July 21, 2021

Miscommunication in Recent Climate Attribution Studies

Whether one calls it an artful statistical sleight of hand or poor scientific communication, several non-peer-reviewed climate attribution reports have provided misleading information that poorly informs society.

The most recent, of course, is the World Weather Attribution (WWA) report on the Northwest heatwave, which provoked stark headlines throughout the planet (see below for a sample).   Yes, even the Seattle Times featured it.


This attribution report, and most media stories that covered it, suggested a central role for global warming for the heatwave.   As demonstrated in my previous blog, their narrative simply does not hold up to careful examination.

This blog will explain why their basic framing and approach is problematic, leading readers (and most of the media) to incorrect conclusions.

Sometimes it takes a magician to reveal the methods of another practitioner of the "dark arts", and I will do so here.

A Revealing Analogy

Consider a dam that protects a city (see below). Before global warming, the water averaged one foot high behind the dam.

But global warming puts more moisture into the air and results in more annual rainfall (this will happen here in the Northwest!), resulting in the water behind the dam increasing to two feet (see below).  The city council was wise in building the dam much higher than typical water levels!

Sometimes there are storms, resulting from natural variability, that push the water level briefly to around five feet. Well below the dam top and the city remains safe; after the storms, the water level rapidly returns to 2 ft.  The city managers felt secure because the highest water level on record over the past half-century was 11 feet.

But one day there was an extreme storm, a black swan event, in which an extraordinary concurrence of weather features came together to produce a huge influx of water that drove the water level behind the dam to 24 ft, overtopping the dam and doing immense damage to the city (see below)

This freak event, which increased the water level by 22 feet above normal was the expression of natural variability of the weather.   Natural variability can produce very extreme events.


Now we get to the contentious part and where the sleight of hand is going on.

The Physically Meaningful Interpretation

One interpretation is that although global warming made a small contribution to this event, the essential event (overtopping the dam, damaging the city, exceeding the previous record by a large margin) would have happened anyway.  The overwhelming origin of this event (22-foot increase!) was natural variability.

This situation is a good example of the golden rule of climate attribution:  the more unusual and extreme the event, the greater the proportion of the event is due to natural variability rather than global warming.

The "Headline" Interpretation

Another interpretation of this event is being communicated by some climate attribution groups that produce "rapid response" reports.

They ignore the physical situation and the actual impacts.  They ignore the fact that natural variability is dominating the situation.  They only look at the top of the water column in my analog above....the 24 feet crest of the storm-swollen waters.   

They ask:  would the water have risen to 24 feet without global warming?  And they provide the answer: no.    The water would never have gotten to 24 feet without global warming.    That is true.  It would only have crested at 22 feet.


And you know the headline resulting from their analysis:  "the extreme water level over the dam of 24 feet was virtually impossible without climate change."    

Most folks reading that headline would inevitably conclude that without global warming, the big flood would not have happened.  But that is not true.

Don't believe me?  Ask some people whether natural variability or global warming was dominant in the recent heatwave.  I did so among laypeople, and everyone I queried had the wrong impression.  And I don't think this miscommunication is an accident.

More Magic

But these climate assessment people don't stop there with their magic.  They do statistical analyses using model output to appraise how global warming changes the odds of extreme events, in my analog above, in water getting to 24 feet.  They don't look at the odds of water just cresting the dam (18 feet) and causing the damaging event. Just like magicians, they have you look somewhere else while they make the illusion occur.

For the heatwave, the attribution folks only examine the statistics of temperatures hitting the record highs (108F in Seattle), but avoid looking at the statistics of temperature exceeding 100F, or even the record highs  (like 103F in Seattle).  There is a reason they don't do that.  It would tell a dramatically different (and less persuasive) story.

In the attribution studies, the main technology for determining changed odds of extreme weather is to use global climate models.  First, they run the models with greenhouse gas forcing (which produces more extreme precipitation and temperature), and then they run the models again without increased greenhouse gases concentrations.  By comparing the statistics of the two sets of simulations, they attempt to determine how the odds of extreme precipitation or temperature change.


Unfortunately, there are serious flaws in their approach
:  climate models fail to produce sufficient natural variability (they underplay the black swans) and their global climate models don't have enough resolution to correctly simulate critical intense, local precipitation features (from mountain enhancement to thunderstorms).  On top of that, they generally use unrealistic greenhouse gas emissions in their models (too much, often using the RCP8.5 extreme emissions scenario)  And there is more, but you get the message.   ( I am weather/climate modeler, by the way, and know the model deficiencies intimately.)

But the problems with the climate attribution studies don't end with poor models: there are essential deficiencies with their use of statistics and distributions, something I discussed in a previous blog.

In their problematic approach, they get HUGE, unrealistic changes in the odds of extreme events, with their identified events going from once in thousands of years to every year or every five years.  But their" findings" are the result of problematic models, careful selection and definition of extreme events, and deficient statistics.

For the dam situation noted above, their model situations, even with their deficiencies, would indicate that global warming would produce a huge increase of probability of getting to 24 ft, but a far lesser influence on water getting to the critical 18 feet.   The selection of the threshold used for the analysis has a huge impact on the results.



The bottom line

Many of the climate attribution studies are resulting in headlines that are deceptive and result in people coming to incorrect conclusions about the relative roles of global warming and natural variability in current extreme weather.  Scary headlines and apocalyptic attribution studies needlessly provoke fear.  Furthermore, incorrect and hyped information results in poor decision-making.   

Here in Washington State, several politicians fixate on climate change as the cause of current environmental events, while neglecting key actions needed to ensure we are adapted to the current climate (such as restoring our forests, dealing with problematic power infrastructure, improving water quality).  And some media outlets (like a certain major newspaper in Seattle) are aiding such ineffective leaders by pushing an often uninformed and exaggerated climate-change narrative.

