Friday, July 15, 2011

Flood and Drought

The Southeastern United States is experiencing an Unusual drought, part of the extreme weather condition pattern that is probably related to anthropogenic global warming.

Government climate scientists are using terms such as exceptional and extreme drought to describe the current situation which extends from Arizona eastward into Texas and then into Gulf Cost and South Atlantic Coast states as far north as Maryland and Delaware.
To get an idea about the extent of this years drought event, I looked at a discussion by Weather Reporter Matt Engelbrecht of WITN TV in Greeenville, North Carolina. Engelbrecht found that in contrast to a rainfall average of 9" for may and June, Eastern Carolina received only 3.95" this May and June. Previous record dry May & June periods, were in 1995 4.63" and 2008, 4.27". Engelbrecht observed,
In terms of total rainfall, the last two months have been the driest we've seen since they begin keeping records.
What is strange about this is that in Knoxville, Tennessee less that 400 miles to the west of Greeeville, we had above average rains in May and June. The drought is having a serious impact on agriculture in states like Texas, where corn farmers and Cattle Ranchers have been devastated. In addition to the exceptional drought, many areas have been subjected to extreme and even record setting heat. Last Tuesday the temperature rose to a record 100 degrees at the Raleigh-Durham (North Carolina) International Airport, but that is nothing compared to Hutchinson, Kanasa which experienced 12 degrees heat last Sunday, or Norman Oklahoma which appears headed for an all time record high July temperature, a record not just for Norman, but for the State of Oklahoma. Oklahoma based climate researcher Kelvin Kloesel states that this ,
is likely to be a disastrous summer . . .
As for record temperatures in Texas, what can I tell you? During the last few days these records have been set:

117 F: in Childress, Texas tying an all time record.

113 F: Borger, Texas - hottest on record.

111 F: Amarillo, Texas - hottest temperature ever recorded. In Amarillo the average daytime high for July between 1971 and 2000 was 91.0 degrees, in 2010 it was 87.8, while this year it has risen to 99.2 so far this month.

Such heat can be fatal. A Texas style heat wave struck un-air conditioned Western Europe a few summers ago, and before it was over, something like 50,000 people died from heat related causes.

Monday, while a massive drought heatwave event was devastating the Southern United States, a huge thunderstorm with hurricane-force winds to the Chicago was knocking out the electrical supply of over a third of a million people.

The climate skeptics are not looking out their windows. They are not going outside. They are incapable of feeling the heat, or of noticing the sweat running down their faces. That bump they heard last night was a tree being blown through their roofs by powerful wind storms, but they pretend to not notice the water raining in through the new hole in the roof.

Climate change skeptics are not making Al Gore jokes about the droughts, the floods, the heat waves, and the damaging thunders thunderstorms that lead to massive power outages. It just is not funny.

There is, of course, a difference between weather and climate, but climate is a series of weather events occurring one after another. Normally the weather tends to settle towards average after an unusual weather event, but this has not been the case for the last couple of years. We are witnessing a lot of weather events, one after another, which are consistant with AGW. The climate skeptics keep telling us that this means nothing, but how long are they going to hold out against reality?


charlesH said...


AGW physics says cold area will warm more than warm areas. This will increase the overall water content in the atmosphere which will lead to greater average precipitation, not less.

You would have a greater chance of success connecting AGW to increased flooding. Connecting AGW to droughts goes against fundamental physics and will be much more difficult.

Do I need to point out you have present no theory or data in this post to support the notion that AGW is responsible for droughts?

Charles Barton said...

CharlesH, my understanding is that AGW will produce more intense rain events rain with a more varied climate. Shifting arias of extreme rain events and drought. That is what we see now. In the fall of 2009 there was an extreme rain event (once every 10,000 years) and flood in Atlanta, Now South Georgia is experiencing an exceptional drought. South Georgia also experienced an extreme drought during the last decade. These implications of frequent and widespread weather events has not been lost on insurance companies, whose weather related pay out is about 500% greater now than it wasduring the 1980's.

charlesH said...


