Saturday, September 19, 2015

More June than September - What did Exxon Know (about warming effects of fossil fuels) and When Did They Know It?

69 F. high in the Twin Cities Saturday.
70 F. average high on September 19.
81 F. high on September 19, 2014.

September 20, 2001: 3/4 to 1 3/4 inch hail fell in Freeborn and Faribault counties.
September 20, 1972: Downpour in Duluth, with 5 1/2 inches in ten hours.

Cool, Calm and Quiet
No Sign of Autumn...Yet

To be a meteorologist is to live a life of perpetual paranoia. "What can go wrong and when?" I'm waiting for an enterprising business to build a pipeline from the Great Lakes to the thirsty western USA.

Think about it: California is in the middle of the worst drought in at least 500 years. Forget oil pipelines. You can't drink oil, or sprinkle it on your crops. What happens when a big city runs out of water?

Maybe it's paranoia, sleep deprivation or worse, but at some point they're coming for our water. Wait for it.

Threat and opportunity: there's a need for new technologies that use less water, while better capturing the rainwater that does fall. It's coming.

September will wind up much wetter than average across much of Minnesota and Wisconsin, but today will be serene and postcard-perfect, with highs in the mid-70s. We teeter on the edge of a warmer front much of this week, our sky irritable and capable of thunder Wednesday into Friday. This sticky boundary lifts north next weekend with more 80s by Sunday.

Autumn officially kicks off on Wednesday, but the maps look more like late August.

The old complaint is that summer in Minnesota only lasts 3 months. Maybe true, but not this year.

* photo credit above:

Mild Bias Again This Week. After a comfortable weekend the leading edge of warmer, stickier air pushes north (or more accurately cool air retreats into Canada), setting the stage for a streak of 70s, even a shot at 80F. The location of this warm frontal boundary close to home will mean scattered T-storms the latter half of the week, but skies should clear as the warm front surges north next weekend; a week from today we could be well up into the 80s again. 10-day GFS guidance above: NOAA.

Heaviest Rains over Northern Minnesota. NOAA's model ensemble shows some 1-2" rainfall amounts predicted over the next week from Duluth to Bemidji and Grand Forks; welcome rains from a tropical disturbance pushing into southern California (wouldn't be surprised to see some flash flooding from L.A. to Phoenix), another area of disturbed weather pushing up the east coast, with heaviest rains remaining offshore.

Warm Start to October. The ridge axis, which set up over the western USA much of the summer, shows signs of shifting east and stalling over the central USA the first few days of October. The result of this heat-pump high pressure bubble may be a surge of 80s unusually far north for October, even a few record highs. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Last Thursday: "Almost a Top 10" Wettest September Day. AerisWeather meteorologist D.J. Kayser compiled the data and made the map. At 2.37" we came very close on Thursday.

A Wet Winter Won't Save California. El Nino inspired rains may settle the dust, but the pattern appears to be shifting in a way that favors more heat and drought for the western USA. Catching up in the rainfall department. Here's a snippet from The New York Times: "...The second is that California is facing a new climate reality, in which extreme drought is more likely. The state’s water rights, infrastructure and management were designed for an old climate, one that no longer exists. Our research has shown that global warming has doubled the odds of the warm, dry conditions that are intensifying and prolonging this drought, which now holds records not only for lowest precipitation and highest temperature, but also for the lowest spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in at least 500 years. These changing odds make it much more likely that similar conditions will occur again, exacerbating other stresses on agriculture, ecosystems and people..." (Photo credit: NOAA).

Which Cities In The World Are Closest to Nixing Fossil Fuels? National Geographic has more details; here are two snippets: "...Cities like Reykjavik and Zurich have already quit using fossil fuels to produce power, and others plan to cut back. A new survey reveals just far 162 of them have gone....Also this week, officials in Aspen, Colorado said their city became the third in the United States— after Burlington, Vermont, and Greensburg, Kansas—to run entirely on renewable energy. They’re boosting wind power, which emits zero carbon dioxide, and eliminating coal, which produces more CO2 than oil or gas when burned..."