There is little doubt that the Earth is warming and that human emissions are a contributing factor, but many of the extreme events being blamed on global warming are predominantly the result of natural or other causes (such as changes in land use).   If the Earth continues to warm, by the end of the century the impacts of global warming on extremes will increase substantially, something I have shown in my own research.  

We need to worry about climate change and take steps in both mitigation (reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation.  But hype and exaggeration of its impacts only undermine the potential for effective action.

70 comments:

  1. The latest extreme weather events to be attributed to global warming are the floods in Europe and China. Today on the BBC we read in the story on China, "Many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely." Here's a story today on the Associated Press website: "LUETZERATH, Germany (AP) — As Germany reels from the deadliest inland floods in living memory, one word has been on the lips of leading politicians: “klimawandel,” the German word for climate change." Cliff seems to be saying that the effects of climate change on extreme weather events are real and will be significant in the future if warming continues at the present rate. But he's saying that those effects are minor at present and overstated by activists and the media. Two forces seem to be at work here: people pushing any agenda will exaggerate any support there may be for their agenda, and the media will make any bad news out to be worse than it really is, no matter how bad it really is. Appreciation of the subtleties of reality is sadly too much to expect of our leaders and our media.

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  2. I started reading your blog as a resource for flight planning. It's really helped me better understand the cause and effect of weather in the northwest and I appreciate the way you approach talking about climate and the weather.

    One statement I haven't seen you address in the climate change conversation is the assertion that extreme events occur more frequently and are more likely to occur going forward due to climate change. Where would you point someone like myself looking to understand the validity of that particular claim? I understand your argument about the 22' wave vs the 24' wave or the 108* heat wave vs a 106* heat wave, but I haven't seen you address whether a 106* heat wave or a 22' wave occurs more frequently in a warmed climate. Thanks in advance.

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    1. I would like to 2nd this request! (I started reading blog in 2008 for ski trip planning!)

      It's the assertion that extreme events occur more frequently and are more likely to occur going forward due to climate change that I would like to also hear more about. Being from Alaska, in my lifetime I have witnessed the recession of sea ice and glaciers, the melting of permafrost, the change of the Arctic flora, and the apparent shift in the 'normal' jet stream up there. All of which, qualitatively, appears to impact the way weather hits the Pacific NW. Do those changes in the Arctic change the way the weather hits the Pacific NW? Are those changes being sped up by climate change? And if so is it reasonable or not to assume climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather event frequency? [Thank you in advance for the insight! I look at signing up to audit your course at UW every year and always find a reason I can’t do it… but hopefully this is the year! Best, JC]

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    2. He has adressed this. In one of his blogs he showed a graph of heat waves over the last century, and there was no increasing trend, as in there is no trend towards more amount of heat waves each year.

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    3. I am sure it is here somewhere... but I missed that one. Can you link it? I will keep looking in the meantime.

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  3. Its all about fear. Unfortunately, too many people fall for it. And more govt control is always the answer.

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  4. I'll just simply note that this blog post is also non-peer-reviewed.

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    1. absolutely true. So at this point, you must evaluate my arguments and see if they are compelling. I will be writing a paper for peer review. And I REALLY hope that no newspaper, like the Seattle Times, will put my blog up as a headline. I want it peer reviewed first.

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    2. Peer review is pal review.
      Best used for meaningless censorship of non-consensus opinions

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  5. The vaaaast majority of humans are not scientific thinkers and will not be swayed one way or another by the evidence. Media hype (which I generally detest as well) about climate change may be a good thing. Sometimes you have to let the children believe in Santa Claus or the Boogeyman so they’ll stop messing around.

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    1. No, the issue is that when someone keeps screaming into your ears about Armageddon coming if you don't go back into your caves while they jet off to Gstaad for their annual winter vacation on their private Lear jets, then the warnings eventually fall on deaf ears. Boy, stop crying "wolf."

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    2. That's an interesting assertion - that at certain times, humans are actually better off believing things that aren't true. This is of course something that is completely unacceptable to a scientist. It's also very dangerous. People who believe lies have gone on to do some very horrific things.

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    3. I am in fact a professional data scientist. And a proud skeptic of pretty much everything that isn't backed up by rigorously collected and analyzed scientific evidence. Anti-vaccination, anti-GMOs, get rich quick schemes, fad diets, alternative medicine, trickle down economics, religion... you name it.

      Man, I wish everyone were that way. But we're not. Millions of years of species-wide evolutionary adaptations (often conferring important survival benefits) require many years of individual study and practice to override our powerful gut instincts, and instead use a process to understand what is true. And even then, the best scientists very often make mistakes (FYI, the sign of a good scientist is one who conveys uncertainty and limitations [as CM often does], versus one who says they know something for a fact).

      Maybe there were a few times in our nation's history, such as the space race, or I dunno, the pandemic(!), when we could have nudged the populace to a more rational mode of thinking, but those opportunities are long gone. I reckon more than half the country is anti-science in some way or another, and the corporate and political systems are experts at exploiting that ignorance for power and money.

      I am currently convinced by the available evidence that climate change is very real and will visit difficult consequences upon all of us. I am equally convinced that we as a nation and/or species are not going sufficiently address it until it's either too late, or enough people freak out about it that even republicans won't stand in the way.

      I appreciate that Cliff believes that "hype and exaggeration of its impacts only undermine the potential for effective action." But I think downplaying it is equally if not more undermining in this particular case. It soothes the hearts and minds of the very people who will continue to tell us that this is all no big deal, right up until the end.

