Tuesday, January 31, 2012

February 1: Too Early For Spring Fever? (50s and 60s for much of America)

66 F. high at Washington Dulles Airport on Tuesday, a new record for January 31.
55 F. high at Islip, New York, a new record.
63 F. record high reported at Georgetown, Delaware

  32.5" of lake-effect snow at Fulton, New York (10 miles from the Lake Ontario shoreline) since Monday.

-65 F. reported at Galena, Alaska, in the state's bitter interior, last Saturday morning. The old record was -56 in 1947.

Meteorological Denial. It's (almost) time to write off this winter. True, we can get dumped on in late February and March, but late winter snowfalls tend to only stick around a few days - the sun is too high in the sky for snow to linger on the ground for long. Thanks to twitpic, and my buddy Mike Seidel at The Weather Channel, for forwarding this one along. How true.

Rain At International Falls on January 31? The odds of rain that far north on the last day of January are slim to nil. And that rain froze (on contact) with cold surfaces, producing a thin glaze of ice. More reports from NOAA here.

One Week's Worth Of Weather Records. Thanks to Ham Weather and NOAA for reminding us how unusual the warmth has been across the USA. Green dots display record 24 hour rainfall amounts, red dots are record highs, yellow dots record (warm) nighttime lows. An interactive map is here, courtesy of those rocket scientist/weather geeks over at Ham Weather.

Winter On Hold. Unseasonable, almost April-like warmth blanketed most of America yesterday. Here's more from NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory: "On the last day of January, many people throughout the U.S. are enjoying unusually warm temperatures. Shown in this image, using data from today's NOAA Rapid Update Cycle model, are the high temperatures across the U.S. Many areas are experiencing temperatures well above 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even in far northern locales. "
In Search Of Snow. According to NOAA's National Snow Analysis, only 23.3% of the Lower 48 States have snow on the ground. A few interesting stats:

2012: 23.3%
2011: 41.6%

2010: 70%
2006: 21.6%
* 2006 is the only year I could find in the last 30 years that had less snow on the ground than we're seeing in 2012.
One Big Silver Lining: A Vastly Reduced Risk of Spring Flooding. Who knows what will happen between now and March (although I suspect it's best to go with "persistence", which is meteorological slang for go with the flow, acknowledge the trends). The drought that plagued Texas last year (worst in state history, including the Dust Bowl years of the mid 1930s) is expanding north, through a combination of La Nina, persistent blocking patterns, and other factors we may not even be aware of. Unless we see a series of massive snowstorms in late February and March the risk of severe flooding across the Upper Midwest will be considerably lower than recent years. According to NOAA's "Snow Water Equivalent" map above there's only .04 to 1" of liquid water trapped in the (meager) snow pack from the eastern Dakotas into Minnesota, about 2-4" water over northern Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan, where lake effect has cheered snow lovers.

It's Been A Warm Winter, But Warmest? I think it would be safe to say that we are experiencing the warmest winter since 2006, probably a Top 5 or Top 10 warmest winter for the lower 48 states. MSNBC.com has an article focusing on just how unusual this almost unprecedented spring fling really is: "How soon we forget. Sure, this last month has been warmer than average across the lower 48 states, but the record for warmest January was set just six years ago in January 2006 and it's too soon to tell if that will fall. Deke Arndt, chief of the National Climatic Data Center's monitoring service, told msnbc.com that he can't rule out a record. "It's too early for us to call shots" on just where January 2012 will end up, he said, "but it has been quite warm so far and we expect it to finish in the top 15 or 20," based on records dating back to 1895. The official report for January comes out on Feb. 7, he added."

Photo credit above: "Doug Csongei chips to the first green at Big Met golf course in Fairview Park, Ohio Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012. Ohio is in the thick of an unusual winter that has brought the state warm temperatures and little snow, with the long-range forecast calling for more winter warmth. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)."

Warm Winter Adds To Retailers Post-Holiday Blues. Reuters has the details: "Unseasonably warm weather across the United States forced many retailers to offer deeper-than-usual discounts to clear out coats, sweaters and boots in January, pointing to tepid sales in the typically slow post-holiday month. Analysts expect U.S. retailers to report a 2 percent rise in January same-store sales, compared with a year-earlier increase of 4.4 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. "In this economy, nobody is going to buy unless there is a need for it, and the weather says, 'You don't need it,'" said Scott Bernhardt, chief operating officer of Planalytics, which provides weather data for businesses."
Photo credit above: "Runners in warm weather gear pass by a sign, marketing warm winter accessories, located outside The Museum Store in the 200 block of William Street in downtown Fredericksburg, Va. on Friday afternoon, Jan. 27, 2012. The store is part of the Area Museum and Cultural Center. (AP Photo/The Free Lance-Star, Robert A. Martin)."

One Place Where Winter Is Alive And Well. The town of Fulton, New York, just 10 miles from the Lake Ontario shoreline, has seen plenty of (lake effect) snow in recent weeks. That's what you have to do to insure snow these days - situation yourself 10-30 miles downwind of one of the Great Lakes. "Chris Wolford digs out the driveway of her South 7th Street home, Monday, Jan. 30, 2012, in Fulton, N.Y. Over 30 inches of snow fell in Fulton during the area's first lake-effect storm of the season. (AP Photo/The Post-Standard, Michelle Gable)."

Ski Nebraska. The latest GFS model is printing out some 6-8" snowfall amounts for western Kansas and central Nebraska later this week as a slow-moving storm pushes north across the Plains, weakening before passing south of Minnesota. The Great Snow Drought of 2012 limps on.

Trending Well Above Average. Although the GFS is hinting at a significant (but brief) cool-down in mid February, the models are all highly erratic. As you can see, temperatures are forecast to trend well above average levels (in dashes) through February 14 or so. Graph courtesy of Ham Weather. Plug in your local zip code to get a personalized extended outlook for home.

