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knocker

Met Office: Climate change made UK’s wet winter in 2013/4 7x more likely

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The winter of 2013/4 saw a succession of storms batter the UK, leading to heavy rain and severe flooding across large parts of the country.


 


The odds of those storms bringing such extreme wet weather were seven times higher than on a planet that wasn’t warming, according to a new analysis by Met Office scientists.


 


Today’s study is part of a special issue published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society that looks in depth at extreme weather events across the world in 2014.


 


http://www.carbonbrief.org/met-office-climate-change-made-uks-extreme-wet-winter-in-20134-seven-times-more-likely-2


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I would imagine that exactly the same would have happened if squirrels were the most advanced life form on the planet, and I also expect the Paris summit to prove that they are.

 

Am I going to jail?

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Well you might but it'll probably be a tad crowded with many other North American meteorologists.

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Moving this into the climate section as its probably better in there.

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I am objecting more to the size of this claim than the absolute fact of whether human influence has anything to do with it at all. When they say seven times more likely to happen, I would have to interpret that as dividing the return period by seven. Since the winter was fairly unprecedented, what was the return period? What is one-seventh of it, to give some estimate of when a repeat might be expected?

 

Whatever they say in their paper, these types of extreme event return periods are largely unknowable and open to pure speculation. It would be just as valid to say that the winter of 2013-14 turned out to be 1% or 5% wetter, or windier, than it would have been in a naturally varying climate without human modification. That's about the range that I could tolerate as being sensible.

 

The large scale natural processes that would have created such a winter are almost entirely responsible for the details. But when you start thinking about those details, what are we saying happened here? A warmer planet created this windy, wet winter? But windy, wet winters are what you might expect in a regime where North America is colder than now, forcing the jet stream further south in the west-central Atlantic. And the winter of 2013-14 was notably cold in most of North America apart from the far west.

 

So then the climate change lobby has to tweak their theory to say that this enhanced cold is yet another "proof" of human modification. This of course is very counter-intuitive, and one reason why so many of us in North America are likely off to jail if the zealots get their wish.

 

Anyway, I find that "seven times more likely" concept to be highly questionable, and the timing of the announcement equally so. I'm sure they will have a field day with this November's anomaly as well, might be a good time to mention that 1938 ran just about as warm but there were four days below zero (CET) in the week before Christmas.

 

This theory and the lobby responsible for it have gone almost beyond recognizable limits of real science and are just trying one on with the politicians and the public. The problem is, there are many politicians out there who have neither the insights nor the gumption to stand up to them.

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It wasn't even particularly wet in the northern half of UK.
There has been a concerted effort to *use* the event because it affected the populous south, and so got a lot of media coverage.

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Anyway, I find that "seven times more likely" concept to be highly questionable,

 

As would any sane assessor of human history. Our past is chock full of confident claims, and so called experts who put numbers and statistics onto their claims. Had this research simply used relative statements such as "more likely" then I would be inclined to treat it seriously. But as soon as "seven times" comes into play then I snort in derision. They'll be telling us next that the decision to select Sam Burgess for the England rugby squad made their early exit from the tournament 250% more likely, or that a young lady who drives a Renault Clio is twice as likely to be hit on as one who drives a Nissan Micra. It's farcical. For a public funded organisation with supposedly intelligent and well rounded people working for it, I find that headline statement irritating in the extreme. 

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Climate has always been changing since the dawn of time and always will do!

Whether we like it or not, we will always see extreme weather in some part of the world at pretty much all times. One place will see record heat, at the same time, somewhere else will see record cold.. And so on.

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Whatever they say in their paper, these types of extreme event return periods are largely unknowable and open to pure speculation.

 

So to summarise, I don't understand how they came to their conclusions, so I'm going to use my armchair expertise and gut feelings on the subject to bash them and rant about the climate change conspiracy?

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So to summarise, I don't understand how they came to their conclusions, so I'm going to use my armchair expertise and gut feelings on the subject to bash them and rant about the climate change conspiracy?

 

That's harsh. I dont think climate change conspiracy is suggested or mentioned at all. But as you've suggested it - you are right: I have no idea how any sensible scientist or researcher can look at a snapshot in our history, and a snapshot that has very variable levels of accurate data measurement, and then come to a precise conclusion of 700% more likely. How on earth does a numerically precise conclusion like that stand up to scrutiny? And my problem with it is that it feels a bit like scare mongering.

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That's harsh. I dont think climate change conspiracy is suggested or mentioned at all. But as you've suggested it - you are right: I have no idea how any sensible scientist or researcher can look at a snapshot in our history, and a snapshot that has very variable levels of accurate data measurement, and then come to a precise conclusion of 700% more likely. How on earth does a numerically precise conclusion like that stand up to scrutiny? And my problem with it is that it feels a bit like scare mongering.

