Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Weekend Thaw. New Denier Spin: "Carbon Dioxide is a Good Thing!"

30 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.
27 F. average high on December 16.
22 F. high on December 16, 2013.
1" snow on the ground at KMSP.

December 16, 1996: 20 to 40 mph winds combined with recent snowfall produced blizzard like conditions for about a 36 hour period over much of the area. Whiteout conditions were common in rural and open areas. Every county road in Yellow Medicine county was impassable by the morning of the 18th. Travelers heading west were stranded in Clara City as plows were pulled off the road. Wind chills were as low as 60 degrees below zero.
December 16, 1946: Heavy snow with wind across northern Minnesota. Duluth has winds up to 62 mph.

Sun Starved

"Sometimes, flying seems too godlike to be attained by man. Sometimes, the world from above seems too beautiful, too wonderful, too distant for human eyes to see" wrote the pride of Little Falls, Minnesota, aviation icon Charles A Lindbergh. I think I'm happiest when I'm in the air, up in the weather, my problems shrinking into a miniature landscape below.

Last week I boarded a Delta flight, just to see the sun. I'm happy to report our nearest star is still intact, still shining brightly. And a rare December sunshine sighting is possible the next few days as high pressure settles overhead; lighter winds & less wind chill as temperature creep above freezing by the weekend. No more 50s are in sight, but the scrawny coating of snow in your yard may be gone by early next week.

I'm close to giving up on a white Christmas. ECMWF guidance hints at a light mix on Monday, then cooling into the 20s for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - close to average for late December.
The rumors are true: after being pampered for the last 2 weeks 2014 will end on a numbing note. The leading edge of colder air spins up a much better chance of snow in the days leading up to New Year's.

We're due.

Photo credit of squall line approaching Kansas City here.

Risk of Sunshine - Weekend Thaw. Enough dry air may percolate southward out of Canada to scour away a very persistent (and depressing) layer of low stratus clouds. The sun may peek out from time to time today, again Thursday, before temperatures return to the 30s this weekend; readings above 32F from Saturday afternoon into midday Tuesday before tumbling back down to average around Christmas. A light mix or rain is possible Monday before cold exhaust behind a clipper sparks flurries on Tuesday.

Holding Pattern. Another bubble of high pressure stalls over Minnesota Thursday and much of Friday, keeping winds light with a chance of spying the sun. As that high pressure bubble drifts east winds at the surface become more southerly, luring the mercury into the 30s this weekend, possibly topping 40F Monday before cooling back down next week. The pattern isn't ripe for major storms looking out the next week or so. NAM guidance above: NOAA.

The Scientific Way To Stay Warm This Winter. Mashable has an interesting article with some good tips; here's a clip that made me realize how little I know about staying warm: "...Being well-fed — meaning consuming more calories than you're burning — will help your body handle the cold better, according to Greenway. "It always helps to be well-fed in the backcountry when it's cold," he said. "This is all-important, to keep your blood sugar up enough to provide the energy you need to keep warm in a cold situation." Staying hydrated is also key, Greenway said. "Your body will tolerate the cold much better if food and water balance are maintained..."

Negative Phase Of AO and NAO = Colder Fronts. The last couple of weeks the AO (Arctic Oscillation) and NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) have been strongly positive, correlating with strong west to east (zonal) winds pushing relatively mild, Pacific air into much of the USA. NOAA forecasts both AO and NAO to become strongly negative again by the end of December, meaning a higher amplitude pattern capable of pulling in much colder air. Not polar-vortex cold, but cold enough to get your attention.

Climate Model Consensus: Mild Bias First Quarter of 2015. We'll see, and no, I wouldn't bet the farm on a 90 day extended outlook, but most of the climate models run by NOAA CPC (Climate Prediction Center) show a mild bias for much of North America January, February and March of 2015. Only the GFDL FLOR and NASA's GEOS5 climate models show a chilly bias east of the Rockies. Either way, El Nino should reduce the odds of an extended blocking pattern capable of creating the polar pain we enjoyed last winter.

Earth Had 7th Warmest November on Record; Still On Track For Warmest Year. Meteorologist Jason Samenow at The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang has an update; here's an excerpt: "...After achieving its warmest August, September and October on record, the Earth’s temperature stepped back from record-setting levels in November, NOAA reports.  It was the 7th warmest November on record (dating back to 1880), but the planet remains on track to have its warmest year – though just barely. The average temperature of the oceans remained at record-setting levels in November, extending the streak of record warm seas to six straight months (May-November).  But land areas only ranked 13th warmest..."

