This Week, Global Warming = Hurricanes

I hope you have a score card at home. You’ve been told the science was settled and Global Warming causes hurricanes but that was before the 2006 hurricane season was a dud so the global warming hucksters made a new theory that Global Warming reduced hurricanes.

But either this week’s folks didn’t get the memo or the grant they received was to prove hurricanes where caused by global warming, but whatever the reason, we have another bogus study on our hands…

Study blames climate change for hurricane rise

By Jim Loney
MIAMI (Reuters) – The number of Atlantic hurricanes in an average season has doubled in the last century due in part to warmer seas and changing wind patterns caused by global warming, according to a study released on Sunday. …

The new study, published online in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, said the increased numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes in the last 100 years is closely related to a 1.3-degree Fahrenheit rise in sea surface temperatures. …

In the new study, … researchers found three periods since 1900 when the average number of Atlantic tropical storms and hurricanes increased sharply, and then leveled off and remained steady.

They did?

OK, let’s disembowel this study in as few words as possible. I must be getting old as it took 2 google searches to do it. But on the other hand I got a great graphic form Wikipedia on the number of Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms.

Go ahead, click on it for full size

While your eyes might be looking at the blue line, or even the green, that’s not the most important part of this graphic. Look at the top. The top shows what methodology we used to find hurricanes when. Hint: We didn’t have weather satellites in 1900.

Taking the last 10 years off the table, you see quite clearly that the number of storms recorded doubled not from global warming but because of the technology used to find them. A perfect example of this can be found with Hurricane Vince in the infamous 2005 hurricane season. There is zero percent chance that would have been recorded in 1900.

Also, recorded storm intensity increases with better technology. We now try to measure pressures right at the eyewall while they are still over open water. We didn’t even know to do that 30 years ago.

But I know what some of you (cough liberal trolls cough) are thinking, so I won’t stop there.

Now let’s look at the last 50 years. There was a profound spike when we started using aircraft. If you look carefully we’ve been well below those numbers thru the 1960s, 70s, 80s and most of the 90s. Also notice this graphic is smoothed so the 1992 and 2005 hurricane seasons weights it. Let’s look at that…

Tear your eyes off the big bold lines and look at the jaggy lines in the back. You’ll see the 10 year weighted average is skewed by the 1992 and the 2005 seasons. You’ll also notice this graphic DOES NOT yet include the 2006 season which as I linked above was almost non-existent. That would bring the 10 year average (the bold line) back down.

A simple look at the red line shows that we’re barely back to 1950 levels.

An honest look at the graphic reveals that the RECORDED number of hurricanes has indeed doubled in the last 100 years… But not because of global warming, but because we now have the technology to watch every corner of the globe. Correlation does not imply causation but here we don’t even have correlation.

In short, this “study” is completely bogus.

Update: I cited Hurricane Vince from memory above as an example of a hurricane that would have been missed in the past. And below the jump I speculate that 1933 had more storms than 2005. Turns out I barking up the right tree.

Chris Landsea was already way ahead of me. (pdf) Here is a graphic I snipped from his pdf that shows 1933 vs 2005.

Click it!

It shows the “missing” hurricanes from 1933. Enlightening to say the least.

(And I have another interesting note on this chart after the jump.)

So 2005 was the worst tropical storm season in history right? Let’s give that a qualified maybe.

Look at the blue spikes in 2005 and then back at (what I’ll guess are) 1887 and 1933. Now consider there was only about 6 fewer storms recorded in 1933 than 2005 but that was before we had aircraft, radio or satellites to track the storms. The 1887 season is also incredible considering the recording methods of the day.

We’ll never know for sure, but it is quite plausible that 2005 not near was the worst year in history.

And lastly, for you die-hards, read the Wikipedia description of this graphic… It destroys the notion: (em mine)

For more than half the record, it is likely that hurricanes were undercounted due to the failure of any trained observer to encounter the storm. Similarly, the intensity may be understated if no observer encountered the eye wall. The fact that hurricanes often obtain their strongest state in the open ocean only increases the possiblity that past storms were miscategorized, though hurricane reanalysis projects do attempt to estimate likely storm intensities. Symptomatic of this, only 5 of the 36 Category Five storms observed in the North Atlantic were reported prior to the use of aircraft in studying hurricanes. In contrast, the techniques used to study storms in the past (e.g. inferring wind intensity from pressure and/or size of waves) may also have overestimated some storm intensities (Emanuel 2000). For many purposes, only the record known since the availability of satellite imagery in the 1960s is considered sufficiently reliable for analysis. It should also be noted that only in the North Atlantic does any attempt at systematic records exist for periods earlier than the 1940s.

This study belongs on Mythbusters.

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