Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summery Weekend - First Canadian Slap Brewing - Army Concerns About Global Warming

76 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
69 F. average high on September 23.
74 F. high on September 23, 2014.

September 24: 1985: 0.4 inches of snow fell in the Minneapolis area!
September 24, 1982: Tropical air over the state. The Twin Cities has a low of 71.
September 24, 1869: Heavy rain dumps nearly 10 inches on the White Earth Reservation.

Simmering September
First Canadian Slap Brewing

What if winter....never came? That's not going to happen anytime soon, and frankly it would be a very bad sign if the flakes didn't fly and the winds didn't howl and the temperatures didn't tumble. It would mean we were past the point of no return. The arrival of winter is a reminder that we haven't irreversibly screwed things up, at least not yet. I'm happy to report (on some level) that winter is, in fact, coming...

The first real Canadian slap of autumn is brewing for the first weekend of October, when you might actually need a jacket.

Your drip-dries may be drooping after yesterday's June-like downpours. Morning puddles give way to gradual clearing later today. The weekend still looks partly-glorious with sunshine and highs near 80F. Soak it up because we cool into the 60s early next week; in about 2 weeks we may be looking at highs in the 40s and 50s.

You know, actual autumn-like weather, for a change.

It's still supernaturally green out there for late September. Minnesota's growing season is 2 weeks longer than it was a generation ago. That's not a nebulous climate model; that's based on actual NASA observations of greenery from low-Earth orbit.

Torrential Rains Flood Omaha. Training T-storms dumped out some amazing rainfall amounts on the Omaha area, at least for late September. Here's an excerpt from WOWT-TV: "Torrential rains hammered the metro Wednesday morning with some of the heaviest rain totals on record being tallied. Streets flooded, tree limbs cracked, power failed. Then came the clean-up and the threat of more rain. Council Bluffs schools closed, bowing to the challenge of the high water. Up to eight inches of rain fell in four hours in parts of Pottawattamie and Mills counties in Iowa. Eppley Airfield had received 5.25 inches by 5:00 p.m., breaking the previous record for this date of 1.97 inches set in 1977. It was also the sixth highest daily rainfall of all time in Omaha. The most ever recorded was the 6.46 inches that fell on August 7, 1999..."

Clearing Out For The Weekend. Today still looks unsettled with a few lingering showers - although the heaviest bands of storms should push east by the PM hours. A ridge of high pressure builds over the weekend, keeping us dry, sunny and unseasonably warm. A few low 80s are possible close to home. 84-hour NAM guidance above: NOAA.

7-Day Rainfall Potential. An area of disturbed weather over Central America is forecast to push into the Gulf of Mexico by early next week, increasing the risk of heavy rain for the Gulf Coast; more flash flooding problems possible across the Carolinas. The rains that soaked the Omaha area will push east; the next chance of showers and T-storms over Minnesota coming the middle of next week.

Chilly Snap - Then Warming Up Again. High temperatures may hold in the 40s and 50s between October 5-8, but some recovery is likely the second week of October as the flow becomes more zonal, more west to east, allowing 60s, even a few 70s to return to the Upper Midwest. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Fall is Here, But U.S. Temperatures are Stuck in Summer. WXshift has the story - here's an excerpt that caught my eye: "...If the month ended today, at least 26 cities across the country would have their warmest September on record. They range from El Paso, Texas to Denver to Cheyenne, Wyo. to Boston. Also among the record setters is New York, which could set a new record by a wide margin. This September is outpacing the current record — set in 1961 — by 3.1°F. A host of other cities including Cleveland and Chicago would also see this September among their top five warmest. Summer’s temperature grip should stay firmly in place for the rest of the month just about everywhere across the U.S., save the Pacific Northwest which is in a bubble of average temperatures..." (Graphic: WXshift).

Valley Fire Named Third Most Destructive Wildfire in California State History. Here's an excerpt from the San Jose Mercury News: "As fire crews moved closer to controlling the Valley Fire overnight Monday, bringing it to 75 percent under control, the blaze was named the third most destructive wildfire in state history, according to Cal Fire officials. As of 7:30 a.m., 75,781 acres were burned, according to Cal Fire officials. Firefighters mopped up hot spots and strengthened fire lines designed to keep the fire from advancing, according to a news release from the agency..."

Photo credit above: "Charred vehicles rest among the remains of houses burned down by the Valley Fire in Middletown, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015." (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group).

When You Add Severe Storms to Rising Seas You Get Some Scary Math. onEarth takes a look at coastal vulnerability; here's a clip: "Sometimes, 1 plus 1 can equal 3." This quote from Columbia University climatologist Radley Horton isn’t likely to convert any climate deniers, but it is a succinct way of summarizing an intriguing new study about how global warming will increase flooding in U.S. coastal cities. If you have even a passing familiarity with climate change science, you know that global warming raises the risk that coastal cities will be inundated. Dozens of studies have made that point. But there’s an element of the research that few pick up on: There are two entirely different mechanisms that place coastal communities at risk..." (Hurricane Katrina file photo from New Orleans courtesy of FEMA).

