All About Hurricanes

And there is the University of Miami Hurricanes sports team logo:

But many are interested in what to make of the latest one, Hurricane Ida.  She did after all flood the US Open tennis venue one night, although matches resumed the next day.

And in Louisiana, the flooding was major, although the new dikes in New Orleans held.

Of course the media, always certain of their story and impervious to contrary facts and details, declared Ida proof positive of a climate “emergency.”

Some anonymous scribbler put the PC words in Biden’s mouth:

Scientists have warned about extreme weather “for decades” and the U.S. doesn’t have “any more time” to confront it, he said.  “Every part of the country is getting hit by extreme weather, and we’re now living in real time what the country’s going to look like,” Biden told reporters.  Hurricane Ida Is An ‘Opportunity’ to Act on ‘Global Warming’ – ‘We either act or we’re going to be in real, real trouble’.

So what to make of these storms and the threat of global warming climate change?

Firstly,these storms are dangerous.  As the joke goes:

Q: Why are storms named after women?
A: Because they come in hot and steamy, then they leave with your house and car.

Of course, this is now considered sexist, in spite of the traditional respect for women as forces of nature.  In fact, nowadays in the age of genderism, some parents name their newborns “Storm” in order to leave their kids’ options open.  But I digress.

This post is really about understanding tropical storms in their historical context.  And for that we have an excellent recent scientific study published in Nature Changes in Atlantic major hurricane frequency since the late-19th century. by Vecchi, Landsea et al. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Introduction

Tropical cyclones (TCs) are of intense scientific interest and are a major threat to human life and property across the globe. Of particular interest are multi-decadal changes in TC frequency arising from some combination of intrinsic variability in the weather and climate system, and the response to natural and anthropogenic climate forcing.  Even though the North Atlantic (NA) basin is a minor contributor to global TC frequency, Atlantic hurricanes (HUs) have been the topic of considerable research both because of the long-term records of their track and frequency that exist for this basin, and because of their impacts at landfall. It is convenient and common to consider Saffir-Simpson Categories 3–5 (peak sustained winds exceeding 50 ms−1) HUs separately from the overall frequency, and label them major hurricanes, or MHs. Historically, MHs have accounted for ~80% of hurricane-related damage in the United States of America (USA) despite only representing 34% of USA TC occurrences.

Globally, models and theoretical arguments indicate that in a warming world the HU peak intensity and intensification rate should increase, so that there is a tendency for the fraction of HU reaching high Saffir-Simpson Categories (3, 4, or 5) to increase in models in response to CO2 increases, yet model projections are more mixed regarding changes in the frequency of MHs in individual basins.

Has there been a century-scale change in the number of the most intense hurricanes in the North Atlantic?

Due to changes in observing practices, severe inhomogeneities exist in this database, complicating the assessment of long-term changes.  In particular, there has been a substantial increase in monitoring capacity over the past 170 years, so that the probability that a HU is observed is substantially higher in the present than early in the record; the recorded increase in both Atlantic TC and HU frequency in HURDAT2 since the late-19th century is consistent with the impact of known changes in observing practices. Major hurricane frequency estimates can also be impacted by changing observing systems

Hurricane and major hurricane frequency adjusted for missing storms

Previous work has led to the development of a number of methods to estimate the impact of changing observing capabilities on the recorded increase in basin-wide HU frequency between 1878 and 2008 (ref. 10). We here update the analysis of ref. 10 to build an adjustment to recorded HU counts over 1851–1971, based on the characteristics of observed HUs over 1972–2019. We then extend that methodology to build an adjustment to recorded MH counts over 1851–1971, based on MHs recorded over 1972–2019 (see “Methods”).

Once the adjustment is added to the recorded number of Atlantic HUs and MHs, substantial year-to-year and decade-to-decade variability is still present in the data, with the late-19th, mid-20th and early-21st centuries showing relative maxima, and the early 20th and late 20th centuries showing local minima (Fig. 2). However, after adjustment, the recent epoch (1995–2019) does not stand out as unprecedented in either basin-wide HU or MH frequency. There have been notable years since 2000 in terms of basin-wide HU frequency, but we cannot exclude at the 95% level that the most active years in terms of NA basin-wide HU or MH frequency occurred in either the 19th century or mid-20th century (blue lines and shading in Fig. 2a, b). Further, we cannot exclude that the most active epoch for NA HU frequency was in the late-19th century, with the mid-20th century comparable to the early-21st in terms of basin-wide HU frequency. The 19th century maximum in activity is more pronounced in overall frequency than in MH frequency, while the late-20th century multi-decadal temporary dip in MH frequency stands out relative to that in the early-20th century.

Ratio of the 15-year running count of United States of America (USA) strikes and 15-year running count of basin-wide frequency for hurricanes (a) and major hurricanes (b). Dotted gray line shows the values based on the recorded version 2 of the North Atlantic Hurricane Database (HURDAT2, ref. 33) frequency, while the thick solid line shows the value based on the HURDAT2 recorded USA strikes and the adjusted basin-wide frequencies; blue shading shows the 95% range on the ratio based on a Bootstrap sampling of the adjustment values. Gray background shading is as in Fig. 1, and highlights times where we have reduced confidence in the basin-wide and USA strike frequency estimates even after adjusting for likely missing storms.

Conclusion

Caution should be taken in connecting recent changes in Atlantic hurricane activity to the century-scale warming of our planet.

