Arizona’s first online Natural Hazard Viewer

The Arizona Geological Survey & Arizona Division of Emergency Management have announced release of an online interactive hazards viewer.

The interactive Natural Hazard Viewer focuses on four hazards common to Arizona—geologic faults and earthquakes, earth fissures, floods and wildfire. Each hazard is described in detail and displayed as a layer on a map. Moreover, the natural hazard information is dynamic; site updates will occur as new or revised hazard data becomes available.

You can make maps with several layers on a road-map base or an air-photo base.  The maps are scalable from region-wide to as detailed as 1″=1,000 feet.  You can use the “Find Local Hazards” search tool to identify hazards existing within a three mile radius of a specific address. You can print the interactive maps, and supporting data can be downloaded.

The new Natural Hazard Viewer of Arizona website, http://data.azgs.az.gov/hazard-viewer, was developed by the Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) in partnership with the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM).  Give it a try.  Below two screen shots, one with the roadmap base, showing faults in the state, and another showing the flood potential near Tucson on an air photo base.


IPCC says they don’t know if the climate is becoming more extreme

There has been much speculation and many headlines about the relationship between global warming and extreme weather.  For example, see this recent alarmist story from the AP in the Arizona Daily Star: “World warned to prepare for extreme weather.”  The first line of that story says, “Global warming is leading to such severe storms, droughts and heat waves that nations should prepare for an unprecedented onslaught of deadly and costly weather disasters, an international panel of climate scientists said in a new report issued Wednesday.”  Apparently the story authors got their information from alarmist press releases and interviews rather than the report itself.  (They got the page count wrong too.)

The basic conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) new report on the subject of extreme weather is: “While there is evidence that increases in greenhouse gases have likely caused changes in some types of extremes, there is no simple answer to the question of whether the climate, in general, has become more or less extreme.”

While storm damage makes the news, the damage is largely an artifact of our propensity for building infrastructure in the areas subject to extreme weather rather than any imagined increase in such weather.

IPCC: “There is medium evidence and high agreement that long-term trends in normalized losses have not been attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.”

Some other interesting quotes from the IPCC report:

“The statement about the absence of trends in impacts attributable to natural or anthropogenic climate change holds for tropical and extratropical storms and tornados.”

“The absence of an attributable climate change signal in losses also holds for flood losses.”

“Some authors suggest that a (natural or anthropogenic) climate change signal can be found in the records of disaster losses (e.g., Mills, 2005; Höppe and Grimm, 2009), but their work is in the nature of reviews and commentary rather than empirical research.”

You can download the 582-page report here: http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/  That page allows you to download either the Summary for Policy Makers (11.8 Mb) or the full report (44 Mb).

See also:

The Storm Over Tornadoes

Media pawns in IPCC extreme weather hype

Pained Earth’s summer to forget: the rest of the story

Weather extremes not increasing with warming

Extreme weather makes news.  It is a tenet of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming adherents (CAGWs) that extreme weather events have become and will become ever more common as the planet warms.  However, new research in Europe, based on historical records and tree-rings, covering the period AD 962–2007, shows no trend in extreme weather events. In fact, the researchers found “A fairly uniform distribution of hydroclimatic extremes throughout the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age and Recent Global Warming…”

 The paper is Buntgen, U.et al., 2011. Combined dendro-documentary evidence of Central European hydroclimatic springtime extremes over the last millennium. Quaternary Science Reviews 30: 3947-3959..(Link to abstract, the full paper is behind a pay wall.)

The abstract reads:

A predicted rise in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and associated effects on the Earth’s climate system likely imply more frequent and severe weather extremes with alternations in hydroclimatic parameters expected to be most critical for ecosystem functioning, agricultural yield, and human health. Evaluating the return period and amplitude of modern climatic extremes in light of pre-industrial natural changes is, however, limited by generally too short instrumental meteorological observations. Here we introduce and analyze 11,873 annually resolved and absolutely dated ring width measurement series from living and historical fir (Abies alba Mill.) trees sampled across France, Switzerland, Germany, and the Czech Republic, which continuously span the AD 962–2007 period. Even though a dominant climatic driver of European fir growth was not found, ring width extremes were evidently triggered by anomalous variations in Central European April–June precipitation. Wet conditions were associated with dynamic low-pressure cells, whereas continental-scale droughts coincided with persistent high-pressure between 35 and 55°N. Documentary evidence independently confirms many of the dendro signals over the past millennium, and further provides insight on causes and consequences of ambient weather conditions related to the reconstructed extremes. A fairly uniform distribution of hydroclimatic extremes throughout the Medieval Climate Anomaly, Little Ice Age and Recent Global Warming may question the common believe that frequency and severity of such events closely relates to climate mean stages. This joint dendro-documentary approach not only allows extreme climate conditions of the industrial era to be placed against the backdrop of natural variations, but also probably helps to constrain climate model simulations over exceptional long timescales.

