength hurricanes, it appears this should be a slow year. There are several factors leading to this conclusion.

Take a look at this plot of the sea surface temperature (SST) anomaly:

Source: CCI

This image is showing us three really important things.

First, note the red area in the North Atlantic. The sea surface is hotter than usual here. That is causing a high pressure system in the North Atlantic. This creates a clockwise cycle of wind which goes down past the Iberian Peninsula and westward across the mid-Atlantic. Take a look at this graphic illustrating the wind patterns:

Source: Earth

The result of this is to cool the sea surface. This is indicated by the blue, lower-than-normal temperature region in our SST figure above and is the second thing to note. That area is known as the Main Development Area for hurricanes.

Hurricanes need warm ocean water. The threshold temperature is typically regarded as at least 79 degrees Fahrenheit (about 26 degrees Celsius). The winds blowing across the mid-Atlantic are keeping the sea surface temperature down, which is bad for hurricane formation.

The third thing to note in the image above is the red area west of equatorial South America indicating hotter than usual SSTs. This is an El Nino possibly forming. The July ENSO Diagnostic Discussion estimates a 65% chance of an El Nino this fall and a 70% chance for this coming winter. Even if it doesn't turn into a full-scale El Nino, it has the effect of creating high-altitude wind shear across the Caribbean Sea. Hurricanes gain strength by forming a rising column of air in the eye, resulting in a low-pressure area and sucking in hot, moist air to replace it. This air rises, condenses, releases its energy and then cycles around to continue fueling the storm. High-altitude shear winds crossing over the top of this column will essentially chop it off, robbing the cyclone of its reinforcing wind pattern. This is also bad for hurricane formation.

So, two bad things for hurricane formation. But, there's a third. Take a look at this satellite image:

Source: NOAA/RAMMB, via Weather Underground

What you can see here is a big cloud of dust blowing off Northern Africa across the mid-Atlantic and into the Caribbean. This dust is contributing to the lower SST for the region by shading the sunlight.

So, we have cool SSTs caused by wind and dust, and high-altitude wind shears. This is a bad combination for the formation of tropical cyclones. So, despite having three hurricanes already, the estimate remains that it will be a slow hurricane season in the Atlantic.

The interesting thing is all of those factors are made worse by AGW. The high-SST area in the North Atlantic is the result of ocean warming, as is the El Nino. Manmade global warming makes both of these events more likely and more extreme. The dust blowing off Africa is due to more extreme drought conditions, again made worse by global warming.

So, does AGW make tropical hurricanes worse? Or, better? Apparently, depending on the year, it can be either.

"This multimethod analysis, drawing upon both observed rainfall data and high-resolution climate models, confirms that heavy rainfall events are increasing substantially across the Gulf Coast region because of human interference with our climate system."

Read more at:
"This multimethod analysis, drawing upon both observed rainfall data and high-resolution climate models, confirms that heavy rainfall events are increasing substantially across the Gulf Coast region because of human interference with our climate system."

Read more at:
"This multimethod analysis, drawing upon both observed rainfall data and high-resolution climate models, confirms that heavy rainfall events are increasing substantially across the Gulf Coast region because of human interference with our climate system."

Read more at:

Monday, July 16, 2018

The crazy things climate change deniers say

Being involved in the public forum on climate change brings a requirement to listen to any number of crazies. Normally, climate change deniers have some foothold in reality and are probably perfectly sane. Then, there are the ones you really have to wonder about. You would like to think even the science-hating crowd realizes these people are wacko, but I have found, unfortunately, that misery loves company. Seldom is someone so bad that even the science haters shut them out.

Let me give you some examples. Here are some comments posted on an article that appeared on the CFACT webpage. The article is quite bizarre by itself. Granted, CFACT is a true voodoo group of people with very twisted ideas of reality, but it's still surprising to read some of the comments appearing there. It is a trip worthy of H.P. Lovecraft. This exchange, for instance:
  • We have a display to marvel at, with not a bit of science in support.

    No one has ever stated a theory that explains how your man made global warming belief could be physically possible.

    If you think your link contains a theory that explains how your man made global warming belief could be physically possible, then quote the theory.

Source: CFACT

You read that correctly. There's not one, but two, anti-science individuals who aren't happy claiming global warming and climate change aren't real. They need to claim there is NO science at all to support it. Even as I type these words, I still can't believe it. They really are stating there is NO science at all to support the idea of climate change, despite the one link provided.


