Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

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Dr. Ryan N. Maue
Watts Up With That?
Aug 26, 2011

Bill McKibben authors a bizarre piece in the Daily Beast where he not only blames the strength of Hurricane Irene on global warming but connects the storm to President Obama’s expected approval of the Keystone Pipeline transport of Canadian Tar Sands to terminals in the United States.  While the second part of his thesis is political in nature, the first part is quite easy to fact check, and comes up woefully short.  McKibben has no expertise in tropical cyclone science, and relies on the expert quotes of Weather Underground blogger Dr. Jeff Masters who has provided a laudable public service with hisIrene coverage.

McKibben begins: “Irene’s got a middle name, and it’s Global Warming.”

I doubt there is a tropical cyclone scientist that would go on record and make such a foolish statement, but who knows.

Normally, says Jeff Masters of Weather Underground, it’s “difficult for a major Category 3 or stronger hurricane crossing north of North Carolina to maintain that intensity, because wind shear rapidly increases and ocean temperatures plunge below the 26°C (79°F) level that can support a hurricane.”  The high-altitude wind shear may help knock the storm down a little this year, but the ocean temperatures won’t. They’re bizarrely high—only last year did we ever record hotter water.

Sea surface temperatures 1° to 3°F warmer than average extend along the East Coast from North Carolina to New York. Waters of at least 26°C extend all the way to southern New Jersey, which will make it easier for Irene to maintain its strength much farther to the north than a hurricane usually can,” says Masters. “These warm ocean temperatures will also make Irene a much wetter hurricane than is typical, since much more water vapor can evaporate into the air from record-warm ocean surfaces. The latest precipitation forecast from NOAA’s Hydrological prediction center shows that Irene could dump over eight inches of rain over coastal New England.”

Masters is alluding to the process known as “extratropical transition” in which a fully tropical hurricane becomes enmeshed with the midlatitude westerlies and evolves into a more typical extratropical cyclone.  The “tropical phase” hurricane encounters upper-level winds that are very strong which causes significant vertical shear.  This shear “tilts” the hurricane inner-core — a situation that is not optimal for the maintainence of deep convection around the entire eye.  Also as Irene reaches the Virginia border, it will encounter cooler SSTs, almost 10 degrees C cooler than its present location in the Bahamas.  The combination of dry continental air entrainment and cooler SSTs will immediately decrease the inner-core convection and help to “poof” out the storm.

Here’s a model depiction of the rapid structure change expected with Irene:  snapshots from the simulated GOES-12 brightness temperatures from the NCEP-NAM 12 km model.Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
  • Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming

After 72-hours, Irene will look like a Nor’easter snowstorm on satellite with very cold cloud-tops on the NW flank or comma-head of the storm.  Considerable rain will occur before Irene makes landfall, as well as during its trip up the eastern seaboard.  However, the symmetric appearance of a major hurricane with an eye will be long gone.

Masters is quoted that “bizarrely high” SSTs along Irene’s path will cause Irene to be a much wetter and apparently longer-lasting hurricane that normal.  This assertion is true if “all else is equal”.  However, before attributing the “anomalous SST” to global warming, one must control all other variables in this complex situation.  That requires considerable sensitivity research with state-of-the art numerical weather prediction (and climate) models.  With very poor in-situ historical observations of the global oceans, it is still a quite daunting task to attribute SST anomalies in the meandering and variable Gulf Stream to global warming.  This hand-waving theory may not hold up when a rigorous scientific hypothesis is tested, yet McKibben does not provide a citation or reference aside from Masters’ quotations, which are not peer-reviewed in the slightest.

I plot up daily the current SSTs as well as the anomalies for each August 25 from 1979 to 2011 for the North Tropical Atlantic here.  The path Irene is expected to take does not go over “bizarrely high” SSTs by any stretch of the imagination.  The 26-degree C isotherm is just about at its average location for the past 30-years.

If Irene occurred in September, the SSTs would be warmer than August, which does not imply that global warming aided the storm’s development.  Thus, one must look at the variability (variance) of local and regional SSTs as well as the actual SSTs to gauge an accurate understanding of tropical cyclone intensity change.  With the current track very similar to Floyd 1999, one should expect similar impacts in terms of precipitation and wind “if all else is equal”.  However, nature rarely operates in text book manner especially in the field of meteorology.

