Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hard Freeze Saturday Morning - BP Admits "Some Oil Unburnable"

68 F. high in the Twin Cities Wednesday.
59 F. average high on October 14.
65 F. high on October 14, 2014.

October 15, 1968: Short-sleeve weather across central and southern Minnesota. The high was 85 in the Twin Cities.
October 15, 1899: Heavy precipitation with 3.2 inches of rain in the St. Cloud area and 2.1 inches in Willmar. Source: Twin Cities National Weather Service.

Hard Freeze Saturday
Farewell to Bugs and Ragweed!

Minnesota has experienced tornadoes as early as March 18, 1968; as late in the season as November 16, 1931. The Gopher State has seen tornadoes as early as March 18, 1968 - as late in the season as November 16, 1931. 2015 saw 20 tornadoes in Minnesota; fewer than average. Nationwide it was the 4th relatively quiet year in a row for twisters.

On April 14, 1886 Sauk Rapids was leveled by a massive tornado that left 72 dead. The twister was 800 yards wide; a tornado vortex so big and powerful the Mississippi River was temporarily "swept dry". St. Cloud, which experienced a glancing blow, went on to become the largest city in central Minnesota.

I find it vaguely fascinating that an 1883 F5 tornado resulted in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. A small 1981 tornado in Roseville was the inspiration behind a "Best Buy" sale that spun up a national chain based in Bloomington.

A silver lining to horrifying tornadoes? Sometimes tragic circumstances have happy endings.

No weather drama brewing, just an inevitable cold frontal passage today. Tomorrow will feel like "football weather"; time to dig out the heavy jackets. Skies clear and winds ease Friday night, setting the stage for a freeze Saturday morning. A cool, sunny weekend is shaping up; more 60s return early next week.

Another Gusty Day. The arrival of a colder front puts the squeeze on our atmosphere again today, sustained winds forecast to peak around 20 mph between 2 PM and 5 PM (with gusts over 30 mph at times). Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Hard Freeze Potential. Temperatures in the suburbs are forecast to dip into the upper 20s by 6 AM Saturday morning, possibly long enough for a hard freeze, the best chance of a killing freeze outside the 494/694 freeway.

Canadian High. Although hardly chilling air a 15-20F degree drop in temperature will whip up strong winds today. But winds ease late Friday and Friday night, a clearing sky setting the stage for a frost or freeze by Saturday morning. A strong pressure gradient whips up 15-20 mph winds again Sunday as milder air surges north. NAM data: NOAA.

Getting Closer. The animation above, courtesy of NOAA and AerisWeather, shows accumulated snowfall over the next 10 days; snow showers pushing across the Great Lakes into New England. Ground temperatures are still mild so most of that snow will melt on contact, maybe a few inches for Montreal?

What Hiatus? Warmest September, Worldwide, on Record. Records date back to 1891; here's an excerpt from Japan Meteorological Agency: "The monthly anomaly of the global average surface temperature in September 2015 (i.e. the average of the near-surface air temperature over land and the SST) was +0.50°C above the 1981-2010 average (+0.82°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 0.63°C per century..."

Massive El Nino Is Now "Too Big to Fail", Says Scientist. The Los Angeles Times has the story - here's the introduction: "An El Niño that is among the strongest on record is gaining strength in the Pacific Ocean, and climate scientists say California is likely to face a wet winter. “There’s no longer a possibility that El Niño wimps out at this point. It’s too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “And the winter over North America is definitely not going to be normal,” he said. Just three weeks ago, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center raised the odds of California getting doused with a wetter-than-average winter..."

Graphic credit above: "Satellite images comparing Oct. 1, 2015, and Oct. 2, 1997, show large areas of white, which indicate high sea levels -- a reflection of high sea temperatures. The images show how this year's El Nino could be as powerful as the one in 1997, the strongest El Nino on record." (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory).

