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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Not sure what the fact that all civilizations have a creation story really means other than that we desperately do not want to be alone and that we have one of the most equally amazing and dangerous powers in existence, imagination.

We see the universe, we are aware of our existence within it, and want it to make sense. That doesn't mean it will oblige.


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Emilia and 98E.

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Hydrus, I meant explosive as it is explosive to talk about this subject openly on the blog. My blog will only be my defense of creation in a three part series. Tribulation is another story, and I can only be laughed out of the room so many times in one week. :)
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May as well clear this up, it's as good as of a time as any... It's not the same girl from last weekend, but a different one. You could say now she's my ex-ex-girlfriend :P Pretty much long story short, after the last breakup my friend who was my ex had some deep conversations which led to some truths which led to us getting back together. :-)

TL;dr got back with my ex after stuff happened :)

And I'm really happy about it too :-D
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Quoting Tribucanes:
Evolution is not a fact, it is a theory. My defense will be vastly scientific in nature also, I'm out for now, be back later when topic has changed. This is my faith, this is what I believe; I believe this in good faith. I'm not trying to spread lies, I believe this with all my heart and soul. I love you naysayers too because I generally agree with the vast majority of opinions shared on WU. Kori, ya few subjects I'm guessing we would disagree on, this is certainly one of them. And we probably, it would be safe to say, would disagree very strongly; and that's okay.


Unfortunately, this appears to be where you and science part ways. You're conflating the colloquial definition of "theory" with the scientific meaning of the term. Or do you consider other theories, such as plate tectonics, or gravity, to be less than factual given their status as a theory.

Science is not about faith; it's not about what you believe; it's not about a holy book or a holy man, it's about observations leading to interpretations of how the natural world works. It's about what can be determined through a cycle of prediction, experimentation, critical analysis, and refinement, and it goes wherever the data leads. There are plenty of religious scientists of various faiths who do good work and compartmentalize their science and their faith appropriately. However, when one's tenets about the supernatural color how they view the natural world, and refuse to acknowledge where the evidence in front of them converges, that doesn't leave much room to actually do science anymore.

Not that that's necessarily always a bad thing-- there's all sorts of philosophical musings and discussions that would be educational and elucidating for everyone. However, it has no place in science. I'd recommend the TalkOrigins archive webpage for some background if you're interested in learning more about the science of evolution, which is even more settled science than climate change (unless you have a theological axe to grind...)
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1225. nigel20
Quoting sunlinepr:

Hey sunline. It's was pretty dry and hazy across most of Jamaica today...it seems as if you had similar weather conditions as well.
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Quoting hurricanehunter27:
I think that is the problem. Who says they know its not true?


After I posted my questions I realized that there could very well be people who have not been informed that the theory of evolution does not state that man evolved from ape.

Someone cloistered in a religious community or home-schooled by fundamentalist parents might well have been misinformed about the theory of evolution. Seems like that is what I was told when growing up. In the South. A long time ago.

So I'll change my question a bit. Is it possible that anyone who has been out in the "real" world and spent time on the internet has not heard that the theory of evolution points out common ancestry and not that man evolved from ape?

Do you think that anyone on this site would read me stating "The Theory of Evolution does not claim that man evolved from ape" and go "Wow! First time that I've heard that."?
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:

Yesterday I was merely saying "slight potential for a tropical disturbance"...but I saw the mid-level low developing over Florida and rather favorable upper winds...so I thought the situation may get more urgent...

What do you think its % chances for becoming a tropical cyclone are?


10% at best.
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Quoting KoritheMan:


Honestly, yes. I wouldn't go as far as to be explicit in indicating tropical cyclone formation.

Yesterday I was merely saying "slight potential for a tropical disturbance"...but I saw the mid-level low developing over Florida and rather favorable upper winds...so I thought the situation may get more urgent...

What do you think its % chances for becoming a tropical cyclone are?
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Shaping up to be a N&NW Gulf year. 126GFS shows the high still kicking, mean trough looks to be setting up in the plains.

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Quoting Grothar:


Are you driving your impromptu or the Toyota?


Lol good one, I remember last week. And no, I'm driving my Lexus :P
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Good night everyone I hope you have a wonderful Thursday.
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:

Thanks Kori...read your update.

