extreme weather

Jennifer Francis: The Cold Weather Affecting The Eastern US now is Global Warming – ‘It’s Inevitable But Mysterious’

Each year that the US gets severe cold weather (which has happened a lot over the past 20 years), there’s always a few climate change fanatics who claim that it’s due to global warming. They have to you see. Snow, ice and severe cold are bad for business. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Winters were supposed to get warmer, shorter, spring was supposed to arrive earlier and summers were meant to be searingly hot. Severe cold weather at the end of January doesn’t fit the narrative, so they change the narrative. Simples.

I recall the good old days, when President Trump was around to troll the climate change fanatics with tweets like this:

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 29, 2017

They went into hysterics of course, on that occasion claiming that it was ‘just weather’ and that Trump was using ‘just weather’ to ridiculously claim that global warming wasn’t happening. ‘Experts’ and the Guardian laid into him lie a pack of hyenas:

US president again conflates weather with climate to mock climate change

Experts call comments ‘scientifically ridiculous and demonstrably false’

The president was reheating two favourite tropes: the conflation of weather with climate to pour scepticism on global warming, and the supposed cost to the American taxpayer of the Paris climate accord, from which he has confirmed the US will withdraw.

Climate scientists, however, have long warned against using individual weather events to ponder the existence or otherwise of global warming. Weather, they point out, refers to atmospheric conditions during a short period; climate relates to longer-term weather patterns.

“There is a fundamental difference in scale between what weather is and what climate is,” he said. “What’s going on in one small corner of the world at a given moment does not reflect what’s going on with the planet.”

But severe (often record breaking) cold weather has been happening so frequently, particularly in the eastern US, that climate change fanatics are now having to admit it’s not ‘just weather’ after all, as they previously shrieked and screamed in response to being trolled by Trump, it’s actually a bizarre and counter-intuitive result of global warming. Yep, the new global warming is . . . . . . cooling!

Hence, with Bidet now in charge, who made it his first task on day one of his fake Presidency to sign the US back up to the Paris Accord, and the upcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow, climate alarmists are keen to keep the man-made global warming narrative going, even during severely cold winter weather.

So the NYT, noting the present cold weather in the US, has once again wheeled out Jennifer Francis along with her theory of how Arctic warming causes extreme weather, a theory which has been doing the rounds for several years now, which has been severely criticised by scientists, has little real evidence in its favour, but is all they’ve got, so they keep regurgitating it to explain inconveniently cold and snowy weather.

Disturbances to the upper-atmosphere phenomena known as the polar vortex can send icy blasts from the Arctic into the middle latitudes, chilling Europe, Asia and parts of North America. The disturbance and its effects have persisted for an unusually long time this year, said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, with two disruptions of the polar vortex so far this year and, potentially, a third on the way.

Research into the interplay of the complex factors that bring on blasts from the polar vortex is ongoing, but climate change appears to be part of the mix. While warming means milder winters overall, “the motto for snowstorms in the era of climate change could be ‘go big or go home!’ said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, a company that provides information to clients about weather and climate-related risk.

The wild weather has its origins in the warming Arctic. The region is warming faster than the rest of the planet, and research suggests that the rising temperatures are weakening the jet stream, which encircles the pole and generally holds in that frigid air. In early January, a surge of sudden warming hit the polar stratosphere, the zone five to thirty miles above the surface of the planet.

But it’s not clear cut, as the NYT itself admits:

While the scientific evidence supporting climate change is indisputable, the connection between climate change and the disruptions in the stratosphere is not so settled. Dr. Cohen was an author of a paper last year in the journal Nature Climate Change, which looked at winter data from 2008 to 2018. The team found a sharp increase in Northeast winter storms over the previous decade. “Severe winter weather is much more frequent when the Arctic is warmest,” Dr. Cohen said.

Dr. Butler, however, said that across the full historical record, which goes back to 1958, “There is no indication of a long-term trend” in polar vortex disruptions. The weather patterns that affect the vortex “occur naturally even in the absence of climate change,” with some decades showing no disruptions and other decades with one in almost every year.

