Extreme events of 2011: climate change a major factor in some, but not all

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:54 PM GMT on July 11, 2012

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The science of quantifying how climate change changes the odds of extreme weather events like droughts and floods took a major step forward Tuesday with the publication of NOAA's annual summary of the past year's weather. The 2011 State of the Climate report contains a separate peer-reviewed article published in the July issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society titled, Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 From a Climate Perspective. In the paper, a group of scientists led by Peter Stott of the Met Office Centre in the United Kingdom looked at how climate change may have changed the odds of occurrence of some of 2011's notable weather extremes. These kinds of attribution studies require huge amounts of computer time and take many months to do, but the scientists plan to start making this a regular part of the annual NOAA State of the Climate report. Some of their findings for 2011:

- Determining the causes of extreme events remains difficult. While scientists cannot trace specific events to climate change with absolute certainty, new and continued research help scientists understand how the probability of extreme events change in response to global warming.

- La Niña-related heat waves, like that experienced in Texas in 2011, are now 20 times more likely to occur during La Niña years today than La Niña years fifty years ago.

- The UK experienced a very warm November 2011 and a very cold December 2010. In analyzing these two very different events, UK scientists uncovered interesting changes in the odds. Cold Decembers are now half as likely to occur now versus fifty years ago, whereas warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely.

- The devastating 2011 floods in Thailand caused an estimated $45 billion in damage, making it the world's most expensive river flooding disaster in history. The study found, however, that the amount of rain that fell in the catchment area was not very unusual, and that other factors such as human-caused changes to the flood plain and the movement of more people into flood-prone areas were more important in causing the disaster. "Climate change cannot be shown to have played any role in this event," the study concluded, but warned that climate models predict an increase in the probability of extreme precipitation events in the future in the region.

- The deadly drought in East Africa, which killed tens of thousands of people in 2011, was made more likely by warming waters in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific. While the scientists did not specifically tie the warming of these waters to human-caused global warming, they noted that climate models predict continued warming of these waters in the coming decades, and this will likely "contribute to more frequent East African droughts during the spring and summer."


Figure 1. An SH-60F Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14, flies around the Bangkok area with members of the humanitarian assessment survey team and the Royal Thai Armed Forces to assess the damage caused by the 2011 floods. Image credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Villalovos.

Weather on steroids
One interesting aspect of the paper was the scientists' use of the baseball player-steroids analogy to help explain how climate change can increase the odds of extreme weather: "One analogy of the effects of climate change on extreme weather is with a baseball player (or to choose another sport, a cricketer) who starts taking steroids and afterwards hits on average 20% more home runs (or sixes) in a season than he did before (Meehl 2012). For any one of his home runs (sixes) during the years the player was taking steroids, you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not. But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids. And given that steroids have resulted in a 20% increased chance that any particular swing of the player’s bat results in a home run (or a six), you would be able to make an attribution statement that, all other things being equal, steroid use had increased the probability of that particular occurrence by 20%. The job of the attribution assessment is to distinguish the effects of anthropogenic climate change or some other external factor (steroids in the sporting analogy) from natural variability (e.g., in the baseball analogy, the player’s natural ability to hit home runs or the configuration of a particular stadium)."



Video 1. National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Dr. Jerry Meehl explains how climate change's impact on extreme weather is like how steroids affect a baseball player.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


buckets.

about 1.5 inches in 20mins.
so 4.5 in/hr

30-45 mph winds too, but we missed the hail as usual.

The jordan curse continues.
first storm weakens to no more severe hail and just some wimpy gust winds before it gets here.
Second storm dies completely


Im waiting for my daily inch :) Probably going to come later in the afternoon.
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Quoting Chucktown:


Yea, this never happened in 1603, or did it. Don't know, these localized isolated events weren't documented like they are today. Hell, do we even have daily rainfall reports from then. Didn't think so. I blame "climate change" on technology - just sayin.
I dunno; the Japanese have a long, illustrious, and well-documented history. If they say 20" of rain in 8 hours--a sustained rate of 2.5" inches per hour--in this town hasn't happened before to the best of anyone's knowledge, I'm inclined to believe them.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13304
Of topic but..

after about 400 hours of swimming lifting weights and swim meets, it is being condensed into the final product, 4 days and 16 races. I probably wont be on much after 4 oclock today. hope nothing happens in the tropics while im out, i dont want to miss anything.

