February 24, 2013 | Graham

Global warming boosts rainfall

It seems like it never stops raining in summer in Queensland these days. Hard to believe that only a couple of years ago we were worrying that our dams would never be full again. Something to thank global warming for, or is it?

It’s been some years since I looked at any rainfall charts, but I did again yesterday and was startled to find that since the 1940s, when the IPCC believes that CO2 became significant as a forcing, there has been quite a substantial increase in Australian rainfall.




How did the “experts” get it so wrong? Well there are a couple of explanations. One is that the average (I have overlaid a 15 year running average on the data courtesy of the BOM) looked like it was trending down or flattening out for a while, and is  trending up again now because of a couple of exceptional years (of which there have been more since the 70s, than before).

The other is that they claimed that the increase in rain was only occurring in the northern half of Australia.

This too is now obviously wrong as this graph for rainfall in Southern Australia shows.



It’s not as dramatic, but the increase in rainfall since CO2 became significant is inarguable.

The only place where rainfall is declining is south western Australia, although the decline predates the 40s.


I was prompted to write this post by the daughter of a friend who confidently assured me that global warming was causing more droughts, and this was a double problem because the world also faced huge population pressures.

When presented with the empirical evidence that, at least in Australia, this was wrong, I was told that “Ms P (her teacher) had done a lot of study in this area, so must be right…” and that she didn’t want to be confused for her exam and lose marks.

I note that Julia Gillard has launched a back to basics reading blitz campaign in schools. All well and good, but the problem lies a lot deeper than that. While teachers like Ms P remain inured to the facts and demand adherence to orthodoxy, rather than intellectual exploration, as the price for passing exams, Australia’s education system is going to continue to lurch down the education league tables.

Ms P has also set an assignment task – to compare the severity of the problems that global warming brings. On the evidence above it would be more appropriate to tally up the costs and the benefits. A wetter Australia can’t be a bad thing.

Posted by Graham at 4:20 pm | Comments (25) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Should we take this as acceptance of AGW?
    From Understanding extreme weather in an era of climate change:
    “As far as rain, the US is seeing more overall, but it’s mostly falling in the Northeast and Midwest, and in the form of unusually heavy rains.”

    Always seemed a no-brainer up North that hot weather was associated with heavy rains.

    Comment by Kevin Rennie — February 24, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  2. No, this operates irrespective of the degree to which CO2 causes warming. CO2 warming would be difficult to detect from any other sort of warming, particularly as most of the warming is supposed to come from forcing factors, which are largely to do with increased humidity.

    I always thought global warming would cause more rain. I’m not so sure of that now, but certainly the Australian stats suggest as it warms it rains more.

    Although the stats for South Western Australia make me cautious as to whether it is actually temperature related.

    It’s a complicated picture. I’m just trying to understand it myself.

    Comment by Graham — February 24, 2013 @ 6:51 pm

  3. The big issue is a refusal by those paid to advise us, to concede that their forcasts were wrong.
    In 2007 Climate Change Commissioner Timothy Flannery made the statement that the dams would never fill again. His forecast was based on the theory that increased CO2 emmissions would cause less rainfall in countries like Australia. That theory was supported by many and some ten billion dollars has been invested in Desalinisation Plants. What is happening today is not following that theory. The IPCC has now admitted there has been an actual pause in Global Warming of sixteen years. C02 emmissions have increased dramatically over that period. A reasonable person would say that the science is not settled. Nature does not follow a computer model and more research needs to be done on the part that CO2 plays in Climate Change.
    When foecasts made on a theory turn out to be wrong, its time to look at the theory itself.

    Comment by Ian Patey — February 24, 2013 @ 8:33 pm

  4. I am pleased that you have undertaken this study as I have repeatedly stated that the first half century of the 20th century was dryer than the second half according to the rainfall charts for the Queensland districts of Dalby where I lived for 40 odd years and here on the Granite Belt where I have lived for 20 years.

