University Of Alabama At Huntsville October 2012 Lower Tropospheric Temperature Analysis

Phillip Gentry has provided us with the University of Alabama at Huntsville global lower  tropospheric temperature analysis. Their figures are posted at the top of this post, and their text below [click on the figures for a clearer version]

Global Temperature Report: October 2012

Global climate trend since Nov. 16, 1978: +0.14 C per decade

October temperatures (preliminary)

Global composite temp.: +0.33 C (about 0.59 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Northern Hemisphere: +0.30 C (about 0.54 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Southern Hemisphere: +0.36 C (about 0.65 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

Tropics: +0.11 C (about 0.20 degrees Fahrenheit) above 30-year average for October.

September temperatures (revised):

Global Composite: +0.34 C above 30-year average

Northern Hemisphere: +0.35 C above 30-year average

Southern Hemisphere: +0.33 C above 30-year average

Tropics: +0.15 C above 30-year average

(All temperature anomalies are based on a 30-year average (1981-2010) for the month reported.)

Notes on data released Nov. 6, 2012:

The pause in the anticipated El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event — seen in the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific during the past two months — is now appearing in the tropical upper air, according to Dr. John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. The absent El Niño shows up in the relative temperatures of the world’s parts: While October 2012 was the second warmest October in the satellite record for the Southern Hemisphere and fourth warmest for the north, the tropics were scarcely warmer than normal for the month — only the 13th “warmest” October in the 34-year satellite record.

Compared to seasonal norms, the coldest area on the globe in October was south central Saskatchewan to the east of Saskatoon, which was 2.28 C (about 4.1 Fahrenheit) cooler than normal for the month. The warmest area was in the central Bering Sea, where temperatures averaged 3.95 C (about 7.1 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms for October.

Archived color maps of local temperature anomalies are available on-line at:

The processed temperature data is available on-line at:

As part of an ongoing joint project between UAHuntsville, NOAA and NASA, John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center (ESSC) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Dr. Roy Spencer, an ESSC principal scientist, use data gathered by advanced microwave sounding units on NOAA and NASA satellites to get accurate temperature readings for almost all regions of the Earth. This includes remote desert, ocean and rain forest areas where reliable climate data are not otherwise available.

The satellite-based instruments measure the temperature of the atmosphere from the surface up to an altitude of about eight kilometers above sea level. Once the monthly temperature data is collected and processed, it is placed in a “public” computer file for immediate access by atmospheric scientists in the U.S. and abroad.

Neither Christy nor Spencer receives any research support or funding from oil, coal or industrial companies or organizations, or from any private or special interest groups. All of their climate research funding comes from federal and state grants or contracts.

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USA Election Day 2012

Note: Update electoral map to 2012 [h/t Robert Pollock]

I do not usually post a political message on my weblog. However, I read a BBC article that was so divergent with my viewpoint on governance, that I am writing this post. The BBC news article is

A Point Of View: Is China more legitimate than the West?

The article is by Martin Jacques. In the article he is described as

Martin Jacques is an economist and author of When China Rules the World

The book listed in this short bio has the full title

When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order

The news article includes the following statements by Martin Jacques [and I recommend you read the entire article] – highlight added

Now let me shock you: the Chinese state enjoys greater legitimacy than any  Western state.

Take the findings of Tony Saich at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. In  a series of surveys he found that between 80 and 95% of Chinese people were  either relatively or extremely satisfied with central government.

Not surprisingly, the Chinese have a quite different attitude towards government to that universal in the West.

True, our attitude depends in part on where we stand on the political spectrum. If you are on the right, you are likely to believe in less government and more market. If you are on the left, you are likely to be more favourably disposed to the state.

But both left and right share certain basic assumptions. The role of the state should be codified in law, there should be clear limits to its powers, and there are many areas in which the state should not be involved. We believe the state is necessary – but only up to a point.

The Chinese idea of the state could hardly be more different.

They do not view it from a narrowly utilitarian standpoint, in terms of what it  can deliver, let alone as the devil incarnate in the manner of the American Tea  Party.