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Quoting LargoFl:
..did you get some good rain out of it?


buckets.

about 1.5 inches in 20mins.
so 4.5 in/hr

30-45 mph winds too, but we missed the hail as usual.

The jordan curse continues.
first storm weakens to no more severe hail and just some wimpy gust winds before it gets here.
Second storm dies completely
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9467
1377. CJ5
Quoting Neapolitan:
But, notwithstanding the ridiculous and highly damaging Citizens United decision, they absolutely do


So let me get this straight; Your view is that corporations should not have the free speech rights to speak out for and/or against thier representatives? Are corporations not made up of individual citizens? As a business owner, I have no right to support candidates I believe help my interests?
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Quoting schistkicker:


"I don't know if it did, but I'm going to assume it didn't, because my argumentum ad ignorantiam is just as good, right?"


Just common sense sir.
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1375. LargoFl
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

.THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
A MOIST SOUTHEAST FLOW AND MID LEVEL DISTURBANCE WILL GENERATE SCATTERED
LIGHTNING STORMS NEAR THE COAST THIS MORNING. STEERING WINDS WILL
PUSH THE STORMS TOWARD THE NORTHWEST AT 10 TO 15 MPH INTO THE
INTERIOR COUNTIES THROUGH THE AFTERNOON WHERE THE GREATER COVERAGE
OF STORMS IS EXPECTED. THE PRIMARY THREATS WILL BE FREQUENT
LIGHTNING AND GUSTY WINDS TO 45 TO 50 MPH WHICH WILL BE POSSIBLE
IN A FEW OF THE STRONGER STORMS.

.FLOOD IMPACT...
LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AMOUNTS OF 2 TO 3 INCHES MAY CAUSE PONDING
OF WATER ON ROADWAYS AND TEMPORARY FLOODING OF POOR DRAINAGE
AREAS MAINLY THIS AFTERNOON OVER INTERIOR SECTIONS.

.MARINE THUNDERSTORM GUST IMPACT...
SOME OF THE STRONGER STORMS MAY PRODUCE WIND GUSTS OVER 40 MPH
OVER THE INLAND LAKES THIS AFTERNOON.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY.
SCATTERED LIGHTNING STORMS ARE EXPECTED EACH AFTERNOON FOCUSED
OVER THE INTERIOR SECTIONS. FREQUENT LIGHTNING...LOCALLY HEAVY
RAIN AND GUSTY WINDS SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY THREATS.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...
SPOTTERS ARE REQUESTED TO MONITOR THE WEATHER AND SELF ACTIVATE
IF NEEDED.

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
1374. yoboi
Quoting BobWallace:


"Every civilization, even the most remote; with no other outside connections has a belief in a "God" or Creator."

I don't think you can prove anything with that argument. All civilizations have spoken languages. All civilizations have a knowledge of how to use fire.

Those things, along with religion, could have been invented prior to groups splitting off from the initial "tribe" of humans and evolving into different civilizations. Religion and language may be as ancient as our first group of ancestors in Africa.

Wheels, for example, were likely invented after the initial split. In fact, probably after the third immigration of Asians to North America. "Native" Americans did not have the wheel.



when you get finished trolling the middle school playground; I'll be your huckleberry.......
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Quoting Chucktown:


Yea, this never happened in 1603, or did it. Don't know, these localized isolated events weren't documented like they are today. Hell, do we even have daily rainfall reports from then. Didn't think so. I blame "climate change" on technology - just sayin.


"I don't know if it did, but I'm going to assume it didn't, because my argumentum ad ignorantiam is just as good, right?"
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I was linked to this by a TWC employee:

The UK’s wet summer, the jet stream and climate change*
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9467
Quoting Grothar:


I am still expecting to see some development in the Atlantic, although none of the models have anything yet.


