Monday, July 20, 2015

A Perfect Midsummer Day - Super El Nino Brewing?

81 F. high on Monday in the Twin Cities.
84 F. average high on July 20.
87 F. high on July 20, 2014.

July 20, 1951: Tornado hits Minneapolis and Richfield killing five.
July 20, 1909: 10.75 inches of rain fell in 24 hours at Beaulieu in Mahnomen County. This record would stand for over 50 years. Bagley received an estimated 10 inches.

Super El Nino?

Earth is a heat machine - a steady fire-hose of solar radiation creates the atmospheric and oceanic circulations that sustain life. 2015 is shaping up as the warmest year on record: atmosphere and oceans.

An estimated 93 percent of the extra greenhouse warming is going into the seas. That in turn may be at least partly responsible for a flurry of hurricanes and typhoons in the Pacific, storms that derive their energy from warm ocean water. These cyclones, in turn, are easing trade winds, allowing even warmer water to reach the surface, spiking the current El Nino. I'm seeing predictions of water 2-3F warmer than average into the winter months.

"Paul, that's almost interesting. Get to the point."

Fair enough. Oceanographers speculate this could be the strongest El Nino since 1997-98. Winter won't

be cancelled, but a Super El Nino (anything warmer than 2F) may trigger floods for California and a milder, drier winter than average for Minnesota.

A comfortable, sun-scrubbed Tuesday gives way to a warming trend this week; highs brush 90F over the weekend. The best chance of T-storms will come on Friday. Hopefully the lights will stay on. Much of America is sweltering - we'll only see a taste.

Risk of Record-Setting El Nino With Pacific Cyclones? A flurry of hurricanes and typhoons, in part related to unusually warm water, is easing trade winds over the Pacific, causing even warmer water to come to the surface, setting the stage for what may be the Mother of El Nino's this upcoming winter. Here is an excerpt from The Weather Network: "...The current forecast shows at least a 90 per cent chance that El Niño conditions will last through winter 2015/16 - up to the end of February - and there is an over 80 per cent chance that it will still be active in April of next year. Also, it is already forecast to be a significant event, with sea surface temperatures likely reaching at least 1.5oC (2.7oF) above normal in the Central Pacific - the same intensity as the 1986/87 El Niño (which, coincidentally also matches the overall pattern of this year's El Niño development). However some models are still showing that it could grow stronger than that, possibly rivaling or even besting the 1997/98 "super" El Niño..."

Graphic credit: Todd Crawford, WSI Energy. "The Western Pacific Ocean currently has nearly 9 times the normal amount of accumulated cyclone energy (ACE). The Central Pacific has more than 22 times the normal amount! Since ACE is a measure of the total time and intensity of storms that have formed in the region during the season, it's easy to see how much more active it is than normal..."

Biggest El Nino Since 1997-98. At the rate we're going I wouldn't be surprised. So far NOAA and other organizations have consistently underestimated the strength of the warming waters in the Pacific. The tweets above show some of the reaction to what oceanographers are tracking. It's going to be a very interesting fall and winter at the rate we're going.

Earth's Warmest June Keeps 2015 on Record-Breaking Pace. Jason Samenow has details at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "Both NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) have reported the global warmth of June 2015 matched or exceeded any previous June in historical records. Given the extremely warm months preceding June, 2015 is on track to have its warmest year on record. In NASA’s analysis of global temperatures, 2015 tied 1998 in having the warmest June ever recorded. Every June since 2009 has ranked among the top 10 warmest in its analysis..." (Image: NASA).

Flawless Tuesday - Next Chance of Widespread Storms Comes on Friday. 84 hour NAM guidance above shows more scattered showers and T-storms capable of flash flooding over the southwestern USA in the coming day; the next chance of a real frontal passage capable of showers and T-storms in Minnesota on Friday.

