Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fleeting Thaw (why the Pentagon is concerned about climate change)

23 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
23 F. average high on January 18.
41 F. high on January 18, 2013.

4.5" snow fell yesterday at MSP International, a new record snowfall for January 18.
3.1" snow, previous snowfall record (1895).
14" snow on the ground in the Twin Cities.

A Blessed Thaw

Australia is baking, California facing the worst drought in well over a century - while we brave a steady artillery shelling of cold-bombs, courtesy of Canada.

I'm sure a few climate skeptics had a chuckle when snow fell on a well attended Climate Summit at St. Olaf in Northfield on Saturday. Snow falling in winter no more invalidates climate trends than birds invalidate the theory of gravity.

Or as one patient PhD climate scientist explained, "Paul, if it gets to the point where it doesn't snow anymore in Minnesota - we're going to have much bigger problems". Welcome to Venus!
The first 17 days of January are running about 6F colder than average, which will make today's high in the mid-30s feel like a (bad) Carnival cruise.

Cold waves never come in one shot, but rather in "waves". The first shot arrives by Tuesday, a reinforcing slap Thursday, with the coldest surge coming Sunday, when highs may hold just below 0F. Not the school-closing cold of January 6-7, but cold enough to get your full attention. Clippers brush us with more candy-coatings of snow late Friday, again Monday.

GFS data hints at low 40s for the (outdoor) Super Bowl in New Jersey February 5. What can possibly go wrong?

An Especially Fickle Clipper. The heaviest amounts of snow from Friday night's clipper set up from central Minnesota into the western suburbs of Minneapolis, where as much as 4-6" fell, more than expected. The east metro saw closer to 1-3" of snow. Map above courtesy of the Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Another Canadian Assault. After peaking in the low to mid 30s this afternoon temperatures tumble during the day Monday, holding closer to 0F much of Tuesday, again Thursday of this week. After a brief upward blip Friday and early Saturday another arctic surge arrives early next week. Graphic: Weatherspark.

Another Amazingly Persistent Pattern. The drought continues for the western USA, while wind aloft howl from the Yukon east of the Rockies by early next week, sending a volley of numbing airmasses south of the border. Unlike January 6-7's polar plunge, this next vortex of numbing air may peak early next week, with the thrust of the coldest air aimed at New England. 2-meter NAM temperature outlook: NOAA and Ham Weather.

Relatively Quiet Into Wednesday. This next volley of cold fronts will spark Atlantic storms, but right now it appears any resulting rain and snow shield will remain offshore. Expect lake-effect snows, with little or no precipitation over the western USA.

A January To Remember. Or Perhaps Forget. Here's an excerpt of a recent post from one of our weather partners, Planalytics: "...Over the next two weeks, another round of arctic cold temperatures will invade the Central Plains and Midwest as well as the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, New England, and Eastern Canada regions. Temperatures will likely not trend as cold as earlier in the month; however, they will be well below normal, with single-digit lows expected in the major cities such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.  Overnight lows in the Midwest, Interior Northeast, and Eastern Canada can drop below 0°F over the next two weeks. Freezing temperatures are expected to dip into the Southeast, including Florida..."

Billion Dollar Global Weather Disasters In 2013 - Another One Brewing For California in 2014? In today's edition of Climate Matters we take a look at Aon Benfield's new report, showing a record 41 billion-dollar-plus weather disasters, worldwide, last year. Jeff Masters has a terrific post at Weather Underground below. Four countries experienced the most expensive weather disasters in their recorded history, including Germany, Philippines, New Zealand and Cambodia. If the dry pattern doesn't break, very soon, California and much of the west may be facing a billion dollar drought in 2014. Let's hope the pattern shifts, and quickly.

"Voluntary" Efforts Not Strong Enough To Combat California's Drought. Here's a link to a video and Op-Ed at The Los Angeles Times: "...But, if there is concern about a prolonged drought and there's real uncertainty about the state's water supply given the condition of the delta and the Colorado River and the impact of climate change, why rely on voluntary measures to conserve water? If California wants to cut water use, look to the desert city of Las Vegas. Sin City has enacted some of the strictest water-use policies in the nation..."

