The online center-left Die Zeit features an interview with Prof Hans von Storch, Professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg and Director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the Helmholtz Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany.
Hans von Storch photo credit: European People’s Party, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
The focus was on mainly storm activity and its possible link to man-made climate change.
In the end the very green-oriented Die Zeit did not get the sound bites it likely had hoped to get.
All within natural varibility
In the interview, in response to the question of storm frequency and intensity, von Storch, a renowned climate scientist with 40 years of experience, says:
We see no intensification in storm activity at our latitudes, and our climate models also indicate that we cannot expect it.
Also since 1950 they have not become systematically more frequent or stronger. Therefore we believe that Christian [October 2013 North Sea storm] moved within the range of normal variability.”
Von Storch also tells Die Zeit that storms do not occur with a rather regular periodicity, saying that “sometimes there are decades when they rumble a lot, and some decades when they don’t.”
The north German professor also tells Die Zeit it is very difficult to make comparisons between the storms of today and those of decades ago because the data recorded back then are nowhere near as complete:
If you simply compared the pressure values with those from a few decades ago, then you would reach the conclusion: Yes, the storms have become more powerful. But that would be a faulty conclusion.”
The reason for this, von Storch explains, is that the measurement of the storms core pressure was very inadequate and readings were often taken by ships that were not located near core of the storm. Today satellites provide very reliable data for comparisons.
Climate models do not indicate future intensification
On the future of storms and increased intensity, von Storch tells Die Zeit no one can rule it out, of course, but thinks it’s “implausible“. “Our climate models do not lead us to expect it.”
Von Storch also cautions against putting too much emphasis on model results:
Ultimately, however, observations and not climate models decide. We always have to expect that we will know the truth only afterwards. We can’t predict everything with certainty.”
“Pause” has led to more attention on natural fluctuations
Next Die Zeit looks at the warming pause, which it writes it has been confirmed “by some scientists” and asks if the “pause” has ended. Von Storch replies:
At least one finds no strong evidence showing that the long-term warming pause in the climate system has ended. The debate over this postulated ‘pause’ in the end has had a good side: Natural fluctuations have gotten more attention. We understand the climate a little bit better.”
In summary, von Storch sees 1) no data supporting a trend of stronger, more frequent North Sea storms, 2) models do not show an increasing trend, 3) recent storms have been within the range of natural variability, and 4) the pause has been substantial enough that it has shifted more focus onto natural factors.
The AGW theory of catastrophic warming has taken a significant blow.