Accumulated Precipitation. This is total rainfall as of 1 AM Friday. The heaviest T-storm rains set up over the Southern Plains - Minnesota and much of the Great Lakes stays dry for the next 72-84 hours. Guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Watch Smoke From July's Wildfires Wrap Around The Arctic. Gizmodo has the explainer; here's an excerpt: "...Smoke plumes from last month’s wildfires in Alaska and Canada wrapped all the way around the Arctic circle in less than two weeks. In this animation of satellite imagery from NASA, you can watch smoke from Alaskan wildfires drift west while smoke from Canadian wildfires goes east, until the two massive smoke plumes converge over Greenland. The brown areas on the map track the movements of high concentrations of aerosols — the tiny solid particles in smoke. In other words, those are the smoke plumes..."

Disasters, Both Natural and Weather-Related Displaced 19 Million in 2014. Here's the intro to a New York Times story: "Natural disasters forced more than 19 million people from their homes in 2014, mostly the result of typhoons, flooding and other weather-related events that are becoming more intense and more frequent, a leading European aid agency said Monday. Close to 90 percent of the 19.3 million people displaced by natural disasters last year were in Asia, with China, India and the Philippines particularly hard hit by typhoons, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, according to a report released by the Norwegian Refugee Council. The number was lower in 2014 than in the previous two years, but the historical trend in displacement is moving relentlessly up, the council reported..."

Photo credit above: "Children in the Philippines swam in a flooding river after a typhoon on Samar Island in December 2014." Credit Francis R. Malasig/European Pressphoto Agency.

Here's What's Actually Happening To Your Body When You Get a Sunburn. That healthy tan (oxymoron?) may come with a price; here's an excerpt at Huffington Post: "...When the skin starts detecting UVA radiation, receptors produce special skin cells called melanocytes which produce extra melanin and darken skin color. UVB radiation, on the other hand, damages a cell's DNA. If too many cells are destroyed, it leads to an immune response that looks a whole lot like a sunburn. While this information may have you rethinking your beach plans, it's worth noting that sunburns are preventable if proper precautions are taken..."

Tough New Tornado Panels Take a Stormy Beating. Resilience: how do we make everything we do more weather and climate-resistant, and reinvigorate the economy in the process? Here's an excerpt from Gizmag: "A tornado hitting your house is no joke, but it's not always practical to build a shelter just in case the worst should happen. If the thought of jumping into a protective bag doesn't appeal, a new tough construction panel developed at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) could be a good alternative. UAB's new panels can be retrofitted to existing houses or integrated into new builds, and offer protection even in the most extreme EF5 tornado – that is, in winds over 200 mph (321 km/h)..."

Rome Is On The Verge of Collapse, Warn City Leaders. Great Britain's The Independent has the story; here's the introduction: "Rome is on the verge of collapse. That's the warning given by Giancarlo Cremonesi, the city’s Chamber of Commerce president, who says the Eternal City is at crisis point after years of neglecting its world famous historical landmarks, an immigration crisis and crippling corruption. “Rome is on the verge of collapse. It is unacceptable that a major city which calls itself developed can find itself in such a state of decay." Mr Cremonesi told Reuters..."

Plastic Road Surface Might Be Streets Ahead of Asphalt. Yes, and maybe nano-robots can one day do all the repairs at night. No orange construction cones. Here's a clip from "Asphalt covers more than 94 percent of the paved streets in the US, but have we gone down the wrong road with our choice of building material? Dutch firm VolkerWessels thinks so and has unveiled plans for roads crafted from recycled plastic, claiming the approach would significantly cut construction and maintenance time, as well as extend their expected lifespan..."

Where Are All The Aliens? Quartz asks the question that a lot of astronomers and cosmologists are asking - it's a little too quiet out there. Then again they may have all sampled reality TV and the comments under all those stupid Instagram cat videos and quickly lost interest. Here's a clip"...Continuing to speculate, if 1% of intelligent life survives long enough to become a potentially galaxy-colonizing Type III Civilization, our calculations above suggest that there should be at least 1,000 Type III Civilizations in our galaxy alone—and given the power of such a civilization, their presence would likely be pretty noticeable. And yet, we see nothing, hear nothing, and we’re visited by no one. Welcome to the Fermi Paradox..."

