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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1181. hydrus
Emilia
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Good nite everyone.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7972
Quoting Grothar:


And what do you think of my earlier analysis that 98E might be a threat to Baja California and possibly the US Southwest? See, everybody reads my jokes, but nobody comments on my astute weather reports. It hurts guys.


I bow to Guru Grothar!!
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
I'm out to!


HAHA! I think you mean too. Not being mean, just poking fun. :)
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
Anyway, I'm off for the night! I gotta rest, I have a date tomorrow with my girlfriend -___-

And we know how that's going to go.😃
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32855
1175. hydrus
Emilia.
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G'nite y'all. I love the south. And severe weather. And this blog.
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
But wxgeekva, you don't have a clue to say it's much better today. I have witnessed the decline.

Hell, all you have to do is compare television shows of old with the trash you see today,


That's what I'm trying to say... Television/news loves a good School bully/gang/drug story and that's all you hear. All the schools in my area are great schools and have higher than country averages.
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
But wxgeekva, you don't have a clue to say it's much better today. I have witnessed the decline.

Hell, all you have to do is compare television shows of old with the trash you see today,


I wish I was old enough to see the great old shows. Seriously. The best thing I watch is watching those pickers on the history channel picking old stuff. I don't even know what I am talking about.
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I'm out to!
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BTW, we ended up with nearly 4 inches of rain today, and the airport about a mile from me recorded more than 4 inches. All from just one line of thunderstorms. When we get severe thunderstorm warnings around Tampa Bay, as I always have said, expect 2 to 4 inches of rain, unless they are moving super fast.

Link
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Grother may be the only one on the blog older than me! You know you are getting old when you look around and see you are the oldest person in the Room more than not!!
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The huge ULL east of florida looks impressive for what it is.Looks like it has some convection with it
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Quoting ScottLincoln:


No one is "backing" climate change, are they?


Really? I think you know exactly what I meant. Common that's just a low blow man.
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But wxgeekva, you don't have a clue to say it's much better today. I have witnessed the decline.

Hell, all you have to do is compare television shows of old with the trash you see today,
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Good grief. Nevermind...
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


I'm a senior in high school right now and I don't see anything bad in school or anything that suggests a problem in the education system. In fact, my dad says that from what homework I bring home school is harder and stricter than it was when he was in school.


What! Are you familiar with AP Physics? My school teaches it at junior/senior level but my mother wants it at freshman to do any good. Plus whenever I need help, I turn to my parents. Although it is unfair that they both did math-based majors in college.

Math hasn't changed in a long while. Newton invented calculus. Unless the "standards" are different where you lived and when/where your father grew up.

The problem with the education system where I live is that it is controlled by politicians and not people who are scientists/or know what is right for their child.

I don't see anything bad in school because they call my school a magnet-a school for smart, well-behaved kids where the kids are challenged by the best teachers in the area. However, I know other schools are bad, poor teaching, poor parenting (drugs,gangs) and so people who don't get into schools like mine apply for private schools or leave the county.

WxGeekVa, I don't mean to insult your dad or anything, but that is what I've seen/heard in my area of the country.
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Anyway, I'm off for the night! I gotta rest, I have a date tomorrow with my girlfriend -___-
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
I might try to find one. I don't remember where I saw it, its been a while. I do remember one thing that stood out; of the 20 or so questions (it was a final exam), there wasn't one true or false question, not one multiple choice question and not one yes or no question.

Every question was explain in great detail, etc.


None of my Physics, Math, English, Biology, or Chemistry exams were like that.... actually there was only one exam that i ever had like that which was art. But I mean it's only art. :)
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Quoting bluesydeacon:

1056. WxGeekVA 2:33 AM GMT on July 12, 2012 +10
Quoting AllBoardedUp:
I think I might be catching on now. This evolution thing is starting to make sense to me now. Since we evolved from apes I believe everything is coming around full circle now.

Ever since we took the Bible out of our public school systems and a lot of people began moving toward a more secular society, and we began putting all of our faith in the "state", we have begun to EVOLVE into a lawless society where child pornography, "Colombine type" massacres, out of control society, etc. etc, is now the norm. Yes indeed, ever since we began to shy away from the Church, we have truly begun acting like a bunch of primates.

