Saturday, July 9, 2011

8th 90 This Year (potential for flash flooding tonight)

Paul's Conservation Minnesota Outlook for the Twin Cities and all of Minnesota:

TODAY: Free sauna. Hot sun most of the day, very humid. A few severe PM storms, probably south/west of the metro area. Winds: S 10+ High: 94 (feels like 100+ by mid afternoon).

SUNDAY NIGHTHeavy/severe storms likely, several inches of rain may fall, with a potential for flash flooding, especially over central Minnesota. Stay tuned for possible flood watches/warnings. Low: 75

MONDAY: Showers linger, some PM clearing - turning cooler. High: 89

TUESDAY: Storms south, sunshine north. Low: 66. High: 81

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled & sticky, more T-storms likely. Low: 64. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Muggy and warmer, more numerous T-storms. Low: 67. High: 87

FRIDAY: Dog days of summer come early, few T-storms possible. Low: 72. High: 92

SATURDAY: Hot, steamy sun, isolated storm. Low: 74. High: 94

88 F. Saturday in the Twin Cities.

90-95 F. highs expected today with dew points rising into the mid 70s, Heat Index over 100 later today.

1.24" rain predicted for the Twin Cities Sunday night (NAM model). Some 3-6" rainfall amounts are possible over central Minnesota - into the northern/western suburbs of the Twin Cities tonight - a potential for flash flooding overnight.

Slight severe storm risk later, especially south/west of MSP.

Heatwave expands northward over the next 1-2 weeks, possibly the hottest weather of the summer. Minnesota will be on the northern fringe of the hottest weather, 100s likely as close as St. Louis, Chicago and Washington D.C.

"....The Corps predicts that the (Missouri) River will eventually rise high enough to flow over some 18 to 70 levees, mostly in rural areas of southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa and Missouri." - article on the potential for more levee failures below.

 "...The sponge is fully saturated - there is nowhere for any additional water to go," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer." - Reuters story below on the historic flooding underway across the USA, expected to linger most of the summer.

110 F. in Oklahoma City Saturday, a record for the day, and the hottest temperature at OKC since July, 1996.

Mind-Boggling. This was the scene at the Logan Pass Visitor Center at Glacier National Park late last week, still engulfed in 15-30 foot drifts.

"...Perhaps there are natural variations causing warming around the world? In regard to the increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2, consider the main natural source of CO2, volcanic eruptions. Our global civilization by its burning of fossil fuels emits 50 to 100 times as much CO2 as volcanoes." - from an article below examining the role of volcanoes in the warming observed worldwide.

Flash Flood Potential? The NAM is printing out some excessive rainfall amounts over central Minnesota, just north/west of MSP tonight, as much as 8" in a few towns. That seems somewhat extreme to me, but with dew points in the mid to upper 70s and an advancing front capable of breaking the "cap" - I could see some torrential rains tonight, capable of flash flooding. A more realistic rainfall prediction is in the 2-4" range, with a few higher amounts possible. Stay tuned.

Why I'm concerned. The models have been fairly consistent predicting a major rainfall event tonight. The latest NAM/WRF prints out a band of 4"+ amounts from near Morris and Willmar into the St. Cloud area, the heaviest rains for the northern and western suburbs. I have a hunch the models are on the right track - it may be a VERY soggy AM commute on Monday.

Hottest Air of 2011? The heatwave gripping the south is forecast to expand northward over the next 1-2 weeks - much of America will be enduring highs in the 90s and low 100s, more records will be broken, and heat-related injuries and deaths are probably inevitable. Meteorologist Larry Cosgrove opines on the building heat in his WEATHERAmerica post:

"There is a huge story brewing for the next 16 days, and that is heat. Several pulsations of the Sonoran heat ridge are forecast, with the worst of the hot weather across the Great Plains, Midwest, and Old South. Parts of the Northeast should escape the main brunt of the subtropical high. The western states, thanks to the monsoonal fetch and a mean 500MB trough anchored along the Pacific coastline, will likely see heat only across interior locations. The tropics are relatively quiet with the worst threats to the Caribbean Rim and Mexico after July 19."

A Tale Of Two Nations. While residents of the northwest shiver through record chill, triple-digit heat continues to grip the southern USA, dozens of record highs set on Saturday from New Mexico to Georgia. Once again Texas has been hit the hardest, suffering through the worst drought since 1956. The green dots show record 24-hour rainfall reports. Click here to see an interactive map, courtesy of NOAA and Ham Weather.

