Hurricane Sandy's huge size: freak of nature or climate change?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:10 PM GMT on November 13, 2012

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Hurricane Sandy was truly astounding in its size and power. At its peak size, twenty hours before landfall, Sandy had tropical storm-force winds that covered an area nearly one-fifth the area of the contiguous United States. Since detailed records of hurricane size began in 1988, only one tropical storm (Olga of 2001) has had a larger area of tropical storm-force winds, and no hurricanes has. Sandy's area of ocean with twelve-foot seas peaked at 1.4 million square miles--nearly one-half the area of the contiguous United States, or 1% of Earth's total ocean area. Most incredibly, ten hours before landfall (9:30 am EDT October 30), the total energy of Sandy's winds of tropical storm-force and higher peaked at 329 terajoules--the highest value for any Atlantic hurricane since at least 1969. This is 2.7 times higher than Katrina's peak energy, and is equivalent to five Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At landfall, Sandy's tropical storm-force winds spanned 943 miles of the the U.S. coast. No hurricane on record has been wider; the previous record holder was Hurricane Igor of 2010, which was 863 miles in diameter. Sandy's huge size prompted high wind warnings to be posted from Chicago to Eastern Maine, and from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Florida's Lake Okeechobee--an area home to 120 million people. Sandy's winds simultaneously caused damage to buildings on the shores of Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and toppled power lines in Nova Scotia, Canada--locations 1200 miles apart!

Largest Atlantic tropical cyclones for area covered by tropical storm-force winds:

Olga, 2001: 780,000 square miles
Sandy, 2012: 560,000 square miles
Lili, 1996: 550,000 square miles
Igor, 2010: 550,000 square miles
Karl, 2004: 430,000 square miles



Figure 1. Hurricane Sandy’s winds (top), on October 28, 2012, when Sandy was a Category 1 hurricane with top winds of 75 mph (this ocean surface wind data is from a radar scatterometer on the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Oceansat-2.) Hurricane Katrina’s winds (bottom) on August 28, 2005, when Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane with top winds of 175 mph (data taken by a radar scatterometer on NASA’s defunct QuickSCAT satellite.) In both maps, wind speeds above 65 kilometers (40 miles) per hour are yellow; above 80 kph (50 mph) are orange; and above 95 kph (60 mph) are dark red. The most noticeable difference is the extent of the strong wind fields. For Katrina, winds over 65 kilometers per hour stretched about 500 kilometers (300 miles) from edge to edge. For Sandy, winds of that intensity spanned an region of ocean three times as great--1,500 kilometers (900 miles). Katrina was able to generate a record-height storm surge over a small area of the Mississippi coast. Sandy generated a lower but highly destructive storm surge over a much larger area, due to the storm's weaker winds but much larger size. Image credit: NASA.

How did Sandy get so big?
We understand fairly well what controls the peak strength of a hurricane's winds, but have a poor understanding of why some hurricanes get large and others stay small. A number of factors probably worked together to create a "prefect storm" situation that allowed Sandy to grow so large, and we also must acknowledge that climate change could have played a role. Here are some possible reasons why Sandy grew so large:

1) Initial size of the disturbance that became Sandy was large
Sandy formed from an African tropical wave that interacted with a large area of low pressure that covered most of the Central Caribbean. Rotunno and Emanuel (1987) found that hurricanes that form from large initial tropical disturbances like Sandy did tend to end up large in size.


Figure 2. The initial disturbance that spawned Sandy, seen here on October 20, 2012, was quite large.

2) High relative humidity in Sandy's genesis region
The amount of moisture in the atmosphere may play an important role in how large a hurricane gets (Hill and Lackmann, 2009.) Sandy was spawned in the Caribbean in a region where the relative humidity was near 70%. This is the highest humidity we saw during 2012 during the formation of any Atlantic hurricane.

3) Passage over Cuba
Sandy struck Cuba as an intensifying Category 2 hurricane with 110 mph winds. While the core of the storm was over Cuba, it was cut off from the warm ocean waters surrounding Cuba. Most of Sandy's large circulation was still over the ocean, though, and the energy the storm was able to extract from the ocean went into intensifying the spiral bands over water. When Sandy's core re-emerged over water, the hurricane now had spiral bands with heavier thunderstorm activity as a result of the extra energy pumped into the outer portion of the storm during the eye's passage over land. This extra energy in the outer portions of Sandy may have enabled it to expand in size later.

4) Interaction with a trough of low pressure over the Bahamas
As Sandy passed through the Bahamas on October 25, the storm encountered strong upper-level winds associated with a trough of low pressure to the west. These winds created high wind shear that helped weaken Sandy and destroy the eyewall. However, Sandy compensated by spreading out its tropical storm-force winds over a much wider area. Between 15 and 21 UTC on October 25, Sandy's area of tropical storm-force winds increased by more than a factor of two.