There is no climate physics basis for believing AGW will produce a more varied climate. This idea is simply BS.

More precipitation in warming high latitudes, yes.

Warming poles, melting ice, rising sea levels, yes.

More varied climate and extreme weather, no. Just the opposite. AGW predicts pole temps will rise more than tropical temps reducing the overall energy available for storms.

charlesH said...

"whose weather related pay out is about 500% greater now than it was during the 1980's."

You surely don't believe a 5x increase in payouts was do to a less than 1 degree temp change do you? Does that sound credible to you? Just asking.

Can you think of anything else that might have driven the payouts up?

charlesH said...


Please compare your insurance data to this GISS temp chart for the US

Did insurance payouts go down from the 1930's to the 1970's?

Can you overlay insurance payouts on the temp trends so we can see if there is a correlation (ignoring the issue of causation)?

Charles Barton said...

CharlesH, this has been known in the community that acknowledges climate change for some time.
Climate scientists are predicting pattern of increasing drought over much of the global land mass.

Evidence is emerging that climate change is producing more extreme rain events.

Munich Re has drawn conclusions between insurance losses and anthropogenic global climate change.

The New York times tells us, "Munich Re, one of the world’s largest insurance companies, says climate-related events serious enough to cause property damage have risen significantly since 1980: extreme floods tripled and extreme windstorms nearly so. (The number of damaging earthquakes — which are not thought to be influenced by climate change — have remained stable.) Statistics show that the frequency of days with heavy precipitation is up in South America, North America and parts of Europe."

Climate change is effecting the insurance industry.

I plan to write a post on the connection between climate change and property insurance costs.

So CharlesH, is it your contention, that the insurance industry is controlled by Liberals and is cooperating with the left wing climate change hoax?

charlesH said...


Your wrong on this one Charles. You are a good guy and I don't have enough interest to try and convince you. I would suggest that you study Dr Piekle Jr's published papers on the subject rather than press reports. The press has it wrong on this issue a fact that Dr. Piekle points out frequently on his blog. Spend a few hours reading his blog. He is a straight shooter on this issue.

Charles Barton said...

CharlesH, Piekle is looking at claims for some extreme weather related events, for example tornados, rather than for all extreme weather events. Even for tornadoes, Piekle's estimates seem low. For example his chart shows a little more than 2 billion dollars loss sp far in #=$2919m but other sources estimate between 2 and 5 billion in losses for the April 2011 storms alone.

Munich Re observed, Interestingly, despite the hurricane season having little impact on the U.S., the fourth and fifth most costly insured catastrophe losses of 2010 are windstorms in the United States during April and May. So the U.S. did not escape windstorm losses completely and with the combined insured loss of these two storms estimated at $3.58 billion perhaps insurers should be taking a look at how to transfer the risks of those kind of windstorms to the capital markets through catastrophe bonds?

gallopingcamel said...

ChalesH is right to say that global warming leads to less extreme weather as temperatures at the poles increase roughly three times faster than temperatures at the equator.

Extreme weather is driven by temperature gradients so anything that reduces these gradients will tend to diminish the likelihood of extreme weather.

If you want to learn something about extreme weather I suggest you listen to what historians have to tell us about the "Little Ice Age" when weather extremes were much greater than today. If you can't spare much time for reading you can get a feel for this by watching "Little Ice Age - Big Chill" produced by the History Channel.

Here is a link to a flip commentary on the deadly heat wave of '11:

Charles Barton said...

GC, Maybe every time you drive down the street you don't see the blue plastic over the holes in your neighbors' houses as I do. Those holes are insurance claims, and the reason why they have not been repaired yet is that there are other roofs being repaired all over town. The insurance companies know that this is happening. They have issued report after report. The computer models have been forecasting extreme weather events as a part of global climate change for years.

Your claims about climate uniformity does not reflect the views of mainstream climate scientists.