But Jennifer Francis is having none of it. There simply must be a connection she states; we just haven’t discovered it yet:

To Dr. Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center, the influence of climate change on these phenomena is inevitable, if still somewhat mysterious. “We’re changing the planet in such dramatic and incontrovertible ways,” she said. “The atmosphere is different now. The Earth’s surface is different now. The oceans are different now. So there must be some connections that are yet to be discovered as we do more research on the stratospheric polar vortex.”

This is climate science for you. This is extreme weather attribution. If the data doesn’t fit the theory, if the theory fails, then just invoke the climastrologists’ Inevitability Principle, which states:

A must cause B, even though there’s no evidence that B is caused by A, simply because A ‘changes everything’ and A is ‘settled science’.

Richard Betts Finally Gives Up On Science – Embraces Politics, Ideology and Pseudoscience

Over the years, Richard Betts of the Met Office, has been the ‘sceptic’s friend’; a down to earth, reasonable, approachable, pragmatic scientist who actively sought to present a balanced view on the risks associated with climate change and to counter the alarmism and hyperbole put out in the press and supported by some of his more enthusiastic peers, as well as overtly political climate activists. Sadly, he has now jumped the shark completely, even to the point of insulting sceptics by implying that they are ‘deniers’, a term he always refrained from using. He’s even, by the sound of it, helping Extinction Rebellion fanatics arrested for breaking the law defend their actions in court by providing them with scientific ‘evidence’ which supposedly justifies their unlawful activities.

So Richard thinks that extreme weather attributions are helping to put a dent in climate denial and prove the case for urgent political action and planning and adaptation policies. In his article for Nature he says:

Now that specific floods, heatwaves and more can be attributed to our actions, decision makers can act.

This is not true. No specific extreme weather event can be attributed definitely to man-made climate change; all that can be done is to calculate the the so-called fraction of attributable risk of such an event happening by using climate models with and without anthropogenic forcings to create two ‘worlds’ and estimating the likelihood of such an event happening in the ‘climate changed’ world compared to that of the hypothetical world where no anthropogenic forcings are present. A further estimate of likelihood is also obtained by examining historical weather records for evidence of similar extreme weather events and assessing their frequency of occurrence over years and decades. What these ‘scientists’ then come up with is a figure for the supposed increased probability of such and such an event happening due to man-made climate change.

Betts knows this, but he deliberately misleads his gullible Twitter followers and readers.

These are just a few of the specific heatwaves, floods and events that my colleagues who work on ‘climate attribution’ can now show were made more likely by human impact (these and more are showcased this week in a special issue of Bulletin of the American Meteorological SocietyS. C. Herring et al. Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 102, S1–S112; 2021). Now, these techniques should be applied routinely to help governments, organizations and communities to act on their responsibilities and improve resilience to extreme weather.

For too long, weather’s randomness has kept events such as these from being blamed squarely on climate change.

He goes on to directly contradict himself by then saying:

Now, we can specify increased chances for specific events. This extends to forecasts: we can identify the places that are more likely to see wildfires, mudslides and fish die-offs. Such calculations dent both climate denial and a false sense of security. They take away the argument that ‘extreme weather happens anyway, so we don’t need to worry about it’. Extreme weather happens — and these metrics pinpoint what is becoming more likely, by how much and why.

You cannot blame a particular weather event squarely on climate change if all you are able to do is give an estimate of the increased probability of such an event happening. That is not ‘attribution’; it is guesswork based upon an assumption that the atmosphere and oceans have changed mainly because of the addition of man-made GHGs, using biased climate models to quantify that change and to compare it with a counterfactual world where no GHGs were released into the atmosphere.

As mentioned above, Betts also clearly thinks that this ‘scientific evidence’ of attribution is good enough to present to a court in defence of climate crisis fanatics who claim their lives and futures are being put at risk by government inaction on climate change.

