Duluth Storm: Yet Another Postcard from the Future

June 25, 2012

Duluth is a jewel of a city spread out on bluffs at the western tip of Lake Superior. Another one of those towns that doesn’t get much press, where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and the inhabitants are happy to have you visit, just don’t come and muck up their good thing.

Last week’s not-so-freak rain event broke all records. It yet another of the surprises-that-should-not-be-surprising that are in store for us. As the graph above shows, extreme storms have been increasing in Minnesota for decades. (that’s true for the entire midwest)

Deniers, just keep repeating “dealing with climate change is too costly”.

Minnesota Public Radio:

“The most damaging flood in Duluth’s history”
(Minnesota Climate Working Group)

“This storm eclipsed a heavy rain event in August 1972 that caused serious damage in the Duluth area.”
(Minnesota Climate Working Group)

16.6 feet – New record flood level on the St, Louis River at Scanlon?

“The climate record from Duluth shows very few stormy periods that are analogous to what happened there this week.” 
(Excerpt from Dr. Mark Seeley’s Friday Weather Talk post)

A 4% increase in atmospheric moisture has been observed, consistent with a warming climate. The increased moisture in the atmosphere is driving the shift to heavier but less frequent rains –“when it rains, it pours.”In turn, this increases the risk of flooding.
Source: Trenberth et al.2007 climatenexus.org

As Wednesday’s devastating flood begins to appear in the rearview mirror we can begin to look back and see how it fits in the overall picture if climate change in Minnesota.

As I said in my post early Thursday, my read is that this type of event “fits” in the overall picture of Minnesota’s changing climate. What we can’t credibly say in my opinion is that this entire event was “caused” by climate change. What we can credibly say is the extreme rainfall events are increasing in frequency in Minnesota, and that climate changes favoring a warmer wetter atmosphere may have enhanced or “juiced” rainfall totals in the flood.

We’ve always had active warm fronts that have spawned MCS and heavy nighttime rains in Minnesota. The meteorological set up would have occurred anyway. But CC may have “enhanced” the Duluth flood event.

Now the real question is, did a warmer & wetter atmosphere “juice” this particular event to produce more rainfall than would have occurred without CC? That’s the real question…and how do you quantify how much “extra” rain fell as a result of a warmer/wetter climate?

We know, and I have blogged/discussed on MPR that 3″+ rainfall events have doubled in frequency since about 1960. According to a report from climatenexus.org there has been a 31% increase in extreme rainfall events in the Midwest since 1958.

See pdf of report on midwest rain events here.

24 Responses to “Duluth Storm: Yet Another Postcard from the Future”

  1. Peter Mizla Says:

    The residents of Duluth like elsewhere are going to have to get used to more extreme weather. Going forward these events will be come more numerous. Its going to become a way of life. One can only hope that luck will prevent the weather anomaly to ‘miss’ your city or neighborhood.

    In Southern New England this year we have been ‘lucky’. 2011 was a horrible year in which we saw three episodes of severe weather costing my home state of Connecticut 4 billion dollars. After one event in late October last year- the entire state looked like a war zone from fallen trees and tree limbs.

    This past Friday extreme storms swept through my tiny state. Wind, (causing power outages) and extreme precipitation falling flooded roadways, basements.
    My growing concern is the active tropical season thus far- I do not want to see a storm come up the coast in August or September- this is not far from my thoughts. Its the new ‘paradigm’ for living in a rapidly changing climate.

  2. neilrieck Says:

    Everyone should download a copy of the resource Peter referenced:

    Click to access signals.pdf

  3. the world is bigger than the USA peter

  4. Martin Lack Says:

    Here is a straight question I would like to see supposed “sceptics” answer:

    Which is more likely to be responsible for changes in the Earth’s climate that hav clearly occurred over the last 50 years:-
    A: a 0.25% increase in total solar irradiance?
    B: a 4% increase in average atmospheric moisture content?
    C: a 40% increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration since 1850?

    I would also dare to suggest that they should not need to think about it for too long; the most obvious answer is the most likely to be correct. (Sorry if that sounds like an appeal to authority; to me it is just common sense).

    • otter17 Says:

      The average joe contrarian does not like to deal with specific quantities associated with climate forcings. It doesn’t suit their hand-waving style very well.

