Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sub-Freezing Into Next Week - Did NOAA Just Get Hacked?

22 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
43 F. average high on November 12.
28 F. high on November 12, 2013.

November 12, 1986: By this time lakes had frozen over as far south as Winona.
November 12, 1938: Snowstorm across Northern Minnesota. Barometer falls to 29.31 in Duluth.
November 12, 1933: First Great Dust Bowl Storm. Sky darkened from Minnesota and Wisconsin to New York State.

Tell Me a Story

It must be in our DNA. In spite of a daily onslaught of texts, pings, posts & pokes many of us still gather around the digital campfire (TV sets, radios, laptops and smart phones) and listen to people telling us stories. Over the years I've talked to hundreds of companies and non profits about my business hits & misses - and my fascination with the intersection of meteorology, technology and climate science.

It wasn't Al Gore or the IPCC that got me off the dime. It was paying close attention to increasingly freakish weather, worldwide. I share the data, highlight trends and try to stay upbeat and optimistic about the future. We'll figure it out, because in the end we won't have much of a choice.

"Me and my ice-climbing buddies LOVE your weather. Keep it coming!" e-mailed Phil Huston yesterday. Yes, some Minnesotans are just fine with this cold, icy stretch.

Remarkably, it gets colder before we thaw out Thanksgiving week. The Mother Lode of November Chill keeps highs in the teens early next week; subzero lows in November? Quite possible by Monday. Unusual for mid-November but not unprecedented.

A little snow falls Saturday, just to freshen up the yard. Monday parkas give way to a thaw in 10-15 days.

Think how good freezing will feel.

November 10 Winter Storm Recap. A few hours of freezing rain and sleet cut down on final snowfall amounts from the downtowns on south, or the totals would have been an inch or two higher. As it was amounts ranged from 2" south metro to a foot over northern and northwestern suburbs, a sharp gradient setting up right over the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities National Weather Service has a summary here.

Chinese Hack U.S. Weather Systems, Satellite Network. This reads like a Tom Clancy spy thriller, but unfortunately it seems to be true. NOAA did, in fact, get hacked. Here's the intro to a story at The Washington Post: "Hackers from China breached the federal weather network recently, forcing cybersecurity teams to seal off data vital to disaster planning, aviation, shipping and scores of other crucial uses, officials said. The intrusion occurred in late September but officials gave no indication that they had a problem until Oct. 20, according to three people familiar with the hack and the subsequent reaction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA, which includes the National Weather Service. Even then, NOAA did not say its systems were compromised..."

The Bering Sea Bomb And The Polar Vortex In Our Warming World. I keep telling people that we've entered uncharted waters, Arctic waters - more water than ice most summer seasons, and this may be nudging jet stream steering winds in new and unpredictable ways. Stating the obvious: we don't know what we don't know. Here's an excerpt of a timely post at The Union of Concerned Scientists: "...One theory that has been developed during the past decade holds that the reduction in ice cover in the Arctic has caused more extreme undulations in the jet stream, a fast moving current of air high in the atmosphere that separates cold air masses to the north from warmer air masses to the south. Arctic amplification, the rapid warming of the Arctic, lowers temperature gradient between the high latitudes and the tropics, weakening the jet stream and allowing for more “waviness.” This is a possible factor that may have played a role in January 2014’s cold wave. Larger undulations in the jet stream mean bigger dips and bigger crests. In the case of the polar vortex, a particularly deep trough allowed for very cold air masses to travel much further south than normal..." (Image credit: Climate Reanalyzer, University of Maine).

Role Reversal: Why It's Warm in Alaska But Frigid In Most of the U.S. Right Now. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has a good explanation of the (extreme) polar amplification we're witnessing in Mashable; here's a clip: "...The weather pattern is leading to a classic episode of what climate scientists have labeled the "warm Arctic, cold continents" pattern, something that has been seen with increasing frequency in recent years. Studies have tied this particular pattern in part to rapid Arctic climate change as a result of manmade global warming, although this is still a subject of debate within the mainstream climate science community..."

Image credit above: "A man walks through Mears Park in downtown St. Paul, Minn., during the first snowstorm of the season on Monday, Nov.10, 2014." Image: Leila Navidi/The Star Tribune/Associated Press.

7 Images That Tell The Story of the Arctic Outbreak. I still blame Nuri, ex-Super Typhoon Nuri, for all premature polar pain; recent research seems to confirm that intense, recurving Pacific typhoons (same thing as a hurricane) can energize and amplify the jet stream a few days later. Climate Central has a few fascinating nuggets in this overview; here's an excerpt: "It started with a typhoon in the Western Pacific and will end with unseasonably cold temperatures across a vast swath of the country east of the Rocky Mountains. The invasion of frigid Arctic air began on Monday, when temperatures began plummeting, first across the Northern Plains, and then bleeding southward as the Arctic air plowed over the landscape. The event led to some pretty wild temperature swings — Denver saw the mercury drop more than 40°F in a matter of hours — and to some stark weather maps and photos.."

Beijing's Anti-Pollution Face-Lift in 6 Photos. Here's an amazing before and after shot, courtesy of Huffington Post: "...Factories in the surrounding regions have halted operations, construction projects have ground to a standstill, outdoor barbecue restaurants have been shuttered, Beijing workers have been given a six-day holiday, and half of all private cars are banned from the roads each day, among other restrictions. Massive in scope and scale, the experiment in environmental engineering brought several days of blue skies last week and briefly gave the world a glimpse of what Beijing can be: a gorgeous world-class city steeped in tradition and stunning architecture..."

Photo credit above: Jeffrey Kesler.

