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Hurricanes Not Increasing, Despite Warming

June 30, 2022

Climate Change Weekly #439

Although the 2022 hurricane season has gotten off to slow start, the forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center say the 2022 season will be more active than the long-term average. Whether this proves to be true only time will tell, but research is increasingly making clear that the modest warming of the planet has not caused hurricanes to grow more frequent or severe.

Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges it has detected no trend of increasing frequency or severity of tropical cyclones and has no evidence human greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to any trend.

A recent post by University of Colorado-Boulder professor Roger Pielke Jr. reinforces a point Climate Realism and Climate at a Glance: Hurricanes have repeatedly made: there has been no increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes during the recent period of modest global warming.

Pielke is particularly well-suited to write about this topic, having served as a post-doc at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, doing research on hurricanes and floods. His interest in the topic has continued to this day.

Pielke notes five points of fact about hurricanes:

  1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finds “no consensus” on the relative role of human influences on Atlantic hurricane activity, quoting the IPCC as follows: “there is still no consensus on the relative magnitude of human and natural influences on past changes in Atlantic hurricane activity, … and it remains uncertain whether past changes in Atlantic TC activity are outside the range of natural variability.”
     
  2. “The IPCC has concluded that since 1900 there is ‘no trend in the frequency of USA landfall events.’ This goes for all hurricanes and also for the strongest hurricanes, called major hurricanes.”
     
  3. “Since at least 1980, there are no clear trends in overall global hurricane and major hurricane activity.”
     
  4. “There are many characteristics of tropical cyclones that are under study and hypothesized to be potentially affected by human influences, … but at present there is not a unified community consensus on these hypotheses, as summarized by the World Meteorological Organization,” as to whether any of the factors are affected by human greenhouse gas emissions.
     
  5. “Hurricanes are common, incredibly destructive and will always be with us. Even so, we have learned a lot about how to prepare and recover.”

Pielke points out that some of the costliest hurricanes occurred in the early part of the twentieth century when average global temperatures were cooler than at present.

Data indicates that although the monetary costs of hurricanes have increased as more infrastructure and valuable property has been constructed on coasts prone to hurricane activity, the real, inflation-adjusted cost of hurricanes has declined significantly as a percentage of national and global GDP, and the number of lives lost has dropped even more steeply. We are better-prepared now—with better warning and tracking systems; better communications; improved, hardened infrastructure; and better post-hurricane recovery technology and responses—than ever before.

Two recent studies in journals published by the prominent peer-reviewed Nature provide additional evidence global warming hasn’t increased the threats hurricanes pose. Research published in Nature Climate Change concludes the evidence is robust that tropical cyclones have trended downward in number globally and in every individual cyclone region across the course of the twentieth century.

In that paper, an international team of 12 researchers from universities and institutes in Australia, China, and the United States reconstructed past hurricane activity since the 1850s across the various hurricane basins. They used proxy data for past hurricanes because before the era of radar, airplanes dedicated to storm tracking, and satellites, it was virtually impossible to know whether a hurricane formed in the open ocean unless a ship happened to cross its path or it eventually made landfall.

The scientists found a peak of hurricane formation across the various basins in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with a fairly steady decline in hurricanes across the twentieth century for every basin but one. Beginning in the 1950s, the number of hurricanes began to increase in the North Atlantic Basin. However, even in the North Atlantic, where the decline has reversed, the average annual number of hurricanes still has not reached the peak experienced in the early part of the hurricane record.

The study reports the annual number of global tropical cyclones—hurricanes, typhoons, and tropical storms—declined by approximately 13 percent as the planet warmed during the twentieth century. They suggest several factors related to warming might have contributed to the decline, such as changes in the Hadley and Walker tropical ocean circulation patterns and an increase in wind shear.

“What’s happening with global warming is that these underlying conditions are getting more unfavorable for cyclones to form in the first place,” Savin Chand, lead author of the study and a senior lecturer at the Federation University in Australia, told CNN.

Although Chand indicated to CNN the same conditions that have resulted in fewer hurricanes might be contributing to them becoming more severe, neither hard data nor Chand’s own research backs up this claim. Regarding this point, the paper by Chand et al. states “the resolutions of the current reanalysis products are too coarse to make conclusions about TC intensity.”

Additional research contradicting the alarmist dogma that climate change is making hurricanes worse was published recently in Nature Communications. Examining the formation of major hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin since 1851, the study found any reported increase in Atlantic hurricane formation or of major hurricanes in the region suggested by previous research was due to “changes in observing practices, [particularly] a substantial increase in monitoring capacity over the past 170 years.”

After adjusting for past undercounts of North Atlantic Basin hurricanes in general and major hurricanes in particular, the researchers conclude as follows:

We find here that, once we include a correction for undercounts in the pre-satellite era basin-wide NA HU [hurricane] and MH [major hurricane] frequency, there are no significant increases in either basin-wide HU or MH frequency, or in the MH/HU ratio for the Atlantic basin between 1878 and 2019…. The homogenized basin-wide HU and MH record does not show strong evidence of a century-scale increase in either MH frequency or MH/HU ratio associated with the century-scale, greenhouse-gas-induced warming of the planet. For example, the temporal evolution of the global mean temperature is not closely reflected in the temporal evolution of adjusted MH/HU ratio.

