Queensland Floods. Climate Scientists 2010: Less Moisture Over Australia. Climate Scientists 2011: More Moisture Over Australia

In what is sure to be yet further embarrassment for advocates of the theory of man-made global warming it has emerged that climate scientists pinning the blame for the Queensland floods on global warming have been contradicting a report published by other climate scientists just weeks earlier.

Let’s start with the story from climate scientists just before the floods. On October 11th 2010 the Science Daily website reported on the publication of perhaps the most authoritative study yet on the effects of global warming on drought in the southern hemisphere.

The study “Recent decline in the global land evapotranspiration trend due to limited moisture supply” was published in the prestigious Nature magazine and, as Science Daily reported, included many of the leading climate science research institutes across the world:

This study was authored by a large group of international scientists, including from OSU; lead author Martin Jung from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany; and researchers from the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Switzerland, Princeton University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, Harvard University, and other groups and agencies.

Science Daily. Huge Parts of World Are Drying Up.

The study was an milestone for the climate science community and was an international effort. It found that soils were drying up in many parts of the southern hemisphere, including Australia and that this was leading to less moisture in the atmosphere:

Most climate models have suggested that evapotranspiration, which is the movement of water from the land to the atmosphere, would increase with global warming. The new research, published online this week in the journal Nature, found that’s exactly what was happening from 1982 to the late 1990s.

But in 1998, this significant increase in evapotranspiration — which had been seven millimeters per year — slowed dramatically or stopped. In large portions of the world, soils are now becoming drier than they used to be, releasing less water and offsetting some moisture increases elsewhere.

The study reported that Australia was one of the worst affected areas, but the loss of moisture in the atmosphere was widespread over the entire southern hemisphere.

A recent decrease in atmospheric relative humidity detected over Australia could be caused by declining ET on the Australian continent.

Jung et. al. Recent Decline in the Global Land Evapotranspirsation Trend Due to Limited Moisture Supply. Nature. 951–954(21 October 2010)

That seemed to settle matters. As Tim Flannery put it, coal fired power stations “emit much of the CO2 that is the ultimate cause of the drying”. Even more ominous, “Australia is likely to lose its northern rainfall” (New Scientist. Editorial: Australia, Not Such a Lucky Country. June 2007).

– That was before the floods –

Following the devastating Queensland floods, many activist scientists rushed to link them to global warming, and what’s more, they had a good reason why the floods were so severe – increased moisture in the atmosphere:

“I think people will end up concluding that at least some of the intensity of the monsoon in Queensland can be attributed to climate change,” said Matthew England of the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” he told Reuters.

World News Australia: Qld. Floods ‘Linked to Climate Change’.

Whoops. Surely he’d read the study in Nature, only weeks previously? Maybe not.

The Climate Progress could hardly contain their glee at all the scientists stepping forward to pin the blame for the floods on increased moisture in the air thanks to global warming. In a particularly tasteless story headlined Terrific ABC News Story: Raging Waters in Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming (nice, ey?) they quoted climate scientist Richard Somerville and others on what caused the floods. Moisture in the air again, they said. Same thing that’s causing all the snow:

“Because the whole water cycle speeds up in a warming world, there’s more water in the atmosphere today than there was a few years ago on average, and you’re seeing a lot of that in the heavy rains and floods for example in Australia,” Sommervile said

Derek Arndt, chief of NOAA’s Climate Monitoring Branch in the National Climate Data Center, said 2010 was “an exclamation point on several decades of warming.

He said NOAA is tracking disasters like the floods in Brazil and Australia. “We are measuring certain types of extreme events that we would expect to see more often in a warming world, and these are indeed increasing,” Arndt said.

The added moisture in the atmosphere also explains the phenomenon we’ve seen this week at home — where snow blanketed the ground in 49 of 50 states.

Climate Progress. Terrific ABC News Story: Raging Waters in Australia and Brazil Product of Global Warming.

So which is it, guys? Does global warming mean more moisture over Australia and therefore floods, or less moisture over Australia and therefore drought? Does it mean warmer winters and therefore less snow, or colder winters and therefore more snow?

Can you at least get your stories straight?

21 responses to “Queensland Floods. Climate Scientists 2010: Less Moisture Over Australia. Climate Scientists 2011: More Moisture Over Australia

  1. “Can you at least get your stories straight?”

    They have. Take recent weather trends and draw a line in the direction of ‘worse’.