British Columbia Coast Should Brace for "Monster" El Nino Year. Details via the Canadian Press and the Edmonton Journal; here's a clip: "The "monster" El Nino weather system expected to hit Canada's West Coast later this fall and winter could lead to higher tides, flooding and erosion in low-lying coastal areas, says a professor at the University of Victoria. Ian Walker's warning comes out of part of a larger study by a group of researchers from five countries bordering the Pacific who looked into El Nino and La Nina weather systems. The study was published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience..."

File photo credit above: "Massive waves hit the seawall as storms surges on West Vancouver's Ambleside beach area at high tide , flooding the local John Lawson Park, on December 17, 2012." Mark van Manen / PNG Staff

Flooding May Increase 300-Fold on Atlantic, Gulf Coasts. Rising sea levels are already making storm surge flooding worse, even without major hurricane strikes. That's not alarmist hype, that's based on actual observations. Here's a clip from CBS News: "Sea-level rise along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts combined with more frequent and violent storms could increase flooding from the Northeast to Texas by several-hundredfold, according to a new study out Monday. Over the past century, the East Coast has seen sea-level rise far above the 8-inch global average - up to a foot in much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including New York City. It is expected to increase as much as four feet by 2100, mostly due to the melting ice sheets as well as the expansion of the seawater as the oceans warm..." (File photo: USGS).

Californians Fear El Nino's Dark Side Will Bring More Trouble. the midst of the worst drought in 500 years? It's a distinct possibility as El Nino warming of the Pacific shifts the core of the jet stream, the main storm track, 500-1000 miles farther south than typical during the winter months. But will this pattern actually emerge in the coming months? Here's a clip from Bloomberg Business: "...They weren’t touting it as the savior that will end the state’s four-year drought. Instead, they were looking at a darker scenario where the weather-changing phenomenon adds another year of dryness in the north while ravaging the south with floods. “What do you say when the governor asks you what to do? ‘You prepare for flood and drought because there is a possibility you can get both,”’ said Mike Anderson, state climatologist. While it bucks conventional wisdom, the scenario is a real possibility..."

The Hottest Cities to Live - and Die - In. Takepart takes a look at how the urban heat island, coupled with warming from the climate system, is increasing the risk of heat-related ailments in America's largest cities, including MSP. Here's an excerpt: "...In a study recently published in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, researchers at the University of Georgia looked at the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the United States to see which cities were experiencing the most intense temperature changes owing to the UHI effect. Salt Lake City; Louisville, Kentucky; Miami; and Cleveland topped the list with jumps in annual temperatures between 0.92 degrees Celsius and 1.49 degrees Celsius in 2010 thanks to asphalt, density, and urban sprawl. Urban areas with increases between a half to nearly 1 degree Celsius included Los Angeles; San Francisco; Dallas–Fort Worth; Minneapolis–St. Paul; Detroit; Washington, D.C.–Baltimore; New York City; Philadelphia; Norfolk, Virginia; Birmingham, Alabama; and Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida..."

Map credit above: "This graphic shows the annual average urban heat island effect in 2010." (Photo: University of Georgia)

A Massive Amount of Death is Plaguing the World's Oceans. VICE News has the story - here's a clip: "Marine species have declined by almost half over the last forty-five years, according to the World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Index, and leading marine scientists tell VICE News that the only hope of stopping mass death in the oceans is to radically and quickly transform human behavior. Based on a study of 5,829 populations of 1,234 mammal, bird, reptile, and fish species in the world's oceans, the WWF found a decline of 49 percent between 1970 and 2012. Fish were the most threatened, in large part because of human overfishing: Over a third of fish consumed by humans measured by the Living Planet Index are under threat of extinction, with one family of tuna and mackerel falling 74 percent between 1970 and 2010..." (Photo by Franck Robichon/EPA).

3-D Meteorological Experience: Tornado in the Cube. This is pretty cool, and it's helping meteorologists better understand the dynamics of tornadogenesis. Here's an excerpt from "...The team re-created a tornado that happened in Moore, Oklahoma in 2013—a weather event that killed 24 people—using the data from the storm. Using the audio and visual capabilities of the Cube, researchers can penetrate the storm’s outside layers of rain, walking through to see what is happening at the center of the tornado. With this comprehensive view, researchers can better understand how tornadoes develop, allowing them to develop more accurate storm predictions and improve warning systems. The ultimate goal is to visualize weather events in real time, which would provide invaluable emergency management information..."