Photo Of The Day/Weekend: "Alien Sunset". Since when did we have two setting suns? I took this photo a few days ago (with my trusty new Olympus SZ-30 MR), showing a spectacular example of a "sun dog". An example of parhelia, sun dogs are triggered by sunlight being refracted (bent) off hexagonal ice crystals about 25,000 feet above the ground. Cirrus clouds act as billions of microscopic prisms, bending white light into the colors of the rainbow. Pretty cool.

Oklahoma Sweats It Out. Every single reporting station was above 100 F. on Saturday, a number of stations over central and western Oklahoma in the 110-115 range. Map courtesy of the Oklahoma Mesonet.

Expanding Heatwave:

  • Wichita, Kan.
  • 100-degree days through July 8: 16
  • Annual average: 14
  • Most 100-degree days in a year: 50 in 1936

  • Dallas, Texas
  • 100-degree days through July 8: 14
  • Annual average: 18
  • Most 100-degree days in a year: 69 in 1980

  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • 100-degree days through July 8: 19
  • Annual average: 10
  • Friday was the 10th consecutive day with 100-degree temperatures
  • Most 100-degree days in a year: 50 in 1980

  • Austin, Texas (Camp Mabry)
  • 100-degree days through July 8: 25
  • Annual average: 12
  • Most 100-degree days in a year: 69 in 1925

  • June Information
    • Record hottest June in Texas
    • Second hottest June in Oklahoma and Louisiana.
    • Record hottest June cities: Lubbock, Midland, San Angelo, Houston, Galveston, Wichita Falls, and Columbus, Ga.
    • 42 all-time record highs were set across the country in June.
    • Over 4000 daily record highs were tied or broken in June.

Meanwhile, at Glacier National Park, this was the scene at the Logan Pass Visitor Center on July 7:

* I can't understand why there aren't any visitors yet...

Army Corp Did Little To Tell Farmers About Floods, Vilsack Says. I don't think anyone was prepared for the scope (or duration) of this year's floods, a perfect storm of record snows out west (melting very rapidly) coupled with persistent, almost springlike storms over the Dakotas and Plains states lingering into June. The Des Moines Register reports:

"U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chastised the U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers for its management of the now-flooded Missouri River, the Associated Press reported. In a June 28 letter to the Corps, Vilsack questioned whether the agency let enough water out of Missouri River reservoirs earlier this year. He also contended the agency has done little to communicate with farmers as the flood worsened. The Corps has said it adjusted flows for massive snowmelt upstream, but didn't expect the record rains on top of it this spring. On Friday, Vilsack's department declared six Iowa counties —  Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Monona, Pottawattamie and Woodbury — as disaster areas. That will allow farmers to apply for federal aid. Farmers in neighboring counties — Cass, Cherokee, Crawford, Ida, Montgomery, Page, Plymouth and Shelby — may also get aid. Vilsack is the latest politician to question the Corps' handling of the situation, although most of the outcry has come from members of Congress, including members of the Iowa delegation, rather than Vilsack or other high-ranking administration officials."

Exposure To Floodwaters Can Be A Health Risk. I guess this is fairly self-evident, but the Des Moines Register has some timely advice:

"LINCOLN, Neb. — Officials are warning people who live or work near flooded areas to be careful because floodwaters can carry diseases. Many low-lying areas along the Missouri River are covered with floodwaters, and the flooding is expected to continue at least into August. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency's Earl Imler says it's important that people understand the risks floodwaters present. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says floodwaters can help transmit diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid fever. So health officials urge people who come in contact with floodwaters to practice good hygiene and change into clean, dry footwear whenever possible.Also, children should be discouraged from playing in flooded areas, and any open wounds should be covered with a waterproof bandage before getting near floodwaters."

Time To Build An Ark? The 30-day rainfall map is impressive: a huge swatch of real estate from the Dakotas into the Middle Mississippi Valley and interior New England has picked up 5-8" of rain since June 8, 2011. The purple areas show Doppler rainfall estimates over over 10", that's 2-3 month's worth of rain from southeastern Iowa into southern Illinois and southern Florida. Click here to see the rainfall estimates, for the last day, week or month, courtesy of the Advanced Hydrologic Precipitation Analysis, a division of NOAA.