One More Subzero Night? My faith in the GFS model has dwindled considerably; I've seen some wild swings in recent runs, so my confidence level is low. The latest run shows a fleeting cold snap around February 12, with one night below zero. That may change again later today, but there's little doubt we'll see a few more beefy cold fronts in the weeks to come.

Don't Write Winter Off Just Yet. Although temperatures will probably trend well above average through mid February, there will be cold fronts. The 500 mb outlook above (GFS) is valid February 16. Disclaimer: jet stream winds are blowing much faster than usual, even for this of year, when wind speeds peak. That makes the pattern unstable, and a long range forecast much more difficult. Models have been highly erratic, but (if) this forecast verifies we could expect another spell of single digits and teens for highs, and subzero nights around Feb. 17-18. We'll see.

Another Close Call. This is a 5-day precipitation forecast from NOAA. For the last few months Minnesota, the Dakotas and much of Wisconsin have been in something of a meteorological no-man's land. Big sloppy storms detouring south, a family of clippers sailing off to our north, with very little snow (or rain) close to home. The QPF (quantitative precipitation forecast) prints out some very heavy amounts of rain and snow for the central Plains, but the weekend storm should pass just south of Minnesota....again.

70 tornadoes across the USA in January - 3rd highest tornado count since accurate tornado records were first kept in 1950. Source: SPC. More details from USA Today below.

January Tornadoes Across America:

212: 1999
84:    2008
70:    2012

Photo credit above: "The roof is missing over this classroom at Center Point Elementary School in Center Point, Ala., Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. A series of tornadoes struck Alabama Monday (Jan. 23), killing two people and destroying over 400 homes. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)."

37 years. Global January - December temperatures have been above the long-term (1951-1980) average since 1974, according to NASA.

215 months. The last time a specific month was colder than the 1951-1980 average was February, 1994. (NASA).

"Climate change “skeptics”. Every scientist I know is a “skeptic”. It’s the way science works. You observe, question, seek answers, test, form ideas, sure argue about results of experiments and conclusions and sometimes your ideas or results are shown to be incorrect. So what? We should all be skeptics. We should all seek more information and knowledge and not be drawn, or seek out only to those who agree with our ideas, be they science, political, whatever. Let’s drop the lightning rod labels above being thrown from opposite sides of the river of knowledge and understanding." - from a timely post from WJLA-TV's Bob Ryan about the controversial "Forecast The Facts" campaign to expose climate skeptics among the nation's TV meteorologists. Details below.

"June-uary" In Chicago. 60s on the last day of January in the Windy City? One year ago Chicago was bracing for a blizzard, one that dropped 1-2 feet of snow, paralyzing the city with 4-5 foot drifts and impassable streets. That old adage, what a difference a year makes, rings true. Map courtesy of the Chicago office of the National Weather Service.

Groundhog Day 2011. On February 1-2, 2011, Chicago was hit by a massive winter storm, one that shut down the city. Photo of Lakeshore Drive courtesy of Mike Tannura.

Experts Offer Drivers Advice On Winter Travel. Pittsburghlive.com's "TribLive News" has some timely advice. One of these days we may even be able to put these suggestions to good use: "You need to make sure your headlights and taillights aren't covered because they obviously wouldn't be as vibrant not only for you to see, but for other drivers to see you," she said. "You also have to make sure your hood and roof are clear so no chunks of snow or ice can fall off." If you don't, it isn't just dangerous -- it's illegal. In Pennsylvania, you can be ticketed if any material falls from your vehicle and strikes another. Once you're on the road -- with your seat belt on, of course -- Stanley said the key is to remain calm and steady. "When you're driving (on ice or snow-covered roads), you want to avoid making any quick movements," he said. "You don't want to hit the brake hard, punch the gas or turn the steering wheel too quickly. Those are easy ways to lose control. You also need to put more space between you and the car in front of you. If you're following too closely and need to stop suddenly, it's obviously going to be much more difficult to do on ice."

Severe (Winter) Weather Preparedness. Lawn and Landscape has a good checklist to keep in mind when the next major winter snow/ice storm approaches. And it will. Right? "The equipment checklist can help assess preparedness for an unexpected weather event or other emergency – and offers some safety tips:
  1. Pole saws or pruners can help clear away dead or damaged limbs near your home or building or on your driveway. Make sure you always keep a firm footing on the ground when using such equipment. Do not use a ladder, and stay away from electrical conductors.
  2. A chain saw can help clear away trees and more massive limbs, but first read and understand the instruction manual and ensure equipment is in good condition. Do not work around power lines, since they can be the biggest threat to safety.
  3.  Power generators can keep the lights on, refrigerators running and water flowing in an emergency. Do not operate power generators, however, in enclosed areas. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can become concentrated in enclosed areas and cause serious injury or death."

2012 Off To A Furious Start In Tornadoes. USA Today has the latest statistics: "January has been an unusually violent month for tornadoes in the USA: 70 twisters have been reported. And more could be on the way. The total this month is the third-highest in January since accurate tornado records began in 1950, said Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. Since 1950, only January 1999 (with 212) and January 2008 (with 84) saw more tornadoes. The twisters killed two people this month, both in Alabama. The last time there were tornado-related deaths in January was in 2008, when seven people died, Carbin said. The deadliest January on record was in 1969, when 32 people were killed by tornadoes." Photo courtesy of Hal Yeager, AP.

Alabama Was Most Tornado-Prone State In 2011. My Fox New York has the story: "MONTGOMERY, Ala. - In 2011, 177 tornadoes struck Alabama, making it the state with the highest number of twisters in a year that the South was hit particularly hard by violent storms, according to the National Weather Service. Mississippi was right behind Alabama in second place with 169 tornadoes and North Carolina was fourth with 113. Although tornado season has not quite started yet for most of the country, Alabama is already ranked in the top spot for 2012, with 22 tornado strikes since New Year's Day."