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    4. I am a proud skeptic of pretty much everything that isn't backed up by rigorously collected and analyzed scientific evidence. Anti-vaccination, anti-GMOs, get rich quick schemes, fad diets, alternative medicine, trickle down economics, religion... you name it.

      Man, I wish everyone were that way. But we're not. Millions of years of species-wide evolutionary adaptations (often conferring important survival benefits) require many years of individual study and practice to override our powerful gut instincts, and instead use a process to understand what is true. And even then, the best scientists very often make mistakes (FYI, the sign of a good scientist is one who conveys uncertainty and limitations [as CM often does], versus one who says they know something for a fact).

      Maybe there were a few times in our nation's history, such as the space race, or I dunno, the pandemic(!), when we could have nudged the populace to a more rational mode of thinking, but those opportunities are long gone. I reckon more than half the country is anti-science in some way or another, and many corporate and political players are experts at exploiting that ignorance for power and money.

      I am currently convinced by the available evidence that climate change is very real and will visit difficult consequences upon all of us. I am equally convinced that we as a nation and/or species are not going sufficiently address it until it's either too late, or enough people speak up about it that even republicans won't stand in the way. My money is on the former.

      I appreciate that Cliff believes that "hype and exaggeration of its impacts only undermine the potential for effective action." But I think downplaying it (which he stridently, consistently does) is equally if not more undermining of effective (or just any) action in this particular case. It soothes the hearts and minds of the very people who will continue to tell us that this is all no big deal, right up until the end.

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    5. I don't think that Cliff downplays anything,and he certainly isn't being strident; though it must be said, he is tenacious about getting the science right.

      As it happens, I lived through the global famine and subsequent breakdown of world order that was promised in the 70's as a result of over-population, acid rain, ozone depletion and the depletion of resources generally. Now, those were tough times.

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    6. Dr. Gzus: Not to derail the discussion, but if you imagine "religion" isn't "backed up by rigorously collected and analyzed data," let me suggest that your opinion on that subject is likely not based on rigorous study, but on partly-founded rumors and precarious generalizations. That's my field. Of course, "scientific" evidence is, in the narrow sense, only one kind of valid evidence: vision, hearing, testimony, historical accounts, legal documents, and so forth, are neither scientific nor invalid.

      Your own claims above belong not to the hard scientists, but to the fields of sociology and psychology. I find it a a little ironic how often scientists of your frame of mind dismiss the foolishness of the mass of humanity for not heeding science, even while they spout opinions that not only are not scientific, but totter upon flimsy foundations in the fields to which they actually do belong.

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    7. I like Cliff's approach. We have a problem to deal with in climate change, but lets not create hysteria.

      Without a doubt humans are a factor as we have demolished worldwide forest and many other contributing factors.

      What I think is fascinating is the CO2 argument. After researching both sides, I seriously question the role CO2 plays. CO2 is only .04% of the atmosphere so is this enough to really matter? Interestingly, when the planet warms the Oceans release CO2, so if CO2 warms the planet then we are in a closed loop and the planet would never cool if there were not other factors.

      What will be telling is if we do not cool some as we enter into a Grand Solar Minimus. The problem is you cannot really trust the data because it is incomplete and the people interpreting the data have been dishonest to say the least.

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    8. Dr. Gzus--You bring to mind Richard P. Feyman's first principle of science: "You must not fool yourself; and you are the easiest person to fool." So in that regard you get your wish that "everyone was that way [like you]."

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    9. Dr_Gzus demonstrates that belief in a boogeyman doesn't stop anyone from "messing around."

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  6. The vaaaast majority of humans are not scientific thinkers and will not be swayed one way or another by the evidence. Media hype (which I generally detest as well) about climate change may be a good thing. Sometimes you have to let the children believe in Santa Claus or the Boogeyman so they’ll stop messing around.

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  7. The vaaaast majority of humans are not scientific thinkers and will not be swayed one way or another by the evidence. Media hype (which I generally detest as well) about climate change may be a good thing. Sometimes you have to let the children believe in Santa Claus or the Boogeyman so they’ll stop messing around.

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  8. You're right in that where you draw thresholds matter a lot -- especially in your dam analogy -- but I don't really see why that's a refutation of their statements.

    Heatwaves don't have the same hard threshold as your dam-breach analogy, but it is true that danger to humans and the environment increase nonlinearly as wet-bulb temperatures increase (going from 82F to 88F is much less dangerous than going from 88F to 94F). Which is why it's worth considering the rates of these extreme events, and how pushing up an average by just a few degrees can increase the odds of a reaching a given extreme temperature by a lot.

    Put another way: given that we know that natural variability will continue to exist, doesn't the average temperature rising make the extremes of that variability -- even if a given event is mostly driven by natural variability -- even more dangerous? Isn't that something that we should be concerned about? I think the answer is pretty clearly "yes". But this series of posts, downplaying the risks of warming, makes me think you're unconcerned about it (and therefore unconcerned about warming as whole). Am I wrong?

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    1. Chris...please read my blog carefully. The dam analogy is a clear refutation of the approach used in the attribution studies. My point is that global warming is only adding a small increment to extreme events. And 1-2 F really is in the noise level unless YOU can show its importance. If you can, please provide the evidence. I am not "downplaying the risks of global warming". I am trying to provide the most factual and clear minded view of the truth. You are absolutely wrong in suggesting I am unconcerned about GW. But I want to understand the real risks not a hyped up, untruthful version being communicated by some of the media and a few activist scientists...cliff

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    2. Cliff, you have to understand that most Americans are fairly hard headed. Our whole culture revolves around basically not doing what we are told, even when its in our best interest to follow the guidance being issued. The mandate always lies with the individual, and unfortunately any solutions for "big problems", that tend to be abstract unless there is direct adversity on the individual, are poorly executed in the USA. We as a nation just don't do anything as a collective. Its not in our DNA. By all rights our flag should have 328 million stars on it for the 328 million sovereign states but we just have to settle with 50.

