The Storms of January

January 23, 2012

Last night we enjoyed once again a new sign of the season in the upper midwest, the January thunderstorm. It used to be that we could rely on snow in the winter, with our annual spring flood in March as the melt water surged down rivers and streams. In recent years, the flooding comes 2, 3, 4 times a year, as snowfall is followed by repeated midwinter thaws and melts.

Changes in rainfall and the hydrological cycle are, of course, one of the most well documented and noticeable effects of global climate change, as the graph above from NOAA indicates.

A corollary of this change is the increase, as documented by giant insurance companies like Munich Re, in damaging extreme events. The graph below shows the increase in such events in China.

See Below for an analogous trend documented for India.

Times of  India:

PUNE: The number of extreme events of rainfall (very heavy rainfall) has almost doubled in the country in the last 50 years. On the other hand, there has been a decrease in low and moderate rainfall over central India, according to scientists of the India Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

The scientists made these observations after examining data pertaining to the last 50 years, collected from various sources.

BN Goswami, director of IITM, Pune, said that the significant rising trends seen in the frequency and intensity of these extreme events can be attributed to global warming.

5 Responses to “The Storms of January”

  1. An impressive collection as usual …weather is climate, China and India mean the whole world. The fact that we know more now of what’s happening than in the past has no consequence. The sharp decrease in the number of dead means nothing. And Munich Re’s emphasis (more people, more valuable stuff) is forgotten in favor of a “maybe” link to something not even the IPCC expects to be happening now.

    • jasonpettitt Says:

      “And Munich Re’s emphasis (more people, more valuable stuff) is forgotten in favor of a “maybe” link to something not even the IPCC expects to be happening now.”

      Oh and where exactly do Munich Re emphasise ‘more people, more valuable stuff’?

      I’ve looked at the chart quite closely, but just can’t seem to find the bit where they emphasise how an increase in the number of valuable things is causing more floods.

      Though I did stumble upon this:
      “Munich Re believes that weather extremes such as the massive floods experienced by China since early June are due to the advance of climate change.”

      Maybe the increase in weather events that we’re seeing right now (and it’s not just China and India) aren’t the first glimpses of climate change becoming a tangible problem that directly affects us. But maybe they are. Whichever way, it plainly demonstrates our vulnerability to unpredictable and extreme events – which is very much the point.

  2. jasonpettitt Says:

    Talking of storms. The new solar minimum that’s going to send us all shivering back to a new ice age for sure is currently doing a curious new kind of big and stormy minimum.

  3. Jason – you’re dangerously close to advocating adaptation. Repent before it’s too late!

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