Wednesday, September 16, 2015

From Sweat to Sweatshirts in 48 Hours - Exxon Knew of Warming Impact of Burning Fossil Fuels in 1977

87 F. high temperature at KMSP, recorded at 3:22 PM Tuesday afternoon.
72 F. average high on September 15.
62 F. high on September 15, 2014.

September 16, 2006: A rapidly forming tornado hits Rogers just before 10pm, killing a 10 year old girl.
September 16, 1992: New Market received nearly a foot of rain. A bridge collapsed from floodwater in northern Le Sueur County.
September 16, 1955: An F1 tornado touched down in Mille Lacs and Kanabec Counties causing 1 fatality and $500,000 in damages.

September 16: American Legion Day.
September Sweat

"You can't get mad at weather because weather's not about you. Apply that lesson to most other aspects of life" wrote Douglas Coupland. But it's so easy to take bad weather personally, right?

I'm perpetually perplexed and amazed at our crazy swings in weather. Exhibit A: on September 15, 1916 St. Paul enjoyed the earliest snow fluries on record. The very same date, but in 1939, the high in Minneapolis was a torrid 98F. How is that possible?

The greatest extremes come near the center of continents, well away from the moderating influence of lukewarm ocean currents. Siberia. Mongolia. Minnesota.

Enough said.

A warm wind blows again today; peaking at 30 mph from the south. You'll swear it's July out there. Soak it up because by Friday highs droop into the 60s with a risk of a jacket.

A T-storm may sprout by tonight - another flare-up of irritable, stormy weather along the leading edge of cooler air Thursday. A cool breeze kicks in on Friday with a slight chance of late-day shower. The weekend looks sunny & glorious; a run of 70s for next week.

This is why I'm so smitten with September.

1.12": amount of rain predicted by NOAA's NAM model for the Twin Cities by Saturday morning.

Not Bad For Late September. The approach of a slightly-cooler-front will spark a few scattered showers and T-storms from today into Thursday; models hinting at a few late-day instability showers popping up again late Friday. But the weekend looks beautiful with sunshine and low humidity. European guidance (above) has been running a bit too cool. I suspect we'll hit 70F on Saturday with mid-70s on Sunday. Source: Weatherspark.

Another Southeastern Soaker. Tropical moisture will create favorable conditions for persistent T-storms and flash flooding over Florida and the Gulf Coast, although tropical storm development still looks unlikely close to the USA looking out 10 days. Showers and T-storms Thursday and Friday give way to a weekend clearing trend; although the GFS solution above keeps a cool rain in Minnesota into Friday night, even early Saturday. I prefer the ECMWF, which hints at a more rapid clearing trend and a nice Saturday.

A Light Watering. Many towns and farms will pick up an additional .25 to .50" of rain from today into Friday; NOAA ensemble models hinting at 1-2" rains from Des Moines to Rockford and Chicago. A 4-6" rainfall bullseye is forecast for much of Florida, where they just can't seem to escape a nagging flood risk.

Drooping Temperatures, But Not Falling Over a Cliff. Model guidance shows a gradual cooling trend as we sail into late week; daytime highs holding in the 60s Friday before slowly recovering again next week.

Watering Optional. There's a good chance of some .25 to .50" rainfall amounts, most of the rain coming from showers and T-storms Thursday, but guidance shows another hiccup of showers late Friday, followed by a dry, drama-free weekend.

Winds Ease With Time. Models show strong winds blowing from the south again today (15-30 mph with higher gusts). But by Friday and Saturday sustained winds should be closer to 10 mph as cooler, drier, Canadian air pushes into Minnesota. Graphic source: Aeris Enterprise.

Mild Bias into Late September. I'm still not seeing the big, inevitable "slap" from Canada; not yet - although next week will certainly be cooler than this week has been. 500 mb winds from NOAA's GFS model show an unseasonable (and unusual) ridge of warm high pressure stalled over the east coast, almost a "Bermuda High", keeping the eastern half of the USA warmer than average Tuesday evening, September 29.

Rain Drenches Southern California, Causing Flooding and Accidents? Rains from El Nino kicking in? No, just the soggy remains of ex-hurricane Linda. Here's a clip from The Los Angeles Times: "...It's the remnants of former Hurricane Linda brought moisture and cooler temperatures to the region. Rain is likely through the morning, with a 40% chance of showers continuing into the afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory to parts of L.A. County, warning of slick roads. The low-pressure system is expected to bring below-normal temperatures and rain to the coasts and mountains of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, said meteorologist Joe Sirard of the National Weather Service in Oxnard..."

