Thursday, November 22, 2012

Record 60 F. on Thanksgiving (today will feel 50 degrees colder)

60 F. high in the Twin Cities, a new record for KMSP. Old record: 59 F. in 1998

37 F. average high on November 22.

38 F. high on November 22, 2011.

.01" rain fell yesterday.

Trace of snow as of 7 pm yesterday.

My (Revised) Christmas List

Dear Santa - I just woke up from a Thanksgiving food coma. Yep, I've been good year.
Stop laughing.

No iGadgets, bad ties or cologne this year, please! 

The only thing I want under the tree is a Guardian Series Generac emergency power generator, made in Waukesha, WI. For the next time winds gust over 40 mph and a toppling tree 30 miles away plunges my home back into the 19th century. Home generators are flying off the shelves in the wake of record summer derechos and Sandy.

Did we really see low 60s yesterday? The mercury soared to a record 60 in the Twin Cities, breaking the old record of 59 set in 1998. Not bad, considering 9 hours, 19 minutes of daylight - coming less than a month from the Winter Solstice.

Watch for ice out there early; wind chills today dip into single digits. It'll be cold enough for snow thru next weekend, but storms will shun Minnesota. A couple of of reinforcing clippers keep us in heavy jackets into next week, but long range models are hinting at 50-plus highs in early December. Really. 

As my 10 year old niece explains "Paul, winter is getting squished!"

Details below: anyone under the age of 27 has never experienced a colder-than-average month, worldwide. According to NOAA October was the 332nd month in a row warmer than the 20th century average.

If You're 27 Or Younger, You've Never Experienced A Colder-Than-Average Month. Well this statistic puts things into perspective. has more details: "Nowhere on the surface of the planet have we seen any record cold temperatures over the course of the year so far. Every land surface in the world saw warmer-than-average temperatures except Alaska and the eastern tip of Russia. The continental United States has been blanketed with record warmth — and the seas just off the East Coast have been much warmer than average, for which Sandy sends her thanks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes October 2012:
The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature..."
 * map above courtesy of NOAA.

Slipping And Sliding. Wind Advisories are still posted, the local NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for portions of central Minnesota. If your Friday travels take you toward Rice, Lake, St. Cloud, Little Falls or the Lake Mille Lacs area you will run into some snowy, ice-covered roads. Details:



72 Hour Snowfall Forecast. WSI's high-resolution 12 km. RPM model is printing out some 2"+ snowfall totals for portions of central and northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, closer to 4" from Bemidji to Hibbing. Lake effect snow squalls will kick in behind the storm, piling up some 8-16" amounts over far northern Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan. Right about now anyone with a snowmobile has an itch that a scratch can't reach...
Parka Weather. I'll be shopping for a new heavy coat today. The combination of 20s, and winds gusting over 20-30 mph will make it feel like +5 to +15 F. Nothing we haven't experienced countless times over the years - but coming after a spell of early October-like warmth it'll feel like a slap across the face. NOAA forecast map above valid 1 pm today.

Frostbite Potential. We've been thru this drill before, hundreds of times. But coming after a run of near-record warmth I'm concerned that some power-shoppers won't take the cold front seriously. The combination of 20s and winds gusting to 30 mph will make it feel like +5 to +15 F. at times. If you're outside (with exposed skin) for 20-30 minutes you could become a candidate for a mild case of frostbite. Slap on a few extra layers before hitting the malls today.

Latest Drought Monitor. There hasn't been much change in the last week: severe drought reported across most of the Twin Cities metro - 25% of Minnesota in an extreme drought. The driest conditions can be found from St. Cloud and Willmar to Redwood Falls, Mankato and most of southwestern Minnesota. The latest Drought Monitor is here, courtesy of NOAA and USDA.