5) Leveraging of the Earth's spin
As storms move towards Earth's poles, they acquire more spin, since Earth's rotation works to put more vertical spin into the atmosphere the closer one gets to the pole. This extra spin helps storms grow larger, and we commonly see hurricanes grow in size as they move northwards.

6) Interaction with a trough of low pressure at landfall
As Sandy approached landfall in New Jersey, it encountered an extratropical low pressure system to its west. This extratropical storm began pumping cold air aloft into the hurricane, which converted Sandy into an extratropical low pressure system, or "Nor'easter". The nature of extratropical storms is to have a much larger area with strong winds than a hurricane does, since extratropical storms derive their energy from the atmosphere along a frontal boundary that is typically many hundreds of miles long. Thus, as Sandy made landfall, the hurricane's strongest winds spread out over a larger area, causing damage from Indiana to Nova Scotia.

Are we likely to see more such storms in the future?
Global warming theory (Emanuel, 2005) predicts that a 2°C (3.6°F) increase in ocean temperatures should cause an increase in the peak winds of the strongest hurricanes of about about 10%. Furthermore, warmer ocean temperatures are expected to cause hurricanes to dump 20% more rain in their cores by the year 2100, according to computer modeling studies (Knutson et al., 2010). However, there has been no published work describing how hurricane size may change with warmer oceans in a future climate. We've seen an unusual number of Atlantic hurricanes with large size in recent years, but we currently have no theoretical or computer modeling simulations that can explain why this is so, or if we might see more storms like this in the future. However, we've seen significant and unprecedented changes to our atmosphere in recent decades, due to our emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide. The laws of physics demand that the atmosphere must respond. Atmospheric circulation patterns that control extreme weather events must change, and we should expect extreme storms to change in character, frequency, and intensity as a result--and not always in the ways our computer models may predict. We have pushed our climate system to a fundamentally new, higher-energy state where more heat and moisture is available to power stronger storms, and we should be concerned about the possibility that Hurricane Sandy's freak size and power were partially due to human-caused climate change.

References
Emanuel, K. (2005). Increasing destructiveness of tropical cyclones over the past 30 years. Nature, 436(7051), 686-688.

Hill, Kevin A., and Gary M. Lackmann (2009), "Influence of environmental humidity on tropical cyclone size," Monthly Weather Review 137.10 (2009): 3294-3315.

Knutson, T. R., McBride, J. L., Chan, J., Emanuel, K., Holland, G., Landsea, C., ... & Sugi, M. (2010). Tropical cyclones and climate change. Nature Geoscience, 3(3), 157-163.

Rotunno, R., & Emanuel, K. A. (1987). An air–sea interaction theory for tropical cyclones. Part II: Evolutionary study using a nonhydrostatic axisymmetric numerical model. J. Atmos. Sci, 44(3), 542-561.

The Atlantic is quiet, but a Nor'easter expected next week
The Atlantic is quiet, with no threat areas to discuss. An area of low pressure is predicted to develop just north of Bermuda on Wednesday, and the GFS model predicts that this low could become a subtropical cyclone as moves north-northeastwards out to sea late in the week.

The long-range models are in increasing agreement that a Nor'easter will develop near the North Carolina coast on Sunday, then move north to northeastwards early next week. High winds, heavy rain, and coastal flooding could affect the mid-Atlantic coast and New England coasts next Monday and Tuesday due to this storm, but it appears likely that the Nor'easter will stay farther out to sea than the last Nor'easter and have less of an impact on the region devastated by Sandy. Ocean temperatures off the coast of North Carolina were cooled by about 4°F (2.2°C) due to the churning action of Hurricane Sandy's winds, but are still warm enough at 22 - 24°C to potentially allow the Nor'easter to acquire some subtropical characteristics. I doubt the storm would be able to become a named subtropical storm, but it could have an unusual amount of heavy rain if it does become partially tropical. The Nor'easter is still a long ways in the future, and there is still a lot of uncertainty on where the storm might go.

Jeff Masters

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All I know is that it is getting hotter on average as far back as human records go. With it getting hotter things are happening and not neccessarily things that are compatible with our lifestyle today. Let's say we are not the sole creators of the extra heat - fine - we still need to prepare and try our part to do something about it. Personally, I believe that we are partially responsible for it and that the Earth does go through natural warming and cooling periods.

Kind of like responding to a lightning caused forrest fire and throwing gasoline on it.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
"And the primary cause of that direct physical alteration is too much human activity, caused by too many humans. You can't avoid it... we are to blame for it. I already made my point about how there came to be too many humans."

I am not disagreeing about human activity being the cause of the habititat destruction.


My post that you responded to was a retort to the claim that warming was causing the recent extinction.


Human physical alteration of the environment is the leading cause. Carbon release is a side-effect of that. Not the primary cause.



