Over the past couple of years people have been claiming that storms are getting more severe in Australia. Some linking this to global warming.

Specifically Professor Ross Garnaut in the opening paragraph of his first in a series of eight updates of his landmark 2008 climate report says:

Extreme climatic events have become immediately more intense.

And in the 2011 update:

New observations of a changing climate include an increase in extreme weather events.

Severe storms will get worse: The Australian

But there is a general view among weather forecasters and climate scientists that, in the longer term, higher global temperatures will create the right conditions for more intense, but not more frequent, storms.

However, in a recent news article a Dr. Jorgen Frederiksen from the well respected CSIRO says:

Dr Jorgen Frederiksen from the the CSIRO says there has been a 50-year decrease in the average intensity of storms hitting Australia, a trend which is forecast to continue for another 50 years.

Furthermore:

The drop in winter and autumn rainfall observed across southern Australia is due to a large downturn in the intensity of storm formations over at least the last three decades compared with the previous three decades, and these effects have become more pronounced with time

Although it is not linked it mentions the research is from:

The findings come from recent CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology research.

Both of these seem contradictory to me, although this could be just my lack of understanding. I have not personally reviewed any figures, but the claims made in public seem to be clear.

So is one group incorrect or is it just the media taking things out of context?

  • storms are just weather. They'll get more severe, or less severe, all the time, sometimes very rapidly. E.g. we had a really bad storm here last week, the week before we had one that was not bad at all, and this week there's no storm. So over the course of 3 weeks we've had storms getting more severe, then less severe. And it's not due to any "global warming" or "climate change", it's just weather. – jwenting Jul 5 '11 at 6:39
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    "Both of these seem contradictory to me" the global warming crowd wants to link everything to AGW as a scare tactic, never mind that they have to contradict themselves to make their claims. Which shows how desperate they are, they've nothing to back themselves up except their own continued fabrications and scare stories. – jwenting Jul 5 '11 at 6:40
  • One point to remember that regional trends may be different from global trends - climate change is understood to change the distribution of certain weather events. So, for example, you'll note that many of those things saying an increase in storm intensity seem to be about global storm intensity, whereas the paper at the end is just about Australia. It's possible that those stronger storms are concentrated elsewhere. Can't be sure if that's the case here without more reading. Btw, I think the last paper referenced is this one: ijc.cgpublisher.com/product/pub.185/prod.104 – Joel Rein Jul 5 '11 at 7:19
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    @Danny no, I'm pointing out that the implicit (and usually explicit) "explanation" for those weather changes is incorrect, and that the way that a shortterm trend is constantly being used as an indicator of longterm pattern change is blatantly wrong. This is done to push a political agenda, which explains why it's being done. There's indeed nothing wrong with examining long term patterns, but that's not what's being done here. Historical data is rarely considered, or is "cleaned" to make sure the trend the "analyst" or "researcher" wants to "prove" indeed emerges. – jwenting Jul 6 '11 at 5:19
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    Can I nip this thread in the bud, before it explodes? The different views on AGW science are not going to be solved with reference-less assertions in these comments. If you think one or both of the apparently contradictory answers is wrong, and you have evidence that we can verify, please put it in an answer. – Oddthinking Jul 6 '11 at 9:00

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