The adjusted records presented here provide a century-scale context with which to interpret recent studies indicating a significant recent increase in NA MH/HU ratio over 1980–2017 (ref. 14), or in the fraction of NA tropical storms that rapidly intensified over 1982–2009 (ref. 15). Our results indicate that the recent increase in NA basin-wide MH/HU ratio or MH frequency is not part of a century-scale increase. Rather it is a rebound from a deep local minimum in the 1960s–1980s.

We hypothesize that these recent increases contain a substantial, even dominant, contribution from internal climate variability, and/or late-20th century aerosol increases and subsequent decreases, in addition to any contributions from recent greenhouse gas-induced warming. It has been hypothesized, for example, that aerosol-induced reductions in surface insolation over the tropical Atlantic since between the mid-20th century and the 1980s may have resulted in an inhibition of tropical cyclone activity; the relative contributions of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols, dust, and volcanic aerosols to this signal (each of which would carry distinct implications for future hurricane evolution)—along with the magnitude and impact of aerosol-mediated cloud changes—remain a vigorous topic of scientific inquiry. It has also been suggested that multi-decadal climate variations connected to changes in meridional ocean overturning may have resulted in a minimum in northward heat transport in the Atlantic and a resulting reduction in Atlantic hurricane activity.

Given the uncertainties that presently exist in understanding multi-decadal climate variability, the climate response to aerosols and impact of greenhouse gas warming on NA TC activity, care must be exercised in not over-interpreting the implications of, and causes behind, these recent NA MH increases. Disentangling the relative impact of multiple climate drivers on NA MH activity is crucial to building a more confident assessment of the likely course of future HU activity in a world where the effects of greenhouse gas changes are expected to become increasingly important.

Footnote:

Pacific hurricanes (typhoons) also show no increase with global warming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resilient Arctic Ice September 2021

The animation shows Arctic ice extents on day 248 in 2007 (matching 14 year average), then the same day in 2019, 2020, and yesterday in 2021.  Note that Hudson Bay upper left is open water, and below that Baffin Bay next to Greenland is also ice-free.  In the center Canadian Archipelago holds a lot of ice, especially this year.  Also unusual in 2021 is ice covering Svalbard lower right all the way to Europe mainland.  Also upper right 2021 shows ice in Chukchi touching Russian coastline.

The graph above shows mid-August to mid-Sept daily ice extents for 2021 compared to 14 year averages, and some years of note.  During the 17 days from August 18 to yesterday, the black  line shows Arctic Ice extent declined on average by 1M km2 (1 Wadham).  Meanwhile the cyan line shows MASIE 2021 ice extents lost only 171k km2, and Sea Ice Index (SII) in orange lost 317k km2. Note on day 230 all three lines started at the same value.

Why is this important?  All the claims of global climate emergency depend on dangerously higher temperatures, lower sea ice, and rising sea levels.  The lack of additional warming is documented in a post Adios, Global Warming

The lack of acceleration in sea levels along coastlines has been discussed also.  See USCS Warnings of Coastal Flooding

Also, a longer term perspective is informative:

post-glacial_sea_levelThe table below shows the distribution of Sea Ice across the Arctic Regions, on average, this year and 2007.

Region 2021248 Day 248 Average 2021-Ave. 2007248 2021-2020
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 5464375 4672631 791744 4751076 713299
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 798213 522472 275741 665051 133162
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 524060 202259 321800 116358 407702
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 408523 310662 97862 6329 402195
 (4) Laptev_Sea 51574 143286 -91712 280600 -229026
 (5) Kara_Sea 122087 30192 91896 103072 19015
 (6) Barents_Sea 18 15631 -15612 10766 -10748
 (7) Greenland_Sea 98270 176374 -78104 334524 -236254
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 16983 23131 -6148 31787 -14804
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 440366 288302 152064 270755 169612
 (10) Hudson_Bay 39285 15338 23947 29961 9324
 (11) Central_Arctic 2963852 2944150 19702 2900617 63235

The overall surplus to average is 792k km2, (+17%).  Note large surpluses of ice in BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian seas).  Meanwhile Laptev on the Russian coast melted out early, as has Greenland Sea.  Kara and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) are holding considerable ice.  We are about 12 days away from the annual minimum mid September, but at this point it appears that extents will be much greater than the last two years.

See also Abundant August Arctic Ice with 2021 Minimum Outlook

bathymetric_map_arctic_ocean

 

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents.

Arctic Ice Hockey Stick August 2021

Arctic2021235 w HS

The graph above shows August daily ice extents for 2021 compared to 14 year averages, and some years of note.

The black line shows during this period on average Arctic ice extents decline ~2M km2 from ~6.8M km2 down to ~4.8M km2.  The Hockey Stick shape refers to the 2021 cyan MASIE line starting ~227k km2 below average but matching average by day 230, and in the last five days produced a surplus of 414k km2.  The Sea Ice Index in orange (SII from NOAA) started with the same deficit and also matched MASIE average day 230, but tracking the downward average since.  2019 and 2020 were well below average at this stage of the summer melt.

Why is this important?  All the claims of global climate emergency depend on dangerously higher temperatures, lower sea ice, and rising sea levels.  The lack of additional warming is documented in a post Adios, Global Warming

The lack of acceleration in sea levels along coastlines has been discussed also.  See USCS Warnings of Coastal Flooding

Also, a longer term perspective is informative:

post-glacial_sea_levelThe table below shows the distribution of Sea Ice across the Arctic Regions, on average, this year and 2007.

