Extreme weather: Yasi

Written By: - Date published: 6:02 am, February 3rd, 2011 - 22 comments
Categories: climate change, International - Tags: ,

By the time this is posted Yasi will have hit Australia. There will be massive damage, and probably loss of life. Most New Zealanders will have friends or family in Australia, perhaps in the areas affected. I’m sure our thoughts are with our cousins over the ditch. This is the second hammering Australia has had in as many weeks.

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. “Once in a hundred years” or “once in a generation” events seem to come again too soon. In Northern hemisphere summers we are seeing deaths from unprecedented heat waves. In the Winters we are seeing massive snow storms (warmer air carries more water), like those recently in England and Europe, and currently gripping America.

An increased frequency of extreme weather events is predicted (with 90% confidence) by the IPCC. Do the facts fit the predictions? Yes. The resources at Wikipedia are a good place to start. In particular this brief paper points out that we would expect an increase in reported events simply because of increasing population and improved communications. But the author controls for this by comparing the incidence of earthquakes (not affected by climate change, but increasing) with the incidence of cyclones and floods (affected by climate change and increasing much much quicker).

I see no reason to doubt that extreme weather events will continue to increase in frequency and severity. Make what preparations you can. The experience of the Christchurch earthquake has left me personally in no doubt at all, that whatever it is, it can happen here.

22 comments on “Extreme weather: Yasi”

  1. Nicola Weaver 1

    All the online videos of Yasi are on the following hub:

    They have people on the ground providing video feedback from most affected areas.

    I hope that’s useful.


  2. happynz 2

    Yeah, best wishes to those over the ditch.

    I saw this cyclone superimposed over other parts of the world to give some idea of the size of this event. It would cover most of the continental US and in Europe it would stretch from Russia to far out into the Atlantic. If the same storm was in South Asia it would reach from the Middle East to Vietnam.


    • anna maria 2.1

      extreme weather is no longer an illusion… indeed there are more and more incidents occuring worldwide…. preperation should be made by all governments and residents to prepare for eventuality of potential threats…. i saw superimposed image also yasi covered uk pratically 100% covered… living near the clyde in scotland i can say that i am disturbed,,… even though have go bag at ready… i feel for ppl in australia right now…. to those that stayed behind to battle forces of nature… floods are already big deal in scotland… on normal rainy days bit more average rainfalll sand bags come out…. Also this last december glasgow city came to standstill no food on shelves in stores and that was due to bad weather…. insulin shortages were reported and travel stopped…. we were not prepared as a city council for cold weather and i feel lessons have not been learned … councils continue to ignore weather changing patterns… and emergency procedures and support to residents….
      Although sounds like australia have got it sussed just now all they have to do now is hold on till its over to monitor damage…..

      until individuals do not learn to appreciate damage nature can inflict and how unforgiving it is as humans we will not change.. earth is fighting back

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    Volcanic eruptions increasing due to climate change ?

    • grumpy 3.1

      ….and in your opinion, this is all caused by man made CO2 emissions……………???

      • Nick K 3.1.1

        Just like the one in 1918 grumpy. It’s a cyclone in cyclone season during a La Nina weather pattern, but the ETS will save all of us from the next one.

        • grumpy

          So, how many Carbon Credits will it take to avoid the “next one”, and aren’t we lucky we had all that time since 1918 without one (I wonder what caused that one then?)

          I see below that Marty G claims global warming (or Climate Change, or………….) causes volcanic eruptions, I bet all the IPCC troughers are trying to come up with a scenario on how it also caused the Canterbury earthquake.

          • r0b

            I see you can’t read. Unsurprising of course, as it’s pretty much a prerequisite for denying the impact of climate change.

            • grumpy

              Hang on…..what’s the point in a carbon tax if it can’t save us from cyclones????

              • Draco T Bastard

                The Age of Stupid
                Watch that and you may come to understand.

              • lprent

                It can help stop the cyclones and other weather events from getting more extreme in the future than they are already going to. If you raise the cost of burning fossil carbon then alternatives will be found and made cheaper using economies of scale. If you don’t, then we keep building up greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which means that the weather gets ever more extreme. You’ll get widespread starvation when extreme weather destroys crops and probably the consequential wars, migrants, and other disruptions to economies.

                Surely even you can figure out what the phrase “more extreme weather” means for farmers.

    • Marty G 3.2

      Increased volcanism is expected over the long-term due to ice melting. the huge weight of ice caps pushes down the land beneath – much of greenland’s land is beneath sea level, for example. Remove that weight and the land will ‘ bounce’ back up. The huge stresses involved leading to more volcanism.

      Of course, volcanism is contra-greenhouse. All that soot and SO2

      • lprent 3.2.1

        Wrong logic.

        You’ll get lots of shallow earthquakes from earth movement.

