Friday, September 8, 2017

Surely you’re joking Dr. Klotzbach, no hurricane global warming connection?


updated Sept 8, 1:30 PM
Or,  'Did Dr. Klotzbach willfully misrepresent geophysical facts?'

After finishing my previous post I sent Drs. Trenberth, Francis, Mann an email letting them know about my blog post.  
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I also sent an email to Dr Klotzbach regarding this post
This morning I received a lengthy email from him, considering my terse introductory email to him and this blog post, it was a wonderfully constructive succinct note outlining his position and I want to openly thank him for that and his civility.

More importantly it has enabled me to reset my attitude toward him and return my thoughts to my real focus.  Namely, trying to explicate the Map vs. Territory Problem.  
His note provides an excellent vehicle to help explain myself, I hope.  

More on that later.  

(September 9, 2017)
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I appreciate that I have a bit of in-your-face about my writing and have offended where none was intended, so this morning I was surprised and gratified that all three responded with valuable thoughts and links to papers that would help round out my understanding of their disagreement.  I would have liked to reproduce the email string, but it was a private dialogue, though I was given permission to write about it.  I was able to spend much of the rest of day reading through their various links in preparation for writing that post.

But, then came the evening's news and Phil Klotzbach blindsided me with a response to a question which sounded like it came straight from a Trump Administration talking head, rather than a serious scientist.  

His response goes way beyond the Map vs. Territory Problem, and raises questions about political bias coloring a trusted expert’s opinion to the point of willful deception.  Specifically his glib dismissal of global warming’s influence on hurricanes is in defiance of basic geophysical laws and the people's need to know!

(At 2:30) NPR asks:” Does climate change have anything to do with either the intensity of the storms or the frequency of the storms as we are experiencing them this season?”

Phil Klotzbach: “You know I mean the Atlantic actually the last years was below normal for hurricane activity and actually September’s of 2013, 13, 15, 16 were all very quiet.  Obviously this is a far cry from that, this has been an incredibly active last few weeks, but historically September is the most active month of the season.  

“When it comes to climate changes impacts on the storms though, most theoretical models really don’t see any change in the frequency, perhaps even going down a little bit.  They say maybe the storms will get slightly more intense.  But I look at the observations, I don’t do much theoretical modeling and in the observations it’s just really too hard to say.”

Powerful Storms Raise Questions About The Science Of Hurricanes
Heard on All Things Considered  -  September 7, 2017

NPR's Robert Siegel talks with Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University, about the science of hurricanes and what makes Hurricane Irma so unusual.


At it’s most innocent we have an example of something I’ve already mentioned, a people desperately clinging to dreams of yesterday’s normal, like a child desperately clinging to her mother as they're being inexorably torn apart for all time.  Unfortunately, what we refuse to comprehend will harm, nay destroy all we’ve come to love about this world.

Klotzbach’s first paragraph reveals a sadly one dimensional scorekeeper’s mentality that does nothing to help inform people about our situation. 
Our global heat and moisture distribution engine has many cycles, last decade the oceans were absorbing great quantities of heat, now some of that heat is being returned with a vengeance, so it goes. 

Taking childish comfort in a few years of no landfall hurricanes not only shows a blind eye to our climate system’s oscillations - but also human and society’s concerns which play out on decadal time scales.  Then by focusing his answer purely on September and hurricane numbers he hides the real story from an audience who have a right to know the unvarnished truth.  For an overview of why Klotzbach’s complacency is wrong and misleading:

Why the ‘major-hurricane drought’ is the most overblown statistic in meteorology
By Jason Samenow - Washington Post - October 24, 2016

The science behind the U.S.’s strange hurricane ‘drought’ — and its sudden end
By Chris Mooney - Washington Post - September 7, 2017

Klotzbach’s second paragraph,

“When it comes to climate changes impacts on the storms though, most theoretical models really don’t see any change in the frequency, perhaps even going down a little bit.  They say maybe the storms will get slightly more intense.”  

This is deception via statistical misdirection and losing sight of the beast.  Step back and please consider, Earth is a global heat and moisture distribution engine, it is a virtually closed system powered by the sun.  The atmosphere that encloses and seals in our climate engine also insulates Earth from frigid outer space.  

That insulation’s “R value” is regulated by so-called greenhouse gases, which humanity has been adding into our atmosphere at unimaginable rates, so much so that greenhouse gas levels have been significantly increased.  Inevitably resulting in our global climate engine and Earth’s surface warming up. Simple unavoidable physics!  As we are indeed witnessing.  

