Everything You Wanted to Know about Tropical Cyclones *

Curry on Tropical Cyclones and Climate Change.

Every time there is a major hurricane landfall WAPO and CNN rush forward experts to blame global warming. Curry provides and exhaustive look at what is known and what is not. What is not known is what is most important.

Attribution of any storm or its intensity is speculative nonsense. We do not have the data to claim to know.

It is temping to link warmer water to more intense storms, but that’s not how it works. Coriolis effect has a large impact on intensity and the further north a storm is over warm water, the more intense we can expect it to be, if we ignore wind shear, which we can’t.

In short, there are too many variables to project, so we have to rely on trends. But we don’t have the data for trends. 

We have satellite data only since 1989. Prior to that, unless a ship or aircraft stumbled on a storm in the open ocean, we didn’t know it was there. Storms cycle in intensity, and if the ship or plane missed a peak, we didn’t know it happened. So, trends are only useful for a bit over 30 years and many of the natural cycles are longer than that. 

To the extent we can deduce trends, it appears that the number of tropical cyclones and the total energy in them is declining significantly, but there is a possible slight increase in the number of severe storms. The magnitude of that increase is very small, on the order of one added CAT4/5 per five years. Everything else is lost in the natural variability. 


19 thoughts on “Everything You Wanted to Know about Tropical Cyclones *

  1. Here is what we “leftists” are reading about climate change and hurricanes.


    They say that there is a scientific consensus about major hurricanes (Cat 3 and above) in a warmer climate.

    1. No individual major storm can be blamed on climate change, but
    2. The extra heat in the water can make them more intense.
    3. The extra heat in the water can make them develop faster.
    4. The extra heat in the system lets them produce more rain.

    5. There is no consensus on the number of smaller storms

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll stick with Curry.

      There is a consensus on smaller storms, and that is a distinct downward trend. There is a possibility of more reaching CAT 4/5, but that is on the order of 1 added every 5 years, WORLDWIDE.

      The trend for major hurricanes making landfall in the US is measurably DOWNWARD. (Coriolis effect) Figure 5.1

      The point of reading Curry’s paper isn’t so much what she knows as what she shows no one knows. Another 60 years of satellite data and we might be able to find a reliable trend. In any case, whatever trend there might be is dwarfed by natural variability.


      1. Those with a binary view of climate and climate policy

        They can’t see both the benefits and costs of increased CO2 emissions. CO2 is plant food. The world is deficient in CO2 from the point of view of plants. The fact is that we could not feed the current world population at pre-industrial CO2 levels.

        Does CO2 add a fraction of a degree to the warming we will experience over the next century? Probably. But that must be balanced against a greener Earth and longer growing seasons.

        Climate kooks see only exaggerated harm and are blind to the benefits.

        They do not balance the cost of largely ineffective policy against the other uses of that wealth.

        And they demonize anyone who points out the need for balance.

        For them is it all or nothing, and the world doesn’t work that way.


        1. What is “kooky” is ignoring massive threats because they are not the most probable. There are enough unknowns in the climate equations to make erring on the side of caution completely rational. Besides that, the squandering of finite fossil fuels in one or two generations is a bad thing in and of itself.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I agree about conserving liquid petroleum for uses like airplanes where energy density is required. And we can make diesel from coal.

            For many people, at least one EV in the family makes sense.

            But that has little to do with climate.

            But again, balance is required, keep in mind that the policies advocated for CO2 reduction carry penalties of their own, we could not support much more than half the current population under those restrictions, so which 2 billion people do you want to kill?


          2. “So which 2 billion people do you want to kill?”

            That is a non-serious question based on absurd assumptions. People are already dying in very large numbers because of the effects of fossil fuel. How many more most die before we, for example, increase mileage standards on passenger vehicles?

            Liked by 1 person

          3. Increased milage standards would make no difference at all. Stopping all automobile use in the US would not even produce a rounding error in temperature.

            To even marginally change the climate in 2100, you would have to at the least stop ALL use of coal, including China, India and Africa, and do it in less than 20 years. That would buy you perhaps half a degree Celsius.

            Of course, that isn’t on the table short of nuclear war.

            And because of the time lag, you still have to kill the 2 billion.


          4. That longest journey gets a lot longer if you give away your shoes before the first step.

            Consider coal use

            And that graph assume China will keep its commitments after 2030, which it has already said it would not on the pretext of Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, as though they ever intended to do so,

            CO2 from US petroleum use wouldn’t be significant.

            It’s a damn god thing it doesn’t matter.

            Observational studies are showing an Equilibrium Climate Response under 1.5C and likely under 1C.

            This explains why


            That does not change the wisdom of saving liquid petroleum for airplanes and other enegy density uses.


          5. Look at the dates on the graph. The peak for China is projected at 2030, but China has already rejected that promise.

            China will reduce coal consumption when there isn’t any left and not a day sooner.


          6. I think China is a convenient excuse for people looking to find a reason to do nothing. We are responsible for OUR choices. We can never persuade China to change if we remain profligate.

            Liked by 1 person

          7. If we really want to counter China, the best thing we can do is build nuclear as fast as we can.

            But if we drive the cost of manufacture higher here, we just drive production to China which uses energy far less efficiently than we do,

            Marginal measures that raise our costs for minimal decreases in CO2 just raise overall CO2 emissions by transferring manufacture to China.


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