2015 Has Been A Year of Record-Breaking U.S. Weather Events. It's a fairly long list - here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "Catastrophic flooding in South Carolina since last week shattered state rainfall records and shocked longtime residents and officials, who said they've never seen rain so powerful. But it's hardly the first extreme, record-breaking weather event in the U.S. this year. Floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme events are becoming more frequent and more intense because of climate change, experts warn, and that's never been more apparent than in 2015. Here's a look at some of the record-breaking weather-related events that have hit the U.S. this year..."

Photo credit:

The American Cities Most Threatened by Rising Sea Levels. Not a climate model, but actual observations: sea levels are rising - the question is how much more, and how quickly? Here's an excerpt from Mashable: "...The cities of Jacksonville, Virginia Beach, Sacramento and Miami follow New York in terms of the size of the population that could avoid submergence if steep carbon cuts were to take place in the next couple of decades versus a business-as-usual course, according to data provided by the study's authors. In Virginia Beach, for example, the difference between a high and low emissions scenario means the contrast between seeing the entire city submerged under the Atlantic, and only a portion of it reclaimed by the sea. The study raises the possibility that the cultural legacy of cities ranging from New York to Boston to Miami and New Orleans are at existential risk..." (File photo: Andrew Demp, Yale).

America Is Increasingly Dependent on Just Two Crops, and It's Putting Us All At Risk. Quartz has an interesting read; here's a clip: "...In a study published in August in PLOS One, US researchers have quantified for the first time how much species diversity we are losing, due to our focus on major commodity crops—up to 19% in some areas. The danger of a drop in crop species diversity has been recognized for decades now: As farmers plant more and more commodity crops like corn, they’re planting fewer alternatives, leading to a loss in crop diversity, which makes the country’s food supply more vulnerable to problems like pests or climate change..." (Image credit:

A Megacity Without Water: Sao Paulo's Drought. TIME has a sobering update on what's happening right now in Brazil, and how other cities may face similar water shortages in the years to come. Here's an excerpt: "The biggest city in the Western hemisphere is facing its greatest water crisis in over 80 years — and climate change is only part of the problem. Millions of residents in São Paulo, Brazil face daily water shutoffs unless the city manages its water better. It is not only a problem of drought. The city of 20 million is plagued by failing infrastructure across the city, and it has been unable to deliver the water it does have to residents in need. Without major changes to the city’s infrastructure and planning, commentators say the crisis is bound to continue..."

File photo above: "View of drought in Rio Jacarei, region of Joanopolis, interior of Sao Paulo, southeastern Brazil, on February 14, 2014. The level of Cantareira System, abastace dam that almost 9 million people in Sao Paulo is in 18.7%, the lowest level since 1974." Photo by: LUIS MOURA/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Renewable Energy's Potential May Be Understated. The headline I thought I'd never see at The Wall Street Journal; here's an excerpt: "...The experience of California and other states with high concentrations of solar and wind, such as Hawaii, is challenging long-held assumptions about the limits of renewable energy. As the boundary of what is considered possible expands, so does the momentum around investment in new technology and resources. “You’ll hear numbers [that] people bandy about and most of them are wrong: ‘We know we can get to at least 35% or 40%,’ ” says Haresh Kamath, an expert in energy storage and distributed generation with the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, Calif..."

Bill Gates: "We Need an Energy Miracle". Will technology save us from ourselves? Here's an excerpt of a fascinating interview at The Atlantic: "...Gates is on a solo global lobbying campaign to press his species to accomplish something on a scale it has never attempted before. He wants human beings to invent their way out of the coming collision with planetary climate change, accelerating a transition to new forms of energy that might normally take a century or more. To head off a rise in average global temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels—the goal set by international agreement—Gates believes that by 2050, wealthy nations like China and the United States, the most prodigious belchers of greenhouse gases, must be adding no more carbon to the skies..."

