Archive for the ‘Blog Article’ Category

Patricia’s Tight Blue Eye

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

As Hyper-Hurricane Patricia approaches the western coast of Mexico with 190 mph sustained winds, satellite imagery shows what is usually only seen in typically-stronger West Pacific typhoons — a very constricted eye (in the center of the imagery), roughly akin to an extremely large tornado (but different physics, I know):

MODIS color imagery of Hurricane Patricia with 190 mph maximum sustained surface winds.

MODIS color imagery of Hurricane Patricia with 190 mph maximum sustained surface winds.

Eastern Pacific hurricanes are typically not flown into with “hurricane hunter” aircraft, so it’s questionable whether this one really is a “record setter”…they flew into this one because it looked like it would be unusually strong. The intensity of these systems is usually estimated based upon appearance in satellite visible and infrared imagery, which is prone to error.

This one is the strongest “hurricane” (Atlantic or East Pacific nomenclature) they have happened to fly into. It’s doubtful that a stronger one hasn’t occurred in, say, the last 50 years which wasn’t flown into with aircraft.

Gimme Three Steps Toward the Renewable Energy Door

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015

jesus-turbines-smallA TV meteorologist named Greg Fishel (WRAL, Raleigh, NC) posted an article yesterday on their WRAL Weathercenter Blog entitled Choose science, stewardship in understanding climate change. In the blog post Mr. Fishel claims — I hope I am not putting words in his mouth — to have finally accepted human-caused climate change, and therefore encourages other conservative Christians like himself to put aside partisanship for the good of humanity and the Earth.

I actually agree with most of the science he presents, but I want to address why he is misguided in his conclusions.

Mr. Fishel got (at most) 1 in 3 correct

In order to actually do something about human-caused climate change, primarily caused by our carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use, you must answer “yes” to the three following questions:

1. Do humans significantly contribute to climate change?

2. Does that human contribution have a demonstrably negative impact?

3. Can we do anything to significantly avert it with new energy technologies without causing human suffering?

Unfortunately, while Mr. Fishel spent most of his time on #1, he sort of skipped #2 and #3…or at least hasn’t spent much time researching them.

So, let’s take these three steps, one at a time.

1. Do humans significantly contribute to climate change?

I actually mostly agree with him on #1. I believe humans have caused maybe 50% of the recent warming of the oceans and the atmosphere, say since the 1950s since we have a published paper analyzing that time period. But Mr. Fishel seems to believe it was all caused by humans, since he says that “it can’t be the Sun”. Well, there are actually quite a few other possibilities, since even without humans the climate system changes all by itself. For example, a small change in ocean circulation can cause a small change in cloudiness. The recent multi-decadal period of stronger El Ninos by itself can explain about half of recent warming. Yes, the stratosphere has cooled, partly due to increasing CO2. But “weather” makes attribution of a human effect on tropospheric temperatures — where people live — much more difficult.

2. Does that human contribution have a demonstrably negative impact?
Here’s where Mr. Fishel has little to say. It has not been demonstrated that any kind of severe weather has increased because of our addition of 1 CO2 molecule to each 10,000 molecules of atmosphere over the last century. He ignores the benefits of mild warming (which likely isn’t even all our fault, and which has been demonstrably below computer model projections), as well as the benefits of more CO2 on the biosphere and agriculture (based upon satellite measurements of global greening and literally hundreds of agricultural experiments).

3. Can we do anything to significantly avert it with new energy technologies without causing human suffering?
This is where Greg Fishel appears to be the most misguided. Here’s a quote from his article:

“And on top of all of this, we hear the argument that it is economic suicide for the U.S. to act alone, and that we need the cooperation of China and India. Did you know both of those countries are leaving us in the dust when it comes to pursuing new technologies relating to energy production? Those countries see the economic opportunity and are going after it while we sit around and have politically partisan arguments.”

This simply could not be further from the truth.

In the lead-up to the Paris climate conference in December, China and India are basically thumbing their nose at the world on carbon dioxide emissions. They will continue to burn fossil fuels at an increasing rate.

There is no “magic bullet” green energy technology which can replace fossil fuels, period. Plus, wind and solar power are so expensive (and did I mention intermittent?) that to rely on them in any but isolated, special cases will hurt economies and make poverty worse, not better.

This is why green energy programs, where they have been tried, are now being abandoned as too expensive and provide too little return in energy production.

As I’ve said before, I really don’t care where our energy comes from…as long as it is inexpensive and abundant, because that’s what humanity requires. And I don’t care if the CEOs of every coal and petroleum company ends up disagreeing with me, and decide to join the ranks of the alarmists.

Since Greg Fishel invoked “Christ’s teachings”, let me do the same.