Hurricanes are fueled by ocean heat, atmospheric heat and moisture and all three of those components are increasing.  Their function is to distribute heat from the broiling equatorial zone to polar regions   Increase the heat of that virtually closed system and how in physic's name can the hurricanes that spawn within this warmer moister environment not possess the increased available energy?

Klotzbach “But I look at the observations, I don’t do much theoretical modeling and in the observations it’s just really too hard to say.”

Okay time to call in some authorities: 

Fundamental physical principles and observed weather trends mean we already know some of the answers - and we have for a long time.

Hurricanes get their energy from warm ocean waters, and the ocean are warming because of the human-caused buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, primarily from the burning of coal, oil and gas.  The strongest hurricanes have gotten stronger because of global warming.  Over the past two years, we have witnessed the most intense hurricanes on record for the globe, both hemispheres, the Pacific and now, with Irma, the Atlantic.

We also know that warmer air holds more moisture, and the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere has increased because of human-induced global warming.  We’ve measured this increase, and it has been unequivocally attributed to human-caused warming.  That extra moisture causes heavier rainfall, which has also been observed and attributed to our influence on climate.  We know that rainfall rate in hurricane are expected to increase in a warmer world, and now we’re living that reality. …”

Quoting from: 
“Irma and Harvey should kill any doubt that climate change is real”
We can't afford to keep pretending.  -  September 7, 2017

Michael E. Mann, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University

Susan J. Hassol, director of Climate Communication LLC.

Thomas C. Peterson, president of the Commission for Climatology of the World Meteorological Organization. He was formerly principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and National Centers for Environmental Information.


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As I did more research on Phil Klotzbach I found this 

“After the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, Gray announced that he was stepping back from the primary authorship of CSU's tropical cyclone probability forecasts, passing the role to Philip J. Klotzbach. Gray indicated that he would be devoting more time to the issue of global warming. He did not attribute global warming to anthropogenic causes, and was critical of those who did.

Oh dear, mentored by the arch Anthropogenic Global Warming contrarian, William Gray.  Naturally invites the question, how much personal bias does Phil bring with him.

Gray and Muddy Thinking about Global Warming

Back many years ago I spent a good deal of time looking at Gray’s arguments, and they consist of a lot of hand waving but no actual papers written - for that matter he presented no constructive critiques that could be assessed and confronted, basically relying on liberally lacing his opining with cheap slander towards the integrity of climate scientists and counting on his audience's biased gullibility to accept his trash talk.

Then it gets worse, Phil Klotzbach has made common cause with the likes of Ross McKitrick, Roger Pielke Jr and Sr., and seems to find a ready audience at sites such as WattsUpWithThat and the so-called ScienceandPublicPolicyInstitute, which is actually a political advocacy outfit.

His 2015 paper Extremely Intense Hurricanes: Revisiting Webster et al. (2005) after 10 Years with Chris Landsea looks like an exercise in simplistic statistics divorced from all other geophysical considerations.
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It seems that some finer minds have also had great difficulty with some of Klotzbach’s assertions.

There is this by Michael Tobis, who holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences where he developed a 3-D ocean model on a custom computing platform.


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UPDATE: I also sent Michael Tobis an fyi about this blog post.  His response was friendly and constructive and it fits right into the Map vs. Territory Problem I'm struggling with, so I hope to return to it when I can.  

In fairness I will share the following quotes from Dr. Tobis' interesting email. 
Michael Tobis started with:  I have to say that while I found the one instance of Klotzbach's work that I looked into very weak, that doesn't mean I disagree very much with this assertion, ... 
and finished with:  ... When I spoke of "Klotzbach"  in my blog entries I was using scientific shorthand. I meant a specific paper we were discussing. I have not formed an opinion of Klotzbach as a person or a scientist, and I didn't mean anything ad hominem. I'm pretty sure James didn't either.
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Pielkes all the Way Down - August 14, 2009

“It’s a slippery slope. Once you look into what is being proposed as contrary science, it’s hard to avoid Pielke-land.

This starts with the infamous “hot spot” controversy, which I’ve seen described as a “holy grail” by denialists but which I had little idea about. So I started out trying to make sense of the Klotzbach paper referenced by d’Aleo. Well, I got sort of befuddled in the middle, but RP Jr has piped up, with a very strong informal blog claim that the paper constitutes “Evidence that Global Temperature Trends have been Overstated” which is somewhat more readable, but still confusing.