And my point- for the last time, I know you are tired of reading this, all of you- humans were able to overpopulate because of use of fossil fuels for energy. Use of fossil fuels for energy is what is driving climate change. I am not arguing the point that warming did or did not cause extinctions, although it is part of the picture. I wanted to make the point of what IS driving the extinctions... humans using fossil fuels.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
Quoting AGWcreationists:
"That is indeed how science works. And climate scientists have made that very case. Thousands of times. People are certainly free to ignore that science; that is, after all, the very hallmark of denialism, so it's expected. But to repeatedly demand that climate scientists produce further evidence that the planet is warming from CO2 when you have chosen to ignore virtually everything they've already produced is just anti-scientific nonsense. Furthermore, those who choose to engage in such antics certainly do not deserve a seat at the grownup's table..."And there is a considerable body of evidence that contradicts the so-called settled science of AGW. The approach of AGW theory proponents is to pretend that no such dissent exists, that such dissent has ulterior motives, to try and prevent peer review and publication of those theories, and to call AGW skeptics names such as deniers, as you did here. You exemplify everything that is wrong with AGW theory proponents.


OK, let me posit:

How, exactly, is it that you propose that we're essentially going to pump out all of the stored carbon from a bunch of dead organisms from way back during some of the hottest climates on earth, and we're going to put it back in the atmosphere while simultaneously doing tons of deforestation, and we're going to do that in a very small time span as far as the earth is concerned, and it's going to just be a wee little nothing in terms of effects?

You realize that we're bringing the carbon cycle back to where it was when those dead things we're burning got super buried, right? I mean, ecologically, that's what we're doing -- we're taking dead stuff from the Mesozoic, which was relatively hot, that got caught up and stored in specific ways that had them locked up on huge time scales, and we're bringing those stored elements back to the functional biosphere at a bazillion times the rate at which they were originally removed.

How does that not lead to huge change?

(The degree of change we're looking at _is_ still a debatable point, as are many of the specifics -- but given that we're seeing effects now that models suggested shouldn't be coming for another several decades or more, I think it might be wise to err on the side of "crap, that could suck." Because you can't take it back, once you find out it's worse than you thought.)
Member Since: August 26, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 368
Satellite images of the eclipse.





Still visable on the MTSAT Visible Loop
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Quoting SherwoodSpirit:


I love your turn of phrase. You make me grin. :)

I resent the "fly-covered" part.

Edit: Flies do have integrity.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting Neapolitan:
fly-covered mound of discarded, discredited, and/or debunked counter-theories...


I love your turn of phrase. You make me grin. :)
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"those who, for mostly ideological reasons, refuse to accept the vast and overwhelming science in support of climate change theory."

As opposed to the underlying ideology of most AGW theory proponents?

This is why the AGW debate ends up being futile. The back and forth of normal discussion ends up being two sides yelling in each other's ears with megaphones.

Even though climate change is a topic of this thread, it seems some (not you) find the discussion distracting. Later. No minds will be changed here.
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Quoting MacLorry:


Soon the government will be taxing us for the climate, yet prove powerless to control it. Have a nice day and by the way, that's $1.99 climate tax per person in your family.

So you want to believe all that HAARP stuff? Though I have no idea where you get the numbers--you realize that's less than a Happy Meal?



Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting AGWcreationists:


Really.

No increase in solar activity.



*facepalm*

The chart you posted does not cover the Medieval Warm Period (roughly 950 - 1250 AD).
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
""Climate scientists now understand that the Medieval Warm Period was caused by an increase in solar radiation and a decrease in volcanic activity, which both promote warming. Other evidence suggests ocean circulation patterns shifted to bring warmer seawater into the North Atlantic. As we’ll see in the next section, those kinds of natural changes have not been detected in the past few decades."

Really.

No increase in solar activity.


Medieval Period:-
"Most scholars associate the beginning of the period with the collapse of the Roman empire, which began in 410 AD. Scholars similarly disagree about when the period ends, whether they place the end at the start of the 15th century."
Posting a graph which starts at 1600AD is not really representative of the medieval period. The records from this period are at best a trifle thin on the ground. Accurate measurement of sun radiation and other natural events was somewhat limited as the learned Europeans had not yet grasped that the world was a sphere which they could sail round.
Speculation about odd brief warm and cold periods is probably pointless as they were natural events and we are making an UN-natural event.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
And there is a considerable body of evidence that contradicts the so-called settled science of AGW.
An untruth, no matter how many times or how loudly it's repeated, remains an untruth. And that, my friend, is an untruth. The fact is, there exists no "considerable body" of dissenting evidence against AGW. There is only a dwindling, fly-covered mound of discarded, discredited, and/or debunked counter-theories offered over and over again by those who, for mostly ideological reasons, refuse to accept the vast and overwhelming science in support of climate change theory.