That's a good wave Gro, seems like it could be trouble. But on the other hand, like TWX said, the Atlantic is pretty hostile right now and nothing can really form with all the ULLs.
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1370. LargoFl
.........................stormtracker you have some coming in from the atlantic, probably be by you later on
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
1369. LargoFl
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:
Well last night was interesting, had 30 mins of continuous cloud to ground lightning, and i mean continuous - no breaks, always lightning somewhere.
Lots of close CG sounded like artillery cause they were 'exploding' close to my house.
And a tstorm to my SE in Atlanta had 5.67 in/hr rainfall rates.

Fun to say the least, but im sure someone's house or tree got struck by lightning
..did you get some good rain out of it?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
Quoting Neapolitan:
"Unprecedented" rainfall today in southwestern Japan has led to extreme flash flooding and mudslides. 20" of rain fell in Aso in just 8 hours this morning, killing at least six people, with 20 still missing.

Japan flood

Japan flood

Probably just a coincidence, though. Yeah, that's it. Just another coincidence. Another meteorological coincidence. Another freak, unprecedented, deadly, and destructive meteorological coincidence.. :-\


Yea, this never happened in 1603, or did it. Don't know, these localized isolated events weren't documented like they are today. Hell, do we even have daily rainfall reports from then. Didn't think so. I blame "climate change" on technology - just sayin.
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Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Crown Weather has a good discussion this morning about the Florida AOI.

Link


really, a TD?
jokers
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9467
Quoting Neapolitan:
"Unprecedented" rainfall today in southwestern Japan has led to extreme flash flooding and mudslides. 20" of rain fell in Aso in just 8 hours this morning, killing at least six people, with 20 still missing.

Japan flood

Japan flood

Probably just a coincidence, though. Yeah, that's it. Just another coincidence... :-\



Are you trying to start another round of GCC talks? I seem to notice that you are very active in that area.

Personally I think the world is changing but we don't have much to do with it.

I will say this for you, you dont just emit emotion but try (and do) support your ideas with hard science.

I disagre with but RESPECT you for that. I am open to the option that I could be wrong (imagine that!)again :)
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Quoting Neapolitan:
"Unprecedented" rainfall today in southwestern Japan has led to extreme flash flooding and mudslides. 20" of rain fell in Aso in just 8 hours this morning, killing at least six people, with 20 still missing.

Japan flood

Japan flood

Probably just a coincidence, though. Yeah, that's it. Just another coincidence. Another meteorological coincidence. Another freak, unprecedented, deadly, and destructive meteorological coincidence.. :-\

Goddang.
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Quoting Grothar:
Reading back on the blog this morning, most of you mentioned some very important features. That little low currently off the SW coast of Florida should be watched carefully. While none of the models develop yet, it could begin responding to a little weakness to its NW and begin combining with the moisture currently about to move over Florida. There could be development in the Gulf. Wind shear is pretty low. The SE US from Louisian to the Florida panhandle should expect some heavy showers this weekend.



98E is very large and has a tremendous amount of energy in its center. There is no reason it should not be at least a Cat2 in a few days. Extremely cold cloud tops.



I am still expecting to see some development in the Atlantic, although none of the models have anything yet.





Boy the wave coming off Africa looks impressive!
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Quoting aislinnpaps:


That's because I'm spending a 'birthday' weekend in New Orleans!! My birthday's not until next Monday, the day I'll head back home.


Vampire festival in the Quarter this weekend....be careful and have fun here in our wonderland
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Quoting Neapolitan:
"Unprecedented" rainfall today in southwestern Japan has led to extreme flash flooding and mudslides. 20" of rain fell in Aso in just 8 hours this morning, killing at least six people, with 20 still missing.

Japan flood

Japan flood

Probably just a coincidence, though. Yeah, that's it. Just another coincidence. Another meteorological coincidence. Another freak, unprecedented, deadly, and destructive meteorological coincidence.. :-\


Wow! Another example of "Weather on Steriods".
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Well last night was interesting, had 30 mins of continuous cloud to ground lightning, and i mean continuous - no breaks, always lightning somewhere.
Lots of close CG lightning sounded like artillery cause they were 'exploding' close to my house.
And a tstorm to my SE in Atlanta had 5.67 in/hr rainfall rates.