The Making Of The Hottest Year On Record: USA Temperature Update. Here's an update on 2012, which will most likely go down into the record books at the warmest year of the last 115 across the nation. In fact there is a 90% probability 2012 will set a new record for warmth. 10 of the 11 warmest years have been observed since 2000. NOAA's ClimateWatch has more: "...Now how does 2012 fit in? Well, 2012 has been warm, and the first driver of the extreme warmth was March. March was the warmest March on record by far, and this caused 2012 to leap out way ahead of the pack. We had the warmest spring on record, the warmest July on record, the third warmest summer on record. All of these together helped 2012 maintain a huge lead throughout the year. Average temperatures in October pulled 2012 back to the pack ever so slightly, but you can see that the year-to-date temperature not only remains well above average, it remains well above history. So we will most likely finish with the warmest year on record—and by a huge margin. Go to the CPC web page to see their outlook for yourself, and while you’re at it, check out all our climate records at the climate monitoring web site. Keeping the big picture in perspective is a big part of being “climate smart.”
Map above: NOAA NCDC. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas are among 21 states on track to experience the warmest year in the last 115 years of record-keeping. Every state, except for Washington, has had a warmer than average year.

332. October was the 332nd month in a row of global air temperatures warmer than the 20th century average. Source: NOAA NCDC.

Thanksgiving Warmth. Before the icy front arrived Thursday afternoon temperatures were unseasonably mild statewide. The mercury hit a record 60 in the Twin Cities, breaking the old record of 59 F. set in 1998.

Cold And Dry. It was nice while it lasted, but the maps look more like classic late November - early December weathher looking out into the end of next week. West to northwest steering winds aloft will prevent Gulf moisture from reaching Minnesota, meaning a continuation of storm-free weather looking out 1-2 weeks. The drought signal is still very strong, and shows no immediate signs of fading. ECMWF forecast highs (red) above are in Celsius. No, it won't get quite THAT cold.

How Does The Jet Stream Work? The U.K. Met Office has an informative YouTube clip focused on explaining the how's and why's of the ubiquitous jet stream steering currents aloft: "What is the jet stream? How does the jet stream affect our weather in the UK? This animation explains how the jet stream works."

Drought Conditions Threaten Mississippi River Transport. There just isn't enough water in the Mighty Mississippi, the result of one of the worst droughts since the 1930s. Details from The Epoch Times: "Persistent drought conditions in the upper Midwest are threatening the nation’s waterways, with the mighty Mississippi River so low that barge traffic has been affected and may be forced to halt. Over 90 barges have been either stranded or grounded due to low water in recent weeks, according to the Waterways Council Inc. (WCI), a public policy organization representing shippers and ports. Low water levels are also likely to increase due to continuing dry conditions, compounded by the actions of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who have orders to reduce water flow from the Missouri River into the Mississippi..."

Photo credit above: "A Coast Guard boat patrols in the foreground as a barge makes its way down the Mississippi River Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, in St. Louis. A top Corps of Engineers official has ordered the release of water from an upper Mississippi River reservoir in an effort to avoid closure of the river at St. Louis to barge traffic due to low water levels caused by drought." (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Can We Engineer Storm-Proof Metropolitan Areas? Will we go the way of the Dutch, building huge seawalls, dikes and levees to keep the sea out? Huffington Post has a very interesting story focused on possible ways to mitigate the next (inevitable) storm surge; here's an excerpt: "...Next time the damage done in dollars and in lives could be far worse. At its peak, Sandy was only a Category 1 storm. Its winds never went above 90 miles per hour near New York. Were something like a Category 4 storm, with winds of 131 to 155 miles per hour, to make landfall near the city, the devastation would be awful. Many more would die. Houses would be toppled over by sheer windforce, subway tunnels could be flooded for months instead of a week, and the economic capital of the United States could be paralyzed. The city would incur $500 billion worth of damage, according to a 2006 analysis by the Department of Homeland Security. As the climate continues to change, the damage could be even worse. According to a 2007 report by Risk Management Solutions and the University of Southampton, by 2070 the New York area will have 2.9 million people and $2.1 trillion in assets exposed to coastal flooding..."

