It's hard to type - curled up in the fetal position - in a weather bunker - 3 stories underground. Tornadoes, hurricanes? No sweat. We can track them and warn you. But asteroids? Blink of an eye. I have a few friends who freaked out Friday, but here's good news from NASA: 90 percent of the (extinction-level) asteroids have been discovered & tracked - no danger of a direct hit. Now, about that other 10 percent. IF they can find them, with 10-20 years to spare, we MAY be able to nudge them away from Earth in time! No worries.
We live with risk every day. The odds of drowning in the tub or dying from a fall on ice are orders of magnitude riskier than natural disasters, including asteroid strikes.
I know, that's what the dinosaurs thought too.
A significant snowfall requires 2 things: a deep layer of cold air (to prevent a change to ice/rain) and a wet storm tracking from the south. We may have both ingredients; a (very?) plowable snowfall Thursday PM into Friday. I'm not quite mad enough to predict how many inches, but it could be enough to placate frustrated snow lovers.
So far in February at MSP: 10.6 inches of snow. A year ago we hadn't even picked up a half inch. Progress.
* asteroid poster above: The Meta Picture.
- Overall U.S. drought coverage decreased to 55.73% of the contiguous U.S., down 1.11% from last week and down 5.36% since the beginning of the year. The decrease came on the strength of heavy rain across the South and some snow in the upper Midwest.
- The portion of the contiguous U.S. in the worst category D4, or exceptional drought dipped nearly one-quarter of a percentage point (0.24%) to 6.61%. D4 coverage has ranged from 5 to 7% for 27 consecutive weeks (August 14, 2012 February 12, 2013).
- The percent of hay in drought (57%) fell two percentage points, while winter wheat in drought was unchanged at 59%. Cattle in drought (67%) fell one percentage point."
Graphic above: NCDC, National Climatic Data Center.
We've now experienced 335 consecutive months with global temperatures exceeding the 20th century average. According to Bill McKibben, who's coming to Minnesota next week the odds of this occurring by simple chance are less than 3.7 x 10 (-99) - "a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe."
"Paul - is each month during a nearly 28 year period over the 20th century average? I've looked for the source of this analysis and can't find it on the Douglas Weather Blog or anywhere else. Could you provide a link for further information? In addition, the number of stars in the unverse is a large positive number. The column suggests that the probability of this temperatures observation occurring is a very small number. This doesn't make sense. I'd appreciate some clarification or further information."
Elliot - you are correct. The number in question is a very large positive number. It should have been written 3.7 x 10-99. There were some limitations (in print) in expressing that number accurately; putting in the parentheses was my (bad) idea - but it's definitely 10 +99 and not -99. McKibben did the calculations as of May 2012 - at that point we were 327 months/row with global temperatures above the 20th century average. By my admittedly poor math we're now up to 335 months/row.
Here is his original quote in the July, 2012 Rolling Stone article referenced in the column: "....That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe..."
Here are links for calculating global average temperatures from 3 sources from environmental scientist, Dana Nuccitelli.
(Dana Nuccitelli is an environmental scientist at a private environmental consulting firm in the Sacramento, California area. He has a Bachelor's Degree in astrophysics from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master's Degree in physics from the University of California at Davis. He has been researching climate science, economics, and solutions as a hobby since 2006, and has contributed to the climate science blog Skeptical Science since September, 2010.)
“It depends which data set you want to use too. I've got a spreadsheet with the big three surface temp data sets (GISS, NCDC, HadCRUT4). If you take the average of the three, the last month that was colder than the 20th century average was February 1985. So almost exactly 28 years (334 consecutive months above average, to be exact).”
Links to each data set:
"Thank you so much for your work, and I daily look forward to reading your blog posts and short pieces in the Star and Trib. You're hilarious and I so much enjoy your sense of humor. I have a question for you regarding global warming and forgive me if this is ignorant or naive, but I suspect others may have similar questions as well. From my limited knowledge of earth's history, it seems there have been multiple prior warming and cooling periods over the millenia with temperatures being much higher during the time of the dinosaurs, ice caps at poles relatively small compared to today's size, contrasted with relative cool periods with ice ages and "little" ice ages more recently. When referencing the "warmest year on record" or "warmest month on record," aren't we only relating today's climate to documented temperatures going back about 150 years? Even if we had temperature data for daily highs and lows for 2000 years, wouldn't that be a hiccough on the time scale of our earth's history. I am by no means a disbeliever in global warming, but simply trying to understand better the temperature variations that have occurred naturally over the millenia in relation to what is happening now. Thank you so much for your work."