Hackers Threaten To Out 37 Million Users of Cheating Website Note to self: maybe I shouldn't give my credit card and identity information to a site that condones and encourages adultery. What could possibly go wrong? Here's an update from Huffington Post: "Hackers have threatened to expose the identities and sensitive information of millions of users unless the online cheating site shutters its doors. (tagline: “Life is short. Have an affair”) boasts more than 37.5 million users worldwide. On Sunday, the hookup site’s owner, the Toronto-based Avid Life Media, confirmed that data had been stolen from the company, including user databases, financial records and other proprietary information..." (File photo: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man).

Husband Films Wife Giving Birth in Traffic. Houston, we have a problem. My water just broke and we're stuck in rush hour traffic. So let's give birth in my vehicle and videotape the entire ordeal! The ultimate selfie; courtesy of Huffington Post: "...Jonathan Pettijohn told KHOU-TV in Houston ( ) that they didn't pull over because there was no apparent danger to his wife or the baby. The roughly four-minute video shows him calmly instructing his wife while she screams, "It's coming out! It's coming out!" After the birth, he says, "We did it! High-five, babe!..."

TODAY: Spectacularly sunny. Winds: NW 10. High: 81

TUESDAY NIGHT: Clear to partly cloudy. Low: 63

WEDNESDAY: Hazy sun, isolated T-storm possible. High: 83

THURSDAY: Sticky sun, probably puddle-free. Wake-up: 67. High: 87

FRIDAY: Few T-storms likely, some heavy. Wake-up: 70. High: 84

SATURDAY: Hot sun, hit the lakes! Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 71. High: 90

SUNDAY: Sticky sun, T-storms at night. Dew point: 70. Wake-up: 73. High: 92

MONDAY: Steamy sun, few T-storms nearby. Wake-up: 72. High: 89

Climate Stories....

Earth's Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning. Here's an excerpt of a story that is making me rethink coastal property, courtesy of Slate: "In what may prove to be a turning point for political action on climate change, a breathtaking new study casts extreme doubt about the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years..." (File photo: Peter Morgan, AP).

A Dire Forecast From Climate Scientist James Hansen. Could sea level rise accelerate to the point where major coastal cities are threatened by the end of the century? Here's an excerpt from The Daily Beast: "...James Hansen, the former NASA scientist whose congressional testimony put global warming on the world’s agenda a quarter century ago, is now warning that humanity could confront “sea level rise of several meters” before the end of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed much faster than currently contemplated. This roughly ten feet of sea level rise—well beyond previous estimates—would render coastal cities such as New York, London and Shanghai uninhabitable.  “Parts of [our coastal cities] would still be sticking above the water,” Hansen says, “but you couldn’t live there...” (Image: NASA).

Stop Shell. Save The Arctic. Here's a clip from an Op-Ed at EcoWatch: "...President Obama needs to stand up to Big Oil and put a stop to Arctic drilling before it’s too late. That’s what we’ll be gathering to say during Saturday’s Day of Action, with events in places across the nation, from Boston to San Francisco, from Fort Myers, Florida, to Chicago, from Washington DC and elsewhere. As early as next week, the Royal Dutch Shell oil company could begin exploratory drilling in the Arctic, exposing these waters to the risk of devastating oil spills and ensuring more carbon pollution, which would undermine the gains our country is now making in the fight against climate change..."

The Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Climate Models Predicted. The Guardian has the article; here's a snippet that got my full attention: "...Going back to 1970, we find that the upper 700-meter water layer temperature has increased approximately 0.3°C (approximately 0.55°F). While that may not sound like a lot, we have to remember this is a huge amount of water and consequently it requires an enormous amount of energy. We separated the world’s oceans into the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian. All three of these oceans are warming with the Atlantic warming the most. We also calculated the ocean heating by using 40 state-of-the-art climate models. Over the period from 1970, the climate models have under-predicted the warming by 15%..."

