Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slow Warming Trend (CO2 levels reach 400 ppm over Arctic)

66 F. high temperature Thursday in the Twin Cities.

74 F. average high for May 31.
77 F. high temperature at KMSP on May 31, 2011.

9.34" of rain fell on the Twin Cities in May. Average is 3.25." 4.04" of rain fell during May, 2011.
7 days with .50" or more last month.

June: historically the wettest, most severe month of the year. Tornadoes and hailstorms usually peak in June. Something to look forward to.

400 ppm. CO2 levels have reached 400 parts per million over the Arctic region. Details below.

34.8 billion tons of CO2 pollutants released into the Earth's atmosphere in 2011, a new world record.

"It's been at least 800,000 years – probably more – since Earth saw carbon dioxide levels in the 400s, Butler and other climate scientists said. Until now. Readings are coming in at 400 and higher all over the Arctic. They've been recorded in Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Iceland and even Mongolia." - from a Huffington Post article below.

Global Temperature Trends Since 1950. In spite of a moderate La Nina cooling phase of the Pacific Ocean, 2011 will probably wind up in the Top 10 Warmest Years on Record, worldwide, the warmest La Nina on record. Source: WMO and Real Climate. Details below.

The Drought Is Pretty Much Over. Here's the latest NOAA Drought Monitor, showing an amazing turn-around in the rainfall department.

Wet Weather Gardening Tips. Master Gardener Tricia Frostad has some good advice in light of the recent (torrential) rains in May, well over 9" of rain in many gardens across the metro: "All this moisture can lead to fungal diseases on plants. Fungus overwinters in infected plant residue and excessive overhead watering (as in rain) can activate the fungus. The fungal spores are spread by splashing water and wind to nearby plants and it thrives in damp weather. Spots typically appear on leaves at the base of the plant and move upward as the infection progresses. Remove any plant material that is affected but be certain to never remove more than 1/3rd of a plant's leaves. Displose of these diseased leaves in the trash or burn thhem. Do not return them to the compost pile. Try to make sure that your plants have proper air circulation around the foliage, which may mean pulling "volunteer" plants. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering - it's much better to water at the base of the plant. Fungicides can help in controlling the spread, but will not "cure" the leaves that have already been affected."

Tour The Gardens Of Master Gardeners. If you're looking for something to do this summer, and you love gardening, consider touring the gardens of Master Gardeners - kind of like the Parade of Homes, only better (and greener!) The event is in July, but you can purchase tickets now and save a few bucks. Details: "Visit eight gardens designed and tended by Carver-Scott Master Gardeners on Saturday, July 28, 2012, 10 am to 4 pm. The gardens are in Carver County (Minnestrista, Waconia, Excelsior, Chaska and Chanhassen). Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 the day of the tour at each garden. Advance tickets can be purchased by clicking the "Buy Now" button below or at Tonkadale Greenhouse, Ambergate Gardens, Glenrose Floral (Chanhassen), or by calling the Carver County Extension office (952-466-5300), or the Scott County Extension office (952-492-5410).

The gardens showcase wonderful water features, shade gardens, sun combinations, interesting containers, unusual decor, a restored prairie with grasses and wild flowers, a berm with interesting shrubs and an amazing collection of trees.

Ticket Information. For more information, and a quick and easy (Paypal) way to purchase tickets, click here.

Warmest Spring In Chicago In 142 Years. Here's an excerpt of a story from WGN's "The weather as meteorological spring 2012 draws to a close couldn’t be less representative of the season as a whole. Abnormal warmth has characterized the past three months. Spring 2012 is to go down in the record books as Chicago’s warmest in 142 years running a stunning 9-degrees above normal! The last spring with temperatures even close to the one about the end occurred 35 years ago in 1977 when temperatures finished within a degree of this one."

An Ugly Sky. Check out the photo of the oncoming shelf cloud that struck Wichita, Kansas on Wednesday, courtesy of the NWS. Details: "Severe storm approaching downtown Wichita. Picture taken by Alex Laugeman."

Tennis-Ball Size Hail. This could put a serious ding in your day; details from the Wichita office of The National Weather Service via Facebook: "Hail that fell over North Hutchinson. Picture taken by Deanna Fehrenbacher and courtesy KAKE-TV."