I get this question a lot, and it's a very fair question. To begin with, we can use natural signals in the biology of the earth to get temperatures back much longer than 150 years (the thermometer record). In fact, we can go back many millions of years. We can reconstruct the concentrations of atmospheric gases going back millions of years, and until the middle of the 20th century levels of CO2 were fairly consistently in a range from 180-380 ppm (parts per million). Today we're at 394 ppm, much of that spike in atmospheric carbon has come in the last 50 years. Previous warming spells and ice ages could be linked to either (planet-wide) volcanic eruptions or changes in Earth's orbit and tilt on its axis. The volcano question comes up frequently, but as a point of comparison, during a typical year the state of Florida emits more carbon into the atmosphere than the world's volcanoes. We also know there's a very tight, symbiotic relationship between greenhouse gas levels and atmospheric temperatures. They rise and fall in unison. Here's the thing: we've taken carbon (oil, gas, coal) that took many millions of years to form, in burned it in a very short period of time, the geological equivalent of a blink of an eye. That's never happened before. So in a sense we're running a massive experiment on the atmosphere and hoping for a different result.
Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann adds: "Its true that CO2 varied between roughly 180 and 300 ppm over the course of the late Pleistocene glacial/interglacial cycles (i.e. past 800 kyr or so) and this was driven by earth orbital changes, but over the longer-term, i.e. several million years back into the Pliocene, CO2 probably came close to current conditions (400pm).
As for the issue of whether there might have been shorter timescale spikes (millennium or shorter) that aren't resolved by the ice cores, sure that's possible--hard to rule it out. On the other hand, its difficult to envision the mechanism. over these shorter timescales, volcanic emissions are very small. Its only when we integrate over timescales of millions of years where the small volcanic outgassing fluxes into the atmosphere add up to changes that significantly modify atmospheric concentrations."
Potentially more than you wanted to know. Thanks for a very good question Rudi.
Urgent Advisory: Immediate actions to be taken regarding CAP EAS device security.
"All EAS Participants are required to take immediate action to secure their CAP EAS equipment, including resetting passwords, and ensuring CAP EAS equipment is secured behind properly configured firewalls and other defensive measures. All CAP EAS equipment manufacturer models are included in this advisory..."
A Logical Reaction To 2.5 Feet Of Snow. I might be crying too - this photo taken somewhere in New England last weekend, courtesy of The Chive. I appreciate this photo - keeping it up for one more day.
* photo above: Heidi Rusch in Minnetonka.
Here is what Bill is saying about the Birkebeiner Ski Marathon and his efforts to preserve winter for future generations:
"The Birkie is one of the temporary and unofficial - but completely wonderful - capitols of North American Winter. So it's the perfect place to talk about what we have to do to keep this season skiable forever!"
In McKibben's presentations at the University of St. Thomas (2/20, 7 pm) and Macalaster College (2/21, noon) he'll talk about the current state of climate science, and the necessary scale and pace of our efforts to do something about global warming. In particular, Bill will discuss the leading role colleges can play now as fossil fuel divestment has become the hottest student movement in several decades.
More details and ticket information at www.coolplanetmn.org.
Photo credit above: "A dashboard camera caught the meteorite soaring over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Friday."
Photo credit above: "A still from the 'Exxon Hates Your Children' ad, which was ordered off the air just hours before it was supposed to be broadcast on Fox News during the State of the Union." (photo credit: The Other 98%)
Photo credit above: " ".
Photo credit above: "Climate change has increased the likelihood of severe weather events such as storms, heat waves, and droughts." Photograph by Greta Rybus, Sipa/AP
Photo credit above: "Looking south from the Empire State Building." Credit: Dan Klotz
Photo credit above: "Crack patterns in Arctic permafrost as viewed from a helicopter." Credit: Brocken Inaglory/cc by 3.0
Photo credit: "Human-emitted greenhouse gases are a leading cause of global warming."