Region 2021235 Day 235 Average 2021-Ave. 2007235 2021-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 5745634 5331499 414135 5309870 435765
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 872981 605537 267444 730813 142168
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 539676 329819 209856 178493 361182
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 508990 445221 63769 63523 445468
 (4) Laptev_Sea 61548 205077 -143529 295384 -233836
 (5) Kara_Sea 136181 58898 77283 155754 -19573
 (6) Barents_Sea 6047 24071 -18025 17998 -11951
 (7) Greenland_Sea 84815 202922 -118108 334622 -249808
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 40877 33602 7275 50303 -9426
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 465781 354257 111524 323329 142452
 (10) Hudson_Bay 64148 35761 28387 61078 3070
 (11) Central_Arctic 2964500 3035379 -70879 3097316 -132816

The overall surplus to average is 414k km2, (8%).  Note large surpluses of ice in BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian seas).  Meanwhile Laptev on the Russian coast melted out early, as has Greenland Sea.  Kara and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) are holding considerable ice.  We are about a month away from the annual minimum mid September, but at this point it appears that extents will be greater than the last two years.

bathymetric_map_arctic_ocean

 

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents.

Reality Check on Extreme Weather Claims

heat-dome-graphic

CBS News headline was:  ‘Pacific Northwest heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change, experts say.’

Eric Felton provides a useful reprise of the campaign to exploit a recent Washington State heat wave for climate hysteria mongering.  His article at Real Clear Investigations is Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather Now? Here’s a Scorcher of a Reality Check.  This discussion is timely since you can soon expect an inundation of hype saying our SUVs caused whatever damage is done by Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Henri, shown below approaching Long Island and New England. Excerpts from Felton’s article are below in italics with my bolds.

Henri 20210822

The Pacific Northwest was hit with a record-shattering heat wave in June, with temperatures over 35 degrees higher than normal in some places. On June 28, Portland, Ore., reached 116 degrees. Late last week the region suffered another blast of hot weather, with a high in Portland of 103 degrees. The New York Times didn’t hesitate to pronounce the region’s bouts of extreme weather proof that the climate wasn’t just changing, but catastrophically so.

To make that claim, the Times relied on a “consortium of climate experts” that calls itself World Weather Attribution, a group organized not just to attribute extreme weather events to climate change, but to do so quickly. Within days of the June heat wave, the researchers released an analysis, declaring that the torrid spell “was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”

World Weather Attribution and its alarming report were trumpeted by Time magazine, touted by the NOAA website Climate.gov , and featured by CBS News, CNBC, Scientific American, CNN, the Washington Post, USAToday, and the New York Times, among others.

The group’s claim that global warming was to blame was perhaps less significant than the speed with which that conclusion was provided to the media. Previous efforts to tie extreme weather events to climate change hadn’t had the impact scientists had hoped for, according to Time, because it “wasn’t producing results fast enough to get attention from people outside the climate science world.”

“Being able to confidently say that a given weather disaster was caused by climate change while said event still has the world’s attention,” Time explained, approvingly, “can be an enormously useful tool to convince leaders, lawmakers and others that climate change is a threat that must be addressed.” In other words, the value of rapid attribution is primarily political, not scientific.

550856_5_

World Weather Attribution was organized to quickly attribute extreme weather events to climate change.  World Weather Attribution

Inconveniently for World Weather Attribution, an atmospheric scientist with extensive knowledge of the Pacific Northwest climate was actively running weather models that accurately predicted the heatwave. Cliff Mass rejected the notion that global warming was to blame for the scorching temperatures. He calculated that global warming might have been responsible for two degrees of the near 40-degree anomaly. With or without climate change, Mass wrote, the region “still would have experienced the most severe heat wave of the past century.”

Mass has no shortage of credentials relevant to the issue: A professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, he is author of the book “The Weather of the Pacific Northwest.”

Mass took on the World Weather Attribution group directly: “Unfortunately, there are serious flaws in their approach.” According to Mass, the heatwave was the result of “natural variability.” The models being used by the international group lacked the “resolution to correctly simulate critical intense, local precipitation features,” and “they generally use unrealistic greenhouse gas emissions.”

WWA issued a “rebuttal” calling Mass’ criticisms “misleading and incorrect.” But the gauntlet thrown down by Mass did seem to affect WWA’s confidence in its claims. The group, which had originally declared the heatwave would have been “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change,” altered its tone. In subsequent public statements, it emphasized that it had merely been making “best estimates” and had presented them “with the appropriate caveats and uncertainties.” Scientists with the attribution group did not respond to questions about Mass’s criticisms posed by RealClearInvestigations.

But what of the group’s basic mission, the attribution of individual weather events to climate change? Hasn’t it been a fundamental rule of discussing extreme temperatures in a given place not to conflate weather with climate? Weather, it is regularly pointed out, refers to conditions during a short time in a limited area; climate is said to describe longer-term atmospheric patterns over large areas.

Until recently, at least, climate scientists long warned against using individual weather events to ponder the existence or otherwise of global warming. Typically, that argument is used to respond to those who might argue a spate of extreme cold is reason to doubt the planet is warming. Using individual weather events to say anything about the climate is “dangerous nonsense,” the New Scientist warned a decade ago.

noaa-us-temp-2019-2021

Perhaps, but it happens all the time now that climate advocates have found it to be an effective tool. In 2019, The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago found that three-fourths of those polled said their views about climate change had been shaped by extreme weather events. Leah Sprain, in the book “Ethics and Practice in Science Communication,” says that even though it may be legitimate to make the broad claim that climate change “may result in future extreme weather,” when one tries “arguing weather patterns were caused by climate change, things get dicey.” Which creates a tension: “For some communicators, the ultimate goal – mobilizing political action – warrants rhetorical use of extreme weather events.” But that makes scientists nervous, Sprain writes, because “misrepresenting science will undermine the credibility of arguments for climate change.”