Such evidence is also useful for legal proceedings when citizens call corporations or governments to account for their role in climate change, or are on trial for taking the law into their own hands. Although the courts, not climate scientists, make judgements on these matters, the legal process needs to be informed by objective, authoritative scientific evidence; published, peer-reviewed science is crucial. I relied on this to provide an expert-witness statement for the trial of an Extinction Rebellion activist arrested after obstructing the main road on Waterloo Bridge in London. For a case against 33 European countries brought by 6 Portuguese youth applicants, the non-profit science and policy institute Climate Analytics prepared an expert report (see go.nature.com/3qmv) centring on the evidence for climate change’s rising threat to their lives.

So, let’s take just one brief look at this latest peer-reviewed evidence which Betts thinks provides the scientific framework for holding governments to account and putting climate deniers back in their box shall we.

On page 44 of the report cited above by Betts, we find an attribution analysis of the extraordinary warmth which affected the UK in February 2019, when temperatures exceeded 20C in some places of the country. It is authored by Nikolaos Christidis and Peter A. Stott.

In stark contrast to the frigid close of the 2017/18 winter in the United Kingdom (Christidis and Stott 2020), daytime winter temperatures above 20°C were recorded for the first time in the country only a year later, with a maximum of 21.2°C at Kew Gardens on 26 February 2019. Strong anticyclonic conditions at the end of the winter season steered exceptionally mild tropical maritime air over western Europe and were identified by Kendon et al. (2020) as a key driver of the extreme U.K. temperatures. Their study suggests that the atmospheric state alone would be sufficient to raise U.K. temperatures above 20°C, even without the effect of human influence on the climate. Here, we carry out a complementary attribution study to investigate extremes in the warmest day in winter.

What they are in effect saying here is that the actual cause of the extreme temperatures has been identified as a peculiar dynamic weather pattern at the time but that they intend to do another attribution study anyway just to see if ‘climate change’ might have increased the chances of such extreme temperatures if natural weather patterns had not been the actual cause of the event! This attribution study, they make clear, does not take into account possible changes in dynamics forced by GHGs. It only considers thermodynamic (GHG) forcings. Thus, in attempting to provide an alternative attribution of the warm UK weather in February, it completely ignores the actual cause of that warm weather. This is apparently what Betts considers as a good example of the scientific ‘evidence’ for climate change impacts, good enough to present to a court of law. Any decent defence or prosecution lawyer would laugh it out of court!

The CMIP5 analysis reveals that winter CET extremes like in 2018/19 are rare even in today’s warmer climate, but still about 300 times more likely because of human influence. Moreover, they are shown to become decidedly more common in the future, expected to occur at least once a century by 2100, and probably more frequently underhigher emissions scenarios than RCP4.5. While the effect of the atmospheric circulation was key for the reference event, here we only consider an unconditional framing without explicitly assessing the effect of dynamics. Previous work has suggested that Arctic warming may impact U.K. extremes via dynamical changes (Hanna et al. 2017), although this link has not been robustly established (Blackport and Screen 2020). A possible strengthening of the Atlantic jet (Lee et al. 2019) may constitute another dynamical driver of winter changes. Taking the overall effect of anthropogenic climate change into account, milder winters are expected in the United Kingdom (Murphy et al. 2018), with less frequent cold extremes and new high temperature records.

‘Our NHS’ Commits To Net Zero Carbon: Everybody Clap

NHS becomes the world’s first national health system to commit to become ‘carbon net zero’, backed by clear deliverables and milestones

You would think at a time of national crisis, with hospitals expecting to be overflowing with Covid-19 patients any time soon, following Bill and Ben, the Pol Pot Men’s (not) predicted ‘exponential’ rise in cases to 50k a day by mid October, the NHS would have other things on its mind at the moment – like the health of the nation for instance. But it seems they have ample time to pontificate about going green.

The NHS has today adopted a multiyear plan to become the world’s first carbon net zero national health system.

The commitment comes amid growing evidence of the health impacts of climate change and air pollution, and aims to save thousands of lives and hospitalisations across the country.

It’s the twin carbon evils of air pollution and climate change, conveniently lumped together for maximum effect. Ban cars, ban nasty wood burning stoves, ban nasty, smelly fossil fuel power stations, in order to make the weather better and to reduce particulate emissions, thereby making us all much healthier (and poorer, less mobile, a lot more miserable, and colder in winter). You know it makes sense – just like ‘protecting the NHS to save lives’ makes sense by kicking old people out of hospital into care homes and creating a backlog of 15 million non-Covid patients waiting for urgent treatment.