Tornado Myths Tough For Forecasters To Bust. Yahoo News has an interesting article: "NEW ORLEANS — Even after a tornado warning was issued for Cordova, Ala., during last April's deadly event, one man — we'll call him Bill — still wasn't concerned. The tornado was miles away and Walker County, where Cordova is located, is a big county. Besides, he lives on a hill and everyone knows that tornadoes can't come up a hill. And his motorcycle in the driveway really needed fixing. Then a twister rating EF-3 on the tornado-damage scale roared through town, narrowly missing Bill's house. "It was out of character for everything that I've ever known about tornadoes," Bill told researchers in an interview after the storm. His real name was not used to protect his anonymity." Photo above courtesy of the AP.

Designing A Better System To Warn About Hurricanes. The Herald Tribune has more details: "NEW ORLEANS - Hurricane forecasting is changing — and not just on the meteorology side. The National Hurricane Center is working on new ways to tell people how they are at risk when hurricanes threaten. As part of the federal Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, psychologists are trying to figure out how to issue storm warnings that the public and emergency managers can use to make fast decisions about whether to evacuate or stay put. After years of effort by hurricane officials to teach people about storm surge, many still do not understand. They also misinterpret other forecast products, such as the "cone of uncertainty," which shows where a hurricane is likely to travel."

Drought May Cause Shut-Down Of Texas Rice Production. Climate Central has an update: "Although recent rains have put a dent in the Texas drought, a day of reckoning looms for the state’s long-grain rice growers, who pump millions into the economy in Southeast Texas each year and account for about 5 percent of America’s rice production. Come March 1, if there is less than 850,000 acre-feet of water in reservoirs along the Lower Colorado River, water managers will be forced to take the unprecedented step of withholding water from agricultural users, which will mean severe cuts to Texas rice production this year."

NOAA Satellites Aid In The Rescue Of 207 People In 2011. NOAA has the story: "In 2011, NOAA satellites were critical in the rescues of 207 people from life-threatening situations throughout the United States and its surrounding waters. The satellites picked up distress signals from emergency beacons carried by downed pilots, shipwrecked boaters and stranded hikers, and relayed the information about their location to first responders on the ground. NOAA’s polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites are part of the international Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking System, called COSPAS-SARSAT. This system uses a network of satellites to quickly detect and locate distress signals from emergency beacons onboard aircraft and boats, and from smaller, handheld personal locator beacons called PLBs." Image above courtesy of NOAA.

NASA Enhances Solar Storm Forecasting. Informationweek.com has the story: "The use of the computational predictive technique couldn't come as a better time, as the sun is entering its solar maximum, or period of greatest activity, which will spur an increase in space weather, according to the agency. NASA is applying existing technology called "ensemble forecasting" that's been used to predict hurricanes in its observations of solar weather to better predict the path and effect of solar storms. Researchers at the Space Weather Laboratory of Goddard Space Flight Research Center have begun to implement ensemble forecasting--which allows them to produce as many as 100 computerized forecasts at once--with full implementation in three years' time, according to NASA." Photo above courtesy of NASA.

Tracking Storms On The Sun. Click here to see the latest data on our nearest and dearest star, the sun. Or should I say The Sun. Data courtesy of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.

Is Meteorology Turning Into Computer Science? Here's an intriguing blog from meteorologist AJ Jain's blog, "Fresh AJ". From personal experience I can tell you that we're always on the lookout for meteorologists who can either a). present the weather professionally on-camera, or b). use computer skills to help us develop new software for visualization, the energy markets, and creating more accurate, hyper-local forecasts: "After attending the student conference at the AMS career fair, I spoke to each private employer that was hiring meteorologists.   Some of the employers I spoke to at the booths were, “Unisys, Climate Corporation, Wunderground, Accuweather, Impact weather, among others. And here’s what was very intriguing:  a majority of these employers are looking for meteorology developers (ie people who are excellent at programming but also understand meteorology). Meteorology programmers are a growing trend in today’s meteorology job world.  Whether it is programming using Python, C++, Objective C, or PHP, the “new” graduate in meteorology in today’s economic climate should probably have these skills under their belt. When I spoke to a few of them…they mentioned if someone is a MS or PHD with programming skills, they would like to talk with them.  Some of them even mentioned they were prepared to throw ridiculous amounts of cash if you met those qualifications…so if you’re interested in learning more,  let me know!"

Open Your Eyes Paul. That was me, back in 1979, when I was a senior at Penn State. Pretty natural in front of the camera, huh? My wife has aged far more gracefully than I have. Getting old sucks.

Pinch Me

I just woke up from the most amazing daydream. It was late January, yet the grill was sizzling away, my boys tossing the football in the back yard, neighbors stopping by to ask "Hey Paul, is it MILD enough 'fer 'ya?"

Dickens had it right: this winter has been the best of times - and the worst of times. It's been a Godsend for seniors, who don't have to worry quite as much about slipping on ice. We've saved almost 20% on heating bills since Autumn. Fewer fender benders, more money for cities to pave potholes vs. clearing snow. But for anyone making a living from snow and cold our alleged "winter" has been an unmitigated disaster. Sales of winter essentials (and toys) are down 30-50%

Meanwhile baffled meteorologists scan the maps, wondering if when this record-setting Pacific breeze will finally shut off. The answer: no time soon. The European ECMWF model brings puffs of chilly air south of the border, but I don't see anything subzero. For the record we've had 3 subzero nights so far this winter in the Twin Cities. A typical winter brings 28 nights of negative numbers.

Nebraska picks up a foot of snow; but a weekend storm spins south of Minnesota. Again. Trending considerably milder than average through mid February with more 30s, even a few 40s? Yep. The Year Without A (real) Winter? It sure looks that way. Watch - we'll get dumped on in late April. Yes, that would be fitting.