Fun to say the least, but im sure someone's house or tree got struck by lightning
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 9467
Quoting weatherh98:

Wow!

Niño 1+2 cooled slightly at last update too so it could be another what 3 weeks tacked on with the cooling and positive SOI


Ihope it holds off til NDJ or DJF, we seem to get the best rain here in Southern California.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
"Unprecedented" rainfall today in southwestern Japan has led to extreme flash flooding and mudslides. 20" of rain fell in Aso in just 8 hours this morning, killing at least six people, with 20 still missing.

Japan flood

Japan flood

Probably just a coincidence, though. Yeah, that's it. Just another coincidence. Another meteorological coincidence. Another freak, unprecedented, deadly, and destructive meteorological coincidence.. :-\
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13304
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Good Morning from America's Left Coast

Good morning, from near the Chesapeake Bay! lol
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Good Morning from America's Left Coast
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1356. icmoore
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Crown Weather has a good discussion this morning about the Florida AOI.

Link


Very interesting, thanks for posting the link!
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Quoting Grothar:
The SE US from Louisian to the Florida panhandle should expect some heavy showers this weekend.


That's because I'm spending a 'birthday' weekend in New Orleans!! My birthday's not until next Monday, the day I'll head back home.
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1354. icmoore
Quoting StormTracker2K:


I second that! Very nice shot of that storm coming in.


Thank you, StormTracker! I always appreciate your weather insight and observations.
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1353. Grothar
Reading back on the blog this morning, most of you mentioned some very important features. That little low currently off the SW coast of Florida should be watched carefully. While none of the models develop yet, it could begin responding to a little weakness to its NW and begin combining with the moisture currently about to move over Florida. There could be development in the Gulf. Wind shear is pretty low. The SE US from Louisian to the Florida panhandle should expect some heavy showers this weekend.



98E is very large and has a tremendous amount of energy in its center. There is no reason it should not be at least a Cat2 in a few days. Extremely cold cloud tops.



I am still expecting to see some development in the Atlantic, although none of the models have anything yet.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12/1200 UTC 15.0N 120.9W T5.5/5.5 EMILIA -- East Pacific
12/1200 UTC 13.7N 106.8W T2.5/2.5 06E -- East Pacific

Emilia ADT
----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 12 JUL 2012 Time : 100000 UTC Lat : 15:05:00 N Lon : 120:25:21 W

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
5.5 / 959.6mb/102.0kt
Final/Adj/Raw
5.3 /5.5/5.5

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 21 km
Center Temp : 5.6C Cloud Region Temp : -61.6C
Scene Type : EYE

Weakening Flag : ON Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

06E ADT (now Fabio)
----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 12 JUL 2012 Time : 114500 UTC Lat : 13:41:11 N Lon : 106:40:35 W

CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
2.0 /1007.0mb/ 30.0kt
Final/Adj/Raw
2.0 /2.2/2.2

Center Temp : -70.1C Cloud Region Temp : -64.9C
Scene Type : UNIFORM CDO CLOUD REGION
Weakening Flag : OFF Rapid Dissipation Flag : OFF

----
ATCF notes 06E was a depression a day ago.
EP, 06, 2012071112, , BEST, 0, 126N, 1033W, 25, 1005, TD,

Emilia has re-re-strengthened into a Major Hurricane.
EP, 05, 2012071212, , BEST, 0, 151N, 1209W, 100, 960, HU,

06E is now Fabio.
EP, 06, 2012071212, , BEST, 0, 136N, 1069W, 35, 1002, TS,
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I will do my part to help something spin up in the Atlantic.

I am going out in my boat and drive in a big circle and see if I can start spome vortivity at the surface.

Or at least have some fun with the kids in a tube.

