Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sloppy Mix Today - 40s for Christmas (?) - Recap of Historic Paris Climate Summit

40 F. high temperature yesterday in the Twin Cities.
27 F. average high on December 13 at KMSP.
51 F. high on December 13, 2014.

December 14, 1996: Snowfall exceeding one foot is reported from south central Minnesota through portions of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Some of the higher snow totals include 15 inches at Rockford, 14 inches at Cedar and North Branch, 13 inches at Stewart and 7 to 10 inches across the central and southern parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
December 14, 1933: A severe ice storm hits southeast and central Minnesota.

Rainy, Icy, Slushy Mix Today
December Returns Late Week

So here we are, a week before the winter solstice, enjoying a mixed bag of rain, sleet and wet snow. We shouldn't be surprised.

Dr. Mark Seeley has documented a 4X increase in midwinter rain and ice since 2000. We're still seeing cold fronts and snowstorms, but the volume and duration of bitter air, sustained hours below zero, has steadily decreased since the 1970s. It's not getting as cold - or staying as (consistently) bitter as it did for your parents and grandparents.

It's hard finding anyone upset by the prospect of less pain, but the result may be more slop-storms like today. Keeping snow on the ground for an entire winter has become something of a rarity.
Today we're right on the rain/snow line; a warm layer aloft may re-freeze raindrops into sleet (ice pellets), even an inch of mushy slush. Winds gust past 30 mph - it will be raw and unpleasant out there.

A second storm on Wednesday may drop another inch of snow with more over central and western Minnesota. A cosmetic coating of snow on the ground is possible here by late-week with highs stuck in the 20s - a wind chill dipping to 5F. You know, December.

We warm up to 40F by Sunday; 30s lingering into Christmas Day.

A Springlike December Day. Check out the temperatures yesterday at noon eastern time, a streak of 60s and 70s as far north as New York City; remarkable warmth, considering the sun reaches it's lowest angle one week from today. Source: Oklahoma Mesonet.

Odd Pattern for Mid-December. The maps still look like something out of mid-March, and even though seasonably cold air returns later this week we warm back up to 40F again as early as Sunday; a streak of days in the 30s to near 40F next week. Merry (slushy) Christmas! Source:

HopWRF: Heaviest Precipitation Bands to Stay Just South and East of MSP. It may be a close call, according to 3 KM WRF model runs, showing some 1" amounts over the far southern suburbs, but little or no rain from Willmar to St. Cloud. Expect a sharp gradient of precipitation amounts along the deformation zone.

Pretty Typical: For Mid-March. A surge of southern moisture (precipitable water values incredibly high for mid-December) pushes heavy rain bands across Iowa, southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin, with some 2"+ amounts expected closer to Winona and Rochester. NAM guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Slushy Ending? NAM guidance continues to hint at a period of sleet (ice pellets) or wet snow as the column of air overhead begins to cool. Temperatures are forecast to be above 32F between 4,000 and 7,000 feet, rain drops re-freezing into ice pellets, possibly heavy wet snow by late morning or midday.

Sleet and Slush Potential. Although temperatures a mile up are (just) above freezing a cold layer near the ground may turn a cold rain over to ice pellets, even a few hours of slushy snow by midday. Predicted Skew-T temperature profile this morning courtesy of Bufkit and NOAA.

Wide Model Spread. I'm still not convinced the downtowns will pick up an inch or more of precipitation (although at this point nothing would shock me). Models print out anywhere from .79" to 1.45" for the GFS ensemble. I suspect the heaviest precipitation bands will set up south/east of MSP. Source: Aeris Enterprise.

Another Bad Hair Day. One thing is fairly certain: winds will be howling today; sustained winds as high as 30 mph with gusts reaching 40 as air accelerates into an intensifying storm tracking to our south and east. Then again, it could be windier...

Enough to Plow Up North on Wednesday? Not here in the metro, but our internal models alerted on the possibility of a plowable accumulation Wednesday from Brainerd to Bemidji. Yes, it would be nice to get some snow on the ground in time for Christmas. Source: Aeris Enterprise Mobile.

Late December: Modified Zonal Flow. It still doesn't look polar, although a few models bring a push of much colder air into Minnesota in time for New Year's Eve. The evening of Sunday, December 27 shows a westerly fetch from the Pacific; temperatures at or a few degrees above average.

Christmas Day Temperature Anomalies. It's still a long way out, but NOAA's GEFS model ensemble suggests temperatures as much as 10F warmer than average for eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin; 25F warmer than average for much of eastern Canada as a Pacific flow continues to dominate.

50F on Christmas Eve? I don't buy it, not yet - but GFS guidance is hinting at high temperatures close to 50F in the Twin Cities December 23 and 24, a string of days in the 40s over the next 2 weeks.