They see the state as an intimate, or, to be more precise, as a member of the family – the head of the family, in fact. The Chinese regard the family as the template for the state. What’s more, they perceive the state not as external to themselves but as an extension or representation of themselves.

The fact that the Chinese state enjoys such an exalted position in society lends it enormous authority, a remarkable ubiquity and great competence.

Even though China is still a poor developing country, its state, I would argue,  is the most competent in the world.

And the state’s ubiquity – a large majority of China’s most competitive  companies, to this day, are state-owned. Or consider the one-child policy, which  still commands great support amongst the population.

As Americans go to the polls today, they are reenforcing our over 200 years of history that the government is not the “head of a family” but serves only at the pleasure of the citizens.

The politics have always be rough, often much more so than in today’s election, as discussed, for example, in excellent books I have read such as

Washington:  A Life by Ron  Chernow (Oct 5, 2010)

Alexander  Hamilton by Ron  Chernow (Mar 29, 2005)

John Adams by David  McCullough (Jan 29, 2008)

Abraham  Lincoln by James  M. McPherson (Feb 1, 2009)

Flawed  Giant: Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 by Robert  Dallek ((Oct 21, 1999)

The rancorous election process in the USA, including the added layer of the Electoral College, is part of the checks and balances which limits the power of the political leaders. The federal system with states adds to the diversity of power.

This certainly is not true of China, as is so effectively presented in detail with respect to Mao Tse-Tung and his associates in the well-written and documented book

Mao:  The Unknown Story by Jung  Chang and Jon  Halliday (Nov 14, 2006)

In Russia, a similar history of concentrated power has existed, as clearly described in the books

Young  Stalin (Vintage) by Simon  Sebag Montefiore (Oct 14, 2008)

Stalin:  The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon  Sebag Montefiore (Sep 13, 2005)

Thus, today, in the USA we celebrate a political process that has been a beacon for the world in how the people of a country can rule themselves.

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New Paper “Climatic Variability Over Time Scales Spanning Nine Orders of Magnitude: Connecting Milankovitch Cycles With Hurst–Kolmogorov Dynamics” By Markonis And Koutsoyiannis

There is another excellent paper that documents a larger magnitude of natural climate variation than has been assumed by the IPCC climate community [see also “The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By S. Lovejoy and D. Schertzer 2012 which I discussed in my post

Excellent New Paper “The Climate Is Not What You Expect” By Lovejoy and Schertzer 2012

This paper is

Yannis Markonis • Demetris Koutsoyiannis, 2012: Climatic Variability Over Time Scales Spanning Nine Orders of Magnitude: Connecting Milankovitch Cycles with Hurst–Kolmogorov Dynamics. Surv Geophy DOI 10.1007/s10712-012-9208-

The abstract reads [highlight added]

We overview studies of the natural variability of past climate, as seen from available proxy information, and its attribution to deterministic or stochastic controls. Furthermore, we characterize this variability over the widest possible range of scales that the available information allows, and we try to connect the deterministic Milankovitch cycles with the Hurst–Kolmogorov (HK) stochastic dynamics. To this aim, we analyse two instrumental series of global temperature and eight proxy series with varying lengths from 2 thousand to 500 million years. In our analysis, we use a simple tool, the climacogram, which is the logarithmic plot of standard deviation versus time scale, and its slope can be used to identify the presence of HK dynamics. By superimposing the climacograms of the different series, we obtain an impressive overview of the variability for time scales spanning almost nine orders of magnitude—from 1 month to 50 million years. An overall climacogram slope of -0.08 supports the presence of HK dynamics with Hurst coefficient of at least 0.92. The orbital forcing (Milankovitch cycles) is also evident in the combined climacogram at time scales between 10 and 100 thousand years. While orbital forcing favours predictability at the scales it acts, the overview of climate variability at all scales suggests a big picture of irregular change and uncertainty of Earth’s climate.

