Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Breaking News: IPCC's Global Warming Claims Not Based on Evidence, Enquiry Report

Everything is happening very fast. It was only two weeks ago that the foundation graph of IPCC's theory to Global Warming was proved a fraud by a new peer review study. Now an external inquiry constituted jointly by the UN and IPCC to look into the working of the IPCC has sounded the death blow to its credibility, at least what was left of it since the Climategate scandal broke out last year.
The Inter-Academy Council, an independent group of scientists representing agencies from around the world that undertook the enquiry concluded that the IPCC made alot of claims with high confidence levels when in reality they had little or no evidence for it. The enquiry advised IPCC to keep out of politics and concentrate on science!

The conclusions of the enquiry has literally cast mud on the faces of environmentalists like WWF, Greenpeace and NGOs like Oxfam etc. who have been leading a high decibel campaign based on IPCC reports. Christian agencies led by World Christian Council of Churches (WCC), Christian Aid, Lutheran World Federation etc even changed
Christian Theology to justify this global warming scam almost substituting the IPCC report as their Bible!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Leh Cloudburst: What caused it? The Most Plausible Theory

Many visitors to this blog were referred by Google Search to our recent posting A Swing Away from CO2 Global Warming, A Rebirth of Solar Theories to Climate Change??  due to a reference to the Leh Cloudburst.  Most were searching for a deeper scientific understanding to the phenomenon.  A few days ago, the media was also abuzz with a speculation that the Leh Cloudburst was a result of Climate Change. Both these developments spurred this posting. There are many presumptive theories floating around on the Leh Cloudburst. We attempted to take stock of all these to identify a theory that appears the most plausible. The climatologist fraternity within the country could perhaps build upon the following analysis.

Theory 1: UFO 

The theory states that the event is due to extraterrestrial UFO effects!  There are reports for the last five years that the area and Aksai Chin is the home of underground UFO bases. UFOs with electromagnetic flux overdrive can cause unintended artificial cloudbursts over a short region with very high intensity. To be mystified more, read here.

Comment:  If it were indeed extra-terrestrial, driven then it would be futile to try to give any climatic explanation to the Leh Cloudburst. Nevertheless, what is extremely interesting is that UFO being attributed as a cause only to explain electromagnetic flux that in turn is often intrinsically significant in triggering cloudbursts.

Theory 2: Chinese Weather Experiments

The event was caused by Chinese artificial weather, storm and cloudburst experiments.  Are there such weapons/technology? Yes say some. Read more here.

Comment:  Like in the case of UFO, if it were indeed weapon triggered then it would be futile to try to give any climatic explanation to the Leh Cloudburst.

This speculation arose mainly because Leh is an unusual place for a cloudburst, being a cold desert region where average rainfall is extremely low. Scientists say convective clouds began disgorging its moisture between 1.30am and 2.30 am on August 6th. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) estimated that Leh received 48.6 mm rain in one hour. The high-impact event was so localised that that a nearby meteorological observatory of Indian Air Force (IAF) reported only 12.8 mm of rainfall during the full 24 hours.

It is such doubts that fuelled the suspicion that the Leh extreme event could be result of some Chinese weather experiments. The conspiracy theory targeting China is also natural given the Buddhist population and the fact that Leh in ancient times was a part of Greater Ladakh spread over from Kailash Mansarover to Swaat (Dardistan). Both fans pro-Tibet and anti-China sentiments among its population.

Theory 3: Army’s Tree Plantation Programme causes the Cloudburst 

“There was a talk among the Ladakhis that the tree plantation drives there is causing more rainfall every year. We have to understand that Ladakh region is traditionally a rain shadow region the mud houses are bot built for excessive rain. In fact, there was even a campaign of "Ped Kato. Ghar bacho" (Cut trees to save Ladakh).”
Comment: This theory is probably fuelled by huge local resentment against the Army’s insensitive tree planting programme that probably deprived locals of their commons - grazing, fuel wood gathering etc. It has to be kept in mind that traditional culture of Ladakh has been nomadic and it is only recently an agrarian transformation took place. Nomadic instincts may not appreciate the need for nature conservation and besides Ladakhis rear alot of mountain goats. However, the theory’s “scientific” explanation for increasing rainfall lies in attributing it to the changing of a highland desert into a green belt. This may fail the scientific validation test but that's how the local populace perceive this climatic trend.

There is some prima facie evidence however to suggest that though trees by themselves may not have triggered the cloudburst, they may have significantly contributed to the flash flood impact.
“Trees and some cultivation in areas along the Indus where land has been encroached upon added to the problem. The growth further restricted the flow of water"
said Minister of State (MoS) in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Prithviraj Chavan who was in Leh. The fact is that the charge so rattled the Army that they hurriedly promised to initiate research to contain soil erosion the area.

But the theory also brought out a particular climatic significance of Leh - it lies as a rain shadow area.

Theory 4: It’s all Climate Change

“Based on a detailed analysis of weather data of the last five years in Leh, scientists have attributed the recent cloudburst in the region to prolonged winters which may be due to climate change...