Yes, I'm starting to believe in this evolution thing after all!


1. 99.9999 percent of people are against child pornography, and it is still illegal and completely wrong.

2. There has only been like one instance since Columbine of anything along those lines happening, so that isn't the "norm"

3. Out of control society? I'm pretty sure this isn't anarchy right now. Sure, things have changed and we are more liberal as a nation, but out of control? Hardly.

4. I don't see myself running around dirty, eating bananas, chucking my feces at people, and having no language skills or any other traits that are unique to humans. Nor do I see anyone else on the streets doing those things.

So therefore, your statement is invalid and unreasonable and based on no facts whatsoever. Please try again with something that actually makes sense.








I just had to jump in here. Why do you feel the need to defend modern society so aggressively? The original comment does have some merritt to it. Modern society is completely split on anything and everything that matters. I'm not a religious man. Yet there seems to at least been some order back in the day when people cared and had common spied systems. Today its everyone for themselves. It truly is. You can do what you want and think what you want. In fact they tell us to be as individualistic as we possibly can. We live in a time when the president of the USA has the power and authority to kill anyone he wants and then brag about it. We live in a time when the single greatest achievement in mankinds technological evolution(the Internet) is used to primarily allow people to be voyeuristic. Every man woman and child is slowly but surely being segregated into their own little corner. The information super highway was a bust. All of our media is intended to distract us. We raise our children now to be superficial and lazy. The western world has become a plague and people become more accepting of it as time goes on. Our society is not ok people. Not even close.


Yes, modern society has problems. But as a whole, the world was a lot worse off even as recently as 100 years ago. I agree, the media is a distraction, I rarely watch TV anymore. Yes, people are selfish. But that's just human nature, it's just being expressed in a different way now. And honestly, segregation ended mainly 50 years ago, and now everyone is treated much more equally now than they were then. Yes, there is still discrimination, but mostly by those same intolerant people (Westboro Baptist Church, anyone?)I just say that society still has issues but it is better than it was.
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Grother, that was too funny.
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1158. scott39
Dont expect too many long track Cape Verde TCs this season. Most will be "home brewed" and short on time to prepare. Keep your eye on the Eastern GOM...could be something there soon.
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
Thanks I will keep an eye on that being on the North Central Gulf Coast.

Glad you are convinced...no 100% guarentee that it will develop...but it shouldn't be turned a blind eye. Subtle systems like these can spin up rapidly in a favorable upper wind config like we have tonight...such as Claudette in 2009...then folks are left thinking "this came from nowhere"....
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This July has been the most Normal for my area in a long time. July has had T-storms and good rain fall All I have to do is watch how fast my grass grows!!Temp have been right on the norm.We will take it just hope we don't get a Major H in Aug. or Sept.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


I said more difficult... it's a 30 year gap too. And please, I would like to see proof of this 1890s middle school test! It would be the first actual piece of evidence anyone had to contradict me with today!
I might try to find one. I don't remember where I saw it, its been a while. I do remember one thing that stood out; of the 20 or so questions (it was a final exam), there wasn't one true or false question, not one multiple choice question and not one yes or no question.

Every question was explain in great detail, etc.
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1154. hydrus
Quoting Bluestorm5:
*groan* I feel like drowning already with all of rain North Carolina had gotten this week...
We are burnt and dry..We need rain bad, but I have a feeling that it will fall to quickly and cause problems around here..
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1153. nigel20
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1150. Grothar
Quoting WxGeekVA:


I said more difficult... it's a 30 year gap too. And please, I would like to see proof of this 1890s middle school test! It would be the first actual piece of evidence anyone had to contradict me with today!


I'll try and see if I can find an old one of mine somewhere.
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1148. hydrus
This model shows the moisture surge for the S.E.U.S......Link
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Quoting hydrus:
Big changes for the S.E...Flooding a real threat, even for areas affected by severe drought ...Now..48 hours84 hours, and moisture flow piling up in the S.E. from the Atlantic and gulf..
*groan* I feel like drowning already with all of rain North Carolina had gotten this week...
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
Here comes the Train!!