SBA Offers Disaster Assistance To Hennepin County Residents Affected By Severe Storms & Tornadoes In Minnesota. has an update: "WASHINGTON, Jul 07, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Residents and businesses affected by the severe storms and tornadoes on May 21-22 in Hennepin County, Minn., can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration, SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills announced today. Mills made the loans available in response to a letter from Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton on July 1, requesting a disaster declaration by the SBA. The declaration covers Hennepin County, and the neighboring counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne and Wright in Minnesota. "The SBA is strongly committed to providing the people of Minnesota with the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes with federal disaster loans," said Administrator Mills. "Getting businesses and communities up and running after a disaster is our highest priority at SBA." "Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property," said Frank Skaggs, director of SBA's Field Operations Center East in Atlanta. SBA's customer service representatives will be on hand at the Disaster Loan Outreach Center to answer questions about the disaster loan program, explain the process, issue and help individuals complete their applications."

Sunday Evening Weather Map. The WRF/NAM model is predicting more T-storms across the Dakotas, compounding the flood risk along the Missouri River and its tributaries. Storms are likely from Des Moines to Milwaukee, another swarm of storms across the southeastern USA and Florida. Instability storms will pop up over the Rockies, the west coast enjoying mostly-dry, sunny weather.

Sunday: Expanding Heatwave. 100-degree heat is forecast to expand northward into Kansas and Missouri today, late afternoon highs close to 100 as far east as Memphis and Little Rock as the Great Heatwave & Drought of '11 grows in intensity and duration. Map courtesy of Ham Weather.

Sunday Severe Threat. SPC has expanded the slight risk area later today from the Dakotas and much of western/southern Minnesota into southern Wisconsin, Chicago, Iowa and Nebraska. The greatest risk of hail and damaging winds will come south/west of the Twin Cities.

Back To Work With a Rumble. The risk of severe storms will linger tomorrow from Omaha and Des Moines eastward to the Chicagoland area, Milwaukee and Detroit - strong/severe storms firing along a nearly stationary front separating blast-furnace heat to the south from slightly more comfortable air and lower dew points to the north.

Experts Expect More Missouri River Levee Failures. The Argus Leader has the ominous news:
"OMAHA – Several hundred thousand acres of rich Midwestern farmland and even some urban areas near the Missouri River are at risk of flooding this summer during months of historically high water that experts fear will overwhelm some levees, especially older ones. Engineers who have studied past floods say the earthen levees in rural areas are at greater risk. “Most of the levees are agricultural levees. They’re not engineered. They’re just dirt piled up,” said David Rogers, an engineering professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology. So far, most levees have held along the 811 miles the Missouri travels from the last dam at Gavins Point in South Dakota to its confluence with the Mississippi River near St. Louis. The flooding thus far has covered more than 560,000 acres of mostly rural land, including nearly 447,000 acres of farmland. The water has forced some evacuations, but the extent of the damage to may not be clear until it recedes...The Corps predicts that the river will eventually rise high enough to flow over some 18 to 70 levees, mostly in rural areas of southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa and Missouri. Other levees will become saturated, and water can erode their foundations, seep underneath or find other flaws to exploit."

America Set To Suffer Continued Flooding Through Summer. Reuters has the grim news: "The American Midwest and northern Plains are preparing for continued flooding, with the threat of above average rainfall expected to continue through the summer, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, who believe that flooding this year could rival the Great Flood of 1993. Rivers are already running high, and the soils are saturated with water, which means that even a little bit of rain could trigger further flooding in and around locations which have already seen flooding this year. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is also forecasting above-normal rain for most of these vulnerable areas in the next two weeks, and above-normal rainfall in much of the region in the one- and three-month outlooks. In addition, with increasing temperatures expected over the Rockies, the water melt from the remaining snowpack will makes its way down the mountains and into the already swamped rivers. "The sponge is fully saturated - there is nowhere for any additional water to go," said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., director of NOAA's National Weather Service. "While unusual for this time of year, all signs point to the flood threat continuing through summer."