Twin Cities: Now Firmly in USDA Zone 5? My friend (and Edina prize-winning rose gardener) Jack Falker takes a look at the trends and implications in his blog, The Minnesota Rose Gardener. In an e-mail he said: "We've been running 20 degrees above average but you also have to remember how much that average has been pulled warmer over the last 50-plus years, right along the trend line in my charts.  So there is a compounding effect, with above average temps pulling the average ever higher..."

Here's an excerpt of Jack's blog post that caught my eye: "...For several years now I have been doing 50-plus year statistical analysis on Minneapolis-St. Paul winters and comparing them with winters in other upper-Midwest cities. The results are pretty amazing in that we can see very distinct warming trends developing. And it has become much easier to predict that these trends will continue and that we will see warmer winters going forward. The meteorological winter of 2015-16 began on December 1st and what we are now seeing is exactly what the trend line shows we should expect: temperatures are much warmer than average, an average which itself has been pulled significantly upward over the last 55 years. (Above) is my chart for the 55 winters beginning in 1961, through 2015, in the Twin Cities. What it shows is that since year 2000, all but three of our winters have been in USDA Zone 5 or higher, even though the USDA continues to rate MSP as Zone 4 (based on data that is now 10 years old). What's most important here is the upward slope of the trend-line, which, as mentioned above, is predictive. What the trend-line shows, if you extend it, is that MSP will be firmly in Zone 6 within the next three or four years. Right now, based on what we are seeing, I believe we will see a Zone 6 winter in 2016, for the second time in history, and there is a distinct possibility that it could be Zone 7, i.e. not below zero at all, which would be a first...."

* The graphic above shows the coldest nighttime low temperatures at Twin Cities International Airport since 1961.

Mild Signal To Spill into January. At least if you believe NOAA CPC's CFS (Climate Forecast System) V2 model, which shows January temperatures as much as 3-4K, or 5-7F warmer than average from Minnesota into the Great Lakes, as a mild Pacific flow continues to dominate North America. Source: NOAA.

This Year's Ozone Hole is the 4th Largest on Record. Fewer manmade chemicals (CFCs) are drifting into the stratosphere, but natural variability may be playing a role in ozone depletion. Here's an excerpt at WXshift: "The ozone hole, an environmental problem often associated with the 1980s, is still a clear and present issue more than 30 years later. Despite efforts to clean up the stratosphere of ozone-depleting chemicals, this year’s ozone hole minimum bottomed out at the fourth lowest on record. The ozone hole this year grew to a size of 10.9 million square miles, which is larger than the continent of North America. It’s a 1.3 million square miles bigger than last year’s size, and is the fourth largest on record since 1991. This year the hole formed later and lasted two weeks longer than usual, leading to almost 100 percent ozone depletion..."

A New Way to Predict Nationally Started in central Texas "Flash Flood Alley". in Austin documents on pulling in additional resources, data (and supercomputer crunching) is helping the process of predicting record rainfall and flooding events; here's an excerpt: "...The system works as a tool that predicts weather and flooding, but, unlike current systems, it relies on a lot of different disciplines. Hydrology, which he says connects “rain in the sky with water on the ground,” and geography, which connects “water on the ground with flow in the streams.” Supercomputing crunches the datasets and runs the models. “We haven’t used supercomputing for hydrologic forecasting before,” he says. “This is the first time that’s been done...”

The Long Haul: One Year of Solitude on America's Highways. Esquire takes a look at the benefits and the dark side of long-haul trucking; here's an excerpt: "...There's something metaphysical about driving alone through the night. As the world slips into darkness, you enter a free-form self that is post-sleep and incoherent. After a few hours, the parameters that separate you from the prism of night dissolve, and only an elongated tube of light sucks you along. And you begin to hallucinate. Under prolonged sensory deprivation, your brain invents its own visions. Before we reached Amarillo, I'd spent days on an acrobatic sleep schedule, trying to weather my driving partner's erratic temper and fearing for my own safety..."

There Once Was a Girl. The author writes an eloquent, heart-breaking plea for understanding and compassion, arguing against the false narratives of anorexia. Slate has the story - here's an excerpt: "...Even now I worry I’m telling the story wrong. Is E unhappy? Did my parents enable us in our sickness, or were they just powerless to reverse the tide? I can hardly conjure those years of my life in memory without thinking I’ve committed some grave narrative sin. I’m not the most reliable narrator. (To be fair, you probably aren’t, either.) I spin stories about people in order to understand them better, or to soothe or entertain myself. I sometimes balance my sanity on unstable materials—love objects that don’t stay put where I’ve left them. It can be hard to accept that your “characters”—Mom, Dad, sister—don’t belong to you, the tale-teller..."