Which is exactly what happened with the World Weather Attribution group, according to Mass: “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,” he wrote at his blog. “Scary headlines and apocalyptic attribution studies needlessly provoke fear.”

The blogging professor laments that atmospheric sciences have been “poisoned” by politics. “It’s damaged climate science,” he told RCI.

payn_c18450120210819120100

And not just politics – Mass also says that the accepted tenets of global warming have become a sort of religion. Consider the language used, he says, such as the question of whether one “believes” in anthropogenic climate change. “You don’t believe in gravity,” he says. The religious metaphor also explains why colleagues get so bent out of shape with him, Mass says: “There’s nothing worse than an apostate priest.”

That goes even for those who are merely mild apostates. Mass doesn’t dispute warming, he merely questions how big a problem it is. “We need to worry about climate change,” he has said. “But hype and exaggeration of its impacts only undermine the potential for effective action.”

mle190506c20190506011552

Fear Not for Arctic Ice Mid August 2021

Arctic2021226

The graph above shows mid July to mid August daily ice extents for 2021 compared to 14 year averages, and some years of note.

The black line shows during this period on average Arctic ice extents decline from ~8.3M km2 down to ~5.9M km2.  The 2021 cyan MASIE line started ~400k km2 below average but as of yesterday was slightly surplus.  The Sea Ice Index in orange (SII from NOAA) started with a deficit to MASIE (in cyan) of ~300M km2.  August 14 saw the two indices mid August close together, close to average and surplus to 2007.

Why is this important?  All the claims of global climate emergency depend on dangerously higher temperatures, lower sea ice, and rising sea levels.  The lack of additional warming is documented in a post Adios, Global Warming

The lack of acceleration in sea levels along coastlines has been discussed also.  See USCS Warnings of Coastal Flooding

Also, a longer term perspective is informative:

post-glacial_sea_levelThe table below shows the distribution of Sea Ice across the Arctic Regions, on average, this year and 2007.

Region 2021226 Day 226 Average 2021-Ave. 2007226 2021-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 6066634 5889687 176947 5727937 338697
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 915133 688804 226329 777766 137366
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 572339 404505 167834 260048 312290
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 624917 556990 67927 196982 427934
 (4) Laptev_Sea 52213 252434 -200221 316363 -264150
 (5) Kara_Sea 173342 88626 84716 201115 -27772
 (6) Barents_Sea 5256 29027 -23771 17324 -12068
 (7) Greenland_Sea 118995 224977 -105982 316155 -197160
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 23528 59670 -36142 86165 -62637
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 465880 420722 45157 375241 90638
 (10) Hudson_Bay 83051 74370 8681 91653 -8603
 (11) Central_Arctic 3031058 3088557 -57499 3087868 -56810

The overall surplus to average is 177k km2, (3%).  Note large surpluses of ice in BCE (Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian seas).  Meanwhile Laptev on the Russian coast melted out early, as has Greenland Sea.  Kara and CAA (Canadian Arctic Archipelago) are holding considerable ice.  We are about a month away from the annual minimum mid September, but at this point it does not appear it will be out of the ordinary.

bathymetric_map_arctic_ocean

 

Illustration by Eleanor Lutz shows Earth’s seasonal climate changes. If played in full screen, the four corners present views from top, bottom and sides. It is a visual representation of scientific datasets measuring Arctic ice extents.

Routine Melting of Arctic Ice in July

The animation shows Arctic ice extents on Day 212 (end of July) for the years 2007 to 2021 (yesterday).  Evidently, there is considerable variation year over year both on the total amount and where the ice is to be found.  The images are from MASIE (Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent) platform operated by the US National Ice Center (NIC).  More on MASIE can be read at previous post NOAA Loses 1M km2 of Arctic Ice in July

Note that in all years, some regions are open water by day 212:  Sea of Okhotsk (lower left), Bering Sea (lower center). Mostly ice free are Hudson Bay (lower right) and Barents Sea (top left).  Center left along the Russian coastline runs the Northern Sea Route for summertime shipping from Kara Sea (top left) down through the Bering Strait.  As you can see, some years the ice is still plentiful along this route, and other years are almost ice free.  This year, Laptev is largely open water, while Kara (above) and Chukchi (below) still have much ice to challenge the ice breakers.

Of interest also is the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (center right, below Greenland).  Here is found the Northwest Passage by which intrepid sailors seek transit from the Atlantic (right) through to the Pacific by way of Bering Sea.  Again, some years it is open and simple, and other years closed completely.  On day 212, 2021, CAA has more ice than average, so this year could be more challenging than in other recent years.

The graph below shows July daily ice extents for 2021 compared to 14 year averages, and some years of note.

On average, July Arctic ice declines from ~9.7M km2 down to 6.9M km2.  This year Sea Ice Index in orange (SII from NOAA) lost ice rapidly and opened up a deficit to MASIE (in cyan) of ~700M km2.  The last three weeks saw the two indices ending the month close together, slightly below average and matching 2007.  Note that both 2019 and 2020 had much lower extents at end of July.

Why is this important?  All the claims of global climate emergency depend on dangerously higher temperatures, lower sea ice, and rising sea levels.  The lack of additional warming is documented in a post Adios, Global Warming

The lack of acceleration in sea levels along coastlines has been discussed also.  See USCS Warnings of Coastal Flooding

Also, a longer term perspective is informative:

post-glacial_sea_levelThe table below shows the distribution of Sea Ice across the Arctic Regions, on average, this year and 2007.