Science Fiction Becomes Scientific Reality. Did you see any of the Rosetta Mission yesterday, the European spacecraft landing on a comet? I know we're all pretty cynical these days, but that's amazing, the rough equivalent of hitting speeding bullet with a b-b gun. Vox has some of the best photos here.

Congress Has 11% Approval Ratings But 96% Incumbent Reelection Rate, Meme Says. Could that possibly be true? Fact checking by The Tampa Bay Times says yes; here's an excerpt: "...The meme said that Congress has 11 percent approval ratings, yet 96.4 percent of incumbent lawmakers were re-elected. We found small differences in the actual percentages -- Congress had roughly a 14 percent approval rate, and the incumbent re-election rate may be as low as 95 percent -- but the point of the meme is solid. Voters hold Congress in low regard, yet they re-elect almost everyone. So we rate the claim True."

Crime In America 2015: Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities Over 200,000. One list I'm glad we're not on, although Milwaukee cracked the list. Law Street has the rankings; here's their intro: "Detroit is the Most Dangerous City in America for the second year in a row, according to data released today by the FBI. Detroit maintains this ranking despite an overall violent crime decrease of 2.5 percent over the course of 2013, the latest year for which the FBI has released crime statistics. Oakland also maintained its #2 ranking for the second year in a row, followed by Memphis, which moved to #3 after its rank at #4 last year. Look at the list below to see the full Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities in America..."

TODAY: Mostly cloudy, few flakes in the air. Winds: NW 10-15. High: 25
THURSDAY NIGHT: Scrappy clouds, a bit colder. Low: 8
FRIDAY: Intervals of sun, less wind. High: 21
SATURDAY: Flurries or light snow. Coating to an inch or 2 possible, especially far southern Minnesota. Wake-up: 7. High: 26
SUNDAY: Turning even colder with more clouds than sun, flurries. Wake-up: 14. High: 20
MONDAY: Coldest day in sight. Feels like -5 to -15F. Wake-up: 6. High: 17
TUESDAY: Subzero start? Breezy. Still numb. Wake-up: 0. High: 24
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, stiff breeze. Wake-up: 11. High: 29

* photo credit above: Birch Leaf Photography.

Climate Stories...

New Video: South Florida and Sea Level Rise - A Slow Motion Catastrophe. Here's a link to a video and story excerpt from Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week: "...I found myself telling people how, our image of sea level rise is most often the towering waves washing thru the city, like in sci-fi movies of the past.  In reality, the process will be less like the Deluge and more like water torture – drip by drip, millimeter by millimeter – as water systems, real estate, infrastructure, and habitations near the coast are, bit by bit, nibbled away year after yeat – occasionally punctuated by climate-enhanced and sea-level-pumped storm systems, that will make us pine for the simpler days of Superstorm Sandy..."

China, U.S. Agree To Limit Greenhouse Gases. The Washington Post has the story and video; here's a clip: "...China’s announcement is the culmination of years of change in attitudes among Chinese now fed up with dire levels of pollution that a study in the British medical journal the Lancet blamed for 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010 alone. China has cap-and-trade pilot programs in five provinces and eight cities. It is also the world’s largest investor in solar and wind energy. Moreover, it has barred coal-plant construction in some regions. Such construction has dropped from more than 90 gigawatts in 2006 to 36.5 gigawatts in 2013, according to the World Resources Institute..."

The Coming Climate Onslaught. President Obama is readying a sweeping list of executive orders related to climate change; as reported by Politico - here's an excerpt: "...The coming rollout includes a Dec. 1 proposal by EPA to tighten limits on smog-causing ozone, which business groups say could be the costliest federal regulation of all time; a final rule Dec. 19 for clamping down on disposal of power plants’ toxic coal ash; the Jan. 1 start date for a long-debated rule prohibiting states from polluting the air of their downwind neighbors; and a Jan. 8 deadline for issuing a final rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from future power plants. That last rule is a centerpiece of Obama’s most ambitious environmental effort, the big plan for combating climate change that he announced at Georgetown University in June 2013..."

Is There a Free-Market Solution to Global Warming? Solution is a strong word, but can the markets and innovation help to mitigate climate volatility and avoid a worst-case scenario? Absolutely. Some conservatives point to a revenue-neutral tax on carbon as a way to jump-start the markets to come up with the solutions we're going to need, among them Jonathan Adler, who is quoted at Vox: "...I'm not a fan of regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act [as the Obama administration is doing]," he told me. "I don't think that's particularly effective or efficient. But I don't see the argument for doing nothing. I don't think that's consistent with conservative principles. So I've done papers on adaptation and on how we get the degree of energy innovation many people think will be necessary. And most controversially, I've argued that a revenue-neutral carbon tax would be a good idea..."

We're In A Climate Change Hole - Let's Stop Digging. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at from Jonathan Koomey: "...We've dug ourselves into a deep climate hole. Despite ever more dire warnings, greenhouse gas emissions have grown 42 percent since the IPCC's first assessment report in 1990. Preserving a safe climate means turning global greenhouse gas emissions down this decade and reducing them rapidly in absolute terms during the next 40 years, even as GDP and population increase. It also means keeping three quarters of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground or safely storing the emissions from burning those fuels..." (Photo credit: NASA).

Read more here:

G20 Spends $88 Billion A Year On Fossil Fuel Exploration. The subsidies continue for fossil fuel companies, as described at Bloomberg; here's an excerpt: "...United Nations scientists last week said the world can only burn a limited amount of fuel before it becomes unlikely that target is met. “Not only are companies continuing to look for fossil fuels and trying to find new reserves, but governments are putting more money and support towards exploration than companies, which is basically governments fueling dangerous climate change,” Shelagh Whitley, a research fellow at the ODI, said in an interview..."

No comments:

Post a Comment