How To Build A More Resilient Power Grid. Here's another thought-provoking article from Scientific American: "In the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy's destructive march on the East Coast, utilities warned customers to prepare for widespread outages and potentially extensive power failure. The question was not if the grid would fail, but to what extent. The storm highlighted an already well-known problem: The U.S. power grid is vulnerable to extreme weather. As officials from New York to Venice, Italy, have acknowledged in recent weeks, climate change is likely to increase the prevalence of such weather. And according to analysts and outside groups working on the problem, there is no one-size-fits-all remedy that can insulate the ailing grid against an escalation of the elements..."

Photo credit above: "Technology such as smart meters and micro-grids can help the vulnerable U.S. electric grid weather extreme storms." Image: Flickr/Christopher Schoenbohm

Vetoing Business As Usual After The Storm. Rebuilding in high-risk coastal areas after each and every hurricane is not only futile, but expensive, considering (all) U.S. taxpayers are picking up the tab. Here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "Not a month after Hurricane Sandy there’s a rough consensus about how to respond. America is already looking to places like London, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Tokyo, where sea walls, levees and wetlands, flood plains and floating city blocks have been conceived. New York clearly ought to have taken certain steps a while back, no-brainers after the fact. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ought to have installed floodgates and louvers at vulnerable subway entrances and vents. Consolidated Edison should have gotten its transformers, and Verizon its switching stations, out of harm’s way, and Congress should have ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to study the impact of giant barriers to block parts of the city from the sea..."

Photo credit above: "One of the largest piles of storm debris at the Jersey shore is shown in this Nov. 15, 2012 photo in Long Branch N.J. Superstorm Sandy created tons of debris that towns in New York and New Jersey are still struggling to dispose of weeks later. Three weeks in, the round-the clock effort to remove storm rubble has strained the resources of sanitation departments and landfill operators, and caused heartaches and headaches for thousands of families." (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Outsmarting The Surge. How do we build more surge-resilient communities along the coast? Is it even theoretically, and cost-effectively possible to do so? Here's an excerpt of a terrific article at Time Magazine: "After Hurricane Sandy hurled the Atlantic at the Northeast coast on Oct. 29 and 30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo returned from touring a shell-shocked New York City to face reporters. The storm surge had inundated lower Manhattan, Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and Queens. It had obliterated the New Jersey shore. Across more than a dozen states, from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Michigan, it left more than 50 people dead and more than 8 million without power, and it likely caused more than $20 billion in damage. Sandy, a seemingly minor Category 1 hurricane, was a major catastrophe..."

Photo credit above: Andrew Quilty / Oculi for Time.

Hurricanes And Climate Change. An estimated 90% of warming has gone into the world's oceans. Are those (increasingly warm) ocean waters helping to spike the hurricanes that do get going? Here's a clip from PBS NOVA: "When it engulfed swaths of coastal New York and New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy became an instant symbol of a new age of extreme weather fueled by climate change. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama to nudge him to address climate. Bloomberg Businessweek summed up this sentiment with its Sandy cover story, "It's Global Warming, Stupid." But is it, really? As one of the most extreme kinds of extreme weather, hurricanes already pose a mortal threat to anyone living along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and other tropical cyclone trouble spots. If we face the prospect of routine superstorms amped up by the extra heat and moisture from global warming—or, in the case of Sandy, merging with other systems into freakish weather hybrids—that's a truly apocalyptic threat...."

