Barredo, J.I. 2010. No upward trend in normalized windstorm losses in Europe: 1970-2008. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 10: 97-104.
The author writes that "on 18 January 2007, windstorm Kyrill battered Europe with hurricane-force winds killing 47 people and causing 10 billion US$ in damage," and in light of the dire predictions of climate alarmists such as Mann and Kump (2008), many people wonder if such storms -- and even stronger ones -- are a sign of what is to come, especially if the globe begins to warm again. Hence, in an attempt to shed some real-world light on the question, Barredo "put Kyrill into an historical context by examining large historical windstorm event losses in Europe for the period 1970-2008 across 29 European countries," asking the question "what economic losses would these historical events cause if they were to recur under 2008 societal conditions?"
What was done
The researcher -- who is employed by the Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission -Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Italy -- says that loss data resulting from numerous prior storms "were sourced from reinsurance firms and augmented with historical reports, peer-reviewed articles and other ancillary sources," after which the extracted data were "adjusted for changes in population, wealth, and inflation at the country level and for inter-country price differences using purchasing power parity."
What was learned
In the words of Barredo, "the analyses reveal no trend in the normalized windstorm losses and confirm increasing disaster losses are driven by society factors and increasing exposure," stating, in fact, that "increasing disaster losses are overwhelmingly a consequence of changing societal factors."
What it means
It is oh so easy to claim that recent destructive storms of all types are the result of the historical warming of the world over the last several decades; but it is oh so wrong to do so; for Barredo states that what is the case for windstorms of Europe has also "been shown to be the case for flood and hurricane losses in the US (Pielke Jr. and Landsea, 1998; Pielke Jr. and Downton, 2000; Pielke Jr. et al., 2008), tornadoes in the US (Brooks and Doswell, 2001), hurricane losses in the Caribbean region (Pielke Jr. et al., 2003), weather extremes in the US (Chagnon et al., 2000; Changnon, 2003), flood losses in Europe (Barredo, 2009), tropical cyclones in India (Raghavan and Rajesh, 2003), and weather-driven disasters in Australia (Crompton and McAneney, 2008)," noting that "all of these studies found no significant trends of losses after historical events were normalized to current conditions in order to account for demonstrably changing societal/demographic factors." Yet even all of these studies represent but the "tip of the iceberg," so to speak, when it comes to verifying Barredo's comments, as may readily be seen by perusing the massive volume of materials we have archived under Weather Extremes in our Subject Index.
Barredo, J.I. 2009. Normalized flood losses in Europe: 1970-2006. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 9: 97-104.
Brooks, H.E. and Doswell, C.A. 2001. Normalized damage from major tornadoes in the United States: 1890-1999. Weather and Forecasting 16: 168-176.
Changnon, S.A. 2003. Shifting economic impacts from weather extremes in the United States: A result of social changes, not global warming. Natural Hazards 29: 273-290.
Changnon, S.A., Pielke, R.A., Changnon, D., Sylves, R.T. and Pulwarty, R. 2000. Human factors explain the increased losses from weather and climate extremes. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 81: 437-442.
Crompton, R.P. and McAneney, K.J. 2008. Normalized Australian insured losses from meteorological hazards: 1967-2006. Environmental Science and Policy 11: 371-378.
Mann, M.E. and Kump, L.R. 2008. Dire Predictions: Understanding Global Warming. DK Publishing Inc., New York, New York, USA.
Pielke Jr., R.A. and Downton, M.W. 2000. Precipitation and damaging floods: Trends in the United States, 1932-1997. Journal of Climate 13: 3625-3637.
Pielke Jr., R.A., Gratz, J., Landsea, C.W., Collins, D., Saunders, M.A. and Musulin, R. 2008. Normalized hurricane damage in the United States: 1900-2005. Natural Hazards Review 31: 29-42.
Pielke Jr., R.A. and Landsea, C.W. 1998. Normalized hurricane damages in the United States: 1925-95. Weather and Forecasting 13: 621-631.
Pielke Jr., R.A., Rubiera, J., Landsea, C., Fernandez, M.L. and Klein, R. 2003. Hurricane vulnerability in Latin America and the Caribbean: Normalized damage and loss potentials. Natural Hazards Review 4: 101-114.
Raghavan, S. and Rajesh, S. 2003. Trends in tropical cyclone impact: A study in Andhra Pradesh, India. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 84: 635-644.Reviewed 28 April 2010