    Comment by Fay Helwig — February 25, 2013 @ 8:34 am

  5. Graham don’t give yourself a headache. No one is going to understand climate from the few years records we have here in Oz.

    The Great Barrier Reef cores drilled quite some time back now, [so long they appear to be forgotten], show we ain’t seen nothing yet.

    They showed that around the time our old mate Captain Cook was cruising the reef we had a drought, drier than anything seen since white settlement, that lasted for 28 years.

    The Sydney museum marine biology researcher, who showed me this stuff in the early 70s also mentioned they were having trouble believing some evidence. It appeared to show an extended flood, which made our recent floods look like a minor fresh in the Fitzroy & other northern rivers.

    It is a damn good thing the aborigines did not have global warming experts back then, or they may have been told to put their fire sticks out, to save the planet.

    Comment by Hasbeen — February 25, 2013 @ 9:01 am

  6. There is a simple explanation. Human nature.
    There is nothing like a crisis to increase the status and remuneration of the discipline closest to the crisis.
    As quack doctors find, there is a fortune in dreaming up a non- existent disease and then finding a cure ffor it.
    Of course the science is unsettled.The only thing settled is just where the bread of the climantologists is buttered.
    But what about a government which appoints a paleontologist ( Tim Flannery)as “Climate Change Commissioner”. That is a par with appointing a lawyer to give a cancer diagnosis. At least it makes sure he will not be reaching any conclusions contrary to those of the government which appointed him.That explains why everything he has predicted is garbage.

    Comment by George Gell — February 25, 2013 @ 10:15 am

  7. In a warmer wetter world, the rites of logic dictate, more rainfall is to be expected.
    In a warmer wetter world, the very humidity acts as a very effective thermal blanket, that traps more radiant heat.
    Note the difference in temperatures on a starless cloudy night and a starry one, particularly during winter, to understand this.
    In a warmer wetter world, that retains more trapped heat, the global convection patterns are altered, with more of the equatorial moisture, travelling further away from source.
    Hence the Sahara, which is regularly traversed by significant moisture, very little of which precipitates, to fall to the ground as rain.
    Thanks in no small part to the tree felling exploits of both the Egyptian and Roman empires, the latter using the Sahara, as its principle granary.
    Yes, the Aborigine, experienced larger floods events, than we whites have since recorded?
    But then, we had more untouched wilderness/forests, and some of or now east flowing rivers, once ran west, adding to the diurnal rainfall patterns, thanks to the greater soil moisture, that normally feeds these events.
    And as late as just 12,000-14,000 years ago, Australia was a land covered from coast to coast, in verdant, rain attracting forest.
    More recent arrivals and their fire sticks, have a lot to answer for; and or, don’t know best!
    Co2, on its own, is a very poor insulator!
    Its effect is to act as a super fertilizer, which then promotes verdant plant growth, but particularly on rainforest species, which react by producing more atmospheric moisture.
    An acre of trees can evaporate 2.5 times more moisture, than that of ponded open water.
    Ice reflects radiant heat, whereas water absorbs it; meaning, as the ice melts, less heat is reflected back into space and more of it is absorbed by our oceans.
    Some ocean currents are now 2C warmer, since record keeping began, as a first consequence.
    Moreover, water has a natural affinity with Co2, which it absorbs and combines with, to form carbonic acid.
    More and more of which is impacting as ocean acidification, according to the keepers of records, and a worry, given the oceans are the lungs f the world, and produce around two thirds of the oxygen we depend on to live!
    Our prehistoric forbears would have breathed an atmosphere, twice as high in atmospheric oxygen, [a natural disinfectant,] as we now do?
    Which may in part explain, why mankind seems to be succumbing to all manner of new hitherto unknown diseases?
    One of the factors in our own rainfall patterns is the Himalayas, and the monsoon weather patterns they create.
    Without the monsoon and the regular summer rainfall it creates, Australia at its latitude, would likely be another Sahara?
    And altered global convection patterns, result in much more mixing between atmospheric layers; meaning more tornadoes, and sudden severe cold weather events, blizzards, freak snow storms etc, which some see as a cooling or new ice age, rather than the after effects of moisture laden air reaching much higher levels and the mixing with air, that could easily be more than 70C-.
    Average increased and increasing wind speeds, another consequence of increased and increasing global convection, tell us the days of fire, as a land management tool, are increasingly limited.
    Fire contributes to increased atmospheric Co2 levels, and sends trillions of tons of increasingly rare, essential nutrients skywards annually, where they don’t come down until way out over the oceans, where the nutrients, do nothing but harm to an increasingly fragile marine environment!
    Besides, very short term, extremely intensive cell grazing, is a much better management tool, that doesn’t bake the soil, that then renders it impervious to moisture! But rather, the opposite, given cloven hooves, first cut up the soil, allowing increased moisture penetration, and better pasture recovery!
    Moreover, plants with no fire tolerance, which includes most if not all rain attracting/rain-making rainforest species, are given a chance to, not just recover/spread, but prosper as the dominant flora.
    Nature has a wonderful way of reacting to and fixing changed or harmful conditions!
    We would be far better served by helping this natural recovery activity, rather than continually fighting to prevent it. Simply because a grossly misguided, or mindless tradition, tells us we should?
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — February 25, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  8. alan..you talk rubbish