It's All About Me! Distracted Walkers Pose Threat to Self and Others. Darwin was right. Here's the intro to a story at The New York Times: "While distracted driving has commanded lots of attention (albeit not a commensurate amount of correction), another digital hazard — distracted walking — is on the rise, with sometimes disastrous consequences. We’ve all seen it, and often felt it, as people looking down to text, tweet, read or play games on their smartphones crash into us, typically as we walk in a straight line and they don’t. A study by Eric M. Lamberg and Lisa M. Muratori at Stony Brook University found that distracted walkers veer off course by as much as 61 percent while texting and walking..."

Image credit above: Paul Rogers.

A Cold, Crystalline Version of Water: "Snow". Just to refresh your memory. This was taken near Taos, New Mexico. Thanks to Craig Mataczynski for reminding us what a snowy landscape looks like.

TODAY: Rain, ice, snow. Windy, messy and raw. Some slush is possible on lawns and fields by afternoon. Winds: N 20-35. High: 38 (falling)

MONDAY NIGHT: Flurries taper, still gusty. Low: 33

TUESDAY: Overcast, slushy mix arrives at night. High: 37

WEDNESDAY: Slushy snow, nuisance accumulation? Wake-up: 34. High: 38

THURSDAY: Colder wind, few flurries. Icy roads. Wake-up: 25. High: near 30

FRIDAY: Coldest day of the week; windchill dips to 5F. Winds: NW 10-20. Wake-up: 15. High: 22

SATURDAY: Sunny, not as windy - or numbing. Winds: W 7-12. Wake-up: 11. High: 26

SUNDAY: Some sun, rapid thaw likely. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 24. High: near 40

Climate Stories...
Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris. The New York Times reports on a landmark agreement between 195 nations; here's an excerpt: "...The deal, which was met with an eruption of cheers and ovations from thousands of delegates gathered from around the world, represents a historic breakthrough on an issue that has foiled decades of international efforts to address climate change. Traditionally, such pacts have required developed economies like the United States to take action to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they have exempted developing countries like China and India from such obligations. The accord, which United Nations diplomats have been working toward for nine years, changes that dynamic by requiring action in some form from every country, rich or poor..."

* The full text of the Paris Agreement is here. Photo credit: Stephane de Sakutin/Pool Photo via AP.

The One Word That Almost Sank the Climate Talks. Yes, there was (and is) continued parsing of language, which makes the lawyers happy. Here's an excerpt from POLITICO: "After years of preparation and two weeks of tireless negotiations, after all the speeches and backroom compromising, one misplaced word brought the momentum toward a historic global deal on climate change to a halt Saturday — for at least a few hours. Obama administration lawyers discovered early in the day that the latest draft text had a potentially deal-killing tweak: Deep into the document, in Article 4, was a line declaring that wealthier countries "shall" set economy-wide targets for cutting their greenhouse gas pollution..."

The 5 Most Important Components of the Paris Climate Agreement. Andrew Freedman summarizes at Mashable; here's an excerpt: "...The deal is a turning point for climate policy, since it brings the entire globe under the same policy framework, rather than only placing mandates on industrialized nations. It is also a triumph of the concept of multilateralism, and a demonstration that countries with wildly differing interests can in fact come together to address a common concern. But the agreement alone will not solve global warming; it will not stem the rising tides nor cool the sizzlingly hot heat waves that are becoming more prevalent. Instead, it will send a signal that the world is moving away from fossil fuels, and toward renewable energy. It will be up to the activists, investors, inventors and future world leaders to ensure that this agreement translates into real progress..." (Image above: NASA).

Climate Accord Draws Mixed Reaction from Business Leaders. Here's a clip from a story at The New York Times: "...If nothing else, analysts and experts say, the accord is a signal to businesses and investors that the era of carbon reduction has arrived. It will spur banks and investment funds to shift their loan and stock portfolios from coal and oil to the growing industries of renewable energy like wind and solar. Utilities themselves will have to reduce their reliance on coal and more aggressively adopt renewable sources of energy. Energy and technology companies will be pushed to make breakthroughs to make better and cheaper batteries that can store energy for use when it is needed. And automakers will have to develop electric cars that win broader acceptance in the marketplace..."

What the Global Climate Accord Means for You. Not tapping dirty coal will hurt the U.S. economy? Not so much, it turns out. The smart money is already on renewables and energy storage. USA TODAY has a worthy read; here's an excerpt: "...That's partly because Americans are discovering there's little trade off between protecting the environment and creating jobs, says Alden Meyer, strategy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. The drive toward reducing greenhouse gases has created new technologies and industries to support them. The Paris agreement "sends a powerful message (that the) smart money ought to be betting on the clean-energy future," Meyer says..."