In a previous post, Media pawns in IPCC extreme weather hype, I present research and graphics that show there have been no upward trends in droughts, wet weather, or hurricanes as the world warmed from the “little ice age.”

In spite of science to the contrary, CAGWs and the IPCC must continue to present their scary stories to secure funding to fight their imagined hobgoblins and gain power.  And such stories sell newspapers.

See also:

Pained Earth’s summer to forget: the rest of the story

Book Review: The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert, an IPCC Exposé

Mississippi flooding and climate change

Extensive flooding along the Mississippi River is being touted as evidence of global warming by the alarmist press including the Arizona Daily Star (see article). It really is a result of the La Niña phase of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. The extensive tornadoes have a similar cause (see The storm over tornadoes.) Accuweather said: “The combination of a weakening La Nina and the anticipated sharp temperature anomaly gradient between the northern U.S. and the southern U.S. told us that the jet stream running across the U.S. would be abnormally strong this spring. A strong jet stream leads to more powerful storms and thunderstorms, which increases the chances of large tornadoes and widespread flooding.”

The Mississippi River system drains 41% of the continental U.S. Floods are common and cyclical. The Star article claims, “Flooding on the Mississippi has become more frequent and more extensive since about 1950…” The record for the lower Mississippi from NOAA would disagree. That record, beginning in the year 1543, shows that the most floods occurred in the 1920s and 1930s, and the most extensive flood occurred in 1927 on the lower Mississippi. Perhaps the author of the Star article was looking at this record for Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The Mississippi River has an extensive floodplain. It’s called that for a reason. We have tried to modify the floodplain, and make land available, with an extensive system of levees which work much of the time, but this is one of the times the system did not work as hoped. In fact, much land was flooded due to purposely breeching the levee to sacrifice part of the floodplain in the hope of saving cities downstream. We’ve tried to tame the mighty Mississippi with our engineering works, and many people relied on these government efforts. But there is always a risk. The risk that nature is stronger. Ultimately, if you inhabit the floodplain, you should expect to get wet once in a while.

Some geology:

The Mississippi River, left to itself, wanders across the alluvial flood plain. The graphic below, a LANDSAT image shows a portion of the river. Notice the arcuate structures on the sides. These represent former reaches of the river. Below the LANDSAT image is a map of a portion of the river showing the deposits made by the various river courses (Map by Harold Fisk, 1944 US. Corps of Engineers).



 As the river flows around a bend, erosion takes place on the outside of the curve and deposition occurs in the inside. Eventually, the river cuts off the curve leaving an arcuate oxbow lake. The graphic below from the Iowa DOT shows how this occurs.


Finally, we have a pair of photos (USGS/NASA) showing a portion of the river in May 2006 and during the flooding in May 2011.


A Home buyer’s Guide to Geologic Hazards in Arizona

The Arizona Geological Survey has a 45-page booklet discussing some geologic hazards that home buyers should be aware of. You can download the booklet here. Subjects include floods, earthquakes, problem soils, mass movement, subsidence & fissures, radon, karst (caves), abandoned mines, and volcanic hazards.

“Our purpose is not to say that any particular parcel of land should not be developed. Rather, in those areas where geologic hazards or limitations are known to be present or where they may potentially exist, knowledge of their existence should help guide planning, design, construction, and maintenance. It remains up to property buyers or owners and local government to determine the level of acceptable risk from geologic hazards.”

In the desert, ironically, flooding is the most widespread, common, and damaging of all the geological hazards. This section explains floodplains and “100-year floods” and notes the areas most prone to this hazard.

