Monday, October 20, 2014

Super-Sized Indian Summer. 2014: On Track to be Warmest Year on Record, Worldwide

64 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
56 F. average high on October 20.
47 F. high on October 20, 2013.

October 20, 1916: Three day blizzard ends. Temp at Bird Island falls from 65 to 13.

"...Some people, mostly non-scientists, have been claiming that the world has not warmed in 18 years, but "no one's told the globe that," Blunden said. She said NOAA records show no pause in warming. The record-breaking heat goes back to the end of last year — November 2013 broke a record. So the 12 months from October 2013 to September 2014 are the hottest 12-month period on record, Blunden said. Earth hasn't set a monthly record for cold since December 1916, but all monthly heat records have been set after 1997..." - from a Seth Borenstein AP article at Huffington Post.

Perpetual September

I'm having a really good weather dream. Please don't wake me up. No newscast-leading storms, San Diego-like 60s every day, happy strangers waving at me with all their fingers. I could get used to this.

Climate skeptics talk about a "temperature pause", even though the atmosphere makes up 3 percent of Earth's heat engine; most excess CO2 warming is going into the world's oceans.

The top 10 warmest years, worldwide, have all been observed since 2000, according to NOAA and NASA. And in spite of a lack of El Nino warmth (yet) 2014 is on track to be the warmest year, worldwide, since 1880.

Some pause.

Our perpetual September spills over into next weekend, when highs should once again surge thru the 60s to near 70F. Not bad, considering today's sun angle is identical to February 21. Expect midweek showers, then rapid clearing with weekend weather that would feel right at home in early September.
Models show a chilly slap early next week, followed by gradual moderation. The GFS model shows temperatures near 50F with a shower risk on Halloween.

The pattern favors Nor'easters over New England and soaking storms for the Pacific Northwest.

Fly-over Country is quiet, for now.

El Nino Brings Floods, Risks, and Opportunities. Even a mild El Nino warming phase of the Pacific (which still looks likely) might tilt the odds over in favor an average or slightly milder than average winter. There are other consequences of this warm phase; here's an excerpt from Climate Central: "...Those patterns reflect the broad changes El Niño, known more fully as El Niño-Southern Oscillation or ENSO, generally causes to precipitation patterns globally. The warming of water in the eastern equatorial Pacific that characterizes El Niño tends to shift the odds of precipitation in certain places around the globe, though it by no means guarantees it. “There have been studies (showing) that some areas get more rainfall during El Niño years, but more rainfall doesn’t necessarily mean more floods. So we’re looking at the actual flooding and damages caused by flooding,” Ward said..."

Animation credit above: "A map showing sea surface temperature anomalies leading up and during the 1997-98 super El Nino." Credit: NOAA View

El Nino Ups Flood Risk. Scientific American has more details on the recent report, highlighting where flood/drought tends to spike during El Nino warming phases in the Pacific; here's a clip: "...Ward and his colleagues found that 44 percent of river basins around the world saw changes in 100-year flood risks during El Niño or La Niña years, with some seeing higher risk of floods and loss of property and some seeing lower risk. The Southwest U.S., parts of southern South America and the Horn of Africa saw some of the biggest increases in flooding risks while the West Coast, Sahel region of Africa and Australia saw the biggest decreases..."

2014: On Track for Warmest Year, Worldwide, on Record. Global temperatures are on track for the warmest year, worldwide, since the late 1800s. What makes this especially noteworthy is a lack of an El Nino warm phase (yet), a warm stain of Pacific water tends to turbocharge air temperatures downwind as well, but we've been in an ENSO-neutral phase for much of this year. A worldwwide "temperature pause"? Not so much. Here's an excerpt from NOAA NCDC: "...The graphic (above) shows the basic year-to-date comparison. The graphic on the right zooms even further to what were ultimately the five warmest years on record, and shows several end-of-year results based on the following scenarios: The years 2013 and 2014 are the only years on this list not to begin during a mature El Niño event. The years 1998 and 2010, each of which became the warmest year on record at the time, ended the year in a strong La Niña event, as evidenced by the relative fading of global average temperature later in the year...."

2014 On Track To Be Hottest Year On Record, Says U.S. Science Agency. The 10 warmest years, worldwide, have all been measured since 2000. Following up on the post above here's a clip of a good summary from The Guardian: "The world is on course for this to be the hottest year ever, with global land and sea temperatures for September the highest ever recorded for the month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Monday. The findings, which confirm September as the warmest such month on record, continue a string of record-beating months for global temperature. The year to date for 2014 is already tied with 1998 as the warmest such period since record keeping began in 1880, Noaa scientists said..."

Image credit above: "U.S. agency NOAA said: ‘If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average... it will be the warmest year on record."  Photograph: ISS/NASA.