After going through the sequence of events of the weather that led to the cloudburst on August 6, it has been reinforced that the catastrophe was due to prolonged winters being witnessed in the region,” a source at the Leh-based Defence Institute for High Altitude Research (DIHAR) told PTI.
The analysis by the research institute under the Defence Ministry was done to look into the reasons that triggered the cloudburst in the Leh region on Ladakh, which is usually considered unnatural because it is a rain shadow area.
On condition of anonymity, the source said at a recent meeting on “Evaluation of climate change in Ladakh sector and causes of Cloudburst in Leh,” the scientists at DIHAR had analysed the weather data of the last five years in terms of monthly temperature, rainfall, humidity and snowfall. The study indicated that increased temperature and hot summers in the plains lead to increased evaporation and subsequent cloud formation in the hills.
“This in turn, led to increased duration of snowfall in Ladakh when compared to previous years. The winters in Ladakh were found to be prolonged,”
the experts concluded though they felt the phenomenon could not be directly associated with climate change given the short range of data.

The region was witnessing unusual phenomenon of bright sunshine in June and July causing melting of snow and high relative humidity (72 per cent) as compared to previous years (50 per cent), the source said. Tracing the change in weather on the basis of the data available, the source pointed out “since snow absorbed the latent heat also, the monthly maximum and minimum temperature remained low and did not shoot up as compared to previous years (2006).

The low temperature and high relative humidity lead to formation of dense low clouds in the valley. Since the vapour content in the clouds were high and on trying to cross the glaciers, the vapours further condensed.
“The clouds could not retain the water droplets that lead to the cloudburst. Since the rainfall was absent on August 3, 4 and 5 and was negligible on August 7, 8, and 9, the theory of occurrence of a cloudburst in Leh due to prolonged winters may be reinforced,” the meeting said on the sequence of event.” 
Comments:  Except for media reports, no report of such a study can be found on the net or the website of DIHAR who has been attributed as having had conducted such a study.  Moreover, what exactly is DIHAR? They are solely focused in R&D in cold high altitude arid agro animal technologies! It is obvious that they do not have any specific competence in climatology worth the salt nor are they recognized in the country as having one! This may not be any study at all since in the last paragraph mentions these findings as conclusions of  "a meeting”! The media reports besides attribute the findings to a source” and quotes people “in condition of anonymity” giving credence to the suspicion that this is very much a planted bogus story.

So who would want to plant such a story? Dragging of DIHAR, a defence outfit into the story together with the fact that the army is in the receiving end of public wrath for their tree-planting programme, makes the obvious suspect is the Army themselves. 

However, it could well be the handiwork of the tribe of enviro-journalists. The latter often have one foot within mainstream media, another with environmental organizations such as Greenpeace, pursuing a strong climate change agenda.

This lobby in the country has suffered quick reversals in fortune and it is to this tribe of enviro-journalists they turn for quick fixes. Leh has been particularly a setback with leading climatologists ruling out links to climate change or global warming. Even when climatologists say this in the clearest of terms, these enviro-journalists also manage to confuse their readership by diluting their remarks. See how skilfully Max Martin does with his article Boomtown Rap: Ladakh floods are talk of the town in India Today. He interviews Dr. M Rajeevan, one of the best-known climatologists in the country who in unambiguous terms pronounced a lack of link between Leh cloudburst and climate change. Yet in the very next paragraph, Martin resurrects the whole climate change bogey itself:
“With global warming, it is expected that frequency of extreme weather events will increase” notes Dr M Rajeevan, senior scientist at ISRO's National Atmospheric Research Laboratory in Tirupati. “At many places, including over India, such trends are now observed. Rajeevan, however cautions that though it is easier to speculate, Pakistan and Leh events cannot be clearly attributed to global warming. These events can be explained with (other) physical reasons. Making a one-to-one connection with climate change may be difficult in the case of the cloudburst.
However scientists say it is ironic that the villagers of Leh with possibly one of the smallest carbon foot prints on earth - with their limited consumption patterns - should suffer from the impacts of climate change, whatever they may be."
Leaving aside that this study could be a bogus media plant; it contradicts itself in the first and fourth paragraphs. It first attributes the cloudburst “to prolonged winters which may be due to climate change” while the fourth confesses that “the phenomenon could not be directly associated with climate change given the short range of data.”  Prolong winters are besides indicators of likely of global cooling while “increased evaporation and subsequent cloud formation” are more likely linked to global warming!

The claim that increased temperature and hot summers in the plains lead to increased duration of snowfall in Ladakh when compared to previous years is simply nonsense. The summer of 2009 had been mild in Russia and still the country experienced one of the most severe winters latter in the same year. The La Nina is expected to last through early 2012, accordingly we will be likely to have a milder summer next year, and yet Himalayas can be expected to experience a severe winter later in the year.  

The main drawback of this theory is it falls to give a synoptic analysis of the immediate trigger to the cloudburst.

Theory 5: Heavy Rainfall associated with the annual Asian Monsoon

This is how National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attributed the cause of the cloudburst in their State of the Climate Global Hazards August 2010: 
“Heavy rainfall, associated with the annual Asian Monsoon, near Leh, India on August 6th triggered flooding and mudslides which killed 132 people and left another 300 missing. Mudslides buried parts of Choglumsar, which was the worst hit area. More than 400 people were injured in the floods, caused by a cloudburst, which struck without warning in the region. Thousands more were left homeless. Leh lies 11,500 feet (3,500 meters) above sea level and is in a usually arid part of Indian Kashmir where heavy rainfall is uncommon.”

