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20 responses to “Oklahoma tornado and climate change”

  1. Iain Hall


    I didn’t look at the denialist blogs.

    That is you confirmation bias in full swing right there Brian 🙄

  2. Iain Hall

    if you want to cover the climate change issue credibly then surely you should do more than just read those who are deeply committed to the AGW theory?

    Surely the essence of any scientific understanding is to constantly challenge what you believe about a topic rather than reaching for the blinkers every time something that contradicts your orthodoxy is put forward.

  3. alfred venison

    arguing about whether climate change is happening or not is just so passé. -a.v.

  4. Helen

    Brian, your research methods have been analysed by someone with a little blinking emoticon. Clearly you are out of your league here.

  5. wilful

    Commentators in the future pointing to the increased cost of weather related events in recent years will need to be careful to screen this event out.

  6. paul burns

    Well, okay, maybe fiercer tornadoes aren’t related to climate change, or if they are, its harder to tell. Or they are a La Nina related phenomenon. So what – Iaian @ 1 – severer hurricanes, extended drought, longer Polar summers, melting of the permafrost and rising sea levels are all, so far as the science can tell, products of global warming. Isn’t that enough to make us worry? I would think so.

  7. faustusnotes

    Every form of disaster does more damage in poor areas and areas with corrupt or weak building rules. It seems obvious to me that much of the damage in the USA from tornadoes will be the same. It’s a development issue. The obvious example is trailer parks: these are a form of rural slum, and they obviously should not be built anywhere near tornado alley. That they continue to be in the path of these storms tells me that huge amounts of the damage done by tornados in the USA can be prevented or mitigated.

    I would also suspect that, unless warming eliminates wind shear altogether, it will lead to occasional monster tornadoes, like this one, because occasionally the extra heat and the wind shear will coincide. I’m guessing there’s a power law relationship between number and strength, and global warming will make that power law have a tighter kink – so more weaker tornadoes and less stronger ones, but more of the extremely strong ones.

  8. Grumphy

    Why aren’t there more Storm Cellars in Oklahoma – Megan Garber, The Atlantic

    I found this issue interesting* – expansive clays and unfriendly bedrock make basement construction difficult and expensive, so a lot of places in OK don’t have underground shelters. The soils they’re talking about are a bit like those on the Darling Downs and parts of Central QLD – anyone who’s driven on those roads will know.

    * certainly more interesting than watching the same old single-issue sniping…

  9. Blair

    There’s very little evidence on tornadoes (or severe thunderstorms generally) and climate change – either observed historical changes or future projections. Part of this is the difficulty of observing them in a consistent manner (although the US is better than most) – for example, comparing tornado frequency per unit area around Australian capital cities (where one might expect reasonably comprehensive reporting) with that in rural areas suggests that 80-90% of all Australian tornadoes go unreported. There have been attempts made to look at changes in other atmospheric parameters favourable to severe storms (such as wind shear), but with inconclusive results so far. The 2011 IPCC Special Report on Extremes has a good summary of the state of knowledge (or lack thereof) in this area.

    One thing which does have a clear trend – downwards – is the number of deaths from tornadoes. Of the 15 tornadoes which have caused 100 or more deaths in the US, only one (Joplin in 2011) has occurred in the last 60 years. Improved warnings, and improved technology to communicate warnings, have a lot to do with that, and building standards will have helped too.

  10. zoot

    if you want to cover the climate change issue credibly then surely you should do more than just read those who are deeply committed to the AGW theory?

    Of course, just as any coverage of astronomy must do more than read those who are deeply committed to the heliocentric theory and the absurd fiction that planet earth is an oblate spheroid.

  11. nottrampis


    as promised!

    please keep them coming

  12. Blair

    There’s a very nice piece looking at some of the issues in assessing tornadoes and climate change at Jeff Masters’ Weather Underground blog.

  13. Harry May

    Before we can judge any effect of human CO2 on extreme wearher we have to take a scientific approach as to what causes extreme weather. To do this we need to know where the energy is coming from. Energy does not tend to go from a less concentrated to a more concentrated source. So where does the energy come from to drive hurricanes and tornadoes? Or for that matter how is the concentrated burst of energy known as lighting get created?

    There appears to be this tepid water theory of how hurricanes are powered. Well this is just silly.