I think you know that...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13304
Well, someone said something to the effect of being able to sit at the adult table, I read through the comments and didn't find the adult table you speak of. Here is a link to chew on.

http://www.zengardner.com/chemtrails-cover-up-and -human-experiments/
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Quoting StormPro:



Exactely what you are doing...glad you finally admitted it :)


another point is that people who can't rely on facts tend to accuse their opponents of using the same underhanded tactics they're using.
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Quoting Naga5000:


I said this way back in post 137. "To put this is very simple scientific terms. The null hypothesis of climate change would be "There is no change in observed atmospheric effects with increased Co2 levels". We can clearly see there is an observed change in atmospheric effects from Co2 that can't be related to any other natural phenomenon we are aware of at the moment. Increased warming over land and oceans and increased water vapor levels, therefore, we can reject the null hypothesis." We have statistically significant evidence.


The warming and water vapor you cite correlate more closely to the total radio energy being emitted by humans than to CO2. Let's turn off all the cell phones and wireless communications and go to using fiber optic cable. Let me know first so I can invest in fiber optic suppliers.

When we get cold weather like in Europe last winter we don't hear too much about it and if we do it's said that short term events can't prove or disprove climate change. When there's an unusual hurricane it's put forward as evidence of global warming, heck, some are even claiming global warming is the cause of seismic events.

Did you know that with the abundance of natural gas the U.S. is on the path to reducing CO2 emissions to levels below those proposed by any climate change treaty, and all without cap and trade legislation. If we are serious about reducing CO2 emissions then government will clear the way for further development of natural gas. If it's about certain groups profiting from cap and trade or about environmentalists shutting down energy, and thus, industrial development then we'll see roadblocks put up against natural gas. Guess what, the EPA is doing a new study on fracking because the ones that were done before didn't come to the right conclusion, well at least not the conclusion the EPA wants.

Soon the government will be taxing us for the climate, yet prove powerless to control it. Have a nice day and by the way, that's $1.99 climate tax per person in your family.
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It looks like the low pressure system in the East Atlantic has some convection much closer to the center than just 24 hours ago.
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Quoting bappit:
We're going to have to start flagging you with penalties from Schopenhauer's list of insufferable fallacious arguments.


Ah, finally a name I recognize.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 64 Comments: 23749
""Climate scientists now understand that the Medieval Warm Period was caused by an increase in solar radiation and a decrease in volcanic activity, which both promote warming. Other evidence suggests ocean circulation patterns shifted to bring warmer seawater into the North Atlantic. As we’ll see in the next section, those kinds of natural changes have not been detected in the past few decades."

Really.

No increase in solar activity.

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Quoting Bielle:


Flag who?

Punishment for the innocent, praise for the uninvolved.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting PlazaRed:
267. goosegirl1 Quotind a sentence:-
"Loss of habitat is directly attributable to human activity, no way around it. Our addiction to oil is hurting more that just us humans."

Take for an example the USA!
Ask yourself as a thinking person, (otherwise you probably would not be on this blog). How do you feed 300million + people every day, when only a small proportion of them live near a food source other than a supermarket?
All that food, additives, seasonings, preservatives, packaging etc. Has to be brought in from somewhere.
If the tens of millions of city dwellers had to live on what they can produce in a city then very soon there would only be a few of them left.
Life can only survive in cities because of food transport and most of it uses fossil fuels.
Cut out the fossil fuels? You Cut out the people!

A nonsequitur, even if it is true, is sort of like a block in the back during the return though I think talking about oil and geese is like offsides on the kickoff. Offsetting penalties.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Quoting AGWcreationists:
"We can clearly see there is an observed change in atmospheric effects from Co2 that can't be related to any other natural phenomenon we are aware of at the moment."

So, then, how did the Medival Warm Period happen without all this human-caused carbon dioxide?


Have you honestly been unable to find any information about the cause of the Medieval Warm Period? I can't help but feel like I'm feeding a troll here, but for people reading along you are genuinely curious, I spent about two minutes searching google and found this article by Marc Airhart at the University of Texas at Austin:

"Climate scientists now understand that the Medieval Warm Period was caused by an increase in solar radiation and a decrease in volcanic activity, which both promote warming. Other evidence suggests ocean circulation patterns shifted to bring warmer seawater into the North Atlantic. As we’ll see in the next section, those kinds of natural changes have not been detected in the past few decades."
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Quoting bappit:
We're going to have to start flagging you with penalties from Schopenhauer's list of insufferable fallacious arguments.


Flag who?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
267. goosegirl1 Quotind a sentence:-
"Loss of habitat is directly attributable to human activity, no way around it. Our addiction to oil is hurting more that just us humans."