      The media is applying a bit of creative license, but then again, what is it going to take to convince Americans that perhaps its time to put forth some effort? What other posters have touched on is correct. Its not going to be a collective issue until the whole nation is strongly and negatively effected. The whole over used "existential threat being an actual threat and not just tread bare hyperbole.

      The pandemic has really proven that we would rather die/allow others to die needlessly than be denied free will. That gets to be a problem for our democracy when it demonstrates that we can't pull it together to solve the big issues. Authoritarian states such as China can claim victory and leadership in the vacuum that US democracy creates through inaction and indecision. At the very least, it damages our credibility.

      Free enterprise is still one of our greatest strengths, and hopefully solutions presented by business minded thinkers can offer palatable solutions without damaging the economy or degrading standards of living.

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    3. Cliff, what about my point of nonlinearity? Yes, natural variability might get us (maybe not in the PNW, but elsewhere on the planet) to, say, a 90F wet bulb every so often. But if warming causes that to be a 94F wet bulb instead, that's LOT more dangerous and cause a LOT more harm. That's why it's important.

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    4. Chris... I explicitly discussed non-linearities in the meteorology. Do you have a paper on non-linearity in human impacts? If so, can you share it?..cliff

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    5. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature08227

      A nice easy paper that includes human complexity.

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  9. If the MSM had any integrity left, they'd be featuring possible solutions to their Climate Change hysterics, such as this:

    https://newatlas.com/energy/china-world-first-thorium-nuclear-reactor/

    We should've been first on this development if we hadn't mothballed initial forays into new types of nuclear energy decades ago but no, because nuclear energy is baaaaad. But sure, let's put up thousands of windmills that don't supply constant energy and become huge waste dumps upon retirement, and also let's throw up solar grids made by slave labor in China that contribute enormous toxic waste when their products become unusable. Until the MSM begins to view new forms of nuclear energy as viable options for the near future, the general public will never listen.

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    1. Eric - although I suspect we disagree on many things we're on the same page with nuclear (and seemingly share an appreciate for Orwell).

      With respect to wind turbines, I'm under the impression they produce adequate amounts electricity, even granting some down time windless days. For example: https://now.tufts.edu/articles/how-do-windmills-create-electricity

      That article notes that efforts are being made to improve storage of wind-generated electricity, illustrating that supply exceeds demand at times.

      For solar, the ethics of their production is separate from their utility as a carbon-neutral source of power. That said, there are US-based manufactures that help alleviate concerns about poor labor practices (which you're totally right to bring up, of course). There are also efforts underway to create solar panels that avoid many of the draw backs of the current models (e.g., https://www.inverse.com/innovation/solar-cell-design)

      I guess my broader point is that dismissing wind and solar due to current technological limitations is no better than walking away from nuclear decades ago. Instead, continued focus on improvements in manufacturing and efficiency seems like the proper course of action.

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    2. SYoung - I'm not dismissing alternative forms of energy forever, but that we need a reliable source of energy as a transitional fuel in the interim. There are plans in development to use mirrored satellites as a reliable souce of solar power, which would solve the problem of not being able to adequately store power on cloudy days and at night. Wind power is incredibly inefficient for some of the same reasons as solar, with the additional issue of being incompatible with most energy grids. Nuclear must be a big part of any solutions, both for the present and for the future.

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    3. Hi Eric - Indeed, I totally agree. I am fully pro-nuclear and am frustrated by resistance to it as a reliable and safe form of energy. Bipartisan agreement! Such a sadly rare thing these days.

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  10. I would like to 2nd TNews' request! (I started reading blog in 2008 for ski trip planning!)

    It's the assertion that extreme events occur more frequently and are more likely to occur going forward due to climate change that I would like to hear more about. Being from Alaska, in my lifetime I have witnessed the recession of sea ice and glaciers, the melting of permafrost, the change of the Arctic flora, and the apparent shift in the 'normal' jet stream up there. All of which, qualitatively, appears to impact the way weather hits the Pacific NW. Do those changes in the Arctic change the way the weather hits the Pacific NW? Are those changes being sped up by climate change? And if so is it reasonable or not to assume climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather event frequency? [Thank you in advance for the insight! I look at signing up to audit your course at UW every year and always find a reason I can’t do it… but hopefully this is the year! Best, JC]

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  11. In a nutshell, Cliff appears to "believe" that global warming is real. But that it isn't an existential threat. At least not to those of us in the Puget Sound region. I haven't seen Cliff opine on the threat to other parts of the world like the Seychelles that are at risk of being flooded out of existence.

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  12. Dr. Mass, thanks for your article. I understand your definition of what you call the "golden rule of climate attribution." How do you know, without begging the question against those who claim that the event is due to global warming and not natural variability, that the event is due to natural variability?

    It seems like it should be possible to compare Bayes' factors for the two rival explanations (natural variability, global warming) to determine which model better predicts the data. Has this been done? Or is this something you plan to do in your paper?

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  13. Rainfall in China. See https://blogs.agu.org/landslideblog/2021/07/21/henan-1/

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  14. Isn't this the same logic as Hurricanes?

    We would have hurricanes if not for global warming....got it....but would we have more class 5 hurricanes becuase of global warming?

    What about atmospheric rivers of water coming at our way? We have had them....but have we had them at this intensity and frequency due to global warming?

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  15. The other thing is that well...many of the events did happen over a 100 years ago....nobody was there to record the information for some the stuff....and there certainly were not many humans in the line of fire.