Region 2021212 Day 212 Average 2021-Ave. 2007212 2021-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 6621487 6903677  -282190  6344860 276627 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 899718 776180  123539  760576 139143 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 563418 526326  37091  382350 181068 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 652192 745174  -92982  445385 206807 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 97962 389632  -291669  314382 -216420 
 (5) Kara_Sea 230155 159737  70418  239232 -9077 
 (6) Barents_Sea 37818 32484  5334  23703 14115 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 149142 298586  -149444  324737 -175595 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 143110 136724  6387  94179 48931 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 594031 547883  46148  510063 83968 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 113973 151424  -37452  93655 20318 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3139007 3137899  1108  3154837 -15830 

The overall deficit to average is 282k km2, (4%) which matches the deficit in Laptev.  Other places with less than average extents are East Siberian, Greenland Sea and Hudson Bay.  Offsetting these are surpluses in Beaufort, Chukchi, Kara and CAA.  

 

Bug Apocalypse Not!

Jon Entine writes again lamenting false alarms by scientists and journalists The Insect Apocalypse That Never Was.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

For the past four years, journalists and environmental bloggers have been churning out alarming stories that insects are vanishing, in the United States and globally. Limited available evidence lends credence to reasonable concerns, not least because insects are crucial components of many ecosystems. But the issue has often been framed in catastrophic terms, with predictions of a near-inevitable and imminent ecological collapse that would break ecosystems, destroy harvests, and trigger widespread starvation. Most of the proposed solutions would require a dramatic retooling of many aspects of modern life, from urbanization to agriculture.

Considering the disruptive economic and social trade-offs being demanded by some of those promoting the crisis hypothesis, it’s prudent to separate genuine threats from agenda-driven hyperbole. Are insect declines really threatening to precipitate a catastrophic ecological crisis? And, given the available data, what should a responsible society be doing?

The silver lining around the cloud of gloomy advocacy-focused studies and reporting is that entomologists are doing a deeper dive into the reasons behind the global declines. Goulson’s upcoming media blitz notwithstanding, the most thorough studies to date on insects in North America challenge the catastrophe narrative (although you may not have heard about them as they have been almost ignored by the media), and even offers some reassuring news.

The Moran study, published last August, specifically examined four to 36 years of data on arthropods (insects and other invertebrates) collected from US Long-Term Ecological Research sites located in ecoregions throughout the country. The authors found that: “There is no evidence of precipitous and widespread insect abundance declines in North America akin to those reported from some sites in Europe.”

The robustness of the Moran study data suggests the insect population story is much more complicated—and less dire—than many headlines suggest. If a thorough examination of the data on one continent can lead to such a dramatically different and more hopeful conclusion, broad trends in the vast, highly diverse, and relatively unstudied continents of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australia cannot be characterized through extrapolation with any assurance.

The overall paucity of data provides an opening for alarmists to speculate, and Goulson and others have taken advantage of that. But why are the data so fragmentary? Moran attributed the lack of corroborating studies supporting the consensus view that insect populations are mostly stable to what he calls “publication bias … more dramatic results are more publishable. Reviewers and journals are more likely to be interested in species that are disappearing than in species that show no change over time,” he wrote in the Washington Post.

It’s a reinforcing feedback loop, with journalists playing a key role in this misinformation cycle. Scientific publications are more likely to publish reports of declining species. Then, when researchers search for data, “declines are what they find.” The media often seize on incomplete or even biased conclusions to build a compelling narrative—an insect apocalypse or insectageddon or zombie-like resurrections of debunked reports of birdpocalypses and beepocalypses.

Background previous post:  Epic Media Science Fail: Fear Not Pollinator Collapse

Jon Entine returns to this topic writing at the Genetic Literacy Project: The world faces ‘pollinator collapse’? How and why the media get the science wrong time and again. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

As I and others have detailed in the Genetic Literacy Project and as other news organizations such as the Washington Post and Slate have outlined, the pollinator-collapse narrative has been relentless and mostly wrong for more than seven years now.

It germinated with Colony Collapse Disorder that began in 2006 and lasted for a few years—a freaky die off of bees that killed almost a quarter of the US honey bee population, but its cause remains unknown. Versions of CCD have been occurring periodically for hundreds of years, according to entomologists.

Today, almost all entomologists are convinced that the ongoing bee health crisis is primarily driven by the nasty Varroa destructor mite. Weakened honey bees, trucked around the country as livestock, face any number of health stressors along with Varroa, including the use of miticides used to control the invasive mite, changing weather and land and the use of some farm chemicals, which may lower the honeybee’s ability to fight off disease.

Still, the ‘bee crisis’ flew under the radar until 2012, when advocacy groups jumped in to provide an apocalyptic narrative after a severe winter led to a sharp, and as it turned out temporary, rise in overwinter bee deaths.

Colony loss numbers jumped in 2006 when CCD hit but have been steady and even improving since.

The alarm bells came with a spin, as advocacy groups blamed a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, which were introduced in the 1990s, well after the Varroa mite invasion infected hives and started the decline. The characterization was apocalyptic, with some activist claiming that neonics were driving honey bees to extinction.

In the lab evaluations, which are not considered state of the art—field evaluations replicate real-world conditions far better—honeybee mortality did increase. But that was also true of all the insecticides tested; after all, they are designed to kill harmful pests. Neonics are actually far safer than the pesticides they replaced, . . . particularly when their impact is observed under field-realistic conditions (i.e., the way farmers would actually apply the pesticide).