 

I think it's definitely inferred

 

 

This theory and the lobby responsible for it have gone almost beyond recognizable limits of real science and are just trying one on with the politicians and the public. The problem is, there are many politicians out there who have neither the insights nor the gumption to stand up to them.

Climate has always been changing since the dawn of time and always will do!

Whether we like it or not, we will always see extreme weather in some part of the world at pretty much all times. One place will see record heat, at the same time, somewhere else will see record cold.. And so on.

 

Indeed. Lung cancer was around before cigarettes so I assume it's okay to carry on smoking.

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Let's not have this thread hijacked. The criticism was over a numerical value of 700% more likely. That is the gripe - and nobody has yet defended the statement. I think it's a poor headline.

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So to summarise, I don't understand how they came to their conclusions, so I'm going to use my armchair expertise and gut feelings on the subject to bash them and rant about the climate change conspiracy?

Sorry Sam, but I think you are a wee bitty off the mark; not everyone agrees with me and thee? IMO, we must all be prepared to give  a bit of latitude to those who disagree? Just as I disagree with Roger... :)

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That's harsh. I dont think climate change conspiracy is suggested or mentioned at all. But as you've suggested it - you are right: I have no idea how any sensible scientist or researcher can look at a snapshot in our history, and a snapshot that has very variable levels of accurate data measurement, and then come to a precise conclusion of 700% more likely. How on earth does a numerically precise conclusion like that stand up to scrutiny? And my problem with it is that it feels a bit like scare mongering.

 

But that's the problem. Just because we don't even bother to try and understand something, doesn't give is the right to ridicule it and make utterly absurd claims.

 

As knocker pointed out, just because something happened in the past, doesn't mean we cannot influence it's occurrence today. At the very least, we know that causing the planet to warm and altering the composition of the atmosphere will change weather patterns. Even from the most basic concept of warmer air holding more moisture, so more potential for intense rainfall events, should be clear to most people.

 

But to simply claim that you didn't understand/read their methods, then use that as the basis upon which to attack the study and the whole theory of climate change is an incredibly disingenuous attempt at discussing the science.

 

I mean com'on, there is an entire political party in the US who appear to be based on denying scientific reality and attacking scientists, from evolution to vaccines to climate change, they have even written several books on climate change being a hoax. Are we really, really, supposed to believe that the problem is politicians are afraid to criticise the science, and that the lobby of powerful scientists are trying to con us?

 

 

Let's not have this thread hijacked. The criticism was over a numerical value of 700% more likely. That is the gripe - and nobody has yet defended the statement. I think it's a poor headline.

 

Nobody yet has even demonstrated that they've even read the paper, let alone offered a valid criticism.

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Ah, I was just about to make the same point as your last sentence Born.

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Sorry Sam, but I think you are a wee bitty off the mark; not everyone agrees with me and thee? IMO, we must all be prepared to give  a bit of latitude to those who disagree? Just as I disagree with Roger... :)

 

Where did I go wrong? RJS used the fact that he didn't read or understand the paper to attack it, and then to go on and accuse the theory of climate change of being a lobbying effort where they fraudulently alter data to forward their agenda. All without absolutely no evidence. 

 

Could you explain how that fits in with the new guidelines for this area, particularly the line below:

 

What is specifically off limits are conspiracy theory type stories, and attitudes.

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I think it's definitely inferred

Indeed. Lung cancer was around before cigarettes so I assume it's okay to carry on smoking.

Bit irrelevant to the point I've made. Lung cancer and climate are a bit different...

More damage is probably being done by methane escapement, volcanic activity and other things such as solar activity I believe plays a big part on the behaviour of the jet stream as does natural La Niña and El Niño events + the behaviour and anomalies of the ocean temps and currents. I don't think there's that much we can really do. We would be only removing an ingredient that plays a very minute part in our global climate system. Still, the mass taxation will continue in the name of something we have no direct control over.

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Where did I go wrong? RJS used the fact that he didn't read or understand the paper to attack it, and then to go on and accuse the theory of climate change of being a lobbying effort where they fraudulently alter data to forward their agenda. All without absolutely no evidence. 

 

Could you explain how that fits in with the new guidelines for this area, particularly the line below:

 

What is specifically off limits are conspiracy theory type stories, and attitudes.

So we argue with them, even subject them to ridicule, if needs be; but there's no need to gag people, even when we vehemently disagree with what they say? :D

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Bit irrelevant to the point I've made. Lung cancer and climate are a bit different...

 

The reasoning you presented was the same though. Just because something happened in the past (extreme weather/lung cancer) doesn't mean we can't influence the rate at which it happens today (GhG emissions/smoking).