“Over the past 150 years, more than 20 earthquakes having magnitudes greater than 5 have occurred in or near Arizona, and all of Arizona has experienced at least moderate earthquake shaking. The magnitude 7.4 Sonoran earthquake of 1887, which was centered about 40 miles southeast of Douglas, caused 51 deaths in Sonora and extensive property damage throughout southeastern Arizona. The Yuma area has experienced repeated damage from earthquakes that occurred in southern California or northern Mexico.” This section of the booklet shows maps which rate potential hazards.



















“Damage to structures in Arizona is commonly related to soil characteristics, with expansive (shrink/swell) soils and collapsing soils causing the most problems. Cracking of foundations, walls, driveways, swimming pools, and roads cost millions of dollars each year in repairs.” Such damage is related to the amount and type of clay in the soil.

The section on mass movement deals with landslides and debris flows which occur along mountain fronts and at the base of cliffs.

Land subsidence and earth fissures occur in areas in which groundwater is withdrawn faster than natural recharge.

“Radon gas is a radioactive element that is produced by the decay of uranium, which is present in virtually all rocks and soils, typically at concentrations of 1-4 parts per million.” The hazard is that radon can seep into buildings through cracks in the foundation. A sufficient concentration poses a health hazard. This section explains the danger and shows the areas of Arizona especially prone to radon emissions.

Karst terrain is developed in areas underlain by limestone, especially on the Colorado Plateau. Sinkholes may develop as cave systems mature.

 Old mine workings present a danger of toxic substances as well as falling in them.

Volcanic activity has occurred frequently in Arizona, some just 800 years ago (see ). The San Francisco volcanic field near Flagstaff is considered active. “Hazards associated with volcanic activity include ash and cinders that can overload the weight-bearing capacity of some roofs. Houses built in the Flagstaff area, where snow is routine, are already designed with loading in mind. Volcanic gases include carbon dioxide and sulfur gases that are sometimes at concentrations that may be harmful to breath.”

The AZGS booklet is well-illustrated with maps and other graphics showing the general locations of each hazard and what to expect.

Climate Model Projections vs Real World Observations


The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change in Tempe, Arizona, has just issued a major report that compares projections from climate models to real world observations.

The report deals with the following climate model claims: “(1) unprecedented warming of the planet, (2) more frequent and severe floods and droughts, (3) more numerous and stronger hurricanes, (4) dangerous sea level rise, (5) more frequent and severe storms, (6) increased human mortality, (7) widespread plant and animal extinctions, (8) declining vegetative productivity, (9) deadly coral bleaching, and (10) a decimation of the planet’s marine life due to ocean acidification. And in conjunction with these analyses, we proffer our view of what the future may hold with respect to the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air’s CO2 content, concluding by providing an assessment of what we feel should be done about the situation.”

The 168-page report (2.5Mb) may be downloaded here.

“Real-world observations fail to confirm essentially all of the alarming predictions of significant increases in the frequency and severity of droughts, floods and hurricanes that climate models suggest should occur in response to a global warming of the magnitude that was experienced by the earth over the past two centuries as it gradually recovered from the much-lower-than-present temperatures characteristic of the depths of the Little Ice Age. And other observations have shown that the rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations associated with the development of the Industrial Revolution have actually been good for the planet, as they have significantly enhanced the plant productivity and vegetative water use efficiency of earth’s natural and agro-ecosystems, leading to a significant “greening of the earth.”

Arizona Fires, Floods, Earthquakes, and a Grand Canyon Time line

The Arizona Geological Survey has just released its winter edition of Arizona Geology magazine which is available for free download here. Each story is well-documented with photos and videos.

The lead story is a case study of the June, 2010, Shultz wildfire near Flagstaff which denuded the forest and with heavy rains, lead to flooding. “In June 2010, the Schultz Wildfire burned 15,000 acres of woodland on the east slope of the San Francisco Peaks in the Coconino National Forest. Near record monsoon rains in July and August produced debris flows and floods, the latter of which damaged dozens of homes, caused the temporary evacuation of over 1000 people, and led to one drowning death.”

The story on Arizona earthquakes shows maps of locations and magnitudes of 50 earthquakes recorded in Arizona during 2010. These observations are made possible by the new Arizona Integrated Seismic Network (AISN) which is in its third year in operation. The story tells us why Arizona earthquakes occur where they do. The article also provides a link to discussion and photos of the strong April 4, 2010, earthquake in northern Baja California, just southwest of Yuma.