Coldest Winter Temperatures at MSP Since 1962. Jack Falker is an investment banker (Falker Investments) and prize rose grower, based in Edina. He sent me a graph he completed, showing the coldest nighttime temperatures every winter going back to 1962. Of couse this makes a difference in what will grow in the Twin Cities, an even specific varieties of roses that are more cold-tolerant. In spite of last winter's big dip you can clearly see the trends. As a rule, winter temperatures are not as cold as they were 30-50 years ago, especially nighttime lows. Here's an excerpt from Jack's latest post: "The Minnesota Rose Gardener: Winter Protecting Roses in a Climate-Change Environment: "...(above) is my recently updated Minnesota climatology chart showing the Extreme Minimum Temperatures (EMT) for the last 53 years at MSP airport.  This is the statistic the USDA uses to determine the cold zones.  As you can see, the Twin Cities are no longer consistently in USDA Zone 4b.  As a matter of fact, there have only been three nights in Zone 4 in the Twin Cities, since 1999!  That hardly puts us in Zone 4 and, as you can see, the mathematically determined trend-line has an upward slope of about 25 radian degrees. If you project that trend-line off the right side of the chart, it would appear that the Twin Cities will begin to see more winters in zone 6 than in zone 4, within the next five years..."

Similar Trends. Jack Falker created similar graphs for other cities across the Midwest and Great Lakes, and found a similar warming trend over time. Nature never moves in a perfectly straight line, but if you draw a smoothed line over the actual observations you can see the trends fairly clearly. Which underscores something I tell people in my talks: don't look at your thermometer for day to day evidence of warming. Look at the new plants, shrubs, flowers, trees (and pests) that in your yard that weren't there 40 years ago.

Nor'easter Potential. NOAA's 4 km NAM model shows a surge of heavy rain rotating around a developing storm over New England, a 2-3" soaking possible from Boston to Portland, Maine with a potential for flash flooding. A soggy front lashes the Pacific Northwest with heavy rain, showers pushing farther south into California. The next chance of showers for Minnesota? Wednesday into early Thursday. Map: HAMweather.

Tail-End of Hurricane Gonzalo Set To Buffet Northern Ireland. Here's an excerpt from The Belfast Telegraph: "The remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo - fresh from wreaking havoc in Bermuda - will hit Northern Ireland later tonight with a 'yellow' weather warning in place for high winds tomorrow and possible morning rush hour disruption. The Met Office says the winds in will be at their peak in Counties Londonderry, Antrim, Armagh and Down on Tuesday. Gales of up to 60mph and heavy rain will move eastwards for around 24 hours..." (Image above:

What Clean-Up From The Worst Flood in 100 Years Looks Like. The Balkans were hit by historic flooding back in the spring. The Washington Post follows up with a photo essay that shows how far one village has come since the floods and mudslides; here's an excerpt: "...Last May, the worst flooding in more than 100 years ripped through the Balkans — triggering thousands of landslides, unearthing landmines, killing 50 people, damaging 43,000 homes and displacing 90,000 people. More than 1 million people were affected as roads and homes were buried in mud and debris...."

Photo credit above: Dado Ruvic / Reuters.

MSP Snowfall Trends. The graph above shows seasonal snowfall for the Twin Cities since 1883; a slight uptick in amounts since the 1950s, but considerably more volatility too, greater swings and extremes since the early 80s. Go ahead, flip a coin. Chance are it won't be "average". Graphic: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Winter Precipitation Trends. The map above shows NOAA's winter overview: drier for the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes; El Nino creating a split jet stream flow that tends to keep the southern USA and East Coast wetter. NOAA adds: "Last year’s winter was exceptionally cold and snowy across most of the United States, east of the Rockies. A repeat of this extreme pattern is unlikely this year, although the Outlook does favor below-average temperatures in the south-central and southeastern states..."

December - February Temperatures. A few private forecasting firms are still predicting another bitter "Polar Vortex 2" winter, but I'll be amazed if we fall into the exact same block that set up last winter. Yes, there was early snow coverage across Siberia (sometimes a cue of harsh winters to come downstream over North America) and persistent ridging continues in the Gulf of Alaska, which may eventually turn on a northwesterly flow aloft east of the Rockies. That said, I still think we'll see more of a zonal influence over the central USA, with or without El Nino kicking in.

Two Years After Hurricane Sandy Hit The U.S. What Lessons Can We Learn From The Deadly Storm? National Geographic poses the question, taking another look at Superstorm Sandy; here's a clip: "...In the case of Sandy, the European model was the outlier for days. The great irony with Sandy was that it went exactly where the European model said it was going to go. All the other models, including the ones the National Hurricane Center has come to regard as very reliable, were consistently saying, No, the storm is going to go out to sea. It really wasn't until the 25th of October, just four days before the storm made landfall, that the other models started to join the European model in saying that it was going to make this crazy arc into land..." (Sandy image: NASA).

