Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Typical Springlike November Day - Minor Reality Check Tomorrow - Profiting from Climate Change

"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." - Will Rogers

61 F. high temperature in the Twin Cities yesterday (as of 9 PM).
48 F. average high on November 4.
53 F. high on November 4, 2014.

November 5, 1941: Snowstorm hits southern Minnesota. Heaviest snow at Fairmont.

Puddle Potential - Minor Reality Check Coming

Yes, my forecast is accurate - somewhere in North America. The reality: weather forecasts are fairly close, most of the time. But there will be occasions where we blow it, when elements conspire to keep us humble. It's a steep learning curve, and you're never done learning.

Exhibit A: yesterday's forecast. We thought we'd see 70F, but fog and stratus persisted, keeping us 10 degrees cooler. Fog in November is rare, but when it forms a sun angle as high in the sky as it was in early February is unable to burn it away, resulting in a stubborn canopy of gray. (Wednesday visible satellite loop above courtesy of WeatherTap).

Mea culpa.

We get off to a mild start today - weather more typical of late September. A rush of cooler air sparks showers today as temperatures tumble by evening. Expect partial clearing Friday with a stiff breeze and 40s; typical weather for the 1st week of November. 50s return early next week; above average once again. Models spin up a potentially big storm over the Midwest late next week. The brunt of any rain may stay south and east of Minnesota - a trend we may see much of the winter.

A mild bias lingers the next 3 weeks. At this rate I doubt we'll have snow on the ground for Thanksgiving.

Mild Bias Continues. Is this all El Nino? Possibly, but I suspect El Nino warmth is adding to the additional warmth building in the oceans and atmosphere. Check out how much of the Northern Hemisphere is forecast to be milder than average, based on GFS guidance, by the middle of next week; as much as 15-20F warmer than normal from the Plains and Upper Midwest northward to the Yukon. Map: Climate Reanalyzer.

Diving Off a (Small) Temperature Cliff. Mid-60s to 40F in the span of about 12 hours will whip up showers, even a clap of thunder later today, and a stiff northwest wind tonight as temperatures begin to tumble. That said, this is hardly an arctic cold front. Not even close. Temperature plot: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.

Potential For Significant Rain Middle of Next Week? The ECMWF (European) model keeps the bulk of the rain just south and east of MSP, but it may be a close call. GFS guidance (above) prints out nearly an inch of rain late Wednesday into Thursday of next week. Confidence levels are low, it's still early.

10-Day Accumulated Snowfall. NOAA's GFS model shows plowable amounts of snow from the Cascade Range of Washington State into Idaho and the highest peaks of Colorado, a swath of ligher amounts pushing across the High Plains next week - but winter is slow to advance southward this year. Loop: AerisWeather.

A Very Persistent Ridge. Although an omega block looks increasingly unlikely the tendency for (all) models is to keep rebuilding the ridge over the central USA, with a prevailing wind flow predominately from the Pacific,  not northern Canada. Yes, there's a good chance El Nino, the biggest since 1997-98, is already flavoring the weather across the United States. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Sweden: Solar Flare Causes Flight Delays. This is a new one; a story from Business Standard News: "A solar flare briefly disabled radar at Sweden's largest airports today causing significant flight delays, the Civil Aviation Authority (LFV) said. "At 3:45 p.M. (2:45 p.M. GMT), solar storms had disrupted the Earth's magnetic field, causing radar malfunctions here in Sweden," said LFV spokesman Per Froberg. "We had to close the airspace," he added, which delayed airplane departures and landings at several airports. Traffic was delayed at Stockholm's two main aiports Arlanda and Bromma, as well as at Malmo and Gothenburg. Air traffic control was restored after about an hour..." (File photo: NASA).

Cyclone Chapala's Record Strike on Yemen Seen in Images. WXshift has a recap of Chapala with some amazing tweets and meteorological imagery; here's an excerpt: "...Cyclone Chapala is now in the books as the first hurricane on record to hit the Arabian Peninsula country of Yemen. As forecasters feared, the storm’s torrential rains are wreaking havoc on the arid landscape, inundating coastal cities, destroying homes and leaving dozens missing, according to news reports. The scale of the flooding and the unusual path of the storm are put in stark relief in photos being spread across news sites and social media. Satellites captured stunning images of the storm nearing landfall as it entered the Gulf of Aden, something never before recorded..."