Take for an example the USA!
Ask yourself as a thinking person, (otherwise you probably would not be on this blog). How do you feed 300million + people every day, when only a small proportion of them live near a food source other than a supermarket?
All that food, additives, seasonings, preservatives, packaging etc. Has to be brought in from somewhere.
If the tens of millions of city dwellers had to live on what they can produce in a city then very soon there would only be a few of them left.
Life can only survive in cities because of food transport and most of it uses fossil fuels.
Cut out the fossil fuels? You Cut out the people!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
We're going to have to start flagging you with penalties from Schopenhauer's list of insufferable fallacious arguments.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
"That is indeed how science works. And climate scientists have made that very case. Thousands of times. People are certainly free to ignore that science; that is, after all, the very hallmark of denialism, so it's expected. But to repeatedly demand that climate scientists produce further evidence that the planet is warming from CO2 when you have chosen to ignore virtually everything they've already produced is just anti-scientific nonsense. Furthermore, those who choose to engage in such antics certainly do not deserve a seat at the grownup's table..."And there is a considerable body of evidence that contradicts the so-called settled science of AGW. The approach of AGW theory proponents is to pretend that no such dissent exists, that such dissent has ulterior motives, to try and prevent peer review and publication of those theories, and to call AGW skeptics names such as deniers, as you did here. You exemplify everything that is wrong with AGW theory proponents.
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Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
Gilma,Hector and John are TCR are out.
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"We can clearly see there is an observed change in atmospheric effects from Co2 that can't be related to any other natural phenomenon we are aware of at the moment."

So, then, how did the Medival Warm Period happen without all this human-caused carbon dioxide?

The warming we have seen since 1850 happened after the Little Ice Age.

These are documented climatological events in recorded human history.

So since there has been natural variability in the past, it is not therefore sufficient scientific evidence to declare that the warming we have seen since 1850 is proof of AGW.
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Quoting bappit:

Is this the snow geese blog? I must have typed the wrong URL.


Why yes, looks like it today. This will help:Link
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
"And the primary cause of that direct physical alteration is too much human activity, caused by too many humans. You can't avoid it... we are to blame for it. I already made my point about how there came to be too many humans."

I am not disagreeing about human activity being the cause of the habititat destruction.


My post that you responded to was a retort to the claim that warming was causing the recent extinction.


Human physical alteration of the environment is the leading cause. Carbon release is a side-effect of that. Not the primary cause.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
It is up to the AGW theory proponents to make their case. That is how science works.
That is indeed how science works. And climate scientists have made that very case. Thousands of times. People are certainly free to ignore that science; that is, after all, the very hallmark of denialism, so it's expected. But to repeatedly demand that climate scientists produce further evidence that the planet is warming from CO2 when you have chosen to ignore virtually everything they've already produced is just anti-scientific nonsense. Furthermore, those who choose to engage in such antics certainly do not deserve a seat at the grownup's table...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13304
Quoting Minnemike:
oh, and here i thought we were operating on the shared basis of ignoring tact by your handle alone, "AGWcreationists"
whatever subset of misdirection suits you :)


Indeed, calls for civility and accusations of bias from someone using a handle clearly designed to denigrate people who trust what the overwhelming majority of climate experts are telling us pushes past irony and runs head-on into hypocrisy.

In any case, here's what global temperature anomalies look like from 2009 to present (using 1950 - 1980 as a baseline. If you don't like this baseline date range please give me another one and I'll post a revised map).



Source: Goddard Institute for Space Studies
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
"This is a nice way of avoiding any effort to prove your own point. I waste a lot of hot air doing, myself."

So then to satisfy you, I would have to prove a negative - that AGW is not happening.

It's basic common sense that you cannot prove a negative.

It is up to the AGW theory proponents to make their case. That is how science works.

And I will admit my own personal scientific bias towards natural causes when there are parallels for specific situations in the paleoclimatic record.

And when I read of the antics of too many in the AGW theory proponent community, it does nothing to sway my opinion. Good science works out in the open, with replicatable results. And the same rules for both sides of the debate.


I said this way back in post 137. "To put this is very simple scientific terms. The null hypothesis of climate change would be "There is no change in observed atmospheric effects with increased Co2 levels". We can clearly see there is an observed change in atmospheric effects from Co2 that can't be related to any other natural phenomenon we are aware of at the moment. Increased warming over land and oceans and increased water vapor levels, therefore, we can reject the null hypothesis." We have statistically significant evidence.
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"Wonder if the geese feel the same way about us?"

I imagine the Canadian Geese are eternally grateful for the year-round salad bar of mown grass that we put out for them.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
With all due respect, carbon release is a side effect of habitat loss, not a primary cause.

I am not disagreeing that loss of endemic species is significant. Just that the primary cause is the direct physical alteration of the landscape.


And the primary cause of that direct physical alteration is too much human activity, caused by too many humans. You can't avoid it... we are to blame for it. I already made my point about how there came to be too many humans.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
Quoting AGWcreationists:
I agree, a few million extra Snow Geese do not cancel out endemic species being lost in rain forests or other habitats. Although I do wish someone could do something about all the nasty Canadian geese around here. That is one species I would not mind seeing go through a marked population decline.