Until recently, topics concerning geology were mostly absent in the displays and interpretive signs found within Grand Canyon National Park. That omission has now been remedied.

Billed by its creators as “the world’s largest geoscience exhibition at one of earth’s grandest geologic landscapes,” the Trail of Time interprets the geology of Grand Canyon’s spectacular views and its largely inaccessible rocks. The trail leads visitors towards key geologic concepts that can be read in the rocks of the canyon and serves to help people contemplate and more fully appreciate the enormity of geology and the larger meaning of geologic thought. One of the recurrent themes presented on the trail is that of “deep time…”

In the article titled “Summary of Oil and Gas Activity” we learn that oil & gas exploration and production, although small, does occur in Arizona. Additional wells were drilled for geothermal energy exploration and to test for carbon dioxide sequestration.

The Winter edition of Arizona Geology contains very interesting articles. Give it a look at:


Pained Earth’s summer to forget: the rest of the story

On Friday the 13th, the Arizona Daily Star printed, on page one, an AP gloom and doom story about “floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat” that they claim “It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.” It was an editorial pretending to be news. The story is full of misleading information, omissions, and inaccuracies. Let’s take a closer look.

IPCC predictions

The story states: “The U.N.’s network of climate scientists – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves, and more intense rainfalls.” But the U.N. IPCC has never made any predictions. They just propose scenarios or projections. The IPCC itself says “The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.” (If you check this reference see third bulleted point from the bottom.)

IPCC senior scientist Kevin Trenberth noted in Nature magazine: “In fact there are no predictions by IPCC at all. And there never have been. The IPCC instead proffers ‘what if’ projections of future climate that correspond to certain emissions scenarios. There are a number of assumptions that go into these emissions scenarios. They are intended to cover a range of possible self consistent ‘story lines’ that then provide decision makers with information about which paths might be more desirable. But they do not consider many things like the recovery of the ozone layer, for instance, or observed trends in forcing agents. There is no estimate, even probabilistically, as to the likelihood of any emissions scenario and no best guess.”

Russian temperatures and Pakistani floods

The story states: “It’s been the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia…Russia’s drought has sparked hundreds of wildfires in forests and dried peat bogs, blanketing Moscow with a toxic smog…” There are two issues here: are the warm temperatures due to “predicted” global warming and has drought dried out the peat bogs.

The bogs: according to the New York times, “As early as 1918 Soviet engineers drained swamps to supply peat for electrical power stations. That approach was abandoned in the late 1950s, after natural gas was discovered in Siberia, but the bogs were never reflooded, though the authorities are currently weighing the idea.”

The temperature: Russian scientist, Michail Kabanov, member of the Academy of Sciences and advisor of the Institute For Climate And Environmental Monitoring says the regional heat wave taking place in Russia is not a sign of catastrophic climate change and that the permafrost has been thawing since the last glacial epoch 10,000 years ago, and its rate of thawing is also not catastrophic. “Deviations in one direction or the other, in this region or the other, are explained completely by the instability of the climate system. It meanders constantly and reaches various anomalies as a result, and does include extremes. The weather conditions of this year are precisely a result of this.”

The high temperatures in Russia and the heavy rain in Pakistan have a common cause unrelated to global warming according the an article in New Scientist. “According to meteorologists monitoring the atmosphere above the northern hemisphere, unusual holding patterns in the jet stream are to blame. As a result, weather systems sat still. Temperatures rocketed and rainfall reached extremes.” “Stationary patterns in the jet stream are called “blocking events”. They are the consequence of strong Rossby waves, which push westward against the flow of the jet stream. They are normally overpowered by the jet stream’s eastward flow, but they can match it if they get strong enough. When this happens, the jet stream’s meanders hold steady creating the perfect conditions for extreme weather.”

The Arctic

The story states: “Researchers last week spotted a 100-square-mile chunk of ice calved off from the great Petermann Glacier in Greenland’s far northwest. It was the most massive ice island to break away in the Arctic in a half-century of observation.” That statement is almost true, but it lies by omission. Such ice calving is not unusual. In 1962, a 230-square-mile chunk of ice broke off the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf. The Petermann glacier, itself, spawned smaller ice islands in 2001 (34 square miles) and 2008 (10 square miles). In 2005, the Ayles Ice Shelf disintegrated and became an ice island (34 square miles) about 60 miles to the west of Petermann Fjord.