In my update today...I commented on the east GOM disturbance. Do you think I am being too "bullish" in my discussion of it?


Honestly, yes. I wouldn't go as far as to be explicit in indicating tropical cyclone formation.
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1215. hydrus
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Quoting Tribucanes:
I'm going to do a three part case for creation blog starting tomorrow. Will be as scientific and precise as possible. Koritheman stated earlier we aren't all born with the sense of a Creator. Every civilization, even the most remote; with no other outside connections has a belief in a "God" or Creator. Beauty, love, and so many, many miracles throughout time insist in a Creator in my belief. I will only comment on this in my blog from this point forward because it's very explosive. For this much of a back and forth though, on THIS subject, it's been very respectful. Thank you all for not being more cutting and sarcastic. I know it wasn't easy. I really do appreciate it though, because I enjoy this blog and agree with the vast majority of consensus in here.


"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.
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1213. hydrus
Quoting bappit:

I liked the other plots better. The IR brightness (coldest temps) of water vapor is highest where there are high clouds or moisture in the upper atmosphere. That's why it is good for seeing short waves and such. I prefer total precipitable water for the monsoon picture.
picky, picky, picky...:)
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1212. hydrus
Quoting Tribucanes:
I'm going to do a three part case for creation blog starting tomorrow. Will be as scientific and precise as possible. Koritheman stated earlier we aren't all born with the sense of a Creator. Every civilization, even the most remote; with no other outside connections has a belief in a "God" or Creator. Beauty, love, and so many, many miracles throughout time insist in a Creator in my belief. I will only comment on this in my blog from this point forward because it's very explosive. For this much of a back and forth though, on THIS subject, it's been very respectful. Thank you all for not being more cutting and sarcastic. I know it wasn't easy. I really do appreciate it though, because I enjoy this blog and agree with the vast majority of consensus in here.
A creation blog.?....That should be interesting...I would like to see your views on how we are all "connected" to God or the creator, and how everything works out in end..You refer to your next segment as explosive, In Revelations, the world is destroyed by fire this time around.
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Quoting KoritheMan:
While everyone's still debating, I did a blog.

Thanks Kori...read your update.

In my update today...I commented on the east GOM disturbance. Do you think I am being too "bullish" in my discussion of it?
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1210. j2008
Quoting MrMixon:
Perhaps Grothar is onto something with the "threat to the southwest" analysis for 98E. We've had some huge fires in the Four Corners states this year. A massive precipitation event would reduce fire danger, but could be messy in post-burn areas. Wikipedia has a whole page for NEW MEXICO HURRICANES. Who knew?



I would love that SW idea, I sure could use all the rain that a TC would bring.
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This is the line of severe thunderstorms approaching my area from earlier today, right after I took this picture a powerful lightning strike hit one of those high voltage power line towers! Thankfully I was in my car, but that distance is much closer than it appears! I was down right scarred after that. There wasn't any damage to the tower that I am aware of of, but they are designed for this as they have multiple grounding wires from lightning to ground out on. I did see smoke coming from the base though, the intense current from the strike probably burned some grass as it traveled into the ground.




This picture above is afterward, that's what nearly 4 inches of rain in a couples hours and an inch in 10 minutes did today in my neighborhood. The ground was already saturated too. The flooding is getting crazy around here. Many of the office rooms I clean on my night job were completely flooded tonight, they had serious flood damage and their electric system was also fried by lightning. The place I work at during my day job right down the street also had some of its electric system friend due to a voltage surge from lightning.




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1208. nigel20
Quoting Grothar:
Good night boys and girls. You've exhausted my mental capabilities tonight, all three of them. Have fun and watch the tropics.

Good night Grothar!
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1207. MrMixon
Perhaps Grothar is onto something with the "threat to the southwest" analysis for 98E. We've had some huge fires in the Four Corners states this year. A massive precipitation event would reduce fire danger, but could be messy in post-burn areas. Wikipedia has a whole page for NEW MEXICO HURRICANES. Who knew?



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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Anytime. But on a serious note you might like to read some of the links I posted at #1062. He write a lot more eloquently than myself.