This report also provided the map - Asian Rainfall Anomaly, 1–9 August 2010

Comments: NOAA clearly categorised Leh as a natural disaster associated with the monsoons.  While attributing the cause to a cloudburst, NOAA failed to provide the synoptic analysis. The real contribution of NOAA’s report was the Asian Rainfall Anomaly Map 1–9 August 2010 that clearly establishes that the whole of J&K, including Leh, experienced positive rainfall anomaly. This is in contrast to the climate change theory that attempted to establish Leh’s rainfall as totally a micro-driven phenomenon. 

Theory 6:  Interaction of Westerlies with Monsoon Current

The IMD official report, Cloud Burst over Leh (Jammu & Kashmir) stated the following:

“Analysis of Satellite Imageries indicates that the intense convective system developed in the easterly current associated with monsoon conditions over the region. The convective cloud band extending from southeast to northwest developed over Nepal and adjoining India in the afternoon of 5th. It gradually intensified and moved west-northwestward towards Jammu & Kashmir. An intense convective cloud clusture developed to the east of Leh by 2130 hours IST of 5th August. Satellite Imageries of 0030 hours IST (2100 UTC) to -0600 hours IST (0030 UTC) of 6th August.

The cloudburst was highly localised, as the nearby meteorological observatory of Indian Air Force (IAF) reported 12.8 mm of rainfall during 0530 hrs. IST of 5th to 0530 hrs. IST of 6th August.
According to synoptic analysis, the monsoon trough at the mean sea level lay to the south of its normal position on 4th and 5th August. There was a cyclonic circulation in lower levels over west Rajasthan and neighbourhood. A well-marked low-pressure area lay over northwest Bay of Bengal on 5th and over north Orissa and neighbourhood on 6th August. Under the influence of these systems, strong southeasterly winds with speed of 15-20 knots prevailed over western Himalayan region.

The forecast issued by Meteorological Centre, Srinagar based on 0830 hrs IST observation on 5.8.2010 was as: Rain/thundershowers would occur at a few places with moderate to heavy showers at isolated places in Jammu & Kashmir.

Usually, the western Himalayan region experiences the cloudburst events during the monsoon season in association with the strong monsoon circulation or the interaction of monsoon circulation with the mid-latitude westerly system. The orography of the region plays a dominant role by increasing the convection and hence the intensity of cloud burst. It also occurs over other orographically dominant regions like the northeastern states and Western Ghats region. It can occur also over the plain areas, but the frequency of such occurrence is very rare. However, Laddakh region of J&K is not known to be frequently affected by this type of phenomena. It is a cold desert and average rainfall for the month of August is 15.4 mm only. The highest rainfall ever recorded over Leh during 24 hours period has been 51.3 mm recorded on 22 August, 1933.”
Comment:  We have yet another confirmation. This time from IMD that Leh convective cloud was not a standalone phenomenon, as made out to be by climate change activists; but part of a convective cloud band extending from southeast to northwest developed over Nepal and adjoining India in the afternoon of 5th August and developed over Leh towards the East of Leh by 22.30 hrs IST. There was a strong southeasterly winds with speed of 15-20 knots prevailed over western Himalayan region which probably brought in these convective clouds over Leh.

The synoptic analysis provided was however not very definitive on what could have triggered the cloudburst. It hints however that it could be interaction of (warmer) monsoon circulation with the (cooler) mid-latitude westerly system. IMD speculates that the intensity of the cloudburst could be accounted by orographical conditions. An orographic (terrain-induced) lift occurs when an air mass is forced from a low elevation to a higher elevation as it moves over rising terrain. Studies show narrow barriers and steeper slopes produced stronger updraft speeds, which, in turn, enhanced orographic precipitation.

As the air mass gains altitude it expands and cools adiabatically, which can raise the relative humidity to 100% and create clouds and, under the right conditions, precipitation. Cooling happens as air mass expands with increasing elevation (because density of gases decreases farther into the atmosphere). As elevation increases, the air gets cooler because energy is drawn from the surroundings. Less dense air traps less heat resulting in this net cooling. This is called adiabatic cooling. It occurs at an average of 6 degrees Celsius per 1000 meters, but it can vary.

If enough water vapour condenses into cloud droplets, these droplets may become large enough to fall to the ground as precipitation. Westerlies normally affect the windward side of a mountain than on the leeward side as moisture is removed by orographic precipitation. Drier air is left on the descending, generally warming, leeward side where a rain shadow is formed. The trouble is Leh falls on the rain shadow area and probably why the IMD, though mentioning orographic precipitation as a possibility tends to consider it unlikely as a cause for intensity of the cloudburst. Moreover, Ladakh is an exception for such climatic conditions because of unavailability of widespread water bodies, thick vegetation and cold climate.

Theory 7:  Thunderstorm occurring within an extremely moist & warm environment
Dr. Greg Forbes, an extreme weather expert writing in the Weather Channel Blog questioned with such low rainfall intensity, whether the event even could be categorised as a cloudburst:
“I'm not sure of the accuracy of the one-minute rainfall rate, as the official statement by the India Meteorological Department said that rainfall may have been 4 inches per hour. That would be more typical of a slow-moving heavy thunderstorm. Even that rainfall can trigger flash flooding.

