A Brief Journey into the Dark Art of Rapid Extreme Weather Attribution

floodingI came across this on Twitter today (h/t to @HG54). No longer content to publish scientific papers months, even years, after extreme weather events, exploring how each weather event might, or might not be, attributable to man-made global warming, scientists now want to get in there quickly and state within hours or days if a flood or heatwave, blizzard, violent storm, etc. was due (in part at least) to anthropogenic CO2.

Why? Because ‘real’ scientists need to quickly “get sound scientific analysis to the public to help counter misinformation, deliberate or otherwise, about an event”. That strikes me as ever so slightly hysterical and paranoid to be honest, as in ‘Oh my God, some amateur might come along and show that the recent bad weather is not really that exceptional in the context of past bad weather – so we’d better get in there first and claim it for climate change™!’ Paul Homewood is a serial offender in that respect. I’ve had a go at it myself once or twice.

Extreme weather attribution is an obscure ‘science’, reliant upon a rather cliquey peer-reviewed scientific literature pioneered by Peter Stott of the Met Office, consisting essentially of endless climate model runs, with and without anthropogenic forcings, looking at regional weather forecasts, global and regional climate change projections, and past meteorological data, then putting it all together in a giant melting pot to arrive at what is called a Fraction of Attributable Risk (FAR) for any one particular extreme event – basically, the increased probability of such and such happening if one assumes ‘known’ anthropogenic GHG forcings. You can call it science or you can call it hocus pocus.

This is the standard, rather long-winded process; the slow-cook method – which isn’t much use if you want to foil the evil machinations of the merchants of climate doubt who, because they are rank amateurs, can quickly and easily come up with AOR to misinform the public with. Enter our crack team of First Responder Climate Change Attributors, complete with flashing blue lights atop a fully equipped alarmist ambulance, on the scene in a jiffy in order to pronounce gravely that the patient is suffering from a serious case of the global warminks. They can do this because, I quote:

Rather than running models after an event, researchers like Dr. van Oldenborgh and Dr. Otto shorten the process by using models that have already been run.

“The only way we can do this rapid attribution is by precooking everything that we can,” Dr. van Oldenborgh said.

There you have it; pre-cooked, ready to go model runs that they can just throw into the wok, sizzle and serve up almost immediately for public consumption. Hubble, bubble, toil and no trouble!

Read rest…

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