Anonymous said...

Insurance eh? Wouldn't be polite to remind you'll about how well it gets done in the USA, would it? Does you remember, for example, AIG? Wasn't that one of the grand US based insurers that was revealed being careless, reckless even and of unsound financial practice?

Maaaate, where you bin? As with the banksters, these guys are engaged in larcenous rorting. The data they present are about as trustworthy as a common street-prostitute racked out on amphetamines. Best avoided.

Sorry Charles, you have neither the evidence to support your climate sentiments, nor the proof. What youse got is artifact, coincidence and too much faith. This sky is falling stuff does nothing to promote your favourite technology- LFTR- indeed it accomplishes significant detraction. Crankish really.


Charles Barton said...

Sionem did anyone ever tell you that it is fallacious to argue from a single case - AIG - to a whole class - The insurance industry. AIG went broke, what about the companies that did not go broke?

The Insurance Industry is motivated to accurately assess their risk. If their under assess their risks, they end up going bankrupt. If they over assess their risks, they loose their customers who will figure that they are being over charged for insurance, and that it is cheaper to self insure or go with a lower cost carrier.

Anonymous said...


Apply your sentiments to yourself. Did anyone ever tell you that it is fallacious to argue from single case (instance of "bad" weather) to entire case (the climate of the entire planet for the next hundred years or so)?

Pot. Kettle. Black.


You are woefully naieve if you believe that the insurance industry operates on the simplistic basis you relate here. For a start, much (most) underwriting is undertaken as a matter of compulsion and is not an expression of free choice by the insured. One example, try getting a mortgage on a house without approved insurance from an approved insurer (approved by govt and approved by bank). See how far you get. It is more than likely you will not be allowed the option of going naked, only of being required to pay for insurance from one or other of the bank's insurance business colleagues (and you can rest assured there will be significant deep relationships between the bank and the insurance organisations it approves for you to pay). The "low cost carrier" to which you refer will be one of that number and the premium won't be "low cost" in terms of the actual cost of risk covered (as some basic acturial calculations would soon demonstrate). You will be required to pay a premium (in both senses of the term). You will not be permitted to purchase insurance from a non-govt approved or non-bank approved source. No mortgage for you if you insist. The insurance business is well protected indeed and they are well aware of the position that has been attained.

As with the banksters the insurance industry is motivated to easy profit. Where it is possible to structure its affairs so that losses are socialised while profits are concretised and concentrated to specific interests and individuals, then you can be assured that is exactly the arrangement employed. In reality, the insurance business has been shot through with this approach for many decades. In brief, when the industry generates failure those who presided over it and administered it are bailed out at huge cost. Meanwhile everyone else gets to pay. Where the profits are not as significant as demanded, regulation and financial structures are erected to ensure that profits move as considered desirable and everyone else gets to pay - an example of heads you lose and tails you lose. It's rorting, just larger than what you'd normally have been aware of.

Beware trusting at face value information released from this source. It is unreliable, often deceptive.


John ONeill said...

Regarding the meme that less difference between polar and equatorial temperatures means less stormy weather, I saw a hypothesis on global heat flows during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, about 55 million years ago. At this time, temperatures in the Arctic Ocean were above 18C (plenty of crocodile fossils). If temperatures in the tropics had risen commensurately, it would have been too hot for most vegetation, but since most of the earths heat from the sun arrives in the tropics, what mechanism was moving it so efficiently polewards?
The suggestion was that giant hurricanes were exporting sea surface heat, leaving the ocean behind them considerably cooler.

Charles Barton said...

John, the computer models forecast, more extreme rain events, more heat waves, and more droughts.

charlesH said...


" the computer models forecast, more extreme rain events, more heat waves, and more droughts."

Since I understand and trust the physics I don't believe models that disagree with the physics. If you want to persuade CAGW skeptics like me you are going to have to argue the physics not the models.

Anonymous said...