The changing climate is leading to more frequent heatwaves and extreme weather events such as flooding, including the potential spread of infectious diseases to the UK. Almost 900 people were killed by last summer’s heatwaves while nearly 18 million patients go to a GP practice in an area that exceeds the World Health Organisation’s air pollution limit.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “2020 has been dominated by Covid-19 and is the most pressing health emergency facing us. But undoubtedly climate change poses the most profound long-term threat to the health of the nation.

“It is not enough for the NHS to treat the problems caused by air pollution and climate change – from asthma to heart attacks and strokes – we need to play our part in tackling them at source.”

It’s not enough for us to try to treat the problems caused by NHS mismanagement – we need to tackle them at source, by sacking the NHS chief executive for a start, and sacking the army of mid-level NHS managers who it seems have conspired with the government to cover up the gross mismanagement of the Covid-19 crisis and have (and still are) endangering the lives of many patients by keeping many hospitals half empty and not fully functioning.

Of course, the Marxist at the WHO welcomes the news:

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said: “Cutting carbon emissions is essential to protect health, everywhere in the world. I welcome the leadership of the largest single health system in the world, the National Health Service in England, in committing to be carbon neutral in its own operations by 2040, and to drive emissions reductions in its suppliers and partners. Health is leading the way to a greener, safer planet.”

Dr Watts (I presume) is the big cheese responsible for this net zero 2040 target:

NHS England convened the NHS Net Zero Expert Panel in January following the launch of the Climate Assembly UK, to take and analyse evidence on how the health service can contribute to nationwide carbon reduction efforts.

Led by Dr Nick Watts, Executive Director of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, the Panel comprised public health and climate experts as well as patient and staff representatives.

Dr Watts and his team will engage widely to support delivery, with interventions including:

new ways of delivering care at or closer to home, meaning fewer patient journeys to hospitals;

greening the NHS fleet, including working towards road-testing a zero-emissions emergency ambulance by 2022;

reducing waste of consumable products and switching to low-carbon alternatives where possible;

making sure new hospitals and buildings are built to be net-zero emissions, and;

building energy conservation into staff training and education programmes.

Ah, there you have it, you see. Dr Watts’s cunning plan to get to net zero carbon involves getting to net zero patients, by treating most ‘at home’ presumably via video link! It’s already happening, in terms of the ‘new normal’ being ushered in by Covid lockdown hysteria. Millions of patients are being denied face to face consultations and are being telephoned at home or offered consultations via zoom. A million women who would have otherwise been scanned for breast cancer have not, either because they have been scared to seek hospital treatment for fear of catching The Covid Plague or because their routine scans have been cancelled. Just think of all the emissions saved by those women not attending hospital.

Watts again:

“The NHS’s ambition is world-leading, and the first national commitment to deliver a net zero health service. It comes at a time when the UK is preparing to host the UN climate change summit next year, and demonstrates that every part of our societies need to play their part in reducing pollution and responding to climate change.”

There is a fanatical ambition in this country it seems, prevalent in our leaders, that the UK must lead the world into the immiseration of its populace by unilaterally adopting net zero carbon targets. I wonder why that is?

Is it because we are uniquely stupid? It might seem so. I leave you with this net zero grey matter comment from Kay Boycott, CEO of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation:

Climate change poses a huge threat to lung health; with dangerous levels of pollution and extremes in hot and cold weather which can be deadly for people with lung conditions causing symptoms to flare up and putting lives at risk.

What’s Wrong with this BBC Horizon Program about the Weather?

I’ve just watched BBC Horizon’s latest investigation of extreme UK weather entitled ‘What’s Wrong with our Weather?’ presented by physicist Dr Helen Czerski and meteorologist John Hammond. Whilst it had the usual format based around a scientific ‘whodunnit’, the climate change elephant in the room eventually made its presence felt and skewed proceedings rather predictably thereafter.