Is this the snow geese blog? I must have typed the wrong URL.
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
"This is a nice way of avoiding any effort to prove your own point. I waste a lot of hot air doing, myself."

So then to satisfy you, I would have to prove a negative - that AGW is not happening.

It's basic common sense that you cannot prove a negative.

It is up to the AGW theory proponents to make their case. That is how science works.

And I will admit my own personal scientific bias towards natural causes when there are parallels for specific situations in the paleoclimatic record.

And when I read of the antics of too many in the AGW theory proponent community, it does nothing to sway my opinion. Good science works out in the open, with replicatable results. And the same rules for both sides of the debate.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
"a proponent of AGW"

Proponent of AGW theories, then. Saying proponent is just shorthand. It's still a lot more civil than calling AGW skeptics deniers.

I follow both sides of the debate and measure them from my college background in Geology. I pay particular attention to study of past events, both within recorded human history and stretching back through Tertiary time. It is a way to ground theoretic modelling - if you can find paleoclimatic conditions that parallel those that the model is working towards, what were the conditions then? How does it compare?

Likewise with the history of severe hurricanes in the Northeast during Colonial times? The Atlantic and Gulf coasts were saturated with development during a cyclical lull in hurricane activity. Planners were warned by climatologists but allowed the rampant development anyway.

So to someone who is not aware of hurricane activity from the 1930s to the early 1960s, what we have seen over the last 17 years must seem like a dramatic uptick, until you look at what happened back earlier in this century - and back into colonial times.


Hurricanes and New York City
New York City is at risk for high winds, coastal flooding and rainfall related flooding.

During the past century, several hurricanes have brought hurricane force gusts.

During August 28, 2011, Irene tracked over the city as a tropical storm. The eye of
Hurricane Belle in 1976 passed through the eastern suburbs, and the western edge of
Hurricane Donna's eye in 1960 clipped the city.

Tropical systems occasionally generate double-digit rainfall.

The following are some of New York City's significant tropical cyclones:

1821 The Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane of September 3-4 tracked over New York City,
leaving long-lasting impressions. Based on a damage comparison to hurricanes of known
strength at this latitude, it was likely a Category 1, with sustained winds in the 74 to 95 mph
range and higher gusts. (Although wind related damage was widespread, the storm was not
catastrophic, contrary to myth.)

1882 Several times each century the metropolitan area experiences extensive hurricane
related flooding. During September 22-23, Central Park collected 10.62 inches of rain. Amounts
were even heavier in the western suburbs. The deluge fell on ground previously soaked by a
tropical system on September 11-12. (The 16.85 inches that fell in September makes it the
wettest month in city history.)

1893 This was an especially active year, as hurricanes repeatedly targeted the East Coast.
New York City received notable effects from three storms, with the strongest making landfall in
the metropolitan area on August 24. Minimal sustained hurricane force winds battered the area.
The ocean ravaged nearby beach resorts.

1903 On September 16, a tropical storm/borderline hurricane made landfall near Atlantic
City, New Jersey. Gale-force winds extended north to the New York City area. A more destructive
tropical system stalled and gradually dissipated south of Long Island during October. On October
9, a total of 8.01 inches of rain drenched Central Park. Rainfall on October 8-9 topped 10
inches throughout the metropolitan area.

1938 The geographic position of New York City reduces the likelihood of a direct hit by an
intense hurricane. Cooler ocean water and several hours with most of the storm's circulation
swirling over land before the center (eye) comes on shore saps the strength of the rare tropical
system that approaches from the sea. Nevertheless, powerful Category 3 hurricanes have made
landfall on Long Island, within 50 or 60 miles of downtown. The "Long Island Express" or "Great
New England Hurricane" of September 21 killed more than 600 people after striking eastern
Long Island. The barometer in Manhattan bottomed at a September record low of 28.72 inches.
Gusts of hurricane force caused various damage in the city, but losses were modest compared
to sections east of the storm center and from torrential rainfall in the highlands of eastern New
England.

1944 The "Great Atlantic Hurricane" tracked about 60 miles east of the city on September
14, making landfall very near the same location as the Great New England Hurricane of 1938.
High winds and heavy rain (more than 10 inches in some metropolitan locations from September
12-14) caused more damage in the city than the 1938 storm.

1954 Hurricane Hazel tracked about 150 miles west on October 15. Hazel brought a record
peak sustained wind of 99 mph and a gust of 113 mph to the Battery weather station on top the
Whitehall Building, 400 feet above street level. Winds at street level were about 30 to 40 mph
less. About an inch of rain fell in the metropolitan area.

1955 Hurricane Connie dropped 12.20 inches of rain on La Guardia Airport from August 11-
13 during a period of 38 hours. Hurricane Diane arrived on August 18-19, dropping 2 to 4
inches in the metropolitan area, but much higher amounts 50 to 100 miles west and north. Diane
caused one of New England's most destructive floods.