For Naval Academy Climate Change Is A Challenge Both Global and Local. The Baltimore Sun has the story - here's a clip: "...The Pentagon views climate change as a global threat to national security. Carter, now the superintendent at the Naval Academy, told a group of congressmen Friday not only about the challenges he faced on that deployment with the Enterprise strike group, but also how he is dealing with the prospect of rising sea levels and floods as the leader of the elite school for future Navy and Marine Corps officers. "Annapolis is really on the front lines," said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat whose district includes the city. "There's no question this is the challenge of our generation..."

Image credit above: "This map shows where flooding could occur in Annapolis in a 100-year flood with a 3.7-foot rise in sea level by 2100." (Courtesy Image, HANDOUT).

In Greenland Climate Change Is Already Hard At Work. Here's an excerpt from CBS News: "...The impact has been dramatic in Greenland, the huge ice-covered island between the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Almost 8 years ago to the day in 2007, it was 35 degrees below zero on top of Greenland's vast ice sheet. Strong winds and blowing snow were more the norm for researchers there. This summer, the sun is shining and the ice is thinning; it's 27 degrees above zero -- 62 degrees warmer. Researchers are trying to determine if the warming is a trend..."

"I'm A Republican. I'm Spending $175 Million Of My Own Money To Encourage the GOP to Tackle Climate Change." Here's an excerpt of entrepreneur Jay Faison's Op-Ed at Politico Magazine: "...In my conversations with fellow Republican donors and friends, it’s this last point — reducing emissions — that often produces puzzled looks and awkward silences. Our party’s dialogue about the issue has generated a lot of heat but not much light. I think this is largely due to a few things. First, the left has put forward Big Government, command-and-control climate solutions that scare any true conservative. Second, many liberals have been in denial about the progress the U.S. has already made: Thanks to energy efficiency gains and the shale gas revolution, our country’s greenhouse gas emissions are lower than they were in 1995. This should be something we celebrate..."

When Climate Change Becomes a Climate Catastrophe. We still don't know what we don't know. Climate volatility is already spiking storms and creating more extremes in rainfall and heat. But there may be a rash of additional unpleasant and unforseen surprises in the years ahead. Here's an excerpt of a book review at Bloomberg View: "...
Devastating home fires, car crashes, and other personal catastrophes are almost always much less likely than 10 percent. And still, people take out insurance to cover against these remote possibilities…. Risks like this on a planetary scale should not -- must not -- be pushed onto society.
Yet action to address the risk is complicated because of what Wagner and Weitzman call the Big Four problems: Any one country's effort to prevent climate change alone would be ineffective; political systems struggle to address long-term challenges; by the time humanity decides to act aggressively, it may be too late; and the risks are highly uncertain, which makes them easy to dismiss..."

Summer Nights Are Heating Up Across U.S. Some of this is a function of more water in the air. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, which in turn limits how much temperatures can cool at night. Here's the intro to an explanation at Climate Central: "Global warming often conjures scenes of sweaty, scorching summer days, but daytime temperatures aren’t the only thing expected to rise in a warming world. Nights, too, are expected to get sultrier, with overnight lows not dropping as much as they used to. That trend in increasing nighttime low temperatures is expected to continue for the entire U.S. as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and trap more and more heat. This trend has important human health implications and could affect power systems and agriculture..."

Watching the Global Thermometer - Year to Date GISTemp. 2015 is tracking as the warmest year on record, worldwide, according to HotWhopper. Here's an excerpt: "...2015 is still tracking as the hottest on record. The years to watch are 2014, 2010 and 2005. I've plotted them with slightly thicker lines so they stand out more easily. The coldest year of the lot was 1996, which still ended up more than 0.3°C above the 1950 to 1981 average.  The next time someone tries to tell you that "it hasn't warmed since 1996" then show them this chart :)..."

Heed Climate Change Science Echoed In Call of Faith: Bill Richardson. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at USA TODAY that got my attention: "...The pope's very job description gives him access to depths of suffering, spans of time and peaks of human potential that are too vast for most of us to comprehend. So while those of us in less transcendent lines of work squabble about who causes climate change and who should pay for it, Pope Francis cuts through the politics to focus us on what matters most — care for our planet and those most vulnerable to ecological harm..."

* Bill Richardson is the former governor of New Mexico, the Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and leader of Voces Verde.

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