Threats To Americans, Ranked (by Actual Threat Instead of Media Hype). Ebola and ISIS is getting the web clicks now, but we've lost sight of the big picture, and the threats that stand a much higher chance of darkening our doorways. Here's a clip from Vox, talking about the #1 risk: heart disease and cancer: "...These could become even deadlier as Americans get unhealthier. Heart disease correlates with rising obesity. Cancer rates also correlate with obesity, smoking, and other unhealthy practices. How freaked out should you be: The odds are that one of these two things will kill you, so you should be thinking about this. The good news: it's pretty easy to reduce that risk by making healthy lifestyle choices and screening regularly for cancer. Much easier for any given American, at least, than combatting West African Ebola outbreaks or Middle Eastern terrorist groups..."

TODAY: Sunny and pleasant. Winds: East 10. High: near 60
TUESDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and cool. Low: 43
WEDNESDAY: Clouds increase, PM showers likely. High: 59
THURSDAY: Damp start, then clearing skies. Wake-up: 47. High: 62
FRIDAY: Mild sunshine. Put boat back in the water. Wake-up: 42. High: 68
SATURDAY: Sunny, Indian Summer lingers. Wake-up: 46. High: 63
SUNDAY: Pinch me (please). Amazingly nice. Wake-up: 45. High: near 70
MONDAY: Early shower, then clearing, cooler. Wake-up: 53. High: 59

Climate Stories...

Another Month, Another Global Heat Record Broken. Will 2014 break another record? It's still a little early, but if the warm weather departures we've been tracking in recent months continue the answer is probably yes. Here's an excerpt from AP and Huffington Post: "...If 2014 breaks the record for hottest year, that also should sound familiar: 1995, 1997, 1998, 2005 and 2010 all broke NOAA records for the hottest years since records started being kept in 1880. "This is one of many indicators that climate change has not stopped and that it continues to be one of the most important issues facing humanity," said University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles..."

World's Oceans Set All-Time Heat Record for Third Time This Year. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story for Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...For the third month this year, the world's oceans set a record for the warmest they have ever been since at least 1880, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported on Monday. September had the highest global average sea surface temperatures of any month on record since instrument record-keeping began, with a global average temperature of 61.1 degrees Fahrenheit. This was warm enough to set another milestone that had already been set two previous times this year; the average global sea surface temperature was so warm in September that it broke the all-time record for the highest departure from average for any month since 1880, at 1.19 degrees Fahrenheit above average..."

Map credit: NOAA NCDC.

The Difficult Dance of the 2014 Climate Change Denier. Here's an excerpt of a Huffington Post story: "...To continue to claim that climate change is a hoax would get them labeled as crazy, but to fully accept climate science requires them to favor a solution to this threat, which would make them pariahs to the Koch brothers and other polluters who are spending millions of dollars attacking their opponents. These candidates' climate science denial becomes a reflection of a disturbing character trait - their unwillingness to address a growing threat to Americans because the possible solutions may affect their benefactors' profits. This crop of candidates ignores increasingly urgent warnings from NASA, the National Academy of Sciences, and nearly all other scientific bodies, simply to appease their special interest supporters. Their dance is choreographed."

In The Midwest, In The World, The Only Doubt Is In Our Minds. Here's a snippet from a story at The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette: "...But one finding during the national and international studies of the past few years surprised even the scientists. “We're seeing strong trends in extreme events,” Wuebbles said. “We expected to see an increasing trend for heat waves and generally a decreasing trend for cold waves. “But what we didn't realize, and we should have, is that more precipitation is coming in larger events – a very clear trend that's occurring, particularly here in the Midwest..."
Image credit above: "These are just some of the indicators measured globally over many decades that show the earth's climate is warming. Red arrows indicate increacing trends, blaok arrows indicate decreasing trends. All the indicators expected to increase in a warming world are increasing, and all those expected to decrease in a warming world are decreasing."

Second Annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference. Tickets are still available for the November 6, 2014 conference at the Hyatt in Minneapolis. Last year's conference was eye-opening with useful, actionable information across multiple industries and agricultural concerns. Here's a draft agenda and overview of what to expect this year: "The 2014 Conference on Climate Adaptation is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to know more about climate adaptation strategies. Learn about new plans that have been implemented or tested in various sectors, including human health, local governmental entities, college campuses, resources, recreation, and agriculture. Discover ways in which individual action could impact climate change. Our keynote speakers will provide updates on the increasing number of severe storm events, with continuing discussion in breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon. Registration is $95.00, which includes lunch, breaks and parking."

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