Here’s a personal beef about a small point in the hurricane debate which CA readers may recall, which came to mind out of the EPA finding and Technical Support Document, which have a LOT to say about hurricanes and which rely relying on CCSP 3-3. (Perhaps I’ll review this on some occasion.)
CCSP 3-3 reviewed a 2005 dispute between Emanuel and Pielke over the seeming inconsistency between the lack of trend in US landfalling hurricanes and increased basinwide trends. Emanuel (2005b) responded to Pielke’s criticism by arguing that the US landfalling data set was only 1% of the total data set and that greater reliance should be placed on the larger data set.
In comments at CA in 2007, I observed that this effect was not limited to the US landfalling dataset. When the entire HURDAT set (the one used by Emanuel) was analyzed in spatial quintiles, there was no trend in a range of statistics (hurricane-days, storm-days) in the western quintiles adjacent to landfall, with the entire increase taking place in the eastern and mid Atlantic remote from habitation.
This was written up by Roger Pielke and I and submitted to GRL. Here is a relevant quote:
Upward trends in storm-days, hurricane-days, and power dissipation occur only in the east Atlantic (east of 73W), while west of 63W, these metrics have no trend or declining trends, consistent with a similar lack of trend in U.S. landfall …
Emanuel 2005b argued that lack of a trend in U.S. landfall PDI (identified by Landsea 2005) corresponding to the overall increase in NATL PDI was likely a random fluctuation, suggesting that the HURDAT track data contained “about 100 times more data” than the landfall data set and that his results accordingly had “a signal-to-noise ratio that is ten times that of an index based on landfalling wind speeds.” In other words, the landfall data might simply reflect the randomness of a small subset of the overall HURDAT basin data. However, our analysis shows that there is no inconsistency between the lack of landfall trend and the lack of trend in the western quintiles using the same HURDAT data employed by Emanuel.
Reviewers were violently opposed to the article, stating on the one hand that the statistical analysis was “fraudulent” and on the other hand that the results were already well known in the literature. (I think that Holland of UCAR, whose work was criticized) was one of the reviewers.) The editor, Famiglietti, said that there was a consensus and rejected the article without offering any opportunity for remediation.
I was quite shocked by the reviews and sent the correspondence to Emanuel. Emanuel replied very cordially:
I do think you have found something interesting that deserves to see the light of publication, and you should try again. I know that Christina Holland and Rob Scott at U. Texas, who found a similar eastward trend in genesis, have also had great difficulties getting their paper published…I do not know if they ultimately succeeded. You might try the QJRMS..in my opinion a very good journal, which being based in England may be far enough from the craziness to get a fair hearing.
We also sent a copy to Jim Kossin who also replied cordially:
Please keep me posted on the progress of your manuscript dealing with the eastward shifting of activity. I’m revising our AMM/genesis region manuscript and I’d like to reference your paper if possible. I am referencing Landsea’s latest Eos paper, so either way, the issue of missing data versus climatic modulation will be addressed with appropriate citations, but it would be good to include your paper too for better balance.
Roger suggested submitting it elsewhere, but by this time I was working on other topics and didn’t pursue it. Many people criticize me for not “publishing” more, by which they of course mean “publishing more” in the academic journals as, of course, it’s not like I’m just scratching notes to myself; I “publish” something on the blog nearly every day, though I realize as well as anyone that the blog corpus is unruly and unindexed.
However, I also take the position that I’ve pretty much dropped out of left field into the climate debate. If my observations are correct, then they are correct whether or not I publish them; there are lots of smart people in the world and climate scientists with their billions of dollars of research funding should be able to get these things right whether or not I publish something in an academic journal or not. I realize that I might get more personal approbation if I did so, but I derive a lot of personal enjoyment out of investigating new issues and, last time I looked, personal enjoyment was why I’m doing this.
Anyway, on to CCSP 3-3.
The above small issue gets a mention in CCSP 3-3, which adopted the signal-noise argument of Emanuel (2005b) as follows:
The Power Dissipation Index for U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones has not increased since the late 1800s (Landsea 2005). Pielke (2005) noted that there are no evident trends in observed damage in the North Atlantic region, after accounting for population increases and coastal development. However, Emanuel (2005b) notes that a PDI series such as Landsea’s (2005), based on only U.S. landfalling data, contains only about 1 percent of the data that Emanuel’s (2005a) basin-wide PDI contains, which is based on all storms over their entire lifetimes. Thus a trend in basin-wide PDI may not be detectable in U.S. landfalling PDI since the former index has a factor of 10 advantage in detecting a signal in a variable record (the signal-to-noise ratio).
They did not refer to the result of our article observing the incorrectness of the Emanuel 2005b signal-noise observation, said by the GRL reviewer to be “well known in the literature”. BTW, lead authors of the relevant chapter of the CCSP Report included both Kerry Emanuel and Jim Kossin, both of whom had read and seemingly approved of Pielke and McIntyre (2007 rejected.)
Convening Lead Author: Kenneth Kunkel, Univ. Ill. Urbana-Champaign, Ill. State Water Survey
Lead Authors: Peter Bromirski, Scripps Inst. Oceanography, UCSD; Harold Brooks, NOAA; Tereza Cavazos, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Mexico; Arthur Douglas, Creighton Univ.; David Easterling, NOAA; Kerry Emanuel, Mass. Inst. Tech.; Pavel Groisman, UCAR/NCDC; Greg Holland, NCAR; Thomas Knutson, NOAA; James Kossin, Univ. Wis., Madison, CIMSS; Paul Komar, Oreg. State Univ.; David Levinson, NOAA; Richard Smith,Univ. N.C., Chapel Hill
I’m mulling over re-submitting this article, updating to 2008 – which would please Roger enormously. This might be the easiest of my many pending chores. I’m also reflecting on whether an author has a confidentiality obligation in respect to review comments and may visit this issue separately.