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Marc Morano’s banner headline: “Did global warming help bring down Air France flight 447?”

By Climate Guest Contributor on June 4, 2009 at 5:07 pm

"Marc Morano’s banner headline: “Did global warming help bring down Air France flight 447?”"

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What is that wacky Swift boat smearer Marc Morano up to?  I don’t visit his website, of course, since it is filled with disinformation and apparently he is too busy to blog.

But somebody sent me the story and the link to his website, and then I noticed that Morano links to stories here on CP, strangely enough, so I thought I would return the favor this one time.

Anyway, one would suppose the Swift Boat Smearer is being mockingly humorous or satirical, like his namesake, Jonathan Swift, by making this article his banner headline.  But then really most of the articles Morano links to merit mocking or satire –  “GORE LIED:  Global temperatures plunge further; have dropped .63?F (.35?C) since Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth” [he kills me!] — so you really can’t tell whether his whole damn website is just some sort of elaborate performance art, like something Andy Kaufman would have done.

Anyway, if we drop the part of the story that connects things to global warming — which is beyond tenuous — the article itself, from Russia Today, has some interesting stuff on the weather conditions over the Intertropical Convergence Zone that can make for “white knuckle” flying:

For even the most experienced pilots, flying over the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) is oftentimes a white-knuckle affair.

The ITC zone is a constantly fluctuating band that is located between 5º north and 5º south of the equator. It produces some of the heaviest precipitation on the planet, as well as the bumpiest airplane rides.

This meteorologically active region, which gives off a constant vertical updraft of air along its path, was known to sailors as ‘the doldrums’ due to the absence of any refreshing breeze. But for passengers on an airplane traveling over the ITCZ, the sensation can be much different.

Indeed, as vertical-flowing air masses move upwards from the surface of the water, sometimes at great speeds, airplanes may feel a lot like a roller coaster ride. Meanwhile, storms in this volatile region can climb to 50,000 feet, thus forcing pilots, who usually stay at an altitude of 35,000 feet, to find a way to skirt them.

Tragically, it seems that the pilots of Air France 447 met exactly this sort of perfect storm.

William Voss, head of the Flight Safety Foundation, told Bloomberg that there was an “explosion of weather” along the flight route of the doomed aircraft where three storm fronts converged.

“If you take a look at the satellite information online it was like an explosion of weather at the time the Air France flight would have been trying to pick its way through the Intertropical Convergence Zone,” he said.

“The area of weather along that route of flight wasn’t even there when the aircraft was leaving the coast,” Voss added.

Anyway, I thought readers might like to see this stuff and have some comments on it or Morano’s website.

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30 Responses to Marc Morano’s banner headline: “Did global warming help bring down Air France flight 447?”

  1. I would like to hear from aviation meteorologists. Not implausible.

    So when I see images of baseball sized hail stones falling in the mid West – are we supposed to think it is not possible to occur in the Intertropical region of the Atlantic? Huge hailstones are formed from rain drops caught in updrafts to freezing altitudes, then falling again and up to freeze again.

    Aircraft engineered to meet known weather conditions are not tested to meet emerging weather from changing climate. These are unforeseen engineering challenges. For instance, the Phoenix airport routinely grounds planes because of heat, whereas 20 years ago that was rare. I doubt that planes today are stress tested against super sized hail stones.

    Thanks Marc Morano. Does he think it was sun spots?

  2. paulm says:

    If it happens again soon then we’ll have to think twice about this.

  3. K L Reddington says:

    We have no written records of severe storms bringing down aircraft 100 years ago. Yes we have planes that do hurricane eyes. I know how Boeing does destruction testing and load testing on wings. But in the case of global warming, is it fair to print the conclusion before gathering actual information? We can gather storm data from that time and that location.

    http://www.giurfa.com/gh_experiments.pdf

    I am sure the physics of IR hasn’t changed in the last 100 years.

  4. K L Reddington says:

    bring down Air France flight 447?
    permalinke-mail story to a friendprint version04 June, 2009, 21:35

    As the investigation continues as to what brought down the French airliner over the Atlantic Ocean with 228 people on board, a Russian climatologist believes global warming played a significant part.
    Story comes from russia today.com

  5. Gail says:

    Whether Moron was trying to be satirical or not, I do not see why our fearless leader Dr. Romm derides the link as tenuous. It seems like a good possibility to me, although not yet proven. Actually, it was the first thing I thought of when I saw the headline, “Air France jet disappears in Storm” or whatever, never mind when I saw what they say now, “Meteorologists said the Air France jet entered an unusual storm with 100 mph updrafts that acted as a vacuum, sucking water up from the ocean. The incredibly moist air rushed up to the plane’s high altitude, where it quickly froze where it quickly froze in minus-40 degree temperatures. The updrafts also would have created dangerous turbulence…the Airbus A330 disintegrated, either in the air or when it slammed into the ocean” from Yahoo News.