Largest Wildfire In New Mexico History. Here's an update from NASA's Earth Observatory: "According to figures released by the U.S. Forest Service, the Whitewater-Baldy fire had burned 170,272 acres (266 square miles), surpassing a fire that burned 156,293 acres (244 square miles) near Los Alamos in 2011. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the fire around 4:00 p.m. local time (20:00 Universal Time) on May 29, 2012." Details from below:
  • Date Started: 05/16/2012
  • Number of Personnel: 1,246 personnel including
  • Location: Approximately 15 miles E of Glenwood, NM
  • 17 hotshot crews, 11 hand crews
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Equipment: 59 Engines, 27 Water Tenders, 7 Dozers
  • Size: 170,272 acres
  • Aircraft: 10 Helicopters
  • Percent Contained: 5%
  • Injuries to Date: Five

New Mexico Fire From Space. Here's a striking image from NASA that shows the scale of the wildfire burning in a relatively desolate region of New Mexico.

Ground Fog From Space. Recent rains + clear skies + light winds = ripe conditions for "lazy clouds", thick fog settling into river valleys across the Ohio River Valley. Details from the Louisville office of The National Weather Service: "Localized heavy rainfall during the morning hours on Tuesday, May 29th set the stage for patchy heavy fog early Wednesday morning.  This image below, taken at 8 am EDT, shows widespread fog.  Note the ribbons of dense fog along the river valleys."

Children Of Andrew Still Recall 1992 Hurricane. Talk about a traumatic event, for both adults and kids alike. Here's an illuminating story from USA Today: "Some of the most poignant images of the aftermath were those of children: Standing in food lines, idling in sweltering heat beside damaged homes, limp in the arms of rescue workers. Once back at school, some kids hid under desks, apprehensive whenever thunderstorms approached. Others spoke of nightmares that another hurricane would strike. "Disaster really exposes all our childhood beliefs," said Jon Shaw, a psychiatrist at the University of Miami who studied children in the aftermath of the storm. "To discover that people are unable to provide for you, protect you, is an increased understanding of how the world works."

Photo credit above:  David J. Phillip  /  AP and "Andrew Hagen, left, and Dante Diaz both lived through Hurricane Andrew -- and both now are forecasters at at ImpactWeather in Houston."

Preparation Key For Hurricane Season. Here's some helpful, timely advice from "Edmond also stressed the importance of having a family plan in place and each member of the family understands it. This includes have a specific meeting place in case you are separated – one near the home and one outside the neighborhood if you can’t return home. And, have an out-of-state contact – someone everyone in the family knows and knows how to contact. Families should also have an evacuation plan and know what to take and where to go. A plan should also be made for family pets. If you plan to ride the storm out at home, make sure you have a disaster survival kit. “The key to hurricane season is being prepared. It doesn’t take long to check your supplies and replenish what you need. And, there is nothing I can stress more than to check your insurance policy. It’s better to make changes ahead of time, than find out after a disaster that you didn’t have enough coverage,” concluded Edmond."

Photo credit above: Kaylee LaRocque. "NAS Jax Emergency Management Officer Ray Edmond discusses hurricane preparedness measures with NAS Jax Chapel staff during a briefing May 22. Hurricane season begins June 1."

Stay On Top Of Hurricane Season With Apps, E-mail And Web. Here are some good resources from The Miami Herald: "This hurricane season a flurry of tweets and a hailstorm of social media information are in the forecast. The agencies that provide storm-related information on this, the 20th anniversary season of Hurricane Andrew, will tap technology in the way the masses seems most active these days: online and pushing apps on their phone. “We have a Twitter account, Facebook posts, YouTube, a blog and also a new Power Tracker system for customers to monitor, in real time, power outages and restoration efforts,” said Neil Nissan, spokesman for Florida Power & Light. The Power Tracker allows users to type in their address on a mobile device, tablet or computer and find directions quickly."

Graphic credit above: "Hurricane Tracker - Florida app, available on iTunes. The free app provides tailored information for Florida during hurricane season. The company also has Tracker apps for Lousiana, Texas and North Carolina. iTunes."

