Right Opinion

Pictures Are Worth Thousands of Words

Joe Bastardi · Dec. 10, 2015

We have been told by the Obama administration that climate change is leading to a drought that is destabilizing the Middle East. This is another straw man argument that completely ignores the natural cycle of the Atlantic Ocean. When the Atlantic Multidecadol Oscillation, a completely natural and relatively predictable large scale ocean oscillation, is in its cold phase, as it was from 1961-1995, there is more rain in Turkey and Syria (left picture below). When it’s in its warm phase, as we have seen since ‘95, it gets dry. This is one of the more astounding comparisons you will ever see — an almost perfect correlation.

How this is not acknowledged by people pushing the climate change-terrorism link is baffling. Apparently, they believe that the regular media and the average person will not take the time to see how provably wrong they are. What other reason can there be? It is either delusion, deception or ignorance of facts. The reader can decide which is worse, but either way, it is nature, not man, that’s causing the drought in Turkey and Syria. By the way, it’s worse in Turkey, as you can see.

At this week’s Senate climate hearings, Sen. Ed Markey claimed that warm water increased the amount of moisture in the air and led to the big snows in New England last winter. The global increase of CO2 is a known, but I have not seen studies showing that global water vapor has increased. In fact, if you wonder why there has been a lack of major hurricane hits on the U.S. for the past 10 years, it can be illustrated here with how dry the air has been over the deep tropics.

Sen. Whitehouse is the other part of the New England dynamic duo of climate doom and gloom. We all would do well to understand why his “worse than ever missive” in the tropics is false.. Opposite of global warming theories, it has dried out over the deep tropics, though, like the Pacific this past year balancing out its below normal activity, the Atlantic, naturally, will spring to life in a big way the next three hurricane seasons as this swings the other way. That’s what nature does.

Back to the Boston snow issue: Does Markey really believe he can say things without a care in the world because no one looks? Water vapor was less than normal across New England during the snow blitz at every level.

3,000 feet:

5,000 feet:

10,000 feet:

18,000 feet:

The reason for all the snow was because of the increased temperature gradient due to bitter cold, which lead to strong vertical velocities in the storms. In fact, at Penn State in the 1970s, we were taught a way to forecast snow amounts when storms were very cold, as most of these storms were, and there was less than average amounts of moisture in the air. The condensation processes are quicker when air is very cold, and flake growth rates depend on the rate of rise of the air and the vertical and horizontal profiles of temperatures as well as advection at all these different levels where the flakes grow. This is why if Sen. Markey was briefed correctly, he would have never claimed last winter’s snow blitz is an example of climate run wild. The snow to liquid ratios were 20 to 30 to 1, not 10 to 1 as is closer to average in normal temperature profiles for major storms. In warm, more moisture-laden storms, it can be as low as 5 to 7 to 1. As far as the warm water, the warm eddy was 300 miles offshore. It is simply a product of the meanderings of the gulf stream, as there were compensating cold eddies also. Additionally, warm eddies like that often lead to feedback, which can actually limit the available moisture over 300 miles away, but drawing the storm toward it, and further offshore. Water temperatures right off New England became very cold from mid February on, so much so that the ocean produced “slurpy waves,” full of ice and snow because of how cold it got!

It was not because it was warm and there was more water vapor. If you tracked parcel trajectories of the air, none of that air from the warm offshore eddy could physically be drawn back. It helped out with snow further northeast in the Maritimes, but not New England. I would have asked Markey if he a) looked at the actual specific humidity showing well below normal amounts of moisture before he made the statement; b) did he track trajectories to see if that air actually made it back?; c). did he check total precipitation to total snow?; d) does he understand how very cold air with strong upward motion produces greater crystal growth rates and varying maximums for snow production? If he had, there is no way with a clear conscious he would have brought up the Boston snow blitz as such an example. If anything, it was the amount of cold, not extra water vapor from a warm ocean, that was the chief ingredient in this.

Back to the Middle East, there is no fear of accountability. No fear that people will actually have the knowledge to dress these people down and overwhelm the argument in a public forum so everyone can see. So they can say what they want, pontificate, then walk off the scene. And there will be enough people to blindly follow along to keep the train running down the track with an entire climate change industry fueling it with no return or even the slightest hint at slowing down.

There are countless cases you can find when you study the weather everyday, because it is needed to create successful forecasts. But you can’t run from this. The failure to acknowledge this and make statements about climate change that are easily explainable (and forecastable, if you understand what is going on) is delusion, deception or ignorance of facts. And a classic case of the means justifying the ends.


Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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