May 28, 2007 | Graham

Not the worst drought in a 1,000 years

Research into hurricanes in the North Atlantic indirectly suggests that the last 100 years in Australia have been relatively wet. Forget about Greenhouse. Just the normal swings and roundabouts of the climate have the potential to be devastating.
According to a paper (pdf 292 kb) published in Nature, intense hurricane activity over the last 5,000 years is controlled by El Nino and the West African Monsoon. In years when there are more and stronger El Ninos there are fewer hurricanes. What’s more, in a challenge to vulgar Greenhouse assumptions, there appear to have been more severe hurricanes in the past than the ones we’ve seen recently, even though the sea was colder then.
What struck me about the paper was the graph of reconstructed El Nino events going back 6,000 years. It appears that we are currently in an unprecedented period of relatively few strong El Ninos. Given that we believe that there is an inverse relationship between El Nino events and rainfall in eastern Australia, could the last hundred or so years have been much wetter than average, and this current drought puny by comparison to others that have occurred quite recently in geological time?
Perhaps we should be spending more taxpayer monies reconstructing paleo-climate, and less modelling future climate scenarios. The past seems scarier than the models, and indeed could be the future.

Posted by Graham at 10:43 pm | Comments (5) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


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    Comment by Jonglly — May 29, 2007 @ 5:18 am

  2. Like the Y2K scare thousands are making BIG $$$$ with this Greenhouse crap!

    Comment by Bob Buick — May 29, 2007 @ 6:48 am

  3. I would suggest that the UK Government acceptance of climate change, and the resulting request for and endorsement of the Stern report, could be linked to their push for nuclear power generation.
    A widespread acceptance of climate change would certainly assist the introduction of nuclear power-plants in otherwise unreceptive areas.

    Comment by Pete — May 29, 2007 @ 11:31 am

  4. Not convinced that sediment samples from one lagoon are any reasonable proxy for cyclone activity in the Carribean. Apart from strength and frequency of cyclones, deposition record will be very effected by how close the cyclone’s path was, direction of approach, tidal situation at the time and sea level, (since we are talking on a scale of centuries, sea level will have varied).
    The width and height of that sandbar, in particular, could have a major effect on sand deposition in the lagoon. Sandbars are very variable over time.

    Comment by Bill — May 30, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  5. There is also research that has been done on locked lakes in SA and Victoria, including the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier. These lakes have no water flowing in or out – fluctuations come only from rainfall and evaporation. The testing of concentration of certain minerals in plant matter embedded in the mud shows the amount of water in the lake at that time – eg higher concetrations = less water. Cores taken from the mud indicate that we are in a reasonably wet zone of the last 5000 years.
    So it appears that we do have climate change, but its not necessarily caused by humans. We need to do more work on understanding why these patterns and changes occurred in the past before we can accurately model what is likely to happen in the future.

    Comment by Rachelle — May 30, 2007 @ 1:42 pm

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