How can we provide for widows and orphans if we can’t even provide for ourselves?

Until new energy technologies are eventually developed — (the U.S. does not sit on our hands in alternative energy research) — the most moral thing we can do for humanity is to use fossil fuels.

(A good place to start for Christians who want to learn more about our options from a biblical world view is the Cornwall Alliance.)

South Carolina Flooding is NOT a 1 in 1,000 Year Event

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

There is no question that the flooding in South Carolina is exceptional, even historic.

But a once on 1,000 year event? Sorry, but there is no way to determine that…there are simply not enough rainfall statistics over a long enough period of time to establish such a claim.

But we do have information on previous floods over the last 100 years or so. So, let’s look at how the current event compares.

The greatest multi-day rainfall reported on the CoCoRaHS cooperative rainfall monitoring website was 27 inches in Columbia, SC. The Congaree River crested at 31 ft. there on Sunday:

Congaree River gage height at Columbia, SC.

Congaree River gage height at Columbia, SC.

Here’s a photo taken about the time the river crested:

Photo of Congaree River, Columbia, SC, Oct. 4, 2015, taken about the time of cresting.

Photo of Congaree River, Columbia, SC, Oct. 4, 2015, taken about the time of cresting.

Now, for comparison, take a look at a bridge over the Congaree River during the record flood of 1908, when the river crested at 40 ft…about 9 ft. higher than the current flood event:

Congaree River bridge in Columbia, SC, during the 1908 record flood event.

Congaree River bridge in Columbia, SC, during the 1908 record flood event.

Not to discount the misery and likely billions of dollars of damage caused by the current event, but when someone claims that a weather disaster is 1 in a 1,000 year event, they need to back it up.

Unfortunately, there seems to be an trend toward classifying events as “1 in 1,000 years”, when there is no way of knowing such things. This is especially true for floods, where paving of urban and suburban areas causes increasing runoff, making river flooding worse for the same amount of rainfall. This is a big reason why flood events have gotten worse in the last 100 years…it has nothing to do with “climate change”.

For some areas the current flood is no doubt a 1 in 100 year event, or even worse. But remember, it is perfectly normal to have a 1 in 100 year event every year…as long as they occur in different locations.

That’s how weather records work.

Historic Flooding in South Carolina Expected

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

UPDATE: (8:50 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 4). As predicted, heavy rain has spread over much of SC during the night, and there are widespread reports of over 10 inches of total storm rainfall, with one of 24 inches (Mt. Pleasant, near Charleston). Columbia has received 8-10 inches, and heavy rain continues there. Unbelievably, the midnight GFS model run predicts an additional 12 inches of rain over much of central and southeast SC by mid-day Monday. I suspect we are looking at a catastrophic flooding situation in some areas.

The Pacolet River, South Carolina, flood of 1903.

The Pacolet River, South Carolina, flood of 1903.

As much as two feet of rain is expected in South Carolina this weekend, which could produce the worst flooding in the state since records began. Governor Nikki Haley has already declared a state of emergency for the state. For comparison, the worst SC floods on record occurred in 1903, 1908, 1940, 1945, and 1990.

Flooding has already begun in Charleston, where 5-7 inches of rain has accumulated as of this morning and some water rescues are being made. North Myrtle Beach has received 9.30 inches so far.

Here is the latest GFS model predicted rain totals by Monday morning (graphic courtesy of

Total predicted rainfall by Monday morning, Oct. 5, from the GFS model.

Total predicted rainfall by Monday morning, Oct. 5, from the GFS model.

Purple areas in the above image indicate over 12 inches of predicted rainfall.

So far, most of the rain has been restricted to the eastern half of the state where several inches have fallen, but the heavy rain will spread over the rest of the state today.

Local flood information for the Midlands of South Carolina from WLTX can be found here.

Current South Carolina radar

UAH V6.0 Global Temperature Update for Sept. 2015: +0.25 deg C

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

NOTE: This is the sixth monthly update with our new Version 6.0 dataset. Differences versus the old Version 5.6 dataset are discussed here.

The Version 6.0 global average lower tropospheric temperature (LT) anomaly for September, 2015 is +0.25 deg. C, down slightly from the August, 2015 value of +0.28 deg. C (click for full size version):


The global, hemispheric, and tropical LT anomalies from the 30-year (1981-2010) average for the last 9 months are:

2015 1 +0.28 +0.40 +0.16 +0.13
2015 2 +0.18 +0.30 +0.05 -0.06
2015 3 +0.17 +0.26 +0.07 +0.05
2015 4 +0.09 +0.18 -0.01 +0.10
2015 5 +0.29 +0.36 +0.21 +0.28
2015 6 +0.33 +0.41 +0.25 +0.46
2015 7 +0.18 +0.33 +0.03 +0.48
2015 8 +0.28 +0.25 +0.30 +0.52
2015 9 +0.25 +0.14 +0.17 +0.55

The tropics continue to slowly warm with El Nino conditions there.