Charles H

These days I spend more time navigating through the dangerous shoals of economics and finance than with engineering and technology. The reason is that in the next few years most people are going to see their net worth severely reduced or even wiped right out. For obvious reasons I'd rather not number amongst those poor fellows. Certainly there are some tremendous opportunities to do well in the current circumstances- well worth taking advantage of. Anyway, I digress.

In regards to computer models, experience has demonstrated time and time again that they are not reality, merely an expression of some opinions thereof. For example, the models failed to show the obviously forseeable financial collapse of 2007/2008 and further they have failed to show the intractible deepening recession/depression the USA is presently experiencing. Indeed, the Fed's modelling (and much of Wall St's) predicted firstly expansion and a solidly wealthy economy. That did not occur. Then they showed Bush and Obama's economic policies generating sound recovery. That didn't happen either. The economic decline continues to worsen...

Of course there were the likes of Peter Schiff famously predicting the collapse of the housing bubble during 2005 and even earlier than that (I see he is expecting the US dollar and the sovereign bond market bubbles to fall over in the near future). Interestingly he and his Austrian School colleagues do not rely on mathematical models to understand how the economy operates. They got it right. The mathmaticians and physicists and all those hugely paid scientists were 100% dead wrong. There is a lesson in this. It is that a computer model is only as sound as the opinions and beliefs that generated it.

Your comment that you do not trust the models resonates with me as an engineer and also as an investor. There is an obscene saying about opinions being just like a certain anatomical feature (for egress of waste compounds from the ailementary canal) and everyone having one. The implication is that you can't trust arbitrary opinion. In this context the mathmatical modelling of the climate is analogous to those of the economy- not proof and certainly not consistent with reality. They are mere artifact of opinion.

Turning now to nuclear power. It is pointless to try and promote the benefits of nuclear power generation technology by the indirect approach of trying to prove a man made sky-is-falling global warming story and therefore nuclear technology is somehow going to come to the rescue and fix it. When the sky-is-falling scenario fails to gain traction and worse, doesn't play out, then this particular nuclear promotion collapses, since there is nothing to fix- no emergency. The nuclear option is then not considered at all.

Nuclear tech has many problems and challenges to overcome. Those require direct address and solution by the entrepreneurs, investors, operators and technologists who would promote, erect and operate businesses that rely on nuclear technologies. THAT is a difficult enough and risky enough task to undertake without adding the difficulties generated by an unrelated, politically motivated theory.

Reality is indeed the final arbiter. I happily stick with that.



Charles Barton said...

Sione, and CharlesH, I am not a scientists and since it is not my area of competence, I will leave it up to the scientists to decide on the scientific status of the AGW hypothesis. I have told how I heard Jerry Olsen talk on climate change in 1971, and that Jerry's forecasts turned out to be accurate. I noted that that ORNL scientists were quickly convinced by the case Jerry made. This included both Alvin Weinberg and my father.

It remains the case that most scientists are still convinced that global warming is a reality. Most of the scientist who criticize the AGW hypothese appear to belong to the political right. Some allege that the climate scientists and their many backers in other sciences are engaged in a "Liberal conspiracy." This is crazy talk. This view is that the National Academy of science of the United States, The American Association for the Advancement of Science, The American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the American Meteorological Society, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the American Astronomical Society, the American Statistical Association, are all engaged in an anti-science conspiracy. I simply cannot take such beliefs seriously.

Anonymous said...

What I find fascinating is people think weather is static or should be so - in fact the past 400 years have been very anomalous with regards to high precipitation in the western USA (espec. California) and now we are moving towards historically extrapolated data from the fossil record of petrified trees from this area. In fact, what we are moving towards is a NATURAL temperature of the globe not affected by an Ice age. And since weather is the dispersion of energy over an uneven surface by moving of thermal air and precipitation and movement of vapor, I would expect greater weather events, and dry areas (low precipitation because humid air is warmed and blown away without condensation and associated rain) to become drier.


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