As the “science” supporting the bee-pocalypse came under scrutiny, the ‘world pollinator crisis’ narrative began to fray. Not only was it revealed that the initial experiments had severely overdosed the bees, but increasing numbers of high-quality field studies – which test how bees are actually affected under realistic conditions – found that bees can successfully forage on neonic-treated crops without noticeable harm.

Those determined to keep the crisis narrative alive were hardly deterred. Deprived of both facts and science to argue their case, many advocacy groups simply pounded the table by shifting their crisis argument dramatically. For example, in 2016, the Sierra Club (while requesting donations), hyped the honey bee crisis to no end.

But more recently, in 2018, the same organization posted a different message on its blog. Honeybees, the Sierra Club grudgingly acknowledged, were not threatened. Forget honeybees, the Sierra Club said, the problem is now wild bees, or more generally, all insect pollinators, which are facing extinction due to agricultural pesticides of all types (though neonics, they insisted, were especially bad).

So, once again, with neither the facts nor the science to back them up, advocacy groups have pulled a switcheroo and are again pounding the table. As they once claimed with honeybees, they now claim that the loss of wild bees and other insect pollinators imperils our food supply. A popular meme on this topic is the oft-cited statistic, which appears in the recent UN IPBES report on biodiversity, that “more than 75 per cent of global food crop types, including fruits and vegetables and some of the most important cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and almonds, rely on animal pollination.”

There’s a sleight of hand here. Most people (including most journalists) miss or gloss over the important point that this is 75 percent of crop types, or varieties, not 75 percent of all crop production. In fact, 60 percent of agricultural production comes from crops that do not rely on animal pollination, including cereals and root crops. As the GLP noted in its analysis, only about 7 percent of crop output is threatened by pollinator declines—not a welcomed percentage, but far from an apocalypse.

And the word “rely” seems almost purposefully misleading. More accurately, most of these crops receive some marginal boost in yield from pollination. Few actually “rely” on it. A UN IPBES report on pollinators published in 2018 actually breaks this down in a convenient pie graph.

Many of these facts are ignored by advocacy groups sharpening their axes, and they’re generally lost on the “if it bleeds it leads” media, which consistently play up catastrophe scenarios of crashing pollinator communities and food supplies. Unfortunately, many scientists willingly go along. Some are activists themselves; others hope to elevate the significance of their findings to garner media attention and supercharge grant proposals.

As John Adams is alleged to have said, ‘facts are stubborn things.’ We can’t be simultaneously in the midst of a pollinator crisis threatening our ability to grow food and see continually rising yield productivity among those crops most sensitive to pollination.

With these claims of an impending wild bee catastrophe, as in the case of the original honeybee-pocalypse claims, few of the journalists, activists, scientists or biodiversity experts who regularly sound this ecological alarm have reviewed the facts in context. Advocacy groups consistently extrapolate from the declines of a handful of wild bee species (out of the thousands that we know exist), to claim that we are in the midst of a worldwide crisis. But just as with the ‘honey bee-mageddon, we are not.

Those of us who actually care about science and fact, however, might note the irony here: It is precisely the pesticides which the catastrophists are urging us to ban that, along with the many other tools in the modern farmer’s kit, have enabled us grow more of these nutritious foods, at lower prices, than ever before in human history.

Footnote:  Activists have played both sides with their insect warnings Alarmists: Global Warming Destroys Good Bugs and Multiplies Bad Bugs

insect

Summary: These scares always sound plausible, but on closer inspection are simplistic and unrealistic. The above shows that each type of insect has a range of temperatures they can tolerate and allow them to develop. They are stressed and populations decrease when colder than the lower limit and also when hotter than the upper limit. Every species will adapt to changing conditions as they always have. Those at their upper limit will decline, not increase, and their place will be taken by others. Of course, if it gets colder, the opposite occurs. Don’t let them scare you that insects are taking over.

Inside the Sea Level Scare Machine

3047060508_737c7687bd_o.0.0

Such beach decorations exhibit the fervent belief of activists that sea levels are rising fast and will flood the coastlines if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels.  As we will see below there is a concerted effort to promote this notion empowered with slick imaging tools to frighten the gullible.  Of course there are frequent media releases sounding the alarms.  Recently for example:

From the Guardian Up to 410 million people at risk from sea level rises – study.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The paper, published in Nature Communications, finds that currently 267 million people worldwide live on land less than 2 metres above sea level. Using a remote sensing method called Lidar, which pulsates laser light across coastal areas to measure elevation on the Earth’s surface, the researchers predicted that by 2100, with a 1 metre sea level rise and zero population growth, that number could increase to 410 million people.

The climate emergency has caused sea levels to rise and more frequent and severe storms to occur, both of which increase flood risks in coastal environments.

Last year, a survey published by Climate and Atmospheric Science, which aggregated the views of 106 specialists, suggested coastal cities should prepare for rising sea levels that could reach as high as 5 metres by 2300, which could engulf areas home to hundreds of millions of people.

The rest of this post provides a tour of seven US cities demonstrating how the sea level scare machine promotes fear among people living or invested in coastal properties.  In each case there are warnings published in legacy print and tv media, visual simulations powered by computers and desktop publishing, and a comparison of imaginary vs. observed sea level trends.

Prime US Cities on the “Endangered” List
Newport , R.I.

Examples of Media Warnings

Bangor Daily News:  In Maine’s ‘City of Ships,’ climate change’s coastal threat is already here

Bath, the 8,500-resident “City of Ships,” is among the places in Maine facing the greatest risks from increased coastal flooding because so much of it is low-lying. The rising sea level in Bath threatens businesses along Commercial and Washington streets and other parts of the downtown, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a nonprofit science and journalism organization.