The Great Drought of '11. Some staggering numbers coming out of Texas. 94.39% of the state is suffering through a severe drought - 71.3% of Texas is in an "exceptional drought", as bad as it gets. Last year at this time only 4% of the Lonestar State was in a moderate drought, with no severe or exceptional drought reported in 2010. Map courtesy of NOAA's Drought Monitor. More facts:
  • At a drought conference in Austin yesterday, the Texas State Climatologist called the current drought the third worst on record for the state behind only 1956 & 1918. They are now 9 months into this drought.
  • The massive exceptional drought area stretches from Arizona to South Carolina and Florida.
  • That covers approximately 12% of the Lower 48, or around 367,000 square miles.
  • This area is larger than the entire Northeast region of 15 states (Maine to Ohio to North Carolina) plus the District of Columbia.
  • Since the Drought Monitor was first regularly produced in 2000, this is the largest coverage of exceptional drought.
  • In Texas, the drought has made things "very difficult in lots of ways for wildlife," says Kirby Brown, an official with the Texas Wildlife Association. Even if they can find water, the animals may have trouble getting enough food, as trees and plants suffer from the lack of moisture. In West Texas, one of the areas of the state worst hit by the drought, local newspapers have reported animals creeping into cities in search of bugs that reside on lawns, and other nourishment. Wild turkeys are in trouble, Brown says. So are quail, and deer. It's fawning season for deer around the state, and they won't get much to eat. Deer hunters should also expect less spectacular antlers this year, when hunting season begins. Hunters will see the impact in September, when the Texas dove hunting season kicks off. Squirrel hunting in October will also be tough. Fish are in trouble, too. (,0,7178023.story)

"Normal" Duluth Weather Gets Warmer. Here's a story about the new NOAA "normals", the running 30-year averages, and the observed warming trend in the last 10 years, most prominent across the northern third of the USA. The Duluth News Tribune has the story: "Average temperatures in Duluth have gone up enough over the past decade to raise what the National Weather Service considers long-term normal temperatures, with the biggest warm-up seen in overnight low temperatures. That means it’s going to take even more warmth to beat the daily normal highs and lows that local weather forecasters show every day as a measure against that day’s actual weather. Once each decade the Weather Service updates the 30-year running average temperatures — in this case dropping the 1970s and adding the 2000s. The new 30-year “normal” period runs from 1981 through 2010. The effect from the 2000s — which scientists already knew was the warmest decade since accurate records have been kept — was enough to pull the 30-year average up considerably. “It is interesting how the (warmer) winter low temperatures stand out,” said Steve Gohde, observation program leader for the National Weather Service in Duluth."
NOAA: U.S. Warmer And Drier Than Normal in June. NOAA has the details: "June 2011 brought temperature and precipitation extremes across the United States. An oppressive heat wave, accompanied by intensifying drought conditions, shattered temperature records in the South and Southwest. Overall, the nation had its 19th driest and 26th warmest June on record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville, N.C. The average U.S. temperature in June was 70.7 degrees F, which is 1.4 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average. Precipitation, averaged across the nation, was 2.48 inches. This was 0.41 inch below the long-term average, with large variability in different locations. This monthly analysis, based on records dating back to 1895, is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides.
  • Several locations broke all-time high temperature records. On June 26, Amarillo, Texas, set an all-time high temperature record of 111 degrees F, breaking the record of 109 degrees F set just two days prior. On June 15, Tallahassee, Fla., also recorded an all-time high, 105 degrees F. For the month, 42 U.S. locations tied or broke all-time maximum high temperatures.

  • The expansive heat across Texas resulted in an average temperature of 85.2 degrees F, which was 5.6 degrees F above normal, surpassing 1953 as the warmest June in 117 years of records. This was the fourth consecutive June in Texas with temperatures at least 2 degrees F above the long-term average."

The New Climate "Normals" - A Trend Toward Warmer Nights. NOAA's Climate Watch has details of what the new, running, 30-year temperature averages are showing: "When several grand sugar maples at the famous Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania succumbed to disease recently, grounds manager Shawn Kister wondered if warm winters were to blame. Some plant diseases are stopped by cold, he knew, and others are encouraged by longer warm periods. Sugar maples like the cold, and Longwood is already at the southern edge of their historical range. A few hundred miles south, Charlotte-based TV meteorologist John Ahrens noticed that area rainfall had remained lower than normal for several years. The farmers and landscapers around Charlotte were compensating with more irrigation, but those systems are expensive. What was going on? Was this going to be the new normal?

Defining normal

Gardeners, meteorologists, businesses, weather junkies and others will get answers to some of these questions in July, when NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) releases the latest version of an official weather product called the U.S. Climate Normals. Updated each decade, the U.S. Climate Normals are 30-year averages of many pieces of weather information collected from thousands of weather stations nationwide. Each time they are updated, an old decade is dropped, and a new one added. Starting in July, when you hear that a day was hotter, or colder, or rainier than normal, that ”normal” will be a little different from what it was in the past."