This in turn refers us to RP Sr, “Why there is a Warm Bias in the Existing Analyses of the Global Average Surface Temperature” which looks like fairly straightforward boundary layer talks. But it starts right out with a reference to a peer reviewed Matsui and Pielke 2005: “Should light wind and windy nights have the same temperature trends at individual levels even if the boundary layer averaged heat content change is the same?” Again, a paper that seems to flicker in and out of comprehensibility for me. But this last paper refers to Eastman et al 2001, claiming that …”

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My Final Word on Klotzbach - August 20, 2009

“… This is a big problem with politics mixing with science. If there were no policy issues at stake, if the modest and dubious results of the paper weren’t being egregiously overvalued and misrepresented, the scientific community could proceed in the ordinary dignified fashion of ignoring nonsense and focusing on sense. But with the standard Pielke to Watts to Morano to Inhofe play and its like, we are forced to pay attention.

Regarding getting out of this very unfortunate flavor of time sink, one thing I can imagine is to have gradations of “peer review” more complex than “published” or “unpublished”. Inhofe shouldn’t be waving something like this around in the senate claiming it meets the highest standards.

Even harder, but more urgent, is have a mechanism to dissuade (was “prevent”, see * below) authors from promoting public misinterpretations of their publications. That sort of behavior should have consequences. Making a boundary between PR enthusiasm and untruth is perhaps difficult, but then again, there are instances that clearly cross the line; a reader of Watts’ site could be forgiven for believing that the Pielkes claim to have provided evidence that the surface temperature trend is wrongly overstated, when they have not done so. …”

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`
James' Empty Blog by James Annan
has another interesting collection looking at these issues.
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Remember Pielke and Matsui 2005, Klotzbach et al 2009 and the debate over how plausible and valid their results were? You may recall my main complaint with PM05 (it wasn't my original observation, but I could see its significance) was that they had applied a large heat flux directly into the base of the atmosphere, which is not how GHGs work, but still claimed that their results were indicative of the effects of GHGs. Based on this implausible result, and some observations which were misinterpreted as supporting this theory (but which actually had the wrong sign) Klotzbach et al claimed that about 30% of the global temperature trend might be an artefact.

Well, a new paper has been published in JGR, …

Posted by James Annan at Friday, January 28, 2011 
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The Klotzbach et al paper (previous here) is finally published, and seems to have kicked off something of a blogstorm again.

As you may recall, when the preprint was first publicised, Gavin Schmidt quickly identified an error in the analysis. The paper looks at the difference in trend between surface and troposphere, and the claim that this points to some previously-unexplained factor (which they ascribe to "bias" in the surface measurements, see below) depends on the "expected" amplification factor of 1.2 which is derived from models. …

Posted by James Annan at Monday, November 16, 2009 
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I'm amused to see Roger Pielke Jr playing the Galileo Gambit regarding his (Klotzbach et al) paper:

Of course Roger wants to talk about politics and tribes, but I'd rather talk about science which is where this disagreement properly resides (IMO). Just to recap briefly:

Pielke and Matsui 2005 claims to have investigated the effect of temperature trends "such as due to increases in the atmospheric concentrations of the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane" on the lapse rate at night. However, they do this by applying a heat flux to the bottom boundary of the atmosphere. This is not how GHGs (or indeed any of the main climate forcings) act. Thus, their result, cited by Klotzbach et al as: "Monitoring temperature at a single height will produce a significant warm bias when the atmosphere has warmed over time [Pielke and Matsui, 2005]" is simply not valid, and there is absolutely no basis for this belief.  …

As for their complaints about tone, well motes and beams come to mind. Not to mention pots and kettles.

Posted by James Annan at Monday, August 31, 2009 
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I've got a lengthier post in the works, but since Roger Pielke Sr is demanding a response to this I will simply observe that for his new definition of "The Issue That James Annan and Gavin Schmidt Should Focus On With Respect To The Klotzbach Et Al 2009 Paper" he is quoting a paper on...impacts of land use cover change on climate! (the hint is in the title, folks)

However, Klotzbach et al repeatedly and emphatically talked about differences due to CO2 and other atmospheric factors: …

Posted by James Annan at Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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Posted by James Annan at Friday, August 21, 2009
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Down and down into the Pielkeian rabbit hole we go...