August Smashes Global Heat Record as Giant El Nino Builds. Here's an excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald: "...Climate models indicate sea surface temperatures in the central tropical Pacific are likely to rise further over the next few months, coming close to, or possibly exceeding, monthly values observed during the 1997–98 event," the Bureau of Meteorology said in its fortnightly update on Tuesday. The years 2005, 2010 and 2014 have all been warmer than 1998 but 2015 is shaping up to be hotter yet. Since the effects of El Ninos tend to linger, climate experts are now pointing to 2016 as a possible rival for the next hottest year on record..."

AP File photo credit: "Wildfires and drought have been widespread across the western US this northern summer."

El Nino To Peak By End of 2015, Followed By Rapid Weakening: Australia Weather Bureau. Details via Reuters: "Climate models suggest the 2015 El Nino will peak around the end of the year and will then rapidly weaken within three months, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday. The 2015 El Nino is expected to be the strongest event in nearly 20 years, the bureau has said previously..."

Summer 2015 Set To Be World's Hottest Ever as U.S. Temperatures Again Soar. Here's the intro to a story at The Guardian: "New data showing that the US had its 12th-hottest summer on record may not, at first glance, appear particularly significant or alarming. But in announcing the news, climate scientists have pointed out that, of the 11 American summers that were recorded as warmer than 2015’s, seven have occurred in the last 15 years; the other four were all during the “Dustbowl” 1930s heatwaves that plagued the US during the Great Depression. And, as part of the climate warming trend globally, next Thursday a federal agency is set to announce the latest worldwide figures that are likely to show that it was officially the hottest summer ever recorded on the planet, and the hottest first eight months of the year to date..."

Graphic credit and more details:

Hottest August, Worldwide, Since 1891. Here's an excerpt from the Japan Meteorological Agency: "The monthly anomaly of the global average surface temperature in August 2015 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.45°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.79°C above the 20th century average), and was the warmest since 1891. On a longer time scale, global average surface temperatures have risen at a rate of about 0.65°C per century..."

"Disastrous": Low Snow, Heat Eat Away at Northwest Glaciers. Here's the introduction to a story at The Seattle Times: "In more than three decades of field work, Mauri Pelto has taken the measure of Washington’s glaciers during seasons of record-breaking snow and years that broke skiers’ hearts. But he’s never seen anything like this summer. “The best word for it is disastrous,” said Pelto, who recently wrapped up his annual survey in the North Cascades. On mountain after mountain, he and his team encountered bare ice and gushing meltwater on glaciers that would normally be blanketed with snow. On average, Pelto estimates glaciers across the rugged mountain range will lose 5 to 10 percent of their volume before the summer is over..."

Study Finds Snowfall in California's Sierra Nevada to be Lowest in 500 Years. The New York Times has more perspective on the conditions leading up to the current rash of devastating wildfires; here's an excerpt: "The snow that blanketed the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California last winter, and that was supposed to serve as an essential source of fresh water for the drought-stricken state, was at its lowest levels in the last 500 years, according to a new study. The paper, published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, used tree-ring data from centuries-old blue oaks to provide historical context for the mountain range’s diminished snowfall. As of April 1, the snowpack levels were just 5 percent of their 50-year historical average..."

Photo credit above: "The Yosemite Valley in July. The gradual melting of snow in California's mountains usually fills the state's reservoirs with water, but researchers said this past year's snowpack was unusually low." Credit François B. Lanoë.

Introducing WXshift. Check this out, a new web site that blends climate and weather to look at not only current and predicted weather conditions for any zip code, but the longer term trends. It's visual and powerful, and worth adding to your online diet. Full disclosure: my company, AerisWeather, is providing the raw weather data for this site.

A Third City Is Now Running Entirely on Renewable Energy. To make Al Gore feel good? No, because it's clean, reliable, buffeted from shocks in the oil market - it's a sustainable way forward. And residents will get an ROI. Here's an excerpt from Think Progress: "...Last week, the city of Aspen, Colorado declared it had become the third municipality to receive all of its power from renewable sources. Aspen’s energy portfolio now primarily consists of wind power and hydroelectric, with smaller contributions from solar and geothermal. The announcement came after the city’s decade-long effort to shift toward renewable energy. David Hornbacher, Aspen’s Utilities and Environmental Initiatives Director, told the Aspen Times that “It was a very forward-thinking goal and truly remarkable achievement.” Burlington, Vermont and Greensburg, Kansas were the first two cities to achieve all-renewable energy portfolios..." (Image: Wikipdeia Commons).