Weather, Climate, And "Facts". Here's an excerpt of a timely post from a meteorologist I have a tremendous amount of respect for, Bob Ryan at WJLA-TV in Washington D.C. "First the FACTS about what happened at the annual meeting of the American Meteorological Society last week. Full disclosure I have been a Member (and elected Fellow) and active participant of the AMS in many boards, commissioner and past president since my student member days of about 45 years ago. The AMS is the largest scientific and professional society of its type in the world. The governing body of the AMS is the Council of the Society, most of whose members and AMS president are elected by the 14,000 individuals members of the Society. An open, democratic process. The various statements of the Society cover areas of science NOT politics and policy varying from science education to mobile homes to water resources, weather forecasts and yes climate change. The FACT is that every scientific based statement of the AMS is reviewed at a minimum every 5 years....Since about the 1700s burning of fossil fuels has released about ½ trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere . . . 500, 000, 0000 tons and the concentration of CO2 has increased today by almost 40% from 300 years ago. Solid science and solid observations or a “hoax”?"

Chicago's Warm Winter Weather And Global Warming. The story from Whet Moser over at Chicagomag.com. Here's an excerpt: "The last time I wrote about Chicago's warm winter (and what it might have to do with SPACE WEATHER), someone asked me on Facebook whether it had anything to do with global warming. The best I could do was basically "that's not exactly how to think about it":

I think the best way to think of it is a baseball metaphor (sorry, that's how my mind works): month-to-month, year-to-year weather is like how many runs are scored from game to game; climate change is like the steroid era or lowering the mound, which adjust things across the board. Like, if you lower the mound, you're going to get *more* 20-run games, but you're still going to get shutouts, just not as many.

So I was kind of pleased with myself to see one of my favorite weather bloggers, Dr. Jeff Masters, use a nearly identical metaphor the other day: The natural weather rhythms I've grown to used to during my 30 years as a meteorologist have become significantly disrupted over the past few years. Many of Earth's major atmospheric circulation patterns have seen significant shifts and unprecedented behavior; new patterns that were unknown have emerged, and extreme weather events were incredibly intense and numerous during 2010 - 2011."

Perception = Reality. From a post at Think Progress: "In line with projections by climate scientists, the 2000s were significantly hotter than the 1990s, which were hotter than the 1980s, reflecting the steady rise in carbon dioxide emissions. This consistent increase in average temperature is partially masked by natural variability on short time spans. Johnson’s nonsensical claim rests on that deliberate misinterpretation of temperature data, as this infographic from Skeptical Science (above) shows."

Think We're Headed For A New Ice Age? You're Wrong. The story from gizmodo.com: "Read some reports of our changing climate today, and you might be convinced that we're about to enter a mini Ice Age, with decades of plummeting temperatures ahead. Here's why that's a lot of hot air. Today, the Daily Mail report that we are "heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames [in London, UK] in the 17th Century." They cite a report by the Meteorological Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit about solar cycles. Currently, we should be at a maximum in the solar cycle—Cycle 24, in fact—experiencing the most heat the sun can thrown at us. For some reason, we're not: the sun has been a little erratic in the past few years." Photo above courtesy of Wikipedia.

NASA: Global Warming Caused Mostly By Humans. Here's an excerpt from a story at USA Today: "....This provides unequivocal evidence that the sun is not the dominant driver of global warming," said James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who led the research released Monday. On the Wall Street Journal's opinion page, 16 scientists recently said there's no need for drastic action to "decarbonize" the world's economy. "Perhaps the most inconvenient fact is the lack of global warming for well over 10 years now," they wrote without providing data. Not so, according to U.S. government records. In December, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that all 11 years of the 21st century so far (2001–2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record."

What Caused The Texas Drought - Global Warming or La Nina? Yahoo News asks the experts: "The drought that still afflicts Texas has given rise to another controversy over the theory of global warming. Two eminent scientists have looked at the same data and have come to sharply different conclusions. 

NASA's James Hanson says it's global warming
According to Inside Climate News, NASA's James Hanson has announced the recent heat wave in Texas that featured months with little or known rainfall was the result of global warming. Hanson and a group of NASA scientists claim the heat wave and the drought could not have occurred without the phenomenon of global warming. Hanson claims he has based his conclusion of 50 years of climate data. Hanson has been an advocate of ending the use of fossil fuels. He has often combined science with activism and has thus generated controversy. 

NOAA's Robert Hoerling says it's not global warming
The Dallas Observer interviewed NOAA climate scientist Robert Hoerling. Hoerling pinned the blame on La Nina, an atmospheric phenomenon that causes the surface temperature of the Pacific Ocean to cool. This results in lower than expected precipitation in the southwest, especially Texas. La Nina caused an almost decade-long drought in the 1950s that was just as severe as the one that took place in the summer of 2011. Whether Texas is in for a similar long dry period is uncertain. But Hoerling is adamant that it is not global warming."

Photo credit above: "In this Jan. 19, 2012 photo, the banks of Tiki Island in the middle of Medina Lake, Texas, are exposed due to receding water levels there. The lake is 52 feet down. It has not been this low in more than two decades, and the lake is expected to continue to lose a few inches every day as the 15-month drought continues. (AP Photo/ San Antonio Express-News, John Davenport)."

Oil Companies Are Actually Planning For Climate Change. Hedging their bets, in case the professional climate skeptics are wrong? Triple Pundit has the story: "Not so long ago oil companies “bank rolled climate change denial,” as Treehugger recently pointed out. The same post acknowledges the irony of oil companies “planning for the inevitability of man-made climate change.” Oil companies really do have climate adaptation strategies in place. As Marc Gunther of Greenbiz stated in an article last week, “Even the oil and gas industry — which, of course, is a major contributor to climate change — is paying heed.” Why would an industry that pumped so much money into climate change denial invest in adapting to it? It’s really simple: climate change will affect the company’s bottom line. A 2009 report by IBM, Acclimatise and Carbon Disclosure Project found that the oil and gas industry is not prepared for the impacts of climate change to their physical assets. Climate change impacts, according to the report, “will become more severe creating new and enhanced risks for the oil and gas sector.” Photo above courtesy of treehugger.com.