Okay. I was going to give a list of sources, but this one is so stupid. It's one thing to give the typical science-hater's false and deceptive arguments. But, to state there is no science at all is to take a permanent detour into the land of the irrational. Here's a search for 'science of climate change.' Take a look at how many hits it produced.


Once again, you read that correctly. 366,000,000 hits. That's right - three hundred and sixty-six million hits! Oh, and these guys want to tell you that there is no science supporting climate change.

I can hear the deniers already - 'Well, that's only two guys. That doesn't prove anything."

No, it isn't, and yes it does.


Source: CFACT

Uhmmm, yeah.

So, who cares? Clearly, these guys are so far gone that there is no way to reach them, so it isn't even worth the effort to try. Yeah, these three twits (and the others who believe in CFACT) are morons and the only people who are going to read their comments on CFACT and think they're credible are also morons. But, take a look at the article written by this guy. This is why I care. Some of these morons get bigger venues. Someone might actually believe this twit knows what he's talking about.

He doesn't.

Ed Berry is a wacked-out physicist who spends time making anti-science claims and uses his Ph.D. as a proof that he's right. He isn't and he has been called out on a regular basis, including by me. Based on his comments, I have to conclude he is not rational. But, people will still listen to him. 

So, let's take a quick look at how invalid this latest piece of his is.

Berry's claim is that climate change is not possible because it violates Einstein's equivalence principle. Right away, he demonstrates how invalid his claim is because he uses the principle in an incorrect manner. For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the equivalence principle states that gravity cannot be distinguished from acceleration, a key concept in his general theory of relativity. For instance, if you mysteriously woke up in a sealed room and the gravity was the same as before, you could not tell, by any experiment within the confines of the room, that you are on Earth and not in a spaceship accelerating at one earth-gravity of acceleration. But, that isn't what Berry says.
The Equivalence Principle says if data cannot distinguish between two things, then the two things are identical.
No, that is not what the equivalence principle states and his statement is false. You can have incomplete data on two different things and not be able to distinguish between them. So, his basis is wrong right from the first sentence when he claims climate change violates the equivalence principle. 

And, then it gets worse.

He goes on to make the claim that the IPCC is stating manmade CO2 is treated by nature differently than naturally-caused CO2. 
IPCC’s Big Idea (its fundamental hypothesis) is that nature treats human CO2 emissions differently than it treats nature’s CO2 emissions.
This is a false statement, in and of itself. It is not IPCC's fundamental hypothesis and no one, that I'm aware of, is claiming manmade CO2 emissions are treated differently by nature. CO2 from burning fossil fuels, and other manmade sources, goes into the big mix and is cycled around just like naturally produced CO2. The issue is that this manmade production is overwhelming the ability of the natural environment to remove CO2 - any CO2 - from the atmosphere. The natural system has limits and we have exceeded those limits. Atmospheric CO2 levels are increasing as a result of exceeding nature's limits, not because manmade CO2 is treated differently.

But, in reality, CO2 coming from fossil fuel burning IS different than natural CO2. The isotopic ratio is different, which is how we know manmade emissions are responsible for increasing CO2 levels. So, the data really can distinguish between the two.

This is how laughable Berry is. His claim is that we can't tell one CO2 source from another, therefore the equivalence principle applies. Not only is his application of the EP wrong, but you can, in fact, tell the difference between one source of CO2 and the other. 

In other words, his entire claim is false!

But, you know what? People will still believe him. And, that's the sad truth.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

EPA Science Advisory Board Nominations

I am interested in serving on the EPA science advisory committees and it has been announced that nominations are being accepted. I have attached the email from the EPA below. I am looking for people who would care to nominate me. I have already self-nominated myself and have asked some others to help. Any help will be appreciated. If you are not interested, you don’t need to read any further.

Here is the link to the federal announcement:

I am interested in serving on the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) or the EPA Drinking Water Committee (DWC).

I have done research in planetary geophysics, atmospheric physics, Sun-Earth connection, and climate change for over 25 years. I have published two books on climate change and did the $10,000 Global Warming Skeptic Challenge. I have no government grants and am not supported by industry, so I am free of any conflicts of interest.  I was a career officer in the US Navy and US Navy Reserve and am very familiar with government procedures and regulations. I can provide my resume (curriculum vitae (CV)) and contact information, if you’re interested in nominating me. Contact me at to get any information you would need for the process.

Again, any help will be greatly appreciated. You may share this posting as often as you like.