Porsche Mission E Provide All-Electric Glimpse at the Future of Supercars. It looks like Tesla may have some real competition before too long. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "...Taking full advantage of all this performance is, as you'd expect, hard on the battery. To make sure you're not waiting around while the car charges, Porsche says it has developed an 800-volt charging system that will give you 85 percent of the car's 500 km (311 mile) range in just 15 minutes. The car is also fitted with an inductive charging coil, opening the door for wireless charging if it actually makes production..."

Only Half Tongue in Cheek. No, the photo from The Onion hasn't been retouched to my knowledge. Here's an excerpt: "Admitting it has had its eye on the property for quite some time, the Atlantic Ocean confirmed Monday that it was looking forward to moving into a beautiful beachfront mansion in the near future. “For the longest time it seemed like this place was completely out of reach for me, but I’ve come a long way in the past few years, and now it’s looking more and more like a real possibility,” said the body of water, which confided that, after having admired the building’s impressive exterior and grounds for so long, it was thrilled at the prospect of finally going inside and exploring all eight bedrooms and 7,500 square feet of living area..."

Damn You Internet. This popped up when I was error-checking my weather blog early Tuesday morning. Did anyone else get this ad, or am I special? Oh never mind.

TODAY: Gusty sun, T-storms possible by late afternoon. Winds: S 15-30. Dew point: 64. High: 84

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Humid with more numerous T-storms. Low: 70

THURSDAY: Unsettled, more T-storms, especially PM hours. High: near 80

FRIDAY: Cooler, more rain Friday PM and Friday night Wake-up: 59. High: 66

SATURDAY: Wet start, then gradual clearing. Wake-up: 55. High: 70

SUNDAY: The nicer day of the weekend. Partly sunny, milder. Wake-up: 54. High: 74

MONDAY: Lukewarm sunshine - very pleasant. Wake-up: 55. High: 76

TUESDAY: Fading sun, late shower possible. Wake-up: 57. High: 73

Read more here:

Climate Stories....

Exxon: The Road Not Taken. Inside Climate News, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, has an amazing series on how Exxon knew as far back as 1977 that burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. Here's an excerpt: "...Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world's use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity. "In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black told Exxon's Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later. It was July 1977 when Exxon's leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis..."

Video produced with Frontline:
Cast of Characters:

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches Fourth Lowest Minimum. Professional climate skeptics will say it's another cosmic coincidence, you're being an alarmist, ignore the allegedly shrinking ice sheet. It's a conspiracy! Right. Here's an excerpt of an update from The National Snow and Ice Data Center: "On September 11, 2015, sea ice extent dropped to 4.41 million square kilometers (1.70 million square miles), the fourth lowest minimum in the satellite record. This appears to be the lowest extent of the year. In response to the setting sun and falling temperatures, ice extent will now climb through autumn and winter. However, a shift in wind patterns or a period of late season melt could still push the ice extent lower. The minimum extent was reached four days earlier than the 1981 to 2010 average minimum date of September 15. The extent ranked behind 2012 (lowest), 2007 (second lowest), and 2011 (third lowest). Moreover, the nine lowest extents in the satellite era have all occurred in the last nine years..."

Global Warming To Pick Up in 2015, 2016. "The Pause" was an illusion, additional heat going into the world's oceans, especially the Pacific. Now much of that stored heat is being released in one of the biggest El Nino events on record, turbocharging the warming already underway. Here's an excerpt from The Star Online: "...It looks very likely that globally 2014, 2015 and 2016 will all be amongst the very warmest years ever recorded,” Rowan Sutton of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, which contributed to the report, told journalists. “This is not a fluke,” he said. “We are seeing the effects of energy steadily accumulating in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere, caused by greenhouse gas emissions.” The rate at which global temperatures are increasing is also on track to pick up in the coming years, ending a period of more than a decade in which the pace of warming worldwide had appeared to slow down, the report said. This “pause” has been seized upon by sceptics as evidence that climate change was driven more by natural cycles than human activity..."