Water levels reached their highest in the city during a record-breaking storm in 1978 at a little more than 4 feet over pre-2000 average high tides, and Climate Central’s sea level team found there’s a 1-in-4 chance of a 5-foot flood within 30 years. That level could submerge homes and three miles of road, cutting off communities that live on peninsulas, and inundate sites that manage wastewater and hazardous waste along with several museums.

UConn Today:  Should We Stay or Should We Go? Shoreline Homes and Rising Sea Levels in Connecticut

As global temperatures rise, so does the sea level. Experts predict it could rise as much as 20 inches by 2050, putting coastal communities, including those in Connecticut, in jeopardy.

One possible solution is a retreat from the shoreline, in which coastal homes are removed to take them out of imminent danger. This solution comes with many complications, including reductions in tax revenue for towns and potentially diminished real estate values for surrounding properties. Additionally, it can be difficult to get people to volunteer to relocate their homes.

Computer Simulations of the Future

Newport Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

Newport past & projected 2020

Boston, Mass.

Example of Media Warnings

From WBUR Radio Boston:  Rising Sea Levels Threaten MBTA’s Blue Line

Could it be the end of the Blue Line as we know it? The Blue Line, which features a mile-long tunnel that travels underwater, and connects the North Shore with Boston’s downtown, is at risk as sea levels rise along Boston’s coast. To understand the threat sea-level rise poses to the Blue Line, and what that means for the rest of the city, we’re joined by WBUR reporter Simón Ríos and Julie Wormser, Deputy Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association.

As sea levels continue to rise, the Blue Line and the whole MBTA system face an existential threat. The MBTA is also facing a serious financial crunch, still reeling from the pandemic, as we attempt to fully reopen the city and the region. Joining us to discuss is MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak.

Computer Simulations of the Future

Boston Obs Imaged2

 

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

Boston Past and Projected 2020

 

New York City

Example of Media Warnings

From Quartz: Sea level rise will flood the neighborhood around the UN building with two degrees warming

Right now, of every US city, New York City has the highest population living inside a floodplain. By 2100, seas could rise around around the city by as much as six feet. Extreme rainfall is also predicted to rise, with roughly 1½ times more major precipitation events per year by the 2080s, according to a 2015 report by a group of scientists known as the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

But a two-degree warming scenario, which the world is on track to hit, could lock in dramatic sea level rise—possibly as much as 15 feet.

Computer Simulations of the Future

NYC Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

NYC past & projected 2020

Philadelphia, PA.

Example of Media Warnings

From NBCPhiladelphia:  Climate Change Studies Show Philly Underwater

NBC10 is looking at data and reading studies on climate change to showcase the impact. There are studies that show if the sea levels continue to rise at this rate, parts of Amtrak and Philadelphia International Airport could be underwater in 100 years.

Computer Simulations of the Future

Philly Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

Phil past & projected 2020

Miami, Florida

Examples of Media Warnings

From WLRN Miami: Miles Of Florida Roads Face ‘Major Problem’ From Sea Rise. Is State Moving Fast Enough?

One 2018 Department of Transportation study has already found that a two-foot rise, expected by mid-century, would imperil a little more than five percent — 250-plus miles — of the state’s most high-traffic highways. That may not sound like a lot, but protecting those highways alone could easily cost several billion dollars. A Cat 5 hurricane could be far worse, with a fifth of the system vulnerable to flooding. The impact to seaports, airports and railroads — likely to also be significant and expensive — is only now under analysis.

From Washington Post:  Before condo collapse, rising seas long pressured Miami coastal properties

Investigators are just beginning to try to unravel what caused the Champlain Towers South to collapse into a heap of rubble, leaving at least 159 people missing as of Friday. Experts on sea-level rise and climate change caution that it is too soon to speculate whether rising seas helped destabilize the oceanfront structure. The 40-year-old building was relatively new compared with others on its stretch of beach in the town of Surfside.

But it is already clear that South Florida has been on the front lines of sea-level rise and that the effects of climate change on the infrastructure of the region — from septic systems to aquifers to shoreline erosion — will be a management problem for years.

Computer Simulations of the Future

Florida Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

KW past & projected 2020

Houston, Texas

Example of Media Warnings

From Undark:  A $26-Billion Plan to Save the Houston Area From Rising Seas

As the sea rises, the land is also sinking: In the last century, the Texas coast sank about 2 feet into the sea, partly due to excessive groundwater pumping. Computer models now suggest that climate change will further lift sea levels somewhere between 1 and 6 feet over the next 50 years. Meanwhile, the Texas coastal population is projected to climb from 7 to 9 million people by 2050.

Protecting Galveston Bay is no simple task. The bay is sheltered from the open ocean by two low, sandy strips of land — Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula — separated by the narrow passage of Bolivar Roads. When a sufficiently big storm approaches, water begins to rush through that gap and over the island and peninsula, surging into the bay.

Computer Simulations of the Future

Galv Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

Galv past & projected 2020

San Francisco, Cal.

Example of Media Warnings

From San Francisco Chronicle:  Special Report: SF Bay Sea Level Rise–Hayward

Sea level rise is fueled by higher global temperatures that trigger two forces: Warmer water expands oceans while the increased temperatures hasten the melting of glaciers on Antarctica and Greenland and add yet more water to the oceans.