Just Science iPhone App Simplifies Climate Change Information. Treehugger.com has details on a new app that takes some of the confusion out of climate science: "If you have an interest in climate change data, you're going to want to download the free app, Just Science. This app makes it easy to understand what is going on with shifts on our planet and lets you draw your own conclusions. All you get is straight science inside interesting visuals. Just Science uses the video map of climate change released by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study. Recorded changes in Earth's land temperature between 1800 and 2009 are displayed on a color-coded map, and you can see how today's monthly temperatures deviate from historical averages. Basically, you can watch the information play out in front of you and decide for yourself if you think the planet's climate patterns are changing. (Spoiler Alert: they are.)" Photo above courtesy of planetsave.com - which has another article about "Just Science" here.

Scientists Challenging Climate Science Appear To Flunk Climate Economics. From the New York Time's Dot Earth blog: "A op-ed article signed by 16 scientists rejecting the need for “drastic action to decarbonize the world’s economy,” published Friday by the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, has been widely and thoroughly fact-checked and challenged elsewhere. Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists criticizes their take on the science in a piece titled, “Dismal Science at The Wall Street Journal.” Peter Gleick, an analyst of global water and climate issues, chides the newspaper in a Forbes post, noting that the Journal turned down a letter of concern about human-driven climate change from 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences (which ended up published in the journal Science). Chris Mooney dismantles what he calls the authors’ “reductio ad Lysenko” argument. There’s lots more. (Of course Climate Depot finds the letter breathlessly exciting.)"

Setting The Record Straight On Climate Change: Experts Respond. Here is an Op-Ed that appears on WSJ.com, a rebuttal to an Op-Ed from a group of climate skeptics a few days ago. This Op-Ed also appears on the blog, Climate Communication: "Do you consult your dentist on your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field, and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations. On January 27, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on climate change by the climate science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science. Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter."

Monday, January 30, 2012

January 31: Marchlike Record Warmth Central USA

1 hour of extra daylight by tomorrow. Translation: since the Winter Solstice on December 21 we've picked up an additional 60 minutes of daylight here in the MSP metro area.

7.1 F. warmer than average so far in January here in the Twin Cities.

23.3 F. predicted final average temperature in January, the 8th warmest on record. Source: meteorologist Belinda Jensen during Monday's 6 pm newscast.

5 of the last 8 months have been "Top 10 Warmest" months at MSP. Ever since last July the atmosphere has been locked in an unusually mild and dry pattern.

16 days colder than -40 F. so far in Fairbanks during January (most since 1971).

* Photo above was taken Sunday at 9am, posted by Allison Donovan on the University of Alaska Facebook page. She calls it the "50 Below Club".

Is The Worst Of Winter Behind Us? Photo comparison above courtesy of InForum.com. My tentative, humble and respectful answer is yes. It's been one of the mildest winters on record; at the rate we're going this will easily be a "Top 10 Warmest Winter" in the Twin Cities. So far we've had 3 nights below zero. Average is close to 28 nights of negative numbers. A few more subzero nights by late February, but no more numbing cold fronts are imminent. Are we really seeing fewer nights below zero at MSP, or is our imaginations? How much of this can be chalked up to the "Urban Heat Island" (metro buildings, industry and dark, asphalt roads releasing heat at night, keeping nighttime lows milder than they would be 30 miles outside the metro area?) Then again, although the metro was marginally smaller in the 70s, there was still an urban heat island a generation ago. Here's the raw data since 1970, thanks to Pete Boulay at the Minnesota State Climate Office:

Year         Jan   Feb   Mar   Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec  Annual

1970          18    10     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      33
1971          19     8     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     6      33
1972          18    12     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    14      47
1973           9     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     6      18
1974          14     6     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      22
1975          10     8     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      26
1976          12     4     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     3    13      34
1977          26     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     4    10      43
1978          21    13     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    11      48
1979          21    13     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     2      37
1980          12     8     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      27
1981           7     9     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    10      26
1982          22    11     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     2      37
1983           3     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    16      22
1984          11     3     5     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     6      25
1985          15     9     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5    16      45
1986           6     9     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1     2      19
1987           4     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     2       6
1988          17    11     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      33
1989           6    14     4     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    13      37
1990           0     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    10      12
1991          14     4     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     3     8      29
1992           6     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     6      12
1993          11     8     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     7      28
1994          16    12     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1      29
1995           3     9     4     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      21
1996          17     8     7     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     4     9      45
1997          15     3     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1     1      21
1998           8     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      13
1999          14     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     5      19
2000           8     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    14      22
2001           6    14     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      20
2002           1     0     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0       2
2003           8    11     5     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1      25
2004          11     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     6      20
2005           7     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     4      11
2006           0     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     1       3
2007           3    12     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     3      18
2008          13     8     2     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0    12      35
2009          15     4     3     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     4      26
2010          11     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     3      14
2011           7     7     1     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0     0      15
2012           3     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -     -       3

Average     11.7   7.8   1.6   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.0   0.8   6.2    27.8

Subzero Nights At MSP. Here are the averages, per decade:
1970-79: 34.1
1980-89: 22.7
1990-99: 33.9
2000-2012 (to date): 21.4

* looking at nighttime lows below zero at MSP, the 90s were colder than the 80s, the 13 winters since 2000 have been significantly warmer than previous decades. Since 2002 we've experienced 3 winters with fewer than 3 subzero nights. Will we see more subzero weather in the metro by late March? Probably, but the odds are dropping off with each passing day.

2011: 9th warmest year on record, worldwide, according to NASA (in spite of a lingering La Nina cooling phase of the Pacific ocean). Details below.