California In "Drought State of Emergency", Governor Brown Declares. Here's a clip from a story at "California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a “drought state of emergency” on Friday due to ongoing water shortfalls following the driest calendar year in state history. The governor said the state was facing perhaps the worst drought since records have been kept. “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” Brown said. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible...”

Photo credit above: "Gov. Jerry Brown points to images showing the snow depth in the Sierra mountains on Jan. 13, 2013, left, and Jan. 13, 2014, center, while declaring a drought state of emergency in San Francisco, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. With a record-dry year, reservoir levels under strain and no rain in the forecast, California Gov. Jerry Brown formally proclaimed the state in a drought Friday, confirming what many already knew. Brown made the announcement in San Francisco amid increasing pressure in recent weeks from the state's lawmakers, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein." (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Great Western Drought of 2014? It's still early, and the rains may finally come in late January and February, but considering 2013 was the driest year for California in 160 years of record-keeping, and snowpack is 10-20% of normal in the Sierra Nevada, the stage is set for possible water shortages and more brushfires than average later this year. Photo: Twitter, Bay Area National Weather Service and Jason Liske.

What Californians Can Expect From The Drought. Picking up on the unusually warm, dry pattern enveloping much of the west, Peter Gleick has a prediction of how a deepening drought will impact consumers and farmers in 2014; here's an excerpt: "...Based on past experience, here is (part of) what Californians can expect this year if it remains as dry as it is now.

1. Urban water agencies will (and are beginning to) roll out a wide range of voluntary and mandatory water “conservation” programs. These typically ask customers to limit discretionary water uses such as watering gardens and washing cars and sidewalks. As droughts worsen, agencies expand these programs to offer incentives for both structural and behavioral changes: purchase more water-efficient appliances, remove grass and plant water-efficient gardens, cut shower times, and more. In the past, these kinds of programs and educational efforts have temporarily cut urban water use by between 10 and 25% depending on the programs and level of effort.

2. Some farmers and water districts with “junior” water rights will see water allocations from state and federal irrigation projects severely cut; some growers with “senior” water rights will see modest or even no shortages at all..."

Earth's Record 41 Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters of 2013. Meteorologist Jeff Masters has another eye-opening post at Weather Underground; here's the intro: "Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued this week. Despite the record number of billion-dollar disasters, weather-related natural disaster losses (excluding earthquakes) were only slightly above average in 2013, and well below what occurred in 2012. That's because 2013 lacked a U.S. mega-disaster like Hurricane Sandy ($65 billion in damage) or the 2012 drought ($30 billion in damage.) The most expensive global disaster of 2013 was the June flood in Central Europe, which cost $22 billion. The deadliest disaster was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed about 8,000 people in the Philippines..."

Graphic credit: Weather Underground, data source: Aon Benfield.

2013 To Be Among The Top 10 Warmest Years On Record According To World Meteorological Organization. Here's an excerpt from Stoke Sentinel: "Experts have blamed high temperatures on man-made climate change stating that 2013 will be among the top 10 warmest on record. The World Meteorological Organization made the claim stating that 'new record high' sea levels are already making coastal populations more vulnerable to storm surges. A spokesman from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said: “All of the warmest years have been since 1998, and this year once again continues the underlying, long-term trend. The coldest years now are warmer than the hottest years before 1998..." (Image: NASA).

Armed Forces See Rise In Renewable Energy. To appease Al Gore? Probably not. To save money, build in redundancy and resiliency, and become less dependend on oil supply lines. Probably because it makes dollars and sense and lowers the risk to our troops deployed in the field, worldwide. Here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "The use of clean energy technology has seen a sharp rise in military sites in the U.S., as the armed forces push into green sources of power around the country, a report said. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. have looked for ways to reduce its energy bills in recent years even as the Pentagon's budget is squeezed. Combined, the U.S. military goes through $4 billion worth of power on its bases, according to a report from Pew Charitable Trusts. The armed forces have moved to quickly adopt green energy solutions, the report said..."

