The latest Independent distortion on climate-change

Most of the papers have been responsible enough not to attribute the latest bad weather to climate-change, but guess which one is the exception? The Independent's lead story today is titled "After the deluge - scientists confirm global warming link to increased rain". They have got hold of a report that won't be published until Wednesday, which they claim "supports the idea [that recent weather is caused by climate-change], by showing that in recent decades rainfall has increased over several areas of the world..." These claims are repeated at several points in the article, always carefully phrased to refer to Britain (or even wider regions) as a whole and to avoid consideration of seasonal patterns. For example: "The computer models used to predict the future course of global warming all show heavier rainfall, and indeed 'extreme rainfall events', as one of its principle consequences".

I have sent the following letter in response, which they won't publish, of course, because dissent from their version of climate-change dogma is not permissible:

Sir, Can you point to any climate models, including the one to be published on Wednesday, that predict increased rainfall in England in summer? All climate models of which I am aware predict reduced rainfall in England in summer. Any increase in rainfall is either for winter or an annual average, where the winter increase outweighs the summer decrease. Your opportunistic distortion of climate-change science to suit the story you want to tell undermines the credibility of that science.

-- Yours, etc

As those who have read my posts on this issue will know, I am not an arch-sceptic of anthropogenic global-warming theory (I accept that there is a risk that we ought to take into account), but I do despise prejudice portrayed as hard scientific fact.



This paper perhaps?

What is odd about the paper (as reported) is that both sides of the debate agree that climate models don't produce skillful forecasts at regional level. How a correlation between data and a skill-less forecast tells us anything is beyond me.

Yes, it looks like that's the one they're referring to. But you will notice there is no reference to seasonal patterns in that summary of the paper. The point is that, where they model seasons, summers are dryer - it is the winters that are expected to be wetter. If the increased precipitation in winters exceeds the reduced precipitation in summers, you end up with the statements in that paper and The Independent - that models predict increased rainfall (not surprising because higher temperatures cause more evaporation, higher humidity, and therefore more rain).

But this does not mean that models predict the conditions we are seeing - high rainfall in summer. They don't. See this earlier post, where I have provided a recent schematic showing seasonal precipitation predictions according to a group including the Hadley Centre (co-authors of this latest report), and a link to the associated report where more detail is provided.

It was as recently as last summer that summer droughts were being predicted as the consequence of climate change, and the media were full of suggestions for how we would ensure sufficient water for the South-East (more reservoirs or a national water distribution network)? Not so many of those stories around now.