    DISINTEGRATED IN THE AIR

    I never heard of such a thing, did you?

    This reticence reminds me of the cautious disclaimers by every scientist that Katrina could not be linked to climate change at the time, whereas recently there have been several reports that describe studies showing that Katrina was indeed a result of climate change, warmer oceans specifically.

    I would not be surprised if we look back on this terrible “accident” as the harbinger of things to come, along with shipwrecks from giant waves and high winds, and of course, the pounding of the coasts.

    Don’t the models predict such violent weather? Then why should we be so hesitant to make the link between violent chaotic weather and human disasters? Do we believe in the validity of the models or not?

    My feeling is that, if the caliber of reporting about climate induced disasters globally is anywhere near as mendacious as the reporting of what is happening to the ecosystem where I live, then there is so much being swept under the rug that we are in deep, deep kaka.

  6. Mossy says:

    paulm Says:

    June 4th, 2009 at 6:33 pm
    “If it happens again soon then we’ll have to think twice about this.”

    Well, this is NOT at all the first time that unusual weather has been at the center of recent plane crashes and problems, and it seems to me quite logical that new and different weather behavior as a result of climate change needs to be seriously considered. Here are some clues:

    Less than four months ago, on February 13th, 2009, flight # 3407 crashed near Buffalo, NY due to some strange, unexpectedly severe icing problems.

    Also, if you want to check the stories published at the following link, hhttp://forums.jetcareers.com/general-topics/63693-internal-jet-engine-icing.html, you will find that there has been a large increase in the number of times that unusual engine icing conditions have done something that was considered to be virtually impossible at the time the engines were designed, namely to have several jet engines on the same plane shut down, or ‘flame out’ at the same time. This situation has been found to be more likely when planes are in areas with unusually intense storms.

    So, pending further investigation, it seems that the safety of jet travel may be an unforseen, emergent consequence of climate change. Dare one say that this smacks of poetic justice, given the carbon footprint…?

  7. Jay Alt says:

    Morano does what a number of GOP politicians have been doing. They throw crap at the wall and see what sticks. Their uniformed audience doesn’t distinguish between ridiculous claims and realistic ideas. His readers therefore lump that together with legitimate AGW claims as ‘just more nonsense’ which they can ignore.

    He is in full ‘Confusionst’ mode, as Don Wuebbles likes to describe it.

  8. Fred says:

    “So, pending further investigation, it seems that the safety of jet travel may be an unforseen, emergent consequence of climate change. Dare one say that this smacks of poetic justice, given the carbon footprint…?”

    ….scintillating analysis….any other intellectual gems?……since ‘warming’ is being dropped for
    the more ‘versatile’ term ‘change’…..how much ‘change’ is too much?…what if it gets too cold? ….too much change?…too little? What sort of PPM of CO2 is ‘normal’ or in the ‘unchanged’ category?…..btw what is the ‘normal’ temperature? Is the ‘science’ really
    ‘settled’ ? I thought ‘science’ was never ‘settled’. Btw, since according to you lot, all this science is ‘settled’, what ppm CO2 reduction is needed to ‘control’ temperature?

  9. Alex J says:

    Typical B.S. arguments. Global warming is implicated in a range of effects because temperature influences all aspects of the climate system, including evaporation & precipitation, pressure gradients and ocean/atmosphere circulation. And therefore it affects the biosphere. It’s been said before that this is about avoiding the further acceleration of climate change, including large-scale, non-linear effects, and their impacts on holocene ecology and today’s populous human societies.

  10. Gail says:

    Whoa! Everybody should click on Mossy – it’s like taking a deep sea dive and discovering a treasure chest of climate change links. Thank you Mossy…I don’t know what to read first!

  11. john says:

    In reference to mossy and her ignorant Buffalo comment, it appears to be pilot error by relying on autopilot instead of having their hands on the controls. Last i checked we have been dealing with icing on wings as long as their has been aviation.

    As for making assumptions we don’t have the foggiest idea of what happened to the Airbus flight and the idea that someone has the audacity to link it to climate change is laughable.

    You should let the facts lead you to conclusions, not the other way around.