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  16. It does not help that the buffer interface between the natural world and the built one has all but been eradicated by sprawl. We build in flood plains, fire zones, parched deserts, quake faults, layers of lahar mud and eroding coastal bluffs. Basically areas where Humans have no business setting up shop and homestead. Then when it goes pear shaped, its climate change's fault, and not some homeowner or developer being short sighted. Hoping for the best and buying insurance is not adapting to the environment. When has hope ever been a strategy?

    Perhaps weather is getting more extreme but there is also the fact that SO MANY MORE PEOPLE are in the way of it. The flood that used to wipe out one foolish farmer's crops now kills hundreds and does billions in damage. On the same land where that farm was usurped by the latest cookie cutter tract home subdivisions and franchise anchored strip malls. Gotta warehouse all those consumers and tax payers somewhere, though.

    Climate change, plus an exponential population growth, in addition to the demands of our ponzi scheme constant growth economic model really all work in concert to be that ripple in the pond that causes a tsunami. That is not even getting into the toxic realm of politics. Politics is the Power Ball number in this particular Stupidity Lotto.

    That is really the climate change conundrum. ALL the parameters of Human existence shift 1-2 degrees, and the effects compound upon each other. Not just the meteorological ones.

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  17. To understand why this is happening within the media and government advocates, we have to be aware that there is a broad technocratic push for the green new deal, globally, which will allow the ruling elite power over the people. It is a socialist-communist agenda. Science-priests are designed to rule the masses. It’s neo-colonialism at its finest. Of course, it will fail badly, because the human creature requires freedom to exist. We are creative artists by nature. Nature abhors vacuums and monocultures do not survive for long, and so it is with technocracies with science-priests and elite Machiavellian leadership. It is a monoculture of thought and social structure. Freedom is disallowed under these authoritarian regimes.

    As a 90's environmentalist, I recall being immersed in the those circles. In my youth, I was arrested for the Spotted Owl controversy. As I've matured, I've realized that environmentalism has been deeply co-opted by the Globalists.

    Post-COVID, since the plan-demic failed badly, climate change agenda is their next move for global hegemony. And we're already seeing it. It's just another way to promote fear and divide the people.

    What’s the solution? Don’t be afraid. Befriend individuals from all walks of life. Talk, relate, laugh. The more we understand each other, the more we understand our humanity, our true connection to the earth, and relationship is the key. The more we are separated ideologically and relationally, the more the power the technocatic-socialists gain over us. And always remember, monocultures will not survive.

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    1. Spot on. The Globalist agenda is ultimately Marxist by nature, where no one but the very top 1% are allowed to think and move freely. Witness the annual carbon - wasting gorgefests such as Davos, where the wealthy elite jet in and lecture the rest of the world to live in penury. Anyone who protests is told to shut up and mind your place, peasant!

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  18. Could you do an overview of the pattern affecting Zhengzhou and what a forecast for that would look like?

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  19. Taking the trend of increased annual highs (as Phillips and others did) seems ok and will give a somewhat larger increase than the method Cliff is implying (using overall global temperature increase or overall local temperature increase) but the result is not a lot higher than Cliff's approach.
    The Phillips and others approach made no effort to look for other additive effects. There were two intense heatwaves in the west US prior to our PNW heatwave. It would be interesting to see adding the increase of global warming to those heat waves (via Cliff's approach and Phillips and others approach) and seeing how they may have further increased or not increased the PNW temps during the heat wave. Seems this should be doable with our current weather models given the success of the prediction for this event (a very impressive feat!).

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  20. Near the end of reading the article, I was about to write that this was a very good article with one exception -- the "Bottom Line" section should have been been first.

    But then I discovered a statement in that Bottom Line section not supported by the article, and I do not believe it is supported by real science.

    That statement is:
    "We need to worry about climate change and take steps in both mitigation (reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions) and adaptation."

    That statement means we (the world?) must worry about future climate change.

    I challenge that belief.

    Please explain why you would come to that conclusion?

    You must be IMAGINING or PREDICTION future global warming much more rapid and dangerous than past global warming?

    What is the justification for such as prediction?

    It is a PREDICTION of the future climate, which is something that has been extremely difficult to do accurately.

    Rather than predicting, and maybe being wrong, consider that we have about seven billion witnesses to some, or all, of the ACTUAL 45 years of global warming, since the mid-1970s.

    That warming most affected the colder Northern half of the Northern Hemisphere, mainly in the coldest six months of the year, and mainly at night.

    No one was harmed.

    Sea level rise did not accelerate, per long term tide gauge records.

    Many people at high N.H. latitudes now have more moderate weather than in the 1970s.

    US hurricanes are in a downtrend.

    Japanese typhoons are in a downtrend.

    US tornadoes are in a downtrend.

    Most US state TMAX heat records are in the 1930s.
    Few are in recent decades.

    24 US states had temperatures of 115 degrees F. or higher when CO2 levels were 350ppm or lower.

    US heatwaves peaked in the 1930s.

    The planet is greening from more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Why would anyone with common sense want these trends to stop?

    Those people who want to "fight" IMAGINED, rapid, dangerous future climate change seem to ignore the ACTUAL mild, harmless, beneficial climate change they have lived with, and enjoyed.

    There has been mild global warming for 45 years, following mild cooling for the 35 years before that -- both trends accompanied by rising levels of CO2.

    (Note: I base the "mild global cooling" on data presented in 1975, when cooling from 1940 to 1975 was estimated at -0.5 to -0.6 degrees C. -- that cooling has gradually been adjusted away to almost no cooling reported today, by smarmy government bureaucrats scientists rewriting climate history)

    So does rising CO2 cause global warming (1975 to 2020)
    and global cooling too (1940 to 1975) ?