    • jdouglashuahin Says:

      “According to the study, the Earth has continued to absorb more than half of the carbon dioxide pumped out by humans over the last 160 years.
      This is despite emissions of CO2 increasing from two billion tonnes per year in 1850 to current levels of 35 billion tonnes per year.”

      It is kind of hard to know just what to believe, right, Martin. I have a few questions for you. Just which period in the past would have qualified for your climatic “utopia” since you believe that things are so bad now?

      Would it have been before 1900 when the life expectancy for men was 46.3 and 48.1 for women in the US; by 1998 according to a Berkeley study, that had improved to 73.8 for men and 79.5 for women.
      According to another study in 1930 the life expectancy for both sexes was 59.7 years. and in 2010 it was 78.7 years.

      “Despite the rise in real income, by the end of the century life was still hard for the average European, compared to 21st century European standards. In Britain the average male was dead at 51.5 years of age, the average woman at 55.4. In France these figures were 45.4 and 50, in Spain at 41 and 42.5. Figures for the Russians, available in 1895, have the average male dead at 31.4 years and the average woman at 33.3.”

      I would think that people being able to eat better food and with less effort to produce that food would have a significant bearing on this increase in life expectancy. Now in the U.S., about 2% of the population are able to feed the other 98% and that is because of the use of fossil fuels “down on the farm”. It seems like weather extremes are not a new thing, Martin and how much CO2 has to do with it is nothing, zero.
      1963 One of the coldest winters in England and Wales on record lasting from 22 December 1962 till the thaw started on 6 March 1963.

      1936 February–March: Record cold followed by rapid warming causes flooding across several northeastern states, killing 171 and leaving 430,000 homeless[32]
      April: The Tupelo-Gainesville tornado outbreak of tornadoes kills 436
      July–August: A heat wave across the Midwest and Northeast U.S. claims 5,000 lives. Record temperatures from this event still stand across fifteen states.[33]
      Read About The World’s Worst Disasters

      Do you think that either the Mongols under Kublai Khan or the Japanese gave any thought to CO2 when the Mongol’s invasion in 1274 was thwarted by a typhoon?
      The Second Invasion of 1281 was similarly destroyed by what the Japanese called the two storms kamikaze, or “divine winds.” and according to you there could not have been any typhoons then because there was not enough CO2 to cause them.

      • greenman3610 Says:

        I like it when an obviously poorly considered post gives me the chance to revisit the video on this topic.
        The poster above obviously has not the slightest grasp of pale-climate, and the forces we are playing with.

        • jdouglashuahin Says:

          I suffered through this video again and I’m sure that Richard Alley is sincere but I wonder at how his training as a geologist qualifies him to better present this argument than some one with whom I’m more comfortable viewing; such as Dr. Richard Lindzen, who is an American atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also is respected for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 scientific papers and books and caused people to laugh on two occasions when Martin tried to lecture him in London. I had also showed you various theories about what could have caused this mass extinction and I do not believe that Richard Alley has any better idea than what open minded scientist have regarding the event.

          As for the conjecture about what may have happened some 250 million years ago in regard to CO2, why not turn to real time and real life conditions to see what actually happens today?
          “Ambient CO2 level in outside air is about 340 ppm by volume. All plants grow well at this level but as CO2 levels are raised by 1,000 ppm photosynthesis increases proportionately resulting in more sugars and carbohydrates available for plant growth.”

          “Long-anticipated results of the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva appear in tomorrow’s issue of the journal Nature (25 August)
          Cloud formation may be linked to cosmic rays
          Experiment probes connection between climate change and radiation bombarding the atmosphere.

          For a video interview with Jasper Kirkby of CLOUD see:

          Svensmark, being a scientist, devised experiments of his own to test his theory and that demonstrates how science works. It is not about a group of self serving charlatans proclaiming that “the debate is over”.
          “Svensmark: Evidence continues to build that the Sun drives climate, not CO2″

          Please direct me to a link that shows an experiment that proves that carbon dioxide, in the amounts present in earth’s present atmosphere, drives the climate.

          • greenman3610 Says:

            Right. we all know who Lindzen is, save the bio for your next Elk’s club meeting.
            He’s a loon who thinks tobacco isn’t nearly as toxic as all those crazy doctors say, who had to withdraw one of his
            most recent papers. See Andy Dessler mop the floor with him here.