However, how hard can it rain from a thunderstorm? The official world record for a one-minute period is 1.23 inches at Unionville, MD on July 4, 1956. That would be nearly 74 inches (over 6 feet) if that rate could have lasted for an hour. The diagram below shows several other official rainfall records, with the unofficial report from today near Leh, India included. Compare those extreme rains with Arica, Chile, which averages only 0.03 inches of rain per year.

How could a thunderstorm produce more than an inch of rain in a minute? It's hard to fathom.
However, it seems likely that it would require a thunderstorm occurring in a very moist, warm environment. The moist, above-freezing layer should extend very high so that there would be a deep layer of accumulating rain rather than a lot of hail. The thunderstorm would need to have a strong updraft to accumulate a lot of rain suspended aloft, as depicted below.

Then, somehow, the updraft should stop and be replaced by a strong downdraft that would drive the rain toward the ground much faster than it would fall naturally, as shown below. That combination is the only one that seems likely to make it rain at such extreme rates.

Comments:  While NOAA did not provide any synoptic analysis for the Leh Cloudburst, they referred this link of the Weather Channel Blog of Dr. Greg Forbes and we can easily see why. Forbes has been very lucid. Nobody knows for sure how much rainfall fell and at what intensity. All we have to go by is what’s given by the IMD and accordingly we can conclude that based on this the cloudburst was those of a slow-moving heavy thunderstorm.  
The Challenge Ahead

What Forbes fell short was the explanation what forces actually caused the strong updraft and downdraft? In fact, this is where all theories have failed to explain. If we need to crack the Leh Cloudburst in order to adequately and scientifically explain it, then we must identify what forces were behind both the strong updraft and downdraft.

However, this is the extremely difficult part. There are some many possibilities and more over data is lacking.

The following list of hypothesis provided is just to whet the appetites of future climate researchers who may study the Leh Cloudburst in great depth.

1. The meteorologically assigned cloud type associated with the thunderstorm that could have caused destruction on a scale as witnessed in Leh should be logically the cumulonimbus of the super-celled variety. Only a super cell with a rotating updraft can produce extreme severe weather events such as those attributed to the Leh Cloudburst. Winds need to come from different directions to cause the rotation.

Moreover, as precipitation is produced in the updraft, the strong upper-level winds blow the precipitation downwind. Hardly any precipitation falls back down through the updraft, so the storm can survive for long periods. However, since the storm survived merely one hour, does it rule out a super-cell and increased the probability of it being only a multi-cell cluster storm?

2. Given the total rainfall, the cloudburst per se held little by way of disaster potential. Can it be ground conditions, natural or manmade (like tree plantations), that accentuated the flash flood impact of the Leh Cloudburst?

3. As per a 2005 report in International Association for Ladakh Studies, Leh holds very high potential for generation of geo-thermal energy lying on the zone of collision between the Indian and the Eurasian plate. Could the trigger for uplift include heating by geo-thermals? Could these also explain why rivers in Leh have been running at alarming levels?

4. Adiabatic heating and cooling is common in convective atmospheric currents. Adiabatic changes in temperature can also occur due to changes in pressure of a gas while not adding or subtracting any heat. Since pressure can also be affected by strong electro-magnetic flux, adiabatic heating or cooling consequently could be affected by the later. Coronal mass ejections (CME) also trigger electromagnetic disturbances on the Earth.  The last CME reached earth just 24 hours before the Leh Cloudburst. Could this have triggered either the updraft or downdraft of the tropical storm?

 5. Westerlies are part of the jet stream, flowing from west to east. The period mid July to mid August, showed the jet stream demonstrating a kink where it split up into two branches - one deviating from its normal path in the North and another going South to Pakistan. Monsoon rains drive air upward, and that air has to come down somewhere. It usually comes down over the Mediterranean, producing the region’s hot, dry climate. This year, due to jet stream blockages, some of that air seems to have gone north to Russia. Meanwhile, the Siberian cold air usually goes rest over Russia and East Europe, moderating summer temperatures. This time it was blocked and had to go somewhere. This year some of it went to South Asia. The result was heatwaves in Eastern Europe (Russia) and floods in South Asia (Pakistan).

Damodar S. Pai, Director, Forecast, IMD, who closely following Asian weather patterns from his Pune office told Hindustan Times that the torrential rains in Pakistan could have easily occurred in India had the storm built up a few hundred miles away on the Indian side. In the case of Leh, this would be much closer. Very much closer. Could it be this jet stream anomaly be linked to the cloudburst as it can be easily triggered by inflow of cool air from Siberia clashing the warm moist thunderstorm?




Thursday, August 26, 2010

La Nina Disasters: Much worst probably to come starting September

This summer of disasters, triggered by La Nina on a global scale, had been largely accompanied by huge socio-economic losses and wide-ranging weather anomalies. This barrage of recent natural disasters around the world highlights our vulnerability to the forces of Nature.