U.S, China Pair Up on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from Voice of America: "...The United States announced a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 level by 2025. China committed to peak their carbon emissions by 2030. “This year needs to be a year of implementation, and a year when our two countries demonstrate our commitment to implementing and executing against those goals with ambitious, concrete steps to reduce our carbon emissions in a way that moves our economies forward,” Senior White House Advisor Brian Deese said..."

AP File photo above: "U.S. President Barack Obama, right, smiles after a group of children waved flags and flowers to cheer him during a welcome ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China."

Nebraskans Call for State Action on Climate Change. Details via "Many rural Nebraskans appear to be ready for the state to develop an action plan on climate change, according to a University of Nebraska-Lincoln poll released Monday, and a university initiative getting underway this week will be tapped by a state legislator to draft one. The Nebraska Rural Poll, an annual survey, found that 61 percent of those responding agreed or strongly agreed that the state should develop a plan to adapt to the effects of climate change. Seventeen percent disagreed..."

Opinion: 8 Reasons Why Pope Francis Will Pummel Republicans Over Climate Change. It's a losing hand - the GOP needs to find a way forward, one that emphasizes a pragmatic, conservative approach. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed from Paul Farrell at MarketWatch: "...This time he’s attacking President Obama’s favorite proxy, the wildly popular Pope Francis, who’s backed by an army of billions worldwide. Meanwhile, McConnell must be praying Big Oil will keep bankrolling him in his lost-cause climate war against the pope and the president. This time it is global warming, a signature issue for both Pope Francis and President Obama, a powerful issue guaranteed to be front and center when the pope visits Congress, the UN, and the presidential debates and elections. And this time around, everyone knows that the Senate Leader and his GOP colleagues are mere pawns, de facto lobbyists, proxies for a not-so-secret conspiracy of Big Oil billionaires, the Koch Empire, far-right billionaires and the GOP’s conservative climate-science denying allies..." (AP file photo upper right. Upper left file photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais).

It's Hot Outside. Could This Machine Be The Answer to Global Warming? Could someone, somewhere invent technology that decarbonizes fossil fuels, or even extracts CO2 from the atmosphere? Never say never - I wouldn't rule anything out, even though the probabilities are small (today). Here's an excerpt of a curious article at The Times of Israel: "...If only we could get rid of all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by converting it back into hydrocarbons and oxygen — a kind of reverse combustion — the earth could be saved. Of course that requires energy, which is the reason we burned the fuel in the first place. Is it possible to bend the laws of nature and get something for nothing? That is precisely what an Israeli company, New CO2 Fuels, proposes to do. Based on research developed by Weizmann Institute Earth Sciences Professor Jacob Karni, the company takes captured CO2 and uses renewable energy to convert it back into fuel, reducing the need for fossil fuel extraction and reducing CO2 emissions. Not only that, but the process is profitable..."

Photo credit above: "A prototype of the machine that reverses combustion."

How Cheap Can Solar Get? Very Cheap Indeed. I was encouraged to read up on the trends (solar voltaic prices are in a free fall, falling even faster than the price of crude oil it seems). Here's an excerpt from German Energy Transition: "...And beyond that, by the time solar scale has doubled 4 more times, to the equivalent of 16% of today’s electricity demand (and somewhat less of future demand), we should see solar at 3 cents per kwh in the sunniest areas, and 4.5 cents per kwh in moderately sunny areas. If this holds, solar will cost less than half what new coal or natural gas electricity cost, even without factoring in the cost of air pollution and carbon pollution emitted by fossil fuel power plants..."

Job Creator. How many people benefit from a single wind farm going up in Minnesota? More than you might imagine. Click here to see a larger infographic, courtesy of Fresh Energy.

Religion and Climate Change - Can You Talk About Both? Absolutely. Stewardship and Creation Care are central to climate change; protecting God's gift. Here's an excerpt of a story from Alaska Public Media: "...Any person who has a devotion to God in any form should think of the Earth as a creation that needs to be protected, needs to be cared for in a proper way,” said panelist Orthodox Bishop David Mahaffey. “So as a human being who knows and loves a creator God, I feel it’s my role to be involved in these things.” The Bishop said he incorporates protection of the environment in his daily life and sacraments. For him and many of the other speakers at the conference, faith and environmental protection are not just linked; they are inextricably tied together..."

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