    It’s this constant looking backwards and projecting forwards that prevents AGW from being credible and verifiable. By the time people revisit past projections a new bunch has emerged saying something completely different.(or just what they said two cycles ago)

    The science is also so disparate, vague and variable that any particular stance (warming = wetter, warming = drier, no threat from warming, etc) can cherry pick the science opinion to support it. It doesn’t stand still long enough to achieve some form of verification. Unless serious rigour is brought to bear on climate science it will continue to produce snake oil and eventually become background white noise.

  2. “There is nothing new under the Sun.” (Ever heard that one?)

    For those who think there’s something “new” about today’s weather and climate I suggest they take a few minutes to review the past thousand years in Good Ol’ Europe at ‘climate4you’.


    When you do, I think you’ll agree there’s nothing new under the Sun today too. I have no doubt that there were a lot less “idiots” running around the world way back when, these did tend to starve to death before the rest of the general population, but they too had their ‘Rich ‘n Famous Fools’ just as we do today. Malthus, Marx, Mann,.. these guys seem to like “M”… they’re all about population control, and the need to trash everything that’s gone before in order to start anew. Rest assured that the Queensland floods will go down in today’s great history books as having something to do with too many people on the planet. Oh, and I nearly forgot.. Global Warming and Climate Change too.

  3. Have these loons never heard of the saying what goes up must come down?

    Maybe they think the water cycle is a new “sustainable” form of transportation.

    So much talk about ” the science” but none of these clowns seem to know any.

    I miss the days when someone said model, we thought of Twiggy.

  4. It’s possible to read this as compatible rather than contradictory. Jung et al. point to dryer soils and reduced ET over land post 1998, while NOAA and others say higher SSTs mean increased oceanic evaporation and more rainfall.

    Since the SH flooding is supposed to be a consequence of the current strong La Nina, the alarmists presumably mean that it is over-printing the SH trend for dryer soils. But both phenomena can be seen as indicators of AGW.

    One could also take the view that apparently contradictory positions within the field of climate science reflect its relative immaturity and our still very limited understanding of the climate system.

    Which of course makes it very easy to have your cake and eat it if you are an alarmist.

    • Hi BBD,

      Thanks for posting.

      I did think that that might be the case, but note that the study clearly says there’s been a decrease in humidity over Australia. Is it possible that humidity decreased over land, but increased over water? I can’t see it.



      • HtL

        Oh, I’m not convinced either. It’s just that I can see how one might try and rationalise away the apparent contradictions.

        As Matthew England appears to be doing:

        “The waters off Australia are the warmest ever measured and those waters provide moisture to the atmosphere for the Queensland and northern Australia monsoon,” he told Reuters.

        I can see his point, but I can see yours: a speeding up of the hydrological cycle means more water vapour in the atmosphere. Why should the SH see more drying of soil and less rain?

        Everything has been all over the place since this time last year when the El Nino got going. It was strong; the current La Nina is strong; the weather is extreme.

        So the alarmists need to be very careful to distinguish ENSO from AGW. And those who claim that ENSO is increasingly driven by rising T (AGW) need to prove their case, which has not yet been done convincingly.

      • Yeah. I think that is what’s happening with AGW a lot. I don’t hold with conspiracy theories. I do hold with confirmation bias and group think on a massive scale. They are looking for evidence and finding it.

        The theory has to match the facts, not the other way around. Basic first year undergrad science.

  5. HtL


    I perhaps should have posted the following link to Bob Tisdale’s deconstruction of Lee & McPhaden (2010) – last year’s big noise about AGW increasing the scale of ENSO:


    I hope your spam filter doesn’t nail it…


  6. Head honcho, Professor Penny Sackett, chief scientist for Australia, has weighed in:

    Room for hope as floodwaters subside The Age, Penny Sackett, January 15, 2011

    “However, since precipitation levels are linked to how much water vapour is in the air, the long-term heating of the world’s oceans due to global warming may be associated with heavier monsoons,” proclaims Sackett.


    Chief scientist launches sustainability reports ABC 01/12/2010

    “TONY JONES: Now Australia’s always been a land of droughts and flooding rains and we’ve just come out of a long drought and now we’ve got the floods again, it seems. So, what do you say to the inevitable argument that this is proof that global warming is a myth?

    PENNY SACKETT: Well, actually, it’s exactly what global warming – what we would expect from global warming and what we know about climate variability generally. ”


    What sort of weather/climate could we expect without global warming?

  7. Haunting The Library,
    There are two very important things you must understand about the AGW hypothesis: it cannot be falsified and it predicts conflicting events.