Map credit above: "November 2014 temperatures difference from 20th century average." (NOAA).

Heart Attacks, Strokes Surged In Hard-Hit Hurricane Sandy Counties. Stress from major weather disasters can be as deadly as the storm itself, based on new research highlighted at; here's an excerpt: "...In a study published last week in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the researchers said New Jersey residents in the hardest-hit counties suffered 69 additional fatal heart attacks in the two weeks after the storm compared to previous years. “This is a significant increase over typical non-emergency periods,” said lead researcher Joel N. Swerdel, an epidemiologist at the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey and the Rutgers School of Public Health..." (Sandy file: New Jersey Air Force Reserve, AP).

NOAA Looks To Build The Next Generation Of Hurricane Planes., The Tampa Tribune, has news of an RFP from NOAA for a (sturdy) new plane capable of sending back even more data; here's an excerpt: "...But Kermit and its sister Orion, Miss Piggy, are getting long in the tooth. Each plane, which came on line in the mid-70s, has flown more than 10,000 hours and into more than 80 hurricanes. With the pounding they’ve taken, the planes are undergoing a $35 million refurbishing job to extend their service lives for another 15 to 20 years. Given that there will still be hurricanes to hunt past the year 2030, NOAA is looking to develop the next generation of Kermits and Miss Piggys. To that end, it has put out a solicitation looking for companies that can help figure out what kinds of sensors and other data-gathering equipment will be needed in the future..." (WC130 "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft photo: NOAA).

Brazil Olympics: Super-Bacteria Found In Rio Sea Waters. BBC has the not-so-savory details; here's an excerpt: "Researchers in Brazil have discovered drug-resistant bacteria in the sea waters where sailing and windsurfing events will be held during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The "super-bacteria" are usually found in hospital waste and produce an enzyme, KPC, resistant to antibiotics. Researchers found the bacteria in samples taken from Flamengo beach. Nearly 70% of sewage in Rio - a city of some 10 million people - is spilled raw into the waters of Guanabara Bay..."

File photo above: "In this Nov. 19, 2013 file photo, small boats sit on the polluted shore of Guanabara Bay in the suburb of Sao Goncalo, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A drug-resistant “super bacteria” that’s normally found in hospitals and is notoriously difficult to treat has been discovered in the waters where Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing events will be held, scientists with Brazil's most respected health research institute said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014." (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File).

Denmark Claims The North Pole? Not to hold Santa hostage, it seems, but for all the oily wealth under the (shrinking) ice cap. Here's an excerpt from Quartz: "...The race for ownership of the North Pole is hotting up. After 12 years and $50 million of research, Denmark has surveyed the 2,000-kilometer-long underwater mountain range that runs north of Siberia and concluded that it is geologically attached to Greenland, the huge autonomous territory that, along with the Faroe Islands, is controlled by Denmark. (Denmark’s broader strategy on the Arctic can be found here. (pdf))..."

The One Word That Sums Up Everything You Need To Do To Be Happier. Hey, it's worth a shot. Details from Time Magazine; here's the intro: "That word is “PERMA.” It’s an acronym for:
  • Positive Emotion
  • Engagement
  • Good Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment
Martin Seligman is a professor at the University Pennsylvania and one of the foremost experts on the study of happiness. He gave the following talk in 2011 explaining “PERMA”, the research behind it, and how we can use it to improve our lives..."

TODAY: Rare sunshine sighting? Less wind, seasonably chilly. WInds: NW 10. High: 23
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Partial clearing late. Low: 15
THURSDAY: Few puddles of blue sky, quiet. High: 26
FRIDAY: Some sun, above average temps. Wake-up: 18. High: near 30
SATURDAY: More clouds than sun, PM thaw. Wake-up: 22. High: 34
SUNDAY: Gray, light mix possible. Wake-up: 28. High: 35
MONDAY: Light mix, mainly wet roads. Wake-up: 29. High: 39
TUESDAY: Mostly cloudy, few flurries. Wake-up: 27. High: 32

* Long range models are hinting at 20s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, within a few degrees of average.