NOAA Scientist; 80% Percent Chance Recent Heat Records Due To Climate Change. Is it possible to connect the dots and link attribution to a warmer atmosphere? The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has the story - here's an excerpt: "Is climate change giving our weather just a little nudge to make setting heat records - like Washington, D.C. just experienced - vastly more likely? That’s the opinion of one NOAA scientist. Meet Martin Hoerling, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. I recently participated with him and several other climate scientists in a Google Hangout conversation. What Hoerling had to say about climate change and record-setting temperatures was fascinating. He makes a compelling case that human-caused climate change isn’t causing heat waves, but - in many instances - adding to their intensity. Consider these excerpts from his commentary, about 34-38 minutes into the 60 minute panel discussion. “....the globally averaged temperature of the planet has risen beyond any doubt beyond where you would expect ... with natural variability alone...”

"Ask Paul". Weather-related Q&A.

Hey Paul. Does it look like we will have more tornados (4) than inches of snow (trace) this month?

Kent from Eden Prairie

Kent - I think you're right. We've had a whopping 2/10ths of an inch of snow so far this month (last Monday), and the odds of accumulating snow between now and the end of November are small, and dwindling. Earlier models were hinting at a little snow next Tuesday, but now models suggest the next storm will (once again) sail off to our south and east. When in a drought don't predict rain...or snow. I suspect snow lovers will remain frustrated into at least the first half of December.

Hey Paul - What is the latest mosquitoes have been seen in Minneapolis?  I just killed an August size mosquitoe and it's Tuesday November 20, 2012! Mosquitoes thanksgiving warning.
Jim Reid

Jim - I included your note, because it made me laugh. Thank you for that. I have no clue what the latest mosquito sighting might be here in the metro area, but I suspect we're close to a record. Does anyone even keep that data? I predict a dire lack of mosquitoes by Friday as cold air comes rushing back into town.

Ok, I know this is a month or more away, but, already stressing about Christmas holiday. Any hints as to weather for Christmas?  (relatives coming!) Lots of snow, little snow? Mild temps or extremely cold??


Cheryl Brown

Cheryl - I feel your pain. Welcome to the joyously stressful holiday season. Did I buy enough gifts? Is the house ready? Is there enough food in the house? The stress of expectations and family togetherness is enough to push anyone over the edge. Add (foul) weather to the mix and it's enough to make you crack! The reality: a Christmas forecast isn't in the cards - it's still too far out to say with any level of confidence. NOAA is predicting a colder than average month (I agree). But droughts are stubborn, persistent things - they tend to take (many) months to correct, and my hunch, my gut, is that drier than average weather will linger into much of December. I think it will be cold enough for snow - but will we have any (southern) moisture to work with? My hunch: no mega-snow-storms thru the first half of December, but one of these arctic smacks may twist jet stream winds enough to bring some real moisture north. I certainly wouldn't rule out a white Christmas, but if we do pick up significant snow it may not be until the latter half of December. Stay tuned.

About Face: U.S. Tornado Activity Near Low Point In Modern Record. The always prolific, always-interesting Capital Weather Gang summarizes America's tornado situation for 2012. It turns out the drought and excessive heat had at least one silver lining: "After one of the busiest years for tornadoes in 2011, tornado numbers in 2012 have come crashing down to historic lows. In 2011, there were 1692 twisters - second most on record. This year, only 882 tornadoes have touched down. (Tornado records date back to 1950*). “[W]e are approaching a theoretical minimum in the annual tornado count for the modern era,” said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Ok. What’s especially remarkable about the year’s depressed numbers is that tornado activity got off to a red-hot start. Through mid-April, tornado counts were highest on record. But then, an extended tornado drought struck and the count ranking plummeted..."

Graphic above courtesy of SPC, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center.

Weather Data From Nation's Largest Wind Farms Could Improve U.S. Models, Forecasts. Here's one way to initialize models with higher quality (real-time) weather data - tap the network for wind farms around the U.S. - a brilliant idea described in this article: "NOAA now has data sharing agreements with Iberdrola Renewables of Portland, Ore., and NextEra Energy Resources of June Beach, Fla. - the country's two largest generators of wind-generated electric power, according to the American Wind Energy Association. The companies will provide valuable weather observations from instrumented towers in their wind farms and wind speed data from instruments atop wind turbines. Since 2011, Excel Energy of Minneapolis, Minn. has provided similar observations to NOAA...."