  12. Gail says:

    John, it is a distortion to say that Mossy or anyone else claims that any particular accident IS linked to climate change. The point is that extreme weather resulting from climate change should be considered as a POSSIBILITY in the panoply of potential causes, along with pilot error, technical breakdown, terrorism, or whatever, until all the evidence is in.

    Put your reading glasses on and look at one of Mossy’s outstanding SCIENTIFIC links:

    http://downloads.climatescience.gov/sap/sap4-2/sap4-2-final-report-all.pdf

  13. paulm says:

    john is always pilot error, mostly. However, this is usually accompanied by other circumstances.

    And BTW, pilot error also tends to imply ‘system’ error in that the the training and procedures did not predict and account for the reactions of the pilot in that particular situation.

  14. Gary says:

    Of course, Joe and his merry band of Gorebots would actually swallow this nonsense.
    Until now, I thought nobody was that stupid.

    Appears that I was wrong. Hmmm.

  15. Roger H says:

    PEOPLE. PEOPLE, PEOPLE! Please do the Math : CO2 makes up about 3% of the Greenhouse Gases – Water Vapor makes up 96% of Greenhouse gases = 32 times more than CO2. But wait there’s more – Water vapor is 16 times as effective at trapping heat than CO2 is , meaning for every unit of heat present due to CO2 there are 512 units of heat present due to the Effects of Water Vapor. This means if the temperature rises by 6 degrees in the next 100 years and CO2 doubles to 6% of the total greenhouse gases it will be responsible for approximately 2/100ths of a degree or .02 degrees. So 2/100′s of a degree , worldwide is going to completely change our entire Climate system? It’s -40 degrees in the Antarctic and – 20 in the Arctic and they are going to melt if the respective temps increase to -34 and -16 degrees? Wake up!

  16. paulm says:

    Roger we have done the maths. You need to go back over yours.

  17. paulm says:

    mossy > Well, this is NOT at all the first time that unusual weather has been at the center of recent plane crashes and problems, and it seems to me quite logical that new and different weather behavior as a result of climate change needs to be seriously considered. Here are some clues:

    I have noticed that there have been a few events recently with accidents on landing and take off due to sudden strong wind gusts. I have also noticed that there seems to be many more local mini wind storms locally where I live on the coast.

    Well, there is evidence of a connection to GW….

    Stronger coastal winds due to climate change may have far-reaching effects

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-12/uoc–scw121208.php

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA–Future increases in wind strength along the California coast may have far-reaching effects, i

  18. Alex J says:

    Roger, on the chance that you’re a real skeptic and you mind isn’t set, I think your assumptions are skewed. Here you go:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=220

    If you use the noodle, what regulates water vapor concentration? Temperature. Thus making water vapor a reactive greenhouse gas. A temperature increase allows more of it to remain uncondensed in the atmosphere, right? So water vapor is one of the amplifiers of CO2-induced warming. Pretty basic. And average annual air temperature of the polar regions aside, melting/disintegration is already occurring in the Arctic and West Antarctica, due in part to oceanic and polar amplification effects. Check out the rest of Joe’s blog sometime.

  19. Susan says:

    fascinating! I have to plead guilty for bringing this up (in the proper context of single exceptional weather events not being attributable to GW, but overall trends of such events, and along with the dust bowl) and got called on both in the usual changing my meaning way. DotEarth has a regular “wmar” who we sometimes think is Morano, but the complainant was one “sashka”. Could this be evidence of a link with them? But no doubt now I am a “conspiracy theorist”! ;)

    Coincidentally, I’ve been looking into WUWT and am grateful for all the work you’ve done, which I may be stealing in my future complaints about its phony popularity.

  20. Seth Masia says:

    Sorry, folks — this is a wonderful farrago of argument by people who know a lot about just one part of the problem.
    I’m an instrument-rated private pilot but I have several hours of training in the UAL full-motion 747 simulators — I can land that plane safely. Airbus disasters are complicated by the fly-by-wire systems: in effect, the plane is always on autopilot, even when being “hand-flown,” because the pilot’s controls are really only input data for the multiply-redundant computer systems. At the same time, the computers get airspeed from three or four different computerized static systems. It’s easy to imagine an combination of unusual icing (perhaps blocking some of the static and pitot ports) with unusual vertical shear taking the computer program outside its design envelope. If the Air France problem is ever solved, it will be prove lie not in pilot error but in a new and unanticipated level of system complexity. Climate severity will be part of it.

  21. Susan says:

    Thanks Seth Masia. I had been suspicious that the new Airbus was as you describe. You also say “climate severity will be part of” “system complexity”. How straightforward!

  22. David B. Benson says:

    Several years ago Hadley Centre pointed out that global warming implies more extreme weather events.