Warming Trend. Across much of the country, overnight low temperatures in January are as much as several degrees warmer in the 1981–2010 Normals than they were in the 1971-2000 version (left). Meanwhile, the average maximum temperatures in July are actually cooler across some parts of the country (right). (Maps by NOAA.)

You 'Wanna Talk Hot? Dr. Mark Seeley has some good (and stinking hot) weather trivia in this week's edition of his WeatherTalk blog: "July 8, 1936 was the middle of a terrible heat wave in Minnesota, lasting from July 5th to the 18th. Virtually every climate station in Minnesota reported daytime temperatures of 100 degrees F or greater, with the exception of Two Harbors (98 F) and Grand Marais (89 F) along the Lake Superior shoreline. Moorhead reported 9 days over 100 degrees F, including 114 degrees F on the 6th. The July heat wave was blamed for over 800 deaths in Minnesota."

Why Does NASA Launch Space Shuttles From Such A Weather-Beaten Place? Great question. Central Florida sees more cloud to ground lightning than any other stretch of real estate in the USA, over 130 days/year with thunderstorms nearby. Scientific American has the story: "Space shuttle Endeavour remains on the launch pad today after a series of weather delays nixed launch attempts Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Much of the country is balmy and dry this time of year but precipitation, wind and lightning are a mainstay along Florida's Atlantic coast, home to Kennedy Space Center. Many satellite launches, including some for NASA, lift off from elsewhere in the U.S., namely Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. And the space agency utilizes other arid sites for shuttle operations, as well, landing the orbiter at Edwards Air Force Base in California when the weather over Kennedy is poor and even once easing it down at New Mexico's White Sands Space Harbor. All of which begs the question: Why did NASA pick Cape Canaveral for its launch site, not only for the space shuttle program but also for the manned missions of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs?"

Up To 25% Of Accidents Associated With Gadgets. That's a vaguely distressing statistic, but it makes sense. I'm worried about the guy in front of me (texting), and the lady next to me flipping through her iPad during the morning commute. has more: "A new study from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) highlights the impact that cellphones and other gadgets can have on car crashes. According to the study, as many as 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by a cellphone or gadget. Produced using a grant from State Farm, the GHSA report, titled Distracted Driving: What Research Shows and What States Can Do [PDF] looks at the main external driver distractions. Not surprisingly, talking on cellphones, fiddling with gadgets and texting while driving are some of the most common driver distractions. After reading the 50-page document, it’s clear that this study contains as many certainties as uncertainties. As GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha says in a statement, “Much of the research is incomplete or contradictory. Clearly, more studies need to be done addressing both the scope of the problem and how to effectively address it.” Still, one certainty is that cellphone usage increases the risk of crashing and texting is likely more dangerous than using a cellphone."
Massive Storm On Saturn 8 Times The Size Of Earth. NASA has released some new and stunning photos - Huffington Post has a story about a giant storm of swirling gases prominently visible on the surface of Saturday: "This storm on Saturn is bigger than you can possibly imagine. According to NASA, it's actually eight times the surface area of Earth. It is the biggest storm ever observed on the planet, and is at least 500 times bigger than any other storm observed by the Cassini spacecraft that orbits the ringed planet. It seems the beast of a storm is as destructive as it is large. "The storm is about 500 times larger than the biggest storm previously seen by Cassini during several months from 2009 to 2010. Scientists studied the sounds of the new storm's lightning strikes and analyzed images taken between December 2010 and February 2011. Data from Cassini's radio and plasma wave science instrument showed the lightning flash rate as much as 10 times more frequent than during other storms monitored since Cassini's arrival to Saturn in 2004. The data appear in a paper published this week in the journal Nature." Scientists are excited by the storm because it provides further insight into the weather patterns of the planet. Apparently this occurrence shows just how much the change of seasons can affect the planet's major weather."

Thunder No-Show. Morning clouds and a lack of a "trigger" aloft prevented a widespread storm outbreak yesterday, enough sun for 87 at St. Cloud and 88 in the Twin Cities. Meanwhile a very fickle summer continues to confound residents of Duluth, where a chilly breeze off Lake Superior kept temperatures deflated, a meager high of only 66.

