Storms, Climate Change & an Economy of Truth.

You've heard the rhetoric. Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Emergency is increasing severe weather events. There will be more storms. More destruction.

Statements like this from my friends in Greenpeace (of whom I have none) Link Here 

“The frequency and strength of storms is increasing, leaving destruction in their wake.”

Lurid stuff. Frightening even.

But is it true?

Is the frequency and strength of storms increasing?

The answer to that is No.

The frequency and strength of storms is not increasing. In fact for the last thirty years the average wind speed across large sections of the planet have been in decline, as have severe storm events. You can trace a slowing in global wind speeds right back to the 1960's.

From Antarctica right up to near the North Pole wind speeds have been going down.

I’ll concentrate here on the UK but this really is a global phenomena. (see references later)

Here is the frequency of high wind gusts events across the UK by year which the Met Office states they use as an indicator of "storminess".

Notice all gusts are in decline and that includes the extreme gusts that are supposed to be increasing. (MET office Data taken from Here)

Storms in the UK by year

Even though they have adopted a silly storm naming scheme (one suspects in order to add a little drama to otherwise common or garden weather events) the Met Office have come out and made clear that there is no link between Global Warming and UK storm frequency.

But they cannot quite bring themselves to reference their own data showing a slow decline in storminess since the 1990's. The Met Office webpage on Wind Storms is Here

The global slowing of wind speed is emphatic and serious enough to now be a research project for EU. (Here)

Even dear old Wikipedia has a (somewhat rudimentary) page on it Here

The best page is probably This Page from the Institute of Physics. (with caveats – see later)

Here’s a few more links that give useful insight into the phenomena.

ABC News Australia

Cosmo Magazine

Nature Magazine

So, while the panic laden Drama Queens in Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion would like you to think that storms are dangerously increasing, actually the reverse is true.

Bad things always happen. There will always be storms. But today there are less of them and they are less potent.

But you will not hear anyone suggesting that this is a “good thing”.

Even the article above struggled hard to find some bad outcomes yet failed to address any of the advantages of lower wind speed and less storms.

Yet when we look to (say) coastal defence, less storms mean coastal defence systems last longer. Less storms mean less storm surges. Less storms mean less wind damage. Less lost work days and less insurance claims.

The list goes on.

Even a merely lower average wind speed must result in less wear and tear on external structures. I am sure you can think a few more advantages of what is in essence more benign weather. 

By the way while the linked reports are all reasonably recent, this is far from new knowledge. Its just appears to have been kept pretty quiet until now.

It is interesting to note that while these reports all mention the possible ill affect on wind-turbines the reports make great efforts to (incorrectly) indicate that little is known about the wind speed at wind-turbine height.

I first blogged on it and how it can affect the wind turbine farce using data from Garrard-Hassan. But that data from 2011 which shows the slowing of wind speed across Northern Europe seems to have been (how should we say…) overlooked.

The full 2011 post is Here: Wind Speed Decline: A Blip or a Trend?

Here's the Garrard Hassan graph (this only goes to 2005)

But whatever the effects on marginal power producers, clearly wind speed is something that is getting more benign. Maybe it is due to Global Warming, maybe not. But whatever, wind speed is not getting worse.

Global Warming may well have deleterious affects. But (like this) there may also be positive outcomes

It’s just nobody wants to tell you about them.


Anonymous said...

A world where the Arctic is warming faster than the tropics should mean smoother temperature gradients, and thus (as I understand it) fewer or weaker extra-tropical cyclones.

Judging by the amount of dust in the ice cores from the Last Glacial Maximum, a less equable world is an angrier one.

BilloTheWisp said...

Thanks for the comment.

I gather a decrease in temperature gradient from pole to equator is Prof Rodericks hypothesis to account for slowing winds, which does sound plausible.

The other one (an increase in surface rugosity due to more plant life) is also interesting as NASA recently published that the planet is greening up. Maybe it's a mix of the two?

But whatever the root cause, winds are slowing.