Monday, October 13, 2014

Indian Summer into Thursday. Department of Defense Report: "Immediate Threat Posed by Climate Change"

57 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
60 F. average high on October 13.
61 F. high on October 13, 2013.

October 13, 1966: An enormous hailstone crashed through the windshield of a truck near Claremont in Dodge County. It was reported to be 16 inches in circumference.


Talk about a meteorological disconnect. Today the sun will struggle as high into the southern sky as it was back on February 28, when the max temperature in the Twin Cities was a brisk 14F, after waking up to a crisp -9F.

Today will be nearly 50 degrees warmer. Why the radical difference? No snow on the ground yet is good for 20-30 degrees. Water retains warmth faster than land; a subsequent "lag" in the atmosphere applies a temperature break to an inevitable temperature tumble. And autumns have been trending milder/longer; safe ice on most Minnesota lakes has been delayed until December.

Nothing even remotely wintry is shaping up the next 2 weeks; a more zonal, west to east steering wind aloft keeping us milder than average into late October. Temperatures top 60F from today into Thursday. After cooling off this weekend long-range guidance hints at more 60s late next week. The weather will cooperate with harvest, fall clean-up and power-raking in the days to come.

Today's storm pinwheels just to our east, soaking Wisconsin; a chance of windblown rain showers by late Friday.

Autumn in Minnesota is an Immersive IMAX 3-D Sensation. And we're all invited to the premiere.

Odds Still Favor El Nino. A warming of the equatorial Pacific usually correlates with less severe winters for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. Usually. The west coast ridge appears to finally be breaking down; that could mean a more zonal, progressive flow - with lower odds of a stationary blocking pattern capable of a perpetual Polar Vortex dipping into the USA. We'll see. More details than you ever wanted to see on the developing El Nino from NOAA CPC.

Time For Your Brazilian Model. The AGCM Ras model, courtesy of Brazil's National Weather Service, shows a (very) warm bias from December into February, evidence of a "Rex Block" setting up across North America, favoring stormy weather over the Pacific Northwest and New England, with a relatively mild ridge of high pressure over the midsection of the USA. No, I wouldn't place a big bet on this forecast, but I still have a strong hunch the upcoming winter won't look anything like last winter.

Global Misery Index. Here's a snapshot of todayy's extremes across North America; significant wind chill showing up in blue, a high heat index in red. Large north-south temperature contrasts in October can whip up very significant, full-latitude storms (like what's pushing across the Mississippi Valley toward the East Coast). Map:

A Fine Spell. Indian Summer lingers into Thursday, before a stormy kink in the jet stream tugs chilly air south of the border, sparking strong winds and PM showers Friday, and a rerun of jackets next weekend. Temperatures moderate again next week; I still think we may see a few more days above 60F by the end of next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Close Call. Parts of Wisconsin will see an old-fashioned soaker, as much as 2-3" possible from near Madison to Wausau and Green Bay; 1-2" rainfall amounts brushing far southeastern Minnesota.

60-Hour Accumulated Rainfall. The same storm responsible for at least one tornado-death in Arkansas and numerous reports of straight-line wind damage over the Lower Mississippi Valley will push a smear of heavy rain into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes today; heavy showers spreading into the East Coast by Thursday. NOAA NAM guidance: HAMweather.

Brazil Drought Crisis Deepends in Sao Paulo. Much of Central and South America is experiencing drought conditions; here's an excerpt from The BBC: "The governor of the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has asked for emergency clearance to siphon the remaining water out of the main reservoir serving Sao Paulo city, which has almost run dry. After nine months of unprecedented drought, 95% of the water has gone. Geraldo Alckmin, re-elected in last week's elections, has been criticised for not imposing water rationing to tackle the crisis. Twenty-nine other Brazilian cities have been affected by the drought..." (Photo: AP).