1960 Hurricane Donna struck Long Island as a Category 2 hurricane on September 12. An
elongated eye brushed eastern sections of the metropolitan area. Gusts in the city reached
hurricane force, and Donna caused a record tide. Rainfall in some places topped five inches.

1991 On August 19, Hurricane Bob struck Long Island, accompanied by 100 mph winds.
New York City, about 50 miles west of Bob's track, experienced several hours of gales. Bob is
the last hurricane to make landfall on Long Island.

1999 Hurricane Floyd brought a deluge on September 16, more than five inches of rain to
much of the New York metropolitan area. In northwestern New Jersey and southeastern New
York totals in some places topped ten inches, resulting in severe flooding.

2011 On August 28, Irene, downgraded to a tropical storm, tracked through the city.
Damage was less than expected. However, the storm caused large-scale power outages. It also
caused historic flooding in nearby sections of New Jersey and in upstate sections of eastern
New York and adjacent sections of New England.

2012 Hurricane Sandy blew in on October 29-30. Massive power outages, subway closure
and numerous other utility and transportation disruptions will long be remembered. Shore
locations in the city suffered massive surge damage. A wind-swept fire detroyed more than 100
homes in the Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point. Staten Island was hit hard by record surge.

I count 13 Hurricanes just for NYC alone.
NJ has had 20, VA has had 30, NC has had 21. Going back to 1667 there has been countless landfalls of hurricanes in the NE, yet, even though like in 1667 A severe storm tracked through the Chesapeake
region on September 6. A government report noted, "A mighty wind on (Sept. 6)
destroyed four-fifths of (our) tobacco and corn and blew down in two hours fifteen
thousand houses in Virginia and Maryland." Several separate accounts of the storm
describe the huge, almost universal, devastation. A benchmark storm for generations.
Yet people still rebuilt, and they will rebuild after Sandy until the next storm comes and they are whipped out again, and they will rebuild and so on and so forth. We humans are so habitual that even when we are close to running out of oil and are paying $100/litre for fuel we'll still run our cars. What needs to happen is change from the ground up. not wait for Govt to start the change.
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Quoting Grothar:


The good think about being neutral is you can hate both sides at the same time.

I was going to say you were a lover, not a fighter ...
Member Since: May 18, 2006 Posts: 10 Comments: 5563
With all due respect, carbon release is a side effect of habitat loss, not a primary cause.

I am not disagreeing that loss of endemic species is significant. Just that the primary cause is the direct physical alteration of the landscape.
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272. yoboi
Quoting goosegirl1:


I don't work in areas in which snow geese are endemic, although I have seen the odd one migrating through the mid-atlantic. Are you talking about the population explosion of Canada geese, which is related to an adaptable species taking advantage of increased habitat and resources? Not all species of animal are decreasing, of course.


no talking about snow geese the population is so large they are eating away the tundra where they migrate during the summer to breed....
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**I start from the position of a skeptic, as I cannot prove a negative**

This is a nice way of avoiding any effort to prove your own point. I waste a lot of hot air doing, myself.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
This is a wonderful site, I have been here for a number of years "BUT" I have found myself actually disliking at least one of the posters after all of these years. I feel bad that I have actually let a person I have never met affect me this way. I will continue to post when I feel I have something relevant to say. AND I guess I will become one of the many so-called "lurkers" . I can say I honestly I am appalled at myself for letting this person affect me that he has. I guess he is one of those people that I avoided in high school....I'm not sure but I honestly believe he is trying to cover up his actual persona by being a greater orator online........I do know who he is by name.I have had enough. I am sick of the degrading of the many ,many great posters that I admire, only to be degraded. I have had my say.. I may be gone, or maybe not... He knows who he is by my previous posts. Thank you JP "or not"
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
I agree, a few million extra Snow Geese do not cancel out endemic species being lost in rain forests or other habitats. Although I do wish someone could do something about all the nasty Canadian geese around here. That is one species I would not mind seeing go through a marked population decline.



Wonder if the geese feel the same way about us? There are awful lot of us humans out there nowadays :)
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
Regarding my handle, I have also debated creationists about evolution when they attempt to blend science into their theories (I am a firm believer in evolution, although I have questions about some of the specific proposed mechanisms). Basically, the underlying faith of creationism proponents allows them to overlook the fact that they are forcing what is in front of them to fit their underlying beliefs, often to the point of utter absurdity.

Similarly with AGW, I find a lot (not all) of the proponents start with an underlying belief that all this CO2 will cause massive, catastrophic warming. And that in turn drives an almost religious fervor to shoehorn facts to fit their theories, discard paleoclimatic comparisons, and shout down anyone who disagrees - to the point where a simple skeptic like myself is declared to be committing crimes against humanity. On this very thread.