    “More and more of which is impacting as ocean acidification”

    arrant nonsense

    a ghouse effect does not exist
    a ghouse effect does not even apply to a ghouse
    c02 is not pollution

    mmgw is a failed hypothesis not only on the junk science
    principals that it was based(ghouse effect/postive feedback/500 years residency..etc) but we know the modelling contains simplistic aprroximations that are just wrong..

    alan…mmc02 plays no part in controlling our weather
    the sun does

    back in 1988 the IPCC started off with the assumption “manmade gw is real..lets model this..”

    it started out with the cornclusion..built fictional models to prove an untested assertion

    you know nothing

    oops this one________guffaw….

    “Average increased and increasing wind speeds, another consequence of increased and increasing global convection..”

    really as a practising meterologist..what are you talking about again?

    Comment by tony — February 25, 2013 @ 11:42 am

  9. “Moreover, water has a natural affinity with Co2, which it absorbs and combines with, to form carbonic acid.

    More and more of which is impacting as ocean acidification, according to the keepers of records, and a worry, given the oceans are the lungs f the world, and produce around two thirds of the oxygen we depend on to live!”

    Alan, this statement is just incorrect. If global temperatures continue to increase (through whatever cause, I believe its primarily due to a natural solar cycle), there will be a corresponding decrease in the CO2 acidification of the oceans. This is due to a peculiar equilibrium constant of the CO2 to carbonic acid reaction which forces the reaction to reverse from carbonic acid to CO2 with increasing temperature. Either that or my degree in Chemical Engineering isn’t worth the paper its written on.

    Incidently, there are a lot of other scientific inaccuracies in your post.

    Comment by Rohan — February 25, 2013 @ 11:46 am

  10. I’ve thought the same thing Rohan. We’re actually seeing outgassing from the oceans, rather than the other way around, as I understand it, because a warmer sea is less able to absorb CO2.

    Comment by Graham — February 25, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  11. Over here in Perth we have had 0.8mm of rain so far this year with no more rain forecast for the rest of the month. Our long term average for Jan-Feb is 22.4mm so we are tracking way below par. Combined with record heat wave temperatures the situation is serious.

    The drop in rainfall continues a trend over the whole of SW WA over the last 40 years. Many farmers are at breaking point and are on the verge of walking off their farms.

    Our dams are at low levels and we are drawing down ground water reserves much faster than they can be restored. If we didn’t already have 2 desalination plants in operation Perth would be in dire straits.

    We have a State election coming up on 9 March. You would think the water situation would be front and centre, but no it is not even on the radar. I suspect it is because no one wants to talk about climate change is because it just brings out the sceptics, and you can never win an argument with them because they can always quote some other obscure “evidence” in support.