However, all these could well turn out to be simply a sampler to the main disaster season that is probably coming during the last quarter of the year.
Specific to Austral-Asia, it means during the remaining quarter of the year, the monsoons are likely to get even more re-invigorated with increased potential for tropical cyclone development in the region. Apart from South Asia, countries in South China Sea and Indo-China should gird themselves for elevated disaster threats beginning next month (September). Above‐average rains, particularly if the rains continue beyond September, could increase the risks of flooding, flood damage, soil erosion, and seasonal susceptibility to disease (malaria, dengue and waterborne diseases)
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) tends to support this outlook signalling fresh convergence of flows over the South Peninsula from August 30 (next Monday). The ECMWF sees the possibility of development of a follow-up low-pressure area (aside of the prevailing one in West-central Bay of Bengal basin) and at least two tropical storms over the Northwest Pacific during this period.

This appears not at all good news for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in early October.  However, the mystic of India lies in our unpredictability and we could well weather it all with great aplomb  and surprise to all in the end. New waves of monsoon storms can continue to prolong the agony of flood victims in Pakistan. The Atlantic hurricane season, expected to kick in by last week of August, cast its shadow on the ongoing rehabilitation of earthquake victims in Haiti.  Mumbai has a good chance of being submerged a la 2005, as all it takes is high tides to combine with high rainfall. The rainy season opens in South China Sea countries like Philippines and Indonesia with satellite images showing huge convective clouds over the region, suggesting the region is one with high disaster vulnerability in the coming days.

There are a number of climatic players involved and when they come together and reinforce each other, they could cause a wide variety of weather extremes and consequently natural disasters at an unprecedented global scale. In particular, La Nina event and a strong Madden-Julian Oscillation(MJO)  — a weather pattern featuring thunderstorms and heavy rainfall that travels around the equator — are expected to create an unusually active severe weather season. There is also the impact of the more recently discovered Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) that superimpose on the latter. We give a short description of the influences of these oceanic climatic phenomena:

a. La Nina

Globally, the most significant anomaly in weather patterns this year is the ongoing shift from El Nino to La Nina conditions. According to long-term forecasts of Tokyo-based Research Institute for Global Change (RIGC), the prevailing La Nina condition would be more long lasting than thought earlier and may continue until early 2012. A 24-month La Nina condition or more should more than adequately offset the kind of global warming brought about a relatively strong El Nino 2009/10.

The IRI also found elevated probabilities of the La Nina favourably impacting not just the ongoing south-west monsoon but the subsequent northeast monsoon as well. As for expected rainfall trends for September-October-November, the IRI assessed as high the probabilities for excess precipitation for the entire western half of the country except the south-west Coast and North India (Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh) where it would be normal. During October-November-December, the north-west is expected to see the advent of the seasonal winter with a largely normal rainfall pattern.


Accordingly, this year would be one of the rare years in India where rainfall is experienced almost continuously from June to December, which enables bumper agricultural production in all three cropping seasons. Discounting flooding damages, economists are predicting between 5-6% growth rate in agriculture production for fiscal 2010/11 that should catapult the country’s GDP near 10%.

[Note: Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains in July, during the south-west monsoon season. The term Kharif means "autumn". The Rabi crop is the spring harvest also known as the "winter crop. In between the Rabi and the Kharif seasons, there is a short season during the summer months known as the Zaid season.]
Other oceanic oscillations like a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and  Antarctic Oscillation (AAO) act in tandem to reinforce the La Nina effect as seen similarly during the 1998 and 2008 La Nina seasons. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) has a significant influence on winter weather in the U.S. — the northern and eastern U.S., especially — as well as Western Europe. Recent research has also demonstrated a link between the AO and tropical cyclone formation during the Atlantic hurricane.

b. Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has said that the next active phase of the MJO wave would develop over West Indian Ocean from early to mid-September. 
The MJO is an equatorial travelling pattern in Earth’s atmosphere - a cyclical pattern of slow, eastward-moving waves of clouds, anomalous rainfall and large-scale atmospheric circulation anomalies that can strongly influence long-term weather patterns around the world. According to the BoM, MJO has had perhaps the greatest influence on weather across southern Asia. The MJO sometimes stalls, weakens, or suddenly regenerates making forecasting a challenge.

The MJO has a periodicity typically ranging from 30-60 days, involving variations in wind, sea surface temperature (SST), cloudiness, and rainfall. It creates large-scale conditions, which are known to favour tropical storm genesis bringing with it, increased moisture and weakening wind shear. Alternating between a vast province of moist, stormy air and an unusually dry patch, the oscillation slowly blows through the tropics, often circling the globe several times.

Over the last week, the MJO has begun to progress into the Maritime Continent (Southeast Asian region comprising islands, peninsulas and shallow seas) for the first time since May. The MJO has a modulating effect on hurricane activity in the Indian Ocean, the western and eastern Pacific and Atlantic basin. The MJO contributed to the development of a named tropical storm ‘Mindulle' in the South China Sea, which since had made a landfall in Vietnam.

Although the MJO signal is strongest in the Indian and western Pacific Oceans, where it increases the intensity of the Austral Asian monsoon system, it seems to affect the entire tropical troposphere. It has been estimated that up to one-half of seasonal variance experienced in the western Pacific Ocean is attributable to the MJO.

The MJO tends to be most active during El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral years, and is often absent during moderate-to-strong El Niño and La Niña events. The MJO activity during late 2007 and early 2008, which occurred during La Niña conditions, is unusual but not unprecedented. We are witnessing a repeat of La Nina 2008/09 - an active MJO and moderate-to-strong La Niña conditions. There is evidence that the MJO influences the ENSO cycle. It however does not cause El Niño or La Niña, but can contribute to the speed of development and intensity of La Niña episodes.