Image credit: Data provided by cities, NG STAFF. SOURCES: CDP; AECOM.

No Red or Blue Divide When it Comes to Renewable Energy Innovation and CO2 Rules. Andrew Revkin has a story at The New York Times: "...First, most states are in the pastel middle ranges in terms of voters reporting that they are worried about global warming. That’s a finding that can be interpreted differently, in Rorschach ink blot fashion. But I think it’s most meaningful considered in the context of Gallup findings showing global warming still at the bottom of environmental concerns. The bottom line is “meh” finding, as my younger son’s generation might say.But now look at the breadth of support across the United States for using pollution regulations to curb carbon dioxide, the main human-generated greenhouse gas..."

Map credit above: "Voters in every state supported regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant in 2014, according to a new study." Yale University.

"College" Football Has Almost Nothing To Do With Collage at All. The Atlantic reports; here's a snippet that got my attention: "...But, as Gilbert M. Gaul, who has won Pulitzer Prizes for his coverage of blood banks and the American coal industry, explains in his new book Billion Dollar Ball: A Journey Through the Big-Money Culture of College Football, there’s nothing scrappy or amateurish about the sport’s business side. As Gaul explains, most college-football programs have come to operate more or less independently from the universities that chartered them, and money has become their raison d’etre. TV contracts, corporate sponsors, and “seat donations”—in which elite teams charge their fans above and beyond the price of a season ticket for the privilege of securing a seat—are just three reasons why a program such as the University of Texas’s could go from making $18.7 million in 1999 to $104 million in 2012..."

Photo credit above: USA Today Sports.

Ultimate Travel List: Lonely Planet's Top 10 Sights in the World. They actually have 500 mapped out, but this is the Top 10. How many of these have you seen? Here's an excerpt from Lonely Planet: "Is the list of places you’d like to visit becoming a little unwieldy? Ours was – which is why we’ve whittled them down from thousands to a definitive rundown of the planet’s most unforgettable sights. Not only that, we’ve made the bold move of ranking them in order of brilliance, based on a highly complex formula of expert recommendations, community feedback and oracle-like intuition..."

Photo credit above: #1 on the list: Temples of Angkor, Cambodia. "Monks wandering through the temple ruins of Ta Prohm." Image by Mark Read, Lonely Planet

The Art of "Farecasting" the Lowest Airfare. There's some good advice in a recent New York Times story; here's a clip: "...My go-to tool is Google Flights. It’s swift yet comprehensive. And it has the essential filters (like fare class and stops) but requires few keystrokes to unearth all that information. Plug your travel dates into the search box and monthly calendars pop up with fares on each day (green fares are lowest), so you’ll instantly know if you should tweak your arrival or departure to score a better deal. Google Flights is also my top pick because it makes searching for premium economy, business and first class fares simpler than most of its competitors, thanks to a drop-down menu on its landing page..."

Enabling of Ad-Blocking in Apple's iOS9 Prompts Backlash. Yes, those ads can be annoying, but they fund content on most sites, and disabling them will result in fewer options for information. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "For years, people have longed for ways to stop advertising from popping up on their iPhones and iPads. Now, software to block ads on these gadgets has arrived — and the harsh realities of the practice are causing second thoughts. Just two days after Apple enabled ad-blocking apps through its new mobile operating system, iOS 9, users are embracing the new technology after long complaining that the ads track them, slow down web browsers and are just plain annoying. In less than 48 hours, several ad-blocking apps with names like Peace, Purify and Crystal soared to the top of Apple’s App Store chart..."

Best Cities for Millenials. A slideshow only The Onion can produce. Funny, with a hint of truth.

TODAY: Bright sun, beautiful. Winds: S 10-15. High: 74

SUNDAY NIGHT: Mostly clear. Low: 58

MONDAY: Partly sunny and warmer. Winds: S 15-25. High: 78

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun. Isolated storm risk. Wake-up: 60. High: 76

WEDNESDAY: Sticky again, T-storms up north. Wake-up: 61. High: near 80

THURSDAY: Humid with numerous T-storms. Wake-up: 63. High: 76

FRIDAY: Unsettled with lingering T-showers. Wake-up: 61. High: 73

SATURDAY: What autumn? Warm sun. Wake-up: 59. High: 79

* temperatures may surge well into the 80s 1 week from today.

