Monday, January 18, 2016

Warming Trend - Snowmageddon Brewing Out East - Martin Luther King and Call for Climate Action

-13 F. low early Monday at KMSP.
2 F. high in the Twin Cities Monday.
23 F. average high on January 18.
39 F. high on January 18, 2015.

January 19, 1994: The cold continues from the previous day with a low of -47 at Brainerd and, despite the heat island effect, the Twin Cities' airport hit -27.

Slow Temperature Recovery - A Little Winter Trivia

Data shows an average of 105 snow-producing storms hit the USA every winter. A single snowstorm can dump 39 million tons of snow. Winter cold increases a person’s appetite, which can lower libido. Couples are more than twice as likely to think about splitting up between the holidays and Valentine’s Day.

Nationwide: 74% of all auto accidents occur on wet pavement, 46% when it's raining. Only 17 percent of crashes occur during snow or sleet, 12% on icy pavement - 14% take place on snowy or slushy roads, according to Random

Yeah,  I'm great fun at parties.

Expect quiet weather as temperatures pull out of a relatively fleeting arctic rut. We climb above 0F today; 20s will feel shockingly good tomorrow - there's still a good chance of a thaw by Sunday.

What's missing? Snow. We may get brushed with a coating tonight, but El Nino continues to hijack the jet stream, nudging the biggest, wettest storms well south of town.

We'll see more cold fronts (pretty safe bet) but I suspect the coldest weather of the Winter of '15-16 is behind us now. That wasn't so bad was it?

* Model temperature forecasts above courtesy of Aeris Enterprise.

59 Cold Facts About Winter. Here is a link to the site referenced in the column, Random,  with a few factoids that made me do a triple-take:
  1. The Southern Hemisphere typically has milder winters than the Northern Hemisphere. This is because the Southern Hemisphere has less land and a more maritime climate.
  2. While it seems counterintuitive, Earth is actually closest to the sun in December, even though winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.
  3. According to the Guinness World Records, on January 28, 1887, a snowflake 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick fell in Fort Keogh, Montana, making it the largest snowflake ever observed. (Image credit: NOAA).

A Small Risk of Snowmageddon? It's still WAY too early to panic (or celebrate), but a major storm is brewing for the Mid Atlantic region and New England from Friday into Sunday. If your travels take you to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, New York or Boston you may experience significant delays, even cancellations this upcoming weekend. East of I-95 a sloppy mix may keep amounts down (a little), but this storm has the potential to drop a foot of snow or more on major urban centers. GFS guidance: NOAA and AerisWeather.

Model Envy. This is another classic symptom of El Nino, which tends to energize the storm track over the southern and eastern USA. Up until now it's been amazingly quiet for the East Coast with record warmth into December. It may be time for a little payback, a cold, crystalline dose of karma.

European Solution. Check out some of these predicted snow depth predictions by Sunday at midnight. I'm not buying it yet - I want to track a few more model runs and see if they converge and agree. But the ECMWF model is fairly impressive,  from Richmond and D.C. to New York and Boston. Source: WeatherBell.

Seasonably Cool and Quiet. While the media out east goes nuts with the potential for a cool foot or two of snow west of I-95 Minnesota will be lucky to pick up a coating of snow tonight - no weather drama brewing, just a warming trend. Graphic: WeatherSpark.

El Nino Signal Lingers. The 500 mb GFS forecast valid Monday evening, February 1 shows the core of the jet diverted well south of Minnesota, soaking California and much of the Gulf Coast and eastern USA, while seasonably cold and dry air lingers over the Upper Midwest. This looks seasonably chilly for us: 20s with a few spurts of 30-degree air possible. Source: GrADS:COLA/IGES.

Did a Meteorological Tsunami Just Hit Southwest Florida? Marshall Shepherd takes a look at a fascinating and vaguely terrifying phenomenon at Forbes; here's an excerpt: "...As reported by, this particular squall line (with 80 mph wind) arrived at high tide and raised water levels significantly. The National Weather Service believes that this event was a meteotsunami because water levels coincided with storms moving inland. The water levels were nearly 6 feet higher than a normal high tide at over 7 feet. A meteotsunami is also suspected because periodic “peaks and valleys” in the levels, indicative of an oscillatory wave, were observed..."

