Climate Scientists All Know that "Climate Trains the Boxer but Weather Throws the Punches"

This photo by Sean R. Heavey shows the dangerous beauty of a 'Montana Thunderstorm'.

As the oceans warm, they’re giving off more water vapor. “Everybody knows that if you turn up the fire on your stove, you evaporate the water in a pot more rapidly,” says Jay Gulledge, senior scientist at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "During the past 25 years satellites have measured a 4 percent average rise in water vapor in the air column. The more water vapor, the greater the potential for intense rainfalls."

Not just the potential for intense rainfalls is increased by the energy being added to our atmosphere but all types of extreme weather events once described as a once-in-a-century or a millennium occurrence are happening more far frequently than they used to. "What’s going on?" As National Geographic's great article 'Weather Gone Wild' on the recent deluge of extreme weather events asks, "Are these extreme events signals of a dangerous, human-made shift in Earth’s climate? Or are we just going through a natural stretch of bad luck? The short answer is: probably both." adding that, "But natural cycles can’t by themselves explain the recent streak of record-breaking disasters. Something else is happening too: The Earth is steadily getting warmer, with significantly more moisture in the atmosphere."

While the engineers, geologists and climatologists are busy studying the weather events and their causes those whose self-interest is most markedly in the cross hairs, folks like the insurance industry and the military, aren't quibbling about the causes.

A recent insurance industry report titled 'Warming of the Oceans and Implications for the (Re)insurance Industry' explains that "The rise in extreme weather events driven by warming of the oceans has led analysts in the global insurance industry to issue a warning that the sector risks being hit by waves of costly claims. Understanding the changes in ocean dynamics and the complex interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere is the key to understanding current changes in the distribution, frequency and intensity of global extreme events relevant to the insurance industry such as tropical cyclones, flash floods or extra-tropical storms,” the report says.

Another report issued a few days ago on a study commissioned by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies.concluded, "Climate change is accelerating, and it will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe." going on to say, "The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics.".

They all understand that as Deke Arndt of NOAA says, "Climate kind of trains the boxer, but weather throws the punches. And what climate will do is help train weather to throw certain punches more often. We’ll see these as extreme precipitation events, extreme droughts."

We're not necessarily having worse events than those of the past, we're having them more frequently as Dr James Hansen explained when addressing critics who evidence extreme weather events from the past, like the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, "Significant weather events such as the Dust Bowl are now occurring at an increased rate."

Meanwhile, the public watches the climate deteriorate before their eyes.  They watch as forest fires increase in number and severity; as killer heat waves, droughts and desertification, as shrinking ice caps, storms and tornadoes run rampant across their TVs - or their front yards. More on The Mud Report tomorrow about the science behind how global warming is amplifying the occurrence of extreme weather events by changing the jet stream's patterns.