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Ha - ok - let's play this game.... :-)

 

The report says this:

 

First, the authors separated out the last 20 years of winters to represent the “current climateâ€. They then grouped together all those in which the jet stream and atmospheric circulation patterns developed in a similar way to 2013/4.

They found that the chances of extreme rainfall was eight times higher than in winters without those characteristic weather patterns. 

The Headline then says this:

Climate change made UK’s wet winter in 2013/4 seven times more likely

 Now - this is poor reporting. You cannot take a sample size of 20 years and then make a headline that states the increased likelihood (without reference to the 20 year sample) is 700%. It's ludicrous. And the supposed trigger factor for this "700%" - climate change. But hang on... they are surely not suggesting that climate change has only been operating within a 20 year window? Or that somehow an examination of a 20 year sample can somehow be compared in very bland terms in that headline to all of history prior to climate change? And let's be honest... climate change, whether man made or not, has been a constant process for as long as there has been a planet at all.

I'm afraid it feels like the author is trying to cover his headline in tinsel - and for the MetO this is not good. 

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So we argue with them, even subject them to ridicule, if needs be; but there's no need to gag people, even when we vehemently disagree with what they say? :D

 

Not looking to gag anyone, in fact, quite the opposite. I'm looking for more on-topic and reasonable debate, rather than the circular reasoning and conspiracy theories that have plagued this area and effectively destroyed any meaningful discourse in the past.

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So we argue with them, even subject them to ridicule, if needs be; but there's no need to gag people, even when we vehemently disagree with what they say? :D

 

But that's what used to happen under the old rules. People used to post all sorts of nonsense from conspiracy theories to frequent accusations of fiddling the data and chaos ensued. Hence the new guide lines to avoid this situation.

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Or let's look at this bit. Quote:

 

Taking only winters with similarly stormy conditions to 2013/4, the scientists ran 76 simulations using seven different climate models to examine what happened once they removed human influences, leaving just those from natural climate cycles. This is known as an attribution study.

The researchers found that in “the real world†where greenhouse gases warm the planet, extreme heavy rain over 10 consecutive days – like we saw in 2013/4 – is seven times more likely than on a planet without human influence.

 

So - to paraphrase here... their 7x statistic according to this section comes by running computer simulations and then removing human influence. Removing human influence. I'm laughing again. We all agree (nearly) that CO2 as an added human created extra warms.... but how on earth do you accurately "remove" that influence in a climate simulation and then come to a precise calculation at the end? We are a long way from understanding the knock on effects of rising CO2, and a long long way from fully understanding natural cycles and variability. That being the case it isnt a factor that can simply be removed, because it is not accurately quantifiable. So in the end it is a guess.

 

And if it is a guess then "700%" is poor reporting.

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Ha - ok - let's play this game.... :-)

 

The report says this:

 

First, the authors separated out the last 20 years of winters to represent the “current climateâ€. They then grouped together all those in which the jet stream and atmospheric circulation patterns developed in a similar way to 2013/4.

They found that the chances of extreme rainfall was eight times higher than in winters without those characteristic weather patterns. 

The Headline then says this:

Climate change made UK’s wet winter in 2013/4 seven times more likely

 Now - this is poor reporting. You cannot take a sample size of 20 years and then make a headline that states the increased likelihood (without reference to the 20 year sample) is 700%. It's ludicrous. And the supposed trigger factor for this "700%" - climate change. But hang on... they are surely not suggesting that climate change has only been operating within a 20 year window? Or that somehow an examination of a 20 year sample can somehow be compared in very bland terms in that headline to all of history prior to climate change? And let's be honest... climate change, whether man made or not, has been a constant process for as long as there has been a planet at all.

I'm afraid it feels like the author is trying to cover his headline in tinsel - and for the MetO this is not good. 

 

Where did you get that from?

 

The headline is indeed off, but that's an issue that is a serious pain within science journalism, and it shouldn't be used as an excuse to bash climate scientists, just as we don't use the Express weather headlines to say the science of meteorology is a scam.

 

The study appears to show a 7 times increased likelihood on extreme 10 day rainfall events, not seasonal events. From the study itself:

 

However, a minor
(not statistically significant) shift to wetter conditions
due to anthropogenic forcings is identified for R10x,
translating to an increase in the chances of getting an
extreme event by a factor of about seven. No change
in the likelihood is found for DJF

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 I'm looking for more on-topic and reasonable debate, 

 

But what is reasonable to you, is not necessarily reasonable to everyone else. In general terms I agree with you - we dont want outlandish nonsense peddled on forum boards as thinly disguised attempts at subtle trolling or baiting - but at the same time we dont want the thought police dictating what is reasonable and what isnt. Your comment way up this thread was harsh. RJS posts much that is very reasonable on here - and his methods may not be to your liking. But that isnt a reason to drop the shoulder...

 

Anyone care to comment on the headline or article that was the initial topic here? 

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