Be back tonight
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1350. LargoFl
..this was near me in seminole yesterday as that line approached us
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
EP, 05, 2012071212, , BEST, 0, 151N, 1209W, 100, 960, HU,
Major Hurricane again
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Emilia is a major once more:

EP, 05, 2012071212, , BEST, 0, 151N, 1209W, 100, 960, HU, 64, NEQ, 25, 25, 20, 25, 1008, 250, 15, 0, 0, E, 0, , 0, 0, EMILIA, D
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13304
1347. LargoFl
730 AM CDT THU JUL 12 2012

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HOUSTON/GALVESTON HAS ISSUED A

* FLOOD WARNING FOR
CYPRESS CREEK AT GRANT ROAD.
* UNTIL THIS AFTERNOON...OR UNTIL THE WARNING IS CANCELLED.
* AT 7 AM THURSDAY THE STAGE WAS 38.5 FEET.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 36.7 FEET.
* FORECAST...THE CREEK ROSE ABOVE FLOOD STAGE EARLIER THIS MORNING WITH A CONTINUED RISE TO NEAR 39 TO 39.5 FEET EXPECTED
* AT 38.9 FEET...118.9 FEET MSL...MINOR LOWLAND FLOODING BEGINS AS WATER TOPS
THE BANKS OF THE MAIN CHANNEL.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
1346. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
Quoting Charliesgirl:



I am loving it, so much better than the extreme dry heat.


Oh yes! Though I hope it gives New Orleans a break this weekend when I head down there. I'm going to love my water bill this month with not having to water all the garden everyday.
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Quoting aislinnpaps:
Morning everyone. With all the tropical weather it feels like it should be August, not July. More rain here in Louisiana and we're not complaining at all. Everyone have a great day!



I am loving it, so much better than the extreme dry heat.
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1343. LargoFl
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:
Crown Weather has a good discussion this morning about the Florida AOI.

Link
..thanks for the link, I kinda agree with him, florida needs be be very watchful this weekend,something just does not seem right, like something is trying to build..well we shall see huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
Look at that eye of Emilia.. impressive
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Quoting weatherh98:


What was talked about?


School, God, Religion, Science, faults of society, etc
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1340. LargoFl
Quoting StormTracker2K:
The low appears to be around Sebring,FL. This will only agitate an unstable atmosphere across C FL.
yes local mets say it might get severe this afternoon
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
Quoting icmoore:


Thank you, Largo! The skies were looking like ink so I grabbed the camera and walked to the corner and wow I saw some pretty impressive clouds! I lived in inland FL my whole life until last Dec so the weather on the coast is all new to me. Sounds like more on tap for both of us through at least Sat.


I second that! Very nice shot of that storm coming in.
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Crown Weather has a good discussion this morning about the Florida AOI.

Link
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The low appears to be around Sebring,FL. This will only agitate an unstable atmosphere across C FL.
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There's a low NNW of Lake O this morning and once daytime heating really kicks in then expect thunderstorms to fire fast across C FL. Infact there could be some significant flooding of low lying areas from Orlando west to Tampa especially for areas that have seen 5" to 10" of rain over the last week.

Link
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1335. icmoore
Quoting LargoFl:
..nice pic there


Thank you, Largo! The skies were looking like ink so I grabbed the camera and walked to the corner and wow I saw some pretty impressive clouds! I lived in inland FL my whole life until last Dec so the weather on the coast is all new to me. Sounds like more on tap for both of us through at least Sat.
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Another feature out there is the ULL heading in towards Florida at around 60W-25N. Some vorticity was noted on it yesterday and I wanted to take a look at it this morning. It is wrapping in a little more convection than yesterday morning on the east side and still slowly trying to get down to the surface but it is surrounded by dry air which is a problem. The models do not develop or take any note of this feature and the possibility of a "work down to the surface" ULL is one the rarest of the ways that a tropical storm can get going but it has been a little persistent over the past 24 hours.

Here is the mid-level vort on this one:

Link

Here it the extremely dry air getting sucked into it on the WV loop:

Link
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1333. LargoFl
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 33467
Quoting Tropicsweatherpr:


At least in PR the ENE flow that the ULL has in the position it is now,is bringing scattered showers. Let's see if the trough and Tropical Wave that is now at 43W combine to really bring rainy weather this weekend.



It would be fine for my poor plants :)
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Morning everyone. With all the tropical weather it feels like it should be August, not July. More rain here in Louisiana and we're not complaining at all. Everyone have a great day!
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.