The global image for September, 2015 should be available in the next several days here.

The new Version 6 files (use the ones labeled “beta3″) should be updated soon, and are located here:

Lower Troposphere:
Lower Stratosphere:

Hurricane Joaquin: False Alarm for the U.S. East Coast?

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

The GFS model runs from last night and this morning have shifted the track of Hurricane Joaquin significantly eastward, reducing the possibility of a direct hit on the U.S.

The National Hurricane Center has conservatively adjusted it’s official forecast track a little to the east, but their storm discussion drops an important hint:

“It is also possible that Joaquin will remain far from the U.S. east coast.”

Here’s the latest official forecast track:


Yet, the very latest GFS model run just in has shifted the storm even farther east, so I suspect we will see the official forecast follow suit this afternoon. Here’s the latest GFS forecast position for 2 p.m. Monday afternoon (graphic courtesy of

GFS model forecast sea level pressure and near-surface winds for 2 p.m. Monday, October 5, 2015.

GFS model forecast sea level pressure and near-surface winds for 2 p.m. Monday, October 5, 2015.

If that forecast is anywhere close to correct, even Nova Scotia will be spared.

Nevertheless, heavy rains are forecast to continue for the mid-Atlantic states, with excessively large amounts possible in portions of the Carolinas. The latest model run indicates as much as 12-18 inches in South Carolina (!)

None of this is a done deal, however. The longer Joaquin lingers in the Bahamas, the farther east it will likely track as the approaching trough from the west picks it up. But if it decides to head north a little early, it could still hit as far south as the Carolinas. So, the forecast remains unusually risky at this point, and the NHC (and the NWS in general) must always err on the side of caution.

What I find a little ironic is that if this storm were to hit the East Coast, we would have to suffer through endless claims of “climate change!”. Yet if it stays at sea, no one complains.

It’s the same storm, folks, no matter what track it takes.

Hurricane Joaquin: “Established by God”

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015
Hurricane Joaquin as imaged by the NASA MODIS instrument mid-day Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 (Google Earth remap).

Hurricane Joaquin as imaged by the NASA MODIS instrument mid-day Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015 (Google Earth remap).

After ten years without a major (Cat3+) hurricane hit on the U.S., intensifying Hurricane Joaquin (from the Hebrew for “established by Jehovah”) is causing understandable nervousness along the East Coast.

The storm is still meandering east of the Bahamas, and there is great uncertainty about just when it will be picked up by an approaching trough from the west. The National Hurricane Center is calling for it to reach “major hurricane” status, but as can be seen in the following graphic, the model guidance is all over the map regarding the track:


We will know more in the next day or two, but one very real possibility is that the hurricane will join forces with the weather system approaching from the west, and cause some pretty nasty flooding from the Carolinas up through the mid-Atlantic, along with widespread high winds.

Nothing is for sure right now, so stay tuned.

Minnesota Hearing Addresses the Social Cost of Carbon

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Estimated changes in vegetative cover due to CO2 fertilization between 1982 and 2010 (Donohue et al., 2013 GRL).

Estimated changes in vegetative cover due to CO2 fertilization between 1982 and 2010 (Donohue et al., 2013 GRL).

I testified before an administrative law judge (ALJ) in St. Paul, MN last week as part of a process that will determine what value the State of Minnesota decides to place on “carbon pollution”, also called the social cost of carbon (SCC).

This was the first expert testimony I have provided other than the several times I have testified in Congress. Congressional testimony is much more free-wheeling…more like a show for entertainment value and political posturing.

The Minnesota hearing was more like what you have seen on TV, with objections being made, sustained, and overruled. There were even accusations of “badgering the witness”.

It was interesting, to say the least.

There were economists who testified on both sides as to whether the economic models used were appropriate, whether they made valid assumptions, etc. I only saw two witnesses testify on that issue, one from each side.

It was clear that the lawyers from both sides were more comfortable cross-examining witnesses on economic issues than on the science behind the IPCC’s estimates of future warming, which (of course) are one of the primary inputs to any SCC model calculation. The greater the human-caused climate change, presumably the greater the damage caused by it (although one can also claim there are benefits, since cold weather kills more people on average than hot weather).

The judge had another judge present to help her out, one with an economics background and who could advise the ALJ on some of the more technical issues. The ALJ seemed most focused on procedural issues (as she should be, I suppose), making decisions regarding whether certain pieces of evidence would be admitted, etc. She seemed fair in the way she handled objections from both sides.