I'm not naive to believe all of our social problems are directly a result of taking the Bible out of public schools but I think it played a big part.

I'm 48 years old and I can see the decline of societal behavior from my childhood to the present. I think to deny this is not accepting reality as well.

If I could only show you, or wxgeekva, some of the behavior exhibited in the public schools I taught in, then you would see it from my perspective. And there many public schools much worse than the ones I had the privilege of teaching in.


That has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with parents not doing their dang job and raising kids that have respect.
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1205. Grothar
Good night boys and girls. You've exhausted my mental capabilities tonight, all three of them. Have fun and watch the tropics.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25321
1204. nigel20
Quoting hurricanehunter27:
Also to all those who say religion is a bad thing you have no idea what your talking about. I think the best quote you can possibly live by is "Take everything in moderation." This is the same with religion. Using religion as a moral compass is really quite healthy sense most religions outline good moral values. That being said take those morals you get from your religion and apply common sense.

To be honest I think religion and science can and will coexist. What in science disproves religion totally? What in religion disproves science totally? Really they can coexist and they should. I am not religious myself but I don't think being religious is wrong. What is wrong is someone taking there faith and letting it override any common sense.

And as to schools declining because of removal of the bible from the public school system I think that is untrue. I think what has caused the declined is the increasing lack of a father or mother in a family. I also think it is being caused because parents have really stopped telling kids what is right and wrong in the appropriated manner. Not to mention the lack of funding many schools are afflicted with. Also if you think about it sense women are no longer typically becoming teachers you don't have some of the best minds teaching today's students! How do you fix this? By rising incentives for people to become teachers. I think that is all I will put into this discussion today.

Agreed.
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Now whoever first called it annular when it was gets the flashing lights and scrolling fame. :)
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Also to all those who say religion is a bad thing you have no idea what your talking about. I think the best quote you can possibly live by is "Take everything in moderation." This is the same with religion. Using religion as a moral compass is really quite healthy sense most religions outline good moral values. That being said take those morals you get from your religion and apply common sense.

To be honest I think religion and science can and will coexist. What in science disproves religion totally? What in religion disproves science totally? Really they can coexist and they should. I am not religious myself but I don't think being religious is wrong. What is wrong is someone taking there faith and letting it override any common sense.

And as to schools declining because of removal of the bible from the public school system I think that is untrue. I think what has caused the declined is the increasing lack of a father or mother in a family. I also think it is being caused because parents have really stopped telling there kids what is right and wrong in the appropriated manner. Not to mention the lack of funding many schools are afflicted with. Also if you think about it sense women are no longer typically becoming teachers you don't have some of the best minds teaching today's students! How do you fix this? By rising incentives for people to become teachers. I think that is all I will put into this discussion today.
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1201. bappit
.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
While everyone's still debating, I did a blog.
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1199. Grothar
Quoting WxGeekVA:


We're sneaking into a park late at night to stargaze on a blanket.

Take it as you wish.


Are you driving your impromptu or the Toyota?
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 69 Comments: 25321
I'm trying really hard not to laugh wxchaser97. Need special flashing lights here to light up every time a statement comes to fruition and a scroll at the bottom to show who said it first. Major weather street cred.
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Quoting bappit:

Looks like spiral bands to me. Not annular.

Emilia is annular. It's been mentioned in the Nhc discussion.
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1196. nigel20
Eastern Pacific total ACE (Accumulated Cyclone Energy): 39.3
2012 Pacific hurricane season
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Quoting bappit:

Looks like spiral bands to me. Not annular.
Sarcasm: on and I know, this was a reply to a comment a while ago. I see that it is sprial banding, I just felt like posting that.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
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1193. nigel20
98E
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1192. bappit
Quoting wxchaser97:
*beep* *beep* *beep*
Red Alert...annular alert... immediate brodcast requested. An annular hurricane is deteced by WU and is predicted to hit no one right now. This is a life threatning situation and anyone in her way needs to get out of there. In a few days she will weaken to nothin. ...This is an annular hurricane alert...
*beep* *beep* *beep*

Looks like spiral bands to me. Not annular.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
Quoting WxGeekVA:


Now with all the hype and false calls on it this year...
THIS IS ACTUALLY AN ANNULAR HURRICANE
*beep* *beep* *beep*
Red Alert...annular alert... immediate brodcast requested. An annular hurricane is deteced by WU and is predicted to hit no one right now. This is a life threatning situation and anyone in her way needs to get out of there. In a few days she will weaken to nothin. ...This is an annular hurricane alert...
*beep* *beep* *beep* NOT OFFICAL
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
1190. bappit
Quoting goosegirl1:



My (informal) religious affiliation does't claim a holy book and has no bearing anyway, but... truth is relative. Facts are forever. Any religious person (from the abrahamic doctrines you mentioned) will be able to verify any statement they have made asTruth, but no facts can be presented. All is entrusted to faith, and it is hard to quantify that.

What about truthiness?
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
I'm going to do a three part case for creation blog starting tomorrow. Will be as scientific and precise as possible. Koritheman stated earlier we aren't all born with the sense of a Creator. Every civilization, even the most remote; with no other outside connections has a belief in a "God" or Creator. Beauty, love, and so many, many miracles throughout time insist in a Creator in my belief. I will only comment on this in my blog from this point forward because it's very explosive. For this much of a back and forth though, on THIS subject, it's been very respectful. Thank you all for not being more cutting and sarcastic. I know it wasn't easy. I really do appreciate it though, because I enjoy this blog and agree with the vast majority of consensus in here.
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Quoting nigel20:


Very dangerous if the NAO continues in negative phase, we are going enter to august

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1187. bappit
Quoting hydrus:
This model shows the moisture surge for the S.E.U.S......Link

I liked the other plots better. The IR brightness (coldest temps) of water vapor is highest where there are high clouds or moisture in the upper atmosphere. That's why it is good for seeing short waves and such. I prefer total precipitable water for the monsoon picture.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5941
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

And we know how that's going to go.😃


We're sneaking into a park late at night to stargaze on a blanket.

Take it as you wish.
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Quoting BobWallace:
I have a question...

Someone, who is not important, stated "Since we evolved from apes".

Now is it likely that there is anyone in America who has not been told that the theory of evolution does not, in any way or fashion, state that man evolved from apes?

Is it possible that the 'common ancestor' link is not pretty much universal?

OK, I fess. I had more than one question....

If you are a religious, Abrahamic-holy book person would you not be bound to the commandment to not bear false witness? Wouldn't that mean that you are forbidden to make statements which you know are not true?




My (informal) religious affiliation does't claim a holy book and has no bearing anyway, but... truth is relative. Facts are forever. Any religious person (from the abrahamic doctrines you mentioned) will be able to verify any statement they have made asTruth, but no facts can be presented. All is entrusted to faith, and it is hard to quantify that.
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Quoting breeezee:
The huge ULL east of florida looks impressive for what it is.Looks like it has some convection with it

That ULL is enhancing the eastern outflow over the disturbance headed into the east GOM...that is why the east GOM is something to watch in the next 24 hours....
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Now I'm going to sleep, I'm out.
UW - CIMSS
ADVANCED DVORAK TECHNIQUE
ADT-Version 8.1.3
Tropical Cyclone Intensity Algorithm

----- Current Analysis -----
Date : 12 JUL 2012 Time : 030000 UTC
Lat : 14:56:59 N Lon : 119:09:06 W


CI# /Pressure/ Vmax
6.1 / 946.8mb/117.4kt


Final T# Adj T# Raw T#
5.8 5.5 5.5

Estimated radius of max. wind based on IR : 27 km

Center Temp : -0.6C Cloud Region Temp : -61.3C

Scene Type : EYE

Positioning Method : RING/SPIRAL COMBINATION

Ocean Basin : EAST PACIFIC
Dvorak CI > MSLP Conversion Used : PACIFIC

Tno/CI Rules : Constraint Limits : NO LIMIT
Weakening Flag : ON
Rapid Dissipation Flag : FLAG

Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7927
Quoting BobWallace:
I have a question...

Wouldn't that mean that you are forbidden to make statements which you know are not true?

I think that is the problem. Who says they know its not true?
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1181. hydrus
Emilia
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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.

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