Queensland Floods: Bureau of Meteorology blames climate change

Bureau's David Jones

The floodgates are open. The unfalsifiable hypothesis of dangerous man-made global warming comes to the rescue and provides the answer to the terrible Queensland floods. We can all now self-flagellate, wailing that driving our SUVs is to blame. Over a quarter of a million Google hits for +queensland +flood +”climate change” in the last week alone. But hang on a minute, when there was a drought in Australia, climate change caused that too. Referring here to New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin, where there have also been recent flooding rains:

IT MAY be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation’s most senior weather experts warned yesterday.

“Perhaps we should call it our new climate,” said the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate analysis, David Jones.

It was the 11th year in a row NSW and the Murray-Darling Basin had experienced above normal temperatures. Sydney’s nights were its warmest since records were first kept 149 years ago.

“There is absolutely no debate that Australia is warming,” said Dr Jones. “It is very easy to see … it is happening before our eyes.” [There is debate about the cause, however – Ed]

The only uncertainty now was whether the changing pattern was “85 per cent, 95 per cent or 100 per cent the result of the enhanced greenhouse effect”. [Apparently not according to Jones – Ed]

“There is a debate in the climate community, after … close to 12 years of drought, whether this is something permanent. Certainly, in terms of temperature, that seems to be our reality, and that there is no turning back. (source)

But now that Queensland is under water, Jones has another story:

“We’ve always had El Ninos and we’ve had natural variability but the background which is now operating is different,” head of climate monitoring and prediction at the Australia Bureau of Meteorology in Melbourne David Jones said.

“The first thing we can say with La Nina and El Nino is it is now happening in a hotter world,” he told Reuters, adding that meant more evaporation from land and oceans, more moisture in the atmosphere and stronger weather patterns.

“So the El Nino droughts would be expected to be exacerbated and also La Nina floods because rainfall would be exacerbated,” he said, though adding it would be some years before any climate change impact on both phenomena might become clear.

Everyone’s a winner, ignoring the pointless weasel-word caveat at the end. Droughts: climate change. Floods: climate change. I’ve said it before, but will say it again: what evidence would show that climate change was not taking place? In other words, what conditions would falsify the hypothesis? I won’t wait for an answer, because there isn’t one. Everything strengthens the case for AGW, in the alarmists’ view.

And Keith “Travesty” Trenberth chimes in as well:

Prominent US climate scientist Kevin Trenberth said the floods and the intense La Nina were a combination of factors.

He pointed to high ocean temperatures in the Indian Ocean near Indonesia early last year as well as the rapid onset of La Nina after the last El Nino ended in May.

“The rapid onset of La Nina meant the Asian monsoon was enhanced and the over 1 degree Celsius anomalies in sea surface temperatures led to the flooding in India and China in July and Pakistan in August,” he told Reuters in an email.

He said a portion, about 0.5C, of the ocean temperatures around northern Australia, which are more than 1.5C above pre-1970 levels, could be attributed to global warming.

“The extra water vapor fuels the monsoon and thus alters the winds and the monsoon itself and so this likely increases the rainfall further,” Mr Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said.

“So it is easy to argue that one degree Celsius sea surface temperature anomalies gives 10 to 15 per cent increase in rainfall,” he added.

Yep, dead easy if you can just pick and choose a model to fit whatever weather phenomenon is currently occurring. Even the token scientist drafted in to say that there’s no link to climate change manages to link it to climate change:

It’s a natural phenomena. We have no strong reason at the moment for saying this La Nina is any stronger than it would be even without humans,” said Neville Nicholls of Monash University in Melbourne and president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society.

But he said global atmospheric warming of about 0.75C over the past half century had to be having some impact.

“It has to be affecting the climate, regionally and globally. It has to be affecting things like La Nina. But can you find a credible argument which says it’s made it worse? I can’t at the moment.” (source)

Well, it has to be one or the other. Either the warming is affecting La Niña or it isn’t. And of course, none of this says anything about the cause of the warming.

And we here in Australia are all deeply honoured that the Mighty Goracle has used “our” floods as “evidence of climate change.” If Big Al thinks so, it must be true. (source)

(H/t Bishop Hill)


  1. In the aftermath of these floods, I have to wonder how
    things would have been if instead of wasting all the money on the
    Climate Change Department in Canberra, and the Billions on the MET,
    and CSIRO in the attempt to justify false science. If that money
    had been spent on mitigation of floods. We live in Maclean NSW, we
    remain cut off as the Pacific Highway is flooded in several places.
    The Pacific Highway could be upgraded, dams could be built, Levee’s
    improved, but instead we try to justify changing the climate. How
    stupid is that?