Technology Exists That Can Stop a Hurricane. I beg to differ - weaken a storm (slightly?) - perhaps. But I'm skeptical there's any technology readily available that can "stop a hurricane". Not yet. Here's an excerpt from Tech Insider: "...Luckily researchers now believe there's a way to stop hurricanes. Pumping billions of tons of a dense gas into the atmosphere could create a "sunglasses effect," which they say would absorb some sunlight and cool down warm ocean water, the engines of hurricanes — but with a huge sacrifice. Right now the world is focused on Plan A: Cutting greenhouse gas emissions to get climate change under control. Some argue it's already too late to reverse runaway climate change by cutting emissions..."

File photo of Hurricane Felix: NASA.

New York Prepares For Up to 6 Feet of Sea Level Rise. Interested in property near the ocean? Consider renting, not buying, and make sure your insurance premiums are paid up. Here's an excerpt of a post at Climate Central: "...New York State environment officials announced Friday that they’re creating new sea level rise regulations that will help coastal communities build more resilient homes and other buildings that will be better able to withstand storm surges and other flooding made worse by rising seas driven by climate change. The new regulations will require developers in New York City, along Long Island and on the shores of the Hudson River to prepare for sea levels that could rise between 15 and 75 inches by 2100.  At the far end of that scale, many of the areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy — the Rockaway Peninsula and the shores of Staten Island, for example — could be underwater..."

Photo credit above: "The flooded Battery Park Tunnel in New York City following Hurricane Sandy in October 2012." Credit: Timothy Krause/flickr.

Moon Over Boston. Yes, with rising sea levels tidal flooding is possible - in fact it's happening, even without any storms nearby. Here's an excerpt of a post at Open Mind: " ...That answers the question. Yes, tide alone is sufficient to cause flooding in Boston, even without storm surge or precipitation. It didn’t used to be. In fact, it wasn’t this way until 2011. These data end with 2012, but it has continued to be that way, and will continue to be so. In fact it will get worse because sea level rise continues. It may get especially worse for Boston, because at the moment, sea level rise there is happening faster than the global average, by quite a bit..."

Debunking 5 Myths About Meteorologists. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has a good post at Forbes; here's a clip: "...With that working definition let’s debunk some myths.

1. Most meteorologists are NOT on TV: Like engineering or teaching, there are different types of meteorologists. Of the 14,000 or so members of AMS, less than 10% of them are in the television world, according to Executive Director, Dr. Keith Seitter.  TV colleagues are the most accessible and obvious window to the public but only a fraction of the meteorology and atmospheric sciences community.  For career options in meteorology, this website is a good start..." (File image: UCAR).

Inside the Core of "Patricia"; the Strongest Recorded Hurricane to Strike Mexico's West Coast. The (amazing) video and story is at Capital Weather Gang; here's an excerpt: "...What’s it like to withstand the brunt of a ferocious and historic Category 5 hurricane? Josh Morgerman, an extreme storm chaser from Los Angeles, intentionally positioned himself to intercept the landfall of Patricia, which just hours prior attained the greatest intensity of any hurricane ever measured by the National Hurricane Center. His footage of the storm making landfall, complemented by his compelling first person narrative, is absolutely riveting..."

IBM Is About To Change The Way We Forecast the Weather. Will "Watson" put flesh and blood meteorologists out of work? Stay tuned. Disruption, however necessary and inevitable, is never an easy process. Here's an excerpt from Huffington Post: "...Translated: IBM will tap into a huge network of weather data, digest it and provide information to commercial clients. As for how that might affect you, a spokesman for IBM explained to The Huffington Post that insurance companies, for example, will be able to know more about incoming storms and pass that information along to customers. Airlines will be able to better understand weather conditions and, in theory, avoid delays while wasting less fuel. In other words, there's a lot of potential here..."

File photo credit: The Washington Post by Andrew Spear.

These 13 States Saw Carbon Pollution Go Up Over a Decade. CO2 emissions have gone down in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but that's not the case in North Dakota and Nebraska. Here's an excerpt from a story at National Geographic: "While levels of the heat-trapping greenhouse gas went down in 37 states and the District of Columbia between 2000 and 2013, they actually increased in 13 states, according to figures recently released by the Energy Information Administration. Nebraska saw the biggest rise: Carbon emissions jumped 28 percent, mostly because of higher coal use for electricity and industry. Maine, which gets three fifths of its power from renewable sources such as hydropower and biomass, saw the biggest drop: 27 percent..."

