Monday, October 31, 2005

Tony Blair on the future of Kyoto

The Observer | Comment | Get real on climate change
We also have to recognise that while the Kyoto Protocol takes us in the right direction, it is not enough. We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions radically but Kyoto doesn't even stabilise them. It won't work as intended, either, unless the US is part of it. It's easy to take frustrations out on the Bush Administration but people forget that the Senate voted 95-0 against Kyoto when Bill Clinton was in the White House.

We have to understand as well that, even if the US did sign up to Kyoto, it wouldn't affect the huge growth in energy consumption we will see in India and China. China is building close to a new power station every week. They need economic growth to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty but want to grow sustainably. We have to find a way, as a start, to help them.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Kerry Emanuel FAQ on Anthropogenic Effects on Tropical Cyclone Activity

This is a great resource.

Kerry Emanuel: Anthropogenic Effects on Tropical Cyclone Activity
6.) Q: You say that reliable records of hurricane wind speeds go back only to about 1950, so how can you say that there were not even more intense storms before 1950? How can you assert that the upswing in the last 50 years is a consequence of global warming?

A: We cannot say for sure. What we can say is that everywhere we have looked, the change in hurricane energy consumption follows very closely the change in tropical sea surface temperature. When the sea surface temperature falls, the energy consumption falls, and conversely, when it rises, so too does the energy consumption. Both theory and models of hurricane intensity predict that this should be so as well. In contrast to the hurricane record, the record of tropical ocean temperature is less prone to error and goes back 150 years or so. Moreover, geochemical methods have been developed to infer sea surface temperature from corals and from the shells left behind by micro-organisms that live near the surface; these can be used to estimate sea surface temperature for the past several thousand years. These records strongly suggest that the 0.5 degree centigrade (1 degree Fahrenheit) warming of the tropical oceans we have seen in the past 50 years is unprecedented for perhaps as long as a few thousand years. Scientists who work on these records therefore believe that the recent increase is anthropogenic.

7.) Q: Does this mean that we are seeing more hurricane-caused damage in the U.S. and elsewhere?

A: There is a huge upward trend in hurricane damage in the U.S., but all or almost all of this is due to increasing coastal population and building in hurricane-prone areas. When this increase in population and wealth is accounted for, there is no discernible trend left in the hurricane damage data. Nor would we expect to see any, in spite of the increase in global hurricane power. The reason is a simple matter of statistics: There are far too few hurricane landfalls to be able to discern any trend. Consider that, up until Katrina, Hurricane Andrew was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. But it occurred in an inactive year; there were only 7 hurricanes and tropical storms. Data on U.S. landfalling storms is only about 2 tenths of one percent of data we have on global hurricanes over their whole lifetimes. Thus while we can already detect trends in data for global hurricane activity considering the whole life of each storm, we estimate that it would take at least another 50 years to detect any long-term trend in U.S. landfalling hurricane statistics, so powerful is the role of chance in these numbers.

8.) Q: I gather from this last discussion that it would be absurd to attribute the Katrina disaster to global warming?

A: Yes, it would be absurd.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hurricanes and Climate Change Links

ES&T Online News: The evidence linking hurricanes and climate change Interview with Judith Curry
What we looked at was the global data set that is available from 1970 through 2004, and it’s a satellite-based data set, so we’re able to look at every single tropical storm and hurricane. And what we looked at was the frequency, intensity, and number of hurricane days for each ocean basin where they have hurricanes.

We looked concurrently at the sea surface temperature over that same period for each ocean basin. What we find—again, the increase of tropical sea surface temperature in these regions is well known—is that there was an increase in the frequency, almost a doubling, of the most intense hurricanes—the category 4s and 5s. And a similar increase in the number of hurricane days.

Curry's paper (Webster, et al.): Changes in Tropical Cyclone Number, Duration, and Intensity in a Warming Environment

Trenberth's paper: Uncertainty in Hurricanes and Global Warming

Emanuel's paper: Increasing Destructiveness of Tropical Cyclones Over the Past 30 Years

Real Climate: Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection?
Thus, we can conclude that both a natural cycle (the AMO) and anthropogenic forcing could have made roughly equally large contributions to the warming of the tropical Atlantic over the past decades, with an exact attribution impossible so far. The observed warming is likely the result of a combined effect: data strongly suggest that the AMO has been in a warming phase for the past two or three decades, and we also know that at the same time anthropogenic global warming is ongoing.

LA Times: Managing the next disaster
By Roger A. Pielke Jr. and Daniel Sarewitz
The implications are clear: More storms like Katrina are inevitable. And the effects of future Katrinas and Ritas will be determined not by our efforts to manage changes in the climate but by the decisions we make now about where and how to build and rebuild in vulnerable locations.

Pielke's paper: Hurricanes and Global Warming is reasonable to conclude that the significance of any connection of human caused climate change to hurricane impacts necessarily has been and will continue to be exceedingly small.

American Meteorological Society’s Environmental Science Seminar Series
Past seminar's are listed on the left, two are on hurricane's and climate change. One, remarkably, is from June and on hurricanes and New Orleans. Pretty crazy.

Is Katrina a Harbinger of Still More Powerful Hurricanes?
Mounting evidence suggests that tropical cyclones around the world are intensifying,perhaps driven by greenhouse warming,but humans still have themselves to blame for rising damage

It appears as though Science as lifted the wall for all their research, reviews, and articles on climate change and hurricanes. Kudos to Science.