Study: Twice As Much Trash Put in Landfills Than Estimated. 1,871 pounds of trash per person into landfills as recently as 2013. Good grief. Here's an excerpt from a story at AP: "...Researchers at Yale University looked at the records for more than 1,200 landfills and calculated amounts, predominantly based on weights. They figured it was 289 million tons in 2012, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change. For the same year, EPA estimated the figure to be 135 million tons. The Yale team calculated that in 2013, waste sent to landfills rose to 294 million tons. With 316 million people, that comes to 1,871 pounds per person in that year, the last for which there are figures..."

* TIME has additional perspective on a growing problem with trash.

Wherever You Go, Your Personal Cloud of Microbes Follows. I took a second shower after reading this story at NPR; here's an excerpt: "...The findings from Meadow and his colleagues were published Tuesday in the journal PeerJ. Each of us carries around millions of microorganisms – including bacteria, fungi and viruses — on the inner and outer surfaces of our bodies. Most of them aren't dangerous. In fact, growing evidence indicates that they help us in lots of ways. Scientists call this collection of organisms our microbiome..."

Illustration credit above: Thomas Kuhlenbeck/Ikon Images/Corbis.

So Sad, So Dumb. Selfies Kill More People Than Sharks. Darwin was right, it turns out. Here's an excerpt of a post from Mashable and Yahoo News: "...It’s gotten so bad in Russia, where kids have been electrocuted while trying to take selfies on top of train cars, the government has launched a public-service campaign to warn young people about locations where it might not be so smart to take a photo (including on top of houses, next to oncoming trains, and in the company of wild animals). Mashable went a step further in putting this so-tragic-it’s-tragic trend into perspective, crunching to numbers to determine that more lives in 2015 have been lost to selfie mishaps (12) than to shark attacks (eight)..."

TODAY: Wet start, slow PM clearing. Winds: SE 8-13. High: 73

THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy, patchy fog possible. Low: 59

FRIDAY: Mild sun, PM showers north. Winds: SE 7-12. High: 77

SATURDAY: Hints of August. Warm sunshine. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 59. High: near 80

SUNDAY: Warm sun, lake-worthy. PM thunder up north? Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 60. High: 82

MONDAY: Cloudier and cooler, stray shower. Wake-up: 61. High: 69

TUESDAY: Partly sunny, comfortable. Wake-up: 56. High: 65

WEDNESDAY: Unsettled, few showers possible. Wake-up: 54. High: 67

Climate Stories....

Pope Francis, in Washington, Offers Vision for Church, and World. Here's a clip from The New York Times; an excerpt of yesterday's address by Pope Francis: "...Mr. President,” Francis said, speaking in English despite his discomfort with the language, “I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history.” Devoting more of his address to that issue than to any other topic, the pope said there was still time to heal the planet for its children. “To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it,” he said..."

Photo credit above: "Pope Francis departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, en route to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. The Pope will celebrate Mass and canonize Junipero Serra." (AP Photo/Cliff Owen).

Pope Francis and the Case for Optimism about Climate Change. Here's a snippet of a story from Chris Mooney at The Washington Post: "...For even assuming that Paris is a success and clean energy continues to grow like gangbusters, emissions won’t suddenly cease tomorrow, and there’s a fair amount of warming (and sea level rise) already baked into the system. And we honestly don’t know whether or not, by the time temperatures have peaked and are on the way down again, human emissions will have already in effect flipped any climate change “wild cards,” as my colleague Joby Warrick recently put it, involving the circulation of the oceans, the planet’s increasingly worrisome ice sheets, or Arctic permafrost (to name a few)...."

Pope Francis' Remarks at the White House. The New York Times has a full transcript of the Pope's message; here's an excerpt of Wednesday's speech in Washington D.C.: "...Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them...."

Pope Francis Comes to America to Preach for Climate Action. Eric Holthaus has a story at Slate; here's a snippet: "...This is the message Pope Francis will bring to America: The world needs Americans to take a dramatically different path, a moral path, and the time is now. Each of us has the ability and the responsibility to put the common good ahead of our own interest every day, and the health of our planet demands it. Echoing Pope Francis, Oreskes writes in the foreword: “It is not a question of people versus the environment and choosing which is more important. It is a question of abandoning the notion of ‘versus’ altogether...”

Global Warming: Army Health Readiness Concern? Here's an excerpt from the U.S. Army: "Climate change might be the most significant threat facing the Army's health readiness in the future, one Army science advisor said. Dr. Steven Cersovsky spoke during the Association of the U.S. Army's "Hot Topics" forum on health readiness in Arlington, Virginia, Sept. 22. He serves as science advisor for the Army Public Health Center (Provisional) at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. "We must understand what is coming and how these changes will affect our Army," Cersovsky said. "And we must begin adapting now." More heat-related injuries will be among the most obvious problems coming with global warming, Cersovsky said..."