    Please don't repeat the illogical theory that air pollution blocked some sunlight before 1975, more than offsetting the warming effect of CO2.

    That ridiculous theory must assume all the pollution fell out of the sky in 1975, when global cooling ended, and a global warming trend began. Of course that did NOT happen.

    So in conclusion, I ask Mr. Mass to move away from his expertise in weather analysis., and tell us why he is sure that future climate change needs "mitigation".

    Of course the constantly changing climate needs adaptation, but why mitigation?

    Mitigation at a huge expense, replacing reliable fossil fuel sources of electricity with unreliable wind and sun sources of electricity, while real problems in the world are ignored?

    Real problems such as air pollution over many large Asian cities, some of which can actually drift from China to the US left coast?

    That seems like a real environmental problem.
    But it is ignored by environmentalists.

    The "fight" against climate change is beyond expensive -- it is close to being imaginary, because most nations in Asia, Africa nad South American are not interested.

    Richard Greene
    Bingham Farms, Michigan
    www.elOnionBloggle.Blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Richard Green/Cliff Claven - the items in your list are incorrect or at best appear deliberately misleading. Take your assertion about hurricanes for instance. Climate scientists have not claimed that tropical cyclones will increase in frequency, and in fact many studies predict decreasing frequency. However, they strongly predict increasing intensity, as warmer oceans cause storm associated rainfall and wind speeds to increase, and there is evidence this is occurring. Their impact will also increase because climate-driven sea level increase. Your assertion about sea level is incorrect. Tide guages demonstrate a 21-24cm increase in global mean sea level since 1880, a pattern that is explained by changes in ocean mass due to ice melt, land water storage, and thermal expansion. Moreover the recent rate of rise is more than double what it was for most of the 20th century. Conservative models predict a rise of 30cm by 2100. Models that assume high emissions predict a rise of 2.5m (which will continue after 2100). These two effects alone are sufficient reason for mitigation.

      Delete
    2. picking several of your "facts" -
      hurricanes are on a downtrend: Of the top 15 hurricane seasons for the gulf of mexico, we've had 10 of those since the year 2000. that's not a downtrend. source: https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/articles/most-active-hurricane-seasons

      japanese typhoons are in a downtrend: The average number of typhoons for each year since 1951 is 23. In the last 20 years 9 years have been below average, 11 years above. that's not a downtrend. Source: https://www.jma.go.jp/jma/jma-eng/jma-center/rsmc-hp-pub-eg/climatology.html

      sea level rise did not accelerate: NOAA would beg to differ with your opinion. Source: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level#:~:text=The%20pace%20of%20sea%20level,glacier%20and%20ice%20sheet%20melting.&text=Based%20on%20their%20new%20scenarios,on%20a%20low%2Demissions%20pathway.

      etc etc. Being a farmer doesn't make you an expert in weather patters or meteorology in general. I should know, I'm one myself. Please check your facts before you put them before folks who might believe the misinformation you are spreading.

      Delete
    3. ALL OF THE FACTS I PRESENTED ARE CORRECT.
      The downtrends are based on long term linear trend lines.

      Lomatium:
      The prediction of stronger hurricanes is a prediction, not a fact.
      I don't care about models and predictions.
      I reported climate reality.
      Climate predictions have been notoriously wrong for over 50 years.

      You misinterpreted what I said about tide gauges.
      I said there was no acceleration of sea level rise that could be attributed to global warming. I did not say sea level was not rising. Sea level rise has been in progress for 20,000 years. It is not perfectly steady. Some decades have a slightly faster rise rate than others. That has been true for over 100 years. If you pick the latest decade and extrapolate forward, that's data mining. We've had global warming for the past 45 years and the linear trend line for that ENTIRE period after 1975 is essentially the same as the linear trend line from the 1800s to 1975. That mean no acceleration.
      And remember that sea level rise numbers often include land subsidence.

      There's no evidence of more stronger hurricanes making US landfall during the past 45 years of global warming. That period included the record span of years with not one major hurricane (CAT 3+) making landfall on the US.
      Did global warming cause that good news ?

      Mr. King:
      US hurricanes making landfall have been in a downtrend since the 1800s
      You may be counting all hurricanes, not just those making landfall.
      Those data are questionable before the 1970s use of satellites that make all hurricanes easy to spot. Hurricanes making landfall do the damage that people are most interested in, and are easy to count.

      Your hurricane information is not useful, and is likely to be inaccurate, for that reason. It is you who are spreading misinformation.

      The number of typhoons formed have been in a downtrend from 1951 to 2020
      Japan land falling hurricanes have no trend since 1951 (flat linear trend line)
      Source: JMA
      Your information is not correct.

      Sea level rise did not accelerate using tide gauges with long term records.
      I wish there was some way to post 50 NOAA tide gauge record charts from around the world here to show you that. What NOAA announces and implies in headlines does not necessarily match their own data.

      I have presented accurate information based on data from official sources.

      If you are implying the past 45 years of global warming was not mild and harmless, then it is YOU spreading misinformation.

      Good luck with your crops.

      Delete
    4. Well let’s just see what the next 45 years brings and then we will see who is right or wrong on this topic. I bet we will all be surprised, if we are around to witness it. Also, I would not blame the news outlets so much, since the news is only a reflection of ourselves. Goodnight and good luck to you all.