Climate Stories....
Earth's Future? Ancient Warming Gives Ominous Peek at Climate Change. Again, it's the rate of carbon release into the atmosphere that is historic and problematic. Here's an excerpt from a story at NBC News: "...The rate at which carbon was being released leading up to the PETM was pretty close to the rate being released now, which is 20.9 trillion pounds (9.5 petagrams) per year, the researchers found. "We are doing some crazy things with the carbon cycle," Bowen says. "Carbon naturally moves back and forth between rocks and the atmosphere at a steady slow rate. What we are doing by burning fossil fuels is accelerating the pace by about 30 times over the natural rate..."

The Lima Climate Deal Is Largely Voluntary. That May Be Its Biggest Strength. Here's a clip from a story at Vox: "...Victor has long argued that UN negotiators would never be able to impose a climate plan on reluctant countries from on high. Instead, any climate deal should work from the bottom up — start with what countries are actually willing to do and slowly build from there. And that's essentially taken in these latest climate talks. It's not enough to avoid drastic global warming — not yet, at least. But it may be a step forward from past gridlock..."

The New Climate Denialism: More Carbon Dioxide Is A Good Thing. Yes, and while you're at it I'd like an extra serving of mercury and carcinogins, topped off with a tasty sample of plutonium! Never let reality get int he way of a good argument. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...And though Bezdek is an economist, not a scientist, he played one on Monday — showing a PowerPoint presentation that documented a tree growing faster when exposed to more carbon dioxide. “CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added..."

“CO2 increases over the past several decades have increased global greening by about 11 percent,” the consultant said. Higher carbon levels in the atmosphere will boost worldwide agricultural productivity by $10 trillion over the next 35 years, he added.

Climate Change Economics. Here's an excerpt of a very interesting nugget from the professional statisticians over at FiveThirtyEight: "...In this paper, the researchers question that assumption and find that warmer temperatures slow economic growth. They examined how the variation in daily temperatures of U.S. counties affects income per person, controlling for other possible confounding factors in the area. They find that productivity declines 1.7 percent for every 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature above 59 degrees Fahrenheit. All of the effects come on weekdays, not weekends. The optimal temperature range is 48 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit, with productivity declining significantly when it’s hotter..."

Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Seafloor Methane. We are conducting an experiment on Earth's cryosphere, atmosphere and oceans, and we're not exactly sure how this will all turn out. The University of Washington has an article focused on warming seas, and the implications of warmer ocean water; here's a clip: "...Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water. Researchers found that water off the coast of Washington is gradually warming at a depth of 500 meters, about a third of a mile down. That is the same depth where methane transforms from a solid to a gas. The research suggests that ocean warming could be triggering the release of a powerful greenhouse gas..."

Graphic credit above: "Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast. The base of the column is 1/3 of a mile (515 meters) deep and the top of the plume is at 1/10 of a mile (180 meters) deep." Brendan Philip / UW.

Past Global Warming Similar To Today's: Size, Duration Were Like Modern Climate Shift, But In Two Pulses. Here's an excerpt from a very interesting story at "The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found. The findings mean the so-called Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum, or PETM, can provide clues to the future of modern climate change. The good news: Earth and most species survived. The bad news: it took millenia to recover from the episode, when temperatures rose by 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit)...."
The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at:
The rate at which carbon emissions warmed Earth's climate almost 56 million years ago resembles modern, human-caused global warming much more than previously believed, but involved two pulses of carbon to the atmosphere, University of Utah researchers and their colleagues found.

Read more at:

A Single Word In The Peru Climate Negotiations Undermines The Entire Thing. Here's a clip from a story by Eric Holthaus at Slate: "...In the final version of the text, developing countries largely got their way—including language referencing a temperature rise of just 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, a target so ambitious that it would likely require a single-minded global focus—but one key word related to international oversight of the emissions reductions plans was changed from "shall" to "may" at the request of China. Had the re-write not occurred, a leaked strategy document showed a coalition of some influential developing countries, including India, were prepared to scrap the entire agreement..."

* The final U.N. statement from Lima, Peru is here.

1 comment:

  1. The CO2 argument that it is a good thing isn't new. And it ignores evidence that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere may boost plant growth, but may result in decreased crop nutrition. Of course, that research is just surfacing too, even though it's not terribly new.