Now Comes the Tough Part: The Word's Carbon Diet Starts. AP takes a look at the efforts required to wean (all of us) off of fossil fuels; here's a clip: "The world is about to go on a carbon diet. It won't be easy — or cheap. Nearly 200 nations across the world on Saturday approved a first-of-its-kind universal agreement to wean Earth off fossil fuels and slow global warming, patting themselves on the back for showing such resolve. On Sunday morning, like for many first day dieters, the reality sets in. The numbers — like calorie limits and hours needed in the gym — are daunting. How daunting? Try more than 7.04 billion tons (if you really want to have your eyes bug out, that's 15.5 trillion pounds). That's how much carbon dioxide needs to stay in the ground instead of being spewed into the atmosphere for those reductions to happen, even if you take the easier of two goals mentioned in Saturday's deal. To get to the harder goal, it's even larger numbers..."

The Power of Paris: Climate Challenge Remains, But Now We're on the Right Path. Climate scientist Michael Mann provides his perspective at The World Post: "...Paris is a beginning of a process. It provides a framework for continued progress toward the goal of averting dangerous interference with our climate. Put into more technical terms, the Paris agreement gets us roughly halfway to where we need to be. A future path of business-as-usual carbon emissions would likely warm the planet about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit). The reductions agreed upon in Paris reduce that to about 3.5 degree Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit), i.e. halfway down to limiting to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warming, the level of warming that many scientists studying the impacts of climate change consider to be unsafe..."

Falling Short on Climate in Paris. Climate activist Bill McKibbon isn't celebrating just yet - here's an excerpt of his Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...So the world emerges, finally, with something like a climate accord, albeit unenforceable. If all parties kept their promises, the planet would warm by an estimated 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or 3.5 degrees Celsius, above preindustrial levels. And that is way, way too much. We are set to pass the 1 degree Celsius mark this year, and that’s already enough to melt ice caps and push the sea level threateningly higher. The irony is, an agreement like this adopted at the first climate conference in 1995 might have worked. Even then it wouldn’t have completely stopped global warming, but it would have given us a chance of meeting the 1.5 degree Celsius target that the world notionally agreed on..." (File photo: Elaine Thompson, AP).

Most Climate Change Damage Will Happen Before the 2-Degree Temperature Threshold. Additional warming is already baked into the calculations, according to an analysis at Newsweek; here's an excerpt: "...In the chart below, Caldeira and his colleagues graphed the extent of damage from climate change on various sectors of the environment. They found that the sensitivity of some of these categories to small increases in temperature will be highest within the first several degrees of warming, and then tapers off, having hit a physical limit, or what the researchers call a “saturation of impacts,” as in the case of coral reefs at two degrees Celsius. Once the planet gets into the higher degrees of warming, the rate of impact begins to plateau—because there won't be anything left to be affected..."

Graph credit above: "Some climate change impacts rise fast with little warming, and then taper off, write a team of researchers in a paper published during the 2015 Paris climate talks." Ricke et al/NATURE GEOSCIENCE.

Decoding the Paris Climate Deal: What Does it Mean? While some question whether the sky is blue (or warming) nations of the world have entered into a legally binding agreement to try and keep global temperatures below, hopefully "well below" 2C of warming. More perspective and analysis on an historic accord at Climate Home: " A two-week climate conference in Paris ended on Saturday with the first universal agreement on climate change. Some 186 countries have made national pledges for climate action, and agreed a global long-term goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions, marking a turning point in the fossil fuel era.

The Paris outcome has two documents.
  1. The all-important, 12-page document “Paris Agreement”, which sets out new commitments for climate action beyond 2020, and potentially through this century.
  2. An accompanying, 19-page “Decision” which adds the legwork that countries will have to undertake before the Agreement enters into force in 2020.
Following is an analysis of the outcome..."

In Historic Paris Climate Deal, World Agrees to Not Burn Most Fossil Fuels. More context at ThinkProgress; here's an excerpt: "In a literally world-changing deal that was almost unthinkable just a year ago, some two hundred leading nations unanimously embraced a plan that will leave most of the world’s fossil fuels unburned. As part of a concerted effort to avoid catastrophic climate change, the world unanimously committed to an ongoing effort of increasingly deeper emissions reductions aimed at keeping total warming “to well below 2°C [3.6°F] above preindustrial levels.” The full text of this Paris Agreement goes even further, with the parties agreeing “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change...”

* has an overview of the summit agreement here.

World Climate Accord Hailed as Turning Point from Fossil Fuels. Reuters has the story; here's the introduction: "French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presented a landmark global climate accord on Saturday, a "historic" measure for transforming the world's fossil fuel-driven economy within decades and turning the tide on global warming. At the tail end of the hottest year on record and after four years of fraught U.N. talks often pitting the interests of rich nations against poor, imperiled island states against rising economic powerhouses, Fabius urged officials from nearly 200 nations to support what he hopes will be a final draft..."

Photo credit above: "French President Francois Hollande (L) takes his seat at a plenary session with Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius (C), President-designate of COP21, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget" Photo: Reuters/Stephane Mahe.

No comments:

Post a Comment