Climate Stories....

What Exxon Knew About Climate Change. Here's additional perspective from The New Yorker. The intro: "Wednesday morning, journalists at InsideClimate News, a web site that has won the Pulitzer Price for its reporting on oil spills, published the first installment of a multi-part expose that will be appearing over the next month. The documents they have compiled and the interviews they have conducted with retired employees and officials show that, as early as 1977, Exxon (now ExxonMobile, one of the world's largest oil companies) knew that its main product would heat up the planet disastrously. This did not prevent the company from then spending decades helping to organize the campaigns of disinformation and denial that have slowed - perhaps fatally - the planet's response to global warming...."

Former Department of Justice Official Says Exxon News Worsens Liability Picture. This is tobacco times a thousand, and a law firm will rise that launches the Mother of All Class Action Lawsuits. It's a matter of when, not if. Here's an excerpt from Climate Investigations Center: "The former Department of Justice lawyer who led the watershed lawsuit against tobacco companies, says that the news out today about oil giant ExxonMobil knowing as early as 1981 about the threat posed by climate change could worsen the fossil fuel industry's liability picture. Not only the media are buzzing over the revelation today that Exxon executives knew as early as 1981 of the significance of climate change and the dangers of carbon dioxide emissions, yet continued to fund scientists and a global misinformation campaign to sow doubt about whether global warming is real for another 27 years..."

The Arguments That Convinced a Libertarian to Support Aggressive Action on Climate Change. Dave Roberts has an interesting interview at Vox; here's an excerpt: "...But I began to change, maybe five or six years ago, for several reasons. One, the scientific evidence became stronger and stronger over time. A lot of conservatives think of climate change as similar to the population issue. You have to remember, in the '60s and '70s people were frantic about population growth. And it just peeled away as an issue, simply because it was wrong — or the projections were. And so I would say the same thing: [climate change] is just one in the endless parade of environmental apocalypse stories. But in this particular case, the concern has been with us for over 30 years, and the case isn’t getting weaker. It seems to get stronger. And while one can do some gymnastics to continue to defend the "there’s nothing to see here, folks" argument, it became harder and harder..." Photo credit: Jerry Taylor. (Niskanen Center)

10 Largest Companies "Obstructing" Climate Policy. Here's an excerpt from a story at EcoWatch: "...The companies receiving the lowest grades come as no surprise. Among them are major fossil fuel companies such as Chevron, BP, Duke Energy and Phillips 66. And at the bottom of the list is climate denying extraordinaire Koch Industries. Interestingly, two media companies even make the list: 21st Century Fox and Comcast. Here are the 10 worst companies on InfluenceMap’s list..."

11 Republicans Vow to Fight Climate Change. A crack in the armor? Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...Led by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), the lawmakers want the House to go on record to generally agree with the overwhelming consensus of scientists that human activity, through greenhouse gases, is warming the globe. The resolution frames climate change as an issue of environmental stewardship, which it says has a long history in the United States. They’re introducing the non-binding legislation a week before Pope Francis speaks to Congress. He is expected to call for action on climate change, following up on his encyclical earlier this year asking world leaders to fight global warming..." (Image: NASA).

David Letterman Will Explore Climate Change for National Geographic Docu-Series. If you didn't see Season 1 of "Years of Living Dangerously" it's worth tracking down. Here's the intro to a story at Variety: "David Letterman has a new hosting gig – of sorts. The veteran late-night comedian will in 2016 journey to India to examine how that nation is trying to bring solar power to its entire population within the next decade. It’s a far cry from rattling off the popular Top Ten Lists and Stupid Pet Tricks that were so much a part of his more than three decades of wee-hours television for CBS and NBC. But it’s a chance for Letterman to give voice to the issue of climate change on a new, albeit temporary, home: National Geographic Channel..." (Photo credit: CBS).

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