Recall that Klotzbach et al observe that the expected (model-based) tropospherical amplification factor of 1.2 is not easily found in a comparison of land surface observations and satellite measurements. They suggest that this is due to a change in lapse rate on calm nights, such that the surface (1.5-2m) temp is warmer than expected, relative to the satellites. There is an underlying series of papers (eg Lin et al 2007, Pielke and Matsui 2005) which discuss boundary layer effects over land at night.

Now I hadn't noticed on my first reading, but the claim that the 1.2 factor applies over land is actually attributed to analysis of the GISS model output by one Ross McKittrick, who one might consider a curious if not altogether dubious authority for this statement. …


Posted by James Annan at Wednesday, August 19, 2009 
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… Well, one thing it does not mean is the main title of RPJnr's post, that the surface temperature trend is overstated. There is nothing in the paper (despite three gratuitous plugs of Watt's photography site) that actually argues for the measured temperature trend being wrong in any way. Rather, the paper explains why the measured trend is a bit greater than would be expected (according to mainstream theory) in comparison to the satellite measurements.

In other words, the satellite measurements are biased low, if one attempts to interpret them as an estimate of the surface temperature trend via the standard 1:1.2 warming ratio. Not that I expect the Pielkes to like that particular interpretation, …

Posted by James Annan at Monday, August 17, 2009 
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11 comments:

citizenschallenge said...

8 am and views for this post are impressive.
Somebody write something. Feedback, dialogue...

Conveying the physical unavoidable reality of global warming and the climate change it is driving, is critical.

Look at Florida, it wasn't up until the last week before the storm that it got peoples attention.
We knew such events were coming the only random component is the when and where!
I heard that in Miami there were 17 construction cranes left to swing in the wind like weather vanes.
17 high rise cranes, how could any intelligent person think it a good idea to build another dozen high rises in Miami.

Only through the expedient of totally ignoring the evidence and embracing vacuous nonsense,
such as that uttered by Klotzbach yesterday.

Michael Tobis said...

Here's the whole letter.

===

Peter, thanks for the heads up.

I have to say that while I found the one instance of Klotzbach's work that I looked into very weak, that doesn't mean I disagree very much with this assertion:

: “You know I mean the Atlantic actually the last years was below normal for hurricane activity and actually September’s of 2013, 13, 15, 16 were all very quiet. Obviously this is a far cry from that, this has been an incredibly active last few weeks, but historically September is the most active month of the season.

“When it comes to climate changes impacts on the storms though, most theoretical models really don’t see any change in the frequency, perhaps even going down a little bit. They say maybe the storms will get slightly more intense. But I look at the observations, I don’t do much theoretical modeling and in the observations it’s just really too hard to say.”

I think it is more correct than not, and I think Mike Mann is way out of line on connecting Harvey to climate change in the unequivocal way he does.

Irma is a more difficult case. It's true that very warm waters lift the speed limit on tropical storms. So the very strongest storms are getting stronger, and this is certainly a case in point. It's also the case that if things turn out as they unfortunately look to be doing, global-warming driven sea level rise will contribute to the very large damage that Irma does.

But with Harvey, the main unusual feature was that it was stationary. Whether that is climate change connected is speculative, though it fits in with Francis' theory, and in my opinion, if there's anything to Francis' theory, it would be most effective in late summer/early fall, i.e., Atlantic hurricane season, when the Arctic ice is at its lowest ebb. But that's hardly proven.

Have a look at the whole record, though. https://www.axios.com/a-history-of-atlantic-hurricanes-2482247577.html shows the last thirty years quite nicely. If you can spot an impressive trend there, please tell me about it.

In 2005, people were quick to blame the intense hurricane season on climate change. Then it quieted down for eleven years. If your claim that the physics made tropical storms inevitable was true, it's hard to see the record looking like that.

When I spoke of "Klotzbach" in my blog entries I was using scientific shorthand. I meant a specific paper we were discussing. I have not formed an opinion of Klotzbach as a person or a scientist, and I didn't mean anything ad hominem. I'm pretty sure James didn't either.

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I expand on these themes here: https://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2017/09/neptunes-revenge.html

citizenschallenge said...

Thank you Dr. Tobis.

citizenschallenge said...


Michael Tobis: "I think it is more correct than not, and I think Mike Mann is way out of line on connecting Harvey to climate change in the unequivocal way he does."

