Thursday, June 11, 2015

Lukewarm Sunshine - Climate Change as a "Moral Issue"

67 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Thursday.
78 F. average high on June 11.
81 F. high on June 11, 2014.

.30" rain fell at MSP International Airport yesterday.

June 11, 2011: Severe weather over central Minnesota. An unofficial wind gust of 119 mph is reported at a seed farm 1 mile northwest of Atwater. A storm chaser's car was battered when he got too close to the storm. Most of the windows in the car were broken.
June 11, 1996: 5.91 inches of rain fell at Mankato. Mudslides closed roads including Hwy. 169. Mud pushed a trailer home 20 feet down a hill.
June 11, 1922: Hailstorm at Maple Plain causes much damage to crops.

A Touch of Blanca

Hurricanes seem to serve a purpose. They are nature's automatic pressure-relief valves, transporting excess moisture and heat away from the tropics toward the poles. Unlike tornadoes, which just scare people and provide hours of programming for The Weather Channel.

The forecast was a bust for the immediate metro - the storm tracked farther south; traditional weather models did a lousy job, the CAM, or convection-allowing models, like HRRR and WRF did a better job.

For the record some of those puddles were enhanced by "Blanca", the earliest cyclone to make landfall on Mexico's Baja Peninsula 3 days ago. Yes, Minnesota does get gently-used hurricanes every now and then.

No weather drama today; expect a slightly-less-hideous commute with warm sunshine, mid 70s, and a very comfortable dew point near 55F. We get off to a sunny start Saturday but a few more thundershowers pop up late Saturday into Sunday. Not a sustained, all-day rain event like yesterday.

ECMWF guidance predicts a pleasant puff of cooler, drier air Monday and Tuesday. Midweek storms may give way to tropical heat and a more window-rattling thunderstorms by the end of next week. No heatwaves brewing for Minnesota, just frequent rains.

Let's have a moment of silence for the drought.

Southward Shift. Thursday's soaker tracked about 50-100 miles farther south than (most) of the models were predicting as recently as Wednesday, causing the heaviest rain bands to set up south and east of MSP. While we were doding puddles in the Twin Cities the sun was peeking through at St. Cloud; a beautiful, sunny day from Duluth to Bemidji and Fargo. Loop: WeatherTap.

In Search of a (Real) Warm Front. Temperatures run close to average into much of next week; any baking heat staying south of Minnesota. A few T-showers may sprout late Saturday with an isolated storm again Sunday. We cool off and dry out Monday and Tuesday before the next warm front sparks more T-storms the latter half of next week. Source: Weatherspark.

Extended Outlook: Moderately Warm for Minnesota; Expanding Heat Wave California to Georgia. Predicted 500mb winds on Thursday evening, June 25 (NOAA's GFS model) shows a series of weak troughs pushing across the northern tier of the USA, meaning sporadic showers and T-storms and temperatures close to average. A ridge of high pressure forecast to build over California may spark record heat within 1-2 weeks. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

85% Chance El Nino Lingers Into Next Winter - Little Relief Expected for California Drought. The implications? Most (but not all) El Nino warm phases in the Pacific result in milder, tamer winters for Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. An interesting correlation but would I bet the farm on that? Nope. Here are a couple of excerpts from a long discussion from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center: "There is a greater than 90% chance that El Nino will continue through Northern Hemisphere fall 2015, and around an 85% chance it will last through the 2015-16 winter...Across the continguous United States, temperatures and precipitation impacts associated with El Nino are expected to remain minimal during the Northern Hemisphere summer and increase into the late fall and winter (the 3-month seasonal outlook will be updated on Thursday June 18th). El Nino will likely be a contributor to a below normal Atlantic hurricane season, and above-normal hurricane seasons in both the central and eastern Pacific hurricane basins.."

Alaska Just Had Its Hottest May in 91 Years. Here are more details from The Washington Post: "...And now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that the state as a whole experienced its warmest May in the weather books. As the agency puts it:
The Alaska statewide average temperature for May was the warmest on record in 91 years of record keeping at 44.9°F, 7.1°F above average. The warmth in Alaska was widespread with several cities were record warm, including Barrow and Juneau.
Photo credit above: "View of a sunset from an Alaska Marine Highway ferry ride near Sitka, Alaska, on June 16, 2014." (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post).

California Is Sinking, And It's Getting Worse. That's what happens when you drill ever-deeper into aquifers, in search of dwindling underground water supplies. Here's an excerpt of an eye-opening article at "California is sinking – and fast. While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it. Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink. But the extent of the problem and how much it will cost taxpayers to fix are part of the mystery of the state’s unfolding drought..."