5 Apps For Surviving Black Friday. Shopping fatigue? There's an app for that. has the details: "If you’re not willing to risk getting trampled for that $5 discount on the iPad or aren’t ready to fight to the death for the last Sesame Street doll, please don’t bother reading the next few paragraphs. But if you’re battle-ready for Black Friday, you’ll need to have some survival skills if you want to get the gifts you want at the lowest prices. Having these apps on your iPhone will help you be savvy when it comes to finding deals and the nearest toilet."

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

TODAY: Icy roads possible. Mostly cloudy, numbing winds. Wind chill: 5-10. Winds: NW 15-30. High: 28

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing, still very cold. Low: 16

SATURDAY: More sun, less wind. A bit better to be outside. High: 33

SUNDAY: Mix of clouds and sun. Still dry - good travel weather. Low: 22. High: 34

MONDAY: Next clipper. Chilled sunlight, colder. Low: 18. High: 29

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, quiet. Low: 16. High: 31

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, fleeting thaw. Low: 20. High: 34

THURSDAY: Canada's leaking again. Chilly with lot's of sun. Low: 15. High: 28

Climate Change...

Climate Change Causes Insurers To Rethink Price Of Risk After Hurricane Sandy. Private insurers won't touch coastal properties, because of rising seas and a trend toward more severe storms, hurricanes and Nor'easters. If it wasn't for federal property insurance coastal residents wouldn't be able to keep rebuilding, and that's the source of growing controversy. The PBS NewsHour examines the topic of risk in this interview; here's an excerpt: "Climate change is our new normal. We're seeing more increased storms everywhere, all across the country. It is costing us tens and tens of billions of dollars, $32 billion to the insurance sector last year. But last year, when we surveyed 88 insurance companies and asked them, do you have climate policies in place, are you acting on climate, 11 out of 88 companies had a plan to address climate risks to their bottom line.

PAUL SOLMAN: The rest didn't. So, what is the industry's comeback?

ROBERT HARTWIG: All insurance companies are paying very careful attention to the variability and the volatility in the climate.
You can have a big debate about what the cause of that is. But insurers use all the information at their disposal in order to ascertain the risk, measure that risk in a very scientific manner, and then assign a price to that risk..."

Climate Change Challenges Transportation System In The U.S. Our infrastructure is showing its age - the situation compounded by (increasingly) extreme storms, as reported by AP and Huffington Post"Wild weather is taking a toll on roads, airports, railways and transit systems across the country. That's leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more catastrophes like Superstorm Sandy that are straining the nation's transportation lifelines beyond what their builders imagined. Despite their concerns about intense rain, historic floods and record heat waves, some transportation planners find it too politically sensitive to say aloud a source of their weather worries: climate change. Political differences are on the minds of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, whose advice on the design and maintenance of roads and bridges is closely followed by states. The association recently changed the name of its Climate Change Steering Committee to the less controversial Sustainable Transportation, Energy Infrastructure and Climate Solutions Steering Committee..."

Our View: Climate Change And A New Momentum. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Yankton Press and Dakotan: "...The Iowa declaration, signed by 138 scientists and researchers from 27 different universities and colleges in the state, becomes the latest salvo in a war over climate change — a topic that has lately entered a new and dramatic chapter. There has been a long-running battle between the believers and deniers of what was once known as global warming. You know the routine: While a vast majority of scientists are convinced that climate change is happening and is being created, or at least expedited, by man, others either deny it’s happening or admit change is taking place but has very little to do with human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, we continue to witness extreme and destructive weather behaviors. In the Yankton area alone, we’ve seen the massive Christmas blizzard of 2009, the record-breaking floods of 2011 and now the drought of 2012. Taken individually, we’ve seen these things happen before. But taken as a connected cycle, well, it becomes a dizzying merry-go-round..."

