Did global warming cause the Atlanta flood?

Stu Ostro, leader of the Weather Channel’s team of tornado, hurricane and climate experts just outside the Perimeter, describes himself as a reformed skeptic when it comes to the topic of man’s impact on climate.

But in a post over the weekend, Ostro raised the ultimate question: “Did global warming ‘cause’ the Atlanta flood?”

The post is long and complex, with charts and graphs as tough to wade through as Pumpkinvine Creek was 10 days ago. But here’s his summary toward the end:

…There’s a straightforward connection in the way the changing climate “set the table” for what happened this September in Atlanta and elsewhere. It behooves us to understand not only theoretical expected increases in heavy precipitation (via relatively slow/linear changes in temperatures, evaporation, and atmospheric moisture) but also how changing circulation patterns are already squeezing out that moisture in extreme doses and affecting weather in other ways.

In other words, the answer is yes.

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58 comments Add your comment

Bill White

October 5th, 2009
2:44 pm

Total balderdash and just another excuse to implement Socialism.

booger

October 5th, 2009
3:27 pm

Bull crap!

I think it is noteworthy that the official propoganda now calls it “Global Climate Change”. I agree with this. The climate is changing constantly, and has been for millions of years. It’s only lately that man has found out he can use this to put forward an agenda.

Will Blight

October 5th, 2009
3:35 pm

With eight billion people grubbing for existence on this planet and in the process churning out untold billions of tons of carbon dioxide from burning rain forests, oil, coal, gas to run their SUVS to pick up the kids from school, and even cow dung, I’m convinced that global warming is a ploy to make all 8 billion of us into socialists.

Espresso J

October 5th, 2009
4:37 pm

The flooding occurred in Atlanta for one reason, no one had the guts to stand up and spend money on infrastructure. Politicians spend money on the visible, “sexy” things as opposed to the cogs and gears in the background because cogs and gears do not get them re-elected. We have known for years and years that the sewer systems, among may other behind-the-scenes things, in Atlanta have been crumbling. The combination of massive growth and refusal to fund necessary repairs and upgrades led to the flooding. There was simply nowhere for the water to go because the system is in such bad shape that it could not handle it.

Andy Tucker

October 5th, 2009
4:44 pm

Warming may exists. However it is an excuse for all our troubles. We have idiots in this country that think it is a good cause to tax our industry. Problem they are to dumb to understand our industry just moves to another country that could care less about issues. We loose jobs and get to pay more taxes. What a system

Jane Doe

October 5th, 2009
4:55 pm

Somehow, even a blog about the environment becomes a discourse on the evils of socialism. Do you people check under your bed for the bogey man before you go to bed each night? Or does Glenn Beck come over and do that for you?

JImmy-o

October 5th, 2009
4:56 pm

Funny, aint it?

Andy Tucker

October 5th, 2009
5:08 pm

If the evironment is real. I do not think that it is. The world will change on its own. It has for millions of years. Ice ages to tropical.
No bogey man scars men. It is idiots that try to push their own agenda. I am one that does not need someone to think for me.
Beck is just one of the idiots on one side. The other side has theirs as well

JImmy-o

October 5th, 2009
5:12 pm

other funny thing I forgot:

During the very outset of the recent weather, I was going to meet a client for a sale when all of a sudden, he cut out on me. I then looked up and noticed the strangest cloud cover I’ve ever seen in my life. It was horizon to horizon (human viewing range is around sixty miles) and a thin, light grey that seemed far higher than I knew rainclouds to travel. (Water is denser and it usually stays lower).

I then got a hold of my client again and he goes “WBZZT I got BZZT no BZZars, man! This is crazy!” and I lost him. We never did meet up that day. The thing was my cell is brand new and quite reliable. I was calling people without roaming on a cruise ship outside of the country. Just the same, my NOKIA was acting like it just hit the Bermuda triangle. I never saw anything like it. For around three days my bars were at NOTHING, and I mean limited bursts of signal at best. All of my friends and relatives were saying the same thing, that they lost all wireless comm systems including digital walkie talkies. A few days after it was fine, but then we had massive flooding.

Then…immediately and I mean directly afterward, there was an earthquake and a tsunami in succession on the shores of Indonesia. Was it HAARP?