Blackouts like those could become more common. Climate change will increase not just the number of storms like Hurricane Sandy in the USA, but floods, wildfires, heat waves and droughts. The U.S. Department of Energy reinforced that expectation most recently in an October 2015 report. The country's power supply – with more than 9,200 power plants and nearly half a million kilometers of overhead lines – about a third of a million miles – is already feeling the strain today.
Power plants in the dry U.S. Southwest must often cut back generation because there is not enough cooling water. Since 2011, California has been going through the worst drought since meteorological measurements began.

Read more at:

2050 Weather Forecast Brought To Your Living Room. A preview of what a typical TV weather report might look like 35 years from now if carbon levels aren't curtailed? Here's a glimpse from Climate Home: "Vessels crossing an ice-free Arctic sea. Balmy temperatures fit for a music festival in Greenland. This is a likely weather report for the polar region within 35 years if emissions continue unabated, the USA's prominent Weather Channel illustrated on Monday. It responded to a WMO-sponsored series of global forecasts to roll almost daily before a UN climate change summit starts in Paris on 30 November. Broadcasters from Sky News Arabia to Vietnam Television will present their local visions of a world increasingly impacted by stronger storms and volatile rainfall..."

Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family. Who among us hasn't harbored feelings of inadequacy? We try to do it all, and some days, many days, it feels like we're treading water. Here's an excerpt from a story at The New York Times: "...You basically just always feel like you’re doing a horrible job at everything,” Ms. Barnes said. “You’re not spending as much time with your baby as you want, you’re not doing the job you want to be doing at work, you’re not seeing your friends hardly ever.” That tension is affecting American family life, Pew found. Fifty-six percent of all working parents say the balancing act is difficult, and those who do are more likely to say that parenting is tiring and stressful, and less likely to find it always enjoyable and rewarding. For example, half of those who said the work-family balance was not difficult said parenting was enjoyable all the time, compared with 36 percent of those who said balance was difficult..."

Photo credit above: "Jakub Zielkiewicz, Aimee Barnes and their 15-month-old son, Roman, at their home in Sacramento. “You basically just always feel like you’re doing a horrible job at everything,” Ms. Barnes said." Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Which City Has the Tastiest Water? We didn't make the Top 10, as best I can tell. Here's an excerpt from Mental Floss: "...This year’s winner was Hamilton, Ohio. The rest of the top five were as follows:

2nd: Emporia, Kansas
3rd: Clearbrook, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
4th: Three way tie—
Montpelier, Ohio
Dickinson, North Dakota
Eldorado, Colorado
5th: Independence, Missouri

The tastings are the main attraction, but the gathering also includes seminars and discussions about public health and environmental issues around water..." (Image credit: Jeanne Mozier).

Teens Spend a Mind-Boggling 9 Hours a Day Using Media. It seems we're all addicted to the daily dopamine-drip of digital information, some more than others, apparently. Here's a video and story excerpt at CNN: "...On any given day, teens in the United States spend about nine hours using media for their enjoyment, according to the report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on helping children, parents and educators navigate the world of media and technology. Let's just put nine hours in context for a second. That's more time than teens typically spend sleeping, and more time than they spend with their parents and teachers. And the nine hours does not include time spent using media at school or for their homework..."

Still No Flying Cars? The Future of Transit Promises Something Even Better. Wait, better than a flying car? I like Uber, but it's a poor substitute for a flying car. Here's an excerpt from The Guardian: "...According to a recent study from the UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies, vehicle travel has declined among millennials – individuals born roughly between the early 1980s and early 2000s – compared to previous generations. According to the study, those born in the 1990s are making 4% fewer car trips and traveling 18% fewer miles per year, on average, than members of previous generations did at the same stage in their lives. “What we’re seeing is a tremendous willingness of the younger population to really adapt to this, to use these car sharing models as a way of avoiding car ownership,” Clelland said..."

Image credit above: Terrafugia, which IS building a flying car. My faith in progress is renewed.

