Cyclones, typhoons and cherry-picking

Since Typhoon Haiyan is in the news, it seems timely to look at what the IPCC AR5 WG1 report says on this subject. The word “typhoon” is used to describe strong cyclones in the West Pacific – apparently it is just the Chinese for “big wind”.

The key graph plotting the numbers of cyclones and typhoons is Figure 2.34:

It is quite clear from this graph that there has been no increase. The IPCC says so:

The Executive Summary at the start of Chapter 2 says

“Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity”

and page 2-60 says

“Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century”.

In the Summary for Policymakers, the IPCC says that there has been an increase in intense tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic since 1970. Looking at the above graphs, this seems to be a severe case of “start-date cherry-picking”, combined with “regional cherry-picking”.


Update: It has been pointed out that the concern is more that the intensity of cyclones may increase, rather than their frequency. Here’s what the IPCC says in Ch 14 (which is about regional projections):

“it is likely that the global frequency of occurrence of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged, concurrent with a likely increase in both global mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed and precipitation rates.”

It goes on to say that there is low confidence in regional projections of frequency and intensity.

Elsner et al  (2008)  gives some evidence of increasing intensity in the Atlantic over the last 30 years, but their graphs show no trend in the Pacific region.

See also:

Some historical perspectives on Typhoon Haiyan-Yolanda

Deeply conflicted about weather extremes

Are Typhoon Disasters Getting More Common?

Update 2: Paul Homewood has a post Most Intense Typhoons On The Decline

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8 thoughts on “Cyclones, typhoons and cherry-picking

  1. The picking of cherries, especially when combined with mixing messages, can have serious effects.

    I read this just after an appeal from Oxfam, via Mother Jones.

    Now I am in no doubt that this was a major, weather-related disaster, that has caused major loss of life and destruction. I support all sensible offers of aid and comfort of those subjected to nature’s power.

    However, as I read of its undoubted destructive but by no means unique force, in this same appeal there is this: ‘Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, is quite possibly the most powerful storm to ever hit land.’

    Is this the case?

    Because if not, there are some really playing with fire conflating genuine concern with the fate of others, with the temptation to pop in a bit of a media crowd (won’t say which one(s)) pleaser too.

    It should have no bearing on how one feels and responds, but if one suspects one is being ‘managed’, the inclination is to back off. This serves real victims poorly.

    I have no doubt we are going to see more, and worse. There may well be climatic deteriorations in the mix, but also there are factors such as population sizes, and densities, that make a landfalling high wind (or its tornado cousin) a very bad thing.

    I’d prefer the focus on coping better next time than any odd notions of prevention by means I suspect are way beyond the power of man.

  2. The warmist view is that CAGW only raised its ugly head approx 1975. Pre-75 events are irrelevant in this view, while post-75 events show the effect of a continually rising atmospheric CO2 content. Any parameter that correlates to that increase, therefore, is worthy of possible CO2 causation. Applying the Precautionary Principle, a sympathetic investigator MUST assume the correlation is reflective of CO2 causation.

    We are in the dilemma we are, IMHO, because we serve two masters noted above: 1) the world in which we currently live is “special”, due to A-CO2, and 2) the Precautionary Principle dictates strong action on the basis of even the weakest of weak evidence.

    Nothing that happened before 1975 means anything unless it reflected a hint of what is still to come. Nothing that might mitigate the worst of what is still to come means anything as long as there is still some faint chance that the worst is more than we are happy with.

    We are screwed. Not by the reality of the future, but the reality of our fears. The bogeyman hiding under our beds never goes away, we just grow up. The warmist, eco-green ideologue never grows up, he just grows more sophisticated, so we are left with his fears – and his obsessions – regardless of what we do.

    Those who prepare for the icy grips of bogeymen under their beds will never leave us. It is up to us to learn to turn away.

  3. The PP is readily dismissed by Reductio ad Absurdum: its logical extrapolation of any and every global disaster possibility. Setting off earthquakes by drilling — so stop drilling. Being hit by asteroids — find and deflect them all. Die from rogue genes in food — avoid all GMOs.

    The PP microscope/telescope is rarely directed at the consequences of over-reaction and wasted resources, which PP-Prescriptions are often almost certain to cause. It is thus very selective, even hypocritical in the conclusions it proposes.

  4. @Doug Proctor:

    Nothing that happened before 1975 means anything unless it reflected a hint of what is still to come.

    Aye, there’s the rub! IMHO, such “revisionism” has become an all too frequent “standard” applied by any and all UN affiliated bodies. The year may be different – as may the “issue” – but the propaganda pattern is the same.

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