Hurricanes large and small will form and strike land. That’s a natural process. What is clear is that thus far there is no evidence to suggest tropical cyclones are forming more frequently, becoming stronger, or lasting longer than they did before humans began adding significant amounts of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. In short, the data does not support the claim that global warming is making hurricanes worse.

SOURCE: Nature Climate Change; Nature Communications; The Honest Broker; Climate Realism; Climate at a Glance: Hurricanes


IN THIS ISSUE …

INDONESIA GOES GREEN—WITH COAL, LIKE CHINA AND INDIA … RECORD COLD STRIKES SOUTH AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, UNITED STATES


INDONESIA GOES GREEN—WITH COAL, LIKE CHINA AND INDIA

Indonesia’s parliament is considering a bill to address climate change that explicitly counts coal as green and expands the development and use of coal as a necessary step in meeting the country’s growing energy needs.

The draft bill proposes classifying coal bed methane, coal liquefaction, and coal gasification as sources of “new energy’ alongside nuclear and hydrogen power. The bill also calls for expanding use of renewables.

Despite pledging to end the use of coal and become net-zero by 2060, Indonesia remains the world’s largest exporter of coal for energy production, and the draft plan seems to endorse continued exports of coal, which is a significant source of government revenue. Coal is also used to generate approximately 60 percent of the nation’s electricity, five times the share generated by all renewables combined. To ensure the country has sufficient coal supplies for domestic energy consumption, the new law would require that 30 percent of all coal sales be for internal use, an increase from the current floor of 25 percent.

In a concession to climate commitments, the bill proposes to compensate the state power company for any monetary losses it suffers in developing new renewable power sources, and it provides subsidies and land and infrastructure grants for new power generating units, including both coal and renewable sources.

SOURCE: Reuters


RECORD COLD STRIKES SOUTH AMERICA, AUSTRALIA, UNITED STATES

Below-average, even record-setting low temperatures are breaking out across the globe despite alarmists’ repeated warnings that such cold spells should be artifacts of the past because of global warming.

Heartland Institute analyst Linnea Lueken writes that as the Southern Hemisphere shifted into winter this year, a multitude of media outlets have been reporting unprecedented cold snaps and record-setting low temperatures and amounts of snow and ice in South America and Australia. Nature World News, for example, reports Tasmania is suffering from an “Antarctic blast,” and the Associated Press says Brazil’s homeless population is suffering because of “unusually low temperatures.”

The Guardian acknowledges the cause of the unusually cold temperatures across a wide swath of the southern hemisphere is the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and the current dry conditions in the U.S. Southwest are also being driven by the PDO.

Down Under, the cold, wet weather is so bad that news outlets are reporting many Australians have been forced to cancel their ski trips because parks are closed because there is too much snow.

Ignoring the natural factors driving Australia’s current cold spell, Australia’s Daily Mail hypes climate change, writing, “The lead researcher on a major investigation into ocean currents altered by global warming told Daily Mail Australia that the changes making wet, cooler weather more likely for Australia are already underway.” The Daily Mail makes it sound like chillier conditions are about to become a permanent fact of life in Australia. OK, but just last year alarmists were claiming heat waves and drought were becoming Australia’s new normal, likewise caused by climate change, as detailed in Climate Realism.

Argentina just completed its coldest autumn in the last 46 years. Electroverse reports the northern part of the country is experiencing temperatures -3°C below normal, with a more recent post reporting La Quiaca river froze, at -12.1°C. As far north as Peru, sea surface temperatures are below average, and the mountain region of Chuapalca, Peru hit -21.6°C. Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay also reported record cold temperatures. Paraguay’s record cold was broken this June, hitting -5.1°C. The capital of Brazil suffered record-breaking cold at 1.4°C; and São Paulo reported its coldest temperatures since the 1990s.

Closer to home, snow and very cold temperatures struck New Hampshire and other states in the Northeast over Father’s Day weekend. In fact, multiple cities and regions across the northern tier of the continental United States experienced temperatures well below average.

“What to expect from Seattle-area weather after 2 record-breaking cool, wet months,” the Seattle Times lamented. “After the coolest April and May in decades, Western Washington is in store for another month of cooler and wetter weather, according to the Climate Prediction Center’s 30-day forecast for June.” In New Hampshire, cameras at the Mt. Washington Observatory showed blustery snow and ice on Father’s Day weekend, Heartland Institute President James Taylor reports. The observatory warned people against frostbite and hypothermia if they ventured outdoors at Mt. Washington or other area mountains as the Northern Hemisphere headed toward the summer solstice and the longest day of the year.

The inland northern tier of the continental United States has also been hit with an unusually cold spring and early summer. Pittsburgh and the outlying areas of the city experienced record-breaking cold temperatures in the 40s on June 20, breaking a 143-year-old record-low temperature for that date.

Nature, it seems, is not in on the fix. It is producing cold weather that undermines the charade that the world faces inexorable, disastrous global warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCES: Electroverse; Climate Realism

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org
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