Wait a sec...isn't the train already here? We've seen some pretty good tropical waves roll off Africa already...but the dry SAL has been suppressing them in the Atlantic side. But then...we see them spring back to life in the E-Pac. Daniel...Emilia...and future Fabiio (Invest 98E) is a product of the train....which is already here...
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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7972
By the way, wxgeekva, how did you and your family fare during all those storms last week.
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Quoting AllBoardedUp:
Well, there you go, I have recent history on my side. If you think school work is more difficult than it was a hundred years ago (when compulsory school began to take place in the USA) then you are mistaken.

I wish I could find a copy of a test from an 8th grade graduation in a Kansas school from 1890. It was more difficult than some test I had in college.


I said more difficult... it's a 30 year gap too. And please, I would like to see proof of this 1890s middle school test! It would be the first actual piece of evidence anyone had to contradict me with today!
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


I'm a senior in high school right now and I don't see anything bad in school or anything that suggests a problem in the education system. In fact, my dad says that from what homework I bring home school is harder and stricter than it was when he was in school.


I agree. You just here a lot about the bad now-a-days and none about the good. I know there was not any problems with my school everyone was friendly and knew that they were there to learn. obviously there are a few people in each class that struggle but coming from a tight-knit community it was those people's home lives that were the issue. Mind you I've been out of high school for three years
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Quoting NCHurricane2009:

Be careful...I'd be cautious in discounting the system over Florida poised to move into the eastern GOM in next 24 hours. That's a system with a surface structure coming together and very favorable upper winds at the moment. Details in paragraph P7 of my new blog post...
Thanks I will keep an eye on that being on the North Central Gulf Coast.
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


I'm a senior in high school right now and I don't see anything bad in school or anything that suggests a problem in the education system. In fact, my dad says that from what homework I bring home school is harder and stricter than it was when he was in school.


But, if I may interject, any problems you do observe are directly related to the removal of the Bible from schools, right?

Sarcasm flag: Flag
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1139. nigel20
Quoting Patrap:

Manhattanhenge

Manhattanhenge's sunset show wows New Yorkers


Julio Cortez / AP
Photographers aim their cameras as the sun sets through the buildings on 42nd Street in Manhattan during a phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge on July 11, 2012. Manhattanhenge, sometimes known as the Manhattan Solstice, occurs when the setting sun aligns with east-to-west streets of the main street grid.

That's very nice, Patrap!
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Quoting wxchaser97:


Now with all the hype and false calls on it this year...
THIS IS ACTUALLY AN ANNULAR HURRICANE
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Quoting WxGeekVA:


I'm a senior in high school right now and I don't see anything bad in school or anything that suggests a problem in the education system. In fact, my dad says that from what homework I bring home school is harder and stricter than it was when he was in school.
Well, there you go, I have recent history on my side. If you think school work is more difficult than it was a hundred years ago (when compulsory school began to take place in the USA) then you are mistaken.

I wish I could find a copy of a test from an 8th grade graduation in a Kansas school from 1890. It was more difficult than some test I had in college.
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1135. Patrap

Manhattanhenge

Manhattanhenge's sunset show wows New Yorkers


Julio Cortez / AP
Photographers aim their cameras as the sun sets through the buildings on 42nd Street in Manhattan during a phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge on July 11, 2012. Manhattanhenge, sometimes known as the Manhattan Solstice, occurs when the setting sun aligns with east-to-west streets of the main street grid.
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Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7972
Quoting TomTaylor:
Well at least you are considerate, thanks for the bucket.
Dud you just need a few more years under your BELT!!!!!
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Quoting gulfbreeze:
Here comes the Train!!
Will any there be any rain on these trains? lol

We need it here in Texas, especially, in the central part of the state
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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.


I'm a senior in high school right now and I don't see anything bad in school or anything that suggests a problem in the education system. In fact, my dad says that from what homework I bring home school is harder and stricter than it was when he was in school.
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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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