* The Iowa Climate Statement, focused on the Drought of 2012, and how it is consistent with a warming climate, is here (pdf).

71,000 New Yorkers: "Rise Does Matter". You couldn't pay me to buy a home within 10 feet of sea level. The data is the data, the trends are the trends, and rising sea levels don't bode well for coastal residents. Sandy was a shot across the bow, a harbinger of future storm surges to come. Remember, it was a (huge) Category 1 storm with 90 mph sustainted winds near New York City. What happens when the inevitable Categor 3 storm takes a similar track? It'll make Sandy look like a walk in the park.

The map above is from Climate Central's interactive "Surging Seas" tool, which is worth a look. Experts calculate that warming (expanding) sea levels have risen roughly 8" in the New York City area in the last 100 years. Did this make Sandy's storm surge worse? Absolutely. And there's a way to calculate the incremental impact of sea level rise, as described at Global Warming: Man or Myth: "Superstorm Sandy produced record storm surge levels for locations in and around the NY City metropolitan region. One way that global warming made Sandy worse is because global warming is causing sea levels to rise. Sea levels have risen more than a foot in the New York City region since the Industrial Revolution. So what difference did this extra foot make for the citizens of New York City? Quite a lot. 6,000 more people impacted for each inch of rise!..."

70,929 more people and 30,551 more homes flooded.

A Failed Experiment. The hottest holiday gift this year out east? Emergency generators. Sandy left millions in the dark for days, even weeks. But a massive June derecho, a miniature "land hurricane", a supersized swirl of severe thunderstorms - the largest ever observed - left millions more in the dark from the Ohio Valley to Washington D.C. My relatives living outside Washington are still traumatized by the freak summer display of nature at its worst. The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof explains how we got here: "In upper-middle-class suburbs on the East Coast, the newest must-have isn’t a $7,500 Sub-Zero refrigerator. It’s a standby generator that automatically flips on backup power to an entire house when the electrical grid goes out. In part, that’s a legacy of Hurricane Sandy. Such a system can cost well over $10,000, but many families are fed up with losing power again and again. (A month ago, I would have written more snarkily about residential generators. But then we lost power for 12 days after Sandy — and that was our third extended power outage in four years. Now I’m feeling less snarky than jealous!)..."

New Model Says Science Underestimates Climate Change. Public Radio International (PRI) has the story and audio clip; here's an excerpt: "Scientists agree that the planet is warming, but there is a wide range of projections as to how hot it’s going to get. A new analysis from scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research finds that the more alarming estimates may be the most accurate. John Fasullo, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado responsible for the analysis, said scientists have projected a global increase in temperatures of between three and eight degrees. In short, he said, that's a question of whether New York City becomes more like Richmond, Va., or more like Atlanta, by 2100, or roughly 90 years from now. "There is the capacity for further warming after that, or if we take action to curb climate change, less warming eventually," he said. The biggest source of divergence, from three to eight degrees, Fasullo said, is how clouds will change from the increase in greenhouse gasses..."

Photo credit above: "John Fasullo, right, and colleague Kevin Trenberth work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorad." (Photo by John Fasullo.)

President Obama's False Choice: Global Warming Or The Economy? The story from Huffington Post; here's an excerpt: "...The president is understandably concerned that the American public elected him with a mandate to focus on jobs, growth and the economy, and any deviation from this is, as he says, not something "I would stand for." However, the very jobs he hopes to create and the economic engine he hopes to stoke will be influenced by the impacts of climate change. According to a report in Time, the damages caused by Hurricane Sandy will cost from $30 billion to $60 billion. Clearly, the world cannot afford too many super-charged storms. Meanwhile, record heat plagued most states during the summer of 2012, leading to a drought that might be the most costly natural disaster in history. There are brand-new jobs to be had in new green energy technologies. Plus, according to the respectable Stern Review, spending just 1 to 2 percent of GDP today (about $900 per person per year, or the price of a cell phone plan) will take care of current emissions. Waiting a few decades means the cost goes up to a far more painful 20 percent. In simple terms, if we don't deal with the issue of climate change it will hurt jobs, growth and the economy, saddling not just our generation, but our children's generation as well, with debt and consequences..."