Graphic credit: "Water levels at Naples, FL. January 17th, 2016." Courtesy of National Weather Service via Website.

Brrr. It's Colder Here Than in Alaska. No kidding. But MSP is colder than Anchorage an average  of 50 days a year? Here's some perspective in an excerpt of a WXshift article: "Whenever the mercury plummets to particularly bitter temps anywhere in the U.S., an oft-heard refrain is, “It’s colder here than it is in Alaska!” But just how often is that actually the case, for, say New York City, or Chicago, or Atlanta? The answer turns out to be more days than you might think. A climatologist — who happens to be based in Alaska — created a set of maps that shows how often cities in the lower 48 have winter days with temperatures colder than those in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Virtually all saw at least one day a winter with temps lower than those in Anchorage, which given its more southerly and coastal location than Fairbanks has a comparatively mild climate. Even parts of Florida have between 1 and 5 days a winter that are colder than Anchorage..."

Map credit: "The typical number of winter days with low temperatures below those in Anchorage, Alaska, across the U.S." Credit:

Jason-3 Reaches Orbit, Will Monitor Global Sea-Level Rise, Hurricane Intensity. Here's an excerpt from a press release from NOAA: "...While flying in a low orbit, 830 miles above the Earth, Jason-3 will use a radar altimeter instrument to monitor 95 percent of the world’s ice-free oceans every 10 days. Since the Topex/Poseidon, and Jason satellite missions started in 1992, researchers have observed global sea-level rise occurring at a rate of 3 mm a year, resulting in a total change of 70 mm — or 2.8 inches — in 23 years..."

Upward Trend in Heaviest Downpours. Basic physics: a warmer atmsophere holds more water vapor, loading the dice in favor of more extreme rainfall events; here's more information from WXshift: "Climate scientists tell us that when April showers arrive, they may come with heavier downpours as the planet warms. It’s not just April: more water can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere at all times of the year, and what goes up must eventually come down. (Thank you, Clausius-Clapeyron.) The data in these graphics come from 207 airports across the continental U.S. where records have been reliable and continuous since at least 1950. And the data show very clearly that there’s been an upward trend in rainfalls of 1”+, 2”+, and 3”+ nationwide with respect to the average from 1950 to 2014..."

New York City To Get $176 Milllion from U.S. for Storm Protection. Details via The New York Times: "New York City may soon be one step closer to building a new flood protection system around Lower Manhattan to guard against another storm like Hurricane Sandy. Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said on Monday that the city would be awarded $176 million in federal funding for the proposed project, through a national contest created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help communities recover from disasters and better prepare for them..."

Image credit above: "A rendering of a city proposal to protect against flooding in Lower Manhattan from another storm like Hurricane Sandy."

An Oligarchy Has Broken our Democracy. It Must Be Dislodged. Have things really gotten this bad? Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Guardian: "....I define the American Deep State as a hybrid association of elements of government and top-level finance and industry that is able, through campaign financing of elected officials, influence networks and co-option via the promise of lucrative post-government careers, to govern the United States in spite of elections and without reference to the consent of the governed. These operatives use their proximity to power and ability to offer high-paying jobs to government officials to achieve outcomes foreclosed to ordinary citizens..."

Image credit above: "The calculus of the Deep State has been upset by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders." Photograph: Jim Bourg/Reuters.

These Airlines Have the Lowest Safety Ratings. Buyer beware; here's a clip from TIME: "...Unfortunately, some airlines—as per the ratings listed on—have some work to do. The aviation safety–focused website performs a comprehensive analysis of data from several international aviation and government sources and gives every airline they monitor a numerical rating from 1 to 7. (Airlines that receive a 7 are considered the safest; those that receive a 1 are the least safe.)..."

TODAY: Sunny start, then increasing clouds. Winds: SE 5-10. High: 10

TUESDAY NIGHT: Light snow and flurries - possible coating. Low: 20

WEDNESDAY: Mostly cloudy, thrilled to see average temperatures. High: 25

THURSDAY:  Partly sunny, chilly breeze. Wake-up: 20. High: 23

FRIDAY: Bright sunshine - light winds. Winds: NW 3-8. Wake-up: 7. High: 18

SATURDAY: Fading sun, milder breeze kicks in. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 10. High: 28

SUNDAY: Overcast, chance of a thaw. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 22. High: 32

MONDAY: Few flurries, then some sun. Wake-up: 23. High: 27

Climate Stories...