Well, I’m not one of those youtube nuts who has everything packed for the end times and the rapture. But I do know that for a fact (and this has been tested by scientific demonstration) that the facility at Fairbanks, Alaska can and does move clouds upward and around. Could possibly this be an unforeseen effect of the machine? I am not convinced that humans cannot make mistakes, and perhaps this freak weather lately could have been augmented by any number of things, including the oh so popular ‘global warming’. I just wonder at the storm pattern and the direction it traveled.

Emily Thomas

October 5th, 2009
5:13 pm

Thank you for publishing this post. I think it is very important to start linking real weather events to global warming. While we can’t say this specific flood was caused solely by global warming, it is important to say there is a link and these catastrophic events will continue to happen with more frequency and intensity unless we start addressing our addiction to fossil fuels. People will continue to see global warming as just a theory unless we make them see it is here and now and impacting their lives directly.

Idiot

October 5th, 2009
5:26 pm

Andy Tucker calling me an idiot? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. In a 6 line post I count at least 7 misspellings, improper punctuation, poor sentence structure, etc. But nobody can tell him anything. He knows it all. Wake up, Andy.

Bill White

October 5th, 2009
5:26 pm

Boo-hoo. Link/shmink. Global warming is as much of a hoax as was global cooling. The MSM + the UN will do anything to scare the daylights out of us. It’s all pathetic.

Andy Tucker

October 5th, 2009
5:33 pm

Folks it is called nature. These floods, earth quakes, volcanoes etc. Are not the first time in just my short life. I am not saying not to clean up our planet. I am not buying fossil fuels are the total evil. But we need to act like we have some common sense as well.
If I am not mistaken every time I breath I expel carbon dioxide may we should all stop breathing too.

Andy Tucker

October 5th, 2009
5:36 pm

If the idiot shoe fits ware it with pride.

Brad

October 5th, 2009
5:36 pm

Enter your comments here B.S.!!!! I doubt very seriously this was Mr. Ostro’s opinion before NBC took over at TWC. I have noticed since NBC became owners a lot more comments about the warming planet. I call hogwash!!!

JJB

October 5th, 2009
5:46 pm

When a volcano can emit more CO2 in one eruption than all of mankind can do in a decade, one has to wonder if there is a bigger process in play. The Oceans are an incredible sink of CO2 and CO2 solubility is temperature dependent. When it has been determined that the Mann hockey stick of global warming from 2000 was rigged with only 12 cherry picked trees out of a sample of 2000, one has to look at the money and power that people are after. Who wants to control you and your money?

Cooper

October 5th, 2009
5:53 pm

“If the evironment is real. I do not think that it is”

….like…what?

I love this dichotomy:

“Global warming is fear mongering!”

next sentence:

“They’re trying to make us socialists!”

I know, I know. It’s hard when science proves you wrong. Oh, well.

Brent

October 5th, 2009
6:21 pm

It’s just this decades version of Y2K. Oh that’s right, all the suckers fell for that one too.

dave

October 5th, 2009
7:01 pm

Cooper, science proves you wrong? Go back and do some real research, not just the BS Al Bore and the carbon credit snake oil salesmen toss to the masses.

wpf

October 5th, 2009
7:01 pm

This is a much bigger hoax than Y2K.Enter your comments here

JImmy-o

October 5th, 2009
7:08 pm

In Soviet Union, y2k is everyday!

Shananeeeee Fananeeeeeee

October 5th, 2009
7:49 pm

No Global Warming, it was Obama- he is as corrupt as they come. If it was not him it was the trash that is called the “Real” Housewives of Duluth. Most of them can’t afford to live in the city linits so they got that ghetto attitude together and caused a storm.

Owl Gore

October 5th, 2009
10:07 pm

This is no such thing as “global warming” anymore. It started to cool off and we now call it Climate Change. See it got cooler, there must be a problem. Plus, no matter what now we can just keep climate change as the name. You know if we were living in the great ice age (when there was no man made …) and it got warm then you could see look it is climate change. Say one year we have a ton of hurricanes and the next none, zip , zero, nada…. climate change it change from a buch to a little. There was a consensus that it was going to get warmer, my bad.

In the spirit of Hope and Climate-Change,

OWLGORE

Keith

October 5th, 2009
10:09 pm

Let’s see… we have 100 year flood plains and 500 years flood plains. The worst areas of our flooding fell in between those two. There was definitely no manmade global warming 500 or 1000 years ago yet we have expereinced flooding like this many times over the centuries.