  23. Mossy says:

    Thanks for your kind “Everyone should click on Mossy,” and other wise comments, Gail, and for your helpful pilot’s view of AF-447′s fate, Seth.

    Getting back to what happened to 447, it is fair, based on what facts are available (some of which are mentioned in my prior post), to set forth the hypothesis that unusual icing conditions contributed to the crash.

    Unusual icing conditions seem to be occuring more frequently with climate change. Today’s front page Wall Street Journal story about 447 mentions unusual icing, leading to improper readings for air speed, as a possible contributing factor to the crash. Yes, climate change is a clear suspect.

  24. riverat says:

    I’ve seen little evidence that points to icing being the cause of the Air France crash. It was crossing the Intertropical Convergence Zone where the Northern and Southern Hemisphere winds meet and heavy turbulence is common. I read somewhere that 3 weather cells came together at the same time the flight was entering the area. It seems to me the most likely cause was the airplane broke up in flight. Maybe lightning caused failures of the fly-by-wire systems and the pilots lost control. Maybe the flew too fast into turbulence and over stressed the airframe. Those seem most likely to me. I saw speculation that maybe a meteor hit it. In the absence of evidence that seems unlikely but an average of 3000 meteors a day survive the plunge through the atmosphere to hit the earth and become meteorites so it’s possible.

  25. Hey Skipper says:

    Speaking as an airline pilot, I can tell you that suggestions that this mishap is in any way connected to climate change are nonsense.

    As it happens, I recently wrote about both the AFR 447 and Buffalo mishaps.

    I’m providing the links as as to avoid imposing a wall of words here.

    If you use the noodle, what regulates water vapor concentration? Temperature. Thus making water vapor a reactive greenhouse gas. A temperature increase allows more of it to remain uncondensed in the atmosphere, right? So water vapor is one of the amplifiers of CO2-induced warming. Pretty basic.

    Here is what else that is basic. Increased water vapor concentration causes an increase in convective activity. What brought down AFR447 was a particularly violent, but not the least uncommon example of that.

    Now, what does convective activity do? Through releasing the latent heat of evaporation, it hurls warm, humid air unto the upper atmosphere, where it is in a position to radiate that heat into space (which accounts for the IR sensors on weather satellites.)

    That is called negative feedback.

  26. Alex J says:

    So where’s the successfully reviewed scientific paper assessing this negative feedback? How much do strongly convective events on X percent of the Earth’s surface compensate for increased radiative forcing over most of the planet? And how many of those events are strong enough to send water vapor into the stratosphere, where it can become a forcing factor (a POSITIVE feedback)? Like this:
    http://carbon-based-ghg.blogspot.com/2009/05/positive-feedback-hint-between-tropical.html

    Maybe not so basic after all. And why didn’t this negative feedback offset geologically-driven warming events (even those from slower GHG accumulation) in prehistory?

  27. Alex J says:

    Actually, maybe a more straightforward question would be where’s the reviewed research suggesting that ANY negative feedback is likely to suppress warming to 2 or 3 degrees C this century/that positive feedbacks don’t dominate long-term. And if we want to be consistent with the standards of many contrarians, maybe it shouldn’t involve testing via a scientific model. Now THERE’S a challenge.

  28. Hey Skipper says:

    So where’s the successfully reviewed scientific paper assessing this negative feedback?

    Is this a trick question? There isn’t one because it is obvious. Thunderstorms and hurricanes are really giant heat engines that propel warm surface air skyward, often all the way to the stratosphere, where the heat can radiate almost directly to space.

    Now, whether that negative feedback is sufficiently proportional to surface temperatures to balance, the books, who knows.

    But what is equally true is that climate models do not (because they cannot) include what we consider weather into climate.

  29. Alex J says:

    By “assessment”, I meant in terms of estimating any net radiative change as a result, not whether the mechanism exists. Models that simulate both climate and regional weather aside, if there are trends in those avenues of convection sufficient to represent a strong negative feedback to anthropogenic warming, that becomes a matter of climate. And something of interest to those working on radiative-convective models.

  30. Seth Masia says:

    Hey Skipper doesn’t understand what a feedback mechanism is. Tropical storms do move sea-surface heat into the upper atmosphere, but the heat does not then simply disappear — it’s carried poleward. The ocean and atmosphere together form a great heat conveyor moving solar radiation away from the tropics. That’s why the arctic regions are warming faster than the equatorial zones, and will continue to do so. There is NO logical reason to think that “negative feedbacks” can compensate for warming mechanisms as GHG levels rise.