April 16, 2011

The snowy, floody, hotty totty connection

Red River of the North flood at Fargo, April, 1897.

Remember a couple of years ago when President Obama who seems to be an expert on everything other than the Presidency, connected the North Dakota flooding in the spring of 2009 to "climate change"?
"If you look at the flooding that's going on right now in North Dakota and you say to yourself, 'If you see an increase of two degrees, what does that do, in terms of the situation there?'" Obama told reporters at the White House Monday. "That indicates the degree to which we have to take this seriously."
 Much was made of this at the time and since the past couple of winters have been particularly snowy in most of the northern tier states, the "consensus community" has had to develop a party line to account for conditions not generally associated with global warming. Thus we get endless pseudo-scientific analysis centered around the idea that a warmer atmosphere will hold more moisture hence, more snow. A Master(ful) example
It's not hard at all to get temperatures cold enough for snow in a world experiencing global warming. According to the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the globe warmed 0.74°C (1.3°F) over the past 100 years. There will still be colder than average winters in a world that is experiencing warming, with plenty of opportunities for snow. The more difficult ingredient for producing a record snowstorm is the requirement of near-record levels of moisture. Global warming theory predicts that global precipitation will increase, and that heavy precipitation events--the ones most likely to cause flash flooding--will also increase. This occurs because as the climate warms, evaporation of moisture from the oceans increases, resulting in more water vapor in the air.
 So I was not surprised when I ran across this little article, video of climate change induced flooding available at the link for the article. (emphasis mine)
Snow, Climate Change Adds To Flooding Woes In Fargo & Grand Forks, ND
Houses south of Grand Forks, North Dakota sit flooded as the Red River continues to rise. The national weather services says the river that borders Minnesota and North Dakota reached a preliminary crest at 49.87 feet on Thursday at Grand Forks. The river reaches eight miles wide or more at Oslo, Minnesota, which has become an island as the last roads to Oslo closed.

The National Weather Service says flooding will continue well into May. The area continues to experience wetter than normal winters because climate change is keeping the air warmer, which then contains more moisture.

The Red River crest at Grand Forks is the third highest on record The Coast Guard has a total of 54 people in the region to support the flood response operations. There are two airboats, two rescue helicopters, an aircraft and boat maintenance and support team. An additional 19 personnel comprise the incident management team located at Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi, St. Louis, Mo. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Below: video from Fargo, North Dakota and Valley City, North Dakota as the rivers there were rising earlier this week.
So there you have it, the snowy, floody, hotty totty connection narrative simply put in a very concise and easily digestible form for public consumption.

Being the skeptic that I am, I decided to see exactly how this all meshed together with actual facts. So I went to our friends at NOAA, the keeper of the records for all things climate, (US version). Having a basic idea of where North Dakota is on the map, I chose the regional records (West North Central).

The first thing I wanted to check on was the winter precipitation for the region. Here is what I found.

Winter (Dec-Feb) 1901 - 2000 Average = 1.87 Inches
Winter (Dec-Feb) 1895 - 2011 Trend = -0.02 Inches / Decade

You will notice that since climate is supposed to be measured over long periods of time that the trend line over the past century plus is of decreasing precipitation in winter, not increasing. But then again the past three years have been slightly above that average. To be totally accurate

2011-2.61 inches
2010-1.94 inches
2009-2.26 inches

All above the 20th century average precipitation of 1.87 inches for the region. But again to be accurate the flooding in the upper mid-west, Fargo etc. is the result not only of the winter snow melt but also the March precipitation. I believe it is reasonable to say that the flooding represented by the story above as well as Obama's comments which were made in March of 2009 are the result of winter snowfall combined with March's precipitation. So let's look just at March

March 1901 - 2000 Average = 0.95 Inches
March 1895 - 2011 Trend = 0.00 Inches / Decade

A sight increase.  March precipitation for the region for the past three years looks like this;

2011-.93 inches
2010-.84 inches
2009-1.24 inces

So two of the last three years have had less than the 20th century average of .95 precipitation in the month of March.