The California Ocean Protection Council, a branch of state government, forecasts a 1-in-7 chance that the average daily tides in the bay will rise 2 or more feet by 2070. This would cause portions of the marshes and bay trail in Hayward to be underwater during high tides. Add another 2 feet, on the higher end of the council’s projections for 2100 and they’d be permanently submerged. Highway 92 would flood during major storms. So would the streets leading into the power plant.

From San Francisco Chronicle Special Report: SF Bay Sea Level Rise–Mission Creek

Along San Francisco’s Mission Creek, sea level rise unsettles the waters.  Each section of this narrow channel must be tailored differently to meet an uncertain future. Do nothing, and the combination of heavy storms with less than a foot of sea level rise could send Mission Creek spilling over its banks in a half-dozen places, putting nearby housing in peril and closing the two bridges that cross the channel.

Whatever the response, we won’t know for decades if the city’s efforts can keep pace with the impact of global climatic forces that no local government can control.

Though Mission Creek is unique, the larger dilemma is one that affects all nine Bay Area counties.

Computer Simulations of the Future

SF Obs Imaged

Imaginary vs. Observed Sea Level Trends (2020 Update)

SF CA past & projected 2020

Summary: This is a relentless, high-tech communications machine to raise all kinds of scary future possibilities, based upon climate model projections, and the unfounded theory of CO2-driven global warming/climate change.  The graphs above are centered on the year 2000, so that the 21st century added sea level rise is projected from that year forward.  In addition, we now have observations at tidal gauges for the first 20 years, 1/5 of the total expected.  The gauges in each city are the ones with the longest continuous service record, and wherever possible the locations shown in the simulations are not far from the tidal gauge.  For example, NYC best gauge is at the Battery, and Fulton St. is also near the Manhattan southern tip.

Already the imaginary rises are diverging greatly from observations, yet the chorus of alarm goes on.  In fact, the added rise to 2100 from tidal gauges ranges from 6 to 9.5 inches, except for Galveston projecting 20.6 inches. Meanwhile models imagined rises from 69 to 108 inches. Clearly coastal settlements must adapt to evolving conditions, but also need reasonable rather than fearful forecasts for planning purposes.

Footnote:  The problem of urban flooding is discussed in some depth at a previous post Urban Flooding: The Philadelphia Story

Background on the current sea level campaign is at USCS Warnings of Coastal Floodings

And as always, an historical perspective is important:

post-glacial_sea_level

Typical Arctic Ice Extents in June

 

 

Arctic2021181

Previous posts reported that Arctic Sea Ice has persisted this year despite a wavy Polar Vortex this spring, bringing cold down to mid-latitudes, and warming air into Arctic regions.  Then in May and now again in June,  the sea ice extent matched or exceeded the 14-year average several times during the month, tracking alongside until month end.  Surprisingly  SII (Sea Ice Index) showed much more ice the first week, similar extents mid- June, and then SII lost ice more rapidly the final week.  Yesterday both SII and MASIE day 181 were close to the same day in 2007.

Note that on the 14-year average, June loses ~2M km2 of ice extent, which 2021 matched, as did 2007.  Both 2020 and 2019 finished lower than average, by 500k and 400k respectively.  

Why is this important?  All the claims of global climate emergency depend on dangerously higher temperatures, lower sea ice, and rising sea levels.  The lack of additional warming is documented in a post Adios, Global Warming

The lack of acceleration in sea levels along coastlines has been discussed also.  See USCS Warnings of Coastal Floodings

Also, a longer term perspective is informative:

post-glacial_sea_level
The table below shows the distribution of Sea Ice across the Arctic Regions, on average, this year and 2007.

Region 2021181 Day 181 Average 2021-Ave. 2007181 2021-2007
 (0) Northern_Hemisphere 9644967 9741628  -96661  9672969 -28002 
 (1) Beaufort_Sea 999085 905769  93316  939209 59876 
 (2) Chukchi_Sea 760235 715065  45170  670088 90146 
 (3) East_Siberian_Sea 924474 1010406  -85932  901963 22511 
 (4) Laptev_Sea 578894 703006  -124112  658742 -79848 
 (5) Kara_Sea 527080 545919  -18839  657478 -130398 
 (6) Barents_Sea 129619 123601  6018  130101 -482 
 (7) Greenland_Sea 461815 501479  -39664  548399 -86584 
 (8) Baffin_Bay_Gulf_of_St._Lawrence 497237 504688  -7451  450461 46777 
 (9) Canadian_Archipelago 761843 778224  -16381  773611 -11768 
 (10) Hudson_Bay 736119 728550  7569  718441 17678 
 (11) Central_Arctic 3239262 3205301  33960  3218999 20262 
 (12) Bering_Sea 15316 4566  10750  981 14336 
 (13) Baltic_Sea 0 3 -3  0
 (14) Sea_of_Okhotsk 12919 13765  -847  2983 9936 

The overall deficit to average happened yesterday, being an extent 1% lower, and one day earlier than average.  The largest deficits to average are in East Siberian and Laptev Seas, along with Greenland Sea.  These are partly offset by surpluses elsewhere, mostly in Beaufort, Chukchi, and Central Artic seas.

 

 

US Heat and Drought Advisory June

Climatists are raising alarms about the rising temperatures and water shortages as evidence of impending doom (it’s summer and that time of year again).  So some contextual information is suitable.

First, a comparison of recent US June forecasts for temperatures.

NOAA US temp 2019 2021

And then for the same years, precipitation forecasts.

NOAA US rain 2019 2021

Finally, a reminder of how unrelated CO2 is to all of this.

us-wet-dry-co2rev-1

giss-gmt-to-2018-w-co2