Monday, January 28, 2008

Australia's Climate Change Rainfall Non-Crisis

We've been told over and over again how global warming will result in a decrease of rainfall over Australia.

The CSIRO have said that

"Projected reductions in precipitation and increases in evaporation are likely to intensify water security problems in southern and eastern Australia"

"In no regions or season do models suggest a 'likely' increase in rainfall"

"For 2030, best estimates of rainfall change indicate little change in the far north and decreases of 2% to 5% elsewhere"

and "The rainfall decrease in south western Australia since the mid-1970s is likely to be at least partly due to human-induced greenhouse gases"

Notice the language, "likely", "Best estimates" (not average estimates??) and "partially due". In other words, no-one is really sure, and it is clear that no-one has done the appropriate statistical analysis to prove or disprove the argument.

So how did we go in 2007 with rainfall? With decreases predicted Australia wide, lets take a look at the stats.

8.8% more rainfall than normal
New South Wales 3.8% more rainfall than normal
Northern Territory 23.3% more rainfall than normal
Queensland 6.9% more rainfall than normal
South Australia 2.3% less rainfall than normal
Tasmania 8.9% less rainfall than normal
Victoria 3.1% less rainfall than normal
Western Australia 8.6% more rainfall than normal.

So some up, a few down. But the general nature of it is pretty obvious, Australia wide we have seen an increase in rainfall in 2007 than the norm.

This complements our findings that show that every state in Australia has had an increase in rainfall in since 1950 compared to the 50 years before that. Almost a 10% increase in fact, with south Australia, our driest state, recording a 14% increase.

Australia's rainfall deficiency's graphs show, well, not a lot. The last 3 months show no deficiency at all, anywhere in Australia.

Even the last 12 months show only a small patch in central western Western Australia with low rainfall.

But that doesn't the BOM from reporting Australia wide deficiencies.
Notice the title,

"Short-term deficiencies ease, long-term deficiencies remain"

Which, would at first glance make people believe that the short term problems have gone away, but the long term problems are hear to stay.

However, this is just more spin. In reality it means that 2 years ago we had lower than normal rainfall, but the last year was just fine. In fact last year, we had great rainfall. If we get something similar in 2008, there will be no drought statement from the BOM, and someone will be out of a job.


Patricia said...

The root cause of the environmental declines we are facing throughout the world is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Once one-fourth part of the earth is destroyed (Re.6:7-8) we will move forward to the next Seal events, followed by Trumpet events, followed by Plague events. The earth is on a downhill slid; it will not recover. The first four Trumpet events will destroy an additional one-third part (Re.8:7-12).

Patricia (ndbpsa ©) Bible Prophecy on the Web

theoldhogger said...

There is nothing in the bible about "trumpets". What cult are you a member of? The topic here was about "spin" put on reports of rainfall in Australia. What's the next "seal" event? An increase in the number of Seals due to Polar Bears being unable to hunt them from their diminished ice platforms. What ARE you on about? Wake up!

Goliath said...

Patricia the seals have not been broken yet, it will be abundantly obvious when this happens. The Bible does speak of future global warming in 2 Peter 3v10 - again not a subtle event by any stretch!

Mike N said...


I get the feeling you're reaching the wrong audience, at least today. Keep up the great work though.

Phil said...

The next week is shaping up for a huge monsoon wet stretching from Darwin to Perth to Melbourne.

Louis Hissink said...

It seems that biblical prophesy has as much success as climate.

Aaron said...

Dear Patricia,

By "environmental declines" I assume you are referring to soil erosion, man-made droughts, landslides, salinisation, toxic waste leakage, pollution of the air and water, flora and fauna extinctions, etc. I venture to suggest that these examples of "environmental declines" are almost entirely the result of human activity. Since, human beings wrote the bible and other religious writings, it seems perfectly plausible to me that someone with enough foresight could have predicted that continued human exploitation of the Earth would lead to its eventual decline. The challenge for all of us today is to learn and understand the reasons why we have landed ourselves in our current situation and to make corrective changes to our behaviour in order to improve our environment to ensure our ongoing survival, quality of life and our childrens' futures.

I realise that I have not made any scientific statements or tried to prove that any one person's hypotheses are correct or incorrect in this passage. I believe that it is very important for us to research and to debate the cause of environmental problems and hopefully to come up with useful solutions to these problems. But, to be honest sitting back and blaming our environmental problems on God is rather unproductive.

In terms of the current "Global Warming" scare, I would say on one hand that the people who have worked hard to measure the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and also compared it to historical estimated levels of CO2 illustrate an example of human activity causing environmental damage. And even though CO2 is not "pollution" (as is increased mecury levels in streams or emissions of sulfur dioxide), I venture that an inbalance in the environment such as a rapid increase in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere can not possibly be viewed by a reasonable thinking person as "nothing to worry about." The first reason for this is that oil, coal, etc. are non-renewable resources that will simply run out, causing serious social issues if we are not prepared. The second reason is that concentrations of pollution have a negative effect on human health, flora and fauna and our environment from an asthetic perspective.

On the other hand, while it seems obvious that the huge increases in CO2 in the atmosphere is likely to cause a "greenhouse effect" which we should rightly be concerned about, I have been appauled by the short-sightedness of many commentators and the predictions of so-called "climate models." I compare them to the commentators of daily fluctuations of financial markets, which are equally overly-exaggerated and sensationalised with the aim of entertaining (or scaring), rather than providing useful information.