With Market On Their Side, Electric Utilities Skip Fight Against Carbon Rule. Renewables and natural gas are now helping utilities lower their costs (and carbon emissions), as reported by The Wall Street Journal: "U.S. coal companies and at least 16 state governments are working on challenges to the Obama administration’s new rule limiting carbon emissions from power plants. Most electric utilities have a different strategy: They are embracing it. From Dominion Resources Inc. in Virginia to Dynegy Inc. in Houston to Ohio’s FirstEnergy Corp. , electricity producers say they plan to comply rather than contest the regulation. The main reason, executives and experts say, is that economic forces are pushing the power industry inexorably toward a lower-carbon future..." (File image: AARP).

It Finally Occurred To Someone To Crowdsource The Weather. Motherboard has the details; here's a link and excerpt: "There’s a big hole in weather forecasting nowadays: none of them really ask the guy on the street how it’s feeling outside. And that untapped avenue is the target for Sunshine, a mobile weather app released last week on the iOS App Store. Unlike a traditional weather app, Sunshine shows you a local street map with crowdsourced reports from people using it to report local sky conditions..."

Object of Intrigue: Banknotes for a Japanese-Occupied Hawaii. I had no idea - here's an excerpt from Atlas Obscura: "In early 1942, the United States government began issuing a special set of banknotes custom-made for Hawaii. The back of each note looked identical to the existing U.S. paper currency apart from one major difference: the word "HAWAII" was stamped across it. The design of these notes wasn't the most elegant—the "HAWAII" looked as though it was inscribed by someone with a black ballpoint pen and a ruler. But that's understandable, given their circumstances: these banknotes were an emergency series, rushed to print in the months following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor..."

Image credit above: National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History).

Harvard Student Breaks Guinness Record for Standing on Work-Out Ball For 5 Hours. The captions just sort of write themselves. I have no comment - just ending on a high note, and feeling a little better about attending a state university. Here's an excerpt from The Boston Globe: "After standing barefoot atop a bright yellow exercise ball for nearly an hour, Garrett Lam’s body began to shake and wobble. In a moment of panic, the Harvard University senior extended his arms out to his sides, making a “T,” to maintain his balance. He still had four more hours to go to beat the Guinness World Record for “Longest time to stand on a Swiss ball,” a title he was determined to secure — in the name of charity..."

Photo credit: "Garrett Lam during the ordeal. If you’ve got some time, the video — more than five hours long — is at the bottom of the story."

TODAY: Mix of clouds and sun, cooling off a bit. Winds: NW 15-30. High: near 60

THURSDAY NIGHT: Partly cloudy and colder. Low: 37

FRIDAY: Chilled sun, grab a jacket for evening football games. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 48

SATURDAY: Hard freeze. Bright sunshine. Winds: SE 3-8. Wake-up: 30. High: near 50

SUNDAY: Sunny, milder wind. Wake-up: 35. Winds: SE 10-20. High: near 60

MONDAY: Unsettled as clouds increase, stray T-shower? Wake-up: 47. High: 65

TUESDAY: AM sun, late PM rain. Wake-up: 53. High: 63

WEDNESDAY: Periods of rain. Wake-up: 49. High: 55

Climate Stories...

BP Admits Climate Concern Makes Some Oil Unburnable. Stranded assets? Even the top oil producers now admit that much of the oil will need to remain in the ground to avoid potentially catastrophic warming; here's an excerpt from Climate Home: "Some of the world’s oil will not be burned as a result of climate concerns, BP’s chief economist said on Tuesday. Scientists have calculated around a third of proven oil reserves need to stay in the ground to hold global warming to 2C, the international goal. Spencer Dale’s remarks, in a speech to the Society of Business Economists in London, represented a rare acceptance of that analysis from the industry..."

Photo credit above: Flickr/Ken Hodge.