While some tropical cyclone scientists are probably sympathetic with McKibben’s political goals, I will keep my eyes peeled for one that will go on record agreeing with McKibben’s stretched scientific logic.  In his mind, Bush caused Katrina and Obama caused Irene.  Hopefully McKibben and the media will let this crisis go to waste.


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7 Responses to “Climate activist McKibben bizarrely blames Hurricane Irene on global warming”

  1. Because AGW cultists aren’t bound by the discipline of the scientific method, they are free to make specious claims that have value only as catchy soundbytes. What a crock. Even the billionaire globalists who hatched AGW have moved away from the beast they created. Leaving the whack jobs who actually bought into the crockery.

  2. it wouldnt have anything to do with BP’s gulf gusher and using megatons of the bio-weapon known as corexit thats banned in a dozen countries naaaw…

    meantime, I remember a meteorologist telling it that Katrina was pushed inland with scalar tech,
    and a guest on Alex’s show within the last year telling us that theyve been able to stop a hurricane since the late 50′s but wont, because theres more money to be made rebuilding after allowing everyone to suffer losses.

  3. Brian McKibben’s middle name is: Moron.

  4. Bill McKibben’s middle name is: Moron. My apologies to Brian.

  5. Ezekiel 30 [Egypt and Her Allies Will Fall] (NKJV)
    1 The word of the LORD came to me again, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Wail, ‘Woe to the day!’
    3 For the day is near,
    Even the day of the LORD is near;
    4 The sword shall come upon Egypt,
    And great anguish shall be in Ethiopia,
    When the slain fall in Egypt,
    And they take away her wealth,
    And her foundations are broken down.
    5 “Ethiopia, Libya, Lydia, all the mingled people, Chub, and the men of the lands who are allied, shall fall with them by the sword.”
    Zephaniah 1 (NKJV) 14 The great day of the LORD is near;
    It is near and hastens quickly.
    The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter;
    There the mighty men shall cry out.
    15 That day is a day of wrath,
    A day of trouble and distress,
    A day of devastation and desolation,
    16 A day of trumpet and alarm
    Against the fortified cities
    17“ I will bring distress upon men,
    And they shall walk like blind men,
    Because they have sinned against the LORD;
    Their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    And their flesh like refuse.”
    18 Neither their silver nor their gold
    Shall be able to deliver them
    In the day of the LORD’s wrath;
    But the whole land shall be devoured
    By the fire of His jealousy,
    For He will make speedy riddance
    Of all those who dwell in the land.

    THE INFO BELOW WAS FOR THE EARTHQUAKE NEAR WASHINGTON but it also applies to man made weather earth manipulation and upcoming natural events.

    X-37B: Is the orbital drone of USAF/NASA, triggering world wide earthquakes???



    Russia threatens to use HAARP type Tsunami weapon NWO WMD PROOF

    Doomsday Space Weapons ready – NWO is here NOW – 2 of 8

    Revelation 7 1And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.

    Pole shift hypothesis
    Charles Hapgood is now perhaps the best remembered early proponent, from in his books “The Earth’s Shifting Crust” (1958) (which includes a foreword by Albert Einstein who was writing before the theory of plate tectonics was developed) and “Path of the Pole” (1970). Hapgood, building on Adhemar’s much earlier model, speculated that the ice mass at one or both poles over-accumulates and destabilizes the earth’s rotational balance, causing slippage of all or much of earth’s outer crust around the earth’s core, which retains its axial orientation. Based on his own research, he argued that each shift took approximately five thousand years, followed by 20 to 30 thousand year periods with no polar movements. Also, in his calculations, the area of movement never covered more than 40 degrees. His examples of recent locations for the North Pole include the Yukon Territory, Hudson Bay, and in the Atlantic Ocean between Iceland and Norway.

    Theory of Crustal Displacement

    Possible Earth Events

    (go into each of the titles in green to view what events would occur with a pole change and it’s extremes.)

    Revelation 7 7The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.

    2012: Pole Shift

    Earth’s Catastrophic Past and Future: A Scientific Analysis of Information

    Sudden Global Climate Change: Pole Shift

    Evidence of a Recent PoleShift – Part 1

  6. Of course it did. Hurricanes never existed until 100 years ago and more specifically XX years ago when they really started to say global warming was a huge problem.

    I am waiting for the earthquake earlier to be blamed on global warming.

    dhsn Reply:
    August 26th, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Too late. Already has been.

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