The MJO affects precipitation over the tropical monsoon regions. It also affects the winter jet stream and atmospheric circulation in the Pacific/North America region, causing anomalies that can lead to extreme rainfall events. It can also change summer rainfall patterns in Mexico and South America and accentuating La Niña influences.

The anomalous rainfall is usually first evident over the western Indian Ocean, and remains evident as it propagates over the very warm ocean waters of the western and central tropical Pacific. This pattern of tropical rainfall then generally becomes very nondescript as it moves over the cooler ocean waters of the eastern Pacific but reappears over the tropical Atlantic and Indian Ocean. The wet phase of enhanced convection and precipitation is followed by a dry phase where convection is suppressed. Each cycle lasts approximately 30-60 days. It is also known as the 40-day wave (or 30-60 day or 40-50 day oscillation).

The impact of the MJO is well explained by a climate blog called Actionnewsjax.com:

“In the simplest terms, the brown areas are sinking air while the green areas indicate upward vertical motion which often enhances thunderstorms & can boost tropical development.  Brown contours cover much of the Pacific & notice the lack of convection (blue, yellow & red areas).  Neutral to green contours cover the extreme East Pacific eastward across much of the Atlantic. 
What really stands out is the massive area of green contours over the Asian continent and note all the thunderstorms.  This area correlates closely with the now very active Asian monsoon including the massive flooding in Pakistan.  Indications are that green contours -- upward motion, in other words, will be overspreading the Atlantic Basin in the coming weeks.  This coincides with the Madden/Julian Oscillation (MJO) which will become favourable for tropical (cyclone) development.”

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD)

The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean, representing approximately 20% of global surface waters. It’s obviously impacted by neighbouring oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans. It shares the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (aka Pacific Warm Pool) with the Pacific.

The Indian Ocean is unlike the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in one major detail; the Northern Hemisphere portion of the Indian Ocean is very much limited in size, while the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans extend northward to interact with the Arctic Ocean. Yet, for long Indian Ocean was treated as playing a subordinate role to the "king of climate variations," viz.  El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon in the adjoining tropical Pacific. The discovery of an ocean-atmosphere coupled mode named the "Indian Ocean Dipole mode" (IOD) by an Indian scientist named Saji Hameed radically changed prevailing paradigms on the role of the Indian Ocean in the world climate variability.

Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is a coupled ocean-atmosphere phenomenon in the Indian Ocean. Anomalous warming of sea-surface temperature SST in the southeastern equatorial Indian Ocean and anomalous warming of SST in the western equatorial Indian Ocean normally characterize it.

The IOD is commonly measured by an index that is the difference between sea surface temperature (SST) in the western (50°E to 70°E and 10°S to 10°N) and eastern (90°E to 110°E and 10°S to 0°S) equatorial Indian Ocean. The index is called the Dipole Mode Index (DMI). A positive IOD period is characterised by cooler than normal water in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean and warmer than normal water in the tropical western Indian. The BoM has forecasted the development of a weak positive dipole event (Indian Ocean Dipole, or IOD). The outlook for the monsoon suggests surplus rain leading to floods to India, Indonesia, East Asia, parts of Australia, northeast Brazil and (western part) East Africa and following La Nina 2008 pattern as seen below:

New Peer Reviewed Study: Have disaster losses increased due to anthropogenic climate change? 
Laurens Bouwer, of the Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam


The increasing impact of natural disasters over recent decades has been well documented, especially the direct economic losses and losses that were insured. Claims are made by some that climate change has caused more losses, but others assert that increasing exposure due to population and economic growth has been a much more important driver. Ambiguity exists today, as the causal link between climate change and disaster losses has not been addressed in a systematic manner by major scientific assessments.

Here I present a review and analysis of recent quantitative studies on past increases in weather disaster losses and the role of anthropogenic climate change. Analyses show that although economic losses from weather related hazards have increased, anthropogenic climate change so far did not have a significant impact on losses from natural disasters. The observed loss increase is caused primarily by increasing exposure and value of capital at risk. This finding is of direct importance for studies on impacts from extreme weather and for disaster policy. Studies that project future losses may give a better indication of the potential impact of climate change on disaster losses and needs for adaptation, than the analysis of historical losses.

A pre-publication version of the paper is available here in PDF.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Swing Away from CO2 Global Warming, A Rebirth of Solar Theories to Climate Change??

"Solar variability over the next 50 years will not induce a prolonged forcing significant in comparison with the effect of increasing C02 concentrations.”

The quote is from the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). They came to such a conclusion drawing from the opinion of just one scientist who quoted from her own researches! Professor Andrew Watson, a climatologist at the University of East Anglia, which was at the centre of last year’s ‘Climategate’ scandal, said the recent extreme events are
“fairly consistent with the IPCC reports”.
Imagine their painful predicament when global media ignored their claims of confirmation of their prediction that extreme weather events will increase as level of greenhouse gases increases in the atmosphere.