        But regardless of the type of volcanism, it requires a existing pool of hot magma coming up from down below. There is a slight probability of more immediate basaltic volcanism if the weight of the ice had compressed the vertical faults that would allow that magma to vent. But really in that case it was going to vent within a few decades anyway.

        Basaltic magma bodies are really hot and cut cold rock like one of those japanese kitchen knives cuts tomato (and fingers) .

        Of course andesitic or rhyloitic vulcanism is going to happen explosively – regardless of the ice overlay.

    • Afewknowthetruth 3.3

      It is unlikely, but possible that earthquakes have been affected by the 0.8 C rise in average temperature that has aoccured over the past century. The melting of glaciers would have rediced the weight bearing down in some places. One would think the effect would be minimal -though in Alaska new beaches are forming as a consequence of rapid uplift.. .

  4. Hilary 4

    There is a photo on the front page of the Dompost today of am aboriginal family locked out of a public cyclone shelter in Cairns, and left to fend for themselves in an open carpark. We like to think that such disasters cause people to rise above their own self-centred lives and prejudices, but this photo indicates there may be a long way to go.

  5. Afewknowthetruth 5

    The important point is that our so-called leaders -and that is all of them- are fully committed to a complete melttdown of the environment over coming decades. Nothing in current policicies in any way mitigates CO2 -emissions trading schemes are just money-making scams.

    ALL industrial activity generates carbon dioxide: Now I know thre are plenty of non-scientists who will dispute irrefutable scientific facts just for the sake of an argument, but what we are now witnessing closely matches perdictions made decades ago on the basis of rising CO2 emissions. We are now at a new record high CO2 level (in geological terms) and rising faster than evre

    All the evidence points to a largely uninhabitable planet by mid-century because we have trggered positive feedback mechaisms. One would think that the prospect of an uninhabitable planet woild be a a good incentive to stop doing what we do. But evidently not. We are living in the Age of Entitlement and most people believe they are entitled to destroy their own children;s futures by squandering fossil fuels.

    Of course, the corporate media are dependent for their survival on the general public not discivering the truth about anything -gotta keep that advertising revenue coming in.

    It’s a trap from which there is no escape unless civilisation collapses due to peak oil very soon. That is a distict possibility. l

    • johnm 5.1

      Hi afewknowthetruth
      We are only as good as the scientific experts we accept. I find James Lovelock believable because he is independent and his Gaia Insight Discovery I think is far more momentous than Einstein’s Relativity theory though the latter requires advanced mathematics. He believes that CC(Climate Change) will steadily gain momentum due to positive feedback mechanisms and that we are headed towards a new hot stable state never before experienced by Homo Sapiens. He likens it to walking down a Mountain Spur which increasingly gets steeper and steeper until we fall of the almost vertical slope! It’s not just us, our brother creatures (Echoes of St Francis) will find it increasingly difficult as well, many will go extinct. I can Intellectually understand this but day to day as a whole person I can’t believe it…until of course we are getting more and more extreme weather events.

  6. ianmac 6

    The graph seems to show a drop in events from 2000. Why is that?

  7. James Henderson 7

    Good post. But I am reluctant to accept the ‘all disasters’ in the graph. Some of the disasters could be entirely human-made through poorly thought out development (floods) poor argricultural practice (insect infestation), etc. To be fair, I think the all disasters vs earthquakes graph is more likely to show the impact of an increasing human population rather than climate change. I.e. how many of the floods recorded in the latter part are in areas where no one lived in the 1900s?

    Also, please don’t refer to events as ‘1 in a 100’ this distorts the meaning of the term. 1 in a 100 events are events with a 1% probability of occuring in any given year, which means that odds are it will happen once every 100 years, it does not mean it occurs at an average of once every 100 years (as volcanic or earthquake recurrance is sometimes described). I think that people calling 1% probabliliy events (such as the maximum flood extent planned for in most NZ cities) 1 in a 100 events distorts the meaning, leading to people being critical when you get 1% events happening more than once every 100 years (also, the 1% events threshold is constantly changing due to climate change, changes in understanding flood catchments, etc).

    Still a good post, but its important to remember that there is a difference between a climate event (flood, etc) and a ‘hazard’ as the hazard is determined both by the event and the human systems to cope with it (flood protection, etc).

    captcha = compare

    • Anne 7.1

      “… please don’t refer to events as ’1 in a 100′ this distorts the meaning of the term.”

      That’s true James Henderson, but the term “1% probability of occuring in any given year” is not only a mouthful, but will mean little to the average person. The term ‘1 in a 100’ at least allows them to get their heads around it. I’m sure most recognise that it’s an arbitrary figure.

  8. nadis 8

    Increased flood severity is also caused by alterations to the environment due to population increase and increased agricultural usage of land.

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