Nominations for chartered SAB or its Standing Committees

Dear Colleague,

Knowing of your interest in serving on the SAB, I wanted to let you know that the Federal Register Notice announcing that the EPA is seeking nominations of candidates to serve on the SAB and its standing committees was published on July 9 and the SAB Staff Office is accepting nominations. I have attached the Federal Register notices and provided links to the SAB web pages to provide additional information.

Please feel free to distribute this email, nominate a candidate or distribute this information to potential candidates. If you are willing to serve again, please consider nominating yourself.

If you have any questions for me regarding nominees, the process, potential nominees, or other topics please do not hesitate to contact me.

SAB Nominations website for more information

Link to the form to nominate candidates


Thomas Carpenter
Designated Federal Officer / Sr. Biologist
US EPA Science Advisory Board, MC 1400R
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20460
ph 202 564 4885 Fax 202 565 2098

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Arctic Sea Ice July 2018

We're now well along in the Arctic sea ice melt season. It's time to review the status and make a too-early forecast. I've been watching it very closely and I don't see anything particularly special about this melt season - beyond the fact that the ice cover continues to disappear. The good news is I don't see any new records being set this year.

First, here's the sea ice extent for 2015 - 2018. The dark grey line is the long-term average. The inner and outer shaded regions show interquartile and interdecile ranges, respectively. The record low year of 2012 (dashed line) is included as a baseline and the low year of 2011 is also shown.

Source: NSIDC

The maximum extent occurred in March and was the second lowest maximum extent in the satellite record. However, it should be noted the last few years have all been right in the same range. Here's a detail showing the maximum ice extent for 2012 and the data for 2015 - 2018.

Source: NSIDC

An interesting feature is how the extent for each year closes to a narrow range in July of recent years. Here's a detail for that period and you can see that 2018 (the yellow line) is trending in the same range.

Source: NSIDC

The extents separate after August and there is a small range of minimum extents in September. Here is the minimum extent for 2015 - 2017 with 2012 also shown.

Source: NSIDC

There is no trend that immediately jumps out at me. The order going into this narrow range is not the same as the order coming out or the order at minimum extent. You cannot predict, based on the ranking of maximum extents or July extents, where a particular year will end up at the minimum. All we can see for sure is the extent is certainly decreasing and is dramatically below the long term average.

This graphic shows the ice extent with the average extent shown with a magenta line. We can see the current extent is quite a bit lower than the average.

Source: NSIDC

There is nothing radically different from the last few years in these graphs. The sea ice extent continues to decrease, but no significant, single event jumps out from this data.

Here is a plot of the ice surface temperature:

Source: Polar Portal

This is the ice thickness:
Source: Polar Portal

And, here's the ice percent cover. The most important thing to note here is that there appears to be some break-up of the ice throughout the Arctic Ocean. That could end up being significant and bears watching because broken ice melts much more quickly than solid ice.

Source: Polar Portal

Again, there's nothing here that strikes me as being out of the (recent) normal trend. Based on the data I've been following, I think the minimum ice extent in September will be 4.4 million square kilometers, plus or minus .2 million square kilometers. This would place it right in the middle of the pack of recent years. The trend line is definitely in the downward direction, but it has not made a big jump - one way or the other - in recent years.

This makes me wonder - Has the ice extent reached a plateau that is waiting for something to tip it? I don't know the answer. We'll have to watch it the next few years before we'll have a better sense of what's happening.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Pruitt Altered Federal Records

It's Monday - there must be a new Scott Pruitt scandal. Yep, right on time, we find out Pruitt changed his official calendar to hide meetings from the public. This is not trivial. The administrator's calendar is a federal record and belongs to the government, i.e. the American people. Altering, changing, or destroying federal documents is a federal crime. 44 U.S.C., Chapter 31 states,
The head of each Federal agency shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities.
Who the administrator is meeting and when falls under this description.

The latest revelation comes from whistleblower and former deputy chief of staff for operations Kevin Chmielewski who states that Pruitt supervised meetings where Pruitt's calendar was reviewed and scrubbed of meetings Pruitt didn't want made public. CNN was able to verify these claims by comparing documents which showed known meetings were not included in the administrator's official calendar. This raises a whole series of new questions such as, 'Why does Pruitt want to hide these meetings?' and 'Why is he meeting with these people in secret?'. The way I see it, the biggest question is 'When is Pruitt going to be arrested?'

However, I do not harbor any false hope that this will result in Pruitt's dismissal. Trump has clearly demonstrated he will forgive any swampiness as long as it contributes to his own corruption. Pruitt's actions at the EPA have benefited Trump financially. So, why would Trump want to get rid of Pruitt?