Stinking Hot!

America's weather is on steroids: 100-degree heat expanding across the south (25 days above 100 in Austin). Tuesday a huge, Dubai-like "haboob", the largest ever observed (50-100 miles wide), swept into Phoenix, a 2 mile-high blizzard of sand & dust...the largest wildfires on record for Arizona & New Mexico..the largest area of exceptional drought ever observed across the south (12% of the lower 48 states), while March-like flooding on the Missouri River basin is forecast to linger all summer long, potentially worse than the previous high-water mark in '93. Last week the driest spot on Earth, the Atacama Desert in S. America, experienced a paralyzing snowstorm. Say what?

La Nina is gone. NOAA says these are all "unmistakable" signs of warming. We're seeing some of the results of dumping 95 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every day, worldwide. "Global weirding" has arrived. Not sure I like the New Normal.

Another quick heat spike today results in 90-95 F. with a dew point surging into the mid 70s. It will feel like 100+ later, with a few severe storms. A stormy week is on tap as a front stalls to our south; more 90s by late week. We've seen 3 more 90-degree days than usual - more are on the way.

We're Responsible For It - Not Volcanoes. The Cumberland Times-News has a story explaining how volcanic eruptions can't explain the amount of atmospheric warming we've experienced in recent decades: "In last Sunday’s column, I mentioned some of the themes of the documentary, “Earth: An Operating Manual” by Richard Alley, a climate scientist at Penn State. Alley has diverse experience that give him a more objective perspective on climate change. Alley has done research across the globe from the polar regions to the Antarctic as well as having been employed by an oil company.
 Alley sees the need to address both the growing increase of carbon dioxide in our air (causing to climate to change) and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Our global civilization is consuming fossil fuels at a rate that is a million times faster than the time it took to form these fossil fuels. The U.S. military knew about global warming in the 1940s from its development of heat-seeking missiles. These missiles had more difficulty in locating their targets as the whole atmosphere was warming up due to the absorption of heat by carbon dioxide (CO2) gas (that absorbs heat from the Earth’s surface and reemits it downward).     From analysis of ice cores over the past 400,000 years, the global temperature rises and falls with the increase of CO2 in our atmosphere. The present CO2 concentration in our atmosphere is nearing 400 parts per million, compared to the previous highs of 280 parts per million. A key question that climate skeptics raise is: How can we be sure that humans are mainly responsible for global warming? Perhaps there are natural variations causing warming around the world? In regard to the increasing atmospheric concentration of CO2, consider the main natural source of CO2, volcanic eruptions. Our global civilization by its burning of fossil fuels emits 50 to 100 times as much CO2 as volcanoes. The CO2 emitted by volcanoes comes from the melting of rocks deep below the surface, which taps oxygen from the mineral oxides there. The observed drop in atmospheric oxygen levels is consistent with fossil fuel burning (carbon combines with oxygen molecules in air). There are three kinds of carbon atoms, Carbon–12, which plants tend to use, Carbon-13, somewhat rarer and radioactive Carbon-14, made from cosmic ray bombardment in our atmosphere. The content of the CO2 in our present atmosphere has a Carbon-12 concentration consistent with the burning of plant matter (fossil fuels)

An Era Of Tornadoes: How Global Warming Causes Wild Winds. There is no clear-cut scientific link between climate change (warmer/wetter atmosphere) and tornado frequency or intensity, at least not yet. Here's one theory from The Atlantic: "For tornadoes, we have clear ideas on how they form and have some idea about how their strength may be linked to global warming. It's all about contrasts and gradients. Warmer temperatures over land surfaces create low-pressure systems (since hot air rises, creating "lows"), while cold fronts from the north come with high pressures. Weather "flows downhill," as it were—from highs to lows. When temperature and pressure gradients between highs and lows increase (as they do naturally in spring), the clash can twist to form tornadoes. The greater the contrasts, the greater the force of the twisters. This spring, especially warm and moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico met up with especially cold fronts from the north, driven by melting Arctic and Greenland ice. (Between 2004-06 and 2007-09, the rate of ice mass loss in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago sped up threefold.)  Warmer air and warmer seas are melting Arctic ice, and the shrinkage has changed North Polar air circulation—allowing "leakage" of cold air outside the Arctic Circle. Cold fronts previously contained within the polar vortex are now slipping out (driving severe winter weather in the U.S. and Europe in the past two years), and melting Arctic ice has also altered the path of the branches of the jet stream. Cold, fresh melt water from the Arctic has set up a blocking high-pressure area in the Atlantic off the Northeast for most of the past 18 months, altering the movement of weather fronts—sometimes hastening them, sometimes stalling them. "