    To me the facts of a drying, hotter WA and a wetter QLD and NSW is quite consistent with climate change – not evidence in itself, no single event is evidence, but certainly consistent.

    Comment by rossco — February 25, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

  12. The big thing when talking about rainfall is to remember that it really is regional in effect.

    Since about 1986 the rainfall on the coast of Queensland has decreased by about 100 mm/year. One could argue that this is a bad thing but if we look at cyclone figures we see that there were far more cyclones before 1986 than after. (IIRC pre 1986 had 2 years with less than 12 cyclones in the Oz region and post 1986 had 2 years with more than 2.) Check the BoM site and count the names if you want.

    So is it bad that rainfall has decreased in this area or good that we don’t get hit by cyclones anywhere near as much. We don’t even test the cyclone warning on the radio and TV in Brisbane any more.

    Climate change is obviously real, only warmers doubt that, but whether the effects of that change are good or bad depends very much on context.

    Seriously, do we really want to “reverse global warming” and go back to the Little Ice Age? It’s a better world where Europe has trouble feeding itself and birds freeze to death in flight? Seriously?

    Comment by JohnB — February 25, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

  13. Clearly comment #3 has hit the nail on the head. The biggest problem that GW brings is Timothy Fridtjof Flannery. Even a fraction of a degree of additional temperature is enough to induce mammalologists to start practicing outside their area of training. If sustained for a year or two, such infinitesimal warming will cause Leftist govts to not only employ such amateur climatologists in cushy public service positions, but also sign 15 year leases and “invest” tens of billions of dollars in sub-economic generation projects as wind and stockpile $20bn more of mothballed desal plants.

    Higher CO2 concentrations are also strongly correlated to rising power bills, which cause people to die during brief respites in warming.

    Finally, warming kills an estimated 200,000 people annually – by persuading Western warmist govts to redirect what used to be their food to production of “renewable” biofuels.

    Thus even brief bursts of warming totalling a fraction of a degree can product catastrophic impacts on the global population.

    I trust your friend will now know everything she needs to for her essay.

    Comment by Andrew — February 25, 2013 @ 1:46 pm

  14. Climate change is consistent with Man-Made Climate Change, not evidence in itself.

    I can accurately predict that the climate will change with no models and no sensible reason for it other than that it is normal. If I get to choose more or less intense after the fact than I’m really on top of things.

    Comment by Robert — February 25, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

  15. johnb and others

    there seems to be cornfusion..
    climate change is a constant
    CC TRIGGERED by man exists in only 2 places
    the failed unvalidated junk science modelling and in the minds of ignorants who believe such science fiction

    c02 is not an emmission
    c02 is nott pollution
    gheffect does not exist
    ghgas’s do not exist
    the atmospheres co2 does not trap heat
    the sun drives our weather

    no such thing as a global temperature..a number construct actually made upp by man
    gatemperature is not a measurement

    so much ignorance
    a tax cannot change the way the sun operates
    a tax cannot change weather
    mmc02 is harmless

    coal is good

    see..home truths ..no bs

    Comment by TONY — February 25, 2013 @ 4:40 pm

  16. The IPCC now admits that there has been no wrming for 17 yrs.It time for a re-think on a theory that has so many flaws.

    Comment by Ross — February 25, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