The conclusion includes the text

The available instrumental data of the last 160 years allow us to see that there occurred climatic fluctuations with a prevailing warming trend in the most recent past. However, when this period is examined in the light of the evidence provided by palaeoclimate reconstructions, it appears to be a part of more systematic fluctuations; specifically, it is a warming period after the 200-year ‘Little Ice Age’ cold period, during a 12,000-year interglacial, which is located in the third major icehouse period of the Phanerozoic Eon. The variability implied by these multi-scale fluctuations, typical for Earth’s climate, can be investigated by combining the empirical climacograms of different palaeoclimatic reconstructions of temperature. By superimposing the different climacograms, we obtain an impressive overview of the variability for time scales spanning almost nine orders of magnitude—from 1 month to 50 million years.

Two prominent features of this overview are (a) an overall climacogram slope of -0.08, supporting the presence of HK dynamics with Hurst coefficient of at least 0.92 and (b) strong evidence of the presence of orbital forcing (Milankovitch cycles) at time scales between 10 and 100 thousand years. While orbital forcing favours predictability at the scales it acts, the overview of climate variability at all scales clearly suggests a big picture of enhanced change and enhanced unpredictability of Earth’s climate, which could be also the cause of our difficulties to formulate a purely deterministic, solid orbital theory (either obliquity or precession dominated). Endeavours to describe the climatic variability in deterministic terms are equally misleading as those to describe it using classical statistics. Connecting deterministic controls, such as the Milankovitch cycles, with the Hurst–Kolmogorov stochastic dynamics seems to provide a promising path for understanding and modelling climate.

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New Paper “Indian Ocean Warming Modulates Pacific Climate Change” By Luo Et Al 2012

Jing-Jia Luoa,Wataru Sasaki, and Yukio Masumoto, 2012: Indian Ocean warming modulates Pacific climate change. Published online before print October 29, 2012, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210239109 PNAS October 29, 2012

The abstract reads [highlight added]

It has been widely believed that the tropical Pacific trade winds weakened in the last century and would further decrease under a warmer climate in the 21st century. Recent high-quality observations, however, suggest that the tropical Pacific winds have actually strengthened in the past two decades. Precise causes of the recent Pacific climate shift are uncertain. Here we explore how the enhanced tropical Indian Ocean warming in recent decades favors stronger trade winds in the western Pacific via the atmosphere and hence is likely to have contributed to the La Niña-like state (with enhanced east–west Walker circulation) through the Pacific ocean–atmosphere interactions. Further analysis, based on 163 climate model simulations with centennial historical and projected external radiative forcing, suggests that the Indian Ocean warming relative to the Pacific’s could play an important role in modulating the Pacific climate changes in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The conclusions include the text

“It is suggested that the multidecadal variability could be modulated or partly forced by anthropogenic radiative forcing, particularl the offset effects between GHGs and aerosol (31, 32). However, the signal-to-noise ratio (i.e., the ratio of the variance of multimodel ensemble mean to the variance of intermodel spreads) is small; this indicates uncertainties in attributing the multidecadal changes to external forcing. Besides, understanding exact mechanisms responsible for the multidecadal fluctuations and how global warming might modulate the multidecadal changes remains a challenge…..our results suggest that differences in the response to anthropogenic forcing over individual ocean basins, together with the interinfluence between the tropical IO and the Pacific, may affect not only the centennial trends but also multidecadal changes of the Pacific climate.”

This is yet another paper that highlights the complexity of the climate system and the difficulty skillful multi-decadal climate predictions and in seeking to attribute regional climate to particular climate forcings.

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“Hurricanes: Their Nature And Impacts On Society” Published In 1997 By Pielke Jr. and Pielke Sr. Available As A PDF

Our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp.

is available as a pdf. The material is not updated for more recent storms (since 1997) but the recommendations and information on tropical cyclones may useful in the discussion of the impacts of Sandy. Of particular interest related to such late season hurricanes is the text on Hurricane Hazel (1954) where we wrote that

Hazel joined with another storm system to devastate inland communities from Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Washington, DC experienced its strongest winds ever recorded……..In 1954, Hurricane Hazel…..underwent a similar rapid acceleration to a speed of 60 mph (27 meters per second), as strong south to southwesterly winds developed to the west of the storm. Hazel crossed the North Carolina coastline at 9:25 am on 15 October, and reached Toronto, Canada only 14 hours later where it resulted in 80 deaths (Joe et al. 1995). At that time, it was the most destructive hurricane to reach the North Carolina coast. Every fishing pier was destroyed over a distance of 170 miles (270 km) from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Cedar Island, North Carolina. All traces of civilization were practically annihilated at the immediate waterfront between Cape Fear and the South Carolina state line.