Not Just California. Droughts Extend Across Americas. More perspective from NBC News; here's a clip: "...A dry spell has killed cattle and wiped out crops in Central America, parts of Colombia have seen rioting over scarce water, and southern Brazil is facing its worst dry spell in 50 years. In the U.S., the few who have taken notice of this wider water scarcity include a former director of the U.S. Geological Survey. Now editor-in-chief of the journal Science, Marcia McNutt last month penned an editorial highlighting what she called “a drought of crisis proportions” across the Americas..." (Photo credit: Andre Penner, AP).

Is California Headed To "Megadrought"? UT San Diego has the story, looking at previous dry spells across the western USA; here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...In a study published this month, Cornell University researcher Toby Ault and some of his colleagues calculated the risk of a megadrought happening this century. Ault is a professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. He and the other researchers concluded that natural circumstances and climate change combine to put the likelihood of a decade-long drought in the Southwest at 50 percent to 80 percent. And they estimate that the chance of a megadrought, which they define as a 35-year dry period, is 10 percent to 50 percent by the end of this century..."

Photo credit above: "In this photo taken Oct. 6, 2014, a dock sits high and dry at the end of a boat ramp yards away from the edge of Folsom Lake near Folsom, Calif. The California Department of Water Resources reported Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, the largest monthly decline in water use this year as the severity of California's drought hits home. Water suppliers reported that consumption fell 11.5 percent in August compared with the year before." (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) The Associated Press.

Flash Flood Chaser. This is a new one. There are thousands (?) of tornado chasers, professionals and amateurs, hurricane chasers, even people who try to put themselves in the path of a developing blizzard. But flash flooding? That requires a level of patience I can only dream of. Here's an excerpt of a wild story at High Country News: "...Sometimes, after waiting four hours in 95 degree heat with nothing for company but a CamelBak and his own thoughts, Rankin begins to wonder: “Am I just hoping for the impossible?” A trail sign rattles in the wind; nothing moves. And then, finally, he hears a soft rumbling in the distance. The banks of the dry wash tremble underfoot. Just as he catches a wafting scent of fresh, wet, gritty earth, the flood rolls around the corner, gnashing and crunching at an unmistakable pitch. It’s laden with debris carved from miles of canyon and riverbed, black as solidified lava and thick as wet cement. But instead of fleeing from the deadly flow, Rankin leans in closer to film it, sometimes hopping to high ground just as the water lips over his shoes..."

Edward Snowden's Privacy Tips: "Get Rid of Dropbox", Avoid Facebook and Google. Well that should be easy. Techcrunch has excerpts of a recent interview; here's an excerpt of an excerpt: "According to Edward Snowden, people who care about their privacy should stay away from popular consumer Internet services like Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. Snowden conducted a remote interview today as part of the New Yorker Festival, where he was asked a couple of variants on the question of what we can do to protect our privacy. His first answer called for a reform of government policies. Some people take the position that they “don’t have anything to hide,” but he argued that when you say that, “You’re inverting the model of responsibility for how rights work...”

What Will It Take To Run A 2-Hour Marathon. I run when chased, but I have the utmost respect for (all) runners, especially marathoners. What will it take to crack the 2 hour mark? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating article at Runner's World: "...The current world record of 2:02:57, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto this year in Berlin, works out to 4:41.5 per mile; a sub-two would require less than 4:35 per mile. Will a human ever run that fast? To answer that question, we assembled a database of more than 10,000 top marathon performances going back half a century, using rankings compiled by the Association of Road Racing Statisticians. We crunched the numbers and plotted the trends to identify the factors that helped race times improve so dramatically since da Costa’s 1998 performance. Why? Because it’s those nine factors that will determine the likelihood of a sub-two-hour race—and they’ll all have to align to create the perfect race for the perfect runner..."