            As for Kirkby, you are in line with most of the bonehead climate denial websites in
            claiming his work shows anything at all about climate – but if you are
            going to post here, you have to keep up. Suggest you actually watch my videos
            to save yourself embarrassment.
            such as the more recent interview with kirkby, published immediately after his publication.

            money quote: “..at the moment it actually says nothing about a cosmic ray effect on clouds and therefore climate.”
            The greenhouse properties of co2 were shown by tyndall in an experiment 150 years ago, and have been
            further confirmed since then. The burden of proof, given the indisputable radiative properties of greenhouse
            gases, is on deniers, to show how adding more such gases could have no
            effect, and to show another cause for unequivocal warming now observed. Even Exxon now claims that they knew it all along. Not that they give a damn.

        • jdouglashuahin Says:

          Monday, July 09, 2012
          12:42 PM
          “CERN is no fringe laboratory pursuing crackpot theories at some remote backwater.

      • Martin Lack Says:

        All that was required was A, B, or C, instead of which you gave us Zzzz.

        • jdouglashuahin Says:

          There has been a succession of worthless, meaningless and unneeded “climate change” get to gathers such as took place in Copenhagen in 2009 after the Russians released the hacked climate gate emails that showed just how deceptive and dishonest the agw crowd is. The Copenhagen meeting required a fleet of 1,200 limos, 140 private jets, an ocean of booze and an army of whores and for what?

          “At least the sex will be C02-neutral. According to the organisers, the eleven-day conference, including the participants’ travel, will create a total of 41,000 tonnes of “carbon dioxide equivalent”, equal to the amount produced over the same period by a city the size of Middlesbrough.”

          The same results came from the Cancun “meeting” in 2010 but maybe this is a step in the right direction.
          ” Bringing a new meaning to shuttle diplomacy, Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has been jumping on a bike to make it between meetings. The bikes are a quick way to get around the massive 2,000 room luxury resort, the Moon Palace, where climate change talks are taking place. However it has proved more problematic for aides to keep up with the minister, after the chains kept coming off the bikes.
          • Chris Huhne has decided to stay in Mexico rather than fly back for a key Government vote. However he booked a flight, which is worth 4.5 tonnes in carbon emissions if it was first class. Meanwhile Greg Barker, the Tory Environment Minister, flew back to vote and but will be returning. This is an extra 9 tonnes of emissions. The carbon footprint of this climate change conference keeps going up and up”

          Then in 2011 there was Durban and all too recently Rio:
          “Environmental campaigners are warning that any concrete agreements that come out of a major climate change conference in Brazil are likely to be “watered down”.
          The leaders of more than 100 countries are expected to attend the Rio+20 summit from Wednesday.”

          “As of now, I am starting a 3 week fundraiser aimed at outfitting myself to join a scientific team on Washington’s Mt Baker, an active volcano in the Cascades Range.” The question is, are you riding a bicycle, riding old Paint and leading old Dan to get to the jumping off point from your cave on the East Coast that uses no carbon generated electricity? I do not need to wonder at how Martin did this:
          “I spent 3 years living in the outback, working in the Pilbara, and I have visited the forests of the SW. Perth is probably one of the cities in a developed country that is most susceptible to water scarcity as a result of ongoing climate disruption; and now the forests are dying too…?
          How and why people can remain “sceptical” in a place like WA is beyond me” and he was in China in 2010 and I doubt that he took a slow boat under wind power to get there. Then you have your Goracle, who claims the oceans are raising at an alarming rate, buying beach front property in California. There is a term for all of this and until I see people like you that for some reason believe yourselves to be members of some elite live the life that you want to subject the unwashed masses to, then your false message is only a joke of the worst kind trying to rob humanity of what has made the last 50 years the most prosperous in human history in response to an unproven theory about CO2.

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Dear Doug, Unless you display some evidence of comprehension, this is the very last time that I am going to respond to you… You have been asked to be brief and to raise one issue at a time… Why then are you still doing neither…?

            Climategate (and especially Climategagte #2) proved only one thing; the lengths to which mendacious people will go attempting to discredit climate science and scientists. They failed; and if they do it a third time they must be even more stupid than their scientific illiteracy and ideological prejudice makes them already look.

            Pointing out the supposed hypocrisy of others (who are trying to bring about positive change) is just an attempt to shift the blame (that we all should share) from yourself (who seem to be insisting we do nothing because we have no problem to fix or we are powerless to fix it).