TODAY: Mild, showers developing by afternoon. Risk of a T-storm. Winds: S 15-25. High: 65 (falling late)

THURSDAY NIGHT: Lingering showers, cooling down. Low: 41

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, brisk. Winds: NW 10-20. High: 47

SATURDAY: Partly sunny, feels like November. Winds: W 8-13. Wake-up: 34. High: 46

SUNDAY: Plenty of sunshine, milder breeze. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 33. High: 57

MONDAY: Intervals of sun, warmer than average. Wake-up: 41. High: 58

TUESDAY: Clouds increase, still amazingly quiet. Wake-up: 42. High: 56

WEDNESDAY: Periods of rain possible. Wake-up: 43. High: near 50

Climate Stories...

How to Profit from Global Warming. It's a threat, and it's an opportunity. As Sir Richard Branson famously said: it's the greatest wealth-generating opportunity the world has ever seen - coming up with the new energy sources, resilient infrastructure, water technologies and storm-proof agricultural practices that will propel the USA into a new orbit; innovations we will develop and export to the rest of the world. Here's an excerpt from CNN Money: "Here's a dirty little secret: companies that are cleaning up their carbon act are also cleaning up in the stock market. There are lots of ideological reasons to invest in companies committed to being a part of the solution to climate change. But there's also a greedy reason. Companies that have been the best at improving their carbon efficiency since 2012 have dramatically outperformed the ones that have been the worst at it, according to a new report published on Wednesday by the world's largest asset manager BlackRock (BLK). The report analyzed the stock market performance of the more than 1,850 companies that have entered into the Carbon Disclosure Project..."

As Scientists Worry About a Warming World, U.S. Public Doesn't. Until the symptoms start hitting home with greater frequency and ferocity, then they'll pay attention. Here's an excerpt from AP: "Americans are hot but not too bothered by global warming. Most Americans know the climate is changing, but they say they are just not that worried about it, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. And that is keeping the American public from demanding and getting the changes that are necessary to prevent global warming from reaching a crisis, according to climate and social scientists. As top-level international negotiations to try to limit greenhouse gas emissions start later this month in Paris, the AP-NORC poll taken in mid-October shows about two out of three Americans accept global warming and the vast majority of those say human activities are at least part of the cause..."

Image credit: NASA.

When Did ExxonMobil Know About Fossil Fuels and Global Warming? Here's a clip from a story at Christian Science Monitor: "...While publicly discrediting climate science, engineers at the company were quietly incorporating climate-change predictions into their business models, suggesting a “gap between Exxon Mobil’s public position and its internal planning on the issue of climate change,” according to the Times. After several internal studies during the 1980s suggested “climate implications of increased CO2 emissions” would impact the company’s fossil-fuel development, ExxonMobil conducted climate research alongside university and government scientists. "We knew they spent tens of millions spreading doubt and confusion. We knew that part," Mr. Pooley told the Monitor. "What we didn't know was that climate scientists had been briefing executives on the reality of climate change for years..."

File image credit above: "A view of the Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas in this file photo from September 15, 2008." Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters.

A Missing Report on ExxonMobil and Climate Change. Why wasn't NPR more aggressive in their coverage? Here's an article focusing on the decision - or lapse - from NPR: "...Edith Chapin, NPR's executive editor, told me by email that she believes NPR dropped the ball.
While it was not a major headline story, I think it meets the interesting test and thus NPR should have reported on it in some fashion on at least one of our outlets/platforms. Exxon Mobil is the world's largest publicly traded multinational oil and gas company and the debate and research decades ago is interesting in light of contemporary knowledge and action on climate change. Daily conversations at our editorial hub typically cross a range of subjects and stories from across the globe. It is unfortunate that this topic didn't come up there or in any conversation or email that I was a part of. It should have been flagged by someone so we could have discussed it and made an intentional decision to cover or not and if so, how.
My take: The story was on the radar of at least some in the newsroom, but it seems to have fallen through the cracks..."

Climate Change and Creation Care. World religions have been at the forefront of moral awareness and climate change is no different. Leith Anderson, National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president recently said “We need to move past debating and focus on the poorest of the poor who are neither scientists nor politicians but are the most affected by how we care for God’s creation.”