The story states: “In the Arctic Ocean itself, the summer melt of the vast icecap has reached unprecedented proportions in recent years.” Technically true but misleading. Arctic summer sea ice melt has been relatively consistent and sea ice extent returns to normal in the winter. The article failed to mention that Antarctic sea ice reached the maximum extent ever recorded in 2007, and is currently more extensive than normal. For many graphics of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, see Anthony Watts’ Sea Ice Page, a compilation of data from several sources.

Sea level

The story states: “The melting of land ice into the oceans is causing about 60 percent of the accelerating rise in sea levels worldwide, with thermal expansion from warming waters causing the rest. The WMO’S World Climate Research Program says seas are rising by 1.34 inches per decade, about twice the 20th century’s average.” The pretended “acceleration” is the result of cherry-picking starting and ending points. The rate of sea level rise is cyclic, but the overall trend is downward. For a detailed analysis of sea level rise, and to see why the WMO statement is dissembling, see my article, Sea Level Rising? Also, a new paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research, says “The global mean sea level for the period January 1900 to December 2006 is estimated to rise at a rate of 1.56 ± 0.25 mm/yr which is reasonably consistent with earlier estimates, but we do not find significant acceleration.”

Overall temperatures

The story states: “Worldwide temperature readings show that this January-June was the hottest first half of a year since record keeping began in the mid-19th century.” This implies that we are experiencing something unprecedented. Isn’t it strange that 60% of the U.S. had cooler than normal temperatures during this period. The article statement is untrue and due partially to NOAA computer programs actually manufacturing temperature readings where none exist.

It didn’t take me too long to do some fact checking of this AP story. I wonder why AP or the Arizona Daily Star didn’t bother checking the facts. Could there be some political agenda in running such stories?

P.S. For your amusement, see the Warm List, a compilation of everything the press claims is caused by global warming.

IPCC and Peer Review

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) claims that all of its reports and predictions are based on strictly peer-reviewed scientific papers. Well, not exactly. Recent investigations have shown that many IPCC reports were based on everything from magazine articles, telephone conversations, and propaganda from radical environmental groups.

Mountain Ice

In its most recent report (the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, aka 4AR), the IPCC stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information. However, one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them. The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps. See story in London Telegraph: http://tinyurl.com/y8ku7pm

Himalayan glaciers

The IPCC claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was based on an unverified magazine article and the IPCC knew it. Nevertheless, the IPCC let the statement stand for purely political purposes.

The claim that Himalayan glaciers are set to disappear by 2035 rests on two 1999 magazine interviews with glaciologist Syed Hasnain, which were then recycled without any further investigation in a 2005 report by the environmental campaign group World Wildlife Fund. This fact was brought to the attention of the IPCC before they published their 2007 report, but the IPCC let the statement stand. The original article was based on a short telephone interview with scientist Syed Hasnain, then based in Delhi, who has since said his views were “speculation”. The lead author of the IPCC chapter said, “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” This alone shows that the IPCC is a political body rather than a scientific one. http://tinyurl.com/ydqa255


The IPCC also made false predictions on the Amazon rain forests, referenced to a non peer-reviewed paper produced by an advocacy group working with the World Wildlife Fund. This time though, the claim made is not even supported by the report and seems to be a complete fabrication. See story at http://tinyurl.com/yc3c8xt

Floods and Hurricanes

The IPCC report wrongly linked global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. The claims were based on an unpublished report that had not been subjected to routine scientific scrutiny – and ignored warnings from scientific advisers that the evidence supporting the link was too weak. The report’s own authors later withdrew the claim because they felt the evidence was not strong enough. The IPCC’s 2007 report contained a separate section that warned the world had “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s”. This claim was touted by Obama last fall: “More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.” http://tinyurl.com/yzef9en

Coral Degradation

In Chapter 6 of 4AR, the IPCC claims that coral degradation is caused by global warming. The source for this claim is promotional literature by Greenpeace. The IPCC also based reports on solar and wind power on Greenpeace documents.

See report: http://tinyurl.com/yk9mqhz

Implications for US climate policy:

The EPA based its carbon dioxide endangerment finding on the IPCC. The EPA is supposed to vet the peer-review process from outside sources of information, something it did not do, so the EPA did not comply with the law. See ClimateAudit analysis: http://tinyurl.com/yg78qof