  17. Yes, once fully saturated, warmer water gives up some of its gas. And yes, Co2 is a very poor insulator. Borne out by repeatable science.
    Take a dozen cubic metres of atmosphere, as a dozen cubic metre samples.
    Apply a radiant heat source, sunlight is fine.
    Measure and record the average ambient temperature.
    Then extract all the Co2 and measure any changes in average ambient temperatures.
    The change will be just 0.03 of a degree C lower every time!
    Whereas, if you remove all moisture, the temperature drop will average around 30C.
    Meaning, it is water vapour that traps radiant heat.
    Green house gases are so labelled, because they promote a green house effect, rather than actually trap heat per se. And global temperature is an averaged ambient!
    [In my thirties I worked as a chemical engineer! Which is probably more than Rohan can claim?]
    A tax cannot change weather! How right you are Tony, but it can modify behaviour.
    I now freeze my but off in winter and slowly sizzle like a barbecued sausage during summer, cause as a retiree, I can no longer afford the mortgage, as well as the power to run heaters or coolers.
    See, modified behaviour!
    Albeit, I spent some months in hospital with heat stroke, P/E’s, and then doubled, double pneumonia.
    Given these sojourns cost the govt around three hundred dollars a day minimum, I’d say the modified behaviour they’ve engendered, has cost them more than they’ve collected?
    Co2 doesn’t trap much radiant heat. Albeit, methane traps 21 times more radiant heat, than Co2.
    And given methane as a lighter than air gas, does its work at much higher altitude, also includes a trapped UV element, as well as the usual infra red.
    Coal is good.
    Sure, but we can always have too much of a good thing.
    Besides, all we need do is extract and burn the methane, which produces only 40% of the carbon of coal.
    [And thorium power is cheaper than coal!]
    If we burn the methane as a chemical reaction via ceramic fuel cells, rather than in conventional or steam engines, we produce mainly water as the exhaust.
    Replacing a conventional engine with a fuel cell, in a hybrid vehicle, will do just that.
    [We could and should be first to do this, which will allow us to sell our Australian made vehicles around the world and corner the market! Massed produced fuel cells should be cheaper to make and run, than conventional combustion engines! We should cash in on GW, rather than simply deny it exists, or claim it is just solar variation?]
    And given a vastly superior energy coefficient of the ceramic cell, dramatically increase the range of CNG, compressed natural (methane) gas,] powered vehicles.
    In a world where energy costs seem only to rise, this would just be practical common sense!
    And in places like China and India, with their enormous pea soup smog problems, selling them vehicles that don’t produce particulants or add to their air problems, would likely make Trillions for us, as export incomes; and it wouldn’t hurt our gas sales either.
    Given these potential money making outcomes, I just don’t understand, why we seem to have all this mostly mindless resistance to change?
    It matters little if climate is a natural climatic variation or man-made?
    Simply doing nothing to mitigate against it, is clearly not an option.
    Alan B. Goulding.

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — February 26, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

  18. “Green house gases are so labelled, because they promote a green house effect, rather than actually trap heat per se. And global temperature is an averaged ambient!

    actually a ghouse warms cos of trapped warm air
    not trapped IR radiation
    a gheffect is a failed hypothesis
    it does not exist
    it does not apply to an open ended convectively driven atmosphere

    latent/sensible heat and related phase changes-not “trapped heat ”

    gas’s dont trap heat…absorption/emission etc

    yes it matters as the mmgw scam has
    1)changed our world based on a False TRUTH ..and billions of people who cry out for help have been denied that help cos billions of $$have been redirected to “solving a problem that does not exist”

    a crime against humanity..in oz ..10bill given to the greens to do what exactly?

    2)yes it matters as mmgw and its junk science have bastardized Science where chicanery and fraud are applauded..eg the HockeY Stick Fiasco
    the claim of “tipping points” and extreme weather events now occurring …

    scaring the beejees out of ordinary uniformed humans

    15 million going to an island state where seal levels are not rising..the coral atoll in subsiding..

    no it matters

    we cannot live a group collective lie when so much money and effort has been diverted to solve a problem that never existed from the outset

    go to the first report from the IPCC ….and read their aim..”we know manmade global warming by mmc02 is real..we will in this report formalize this by creating GCM’S that will model the warming”

    they asserted a problm then set out to prove it by creating garbage in garbage out models

    90%to be sure to be sure

    what arrant nonsense
    what bastardization of Science

    and people who need our help cry out..what about me

    yes it matters

    the crime of this century remains online

    shame on us all…shame on the ruling class and media

    Comment by TONY — February 26, 2013 @ 1:20 pm

  19. What a simplistic post based on the most cursory of looks at a complicated matter.

    The teacher you decry may well be on solid grounds, at least as far as the globe is concerned.