We reported that

“….tropical cyclones can become absorbed into developing mid-latitude storms thereby infusing added moisture and wind energy from the tropical cyclone and resulting in a more intense mid-latitude storm than otherwise would occur.

Clearly, this later behavior is what made Sandy a much stronger storm than either a mid-latitude or hurricane would have been separately. In contrast to Hazel, however, Sandy was not as strong a hurricane. It also tracked towards the west as it interacted with the developing mid-latitude storm rather than accelerating northward as Hazel did.  This resulted in the large fetch of easterly and southeasterly winds into northern New Jersey, Long Island and New Your City which produced the large storm surge.

Our book also discusses the impacts of tropical cyclones which includes extreme winds, storm surge, tornadoes, flash flooding and riverine (i.e. large river) flooding. The analysis has yet to be completed, but I suspect that storm surge will attributed, by far, to  largest economic damage.

Also, with a storm of this magnitude, the National Hurricane Center, the National Center for Environmental Prediction, the media and public officials must be recognized and commended for their early warming. This has resulted in a much lower loss of life than would have otherwise occurred.

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Further Analysis Of The Size Of Tropical Storm and Hurricane Force Winds in Sandy

The above outstanding analysis of the wind field of Hurricane Sandy by NOAA’s AOML Hurricane Research Division [h/t Frank Marks] further documents the size of tropical storm and hurricane force winds. As noted in their caption, these winds are valid for marine exposure over water and open terrain exposure over land. Other time periods and analyses can be viewed at their website – Sandy Wind Analysis.

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The Size Of Hurricane Sandy – How Does It Compare?

Hurricane Sandy became  a very large tropical cyclone as it morphed into a hybrid large low pressure system. The figure above from our book

Pielke, R.A., Jr. and R.A. Pielke, Sr., 1997: Hurricanes: Their nature and impacts  on society. John Wiley and Sons, England, 279 pp. Hurricane Sandy provides examples of sizes of tropical cyclones that occurred in the past. The largest, Tip in 1979, was from the western North Pacific Ocean.

The size of Sandy, as reported by the National hurricane Center, is given for two time periods late in its lifetime below.

1100 AM EDT SUN OCT 28 2012



1100 AM EDT MON OCT 29 2012



For comparison with the figure from the book, the distance between 5 degrees of latitude in the figure below is 555 km (300 nautical miles or 345 statute miles ).  Tip had tropical storm winds out to ~700km on the east side and  hurricane winds out to about ~175 km from the eye.

The  analyses from NHC [shown below] show that Sandy’s size of tropical storm and hurricane winds were comparable to Tip, but, fortunately, the hurricane winds were much less in Sandy.  Also, the radius of hurricane winds, appears to have contracted substantially at and right after landfall.

Clearly, Sandy was a giant tropical cyclone, and rivals the largest ones in size that occur in the Pacific Ocean. A major difference with Tip, however, is that Tip attained wind speeds of up to 190 mph (305 km/h) and a central pressure of 870 millibars (25.69 inches of mercury) – see, while Sandy was a much more modest hurricane.  This suggests the potential that if a major hurricane (such as Hazel from 1955) followed the same path as Sandy as it merged with a midlatitude storm system, a truly worse-case superstorm could occur.  Thus the worse-case scenario, even with the current climate, did not happen with Sandy.

Regardless, how, or if, the risk from hurricane landfalls of this type increases in the future, a prudent policy path would be to reduce the risk from all plausible hurricane landfalls. through more effective land use planning. 

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