Scientists providing 5-minute opening statements along with me were Dick Lindzen and Will Happer. Lindzen mainly addressed climate sensitivity, Happer argued that CO2 emissions were actually a benefit, and I emphasized that the IPCC models used for the SCC calculations were demonstrably biased in their global warming projections.

As I recall, Happer received a minor question on cross-examination, while Lindzen was pressed on one of his claims regarding climate sensitivity, which he was forced to clarify. All five lawyers declined to ask me any questions on cross examination.

All of us provided written testimony well in advance of the hearing, which was responded to with rebuttal testimony from Andy Dessler and John Abraham. We also provided written rebuttal testimony in response toDessler’s and Abraham’s original written testimony. Another round of surrebuttal testimony then ensued. I believe that Dessler and Abraham provided opening statements this week, but I haven’t heard how that went.

Minnesota state law apparently requires there to be a social cost of carbon assigned to energy production in the state. I suppose that, theoretically, the assigned value could be zero. The question for the judge to address now is whether to replace the current value(s) [which are claimed by environmentalists to be too low] with the federal value, which is much higher, or whether it should be recalculated from scratch. Some good background on this can be found in a news story here from a year ago.

No matter which way the judge rules, I hear the ruling will likely be appealed. Then, no matter what the final ruling is, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission can probably just do what they want to do, anyway. I believe that the Commission simply asked the judge to help them with the process. I will admit that legal issues sometimes confuse me, so people are free to correct me on any of this I got wrong.

I suspect we are going to see more state-level challenges to the “social cost of carbon”, which is basically addressing the unintended “negative externality” consequences of our use of carbon-based fuels. My opinion is that there has been no demonstrated damage caused by adding 1 carbon dioxide molecule to 10,000 molecules of air over the last 100 years. Even the IPCC admits the evidence for increased severe weather is shaky, at best. Whether sea level rise is greater than it was before CO2 emissions could contribute is also debatable.

We do, however, have evidence that increased CO2 boosts crop production and has led to global greening, a positive externality. So, I have to wonder whether the social cost of carbon is actually negative.

My suspicion is that we are in for years of debate and legal challenges on this issue. It seems like the social cost of carbon is an unusual case for the environmentalists to make, when the supposed damages caused by CO2 emissions are not really demonstrable, and future damages are largely theoretical.

S. Fred Singer: A 1960s Trailblazer for Satellite Remote Sensing

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

fred-singer_0Those of you who follow our efforts to bring some balance to offset global warming alarmism also likely know of our honorary godfather, Fred Singer. Fred has been a tireless crusader, including helping to establish the NIPCC as an answer to the U.N.’s IPCC.

But people like Fred (and myself) didn’t start out in global warming, which is a relatively modern invention. For example, my original claim to fame was developing methods for measuring global precipitation from satellite-borne microwave radiometers, starting in the early 1980s. Fred started out well before me in satellite remote sensing, serving as the first director of the National Weather Satellite Service during 1962-64. I was still in elementary school at that time.

Now, as my 60th birthday approaches in December, I find myself going through my old files and throwing away everything except items of historical interest. Yesterday, I hit upon a stack of old microwave rainfall retrieval papers, and I stumbled upon one I had totally forgot about.

It turns out that Fred Singer wrote one of the very first papers on the possibility of measuring precipitation from satellites with microwave radiometers. The original idea was put forth in brief qualitative terms in a German article authored by Konrad Buettner in 1963. Then, in 1968, Fred and co-author G. F. Williams, Jr., put some theoretical equations and aircraft test flights behind the idea. The article was Microwave Detection of Precipitation over the Surface of the Ocean, in the May 1968 issue of Journal of Geophysical Research.

As an expert in this field, I can tell you that Fred’s treatment of the issue was surprisingly sound and insightful for such an early piece of work. It postulated effects which we now have widespread support for from satellite measurements.

I just wanted to bring attention to his early pioneering work in satellite microwave remote sensing, which eventually led to a wide variety of passive microwave imagers flying in space: ESMR, SMMR, SSM/I, TRMM, SSMIS, AMSR, GMI, and others. I’m sure there are other satellite areas he also helped to pioneer, too.

Great work, Fred!

Satellite Reveals Biblical Mideast Duststorm

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

The dust storm currently impacting the Middle East started over northern Syria two days ago, and has spread south and westward. I don’t recall one this extensive in this area during the modern satellite era.

The following color imagery from the NASA MODIS instrument reveals the daily progression of the storm, and just how large an area the storm has covered, from southern Turkey to northern Egypt (click to enlarge).