Instead, the media almost in unison attributed these recent extreme weather events including the US, Russian and Japanese Heatwaves, Leh Cloudburst & Pakistan Floods to a polar jet stream anomaly that resulted it to be frozen in a place for more than a month due to blocks or anti-cyclone climatic phenomena. Perhaps the BBC delivered the most painful of these blows to Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory. Once their trusted mouthpiece, BBC was forced to admit that the sun was a more powerful driver of climate than global warming:
“The sun is seriously affecting the earth’s climate; indeed, the effect is so dramatic that it will create increasingly cold winters in Europe but that none of this has got anything to do with general global warming. The combined solar and oceanic processes resulting in latitudinal shifts in the jets and all other air circulation systems provide a complete explanation for all observed climate variability with any CO2 effect either neutralized in the process or wholly immeasurable compared to natural variability.”
The AGW crowd could offer only a weak defense.
 "If you ask me as a person, do I think the Russian heat wave has to do with climate change, the answer is yes”, said Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher with NASA in New York. “If you ask me as a scientist whether I have proved it, the answer is no — at least not yet.”
Science should be objective and should not start with preconceived ideas of truth or what should be true. Gavin is an example of when beliefs that are normally regarded as the province of science become subject to an ideology that decides in advance the answers. Science is about determining how and why the universe behaves as it is observed to behave. It is not about hunches.

Most AGW scientists however were more cautious like Omar Baddour, chief of climate data management applications, WMO headquarters in Geneva. 
“We’ll always have climate extremes. It looks like climate change is exacerbating the intensity of the extremes. It is too early to point to a human fingerprint behind individual weather events”, he said.
Dr Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the UK Met Office, said it was impossible to attribute any one of these particular weather events to global warming alone.

Why were most AGW scientists hesitant to confidently claim the AGW link?

Perhaps Gerald Meehl from the National Centre for Atmospheric Research, Colorado, US provided an insight. He told the New Scientist magazine
 “While climate change has been cited as one possibility, there was no way to test the theory, as the resolution in climate change models was too low to replicate weather patterns such as blocking events.” 
In other words, all those claims that greenhouse gases has increased the frequency of  extreme events is simply just bunk as they have no method to monitor causes such as blocks.

Madhavan Rajeevan, a senior meteorologist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was even more franker in an interview to the Times of India.
“There is a common thread to all these events, though none of the dynamical models (an approach where scientists use computer programmes to simulate the atmosphere and forecast the weather) seemed to have predicted these patterns of weather. This heavy rainfall over the country is still not explicable.”
In other words, IPCC models are simply thrash! That was proved two years ago when Indian scientists fed in real observed data for whole of 20th century and still found IPCC models way off the mark in predicting the monsoons. Simply put, the IPCC did not factor in polar jet streams and anti-cyclones (blocking) in their Global Circulation Models (GSM).  
As IPCC scientists reluctantly admit their computer climate  models are not detailed enough at present to reproduce blocking events, making it impossible to say whether rising greenhouse gas concentrations makes extreme events as recently seen more likely to happen. AGW also has no explanation to what triggers these polar jet stream blockages. The recent spate of extreme weather events accordingly fully illustrated the bankruptcy of AGW theory as their so called “climate change models” are unable to reproduce the events that are being linked to these climate changes.

However, Professor M. Iqbal Khan, a Pakistani glaciologist, said he firmly believes that the melting glaciers are the main cause of the Pakistani floods. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have supported Khan’s glacial melt theory.
However, this theory quickly fell apart. For one, as seen the temperature map of the lower troposphere in July shows it was very cool over Pakistan, ruling out high temperatures as a possible trigger for the floods.

Secondly, satellite images did not pick up any unusual glacial melt flow that could have responsible for the floods nor did Pakistan’s mountain population confirm it. Thirdly, rainfall data strongly refutes the theory of glacial melt as the country’s official records confirm abnormally high rainfall received.

In fact, the recent wave of extreme weather left a lot more carcases than those of warmist Professor Iqbal Khan. Leh’s drinking water problem has been often used as a symbol of “catastrophic” climate change by the likes of Greenpeace and their cohorts like Max Martin an enviro-journalist now writing a chapter in India Disaster Report 2010 on “Climate Change” induced disasters:  
"There is evidence of faster melting and receding of Himalayan glaciers in future, possibly affecting the flow of great rivers - the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra - of the Indian sub-continent. Already in the higher reaches, like in the Ladakh region, there are signs of water stress. There is not enough water from the glaciers during the sowing period in April and May, so villagers in Leh harvest spring water, freeze it and use it for planting seeds (Martin 2009)."

Quite a convincing argument but all the media coverage has provided us now more details of Leh’s agro-climatic factors and socio-economic conditions. We now discover that rainfall of Leh is extremely low - it receives an average of just 117 mm (4.6 in) of rainfall per year, or 10 mm (0.4 in) per month, that puts in within the category of an arid region.  In fact, it falls within the category of Gobi, Atacama and Tibet plateau with snow-fed rivers sneak through rugged mountains and deep gorges. A region exposed to very little to sun resulting in negligible evaporation and almost no rainfall.