  2. Steve Goddard calls this new AGW proof “droughtflood.”
    Invented, of course, by AlGore, who also invented the

  3. Look, as a 3rd generation lifelong SEQ resident, all this
    world wide attention and theories are starting to irk me as talking
    heads start to spout off things of which they appear to have little
    understanding. SEQ (and QLD in general) is periodically subject to
    intense widespread rain events. 1893, 1974, 2011. They happen. Even
    smaller intense rain events occur at least once a decade. The 1893
    floods were larger, and peaked on 3 separate occasions. Does anyone
    care to tell me how AGW could have done that, given that horseback
    was the primary transportation method at the time, and electricity
    was something played with in laboratorys? If anything, the lower
    levels in 1974 and 2011 is proof that AGW makes the flooding less
    worse (I say with tongue in cheek). There’s also a popular meme
    going around (James Delingpole and Andrew Bolt) that somehow green
    interfering caused the death and destruction. Nothing could be
    further from the truth. And believe me, I love a good outing of
    ridiculous green policy as the next person. here’s the facts: – the
    majority of loss of life was caused by flash-flooding in and around
    Toowoomba (700m above sea level) and the Lockyer valley below the
    Toowoomba range. The streams that caused the devastation in
    Toowoomba are normally babbling brooks one can leap with a vigorous
    jump. While some warning may have helped, many deaths were caused
    by people undertaking risky actions like trying to drive across
    flooded bridges. – the scrapped Traveston Crossing dam project on
    the Mary river would not have saved Gympie from flooding. It would
    have been 100% full (like every other dam in the region) prior to
    the large rain events – it has been raining steadily for two
    months. In any case, it was the residents of Gympie that campaigned
    the most against the dam. Not because of lungfish (the figleaf that
    the environment minister used) but because it was a bad idea. A
    flat alluvial sandy plain is not the ideal location for a Dam. It
    would have been wide and shallow on porous soil. And it would have
    subsumed a huge area of productive farmland. It was correct for the
    Dam to be scrapped, and many engineers publicly stated this. That
    it was scrapped under environmental reasons was just the out for an
    embarrassed Federal government saddled with the plans after the
    former premier announced it to save his political hide (brisbane
    was under severe water restrictions at the time) but then scarpered
    anyway. It was chosen because the area had never, and would never,
    vote for Labor anyway, so it was the best place to put it, safely
    away from Brisbane voters. It would have been full, and would not
    have saved Gympie from flooding. And the townspeople in Gympie are
    used to flooding anyway, and go about moving out of the way with a
    cheery disposition. – Wivenhoe dam – conceived and built after the
    1974 floods, has done a very good job in extremely difficult
    circumstances. They have managed to keep the peak level of floods
    1m lower than predicted, by delicately balancing the inflows and
    outflows and timing with the low tide in the Brisbane river. It was
    already at 150% (and releasing continually, as it has been for
    months) when this large rainfall event hit. SEQ Water are to be
    commended with the way they handled this, with the Dam balanced
    within 1m of the peak level allowable before Dam-protection levees
    give way to protect the wall (with devastating consquences for
    those downstream). It’s difficult for people who don’t live in
    Queensland to understand the volumes of water we’re talking about
    here. This is not some drizzling Victorian rain or misty English
    weather. This is a proper, tropical summer monsoon rainfall a bit
    further south than it normally is. The written history of QLD is
    only about 200 years long, but it is peppered with tales of huge
    floods that astound new observers. People see the 1974 markers on
    buildings around Brisbane and think it can’t possibly have
    happened. The puny infrastructure put in the way of these periodic
    deluges is nothing compared with the water volumes. It will happen
    again, at least once per lifetime of the average person. There’s
    nothing that can be done. After all, it’s just weather.

  4. Mervyn Sullivan says:

    Yesterday, as we were witnessing this natural flood
    disaster, it was also appalling to see an interview, on the ABC TV
    24 Hour program coverage, with a certain Australian Professor of
    Climatology and IPCC author, who dared link this disaster to our
    CO2 emissions causing man-made global warming, and the need
    therefore to reduce CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, the ABC
    journalist was not smart enough to challenge him on this issue, in
    reference to the 1974 floods and, before that, the 1893 great
    floods, which had absolutely nothing to do with man-made global
    warming and our CO2 emissions. It is a shame that a professor could
    stoop so low in ignorance about natural disasters.

    • The Loaded Dog says:

      “Unfortunately, the ABC journalist was not smart enough to challenge him on this issue, in
      reference to the 1974 floods and, before that, the 1893 great

      The ABC journalists intelligence has most likely been “dulled down” by the doctrine of warmists. But even if it wasn’t, to contradict the popular AGW narrative promoted within this taxpayer funded propaganda unit would be “catastrophic” to continued success within the unit.