Close Call This Weekend? The 00z GFS model brings a storm into far southern Minnesota during the PM hours Saturday, the atmosphere warm enough for a rain/snow mix, with a couple inches of slush not out of the question from Albert Lea to Winona - the brunt of the moisture (once again) sliding off south of MSP. What do we have to do to get a real storm here?
* the ECMWF model keeps the Saturday storm well south/east of Minnesota. I doubt we'll see any significant snow (or rain) from this system. Why should this weekend be any different? We're in a drought, and the longer it drags on the more I fear that drought will be one of the biggest weather stories of 2012 for Minnesota. Hope I'm wrong.

Wildly Gyrating Models. The 12z run of the GFS brought subzero weather into MSP around Feb. 10-12, but the latest (00z) run keeps bitter air well north/east of Minnesota, with highs consistently in the 30s through mid February. We'll see.

February 15...or March 15? The GFS solution above shows 500 mb (18,000 foot) winds aloft on February 15, with a persistent westerly flow from the Pacific air, numbing, subzero air still dammed up 300-600 miles north of MInnesota. The map above looks like something out of mid March, not mid February. Could the worst of winter be behind us? I suspect that's the case.

An Early Tornado Season. "Stan and Jeanne Leo survived the Jan. 23rd tornado in their custom built home built in 1986. Stan designed the home and built it to withstand high winds. It did just that. Meteorologist Tim Coleman saw the intact house that did slide off of the foundation by 20 feet and stopped at the house while doing tornado assessment after the storm. The Leo's survived in their bedroom and were rescued by firefighters. The home now rests at a 15 degree angle, fully intact. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Joe Songer)."

68 tornadoes so far this year; third highest number on record, to date (SPC).

6.18" rain in Dallas this month; second wettest January on record.

Why Head South? As I mentioned in today's print column, I went a little overboard last fall scheduling time away from Minnesota this winter. I love snow (2 Polaris sleds help a lot), but the older I get the tougher it gets rationalizing subzero cold and nasty ice. Like everyone else - I was a little freaked out by CPC's predictions of "much colder/snowier" for the northern tier states. That 'dang La Nina would bite us again, right? Wrong. The long range prediction couldn't have been more wrong. So back in September I make arrangements to be gone 4 weeks during the height of winter, including a cruise last week with my father and sister. It was a good week, highs in the 70s and low 80s in the Caribbean, plenty of good times at the buffet (where I gained 6 pounds). Only one thing was missing: the urge to call/text/e-mail friends back in Minnesota with weather updates from Nassau, Charlotte Amalie and St. Maarten. Why bother when it's in the 40s back home? Snowbirds are at a rare (and welcome) loss for words this winter...some wondering why they even went south this winter. Or should I say, "winter"? We're not out of the woods just yet, odds favor a few more subzero nights (maybe by the end of next week) but I still suspect that looking at nighttime lows and wind chill readings the worst of winter, a winter that's setting warm weather records left and right, is probably behind us now. Now, back to my fast....

* photo above courtesy of funtoosh.com.

Wisconsin Tremor. A 2.4 quake on the Richter Scale 11 miles west southwest of Kenosha, Wisconsin? The data above is from USGS. Now I've (officially) seen everything.

Kentucky Sunrise. Thanks to Maureen Kudravy, who took this photo of the Polo Grounds in Louisville, Kentucky with her trusty iPhone.

Boston's Growing Snow Drought:

Total snowfall as of yesterday: 7.6 inches for the Boston area.
Average total snowfall (30 years) as of Jan. 25: 20.8 inches.
Total snowfall by Jan. 25, 2011: 50.4 inches.
Annual average total snowfall for the last 30 years: 41.8 inches
Total snowfall for the winter of 2010-2011: 81 inches.
Latest snowfall: May 8-9, 1977. Boston received a half inch of snow. Worcester received about a foot.
Since 1892 there have been 10 years with less than 20 inches of total snowfall.
Least total snowfall: 9 inches for the winter of 1936-1937.
Second most least: 10.3 inches for the winter of 1972-1973.
Third least: 12.7 inches for the winter of 1979-1980.
Haverhill spent about $2.2 million on snow plowing and associated operations last winter. The city has spent approximately $275,000 this year, Haverhill's public works Director Michael Stankovich said.

Source: http://www.eagletribune.com/haverhill/x1296870112/What-a-difference-a-year-makes (thanks to Chad Merrill at Earth Networks for passing this on).

* Boston skyline photo above courtesy of Michael Dwyer, AP.

Twisters: Scientists Come Closer To Finding Method To Predict Tornadoes. Here's an interesting, and potentially promising, story from The Christian Science Monitor and The Alaska Dispatch: "Scientists have developed a fledgling ability to predict monthly tornado activity in the US up to one month in advance. The technique, which uses existing weather-forecasting tools, is not yet ready for prime time. But in initial tests, the approach showed "statistically significant skill" in predicting regional tornado activity during most months of the year, including the peak of the spring tornado season, the researchers say. If the approach can be honed sufficiently, eventually it could allow forecasters to identify portions of states facing the highest risk for tornadoes in an upcoming month."
Photo credit above: "Alabama Power crews work to restore power lines at Hwy 79 and Winewood Road in Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 25, 2012. Recovery and clean up continues in the areas affected by the January 23rd tornado (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Joe Songer)."

Tornado Mindset Takes Hold In Alabama. What is going on with tornadoes and the state of Alabama? Forget "Tornado Alley" - now "Dixie Alley" is generating most of the headlines, injuries and tornado-related deaths, especially the last 3 years. The Birmingham News has more on the (new) mindset emerging among Alabama residents: "In Alabama, tornadoes never go out of season. Last week's storms that killed two people, flattened communities and pounded a school offered a stark reminder of that fact. While tornadoes are most common in March and April, they can strike at any time of year, and experts say Alabamians can't afford to wait until spring to be ready. "We need to be prepared year-round," said Allen Kniphfer, the director of Jefferson County's Emergency Management Agency. The trick is knowing what that means."