The U.S. Produces More Oil Now Than Saudi Arabia, And Other Tectonic Shifts In The Energy Sector. Quartz has the jaw-dropping story - here's an excerpt: "...Changes on the supply side should be pretty obvious. Thanks to controversial fracking techniques and massive investments in shale, the US has raised its oil output dramatically. It now produces more of the stuff than Saudi Arabia for the first time since 1991—a fact that gives an extra edge to the two countries’ battle for energy supremacy..."

Get Ready For "Smart Windows". Gizmag has the details; here's an excerpt: "...So, imagine if you could turn up the opacity for a bit of privacy, just as you would with regular blinds, without compromising on brightness? Or adjust the windows to bring feelings of warmth to your cold, bare basement, like you could with one of Phillips' Hue lightbulbs? The researchers say the tunable windows can make this possible. They report that when the windows are turned milky for privacy, they are capable of still letting through 90 percent of natural light..."

SpaceX Founder Files With Government To Provide Internet Service From Space. Is there anything Elon Musk (aka Tony Stark) can't do? Here's a snippet from The Washington Post: "Elon Musk’s space company has asked the federal government for permission to begin testing on an ambitious project to beam Internet service from space, a significant step forward for an initiative that could create another major competitor to Comcast, AT&T and other telecom companies. The plan calls for launching a constellation of 4,000 small and cheap satellites that would beam high-speed Internet signals to all parts of the globe, including its most remote regions. Musk has said the effort “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space...”

Photo credit above: "The SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft is grappled by the Canadarm2 robotic arm at the International Space Station in this May 25, 2012, NASA handout photo." (NASA/Reuters).

5 Skills Employers Want That You Won't See In A Job Ad. Fortune has an intriguing story; here's the introduction: "Ask senior executives in New York, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Seattle, Shanghai, Beijing or London what their biggest concern is and they will all tell you the same thing. It’s not capital, technology, regulatory changes or economic uncertainty. It’s talent. And not just talent generally, but talent possessing some specific soft skills beyond conventional business and engineering training..."

This Alarm Clock Lets You Wake Up To The Smell of Hot Bacon. Hey, I want to wake up to the smell of freedom. Can you help me with that? Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...SensorWake is a startup with plans to launch a new kind of alarm clock that wakes you up with aromas rather than sound. Options for the aroma include bacon, orange juice, hot croissants, and even money. The clock's inventor, 18-year-old Guillaume Rolland, believes that rising to smells rather than sound is a more pleasant, progressive way to be woken from sleep -- and that this nicer experience will help people have a better day..."

Instant Sunshine: Stockholm Airport Installs Weather Simulator. I need one of these - but I think I'll wait until the price comes down. Simulate 75 and sunny in the dead of January? That could work. Here's an excerpt from "...Stockholm's Arlanda Airport has installed a new "climate portal" that allows travelers to sample the weather at their destination before they go there. The shiny booth, which will be in place until the end of August, uses live data from around the planet to simulate a variety of weather environments. These are separated into three rooms: hot, cold and big. The portal uses wind generators, temperature controllers and audio-visual cues to recreate the experience of stepping into hot, dry deserts, chilled icy plains or teeming cityscapes..."

TODAY: Mild sunshine, pleasant. Winds: NE 10. High: 77

FRIDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear and comfortable. Low: 59

SATURDAY: Fading sun, T-shower possible late. Winds: SE 10. High: 76
SATURDAY NIGHT: A better chance of scattered showers and T-showers. Low: 62

SUNDAY: Intervals of sun, isolated T-storms possible. High: 78

MONDAY: Lot's of sun, cool breeze, very comfortable. Dew point: 52. Wake-up: 63. High: 79

TUESDAY: Comfortable sun. Nighttime thunder. Wake-up: 57. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Showers and thundershowers. Wake-up: 58. High: 74

THURSDAY: Some sticky sun, strong T-storms? Wake-up: 64. High: 83

Climate Stories...

15 Facts About Sea Level Rise That Should Scare The (Crap) Out Of You. Here's an excerpt of a guest post at "...In terms of dollars at risk, Guangzhou, China, in the Pearl River Delta, is more vulnerable to sea-level rise than any other city in the world, according to the World Bank. Many of the most vulnerable cities should look familiar, especially to Americans. After Guangzhou, Miami, New York and New Orleans are next..."

