Twisted logic: What tornadoes don’t have to do with global warming

In recent weeks, devastating tornadoes have hit the South and the Midwest. The Joplin, Mo., twister last Sunday was the single deadliest tornado in more than 60 years. The massive tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Ala., last month went through six states and killed nearly 300 people.What caused this? More specifically, is climate change a factor? Be it from environmentalists, bloggers or pundits on the political left, right and center, there was no shortage of opinion about these questions this week.

Rather than listen to political arguments, we thought we’d go to a place where research on climate change is being conducted: the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., where meteorologist Harold Brooks talks to Need to Know’s Win Rosenfeld about whether there is validity to the claim that climate change has been a contributing factor to these recent environmental disasters.

 
SUGGESTED STORIES
  • Differing views on fracking's impact
    Studies conducted on the counties above the Marcellus and Barnett Shale for example — where extensive drilling has already taken place — present mixed economic results.
  • thumb
    Too much solar energy?
    The proliferation of privately owned solar has large power companies in Germany worried.
  • thumb
    Nominee has industry ties
    Energy secretary nominee had deep connections to industry, including as a paid adviser to BP until 2011.

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/oParasiteSingle Clint David Samuel

    I have two scientific observations and one subjective one about reporting on this story. 1. Meteorologists aren’t the only sources for reliable Climate Change research. If you want to ask a specific question about climate then try asking a Climatologist. Relying on meteorologist Brooks and his models here for the sole opinion is kind of like asking a car mechanic an engineering question: You are likely to get a correct though superficial and unscientific answer.
    2. Make sure Brooks assertions are correct. He asserts that in his models wind shear is reduced by global warming. So what if they are wrong? We might have a fun tornado season next year too and Brooks would still call it an outlier, a once-in -500-years event, as I’ve heard a lot of talk. Now I don’t expect anyone to become an expert overnight but here are 2 papers I found in two 4 second google searches that discuss these two points in context of recent Global Warming-driven hurricane models. Brooks easily omitted those as a special case not related to his Oklahoma weather predictions, the same way a mechanic might omit the engineering calculus behind his electronics math. The first paper discusses the subject of not always asking a meteorologist a climate question, ask the climatologist. The second paper discusses models of wind shear increasing (over the Atlantic) with Global Warming, not always decreasing as weatherman Brooks put it and as you reported it.
    http://www.weather.com/blog/weather/8_7877.html
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417182843.htm

  • http://growthisnotsustainable.blogspot.com/ Growth is not sustainable

    We don’t know. Models aren’t perfect… but if the weather continues to be weird in 2012 as it has been in 2010 and 2011 (so far) I think maybe we can point the finger.

  • http://growthisnotsustainable.blogspot.com/ Growth is not sustainable

    Believe your eyes folks.

  • Fallingstar

    When it ceases to be a political issue, we will stop hearing about it.
    The Earths climate gets its energy from three main sources:

    1. THE SUN
         Easily the biggest contributer of the powerhouse that fuels Earths climate. If you vary solar output, it changes the amount of energy available to the climate machine. No amount of CO2 managment will save you from this. And exactly WHAT kind of star in the Sun again?

    2. GEOTHERMAL ENERGY
        As far as planetary maturity goes, Earth is still very young. There is much thermal energy below the crust, and the deeper you go, the more heat or thermal energy is available. There are many volcanoes scattered throughout the world, some are erupting even as I type this. Volanism aslo contibutes to hot springs and earthquakes, not too mention all the greenhouse gasses emitted by a single eruption. My point is, this heat does seep to the surface, warming surface temps.

    3. EARTHS ROTATION
      Ever wonder why Lows and hurricanes take on that cyclonic appearence? Its due to the Earths rotation. The jet streams are where the airmasses border. These winds are fueled by differances in temps at differant locations along the Earth. The equator heats the most, on average. The heat then rises and flows twords the poles. As it cools it sinks, and it then warms again, and repeats the process until it reaches the poles. The areas where it sinks and rises are the borders between the airmasses, with each airmass getting colder as it gets closer to the poles. Differences in air pressure can “steer ” these borders making troughs and ridges which directly control the surface weather. Add rotation to the mix and they swirl into storm systems.

    All of these factors contribute energy to the Earths great climate machine. Man made pollutants, IMO, is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you have the discredited climate polititions pretending to be scientists saying whatever it takes to get funded. Since they got caught, now nobody will believe a word comming out of any of there collective mouths.

    On the other hand, you have a MAJOR problem that needs to be addressed immeadiatly. Man made pollutants are poisoning water supplies, killing off entire species of animals, making people sick, making the air in some places bad to breathe. The ozone hole and risks of cancer rising. The fact that before “climate change” all of these factors were and are REAL, and not ONE politition cared about the majority of it.  Didnt want to be thought of as a “treehugger” or something along those lines Im sure. Or perhaps didnt want conributions from big business to stop. But now, if you try to address any one of these issues, people point back to the climate polititions and say “We were lied to already about these kind of things and look, the got caught. Now why should we believe ANY of it.

    “Climate scientists” wonder why nobody ever asks them? You had your chance, and you blew it. Go serve coffee somehwere as your political funds wane and your bills start pilling up like everyone else.