Just for kicks and giggles let's add these up and see how drastic the precipitation has been for the past three years. The 20th century average of winter precipitation added to March precipitation is 2.82 inches. The past three years have been

2011-3.54 (+.72)
2010-2.78 (-.04)
2009-3.50 (+.68)

Well there you have it global warming is flooding Fargo North Dakota. The past three years have averaged 3.27 inches of precipitation for the region, an increase of .45 inches over the 20th century average for the three years.

All that extra heat in the atmosphere is soaking up the moisture and dumping it down on the upper Midwest reeking havoc on man and beast, not to mention the all important corn for ethanol crops.

How much have the winters warmed, well let's look shall we? Back to NOAA

Winter (Dec-Feb) 1901 - 2000 Average = 19.43 degF
Winter (Dec-Feb) 1895 - 2011 Trend = 0.22 degF / Decade

Yes it certainly is getting warmer isn't it....well except for the past three years. Now isn't that interesting?

2011-17.7 deg F (-1.73)
2010-16.5 deg F (-2.93)
2009-19.2 deg F (-.2)

Being the simpleton that I am I would say that below normal temperatures would cause more snow in winter but then again I am not a scientist. After all the last three years have had above average winter precipitation right? And it has been colder than normal right? Therefore the colder weather has resulted in more snow.... right? Not according to climate scientist who can not have it rain....or snow on their parade.

Hey did you notice though, that way back, before the onslaught of automobiles they had snowy weather too? Let's take another three year period and see how that compares to 20th century averages, shall we? How about:

1916-2.56 inches (+.69)
1917-2.42 inches (+.55)
1918-2.83 inches (+.96)

What were the winter temperatures like in those very snowy winters before we heated the atmosphere with all our CO2?

1916-14.8 deg F (-4.63)
1917-12.8 deg F (-6.5)
1918-15.6 deg F (-3.7)

Now isn't that interesting, three below normal cold winters almost a hundred years ago produced three snowy winters in the Upper Midwest and three recent colder than normal winters also produced snowy winters in the same location. And the common factor is.....

Global Warming?
Just to be consistent here is the precipitation for March in those three years?

1916-1.03 inches (+.08)
1917- .96  inches (+.03)
1918- .71  inches (-.20)

Interesting enough, in trying to explain the recent snow, one of our Master climate scientist made this observation, "The old adage, 'It's too cold to snow,' has some truth to it," said Masters. "A colder atmosphere holds less moisture, limiting the snowfall that can occur."

Well if that is true then why is it that three of the coldest winters in the twentieth century in this region produced three of the snowiest winters? Not to mention the fact that the three years being discussed here in regards to flooding were all below normal in winter temperatures. Based on this theory of heat = moisture = increased winter snows =flooding why wasn't 1998-1999 the snowiest winter in the twentieth century since 1998 was supposedly the warmest year? But the fact is that the following winter there was below normal snow not only in the upper Midwest but across the entire Northern Hemisphere.

The idea that flooding in Fargo is the result of increased precipitation caused by more moisture in the atmosphere due to global warming is not born out by the historical record.  But what do facts have to do with it when you have a theory to maintain.

Intuitively people know that colder winters are more likely to produce snow than warmer winters, I doubt that but a tiny fraction of the human race that has ever walked the globe would argue with this, yet we are to trust that modern climate science has disproved that which centuries of observation has confirmed to be common sense, remarkable.

Oh by the way did you notice in the above graph that the coldest and warmest winters were thirteen years apart 1979 being the coldest 9.75 deg F and 1992 being the warmest 27.6 deg F.  A difference of 17.85 deg F for winter in just 13 years, now that is warming!  But look what has happened in the past 18 years:

Winter (Dec-Feb) 1901 - 2000 Average = 19.42 degF
Winter (Dec-Feb) 1992 - 2011 Trend = -1.16 degF / Decade

If this trend continues we are in real trouble.

No comments:

Post a Comment