Read more here:
Homes Can Be Protected From Tornadoes. There is no such thing as a truly "tornado-proof" home, unless you're building a bunker that is mostly underground, or use concrete and steel reinforcement. But there are steps you can take to reinforce an existing home to make it more tornado-resistant; as reported in this article from UPI: "The International Code Council/National Storm Shelter Association Standard for the Design and Construction of Storm Shelters is a tool to help communities protect their residents from disasters and consolidates previous references published by National Storm Shelter Association, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross," Rick Weiland chief executive officer of the International Code Council said in a statement. "A properly built, high-wind, safe room can protect from the most intense tornadoes, hurricanes and similar natural disasters. Safe rooms can be designed to withstand winds up to 250 mph, offering safe refuge for families in the path of high-wind events." A closet, bathroom, laundry area or storage room can be enhanced to serve as a safe room, Weiland said."

Photo credit above: Joplin damage aftermath photo courtesy of NOAA.

Missouri: Soldier's Looted After Tornado. This one made me do a double-take; here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "Four Missouri National Guard soldiers stole electronics from a Walmart in Joplin while helping with recovery efforts the day after the store was destroyed by a tornado last year, according to records released Tuesday." Photo: NOAA.

CNN Hits 20-Year Primetime Ratings Low In May. On the quiet news days CNN does poorly; on the big days viewers still tune to CNN. The problem: not enough big days with "breaking story" that can hold an audience. So do you flavor the news with opinion and political spin, go the route of MSNBC and Fox? If you were programming CNN what would you do? The story from Huffington Post: "The bad news just keeps coming for CNN. May was the network's worst month for total viewers during primetime in over 20 years. CNN drew an average of just 389,000 primetime viewers from April 30 to May 27. In comparison, MSNBC drew an average of 674,000 total viewers, while Fox News boasted an average of 1,692,000 total viewers. It was also the network's second-worst month in primetime for viewers in the key demographic since October 1991."

Iconic, Efficient "Warburg House" Cost Less Than $100k To Build. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story from "Canadian design studio Bioi recently completed this compact home in Warburg, Alberta after being given the challenge to create a contemporary and energy-efficient home for under US$100,000. The result is a simple, open and sustainable home, with a reduced space that holds all of the functionality of a regular sized home. “Working alongside our client, we determined the true necessity of the space that they required,” project architect Jordan Allen told Gizmag. “Throughout the design phase redundant spaces were eliminated, and non-inhabitable spaces were pushed to an absolute minimum.”

Close Call. Rain brushed far southern Minnesota, a third of an inch at Redwood Falls, .28" at Rochester. Highs ranged from 52 at Grand Marais, 66 in the Twin Cities and 67 at St. Cloud.

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

TODAY: Plenty of mild sun, beautiful. Winds: W 5-10. High: 72

FRIDAY NIGHTMostly clear and comfortable. Low: 53

SATURDAYLot's of sun, no complaints. Winds: W 5-10. High: 76

SUNDAYSome sun, warmer - late-day T-storms possible. Winds: S 10. High: 82

MONDAY: Sunny and warm, feels like summer again. Low: 65. High: 87

TUESDAY: Hazy sun, humidity creeping up. Low: 65. High: 86

WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, still dry (and quiet). Low: 66. High: 79

THURSDAY: Fading sun, clouds increase. Low: 65. High: 81

Getting Better

I'm happy for a break from heat, humidity and raging storms - not hiding in my weather bunker.
I'm still waiting for Garrison Keillor's creative crew to do a sketch about a mythical Lake Wobegon family, unable and unwilling to come out of their basement. Ever. One too many tornado warnings.
Weather phobia is a concern, especially for kids. Tornado trauma can inspire them to grow up to be meteorologists. In fact most TV forecasters were inspired by a storm, a flood or blizzard. No one with full command of their faculties sets out to guess the weather on a daily basis.

Breaking news: ClimateClimate reports we're about to crush the record for warmest spring, nationwide, since 1895.

Yesterday came a report that CO2 levels in the Arctic just hit 400 ppm, a troubling milestone. Last year nearly 35 billion tons of CO2 was released into the atmosphere, a new record.

We warm up in the coming days, low 80s by Sunday, a lake-worthy day up at the cabin. This weekend should not be as squishy as last weekend. Saturday should be the drier day - scattered T-storms late Sunday, but probably not severe.

9.34 inches of rain soaked the cities in May, nearly 3 times the normal amount!

Climate Stories...