Image credit above: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, EPA.

These Low-Lying Nations Say They're Going To Sue Fossil Fuel Companies. VICE News has the story; here's the introduction: "Faced with an expected future of rising seas and more powerful storms, Pacific Islanders say they're going to take carbon polluters to court to preserve "our people and our environment." "As the people most acutely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, we will not let the big polluters decide and assign our fate," states the "People's Declaration for Climate Justice," issued this week in Vanuatu. "Our rights and ability to survive must not be dictated by the continued addiction to the burning of fossil fuels..."

Climate Change Is A "Moral Issue", Says Archbishop On Papal Encyclical. NPR has the interview; here's an excerpt that caught my attention: "...Well, Catholic Church teachings are based on scripture, and scripture from the book of Genesis tells us that we are stewards of creation, that the Lord has entrusted us the earth. And he expects us to be good stewards. Part of that stewardship would be to care for creation in ways that are helpful and in ways that also preserve it for future generations. So I think the pope is not talking out of a vacuum. You have to remember that Pope Benedict was called a green pope because he was the one that put solar panels on the roof of the Paul VI Audience Hall. And I think now with this new encyclical, maybe Pope Francis will be known as the greener pope..."

NASA Releases Dataset of Global Climate Change Predictions Up To 2100. Here's a snippet from "...NASA has released a dataset setting out how rainfall and temperature patterns are likely to change in the coming decades. The data covers 21 climate models, mapping how our environment could change due to growing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The information for the dataset was compiled as part of the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX) – a collaborative analytical platform that harnesses the power of state-of-the-art supercomputing, combining it with NASA remote-sensing data to provide scientists with direct access to huge pools of data..."

Sorry Skeptics; Global Warming May Not Be So Great For Plant Life After All. The Washington Post has a summary of new research focused on "suitable growing days". Here's an excerpt: "...One confusion involves plant growth. Some skeptics have argued that rising carbon dioxide levels could actually benefit agriculture, and in fact, research shows that rising temperatures and more carbon dioxide can be a boon to plants — up to a point. But that’s not the whole story, according to researcher Camilo Mora, a professor of geography at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And in a new paper, published today in the journal PLOS Biology, he and his colleagues attempt to set the record straight..."

10 Things You Want To Know About Human Nature If You're Fighting Climate Change. This is why it's been described as "the perfect problem". Here's an excerpt from Grist: "...We think we have more control over our lives than we actually do, and we tend to see ourselves as better than average. Applied to climate change, this means that I might think that you­ — and surely those poor Pacific Islanders — might be negatively affected but I’ll be OK. The problem, of course, is that this reflects a bias grounded in delusion. But don’t try to tell me or anyone else that. You’ll have a better chance of engaging others in climate action, experts like Sharot say, if you keep a laser-like focus on how climate change is affecting people now..."

Climate Encyclical Expected To Send Strong Moral Message To The World. Here's a video and story excerpt of what we might expect from Pope Francis from The Catholic Sun: "Pope Francis’ upcoming encyclical on ecology and climate is expected to send a strong moral message — one message that could make some readers uncomfortable, some observers say. “The encyclical will address the issue of inequality in the distribution of resources and topics such as the wasting of food and the irresponsible exploitation of nature and the consequences for people’s life and health,” Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno of Huancayo, Peru, told Catholic News Service..."

You Are About To See An Incredibly Rare Cloud, And It's Proof The Climate Is Changing. Bloomberg Business has more details; here's a clip: "...That’s when noctilucent clouds, the world’s highest, peak in number and show up in the night sky just after sunset as electric-blue swirls in the mesosphere, the coldest place on the planet. Usually visible only in the polar regions, the clouds now sometimes appear as far south as 40 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, according to Cora Randall, a professor at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder. That’s because the mesosphere, which nears the edge of space, is changing, possibly “due to a change in climate,” he said. “We believe that these clouds are a really sensitive indicator...”

File photo of noctilucent clouds above courtesy of NASA.

Even Skeptics Can Profit From Climate Change. Bloomberg's Barry Ritholtz is a professional money manager. Here is a section of a recent column at Bloomberg View that made me do a double-take: "...In the real world, climate-change deniers are and will be giant money losers. I expect those who suffer from cognitive dissonance over whether global warming is real will soon be greeted by a brutal Darwinian result in the markets. I don’t make many forecasts but here is one: It is only a matter of time before the deniers exist only in think tanks funded by the fossil energy industry and oddball conspiracy groups..."

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