Image credit above: "Extreme heat and increased particulates in the air may be a problem for Soldiers in the future with climate change, an Army science advisor said. Here Soldiers, from 77th Sustainment Brigade, train on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J."

Graphic: The Presidential Candidates on Climate Change. NPR has a good summary of where the candidates stand; here's an excerpt: "...Climate change is something the next president will also have to grapple with as well, though the candidates vary vastly in whether they believe it is real, consider it a priority, and in what action they would take. Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that she now opposes building the Keystone XL pipeline, after avoiding taking a position on it for months. Republican candidate Bobby Jindal took a quick jab at Clinton over that announcement, tweeting that she "should focus on creating American jobs instead of appeasing radical environmentalists." In one graphic, here's where the presidential candidates stand on climate change."

Graphic credit: NPR research. Updated Sept. 23, 2015. Credit: Alyson Hurt and Lauren Leatherby/NPR

If You Care About Climate Change It's Getting Easier to Find Companies To Invest In. Here's a clip from an article at Quartz: "...In the past year, though, there has been a marked rise in the number of companies that set their own internal “price” for carbon emissions and self-report the figures. In 2015, 437 companies around the world used such a guide, up from 150 the previous year. The list of those companies (pdf) was released recently by CDP, a charity that collects data on carbon emissions and has the stated aim of helping to mitigate climate change. In the report, companies said they were driven by pressures including the desire to incentivize investment in clean energy and reducing emissions..."

96 Cities That Are Quitting Fossil Fuels and Moving Toward 100% Renewable Energy. EcoWatch has the article; here's an excerpt: "...Several cities have even made impressive strides to ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewables. Two recent reports have confirmed that 100 percent renewable energy is possible. Earlier this summer, professors out of Stanford and U.C. Berkeley laid out a plan for the U.S. to convert to 100 percent renewable energy in less than 40 years, and Monday Greenpeace published its Energy Revolution 2015 report, which proposes a pathway to a 100 percent sustainable energy supply by 2050..."

Global Companies Joining Climate Change Efforts. A number of big companies are stepping up; here's an excerpt of a story at The New York Times: "...Nine major companies are expected on Wednesday to join a global coalition of firms intent on converting to renewable energy. The new members include Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and Goldman Sachs. A handful of the companies have already reached the 100 percent target; others do not expect to do so for several decades, but they are typically setting aggressive interim targets..." (Image above: NASA).

Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models. Here is the third installment of the series from InsideClimate News: "Steve Knisely was an intern at Exxon Research and Engineering in the summer of 1979 when a senior vice president asked him to analyze how global warming might affect fuel use. "I think this guy was looking for validation that the greenhouse effect should spur some investment in alternative energy that's not bad for the environment," Knisely, now 58 and a partner in a management consulting company, recalled in a recent interview. Knisely projected that unless fossil fuel use was constrained, there would be "noticeable temperature changes" and 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air by 2010, up from about 280 ppm before the Industrial Revolution. The summer intern's predictions turned out to be very close to the mark...."

Graphic above courtesy of Greg Laden, who has additional perspective in this blog post: "...Notice that Exxon 1981 had it right. The revelations of the Exxon research, and the fact that it was kept secret and all that, is an interesting story. And, that story will develop over coming days, week, and months. But I don’t want to lose track of the other story, in some ways even more interesting. How surprised should we be, after all, that a major corporation would both look into and ignore, possibly even repress, the science associated with their primary activity? Not at all, really. But what is surprising is that we (and by “we” I mean scientists who have studied climate change) have understood the basic problem for a very long time, and decades of research have confirmed early findings, and of course, added important details...."

Industry Can Lead on Climate Change. The New York Times takes a look at how big companies are getting out in front on this issue, to lower carbon emissions, yes, but also to save energy, and save money, tightening up their bottom lines. Here's an excerpt: "A NUMBER of major companies — from PepsiCo to Walmart to U.P.S. — have recognized that corporations have a responsibility to address the causes of climate change before it is too late. We do not have to wait for an international treaty or new regulations to act. At Siemens, the global industrial manufacturing company I lead that makes everything from wind and gas turbines and automation systems to high-speed trains and M.R.I. machines, we understand that taking action is not just prudent — it’s profitable..."

Photo credit above: "The Siemens plant in Sacramento." Credit David Paul Morris/Bloomberg.

Green Group: Fossil-Fuel Phase-Out Possible by 2050. Here's a clip from a story at TheHill: "The world could completely phase out fossil fuels and use only renewable energy by 2050, activist group Greenpeace concluded in a new report. In a joint project with the German Aerospace Centre, Greenpeace concluded that the 2050 timeline would create jobs and be cost competitive when compared with a continued reliance on fossil fuels. “We must not let the fossil fuel industry’s lobbying stand in the way of a switch to renewable energy, the most effective and fairest way to deliver a clean and safe energy future,” Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement..."

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