Photo credit above: "Susan Legate had an above-ground, 4-foot-by-6-foot storm shelter installed in her garage by Supercell Shelters in her Helena home. (Birmingham News Photo Linda Stelter)."
  Researchers Study Cost-Effectiveness Of Storm Protection. The Tartan Online has the story: "Last year was plagued with monetary losses from tropical cyclones — Hurricane Irene was estimated to cost over $7 billion in damages alone, according to ABC News. With some scientists predicting an increase in intense weather due to the sea’s rising surface temperatures, it is becoming increasingly important to protect coastal populations. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have collaborated to study the cost effectiveness of different approaches to storm management and to look at possibilities for the future."

Tornadoes In Unusual Places. Here is an update on a small tornado that touched down on Pakenham, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, courtesy of The Berwick Leader: "Video footage has shown a tornado passing through Pakenham today. The 26 second video has been posted on Twitter following severe storms in Melbourne’s outer east. Weather bureau duty forecaster Michael Efron said he would have to closely study the video before confirming it was a tornado, but the natural phenomena were not unusual in severe weather. “We probably see a couple every second summer,” Mr Efron said. Today’s wild weather has passed, Mr Effron said. “The worst is over for Melbourne and the outer south east, but we will see showers redeveloping later in the evening,” he said."

* video clip courtesy of yfrog.com.

Next-Generation "Vehicle Protection Jammer" Protects Against IEDs. Here's an interesting story from gizmag.com: "Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, are one of the largest sources of coalition casualties in Iraq. Many of these IEDs take the form of roadside bombs, which are hidden on or alongside a road, then detonated when a moving vehicle passes near them. While there is more than one way of causing these bombs to detonate, they are often set off by a hidden human observer, using a radio-control device. Forces using the new Vehicle Protection Jammer from EADS subsidiary Cassidian, however, should find themselves at a greatly-reduced risk of such attacks. The Jammer works by detecting and classifying radio signals that could be used to set off a bomb. It responds in less than a microsecond, by transmitting jamming signals tuned specifically to that band."

A Shower Of Blue Balls? Just when you think you've seen it all, along comes an odd story from neatorama.com: "Add this to the list of mysterious things that fell from the sky: Steve Hornsby from Bournemouth said the 3cm diameter balls came raining down late on Thursday afternoon during a hail storm. He found about a dozen of the balls in his garden. He said: "[They're] difficult to pick up, I had to get a spoon and flick them into a jam jar." [...] 

Snowbird Trainee?

I'm feeling...guilty. For 28 winters I've been making fun of snowbirds, those wise and wimpy refugees who flee south for the winter, thumbing their collective noses at cold and snow.

Last fall NOAA's Climate Center was predicting a much colder and snowier winter for the northern USA. For the record I thought we'd have a drier winter with a continuation/escalation of the drought, but we were ALL caught off-guard by how mild it's been, in spite of La Nina.

5 of the last 8 months will wind up in the "Top 10 Warmest" category for the Twin Cities. Yes, it's a trend. Snow lovers are pretty despondent, while everyone else feels like they've won the Weather Lotto; more of a Louisville winter. "What happened to winter, Paul?" I hear this everywhere I go.
The pattern is locked: still no significant snow (or cold). This week will feel like March; 3 or 4 days above 40. Models are hinting at a cooler front by the end of next week, and I wouldn't be surprised to see 1 or 2 more nights below zero in February, but no numbing air is imminent. We're not quite out of the woods just yet, but (amazingly), I still suspect the worst winter is probably behind us now.

I do love the snow, but the older I get the harder it becomes to rationalize bitter cold and ice. So I scheduled 4 weeks off to "study tropical weather patterns". Duh. The reality: this winter we've all been transformed into reluctant snowbirds.

Climate Stories...

Will Steger: Make America Climate-Literate. Here's an Op-Ed in the Star Tribune: "Even though I am most known as a polar explorer, my career and lifelong passion has been as an educator. As soon as I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1967, I taught middle-school science. At the time, scientists thought global warming was something that we would start seeing far into the future. I had no idea I would become an eyewitness to so many changes in my own lifetime. It wasn't until 2002, when the Larsen B ice shelf disintegrated from western Antarctica -- an ice shelf formed more than 12,000 years ago that my expedition team took a full month to ski across -- that the facts of global warming prompted me to take action."

NASA Claims 2011 Was 9th Warmest Year On Record Worldwide. Huffington Post has the details: "Where did 2011 stand in comparison to global temperatures from past years? NASA recently released a visualization that depicts global temperature changes since 1880. Although nine of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000, 2011 was only the ninth warmest year on record, according to NASA. The world's average temperature in 2011 was 0.92 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the mid-20th century baseline period of 1951 to 1980, NASA's press release explained. James E. Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, said, "We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting. So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La NiƱa influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record."

2011: Earth's 11th Warmest Year; Where Is The Climate Headed? Here's an important recent post from Dr. Jeff Masters at Weather Underground: "The year 2011 tied with 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880, NOAA's National Climatic Data Center said last week. NASA rated 2011 as the 9th warmest on record. Land temperatures were the 8th warmest on record, and ocean temperatures, the 11th warmest. For the Arctic, which has warmed about twice as much as the rest of the planet, 2011 was the warmest year on record (between 64°N and 90°N latitude.) The year 2011 was also the 2nd wettest year over land on record, as evidenced by some of the unprecedented flooding Earth witnessed. The wettest year over land was the previous year, 2010." Graphic above courtesy of NASA's Earth Obser vatory and Weather Underground.