Though I wish you would outline specifically why you say that..

CC

George Bailley said...

Hi

In general Phil's comments align with what most tropical cyclone specialists would say. Probably a slight decrease in the number of systems, probably a slight increase in the intensity.

If SST / ocean heat content was the sole discriminant in intensity then most TC would go to Cat 4 or Cat 5. Because other factors are at play we see very few get to that intensity. It is how those other factors will change with global warming that makes the intensity question challenging.

George.

Michael Tobis said...

I did the best I could at the blog post I linked above.

citizenschallenge said...

That was a disappointing dodge Dr. Tobis.

But, it doesn't compute.
You say the relationship between Harvey and global warming is unclear?

* Global warming is definitely directly related to that hot Gulf of Mexico waters that fed an explosive intensification of a tropical storm.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that the atmosphere is holding more moisture and making it available for storm systems such as Harvey to collect and dump.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that our Jet Stream has gotten weirder and is currently causing the stalling and reversal of Harvey’s northward movement.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that sea level is rising and thus adding substantially to damaging storm surges.

* Global warming is definitely directly related the Brown Ocean Effect that continued feeding moisture, energy into Harvey after it made land fall.

What about the role of hurricanes to help move access heat from tropical regions towards polar regions. Tropics are getting warmer than they have in human memory - how is that unrelated to the systems that circulate that heat?

It seems unfathomable that hurricanes can remain neutral, but in essence that is what you are telling people.

It's a huge disservice, it is that sort of misguided reassurance you are sending out that enable people to ignore today's brave new threats until they are days away, with warning and directions being screaming at them.

Michael Tobis said...

Mike Mann feels that my description of his position "Mike Mann is way out of line on connecting Harvey to climate change in the unequivocal way he does" amounts to a misrepresentation of his position as being that Harvey was caused by climate change.

I can see how it could be read that way.

In fact, Dr. Mann has scrupulously avoided making such a claim, and I apologize for my implying anything of the sort.

citizenschallenge said...

Sorry, inadequate.

Dr. Tobis, this is what you said: Michael Tobis: "I think it is more correct than not, and I think Mike Mann is way out of line on connecting Harvey to climate change in the unequivocal way he does."

It deserves an explanation. You sure sound like you are saying connecting Harvey and global warming is a fool's errand.

I would like to understand why you choose to dismiss this collection of facts
(and no your blog post didn't clarify this aspect - https://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2017/09/neptunes-revenge.html):

* Global warming is definitely directly related to that hot Gulf of Mexico waters that fed an explosive intensification of a tropical storm.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that the atmosphere is holding more moisture and making it available for storm systems such as Harvey to collect and dump.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that our Jet Stream has gotten weirder and is currently causing the stalling pattern and reversal of Harvey’s northward movement.

* Global warming is definitely directly related to the fact that sea level is rising and thus adding substantially to damaging storm surges.

* Global warming is definitely directly related the Brown Ocean Effect that continued feeding moisture, energy into Harvey after it made land fall.

George Bailley said...

I may be conflating two elements into one story line .. but in terms of the original question "Does climate change have anything to do with either the intensity of the storms or the frequency of the storms as we are experiencing them this season" - then the above points that you postulate relate to the IMPACT of Harvey .. not the WIND INTENSITY of Harvey.

Global warming may lead to warmer SSTs increasing wind intensity, but also strong upper level wind shear decreasing wind intensity.

citizenschallenge said...

Fair enough, but in the end our climate engine is still stuck with transporting all the extra energy towards polar regions.

Perhaps it will manifest itself as fewer storms, so what, they will of course be that much bigger and destructive.
The heat is still going to be transported, whether we can figure out every destructive avenue or not.
It's like watching the ten tiny blind people examining the elephant.

Can we step back - our virtually closed globe, equator 27/7/365 broiling, atmospheric insulation retaining greater quantities of heat, than the system has been used to for eons. The global heat and moisture distribution who functions as heat and moisture distribution engine WILL TRANSPORT THOSE AMOUNTS OF HEAT BUILDING UP!

Ultimately, that's the story, not human's desperate efforts to quantify and minimize every detail.

Re. hurricanes, so it may take years for the sloshing and jostling of global ocean currents and atmospheric conditions to line up for that season when significant transport can occur. But they will and we'd better stop pretending that the future is going to look anything like our past century.