    See paper this paper, which concludes that models indicate that droughts may well increase in severity over the next century. http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v3/n1/full/nclimate1633.html

    Another paper, given prominence by skeptic sites last year, argued that the previous method used to count global droughts was inaccurate, and that the previously widely held belief that droughts had been increasing was wrong.

    However, John Neilsen Gammon, a climatologist who takes a big interest in droughts as he is in Texas, looked at the paper and thinks it has exaggerated its claims. It seems he’s still of the view that droughts are increasing.


    As for Australia – as you note, assessing whether droughts have increased or not depends on how you slice and dice rainfall patterns over different areas.

    As Barrie Pittock showed in an article last year, climate change predictions going back to the late 1980’s were that there could be increased flooding in parts of Australia due to global warming.

    On the other hand (and this is something the fake “skeptics” have trouble getting their head around) the prediction has long been for an intensification of the water cycle, meaning the potential for both longer or more severe droughts (due to higher temperatures evaporating more moisture from soil) interspersed by more intense rainfall when it does come (due to higher general humidity in the air, higher sea surface temperatures, etc.)

    So it is not a contradiction to be talking about climate change increasing both droughts and floods.

    Does this sound a familiar picture of Australia over the last 15 years?

    Here’s Pittocks article at the Conversation:


    There are many, many more papers to be found regarding rainfall and drought in Australia, some are here:


    It helps to read more than one website and paper before coming to any conclusions about this.

    Comment by steve from brisbane — February 27, 2013 @ 9:58 am

  20. And by the way, the drought in South East Australia from 98 to 08 really was remarkable, with one study noting:

    In the context of the rainfall estimates introduced here, there is a 97.1% probability that the decadal rainfall anomaly recorded during the 1998–2008 ‘Big Dry’ is the worst experienced since the first European settlement of Australia.


    Comment by steve from brisbane — February 27, 2013 @ 10:05 am

  21. steve ..

    your point?

    the whole scam of alleged mmgw centers on junk science modelling

    garbage in ..garbage out…gheffect rules when in fact it does not exist

    your paper is MODELLING….with abstract mathematics to resolve uncertainties…

    modelling aint measurements

    and anyways..what has that go to do with mmc02 again?

    the paper tells me nothing until the results are VALIDATED by independants

    Comment by TONY — February 27, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

  22. tony – your point is that you clearly can’t be bothered to read widely on the topic.

    Comment by steve from brisbane — February 27, 2013 @ 1:31 pm

  23. STEVE….widely?

    hear a small request

    in simple words,explain how a ghouse warms..no pasting..no copying….

    and since you are widely read…it will be easy as it is the cornerstone of the junk science of mmgw

    i await your wise words…

    psstuh..do you understand what VALIDATION in Science is?any idea at all?without it ,scams in science would exist..much like the mcbride case in Oz many years ago..go widely read up on that one

    Comment by TONY — February 27, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

  24. Tony, your logic is quite astounding.
    So, McBride falsified his results, so as to continue to receive funding?
    Given this is correct; then, according to your thought processes, all scientists are just crooks, out to deceive, particularly climatologists, just so they can stay on the gravy train?
    Following that line of quite remarkable logic, if one or two book keepers have been caught out, cooking the books, in order to embezzle money from their employer? It then follows that all book keepers are crooks?
    Oh, and congratulations on understanding how a glasshouse works?
    You make complex iterconnected cause and effect outcomes, seem so simple!
    Alan B. Goulding

    Comment by Alan B. Goulding — March 1, 2013 @ 11:26 am

  25. […] Global warming boosts rainfall […]

    Pingback by AUTUMN 2013 AT GLEN APLIN |   Fay Helwig — March 2, 2013 @ 9:59 am

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