New NASA Study Confirms Man-Made Influence Over Global Warming. Click Green has the story: "A new NASA study confirms the fact that greenhouse gases generated by human activity - not changes in solar activity - are the primary force driving global warming. The study offers an updated calculation of the Earth's energy imbalance, the difference between the amount of solar energy absorbed by Earth's surface and the amount returned to space as heat. The researchers' calculations show that, despite unusually low solar activity between 2005 and 2010, the planet continued to absorb more energy than it returned to space. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, led the research. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics recently published the study. "

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture New "Hardiness Zones" Show Impact of Global Warming. Patterns are shifting north, to the tune of 100-150 miles, certain species of plants, flowers, shrubs and trees growing in places they couldn't grow a generation ago. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has updated their maps accordingly. Here's a press release from prweb.com: "Gardeners who have noticed some unusual goings-on in their yards had their suspicions confirmed this week when the US Dept. of Agriculture released its new map of plant hardiness zones. The map confirms what many gardeners have already figured out about global warming and the impact it is having on plants. Hardiness zones, based on minimum winter temperatures, are marching northward. This means that plants that wouldn’t have survived through winter in some regions just 20 years ago are now making it. Comparing the new 2012 map to the last map published in 1990 shows some significant shifts, especially across the Great Plains. Though the USDA cautions that not all the changes to the map can be attributed to climate change, it is clear that the major shifts are related to warmer temperatures. For example, Iowa and Nebraska used to straddle Zones 4 and 5, but now fall almost entirely within the warmer Zone 5."

On Climate Change, Weathercasters May Be Misguiding Their Viewers. The story from Huffington Post: "If you are like most Americans, the weather forecast on tonight's evening news may be your only exposure to science all day. And there's a good chance that your trusted local weathercaster is your only regular source of information on climate change. This seeming monopoly on the public's exposure to a critical issue has consequences, according to environmental advocates. Recent studies have found that more than half of the reporters relaying weather on television do not believe humans are the primary drivers of global warming -- despite a consensus among scientists who specialize on the topic."

  Activists Want Climate Change On Local TV Weather Reports. Climate science doesn't lend itself to pithy, 10 second TV soundbites. Meteorologists are given 2-4 minutes to explain the weather; there's precious little time alloted to cover climate science. Not to say it's impossible to weave it into the weather narratives (since weather and climate are flip sides of the same coin), but it's not easy, trust me. The Houston Chronicle has the latest on a campaign to expose climate "deniers", but are TV meteorologists even equipped to be able to provide accurate updates of the state of climate science? Who else is going to be able to share this with the viewing public on a regular basis?  "The fight for hearts and minds when it comes to climate change has moved to a new battleground: your television set. Climate change activists have launched a campaign, dubbed Forecast the Facts, that outs television meteorologists who are "deniers" of mainstream climate change science. Led by several groups, including 350.org, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Citizen Engagement Lab, the campaign was spurred by recent surveys finding that half or more of TV forecasters hold contrarian climate change views. "TV meteorologists have as much, if not more, opportunity to talk to the American public about climate change than anyone," said Daniel Souweine, director of the Forecast the Facts drive. "Ultimately, our goal is to change how the entire profession of meteorology reports on climate change," Souweine said."

Are Houston's TV Forecasters Climate Change Skeptics? Eric Berger, The "SciGuy" at The Houston Chronicle, has more details: "This weekend the Chronicle ran a story I wrote on the Forecast the Facts campaign, which essentially seeks to out TV meteorologists who hold contrarian views on climate change science. As part of that I asked the region’s main TV forecasters, when it comes to climate change, whether they’re more in agreement with statements by concurring organizations or non-committal statements. Here are their responses:


“I’ve been studying this subject for a while; in fact, I’m currently reading “The Climate Fix” by Roger Pielke Jr.  Sometimes perception is reality, proven by scientific measurement.  I do see changes in weather patterns and increases in extreme weather but the linkage to human activity isn’t fully clear to me."

* photo of Gene Norman above courtesy of The Houston Chronicle.

Research Shows Climate Change May Shrink Wheat Crop. The ABC Network in Australia has the story: "MARK COLVIN: New research predicts that climate change will have a far greater impact on wheat crops than expected. Scientists from Stanford University found that a two degree increase in temperatures would reduce the growing season by nine days, yielding 20 per cent less wheat. This could have a dire effect on global food security. Meredith Griffiths reports. MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Wheat is the world's second biggest crop and provides a fifth of the world's protein. But it doesn't grow well in the heat."

Photo credit above: "In a Sept. 28, 2011 (file) photo, Arlyn North plants a field to winter wheat as the early evening sun paints the hills with color along the Smoky Hill River southwest of Hays, Kansas. The nation's farmers seeded more winter wheat this season amid higher prices and easing drought conditions in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 that the 41.9 million acres of winter wheat planted for harvest in 2012 is up 3 percent from 2011 and up 12 percent from 2010. (AP Photo/The Hays Daily News, Steven Hausler)."

  Arctic Ice Melt Lifts Hopes For Russian Maritime Trade. Reuters has an update: "SEVERODVINSK, Russia, Jan 27 (Reuters) - When severe snowstorms prevented life-sustaining fuel supplies from reaching the frozen Alaskan town of Nome, U.S. officials turned to a Russian company for help. The relief mission through perilous, ice-choked seas was the first mid-winter fuel delivery to western Alaska, capping a year of pioneering shipping as oil and gas development and climate change increase traffic along northern trade routes sought by centuries of Arctic explorers."

Big Business Adapting To Climate Change. The Business Mirror has the story: "THE world’s largest companies, once wary of the costs and risks of dealing with climate change, now realize they may provide key business opportunities in the years ahead. Over the past few years, big businesses began to realize that climate change was a business imperative that needed to be dealt with. The approach to environment issues has changed greatly, making it now a company’s core strategy, according to the United Nations’ climate agency that launched over the weekend a new online database showcasing successful business strategies in climate-change adaptation. The database, which can be accessed through the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) web site www.unfccc.int, features more than 100 examples from companies, such as Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Microsoft and Starbucks, which share the details of their business-friendly adaptation practices."