Image credit above: "The armed forces are increasing their use of renewable-energy projects to cut down on power bills." (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / February 27, 2009).

Aluminum Is Muscling It's Way Onto Autos. Stronger and lighter than steel, fuel efficiences can be significant. Kudos to Ford for leading the way; here's an excerpt from The Los Angeles Times: "...Automakers are looking ahead to the stringent federal standard requiring a near-doubling of fuel economy by 2025. Putting cars on a diet is the only way to hit that goal. When Ford Motor Co. introduced the next generation of its top-selling Ford F-150 truck this week, the completely re-engineered pickup featured aluminum from the hood to the tailgate. The new Ford truck is 700 pounds lighter than the one it replaces..."

Photo credit: "An aluminum-body Audi R8 is put together in Germany. Aluminum now is the second most used material in making cars." (Audi)

Google's Smart Contact Lens: What It Does And How It Works. Wait, they want me to put this contraption next to my eyeball? The Washington Post has the article and video; here's a clip: "...The soft contact lens that Google’s is introducing — it’s still just a prototype — houses a sensor between two layers of lenses that measures the glucose levels in tears. The lens also features a small — really small — antenna, capacitor and controller, so that the information gathered from the lens can move from your eye to a device where that data can be read and analyzed..."

The Weirdest Interview Questions Hiring Managers Ask. Some of these are truly bizarre - here are a couple of clips from a story at Fast Company: "Glassdoor on Friday released its list of the top 25 oddball interview questions, which were compiled by its data science team based on tags and community feedback. While the list is tech-heavy, it's not just Silicon Valley that's fond of brainteasers...Glassdoor's full list is below:
  1. “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?” --The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.
  2. “How lucky are you and why?” --Airbnb, Content Manager interview.
  3. “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?” --Apple, Specialist interview.
  4. “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?” --Red Frog Events, Event Coordinator interview...."

TODAY: Go ahead and exhale. Mild sun. Winds: W 8. High: 35
SUNDAY NIGHT: Flurries, turning windy and colder. Low: 9
MONDAY: Flurries, a colder wind kicks in. High: 21 (falling into the teens).
TUESDAY: Blue sky, less wind. Feels like -20. Wake-up: -9. High: 6 (later in the day).
WEDNESDAY: Another Canadian sneak attack. Wake-up: 4. High: 10
THURSDAY: At least the sun's out. Nanook. Wake-up: -13. High: 3 (feels like -25).
FRIDAY: Chance of light snow, not as cold. Wake-up: 2. High: 30
SATURDAY: Blustery, falling temperatures. Wake-up: 13. High: 25

Climate Stories....

Why Are Hard-Headed U.S. Military Chiefs So Worried About Global Warming? Two words: the arctic. Here's a clip from a story at The Telegraph: "Here's your starter for ten. Who is about to issue a report concluding that “climate change has had a visible and direct impact on the Arctic region?” and that dramatic reductions in its sea ice are on the way. The much maligned Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? The Green Party? Yet another noisy environmental pressure group competing for public attention? Nope. None of the above. It's those infamous, sandal-wearing, green hippies in the Pentagon...Russia – says the independent think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies – already has 25 icebreakers to defend its interests, but the US Navy has none..."

If You See Something, Say Something. Climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann from Penn State has an Op-Ed in The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...It is not an uncommon view among scientists that we potentially compromise our objectivity if we choose to wade into policy matters or the societal implications of our work. And it would be problematic if our views on policy somehow influenced the way we went about doing our science. But there is nothing inappropriate at all about drawing on our scientific knowledge to speak out about the very real implications of our research. My colleague Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who died in 2010, used to say that being a scientist-advocate is not an oxymoron. Just because we are scientists does not mean that we should check our citizenship at the door of a public meeting, he would explain..."