A Response To Climate Change Denialism. Here's a post from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography: "Richard Somerville, a distinguished professor emeritus and research professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, issued the following statement in response to a recent request to address claims recently made by climate change denialists: 

1. The essential findings of mainstream climate change science are firm. This is solid settled science. The world is warming. There are many kinds of evidence: air temperatures, ocean temperatures, melting ice, rising sea levels, and much more. Human activities are the main cause. The warming is not natural. It is not due to the sun, for example. We know this because we can measure the effect of man-made carbon dioxide and it is much stronger than that of the sun, which we also measure. 

2. The greenhouse effect is well understood. It is as real as gravity. The foundations of the science are more than 150 years old. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere traps heat. We know carbon dioxide is increasing because we measure it. We know the increase is due to human activities like burning fossil fuels because we can analyze the chemical evidence for that. 

3. Our climate predictions are coming true. Many observed climate changes, like rising sea level, are occurring at the high end of the predicted changes. Some changes, like melting sea ice, are happening faster than the anticipated worst case. Unless mankind takes strong steps to halt and reverse the rapid global increase of fossil fuel use and the other activities that cause climate change, and does so in a very few years, severe climate change is inevitable. Urgent action is needed if global warming is to be limited to moderate levels."

NOAA: "Unmistakable" Global Warming Continues. Here's a post from the AMS Blog, "The Front Page": "NOAA released the 2010 edition of its annual State of the Climate report this week revealing that Earth’s atmospheric and oceanic temperatures are rising unabated. The 218-page report, consisting of the peer-reviewed conclusions of more than 350 researchers in 45 nations, will be distributed with the June issue of the Bulletin of the AMS. A press briefing summarizing the report’s findings noted a “consistent and unmistakable signal from the top of the atmosphere to the bottom of the oceans” that the world continues to warm. Those signals include last year’s global surface temperatures virtually tying 2005 as the warmest in the reliable global record, which dates to 1980. The Arctic warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the world, reducing sea ice extent to its third lowest level on record."

Graphic above: "Rising global surface temperatures (left panel), and CO2 concentration levels (right panel, from Mauna Loa observatory). NOAA and NASA temperatures in 2010 are virtually tied with 2005 for warmest year on record. The UK Hadley Center Research Unit's data shows 2010 second to 1998 for warmest year." Courtesy AMS & NOAA.

Greenland: Increasingly Green. "Greenland’s ice sheet lost more mass in 2010 than in any year during the last decade. The melt rate was nearly 10 percent more than the previous record year for loss, 2007. Mountain glaciers globally lost mass for the 20th straight year." Source: AMS (American Meteorological Society) and NOAA.

Arctic Sea Ice In Record Retreat. Dr. Jeff Masters has a post about the alarming trends at the top of the world in his Wunderblog. I know, another example of all those NASA/NOAA/NAS scientists scamming us again. Cue the conspiracy theorists and professional science-deniers: "The summer melt season is in full swing in the Arctic, and sea ice there is in record retreat. Arctic sea ice is currently at its lowest extent on record for early July, according to estimates from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and University of Bremen. Moreover, Arctic sea ice volume is at its lowest on record, according to the University of Washington Polar Science Center, and during June 2011, was reduced by nearly half (47%) compared to its maximum at the beginning of the satellite era, in 1979. The latest surface analysis from Environment Canada shows a 1039 mb high pressure system centered north of Alaska, which is bringing clear skies and plenty of ice-melting sunshine to the Arctic. The combined action of the clockwise flow of air around the high and counter-clockwise flow of air around a low pressure system near the western coast of Siberia is driving warm, southerly winds into the Arctic that is pushing ice away from the coast of Siberia, encouraging further melting. This pressure pattern, known as the Arctic Dipole, was dominant over the Arctic during June, leading to the record low extent observed at the beginning of July. The Arctic Dipole began emerging in the late 1990s, and was unknown before then; thus climate change is suspected as its primary cause. The Arctic Dipole has become increasingly common in the last six years, and has contributed significantly to the record retreat of Arctic sea ice."