    Each time you catch them out they refer you to a conflicting paper or one of their model runs which conflicts with other model runs.

    Here are some examples of why AGW speculation cannot be caught out:
    June 4, 1999
    “Warm Winters Result From Greenhouse Effect, Columbia Scientists Find, Using NASA Model”

    March 2000
    “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past”
    Nov. 17, 2010
    “Global Warming Could Cool Down Northern Temperatures in Winter”

    December 2010
    “Expect more extreme winters thanks to global warming, say scientists”
    “…(CO2) in the atmosphere will slow the Earth’s rotation.”

    “Global warming will make Earth spin faster”

    Click to access landerer_07_GRL.pdf

    “…much of the North Atlantic Ocean has become less salty…”

    “The surface waters of the North Atlantic are getting saltier,…”
    Avalanches may increase

    Avalanches may reduce

  8. Al Gore has already been caught out on this. He actually said that farmers’ soil was drying out due to the drought caused by global warming and now he says the floods are caused by global warming.

    AGW is the only ‘scientific’ hypothesis that can NEVER be falsified. A mini-ice age: no problem – cooling on the way to a warming world – mini-ice age is caused by global warming “a new paper finds”.

    I am sick to death of this SCAM.

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  10. I see no violation of the “scientific” approach in any of this.
    He who pays the piper, calls the tune.
    After all, PNS is, but, two vowels short of describing one of its disciples!

  11. What I find most interesting is that they cannot seem to make accurate predictions to account for what actually happens day-to-day. They argue that this is because climate is not measured as weather is — true enough. However, in order for any scientific theory to hold forth, it must produce accurate predictions, and the way we do this with climate is to add up all the local weather, get an average, and thus arrive at climate. They haven’t done this as far as I can see. I have asked for verifications, but all I get is the Evil Eye staring me down demanding that I believe or else! along with a lot of insults to my IQ and political position. I think Michael Crichton presented the most telling analogy when he compared GW/CC to what happened when all scientists and the general public were coerced into buying the theory of eugenics — those scientists who did not toe the line, who presented counter arguments against the theory were denied publication; all debate was shut down. I saw this when I researched IQ theories and testing way back in 1988 for a semester’s worth of college classes (lucked out in being able to use the same topic for all my class term papers and presentations that semester — I made the most of it). There have been many times in the history of formal science that debate has been shut down, and never with pretty results. There always follows a tragedy of some kind. I think that’s because when people are so emotionally tied to their favorite theory, or profiting from it, there’s some control of the masses going on — it’s always in scary times, there always involves a matter of population control, and the people are given something within their power to do to prevent or alleviate the predicted catastrophe. It also gets people looking in a different direction from the more serious and real issues at hand.

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  13. The only ‘science’ in AGW is Political Science.

  14. We have heared some rubbish over the months from the AGW “scientists”,they jump on every event to claim a new “score for climate change” but they get more and more ridiculous.
    The awful floods in Queensland with the silly claims by “reputable” scientists make you think they are about to become certifiable.
    They cannot stick to their own predictions and grasp at thin CO2 .
    They will claim Armagedon and the second coming as caused by CO2 and get away with it if the UN and AWG governments have their way.
    They really do want these Carbon Taxes .Powerful forces are at work but not the climate.

  15. The two positions are not contradictory.
    The soils paper is a 27-year-long study of evapotranspiration over land. It basically measures how much water is being evaporated from land and emitted through transpiration by plants. It shows evapotranspiration worldwide was increasing steadily between 1982 – 1997 and then after the large El Nino in 1998 the increase stopped.
    Satellite microwave measurements showed the soils were so dry they didn’t have as much moisture to release.
    Where did all that moisture go? Into the atmosphere and because of the additional heat of the land, the nature of our landscape and prevailing weather patterns (for 10 years), it wasn’t over Australia.
    The storms and floods this year may not be related to climate change, nor may the intense La Nina caused by an overheated ocean. No one can make that judgement about a single weather event.
    This year’s flooding has nothing to do with the speed at which evapotranspiration occurs over 27 years.
    In short, the two positions are not contradictory.
    That said, the oceans are warmer and more acidic because of global warming.
    Equally, it is very conceivable with a warming earth that we will see more and longer droughts due to evapotranspiration.
    With more energy in the atmosphere – which allows it to hold more water vapour – and warmer oceans; you can be certain when the floods and storms come, they will almost inevitably be more powerful.

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