"Neglected Topic" Winner: Climate Change. The New York Time's Nicholas Kristof has the column; here's the intro: "HERE’S a scary fact about America: We’re much more likely to believe that there are signs that aliens have visited Earth (77 percent) than that humans are causing climate change (44 percent). That comes to mind because a couple of weeks ago, I asked readers for suggestions of “neglected topics” that we in the news business should cover more aggressively in 2014. Some 1,300 readers recommended a broad range of issues, which I look forward to pilfering (with credit!) — and many made a particularly compelling case for climate change..."

Did You Hear The One About The Serious Environmentalist? Huffington Post has the Op-Ed; here's an excerpt: "Environmentalists don't get the joke. The situation is too dire -- extreme weather from a changing climate, toxins in our food, endangered species dying off -- for this to be a laughing matter. At least, that's our reputation: Serious, earnest, humorless. The reputation is partly deserved. Most environmental activists take their work very seriously. We see huge problems facing our world, and know that human lives are at stake. Take a look at this new study from the National Academy of Science, about the abrupt impacts of climate change, and you'll know why. When you focus on issues that are so serious, it's easy to slip into taking yourself too seriously..."

Global Warming Denial Hits A 6-Year High. Chris Mooney has the details in a story at Mother Jones; here's an excerpt: "...The latest data are out on the prevalence of global warming denial among the US public. And they aren't pretty. The new study, from the Yale and George Mason research teams on climate change communication, shows a 7-percentage-point increase in the proportion of Americans who say they do not believe that global warming is happening. And that's just since the spring of 2013. The number is now 23 percent; back at the start of last year, it was 16 percent..."

Image credit above: "The increase in climate science disbelief. Yale and George Mason University teams on Climate Change Communication.

Belief In Climate Change Depends On The Weather. At least among Independent voters. The Week has the story; here's a clip: "Conservative organizations spend as much as a billion dollars a year trying to convince Americans that climate change isn’t real, or if it is real, that it isn’t caused by humans. At one point, it seemed that their campaign was working. In 2009, Pew found that belief in global warming had fallen to a low of 59 percent, down from 77 percent in 2007. And just 36 percent of those surveyed that year believed that climate change was being caused by humans, down from 47 percent in 2007. However since 2009, the number of believers has grown: Today 69 percent of those surveyed believe global warming is occurring, with 42 percent believing it is caused by humans..."

Climate Change On Walden Pond. I wonder if Thoreau would accept or deny the science if he was still around? Here's an interesting nugget from Dr. Mark Seeley's always-enjoyable WeatherTalk Newsletter: "A recent paper published in the New Phytologist by research biologists at Boston University shows that trees and shrubs of Walden Pond leaf out about 18 days earlier than they did when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. This is a measure of climate change for the Concord, MA area. You can read more about this study and what it means for invasive species at...

Photo credit above: Wikipedia.

U.S. Army Colonel: World Is Sleepwalking To A Global Energy Crisis. Alarmist hype? Do we have enough oil, especially shale oil, to not have to breathe another word of "peak oil" for a few more decades? I don't pretend to know the answer to that, but here's an excerpt of a story at The Guardian that caught my eye: "...Lewis told participants that the International Energy Agency's (IEA) own "comprehensive" analysis in its World Energy Outlook of the 1,600 fields providing 70% of today's global oil supply, show "an observed decline rate of 6.2%" - double the IEA's stated estimate of future decline rate out to 2035 of about 3%. The IEA report also shows that despite oil industry investment trebling in real terms since 2000 (an increase of around 200-300%), this has translated into an oil supply increase of just 12%. Lewis said:
"That is a very striking number and one I think that should be ringing alarm bells. It indicates to me that something has fundamentally changed in the economics of the oil industry and that you're having to invest more and more for diminishing incremental production."

1 comment:

  1. Tks very much for your post.

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