Rarl Kove

October 5th, 2009
10:10 pm

Only 20% of Americans believe man made climate bad and all that jazz. A shirinking population which gives me hope for the future.

bubba

October 6th, 2009
5:41 am

You foolish skeptics. Floods never happened before manmade global warming. No hurricanes or tornadoes either. It’s man’s fault. Park your SUVs now, before it’s too late!

bubba

October 6th, 2009
5:45 am

Fossil of giant snake found: Assuming the Earth today was not particularly unusual, the researchers calculated that a snake of Titanoboa’s size would have required an average annual temperature of 30C to 34C (86F to 93F) to survive. By comparison, the average yearly temperature of today’s Cartagena, a Colombian coastal city, is about 28C.

Hmmm.

Bo Chambliss LOBBYIST

October 6th, 2009
6:28 am

Saxby will be taking care of this with a YES vote for Cap and Trade. Why would Saxby vote for this job killer? Because his son is a LOBBYIST for the ETHANOL INDUSTRY. With Saxby it’s LOBBYIST first, taxpayer last. THANK YOU SAXBY.

chuckf

October 6th, 2009
7:18 am

For all here that haven’t read that glaciers and ice caps are disappearing at a rate never ever seen before evidenced by samples taken. Ocean temps warmer than ever. GW didn’t cause Atlanta’s plight, but it definitely has effects on the world as a whole. All of this in the last 100 or so years.

Get your noses out of people magazines and the bible and possibly pick up a scientific journal and see that global warming is not a profit phenomena.

Simple logic and intelligence tells me that human industrialization could be somewhat at fault. For any of you who don’t believe, got any other explaination ?

A real meteorologist

October 6th, 2009
8:55 am

“A volcano can emit more CO2 in one eruption than all of mankind can do in a decade” This is a complete lie. Humans emit 150 times more CO2 than Volcanoes do in a year. CO2 levels are steadily climbing and accelerating. If Volcanos caused global CO2 levels to rise there would be peaks and dips in atmospheric CO2 levels. That is not the case.

“The planet has been cooling since 1998″ Nope. Another cherry picking lie. Why do the skeptics pick 1998 as the year to say we are cooling off from? Because 1998 was the hottest year on record by far due to a record breaking El Nino. The next year the temperature of the planet readjusted back to a steady climb. With the record breaking El Nino possibly brewing now, what are you all going to say when we have another record breaking global temperature for 2010?

Was the Atlanta flood caused by Global Warming? No, not quite. It was caused by training thunderstorm cells that coincidently lined up perfectly with the length and angle of the Chattahoochee River Basin that also fell over an urban area. But, October is turning out to be an unusually wet month for Atlanta, especially due to all this rain not being tropically induced. I’m starting to think this rain may be due to a strengthening El Nino. And I think we’re seeing the beginning of a very rainy Winter and Spring season. And there are studies that say El Ninos will be more pronounced in a warming period. So yes GW may have added an additional few inches to the total rainfall amounts in Atlanta. Maybe, possibly. I don’t know for sure. It’s kind of like cloud seeding. We don’t do it anymore because we don’t really know for sure if the rain falls due to the seeding or if it would have happened anyway. You’ve got to look over the very long term and look for trends. But shouldn’t we er on the side of caution. It may cost our economy a great deal if we don’t do anything and it is actually happening.

I used to be a GW skeptic. As an atmoshperic scientist, we’re supposed to be a skeptic until you look at all the data. I was a skeptic in the 1990s but now I see GW happeing before our very eyes. I’m not that surprised that the earth is warming, the earth is just trying to find a balance. I’m not worried that Earth will falter, I’m worried humans will have a hard time adjusting to the coming changes and at a great economic cost. What I’m surprised about is the politics about this whole thing. That just floors me. And then when a friend asks me about global warming and I say “yep, it’s real”. They argue with me, the meteorologist,. Oh brother!

But I will not be able to live long enough to say, “see I told you so”. So it’s not exactly the end of the world. Our kids will adjust but it will hurt.

jconservative

October 6th, 2009
8:55 am

Science will not make anyone socialist. Liberal politicians like Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton & Bush 43 will make you socialist. In fact, they have done so. And Obama is doing nothing to stop the downhill slide we have been on since 1933.

Question – why do you people keep electing the same liberal Republicans & Democrats over & over?

chuckf

October 6th, 2009
9:15 am

To the real meteorologist

AMEN !!