Warming Lakes: Climate Change And Variability Drive Low Water Levels On Great Lakes. Here's a snippet of an interesting blog post at National Geographic: "For people living around the Great Lakes, water levels this past month have appeared much lower than many will remember. The upper Great Lakes reached near-record low water levels in October. This was most evident on Lakes Michigan and Huron, where lake levels dropped to less than two inches (4 cm) above record lows and 28 inches (71 cm) below the long-term average. All five lakes, plus Lake St. Clair, remain below their long-term averages. Rock and sand recently exposed by low water levels made stretches of the northern Lake Michigan shoreline look like a moonscape. Recreational boaters had trouble navigating the shallow water this fall, and shipping companies lightened loads to compensate for low water. Lakes Michigan and Huron hovered just above a record low set nearly 50 years ago, and Lake Superior was within five inches (11 cm) of a record low set in 1925..."

Photo credit above: "Low water levels expose the sandy lake bottom on Lake Michigan." Photo by Jeff J. Cashman.

China Issues Report Addressing Climate Change. There is no more "debate" about climate science, in China or in Europe. The Chinese have been witnessing the implications of a warming climate, and they are moving forward with plans to mitigate and adapt - slowly moving away from coal-fired power generation. Here's an update from Xinhua: "China on Wednesday published a report detailing policies and efforts that have been made over the past year in facing up to the challenges of global climate change. The report, titled China's Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2012), was released before the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 in Doha, Qatar. The report outlines actions taken by the Chinese government to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also documents measures to promote the building of low-carbon communities and advance international negotiation and cooperation. During the 2006-2010 period, the aggregate energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 19.1 percent from that of 2005, which is equivalent to a reduction of 1.46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This means China has accomplished its energy conservation goals listed in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), said the report..."

Why The U.S. Can't Stop Climate Change Alone (In 2 Graphs). Speaking of China, here is why an international treaty is essential. Greenhouse gases don't respect borders - this is a global challenge and will require a global solution. I suspect this is another factor that makes some people uneasy, involving the U.N. - one more step toward a "One World Government", according to my conspiracy-theorist friends. I don't see a plot around every corner, but it makes sense, at least to me, that we need to get China and India (specifically) to agree to drastic cuts in the dirtiest of fuels, which includes coal. Here's more from The Atlantic: "President Obama's election night reference to global warming kindled a bit of hope among liberals that his administration might make a concerted effort to tackle the issue in its second term. And unless we all plan on getting used to an annual superstorm season, we should hope so. But here's a reminder, courtesy of a recent World Resources Institute report on coal consumption, that whatever the U.S. does to deal with climate change, our efforts will be for naught unless they're part of a global effort. Coal-fired power plants are the top contributor to worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, and the future of coal will not be decided, by and large, in the United States, which consumed about 13 percent of the worldwide total in 2010. Instead, it's in the hands of China, which burned up 46 percent of it..."

History Repeats Itself. Here's an excerpt from a PBS companion piece to Ken Burn's excellent 2-part series, The Dust Bowl, which is must-see TV. See if this rings a bell with current concerns about what we're doing to our (global) environment? "...As historian Robert Worster wrote, “The ultimate meaning of the dust storms of the 1930s was that America as a whole, not just the plains, was badly out of balance with its natural environment. Unbounded optimism about the future, careless disregard of nature’s limits and uncertainties, uncritical faith in Providence, devotion to self-aggrandizement – all these were national as well as regional characteristics.”

