Jun 18, 2007
Climate Change, Witch Hunts, Beer and Wine
By Pfister and Brázdil in Climate Change
Some university skeptics and state climatologists are feeling like they are being victims of ‘witch hunts’, attempts to purge the institutions or states of skeptics that may impede funding efforts or desired actions to deal with preceived global warming. Literal ‘witch hunts’ in the little ice ages it appears occurred. It appears the cold also may have led to the eastern European preference for beer over wine.
A paper, Climatic Variability in Sixteenth-Century Europe and its Social Dimension: A Synthesis by Pfister and Brázdil in Climatic Change, Volume 43, Number 1, September 1999 had reconstructed some of the changes and extremes in the little ice age. Here is a section of the abstract.
The deterioration of summer climate in the late sixteenth century initiated a second period of enlarged glaciers in this millennium (the first having been in the fourteenth century) which did not end until the late nineteenth century.
The analysis of the effects of climate on rye prices in four German towns involved a model that included monthly temperatures and precipitation values known to affect grain production. The correlation with rye prices was found significant for the entire century and reached its highest values between 1565 and 1600. From the 1580s to the turn of the century wine production slumped almost simultaneously in four regions over a distance of 800 kilometers (Lake Zurich to western Hungary). This had far-reaching consequences for the Habsburg treasury and promoted a temporary shift in drinking habits from wine to beer. Peasant communities which were suffering large collective damage from the effects of climatic change pressed authorities for the organization of witch-hunts. Seemingly most witches were burnt as scapegoats of climatic change. See full abstract here
Jun 13, 2007
New York City Urged to Prepare for Major Hurricane
AP News New York City
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned Monday that a city on continuous alert for terror attacks also must brace itself for a natural disaster — a hurricane powerful enough to cause serious flooding in lower Manhattan and elsewhere. “It’s always a little odd being in New York and talking about hurricanes,” Chertoff said after touring a new command center at the Office of Emergency Management in Brooklyn. Still, he added, a hurricane “would be an extraordinarily devastating blow to the city.” Weather experts have said the nation’s largest city is about due for a major hurricane with 130 mph winds and a 30-foot storm surge that could cause the Hudson and East Rivers to overflow.
The storm threatens to inflict more than $100 billion in economic losses while forcing the evacuation of 3 million people — more than six times the population of pre-Katrina New Orleans. Historically, the city endures a hurricane roughly once every 90 years. The last major New York-area hurricane was the Long Island Express of 1938, which caused 700 deaths along the Eastern seaboard. Last year, the city unveiled a new hurricane plan to evacuate 3 million people while providing shelter for more than 600,000 others. OEM officials estimated the preparedness costs at up to $30 million. Chertoff said New York’s planning was “second to none.”
See blog from May 18, 2007 where we showed why the risk this year might indeed be enhanced.
Jun 08, 2007
Record Snowfall Brings Best Year on Record for Whistler
Michael Kane, Vancouver Sun, June 8, 2007
A blockbuster summer followed by the highest number of winter visitors since 9/11 have combined to give Whistler its best year on record, Tourism Whistler announced Thursday. Mother Nature helped by delivering a record-breaking snowfall last November which continued to accumulate to more than 14 metres (46 feet) over the winter—more than 40 per cent above the average.
American skiers and snowboarders responded by increasing visits and Europeans joined the party when they realized snow was scarce at home, said Arlene Schieven, marketing vice-president with Tourism Whistler. See full story here.
As we noted in the blog story Northwest Snow Drought Caused by Natural Factors and For That matter May be Over this is no surprise and may be signs of what’s to come. One more note, with the shift north of the storm track this year, it was not surprising southern California had a dry season. In fact, as of June 1, Los Angeles was heading towards the driest “wet season - July 1-June 30”, on record. See NWS LA Drought Summary.
Jun 07, 2007
UN Scientist Concedes Climate Models Only Correct Half the Time
New Zealand Climate Coalition
“The open admission by a climate scientist of the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Dr Jim Renwick, that his organization achieves only 50 per cent accuracy in its climate forecasts, and that this is as good as any other forecaster around the world, should be a wake-up call for world political leaders,” said Rear Admiral Jack Welch, chairman of the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Yesterday the coalition published an analysis of seasonal climate predictions by NIWA over the past five years which found that the overall accuracy of the predictions was just 48 per cent.
Defending the NIWA record, Dr Renwick said his organisation was doing as well as any other weather forecaster around the world. He was quoted by the country’s leading newspaper, the New Zealand Herald as saying: “Climate prediction is hard, half of the variability in the climate system is not predictable, so we don’t expect to do terrifically well.” Later on New Zealand radio, Dr Renwick said: “The weather is not predictable beyond a week or two.”
Admiral Welch said that these statements warrant immediate attention by governments around the world. “Dr Renwick is no lightweight. He was a lead author on Working Group I of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, and serves on the World Meteorological Organisation Commission for Climatology. See full story here.
Jun 05, 2007
Station Survey and Photograph Posting Web Site
Roger Pielke Sr’s Climate Science Guest Weblog posting by Anthony Watts
As many of you know from watching blog postings here, I have made it my mission to photograph, survey, and catalog every USHCN station for the purposes of doing a qualitative analysis on the near surface temperature data produced by the USHCN dataset. To that end, I have created http://www.surfacestations.org which links to a separate photographic database server that I have set up. It was designed from the start to be collaborative.
Therefore I’m writing today to ask your assistance in this project. What are the goals?
1. To provide a standardized method for site survey and reporting so that interested individuals can gather site survey data, pictures, and anecdotal history of climate recording sites worldwide, and upload to a publicly searchable photographic database, (2) To provide a repository for screened and approved qualitative and quantitative site survey data, pictures, and anecdotal history, (3) To provide a publicly searchable database of such information for USHCN and GHCN climate station sites, (4) To photographically document sites that have been well preserved and maintained through their history and (5) To photographically demonstrate examples of sites that may introduce biases and errors through faulty siting, encroachments, or maintenance issues, and to identify specific issues when possible.
To see what you can do to help with this critical process, see the weblog here.