Troy

October 6th, 2009
9:29 am

I’m scared if “A real meteorologist” is in fact, a real meteorologist. Wow. Anyway, the floods occured in Atlanta because THEY”VE OCCURED THERE BEFORE, MANY THOUSANDS OF TIMES IN HISTORY!! What, you people think that they didn’t occur before now and humans are to blame? I can’t believe how our capacity to think critically is dimishing…and, this is SO basic… Guess what? There will be more floods in Atlanta. There will also be more droughts, wild fires, tornados, storms, ice, snow, etc, etc…it’s a given.

chuckf

October 6th, 2009
9:37 am

Troy,

How does your critical thinking explain the proven findings of the earth surface and water temps actually getting hotter ? (this is not about localized weather phenomena) do ya think it’s just simple as nature’s way LOL

A real meteorologist

October 6th, 2009
10:09 am

Troy, you don’t have a clue about hydrology do you? Did I say these floods were caused by GW? Re-read what I actually wrote. Not what you want to think I wrote. Yes, Atlanta has had 15 inches of rain before many times. But this is a special case. It was record breaking to the natives to Atlanta for a reason. Water reached homes and businesses that have never seen water before. The Chattahoochee and other creeks and streams saw record breaking stage heights. As I said the training echoes lined up perfectly over one basin over an urbanized area. We have river models that have to account for water rising in urban (yes a human geographically changed region) because the water cannot soak into the concrete. It is funneled into tighter areas, the water has to move around a human changed terrain etc.

Well, I am real, but there is no reason to be scared. Unless you are afraid of having to change what you’ve always been told to believe by people that have a political agenda. I’m a free thinker and I just don’t understand people like you. If I see real proof that the Earth is warming due to another reason, I will change my mind. But some people won’t because of their own ego. Pat Robertson changed his mind.

Ann

October 6th, 2009
10:41 am

George Bush changed his mind, too. But, the press was very quiet about that.

In any case, I have been reading about climate change since the 1990’s from science journals. This is before the neocons decided it was bunk. This was even waaaay before Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. It is a real thing, you all! I have always wondered why the neocons are so willing to believe a President who has NO science background (and isn’t even a good critical thinker) over the hundreds of scientists around the world who have earned PhD’s in such things and made the study of the climate their life’s work. In the sweep of a non chalant hand, no less.

I also don’t understand how little you know about life. Life happens in a very narrow range of possibilities. You die if you get too hot or too cold. If your potassium level varies by so much as 3 meq’s per liter of blood you die. Why is it so hard to believe that small variances in the atmosphere will lead to a planet unable to sustain life?

Monica

October 6th, 2009
11:19 am

How is that “the answer is yes?” None of what the author says means that the flood was cause by human made global warming. The planet goes through cyclical changes, get over it already and leave my money alone. Ann, there are just as many PHDs saying that human made global warming is minimal and does not affect the planet in any meaningful way. I’m not a conservative either, I just use my brain.

chuckf

October 6th, 2009
11:40 am

Monica, please send us the links to the PHD’s that think human caused global warming is minimal.. if you can find any lol

bubba

October 6th, 2009
12:39 pm

bubba

October 6th, 2009
12:41 pm

bubba

October 6th, 2009
12:43 pm

bubba

October 6th, 2009
12:43 pm

You ever hear of Google, Chuck?

A real meteorologist

October 6th, 2009
1:02 pm

Oh you’ll find a few skeptics but……….

“A new poll among 3,146 earth scientists found that 90 percent believe global warming is real, while 82 percent agree that human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures. ”

http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0122-climate.html

I’ve heard of Google.

Jack Poynter

October 6th, 2009
1:50 pm

Wow. What a fertile ground for observation.

I’m a person who loves to study cultural trend development. I’m particularly fond of reading about a phenomenon called “millenial fervor,” one good example of which was the MIllerite expectation of the end times in the 1840’s, which resulted in mass hysteria and suicides and mental breakdowns.

Another example is the Y2K “crisis”, in which I was involved deeply. Many of us spent a couple of years making changes to programs to fix this rather simple technical problem, while watching the world go nutso around us. In the event, nothing much happened, nor would anything much have happened except for a lot of red faces even if nothing had been done.