This is a temperature average based on more than 100 years of data, suggesting that the so-called “climate change” has nothing to do with its present day drinking problems. Leh has always had a drinking water problem but now additionally compounded by population growth, expansion of tourism infrastructure and shift to be more water intensive cropping pasterns. Tapping glacier melt through artificial lakes in all probability is a traditional adaptation practice, not something recent as made out to be by AGW activists. They were simply taking advantage of the gullibility of huge sections of uninformed public who would not bother to check facts!

The second myth the disasters punctured is the dubious claim that 80% of the Indus water is received from glacier melt, making it extremely vulnerable to global warming and as result, and therefore has the potential to create massive drinking water and irrigational problems for hundreds of millions in South Asia depending on it. This year’s monsoons have practically killed such a bogus claim for good as it makes it beyond doubt where Indus gains its flows by illustrating this in the most exaggerated form! This does not any way refute the fact that the Indus River flows originate from the Himalayan glacier melt but only that its dependence on the latter is highly exaggerated.

How Did the Omega Block Cause all these Disasters?

The reputed scientific journal, New Scientist provided the most authoritative of these scientific explanations, attributed to kinks in the polar jet stream, which was quickly accepted by most of the global media.

The jet stream is an upper-level river of air, between the altitudes of about 30,000 – 40,000 feet (10,000 – 12,000 meters) that whip round the upper atmosphere. Its wave-like shape is caused by Rossby waves – powerful spinning wind currents that push the jet stream alternately north and south like a giant game of pinball.

In July, one arm of the stream went north, another south. The patch in the middle is Russia's drought. A circulating pattern of air has been sitting over Russia for far longer than normal; causing the extreme temperatures and wildfires they have had there. However, what has happened over Pakistan was even stranger. The southern arm of the Jet stream looped down so far it has crossed over the Himalayas into northwestern Pakistan. In addition, the result is that the fast moving jets stream winds high up have helped suck the warm, wet, monsoon air even faster and higher into the atmosphere - and that has caused rains like those that no one can remember. It in fact turbo charged the monsoon.

Meteorologists who study the phenomenon say that it is producing unusual holding patterns, which keep weather systems in one place and produce freak conditions. Part of the jet stream’s meandering is tied to regular shifts of air towards and away from the pole, called Rossby waves. These powerful spinning wind currents are caused by the Earth’s shape and rotation, pushing the jet stream from east to west at high altitudes. However, the driving force of the recent extreme events had been traced to a stationary weather system that has remained locked in place over western Russia since mid-June. The atmospheric is termed to be “blocked” when atmospheric circulation patterns remained fixed in place, instead of being progressive. 

The graph for 24 - 30th July which shows a succession of meanders along the jet stream, with a northward meander (ridge of high pressure) over the Atlantic, a southward meander (trough of low pressure) over Europe.
Here the jet splits, around a large 'blocking' anticyclone over western Russia. On the eastern side of this anticyclone, air moves into the southward meander (trough) close to Pakistan from quite far north. The highly unusual kink is known as an omega block because the jet stream is bent into the shape of the Greek letter. The Rossby waves of the jet stream generally move slowly eastward, but sometimes those waves get large enough so that the translational energy of the jet is not enough to move the wave. As a result everything temporarily gets stuck. What distinguishes this recent occurrence was that it lasted about a month.

When the jet stream is held in one place, it traps the weather systems that are caught between its meanders. Warm air is sucked north to the ‘peaks’ while cold air travels to the ‘troughs’. During July-August, the weather system trapped was warming in Russia and monsoons in Pakistan, accentuating these phenomena respectively.  As the static jet stream snaked north over Russia, it pulled in a constant stream of hot air from Africa. The resulting heatwave is responsible for extensive drought and nearly 800 wildfires at the latest count. The same effect is responsible for the heatwave in Japan, which killed over 60 people in late July. At the same time, the blocking event put an end to unusually warm weather in Western Europe. In Pakistan, the blocking event took place at the same time as the summer monsoon, with tragic consequences.

Arun B. Shrestha, Suresh Das Shrestha in their study (Flash Flood Risk in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas: Causes and Management Options) commented of cloudbursts as follows: 
"Cloudbursts are associated with intensive heating of air masses, its rapid rising, and formation of thunderclouds. Interaction with local topography results in upward motion, especially where the atmospheric flow is perpendicular to topographic features. Particularly intense precipitation rates typically involve some connection to monsoon air masses, which are typically heavily moisture laden and warm due to tropical origin (Kelsch et al. 2001). Lack of wind aloft prevents dissipation of the thunderclouds and facilitates concentrated cloudbursts that are often localized and limited to a small area.”

Leh seldom experience cloudbursts because it is a highland desert, strongly guarded by Peer Panjal, the Himalayas and the Stok and Zanskar ranges, which do not allow any moist air to reach the Indus valley. Yet Leh is within the monsoon trough where flash floods occurrence is high that are triggered among other factors, cloudbursts. The jet stream, which is normally too high to affect everyday weather but does influence large scale weather patterns by shifting the atmosphere around,  ‘supercharged’ the monsoon, leading to some of the heaviest rainfall ever in the region.

An interaction between the jet stream and the seasonal southwest monsoon currents over South Asia is largely believed to have led to the intense cloudburst experienced in Leh. Cold air has been entering the region in the upper parts of the atmosphere, flowing south from the parts of Siberia that lie beyond the heatwave. The influx of cold air on top of warm, moist air favours creating the right conditions for a cloudburst.