University of Washington Fusion Reactor Promises "Cheaper Than Coal" Energy. I'll believe it when I see it, but this is the kind of breakthrough we're going to need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels (faster). Because scaling renewables like wind, solar and geothermal won't be able to provide the base-line energy energy needs for some time to come. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "In the 21st century, the world lives with two futures ahead of it – one of looming energy shortages, and another of godlike energy abundance. The key to this whether it’s possible to turn fusion reactor technology from a laboratory exercise into a real-world application. Engineers that the University of Washington (UW) are working on a fusion reactor that, when scaled up, could produce energy on a practical scale, yet at a cost rivaling that of a conventional coal-powered plant..."

TODAY: Partly sunny and windy. Winds: N 15-25 High: 62
TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 42
WEDNESDAY: Plenty of mild sun, milder than average. High: 64
THURSDAY: Fading sun. Last day of Indian Summer this week. Wake-up: 41. High: 66
FRIDAY: Windy, cooler with PM showers. Wake-up: 50. High: 55
SATURDAY: Mostly cloudy and brisk. Wake-up: 40. High: 52
SUNDAY: More sun, a bit milder. Wake-up: 34. High: 58
MONDAY: Blue sky, not bad for October 20. Wake-up: 36. High: near 60

Climate Stories...

Hagel To Address "Threat Multiplier" of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a story at"....Uncertainty is no excuse for delaying action. "While scientists are converging toward consensus on future climate projectons, uncertainty remains. But this cannot be an excuse for delaying action," Hagel said. "Every day our military deals with global uncertainty. Our planners know that, as military strategist Carl von Clausewitz wrote, "all action must, to a certain extent, be planned in a mere twilight." It is in this context, he said, that he is releasing DoD's Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap today...."

Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap. In fairness, the Pentagon has recognized the risk posed by climate change since the late 90s. What is different about the 2014 report is the sense of urgency. The term "immediate threat" is invoked twice in the first 4 paragraphs. That is new. The 20-page PDF from the DoD is here.

Pentagon Signals Security Risks of Climate Change. Here's a clip from a New York Times story: "...The report is the latest in a series of studies highlighting the national security risks of climate change. But the Pentagon’s characterization of it as a present-day threat demanding immediate action represents a significant shift for the military, which has in the past focused on climate change as a future risk. Before, the Pentagon’s response to climate change focused chiefly on preparing military installations to adapt to its effects, like protecting coastal naval bases from rising sea levels. The new report, however, calls on the military to incorporate climate change into broader strategic thinking about high-risk regions — for example, the ways in which drought and food shortages might set off political unrest in the Middle East and Africa..."

Pentagon Unveils Plan For Military's Response to Climate Change. Here's a clip from a story at The Los Angeles Times: "...The Pentagon’s “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” describes how global warming will bring new demands on the military. Among the report's conclusions: Coastal military installations that are vulnerable to flooding will need to be altered; humanitarian assistance missions will be more frequent in the face of more intense natural disasters; weapons and other critical military equipment will need to work under more severe weather conditions..."

What Would Milton Friedman Do About Climate Change? Tax Carbon. Here's an excerpt from a story at Forbes: "...What’s happening when we turn on the lights, when the power is derived from a coal plant, or when we drive our car, is that carbon dioxide is emitted into the air, and that’s sprinkling around damages in Bangladesh, London, Houston,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and the director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago. “And those costs are real, and they’re not being reflected in the costs of that electricity or the tank of gas. Emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere does allow you to produce electricity more cheaply, but there’s a whole other set of people who are being punished or penalized. It’s a poor idea of economics...”

Simmering September. It's not official, but it would appear, based on NASA GISS data that after the warmest August on record, worldwide, September may also have the distinction of being the warmest on record. Check out the temperature anomalies over Antarctica above, as much as 4-9C warmer than average.

* Preliminary NASA GISS data suggests that 2014 (January - September) is the 3rd warmest on record, worldwide.

After Record Heat in August. August was the warmest ever observed over global land and water, according to NASA GISS. Once again look at the temperature anomalies over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

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