I have my doubts on AGW. That is not driven by business or a desire to continue a high-carbon footprint lifestyle. I would put up my personal carbon footprint against most of the AGW theory propopoents on this thread.

I start from the position of a skeptic, as I cannot prove a negative - that AGW is not happening, therefore proponents of AGW have to make their case.

We have seen warming since the 1850s, but that is coming out of the Little Ice Age and that was after the Medival Warm Period. So is the warming we have seen part of a natural cycle, human triggered or both? If both, what is the mix?

Ice cover is low in the Arctic, but it has been estimated to have been gone totally in the summer in the Holocene. If ice loss in the Arctic happened in the past, how did that happen without AGW? Could what we are seeing this decade therefore be part of a natural cycle instead of being caused by AGW? I lean towards the natural cycle argument when there is historical precent.

Meanwhile, I see efforts among the AGW proponent community to shout down skeptics (kinda like Clovis First, including threatening the livelihoods of skeptics in the meteorological community), pretending paleoclimatic events didn't happen (such as with the Hockey Stick), and too much reliance on modelling which, if the model is created with an inherent bias, will produce misleading results. And from what I have seen with AGW theory proponents, that bias is often there.

I am willing to be convinced. But I see too much garbage in the AGW theory proponents methods.

Yeah, there is also garbage in the anti-AGW theory school.

But it is up to the AGW proponents to make their case. They need to drive out their own garbage producers. Instead, I see them too-often apologized for.

That is not the way to win the debate.
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Quoting AGWcreationists:
Hmm, let's see. Timbering and clearing for agricultural land are the biggies. Residential/commercial development a ways behind those. Mining behind that.


I would ask you to dig a little deeper, but this subject may be hashed over too much by the time I see the answer I'm leading you towards. May I get a great big "+" for that? :)

The major reason behind the decline in the number of animal species on earth is habitat loss. The major reason behind habitat loss is exploitation by humans. The major reason humans need to exploit habitat is... too many humans. Now, what is the major reason behind too many humans?

Did you guess use of fossil fuels? You would be correct, if you did. Food, heat, medical supplies, pesticides, fertilizers, heating, cooling, food packaging, on and on have allowed a lucky, clever, resourceful and adaptable primate to overtake all habitats on earth and use them for their own exploits, allowing them to proliferate across the planet. The use of these fossil fuels is releasing tons and tons of carbon into the atmosphere, driving... climate change.

Loss of habitat is directly attributable to human activity, no way around it. Our addiction to oil is hurting more that just us humans.
Member Since: December 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1189
Quoting AGWcreationists:
"a proponent of AGW"

Proponent of AGW theories, then. Saying proponent is just shorthand. It's still a lot more civil than calling AGW skeptics deniers.
oh, and here i thought we were operating on the shared basis of ignoring tact by your handle alone, "AGWcreationists"
whatever subset of misdirection suits you :)
Member Since: July 31, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1320
Quoting Grothar:


The good think about being neutral is you can hate both sides at the same time.
That coin has at LEAST 2 sides!
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"a proponent of AGW"

Proponent of AGW theories, then. Saying proponent is just shorthand. It's still a lot more civil than calling AGW skeptics deniers.

I follow both sides of the debate and measure them from my college background in Geology. I pay particular attention to study of past events, both within recorded human history and stretching back through Tertiary time. It is a way to ground theoretic modelling - if you can find paleoclimatic conditions that parallel those that the model is working towards, what were the conditions then? How does it compare?

Likewise with the history of severe hurricanes in the Northeast during Colonial times? The Atlantic and Gulf coasts were saturated with development during a cyclical lull in hurricane activity. Planners were warned by climatologists but allowed the rampant development anyway.

So to someone who is not aware of hurricane activity from the 1930s to the early 1960s, what we have seen over the last 17 years must seem like a dramatic uptick, until you look at what happened back earlier in this century - and back into colonial times.
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Quoting biff4ugo:
Thanks Aussie for the corona image. Awesome coverage.

oh, I thought that slipped through the gaps and down the drain. All this AGW/CC talk is taking up 99% of the blog and any other talk slips through.

Btw, Thanks. It just goes to show how insignificant we are, Mother nature and Father Universe is in total control. We just hang on for the ride.
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1.5 pounds of poop per day... times how many extra million?
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Quoting goosegirl1:


I don't work in areas in which snow geese are endemic, although I have seen the odd one migrating through the mid-atlantic. Are you talking about the population explosion of Canada geese, which is related to an adaptable species taking advantage of increased habitat and resources? Not all species of animal are decreasing, of course.
I agree, a few million extra Snow Geese do not cancel out endemic species being lost in rain forests or other habitats. Although I do wish someone could do something about all the nasty Canadian geese around here. That is one species I would not mind seeing go through a marked population decline.
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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.