      Delete
  21. Thank you Cliff, your sound explanations in a era of screaming headlines is welcome

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for your recent blog posts, Cliff. They definitely provide proper perspective these days, which nobody can find anywhere in the news outlets.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I don't understand this: This situation is a good example of the golden rule of climate attribution: the more unusual and extreme the event, the greater the proportion of the event is due to natural variability rather than global warming.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Professor Mass: You seem to put great weight into peer reviewed papers, criticizing the press for using non-peer reviewed sources, but you don't offer anything in the way of peer reviewed material yourself.
    Why not write a paper pressing your obviously-heartfelt opinion and get it peer reviewed? That would go a long way towards fighting the current consensus forming by those who read headlines that you're a climate-change denier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bruce...this is not true. I have published a number of papers in the peer reviewed literature and am working on papers on this event. I mentioned that in my previous blog. And calling me a denier is pretty obnoxious. You should rethink the name calling..It is not a good look.cliff

      Delete
    2. Lets not jump to the conclusion that peer review creates truth.

      Papers that predict climate doom, or some other environmental doom, get peer reviewed and published.

      Yet predictions of the future climate are almost always wrong.

      A coming climate crisis has been predicted for the past 64 years.

      The Great Barrier Reef has been "dying" for over 50 years, scientists claimed.

      But ... the annual data on coral cover for the Great Barrier Reef, produced by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was released on Monday, showing the amount of coral on the reef is at record high levels.

      Record high, despite all the doom stories by our reef science and management institutions.

      My advice:
      Don't buy a used car from a scientist, unless his name is Cliff Mass, because he has earned our trust.

      Delete
    3. I am not sure you have the right facts on the Great Barrier Reef status. So for everyones information here is a direct copy and paste from the Australian government Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority:

      Question: Nothing can be done to stop bleaching, and the Reef doesn’t need any help, it’s adapted successfully for thousands of years without interference
      False. This mass bleaching reaffirms that climate change remains the single greatest challenge to the Reef and the strongest possible global efforts to reduce emissions are essential, along with local actions in the Marine Park and its catchment. Everyone everywhere can do their bit to protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations to enjoy.
      Enjoy👍

      Delete
    4. Ted B
      I am absolutely sure my comments match the data presented by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
      I wish there was some way to post their chart here.

      The press release does not match the data.
      It is political, and biased, not scientific, and accurate.

      That pattern is common among leftist governments.

      It's also common for study abstracts to not accurately represent what is in the related study.

      Always look for the data -- never trust the press releases.

      This article on coral reefs has the related chart:

      https://www.thegwpf.com/peter-ridd-record-coral-cover-of-great-barrier-reef-refutes-climate-alarmists/

      Unfortunately, the mass media usually parrots the press releases and never looks into the underlying data.

      Delete
  25. Exactly.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/07/22/hey-world-are-you-noticing-floods-fires-could-it-be-time-do-something-about-climate-change/

    ReplyDelete
  26. I just read Scott Denning's (Professor of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University) article in The Conversation "Is Climate Change To Blame for Recent Weather Disasters...". It appears that both Scott and Cliff agree that continued warming will have a significant impact on weather extremes.

    "The evidence is clear that the more coal, oil and gas are burned, the more the world will warm, and the more likely it will be for any given location to experience heat waves that are far outside anything they’ve experienced."

    "If the Earth continues to warm, by the end of the century the impacts of global warming on extremes will increase substantially, something I have shown in my own research."


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Global warming in the past 45 years has reduced the temperature differential between the Arctic and the tropics.

      That should lead to milder weather in the Northern Hemisphere.

      Delete
  27. I don't believe that any of the articles, or the study itself, suggested that without global warming June 28th, 2021 would have been a normal June day in the mid 70s in Seattle--and you yourself have acknowledged that two degrees Celsius (3.5F) of the heatwave may have been the product of global warming. If that were the case, then without global warming the temperature on June 28th in Seattle would have been 104.5F instead of 108F. Assuming this was something in the neighborhood of a 1,000-year heatwave, what would have taken to hit 108F in Seattle without global warming? Do you believe it have been possible for Seattle to reach 108F without global warming?

    ReplyDelete
  28. I believe I said one degree C or 2 F could have been contributed by global warming. Or less. Without global warming we would have broken the all time record and had the most severe heat wave in our history. THAT is my point..and it is an important one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the heatwave was explained better at this blog than anywhere else in the media. I had not been following this blog before the heatwave, but I knew this was the place to go for honest science, from someone who happened to live in the area.

      Honest climate science is not common these days.

      So I think everyone here should give Mr. Mass three cheers.

      He remained cool, calm and rational despite the heat!
      All science - no politics.

      Delete
    2. And since it was a black swan event the probability of another one should be extremely small?

      Delete
  29. Cliff is a meteorologist; he looks at weather events and predicts or explains them in terms of physical processes acting in real time. Climate is not weather, rather it is a statistical phenomenon. It is weather over time. As a result, looking at one weather event being due to climate change is inherently difficult, since it makes many events over a long period of time to show how the climate is changing. Rather than looking at the June heat dome as being caused by climate change or not, it would be more productive to look at it as part of a trend. Looking at it as just “natural variability” at this point is meaningless, given how much the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and terrestrial ecosystems have been affected by human activity. There is no “natural” anymore.

    Here’s my own analogy: Saying if a particular weather event is due to climate change is like saying that a particular home run that Barry Bonds hit was due to steroids. Barry Bonds was hitting good long home runs before he started taking steroids, but when he started juicing his muscles in the 1990s, then they took off. The season home run record of Roger Maris at 61 was an incremental increase over Babe Ruth's 60 homers that took 34 years to break. Then 37 years later, Mark McGuire hit 70, and two years later Bonds hit 73. Just natural variability? Hardly. Bonds and Mcguire were doing steroids, well, like they were on steroids. Sure, you can't say that a particular homer of theirs was due to steroids, but now we can say that by the late 1990s they were pretty likely to be. Kind of sounds like the all-time Seattle heat record that was beaten by 5 degrees recently. The climate is juiced with CO2 and methane, just like Bonds and McGuire were juiced with steroids.