Whether these so-called "climate models" are correct or not we will only know in time, but what seems quite obvious is that we are destroying our own environment and whether the increases in CO2 in the atmosphere lead to increased temperatures and by how much, is really beside the point. The point is that if we do not take corrective measures (which a few companies/governments are taking) we will have no forests, no useful land to grow food, no remaining non-renewable resources, no fish or animals to eat and no clean drinking water. I assume that I do not need to illustrate what these conditions will lead to for human beings.

Jonathan Lowe said...

Hi arron
I think patricia was having a tongue in cheek analogy with a lot of global warming activists an religious activists with relation to repentance, salvation and guaranteed catastrophe. I wouldn't take the comment seriously.

I agree with debating the situation, hence the blog. If only Al Gore believed that debating was an important part of scientific forwardness.

I agree with you also that increasing CO2 into the air will disrupt the normal natural way the world works. But how much difference will this actually make and at what cost? Ask Bjorn Lomborg, who in his Copenhagen Consensus listed global warming as the least biggest problem in the world, because of its high cost and little change in result. The Copenhagen consensus rated other things like malnutrition, access to fresh water, food, education, diseases, sanitation and trade barriers as a far more important achievable goals for the world at this stage.

You too also mention some like "soil erosion, man-made droughts, landslides, salinisation, toxic waste leakage, pollution of the air and water, flora and fauna extinctions", all of which have varying degrees of importance and cost.

And whilst coal and oil, may someday run out, nuclear for example wont, and wind and solar are, at today’s technological intelligence levels, a pure pipe dream.

The purpose of this blog is to determine 1. Is CO2 causing an increase in temperature? 2. Is the increase significant or not? And although not generally covered here 3. Is the costs involved to reduce CO2 (if points 1 and 2 are answered yes – statistically), worth while spending in comparison to other problems around the world.

Should we be currently spending trillions of dollars on the theory of global warming, that has not been scientifically proven to exist? Or are we better off spending it on helping famine and war victims, forests, species extinction, clean water, and all the other things that we used to hear so much about, but so little now that the global warming scare has taken over.

Money towards global warming means less money spent on the above problems.

As I know you are a statistician Aaron, I also recommend this website that was given to me by a kind to comment:
It is a rarity that someone in the climate science field actually knows something about statistics, which is unfortunate, because undoubtedly, it is the most important aspect.

Luke said...

Mate - pretty weak analysis and you may wonder why we just shake our heads - do a spatial analysis by important regions - an average over WA is meaningless.

There are demonstrated spatial anomalies when you do a map of rainfall.

Project to runoff and you get worst on record inflows into the Murray system, Brisbane water supply and a step change in SW WA rainfall. For starters.

Averaging whole states is piss weak stats and gives no insight. All just fodder for the undiscriminating cheer squad.

One wonders what all those billions in drought aid have been for if it's normal risk management.

Having said that a wet 1950s makes any trend analysis somewhat problematic.

Utterly unconvincing. Kiddy stuff looking at state or national scale BoM time series of rainfall. Lord knows why they even publish them.

You also need to put some of the rainfall through a pasture or crop model and find out how amplificcation results in multi-year failures which is what bankrupts the farm sector.

System resets from La Ninas like the present one seem to be less and less frequent in recent decades.

Jonathan Lowe said...

Hi Luke if you had looked at some of my other analysis which looked at individual stations around Australia then you wouldn't have posted and made the comments. It would just get a bit repetitive if I reposted exactly the same things year after year.

Luke said...

Can only suggest you get out more Johnathan :-)

Others have done analyses too. Especially the hydrologists.

So help me if I see another state size time series like WA or the national being used for rainfall trend analysis I'll scream. A total wank but you all keep doing it. And that's what you're quoting.

Not many people like in the Gibson Desert.

Have a look at IOCI's analyses on declining Perth catchment rainfall - are they wrong? And is the attendant macroscale and mesoscale climate analyses also wrong?

Jonathan Lowe said...

Perth Catchments?
Maybe you should read here, and here, about why the perth inflows are so small.

Oh and yes, the massive droughts in the Murray Darling Basin? The last few years have been a little low, but there is no obvious decreasing trend. In fact, the last 50 years have seen a 11% increase in rainfall when compared to the 50 years beforehand.

Anonymous said...

taken from Drought and Rainfall History in Australia :
"Following are reviews of rainfall "outlook" forecast maps against actual results, from Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) web site. The BoM publish a rainfall outlook every month for the next three months ahead. So we have these rolling three month forecasts which are in the left hand column. Each month they also publish the actual rainfall map for the preceding three months so I have matched these side by side. Any missing periods are due to missing maps on the BoM site. Newest maps on top now. The motivation for this comparison is to rub in the point that the best climate scientists can not predict the weather three months ahead yet Australian (and international) climate scientists purport to predict the climate three decades and more ahead using Greenhouse climate models."
Another, more satirical blog also argues that climate models are essentially prone to wild fluctuations that environmentalists should not overestimate its predicting power.

Jonathan Lowe said...

mm that being said, completly differnet techniques are used to predict the following week, the following 3 months, and the following 50 years.