Huge Phoenix Dust Storm Tied To Climate Change. I know there's a temptation to link every extreme weather event to climate change, which is probably simplistic (and incorrect). But climate change may be driving perpetual drought conditions over the southwest, which (in turn), helped to create the conditions necessary for the largest haboob on record. connects the dots: "A report by said this dust storm is regarded as one of "historic" proportions. At one mile high, 50 miles wide, and moving at nearly 30 mph, the storm overtook Phoenix at about 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, leaving dust and debris in its wake, said AZ Central. As the storm caused damage in various areas of the state - including blackouts in Tempe and, in one case, a small fire - the Phoenix Fire Department received around 700 calls for help throughout the night. Overall, roughly 8,000 people have been left without power, and Phoenix-bound flights were delayed for many hours as visibility was reduced to zero. Jeff Masters, a meteorologist at Weather Underground, notes that this storm had a higher amount of dust than usual for such storms, and says the amount of dust the storm carried could be attributed to the severe drought conditions the region has been experiencing. A drought has gripped the Southwest for the past decade, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Climate Central draws a link between the latest storm and climate change. It reports that scientists have predicted that rainfall will become increasingly scarce in the southwestern U.S. in the coming years. As a result, droughts will become more frequent in this region. So when the summer monsoon thunderstorms occur, they can whip up large amounts of dust off the dry ground, which would cause dust storms like the one seen on Tuesday."

Climate Change: Still Worse Than You Think. Alarmist hype? We'll see. Mother Jones has the story: "While I was on vacation last week I took a side trip to New Haven to visit Jeff Park, an old high school friend who's now a geology professor at Yale. We ate some pizza at Frank Pepe, walked around the campus a bit, and then dropped by his office, where he had a stack of reprints of his latest journal article. Take one, he said. Maybe it'll be good fodder for the blog. The title is a mouthful: "Geologic constraints on the glacial amplification of Phanerozoic climate sensitivity," coauthored with Dana Royer. (The Phanerozoic, in case it's slipped your mind, is the geologic eon spanning approximately the last 500 million years.) Roughly speaking, the article is an updated look at a computer model that estimates how much climate reacts to a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere. The model originally concluded that a doubling of CO2 produces a temperature increase just under three degrees Celsius, an estimate that's in pretty good agreement with other models. So far, so good. But 500 million years is a long time, and several researchers have proposed that climate sensitivity might vary over that period depending on whether or not the earth is in an ice age. So in the new paper, the authors modeled glacial and non-glacial eras separately. And the best fit with the data suggests that climate sensitivity does indeed change depending on glaciation. In fact, during an ice age, the most probable climate sensitivity is six to eight degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, more than twice the previous estimate."

Record High Temperatures Far Outpace Record Lows Across The USA. Climate Progress has the story: "This graphic shows the ratio of record daily highs to record daily lows observed at about 1,800 weather stations in the 48 contiguous United States from January 1950 through September 2009. Each bar shows the proportion of record highs (red) to record lows (blue) for each decade. The 1960s and 1970s saw slightly more record daily lows than highs, but in the last 30 years record highs have increasingly predominated, with the ratio now about two-to-one for the 48 states as a whole.  (©UCAR, graphic by Mike Shibao.)"

Wars, Food Shortages And Mass Immigration: How Global Warming Poses Dire Threat To Britain's Security. The U.K.'s Daily Mail has the story:

"Global warming will threaten Britain's security by triggering wars, food shortages and mass migration, Energy Minister Chris Huhne warned today. Although the UK may escape the worst physical impacts of rising temperatures and sea levels, the UK will still be exposed to 'alarming and shocking' consequences of climate change elsewhere, he said. The warning comes as Ministers are preparing a White Paper that will usher in a new wave of nuclear power stations and a massive expansion of wind farms to cut Britain's greenhouse gas emissions. In a speech to the Royal United Services think tank, Mr Huhne warned that climate change was a 'systemic threat'  'With luck, the UK may well escape the worst physical impacts,' he said. 'But in a connected world, we will be exposed to the global consequences. And they are both alarming and shocking.'  The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that world temperatures could rise between 1.1C and 6C this century, increasing sea levels by seven to 23 inches and making heat waves, droughts and floods more common."

1 comment:

  1. Paul, Reason why people are not at Logan pass area yet is the road to it was closed with all this snow. From what I've read on their FB page the road will be open Wed the 13th.