            However, ad hominems (against me or Peter or anyone else) are no substitute for having a sound scientific basis for your beliefs but, for the record, I worked in Australia 1987-89, went on a once-only trek to Everest Base Camp nearly 5 years ago, and have never been to China… So, despite what I just said, if you are going to go on fishing trips around the Internet to dredge up stuff to try and discredit me, at least try and get your facts right.

        • jdouglashuahin Says:

          I was interested to learn that you have been to Everest Base Camp and I will tell you one of the most impressive things that I saw when I was doing this enjoyable trip. It was seeing the Sherpa children dressed in their school uniforms, white blouses and skirts or shorts for the boys of a blue color, if I recall right, walking , in some cases over 2 hours one way, to get to school and showing this extreme interest in education to do this. Walking is basically the only way to get around since the road ends in Jeri and if one hurries it takes at least a week to get to Namche Bazar that has a good hydro power plant for welcome electricity. I also was moved when I saw the name of John Breitenbach who had also lived in Jackson Hole, WY when I was there but who had died 23 March, 1963 when the US climbed Everest. His name is on the stainless steel pyramid marker in Pheriche.

          Martin: I do apologize for miss-reading/understanding what you had written to take it to mean that you had been to China because of how I had interpreted this: “I was therefore delighted, last year, to find that one of the optional modules for my MA was Environmental Policy and Practice in China and India. I did not hesitate.” Upon rereading your lead in I do see this:
          “Sadly, I have never been; nor am I now ever likely to visit it (far too self-indulgent even if I had a job and/or the money).”

          It does appear that others do not really understand what you think that you mean either.
          Barry Woods
          29 June 2012 at 18:13
          “say what you like if it is your opinion.. BUT I resent it when you say this:…………….”

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Agreed, the Nepalese have a great deal to thank Edmond Hilary for.

            Thanks for the admission of one error, which is – I suppose – a start.

            As for Barry Woods, despite being repeatedly and comprehensively rebutted by me, he was – and is – indulging in tactical avoidance of the issue at hand; namely the refusal to recognise the reality, reliability and reasonableness of the scientific consensus. Thanks for providing a convenient link to the evidence; you appear to be doing the same.

            I hope you get some satisfaction from your seemingly-endless fishing trips.

  5. […] Duluth Storm: Yet Another Postcard from the Future (climatecrocks.com) […]

  6. jdouglashuahin Says:

    There are agw people that claim that the MWP and the LIA were a local occurrence in Europe only.
    That is a fairly irrational claim to make, but look who is making it.
    “Stockholm sees coldest June day in 84 years”
    Published: 3 Jun 12 10:59 CET

    Are the current weather extremes really all that unusual? Seems like there is always a lecture about the difference between weather and climate that comes from the anthropogenic global warming crowd, especially if it is a hot event, then it is for sure climate change but when it is a cold even or three extremely cold winters in Mongolia, then it is naturally only a weather event.

    • MorinMoss Says:

      That game is played constantly at WUWT who were shouting about how stupid it was to believe in global warming when Snowmaggedon hit and studiously avoided serious discussion about the astoundingly warm late winter and spring that many places including most of the Northern hemisphere just lived through while gleefully finger-pointing at the places that were seeing cold, wet or snowy conditions.

      I see a lot of denial about whether AGW has made any reliable predictions while the selfsame “skeptics” never acknowledge that 1) extreme weather or what is now called global weirding was always projected and that night time temps would rise out of proportion with the average or daytime changes.
      This latter prediction has happened in every place I’ve lived for the last 2 decades and is becoming of great concern in India as it may affect their rice crop.
      On the upside, I imagine Monsanto sees a golden opportunity in the South Asian subcontinent.

  7. […] MA was Environmental Policy and Practice in China and India. I did not hesitate. [N.B. People like John Douglas Swallow should note the use of italics here to identify this as the name of a course module; not an […]

  8. Martin Lack Says:

    Hello Doug? Re:your latest intervention (above), I have dealt with Lindzen on my own blog at great length, most recently here (on 25 June 2012) However, for ease of reference, and to prove that I can out do you in the competition you appear to be running to see who can cut and paste the longest list of links to stuff… With my thanks to Lionel A Smith (for some of these links), here is the evidence to show that Lindzen is a deeply-prejudiced and unreliable witness:

    If Richard Lindzen shows up at your door, slam it!

    Is Richard S. Lindzen deliberately lying, or just deluded?

    Why does tobacco keep cropping up in discussion of Lindzen’s history of prejudice?




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