Excuses for Climate Inaction Melt Away: Our View. Here's the intro of an Op-Ed from the Editorial Board at USA TODAY: "With every passing month, the arguments for inaction on climate change are melting away faster than glaciers in Alaska. Let’s take them one at a time. Argument No. 1: The science is uncertain. Actually, it’s not. An overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that human activity is warming the planet. In fact, based on global surface temperatures, 2015 is on track to eclipse 2014 as the warmest year on record. This past summer was the hottest in recorded history, topping 2014 and even 1998, which featured an El Nino-driven spike that has allowed skeptics to claim, misleadingly, that temperatures haven’t increased much since then..."

Photo credit above: An iceberg melts in Kulusuk, Greenland, near the Arctic Circle in 2005.(Photo: John Mcconnico, AP)

Climate Change Means Spring Could Come 3 Weeks Earlier Across U.S. The growing season is already longer for many northern locations. NBC News has the story; here's a snippet: "Spring flowers may arrive as much as three weeks earlier over the next century as climate change drives an earlier end to winters in areas of the United States, researchers say in a new report. Warmer weather earlier in the year might have consequences for farmers as well as wildlife, said the researchers from the University of Wisconsin, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Their report was published in the journal Environmental Research Letters..."

California Leads The Way on Climate Change. Here's a clip from The New York Times: "...Indeed, at least a dozen states have challenged the Obama administration’s new rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and have vowed to do everything they can to see it overturned in court. And then there is California, which stands apart in its commitment to a healthier, cleaner and less carbon-intensive energy future. Its demanding effficiency rules for appliances and equipment have become a de facto national standard by driving manufacturers to improve their products..." (Image credit: NASA).

Even Under Best-Case Scenario, Sea-Level Rise Will Leave Miami Looking Like Florida Keys. Miami New Times has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Well, a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America predicts that our choices are either completely underwater or with some area left high and (relatively) dry. Which means even under the best-case scenario, Miami will stop looking like mainland Florida and start looking more like a string of Islands that are essentially the new northern end of the Florida Keys. (Read an interview with the study's author here.)..."

Why Scientists Are So Worried About the Ice Shelves of Antarctica. Tipping points - we don't know what we don't know. If anything the rate of melting of Greenland and sea ice in Antarctica has been taking place faster than the climate models predicted. Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...They found that under both scenarios, Antarctic-wide surface melt doubles by the year 2050, with the amount of meltwater produced coming close to 200 gigatons per year (a gigaton is a billion metric tons). This is a troubling finding, said Nerilie Abram, a researcher from the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at Australian National University who was not involved with the study, in an e-mail to The Post. But, she said, “I think that the more interesting result is to look at the huge divergence in predicted Antarctic ice melt during the second half of the century...”

Photo credit above: "The photograph above shows an edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf." (Jim Yungel/NASA)

Carbon Choices Determine U.S. Cities Committed to Futures Below Sea Level. Here is an excerpt of the paper abstract, courtesy of PNAS: "As greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the window to limit global warming below 2 °C appears to be closing. Associated projections for sea-level rise generally range near or below 1 m by 2100. However, paleontological and modeling evidence indicates long-term sea-level sensitivity to warming that is roughly an order of magnitude higher. Here we develop relationships between cumulative carbon emissions and long-term sea-level commitment and explore implications for the future of coastal developments in the United States..."

Sea Level Analyzer. How quickly we curtail carbon emissions will determine the amount of sea level rise that's locked in for the future. Climate Central has a tool that helps to visualize best-case, and worst-case scenarios going forward.

Methane Release From Melting Permafrost Could Trigger Dangerous Global Warming. Here's a snippet from The Guardian: "...To put this in perspective, permafrost contains almost twice as much carbon as is present in the atmosphere. In the rapidly warming Arctic (warming twice as fast as the globe as a whole), the upper layers of this frozen soil begin to thaw, allowing deposited organic material to decompose. The plant material, which has accumulated over thousands of years, is concentrated in to upper layers (half of it is in the top 10 feet). There is a network of monitoring stations that are measuring ground temperatures have detected a significant heating trend over the past few decades and so has the active layer thickness..." (File image: NASA).

No comments:

Post a Comment