Every day we hear that storms of greater intensity than ever before are occurring, and it will get worse because of global warming. These claims contradict the current and historic evidence and the mechanisms of formation for mid-latitude cyclonic storms and tornadoes. The misinformation is further evidence of the misdirection created by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Their examination of the historic record involved creating, altering or ignoring the evidence to fit and support their narrative. In doing so, they eliminated variability, which is major evidence of the underlying mechanisms that create extreme weather. The 70-year smoothing average of the Antarctic ice core data is a classic example.
There is no doubt the IPCC set climate research back almost 30 years. They became the central authority on climate change and directed all the focus of research to anthropogenic global warming (AGW). This position started with the definition of climate change provided by their political directors at the United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change (UNFCCC). It continued with eliminating or rewriting the historic records of CO2 and temperature.
The Historic Record
Major architects of the IPCC worked at or with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at East Anglia. They were familiar with the major works of its founder, Hubert Lamb. Instead of working from his base that analyzed the historic frequency, intensity and pathways of mid-latitude North Atlantic storms they saw it and other reconstructions of past weather as major obstacles.
Lamb’s work was as threatening to the IPCC narrative as the Soon and Baliunas’ study of historic weather patterns, “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1,000 years.” The infamous “hockey stick” designed to eliminate the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) depicted in the famous 7c graph (Figure 1) of the 1990 IPCC Report, eliminated the varying temperature pattern. The transition from warm to cold periods alters the frequency and intensity of mid-latitude storms as Lamb’s work clearly showed. The latitude of the Circumpolar Vortex and amplitude of the Rossby Waves determines the outbreaks of cold Arctic air that increases the temperature difference potential for storms.
Marcel Leroux and his students did similar studies but called the Rossby Wave outbreaks of cold Polar air Mobile Polar Highs (MPH). In traditional Air Mass climatology, they were called outbreaks of continental Arctic (cA) air.
Source: Briggs, Smithson and Ball
The Basic Driving Mechanism
Figure 2 shows the basic division of the Northern Hemisphere atmosphere between the cold polar air and the warm subtropical air. Most severe weather occurs in the middle latitudes between approximately 30° and 65° of latitude where the temperature contrast is greatest over a short distance. A measure of this difference is called the Zonal Index (ZI). The ZI is most intense at the Polar Front and coincident with the Zone of Energy Balance (ZEB) (Figure 3).
Source: After Fundamentals of Physical Geography Briggs, Smithson and Ball
Cyclonic storms, blizzards, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are created where the warm and cold air meet and the ZI is high. The frequency and intensity of the storms is a function of the temperature difference between the Polar and Tropical air.
IPCC Claims Versus Reality
The IPCC anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis says the Polar air will warm more than the Tropical air resulting in increased storminess. In fact, this reduces the ZI and, therefore, the frequency and intensity of storms.
Figure 4 shows the frequency of strong US tornadoes from 1954 to 2014, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). They claim,
“The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.”
The graph clearly shows that severe tornadoes were higher in the period from 1954 to 1975 when global temperatures were going down. After 1980, the world warmed, but the number of severe tornadoes declined.
In a note prefacing an article titled “Captains’logs yield clues to past climates and hurricanes.” Anthony Watts wrote,
“What I find most interesting is the ‘Surge in the frequency’ of storms in cold periods.”
If the “hockey stick” is correct the surge of storms in cold periods could not occur. But, Lamb and Douglas showed varying temperatures, exemplified in Figure 7c, but also varying storm frequencies and intensities. The probability of massive storms is reduced if the temperature is essentially unchanging over the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The problem is many storms occurred as one inventory identified.
In Historic Storms of the North Sea, British Isles and Northwest Europe (henceforth ‘Historic Storms’), Lamb and Frydendahl (1991) provide synoptic reconstructions alongside detailed descriptions of the major storms crossing the region since the year 1509. Storm events were selected for inclusion based on either the severity of the wind damage or historical significance, and were reconstructed by collating a variety of information.
As an example, there was the well-documented storm that destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588. Lamb and Douglas produced daily weather maps for a three-month period of 1588 including isobars based on ships records, and observations in Western Europe, such as the journals kept by astronomer Tycho Brahe. The storm winds consistently blew in favour of the English fleet and against the Spanish. A favourite phrase after the Armada defeat said, “Jehovah blew with His winds, and they were scattered”, others called it a Divine Wind.
Another well-recorded storm began on November 26, 1703 ¹, and was also considered divine. The Church of England blamed God’s vengeance for a sinful nation. Social activist and author of Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe, said it was God’s retribution for the poor performance of the Protestant British Army against the Catholic Spanish Army. Defoe travelled around parts of England to see the effects of the storm. He also invited people to send him personal reports that he used as the basis for his book, The Storm, published in 1704 (Figure 5).
¹Calendar corrections mean historical research requires knowledge of the changes to compare them to the current calendar. In this case you add 11 days so the storm occurred on 7 December in today’s calendar.
The IPCC make major claims about the impact of global warming to increase the threat and scare the public to advance their political agenda. None of it bears investigation, scientific or otherwise! Storminess is not currently increasing. Their theory of future increased storminess contradicts the physics of the formation mechanism. There are countless other storms in the period covered by the shaft of the “hockey stick”, many with greater intensity than those of 1588 and 1703. By creating the “hockey stick” and other devices to support their hypothesis that it is warmer now than ever, and weather more severe, and going to get worse, they had to eliminate or ignore all the historic evidence. As my Grandmother used to say, “Their sins will find them out.”