The program talks about the ‘very unusual’ extreme weather which the UK has been experiencing in recent decades and sets out to explore what might be causing that extreme weather. Firstly, it investigates the very wet, stormy winter we had in 2013/14, the “wettest on record” so the narrator says – no mention that past winter rainfall has been just as, if not more extreme, but we’ll let that pass because, technically, Dec/Jan/Feb total rainfall was a record according to the UK rainfall record going back to 1910 and the England & Wales Precipitation record going back to 1766.

The lack of Atlantic hurricanes in 2013 is postulated as a possible causative factor. Basically, hurricanes leave colder water tracks in their wake which persist for weeks and, so the theory goes, because there were so few of them, tropical waters were unusually warm, which might exacerbate the temperature difference between colder polar air and warmer tropical air pushing up from the south, which would ‘supercharge’ the Jet Stream. However, the effect was deemed to be too small.

The Jet Stream in 2013/14 was, according to the program, about twice its normal speed (300mph against 100-150mph) over the Northern Atlantic and this is what caused the severe run of storms which hit the UK. John Hammond explains that this superfast Jet Stream came “straight across the Atlantic” to hit UK shores.

The reinforcing effect of the stratospheric Quasi Biennial Oscillation is looked at but dismissed as a major influence on what was driving the Jet Stream during 2013/14.

So then we get to the ‘third explanation’ which involves flooding and heavy rains in Indonesia having a knock on effect on the Pacific Jet Stream hitting the US west coast, translating into the big dip in the Jet Stream over Northern and Eastern US which gave this region its now famous ‘polar vortex’ extreme cold winter. Dame Julia Slingo appears to favour this explanation. I quote: “What happens in Indonesia affects profoundly the weather patterns around the world”. Quite why this region should be specially marked out for such greatness, I’m not sure, but then I guess, it’s ‘very complicated’. Anyway, these Indonesian rains diverted the Pacific Jet Stream far north as it headed for America, then it dipped far south allowing cold polar air to dominate over the US continent and, according to this theory, where the cold polar air met the much warmer air of the mid Atlantic, the steep temperature gradient resulted in the increased velocity of the North Atlantic Jet Stream which then slammed into the UK.

I’m sure there are aspects to this explanation which are correct, but I’m equally sure it’s just a part of a much bigger puzzle. For instance, what caused the flooding in Indonesia? Was the steep temperature gradient between the polar and sub tropical air masses the sole or even primary cause of the acceleration of the North Atlantic Jet Stream? But keep this point in mind: the superfast Jet Stream of 2013/14 is blamed in part on the stark temperature difference created by the path of the Jet Stream dipping way south over the US to bring very cold polar air into contact with much warmer air.

To be fair, the program then goes on to say that the flooding in Indonesia and the QBO were just contributing factors in a whole host of things which resulted in the weather patterns which we witnessed in the US and the UK last winter. But then this is the precursor to introducing the biggie: ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ (TM), whereupon things get scary, with images of rapidly disappearing snow and ice in the Arctic. But this isn’t just any climate change, it’s computer modeled climate change. Cue Helen Czerski sitting on a beach, extolling the magnificence of climate models:

“They incorporate the best of our current understanding. They represent the collective work of thousands of scientists. They’re an amazing achievement, and when they get as good as they are now it’s possible to use them like a sort of flight simulator for a planet. It’s an amazing tool to have.”

Er, yes, we’ll just forget the fact that they have all failed comprehensively to model the actual climate shall we? The fact that they couldn’t predict the 17 year temperature hiatus or the huge increase in Antarctic sea-ice. Slingo is even more gushing in her praise. She says:

“I think today the incredible complexity and power and skill of these models that we use . . . . they are one of the great achievements of modern science and you realise that we are entering I think a Golden Age for climate science. And it’s good that we are because we have some really really big questions to answer for the world.”

No doubt in Slingo’s mind then that computer generated virtual reality will show us the way forward to tackling man-made climate change. After all, 20 trillion calculations per second can’t be wrong – can they? According to the program, the climate models predict more extreme weather as the climate warms and Czerski tells us that ‘basic physics’ predicts that intense rainfall events will be more frequent in a warming world.