Martin Luther King and The Call to Direct Action on Climate Change. Joe Romm connects the dots at ThinkProgress; here's an excerpt: "...If we don’t act now, then, within decades, a large fraction of the world’s 9 billion people will find themselves living in places whose once stable climate simply now can’t sustain them — either because it is too hot or arid, the land is no longer arable, their glacially fed rivers are drying up, or the seas are rising too fast. The overwhelming majority of those suffering the most — in this country and especially abroad — will be people who contributed little or nothing whatsoever to the problem. This would be the greatest injustice in human history, “irreversible” on a time scale of centuries..."

Image credit above: Shutterstock.

Here's Why Satellites Aren't The Best Way to Measure Global Temperature Trends. Here's the intro to a Guardian article at Raw Story: "Satellites don’t measure the Earth’s temperature. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his fellow climate contrarians love the satellite data, but as Carl Mears of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite dataset and Ben Santer recently wrote ,
they are not thermometers in space. The satellite [temperature] data … were obtained from so-called Microwave Sounding Units ( MSUs ), which measure the microwave emissions of oxygen molecules from broad atmospheric layers. Converting this information to estimates of temperature trends has substantial uncertainties.
Scientists process the raw microwave data, applying a model to make numerous adjustments in order to come up with a synthetic estimate of the atmospheric temperature..." (Image above: NOAA).

How Reliable are Satellite Temperatures? Here's a link to a YouTube video from Yale Climate Connections: "We often hear from climate deniers that satellite measurements of global temperature are "the best data we have"? But is that true? Here, interviews with leading climate scientists, including Carl Mears, who keeps the dataset that he says Senator Ted Cruz, and others, are misusing."
Ted Cruz Fact Check: Which Temperature Data Are The Best? There are no direct measurements of temperatures from satellite sounders; temperatures are inferred. Here's an excerpt of a good explainer at The Guardian: "Satellites don’t measure the Earth’s temperature. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and his fellow climate contrarians love the satellite data, but as Carl Mears of the Remote Sensing Systems (RSS) satellite dataset and Ben Santer recently wrote,
they are not thermometers in space. The satellite [temperature] data ... were obtained from so-called Microwave Sounding Units (MSUs), which measure the microwave emissions of oxygen molecules from broad atmospheric layers. Converting this information to estimates of temperature trends has substantial uncertainties.
Scientists process the raw microwave data, applying a model to make numerous adjustments in order to come up with a synthetic estimate of the atmospheric temperature..."

Graph credit above: "Estimates of the temperature of the lower troposphere from satellites by RSS vs. weather balloons by NOAA (RATPAC)." Created by Tamino at the Open Mind blog.

This Is Where 90% of Global Warming is Going.  Here's an excerpt of a Chris Mooney story at The Washington Post: "...Gleckler is the lead author of a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change finding that, in the past two decades, ocean heat content has been rising rapidly and that, much more than before, heat is also mixing into the deeper layers of the ocean, rather than remaining near the surface. “As the upper oceans have been warming over time, more and more of this heat is finding its way down into the deeper ocean, and our results indicate that the fractional amount of heat that is trapped in the deeper ocean is increasing as well,” Gleckler said..."

Photo credit above: "Rolling waves driven by cyclone Christian appear in the Elbe estuary near the North Sea close to Brunsbuettel, northern Germany, in 2013." (European Pressphoto Agency/Christian Charisius)

Why Psychology Should Be a Part of The Fight Against Climate Change. Huffington Post has an important story - here's the intro: "Climate change isn't just a political, social and economic issue. It's also a deeply psychological one -- and now, behavioral scientists are using psychology to better understand the complex relationship between people and nature. An increasing number of psychologists are arguing that in order to tackle the growing threat to our environment, we need to understand people's emotional and cognitive responses to this new reality, which can run the gamut from denial to indifference to outrage to anger to grief..." (Image credit: Matt Brown, Flickr).

