A Google news search today for the phrase “climate change” turned up a Los Angeles Times (LAT) article titled “California drought, Australia floods: Two sides of La Niña amplified by climate change,” claiming current La Niña conditions in the Pacific are stronger than normal because of anthropogenic climate change. [bold, links added]
The LAT presents no evidence this is true, and plenty of data and peer-reviewed research indicates it is false. Data also show, contrary to LAT’s assertion, neither droughts nor floods are worsening in either region.
“All of these are related as a multiyear La Niña event, amplified by the effects of climate change, brings consecutive years of drought to some parts of the world and torrential rain to others,” Duginski said. “These are natural climate variations, but recent droughts, floods, and heatwaves suggest something has changed.”
Duginski’s description of the El Niño and La Niña cycles is the only accurate part of his story.
He describes that during La Niña, the east-to-west trade winds over the Pacific are enhanced, leading to a decrease in precipitation in California and more rain for Australia on the other side of the Pacific.
Where Duginisky goes off the rails is with the uncorroborated assertion that the effects of these cycles are getting more extreme due to global warming. Data simply does not support his claim.
Looking first at the history of flooding in Australia, it is clear from the data that while this year’s flooding event did break a record for the most rain in a single day in Brisbane, Australia’s modern record, having a very wet year is not unprecedented.
Only weeks prior to the recent floods, Queensland, Australia, was on track for lower-than-average rainfall, as reported by ABC Australia, shown in the capture below.
Nor is there any evidence climate change is causing more extreme events in Australia generally.
A September edition of Climate Change Weekly summarized the findings of three studies published in different journals which looked into “compounding” natural disasters in Australia, meaning multiple disasters striking Australia simultaneously.
The studies found no trend at all for the last 50 years in compound disasters.
Because La Niña and El Niño cycles often span multiple consecutive years, the current El Niño impacted the Pacific during the winter of 2020-2021.
The staying-power of this cycle is not unusual either, as shown in this recent analysis by Meteorologist Paul Dorian, “La Nina Conditions Continue Across the Equatorial Pacific.”
Across the Pacific in California, it is suffering from an extended drought that alarmists incorrectly claim is the worst in centuries.
As discussed in Climate Realism articles here, here, and here, for example, drought is a naturally recurring event in the Western United States. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows no trend towards more frequent, extended, or severe droughts.
On the contrary, all data points to more precipitation, not less, as shown by data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented in Climate at A Glance: Drought.
No evidence supports the LATime’s claim that La Niña is becoming more intense or enhancing the harmful impact it is having on Australia and California.
Instead, what this story really reveals is one journalist’s obsessive effort to blame every negative weather event on human-caused climate change.
Read more at Climate Realism
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