    Cliff complains that the "media", and now even an international group of climate scientists, the World Weather Attribution group, is falsely portraying events like the heat dome as due to climate change when there is no basis for making that conclusion. And further, that this is discrediting the impacts of climate change because it is misleading the public. Given the consensus among climate scientists about the reality of climate change, the predicted increase in extreme events, and the existential threat to human society and the world's ecosystems, it seems to me we ought to be erring on the side of ascribing more events to climate change, rather than fewer. It’s not surprising that several of the comments to Cliff’s heat dome blog reflect enthusiastic support by climate change deniers. Sure, it's difficult to ascribe any one event to climate change, but the trend is obvious and its totally consistent with model predictions. Given the lame response of society so far to climate change, giving climate action a bit more urgency would be good.

    Sorry Cliff. I'm putting my money on the World Weather Attribution group. I think they have a much more balanced view than you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unknown...this is silly. I have published dozens of papers on climate, have received grants on climate work, and one of my mentors, Stephen Schneider, was a well known climatologist. Plus climatology is MULTIDISCIPINARY.

      Like many who don't really understand the problem, you start talking about "climate change deniers." And how we must act immediately. You are not worried about the science. I am. That is where we part...cliff

      Delete
    2. Sorry unknown. I'm putting my money on Cliff Mass.
      I think he has a much more balanced view than you do.

      You are a victim of the appeal to authority logical fallacy.

      You foolishly believe consensus means something in science.

      But your most illogical belief is that future global warming will be an existential threat, completely unlike past global warming, since the mid-1970s.

      I will attempt to prove that belief is insane.

      You believe the rise of atmospheric CO2 caused the global warming since the mid-1970s.

      That is an assumption, that has never been proven, but I will not debate the difference between assuming and proving for now.

      The rise of CO2 is continuing at a similar rate.

      If you believe the input of slowly rising CO2 caused mild harmless global warming in the past, but will cause rapid, dangerous global warming in the future, that is assuming a very different output from the same input.

      You are expecting a different output from the same input.

      Some people see that as a symptom of insanity.

      I'm one of them.

      Therefore, I declare your belief is insane.

      In addition, the "term climate change deniers", that you used, is a deliberate lie.

      In my 24 years of following climate science, I have not heard one person deny that the climate of our planet is changing.

      So based on your beliefs, as reflected in your words, I declare you to be a liar, and an insane climate alarmist.

      However, you may have some good qualities I don't know of.

      Have a Nice Day

      Richard Greene
      Bingham Farms, Michigan
      www.elOnionBloggle.Blogspot.com

      Delete
    3. Normally, I'd reply to "Unknown" in detail, but I see no point in trying to persuade the unpersuadable. Out of respect for Cliff's "no attacks" policy, I will leave it that, and pat myself on the back for my self-discipline in the face of temptation.

      Delete
  30. Cliff, in analyzing data through out BC, we are finding that records were broken severely in places over a very broad area (many hundreds of kms) and under a wide variety of specific local conditions. This aligns with the record 500 mb geopotentials that were observed and the overall scale of Rossby waves of which the "heat dome" was an example. The root of your hypothesis that AGW was insignificant in contributing to this event is that only regional models can simulate conditions well enough to capture local processes that lead to extreme heat events. But, given the massive scale of this event and how it is easily resolvable in GCMs, your explanation cannot be taken to be correct. Furthermore, GCMs were selected in our study based on their ability to replicate the extreme value statistics seen in the observational data. The implication is that the variability in those models is not all that different from observed. I strongly suggest that you reconsider your position that AGW played a small percentage role. It contributed to at least half (more to all in many cases) of the exceedance of previous records. Your dam/flood characterization is wildly inaccurate and does no service to your readership.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Faron.... I will have to disagree with you and particularly your characterization of my arguments. The argument is multifaceted and you need to consider each part. For example, there is no trend in the extreme temperatures over the area. To put it technically, you are doing attribution without evidence. Another weakness is your argument is your dependence on GCMs. They not only do not get variability correct, but they suggest that variability decreases, which works against your argument. I believe that providing factual information and not hyping global warming is doing the best service to my readership. You must consider whether being involved in an attribution report that has provoked international headlines, yet is based on weak science, is a public good. Let both of us now submit our work to the peer review process...cliff
      PS: the large scale of the process says nothing about my argument regarding GXMs versus high resolution models. The GCMs do not even have the Cascades or BC coast mountains and are unable to be our region's temperatures correct. If you doubt this, I would be happy to provide evidence.

      Delete
  31. Faron.... I will have to disagree with you and particularly your characterization of my arguments. The argument is multifaceted and you need to consider each part. For example, there is no trend in the extreme temperatures over the area. To put it technically, you are doing attribution without evidence. Another weakness is your argument is your dependence on GCMs. They not only do not get variability correct, but they suggest that variability decreases, which works against your argument. I believe that providing factual information and not hyping global warming is doing the best service to my readership. You must consider whether being involved in an attribution report that has provoked international headlines, yet is based on weak science, is a public good. Let both of us now submit our work to the peer review process...cliff
    PS: the large scale of the process says nothing about my argument regarding GXMs versus high resolution models. The GCMs do not even have the Cascades or BC coast mountains and are unable to be our region's temperatures correct. If you doubt this, I would be happy to provide evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Yesterday I linked to this blog post in a comment on the physorg Facebook page. By this morning, my comment had been removed by Facebook with the warning that it "violates our community standards". So apparently climate facts are against Facebook's community standards. Actually, that's quite believable.

    ReplyDelete

Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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