  5. My letter in Today’s Sydney Morning Herald provides an
    alternate view. …an overview of historical floods in the Brisbane
    basin compiled by the Bureau of Meteorology indicates these extreme
    events, due to a combination of an intense La Nina and the cool
    phase of the interdecadal Pacific oscillation, have happened before
    and will happen again. The increased likelihood of major flooding
    occurring during the coincidence of these weather events was
    predicted by Stewart Franks, Anthony Kiem and Danielle Verdon in
    their paper Climate Variability in the Land of Fire and Flooding
    Rain. As these climatic events can be detected several months
    before their peak, Franks et al showed the opportunity exists to
    use climate variability insights to more accurately predict the
    chance of climate related emergencies in the coming season or year.
    If governments had listened to their practical advice rather than
    its alarmist climate advisers we would have been better prepared
    for this latest crisis. See also Andrew Bolt’s post “Karoly’s
    “global warming” – wetter, drier, worse, better, whatever”

  6. Sean McHugh says:

    My scepticism used to be directed at the standard religions. For me, BOM meant ‘Book of Mormon’. In the Book of Mormon one learned that Joseph Smith was guided by an angel to the location of gold plates that contained writing. He translated that writing using two stones, the Urim and the Thummim. The language of the gold plates was supposedly ‘Reformed Egyptian’, something that no one else had heard of. Unfortunately the gold plates were returned to heaven before anyone could check them. Today this would be an FOI issue.

    The Book of Mormon is biblical in style. It describes how the ‘lost tribes of Israel’ supposedly became North American Indians. It contains large sections of the Bible. One problem is that those sections just happen to match the 1611 King James Version. Curious that a translation from ‘Reformed Egyptian’ would happen to match a translation generated at different time, in a different country, and translated from several other languages.

    For me now, BOM registers ‘Bureau of Meteorology’. But still my BOM scepticism goes under religious doubts. The new BOM has an endless supply of prophetic signs. A sign can be heat; it can be cold. It can be drought or rain or snow or no snow. Whatever the weather sign, it fulfills the prophesy of Global Warming. To foolishly question this makes one a ‘denier’, the Climate Church’s rendering of ‘heretic’.

    America’s BOM is a religious book while Australia’s BOM is a religious establishment.

  7. This Global Warming subject has sent more fear into people who are made to listen to warnings about globalwarmings; at the same time left them wonderng how much truth is there to believe in some of our scientists warnings. I have a lot of respects for our scientists for their inventions and discoveries of many achievements, up to date. I am only a layman and I have no knowledge of science but I do use my commonsense to believe what we are been told about their forecast, concerning about humans and animals will perish if we do not control our emmision of gases produced by made made pollutions. I think we are been made to follow the blind leading the blind. It will take billion years for mankind to forecast when the world will blow up. Some of our scientists views are just a stab in the dark. Tommorow they can tell us, that they can construct another planet with their knowledge. For the moment; what have they got to say about severe winters what happen to their global warming, when we listen to people in the northern hemisphere having very severe winters in the last few years. WHY ?. Sal

  8. Climate change projections for Australia are that dry regions (Southern, South Eastern Australia and the interior) will get drier, and wet regions (from the North West to the North east) will get wetter.

    Unfortunately, the author of this blog doesn’t seem to notice such distinctions, even when they quote them.

    While I accept the general findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, I am leery of people specifically connecting a specific weather event with global warming. Climate change can only be assessed in the long-term.

    Here then, is a link to the BOM data on precipitation for Queensland since 1900.


    Although the trend is positive (+6mm a decade), annual rainfall is extremely variable. The trend for global precipitation is a bit starker.

    I don’t know how much Jones was edited (the media certainly emphasise any snippet that is the most sensational, and often omits quotes that are more nuanced), but his quotes are not inconsistent.

    Ripping highly elided quotes from the media is a mug’s game. Backyard gossip has its place, i suppose. But if you want to say anything useful about any connection with flooding and climate change (and droughts), look to the long-term data. The BOM link above has most of what you’ll need for Australian data back to 1900, state, regional and national.

    • Berynn BOM records show historical data, but not causation.
      There are three (at least) areas of concern that I have with the
      IPCC and the AGW crowd. 1. The veracity of the historical data as
      presented. Many (most/almost all?) measuring stations have been
      overrun by urban development giving rise to higher recorded temps
      (on a very local basis, but extrapolated and promulgated on a
      regional/global basis). The number of recording stations now
      included in the global record has been dramatically culled
      (obviously selectively – there is a direct correlation between
      fewer stations and higher temperatures). 2. The AGW alarmists
      always end up blaming extraordinary weather events on global
      warming cum climate change cum global climate distruption. 2011
      flood event is the result of AGW, but what caused 1893, 1974 and
      several others? (Similar arguments can be used in relation ten year
      droughts in south eastern Australia and to lesser arctic ice – AGW
      or natural variation like what caused the opening of the NW passage
      in times past). 3. AGW alarmists always speak in terms of ‘it’s a
      fact’ and ‘it’s bad’ but never offer any empirical evidence for
      either. On the contrary, Al Gore has purchased a seaside condo
      despite the multi-metres of sea level rise that he claims ‘is a
      fact’. Can you believe anything said by such a man with such
      contradictory words and actions? BTW, I wonder what the BOM graph
      would look like if they had started prior to 1893?


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