This whole controversy of global cooling, global warming, global climate change, may arguably have been caused by the showing of 1950’s horror films, in which brave scientists buck government skepticism in order to save the planet from untold disasters, to susceptible children, who later grew up to become climate scientists and policy makers.

Climate changes. It always has. Consider the Miocene, in which our hairy ancestors developed. Global temperatures, for millions of years, were much higher than they are now. Consider the Younger-Dryas Glaciation, which ended about 12,000 years ago, in which stone-age humanity in Europe was almost wiped out. Consider the fact that in Roman times, grapes were grown in the Thames River Valley, in England.

In 1929, when asked about the stock-market failure, J P Morgan replied, “Stocks go up. Stocks go down.” I am just absolutely sure, on historical evidence, that this statement will not stop the hysteria, but “Temperatures go up. Temperatures go down.”

Better learn to live with it.

Another real meteorologist

October 6th, 2009
1:54 pm

Hey Real I, were those earth scientists cherry-picked like the tree ring data used to make Mann’s hockey stick graph?

Also, can you answer any of the following questions….

Why do the climatologists throw out 5,000 stations when computing Earth’s average temperature? (They used to use over 6,000 stations and now only use 1,000.)

When calculating the average ocean temperature of earth why are they not using the ARGO bouys that have been deployed across the globe? (They claim budgetary reasons, but if AGW is occurring and the extreme dire predictions are true don’t you think budget would be the last concern?)

When making the monthly plot (big red and blue dots) of how hot the globe is compared to the U.S. (used frequently this past summer to discount the “year without a summer across the Plains/Northeast) why do they compare 2009 to the averages from the 1961 to 1990 data (the 1971 to 2000 data has been available for 8 years now)?

By doing that the climatologists are not including the 2nd hottest decade 1991-2000 on record, instead they are using the cooler 1960s.

Also a correction to your 1998 reference, NASA corrected their data and it is no longer the hottest because of bad data they used. It is officially the 2nd hottest to 1936.

PK

October 6th, 2009
2:26 pm

Not even 2 years ago the drought was the result of Global Warming and we were all told that the dryer conditions were here to stay.

When anyone predicting weather-related events can correctly and consistently tell me if it’s going to rain 5 days from now, I’ll start listening to what they’re saying about the next 100 years.

Andrew Freedman, washingtonpost.com

October 6th, 2009
2:28 pm

Mr. Galloway, I don’t think you can boil Stu’s thorough analysis to one sentence containing absolutely no mention of uncertainty. If you insist on such brevity, a much more accurate summary would’ve been to say something like, “In other words, the answer is sort of” or “maybe.” It does readers, and scientists like Mr. Ostro, a disservice when reporters (including myself) overly simplify complicated scientific matters to make it seem like A definitely causes B, when in fact the evidence is far more nuanced.

Jack Poynter

October 6th, 2009
2:33 pm

Three cheers for Andrew Freedman, this is the kind of thinking we need.

PK

October 6th, 2009
2:48 pm

And weren’t all the Hurricane “experts” calling for bigger and badder Hurricanes going forward because of this “Global Warming” ? What have we had, 2 Hurricanes all year ? And the end of the season is pretty near.

Jack Poynter

October 6th, 2009
3:10 pm

Um, excuse me for posting yet again, but I know the answer to PK’s question, because I’ve been following the NOAA website at http://www.nhc.noaa.gov all year. The people on the site, who monitor and predict tropical storms, say that there are three reasons for the low tropical storm count in the Atlantic basin this hear:
1. Lower than normal temperatures in the “hurricane conveyor belt,” which runs from the Cape Verde Islands to the Caribbean,
2. Prevalent Saharan dust, which dries the atmosphere, and
3. Meteorological conditions which promote “wind shear,” which tends to blow tropical storms to pieces before they can get started.

My opinion, as opposed to the above which are statements from the website, is that the lower temperatures in the Atlantic basin are caused by the Atlantic Decadal Oscillation, which if I remember correctly, has a thirty-year period. It runs opposite to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, so when temps are falling in the Atlantic, temps are rising in the Pacific. And the Pacific is having some real problems with typhoons this year.

The point is that there is a lot more to tropical storm frequency than just temperature. You need sea-surface temps greater than 27 degrees centigrade, but you also need relatively linear air flow and moisture in the atmosphere. So counting the frequency and magnitude of tropical storms is a loser as regards global warming, unless the results are weighted by those other factors.