Warming Could Mean Major Thaw for Alaska Permafrost. Climate Central has the story - here's the intro: "If you’d asked permafrost researcher Vladimir Romanovsky five years ago if he thought the permafrost of the North Slope of Alaska was in danger of substantial thaw this century because of global warming, he would have said no. The permanently frozen soils of the northern reaches of the state are much colder, and so more stable than the warmer, more vulnerable permafrost of interior Alaska, he would have said. “I cannot say it anymore” he told journalists last month at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco..."

Photo credit above: "Thawing permafrost caused significant damage to the Dalton Highway in the North Slope of Alaska in June 2015." Credit: Alaska DOT

Cancer and Climate Change. The New York Times has a poignant and powerful Op-Ed; here's the introduction: "I’M a climate scientist who has just been told I have Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multidecadal lens. At some level I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and its possible solutions, play out in my lifetime. Now that my personal horizon has been steeply foreshortened, I was forced to decide how to spend my remaining time. Was continuing to think about climate change worth the bother?..." (Illustration credit: Tatsuro Kiuchi).

In Evangelical Country,  an Apocalypse of Rising Seas. InsideClimate News has a fascinating article at ground zero of rising seas, a close #2 after Miami Beach  - here's an excerpt: "...Conservative estimates predict a further rise of 1½ to 3 feet in the next century, accelerated by climate change. Those estimates are used by many local city planners. Even a 1½-foot rise would reshape floodplains and threaten neighborhoods. But those estimates are probably too low. “We tend to think that higher scenarios—three feet or more—are likely,” said Larry Atkinson, who directs the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. The Navy has prepared reports that analyze the effects of local sea level rise of up to 6½ feet. It is possible that the change will be even greater in the 22nd century..."

They Live at Ground Zero, but Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio Say Climate Change is a Distant Threat.  Here's the intro to a Miami Herald story: "Not 15 miles from the homes of Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush on the mainland, Miami Beach work crews elevate the streets, turning ground floors effectively into windowed basements, to try to stave off the implacable rise of sea water. Up comes the powerful ocean, threatening people, property and the underground freshwater supply. Can’t control nature, Rubio quips with a smile. Got bigger problems, Bush insists with exasperation. “I don’t have a plan to influence the weather,” Rubio said dismissively at a town-hall style meeting in New Hampshire last month..."

Photo credit above: "Oakley and Casey Jones, tourists from Idaho Falls, navigate the flooded streets of Miami Beach during a king tide in September." EMILY MICHOT MIAMI HERALD STAFF.

Why Climate Change is a Moral Concern for the Religious Community. An Op-Ed at resonated; here's a clip: "...This is to say that our current commitments to reduce carbon emissions fall short, and we continue to accelerate our consumption of natural resources. God calls his people to be stewards of all natural creation. Therefore, we must protect the Earth in any way we can and push towards a more sustainable future. As humans, we are deeply interconnected and dependent on the Earth. Climate change is not an isolated phenomenon and is more than rising sea levels or droughts. Climate change has social, health, urban, and agricultural implications. Thus, it is crucial for everyone to play a part in tackling this for the well-being of others and of the world..."

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The Next Threat from Climate Change? Mosquito-Borne "Zika". Here's the intro to an Op-Ed at The Salt Lake Tribune: "A hotter, more humid world is already becoming a world of more serious virulent infectious diseases. West Nile, dengue fever, chagas, Lyme disease, yellow fever, chikungunya, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Rift Valley fever, Japanese encephalitis and malaria are just a few of the many infectious diseases spreading far beyond their previous geographic confines. Global temperatures aren't the only things that broke records in 2015. The number of victims of dengue fever in Brazil reached 1.58 million, an all time high, 20 times more than in 1990. Heat, precipitation and humidity augment the life cycle, reproduction and even biting activity of mosquitoes and other insects that carry these diseases..."

Mother Nature's Invisible Hand Strikes Back Against the Carbon Economy. Truthout has the story; here's the  intro: "Is the hydrocarbon economy too big to fail? If the woefully inadequate outcome of the Paris climate conference is any indication, the answer is still a resounding "Yes!" That's because the overly optimistic agreement conspicuously ignored the core issue driving up the earth's temperature and warping the world's already misshaped markets. The problem is Big Oil. Simply put, Big Oil is a bad investment fueled by irrational exuberance, chronic cronyism and an increasingly indefensible misallocation of capital..."

Image credit above: Lauren Walker/Truthout.

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