Climate Change: Carbon Dioxide Levels In World's Air Reach "Troubling Milestone". 400 ppm. A dubious milestone for CO2 levels worldwide. Here's an excerpt from a Huffington Post article: "WASHINGTON -- The world's air has reached what scientists call a troubling new milestone for carbon dioxide, the main global warming pollutant. Monitoring stations across the Arctic this spring are measuring more than 400 parts per million of the heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere. The number isn't quite a surprise, because it's been rising at an accelerating pace. Years ago, it passed the 350 ppm mark that many scientists say is the highest safe level for carbon dioxide. It now stands globally at 395. So far, only the Arctic has reached that 400 level, but the rest of the world will follow soon. "The fact that it's 400 is significant," said Jim Butler, global monitoring director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Earth System Research Lab in Boulder, Colo. "It's just a reminder to everybody that we haven't fixed this and we're still in trouble."
Photo credit above: Alamy.

No Warming Since 1998? Really? Here's an excerpt from Real Climate: "There are two interesting pieces of news on the global temperature evolution. First, today a paper by Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf was published by Environmental Research Letters, providing a new analysis of the five available global (land+ocean) temperature time series. Foster and Rahmstorf tease out and remove the short-term variability due to ENSO, solar cycles and volcanic eruptions and find that after this adjustment all five time series match much more closely than before (see graph). That’s because the variability differs between the series, for example El NiƱo events show up about twice as strongly in the satellite data as compared to the surface temperatures. In all five adjusted series, 2009 and 2010 are the two warmest years on record. For details have a look over at Tamino’s Open Mind."

* the actual paper from IOPscience is here.

North Carolina Bill Would Require Coastal Communities To Ignore Global Warming Science. What the heck is going on in North Carolina? I love the state (frequent vacations to the Outer Banks over the years). It's a phenomenal state, with terrific beaches, mountains and friendly, bright residents. So this story from Think Progress came as a surprise; here's an excerpt: "Some North Carolina GOP legislators want to stop the use of science to plan for the future. They are circulating a bill that would force coastal counties to ignore actual observations and the best science-based projections in planning for future sea level rise. King Canute thought he had the power to hold back the tide (in the apocryphal legend). These all-too-real lawmakers want to go one better and mandate a formula that projects a sea level rise of at most 12 inches, far below what the science now projects. A state-appointed science panel reviewed the recent literature and reported that a 1-meter (39 inch) rise is likely by 2100."

* Another perspective on this jaw-dropping attempt to censor science from Rabett Run.

On Climate Change It's Money Vs. Mouth. Corporations speaking out of both sides of their mouth? I'm shocked. Here's an excerpt of an interesting story from The New York Times: "A number of major United States corporations publicly support climate change science but contribute heavily to politicians and research groups that deny or play down the threat of global warming, according to a new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study found that ExxonMobil, General Electric, Caterpillar and Boeing are among companies that play both sides of the fence, supporting groups that promote climate change science as well as those that seek to undercut it."

Study Accuses Corporations Of Hypocrisy On Climate Change. A different perspective on the same story from the L.A. Times; here's an excerpt: "Some major U.S. corporations that support climate science in their public relations materials actively work to derail regulations and laws addressing global warming through lobbying, campaign donations and support of various advocacy groups, according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental and scientific integrity group. The multinational oil giant, ConocoPhillips, for instance, said on its website in 2011 that it “recognizes” that human activity is leading to climate change, the view supported by the overwhelming majority of scientific research. Yet in 2009, ConocoPhillips argued against the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination that heat-trapping greenhouse gases were pollutants endangering public welfare."

Photo credit above: "A screenshot of the cover of the Union of Concerned Scientists' report, "A Climate of Corporate Control." (Union of Concerned Scientists / Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2012)

Highway Through Amazon Worsens Effects Of Climate Change, Provides Mixed Economic Gains. Here's an excerpt of a story at "That's what a University of Florida researcher and his international colleagues have determined from analyzing communities along the Amazonian portion of the nearly 4,200-mile Interoceanic Highway, a coast-to-coast road that starts at ports in Brazil and will eventually connect to ones in Peru.

The results of their five-year study provide a holistic picture of the social, environmental and of the highway project, including relationships with climate change. Among the findings:

  • Highway paving facilitates migration and in communities, which can result in forest clearing and conflicts over natural resources.
  • Highway paving has left the Amazon rainforest more vulnerable to clearing with fire, which results in ."
Photo credit above: NASA and Wikipedia.

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