Would you like to explore where your faith intersections with weather and climate change? On Saturday, November 7th at 9a in Prior Lake, Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church is hosting a Creation Care event that will examine the intersection of faith, climate change and weather. The event is free. Childcare is provided for those that RSVP. Presenters include faith leaders from the Lutheran, Methodist, MCC and Catholic church, Dr. John Abraham (climate scientist from the University of St. Thomas) and me. RSVP at:

Apple, Google Microsoft Among Best Companies Protecting Climate. Bloomberg Business has the story; here's an excerpt: "...The three U.S. technology giants, worth a combined $1.6 trillion, are among the 113 corporations awarded an ‘A’ grade for their efforts to reduce heat-trapping emissions, according to the report Wednesday from the U.K. nonprofit CDP. That list was whittled down from a larger pool of 1,997 companies around the world that submitted data to the group formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project..."

If This Part of Antarctica Collapses, Sea Levels Could Rise 10 Feet. VICE News has the story - here's a clip that got my full attention: "...The researchers wanted to know whether or not if that thin layer of ice became unstable, would the problem remain contained to that area of the continent or would it trigger broader — more ominous — instability throughout West Antarctica. "We find it's not confined at all," Levermann said. "The entire marine part of the West Antarctic ice sheet [in our model] is destabilized, is discharging into the ocean, which means three meters of sea level rise."
'You lose Miami almost immediately.'
The wild card in the model, Levermann conceded, is the timing of these events..."

Photo credit above: Dean Lewins/EPA.

What Economists Don't Get About Climate Change. Bloomberg View has the Op-Ed; here's a clip: "...It's good to see economists trying to acknowledge uncertainty, but they need to be bolder. Problems like climate change are far too complex to lend themselves to optimal solutions. In fact, psychologists widely agree that individuals facing complex problems generally make better decisions using simple heuristics or rules of thumb, rather than falsely precise calculations. That's the wise strategy in situations where one can't even list all the possible alternatives and consequences, let alone their probabilities..." (NASA image).

China Burns More Coal Than Reported, Complicating Climate Talks. Here's an update from The New York Times: "China, the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases from coal, is burning far more annually than previously thought, according to new government data. The finding could vastly complicate the already difficult efforts to limit global warming. Even for a country of China’s size and opacity, the scale of the correction is immense. China has been consuming as much as 17 percent more coal each year than reported, according to the new government figures. By some initial estimates, that could translate to almost a billion more tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere annually in recent years, more than all of Germany emits from fossil fuels..."

Meltdown: The Skiing Industry and Climate Change. Denver Magazine takes a look at the trends; here's a clip at "...This is our new reality: On average, ski seasons are shorter and storms more difficult to predict. Fourteen of the warmest years on record have come in the past 15 years. And 2015 is on pace to be hotter still. Colorado has warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit over the past 30 years, and according to a 2014 report by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, climate models show temperatures could increase another two to six degrees by 2050. Artificial snowmaking has helped the ski industry—and also provided a false promise, because snowmaking only works when it’s cold..." (File image credit here).

Is Antarctica Gaining or Losing Ice? God is in the details, and in this case the details are somewhat confusing and conflicting, but worth a closer look. Here's an excerpt from Carbon Brief: "...The findings of the new NASA study are “at least somewhat at odds with multiple lines of other evidence,” says Prof Richard Alley from Penn State University, who wasn’t involved in the research. He points to another recent paper – which some of the authors of the new study also contributed to – as the current scientific consensus on ice loss from Antarctica. That paper found changes between 1992 and 2011 of +14bn, -65bn and -20bn tonnes of ice per year on East Antarctica, West Antarctica, and the Antarctic Peninsula, respectively. Prof Jonathan Bamber, a professor at the University of Bristol whose work focuses on satellite monitoring of the ice sheets, says there are potential pitfalls in combining radar and laser satellite data for the two different time periods, as the NASA study does..."

Scientists Confirm Their Fears About West Antarctica - That It's Inherently Unstable. Here's an excerpt of a Chris Mooney update at The Washington Post: "...In a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Johannes Feldmann and Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research use a sophisticated climate model to study what will happen if these glaciers are, indeed, fully destabilized. And in essence, they find that the process of retreat doesn’t end with the region currently up against the ocean. “We showed that there is actually nothing that stops it,” said Levermann. “There are troughs and channels and all this stuff, there’s a lot of topography that actually has the potential to slow down or stop the instability, but it doesn’t...”

Photo credit above: "An edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf." (Jim Yungel/NASA).

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