Climate Change Made Sandy Worse. Period. Chris Mooney explains at Mother Jones; here's an excerpt: "Superstorm Sandy—and its revival of the issue of climate change, most prominently through Michael Bloomberg's sudden endorsement—probably aided President Obama's reelection victory last night. But at the same time, there has been a vast debate about the true nature of the storm's connections to global warming (as well as plenty of denialism regarding those connections). In fact, there has even been the suggestion, by cognitive linguist George Lakoff, that if we all stopped thinking about causation as something direct (I pushed him, he fell) and rather as something systemic (indirect, probabilistic), then we really could say with full accuracy that global warming caused Sandy. Systemically...."

Photo credit above: "Flooding in Breezy Point, Queens."

World Bank Climate Report Says "Turn Down The Heat" On Warming Planet. This report created quite a stir; here is the first of several reports from Reuters and Huffington Post: "All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but it is the world's poorest countries that will be hit hardest by food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank said in a report on climate change. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on a conference call on Friday. The report, called "Turn Down the Heat," highlights the devastating impact of a world hotter by 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, a likely scenario under current policies, according to the report. Climate change is already having an effect: Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum in September, and extreme heat waves and drought in the last decade have hit places like the United States and Russia more often than would be expected from historical records, the report said..."

More Fallout From Urgent World Bank Climate Report. Live Science has an interesting quote from climate scientist Michael Mann: "..Climate deniers often claim that solutions to global warming are part of a "global socialist agenda," Mann told LiveScience. "The fact that the World Bank — an entity committed to free market capitalism — has weighed in on the threat of climate change and the urgency of acting to combat it, puts the nail in the coffin of that claim," he said.

A changing world
The report, issued by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics for the World Bank, urges nations to work to prevent the Earth from warming 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) past preindustrial averages. Already, global mean temperatures are running about 1.3 degrees F (0.8 degrees C) hotter than before the onset of the industrial revolution..."
Photo credit above: Huffington Post.

Global Warming Will Devastate The Poorest Countries, World Bank Study Finds. More details from Think Progress:
  • Extreme heat waves, that without global warming would be expected to occur once in several hundred years, will be experienced during almost all summer months in many regions. The effects would not be evenly distributed. The largest warming would be exptected to occur over land and range from 4° C to 10° C. Increases of 6° C or more in average monthly summer temperatures would be expected in the Mediterranean, North Africa, Middle East and parts of the United States.
  • Sea level-rise by 0.5 to 1 meter by 2100 is likely, with higher levels also possible. Some of the most highly vulnerable cities are located in Mozambique, Madagascar, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Report. The World Bank report is here. Another perspective from The Hill.

Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility - In One Pie Chart. The full story from

How To Profit From Global Warming. If you don't factor water struggles, along with a morphing (stormier) climate into your portfolio you may be doing your investments a long-term disservice. As I've been saying for 20 years, climate change is a threat, and a massive opportunity. Here's a clip from Seeking Alpha: "Based on the global warming hype you would probably think that it's a diabolical thing to end all life and bring on the end of days. We constantly hear about all of the negative effects, but does anyone talk about the positive effects? Of course our masters in Washington, London, Brussels, and Beijing will never spoil a good narrative by giving any mention whatsoever to such needless complexities. But in fact it is a complex situation and if we think about it for a while we can find positive effects and even ways to profit from global warming..."

World's Largest Investors Call For Climate Change Action. When people start to notice their investments are being routinely, consistently impacted and battered by a changing climate, some of the deniers may eventually see the light. Some (proactive, enlightened) companies are already trying to get out ahead of the curve, as reported by Reuters and Huffington Post: "A coalition of the world's largest investors called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies. In an open letter, the alliance of institutional investors, responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets, said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally. The group called for dialogue between investors and governments to overhaul climate and energy policies. The call comes less than a week before major U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar. Almost 200 nations will meet in Doha from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of 2012..."

200 Investment Firms Issue A Warning On Climate Change. Business Insider has more details here.

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