Now here’s where it gets interesting (or boring, depending on your viewpoint): Arctic Amplification (accelerated warming at the North Pole) and how it had a part to play in our recent much colder winters. It’s quite alarmingly simple really: global warming melts the sea ice at the Pole, which then reduces the albedo of the surface (ice reflects more of the Sun’s energy than open ocean), which then acts as a positive feedback to produce more warming and melting of sea ice and, hey presto!, suddenly all the ice is gone. To reinforce the idea, we are told that Arctic sea-ice has been declining at an alarming rate, forgetting to mention of course the recent partial recovery.

But here’s the gist: warmer pole = less temperature gradient between Arctic and sub tropical air masses = slower Jet Stream = less energetic Jet Stream = more meandering Jet Stream – analogous with a river forming large meanders as it loses momentum on the flat flood plain. So far, so good. Hence, we get the ‘stuck’ weather patterns which we have been witnessing in recent years and the ‘loopiness’ of the Jet Stream which has allowed cold Arctic or Siberian air masses to dominate our winter weather for weeks on end. To be fair once again, the program notes that there is not enough data to conclusively link Arctic amplification with extreme weather.

We are then treated to a few ‘alternative’ explanations for extreme weather, notably sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) affecting the troposphere and Jet Stream below, with no mention at all of what might cause these SSWs in the first place. And then, once only in the entire program, almost as an aside, mention of the almost taboo phrase of ‘solar activity’. There, you heard it (or missed it, as the case may be), that was it, near the end of the program, thence no more to be repeated and certainly not to be expanded upon. Perish the very thought that there might be an entirely obvious, logical and natural explanation for recent extreme weather events. Perish the ludicrous idea that a giant ball of superheated, extremely energetic plasma 109 times the diameter of earth and just 93 million miles away, could in any significant way affect our weather patterns or climate. I mean, a few parts per million of fossil fuel CO2 is far, far more likely to have an impact; it’s blindingly obvious. Which brings me finally to what Hammond has to say.

For Hammond closes the program by correctly identifying the Jet Stream as being the most obvious and immediate ’cause’ of the patterns of extreme weather which the UK has been experiencing recently. But what he says is as follows:

“For me the strongest signal to emerge as we struggle to understand the recent extreme weather is the idea that the jet stream can become ‘stuck’ in certain configurations. At one end of the spectrum a very straight, fast jet stream which brought the storms of last winter. At the other end of the spectrum a much slower, meandering Jet Stream which has brought the recent run of particularly cold winters”.

Get that? Fast, straight Jet Stream caused the winter storms? Obviously then, by this logic, Arctic amplification, aka global warming, could not have been involved in 2013/14 winter flooding, because that tends to produce a slower Jet. But, wasn’t the Jet Stream of 2013/14 also meandering? Didn’t it track abnormally far north on the US west coast, then dip far south over the country to allow the formation of the Polar Vortex? So, it might have been very fast moving – at least over the North Atlantic section – but it most definitely was not in a straight configuration.

BBC News, in Feb 2014, reporting on the very same Arctic amplification theory outlined in their flagship Horizon program, coupled with the wet stormy weather, says that accelerated warming in the Arctic may be making the Jet Stream much ‘wavier’ and, I quote:

“The meandering jet stream has accounted for the recent stormy weather over the UK and the bitter winter weather in the US Mid-West remaining longer than it otherwise would have.”

So the BBC appears to be a little confused on this issue. Either the Jet Stream is slower moving and more ‘loopy’ or it’s faster moving and straighter. It can’t at once be more meandering and faster? Can it? Well, yes, that’s what happened in winter 2013/14, but it doesn’t fit the theories of man-made global warming influencing extreme weather via the Jet Stream which the BBC and the Met Office would obviously prefer to promote in their programming. To explain reality, you have to get away from the ‘Golden Age’ climate models, away from AGW and venture into the world of solar physics, solar sunspot cycles, geomagnetism and upper atmospheric physics and chemistry. Therein lie the clues to explaining the actual behaviour of the Jet Stream, but that’s far too rigorously scientific for the BBC I guess.