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IPCC Distortion of Weather and Climate Is Reinforced By Media Hyperbole

     

It’s pathetic to watch the US mainstream media yearn for a hurricane, especially one that will threaten people. They anxiously scan the weather maps off the coast of West Africa for any low-pressure system that might develop into a news making, life threatening, normal event. It is another measure of how the media is not about news but editorializing, speculation and sensationalism. Sadly, they are joined in this or at least not dissuaded or counteracted by government agencies.

One danger of overstatement and predicting impending doom that doesn’t materialize is loss of credibility. It is already happening to science in general and climate science in particular, even allowing for traditional skepticism about weather forecasts.

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What happens when the mainstream media run out of hyperbole for the weather? Networks don’t have the weather report anymore; it’s extreme or severe weather. Ordinary weather events are presented as extraordinary. We’re told it was the warmest, wettest, or driest. Then they add, in the last 10 or 15 years, or some other ludicrously short period. All this creates the impression that global warming claims of more severe weather are valid. What it really shows is how much information is manipulated beyond the already exposed scientific fiascos. It’s symptomatic of what is really the Age of Misinformation.

Hurricanes

Hurricane (typhoons in the Pacific) season begins in late summer as tropical water temperatures reach maximum levels. Water temperatures vary and where warmest, low pressure develops in the overlying air. In the Atlantic they begin close to the Equator off the African coast as depressions, more correctly, Easterly Waves. They do not form the familiar circular spinning shape of a hurricane because the effects of the Earth’s rotation called Coriolis Force (CF) is not strong enough. Winds blow from east to west and carry these Waves towards North America. As they move away from the Equator beyond 10° of latitude CF increases and turns them into circular Tropical Storms (Figure 1). They are then given a name and attract media attention.

As the wind speed increases the category changes when it goes above 33 meters a second (74 mph) it is a Category 1 hurricane and can progress to Category 5. Here the limitations of the science also increase. Variations factors can cause the wind speeds to increase or decrease mostly related to changing water temperatures. It is also difficult to get accurate wind speed measurements. The most basic technique over the oceans is to convert upper level wind speeds obtained by aircraft into surface wind speed using a computer model. This has been very questionable.

Figure 1: Sequence of development of Atlantic hurricanes. Source.

The next issue is the direction the hurricane takes and that science is equally weak. Generally they turn north, advance more rapidly and internal wind speed increases as they approach North America. The major energy source is heat absorbed in evaporation that is released back in to the atmosphere with condensation. This is why they lose force very quickly once they move over land. It also occurs when they move north over cooler water. As they move north CF increases and they are directed further east. They’re also driven by the Westerly winds.

As usual, many of the limitations of the science are explained but the media ignore these and pick results that are the worst case scenario. When Katerina was approaching the shore of the Gulf of Mexico they couldn’t wait to report it was a Category 5 hurricane. It was this briefly, based on a single upper level wind-reading put in their computer model. By the time it came ashore it was barely a Category 3. Major damage was done because dikes, not reinforced because of environmental protests, burst. The same dike failure happened in Galveston, Texas 1900 when hurricane Camille hit and 6000 people died. When the IPCC reports provided a range of possible temperature increases the media invariably chose the highest level.

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September 25, 2010