A Murky Crystal Ball
The WMO, The World Meteorological Organization, reports that 2013 is on track to be the 7th warmest on record, worldwide.
That's all well and good, but winter in Minnesota has not been cancelled. Not by a long shot. "If it ever gets to the point where it doesn't snow AT ALL in Minnesota we'll have much bigger problems on our hands" a climate scientist told me recently.
My wife asked me when we had snow on the ground last year. Good question. Less than an inch of snow fell during November, 2012. December made up for the slow start with a whopping 15 inches; 10.5 inches falling on December 9, 2012.
I still don't see any (Breaking News!) snow events looking out 2 weeks or so. Rain is likely Saturday, a brief break Sunday before a second storm arrives with more rain ; ending as snow Sunday night. A slushy half inch or so is possible, but this does not look like The Big One.
We chill down early next week, although it doesn't look as cold as it did a few days ago. I see more 40s from late next week into the days preceding Thanksgiving; a slight mild (Pacific) bias. Our (very) experimental 45-day trend doesn't show snow on the ground until Christmas.
That's more of a wish-cast than a forecast though.
A D.C. Detour
"Man plans. God laughs." Yep. Life rarely goes where you think it will go.
On Tuesday I met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, discussing stewardship and creation care issues; climate change as a spiritual as well as moral and scientific challenge. At the White House I talked about communicating the science, and our efforts to launch companies focused on adapting to a more volatile world of weather extremes.
NOAA does a great job helping consumers deal with acts of God. But acts of man, including carbon pollution? Coming soon: a new national database showing impacts down to your zip code; how changes in weather patterns are already affecting your hometown - and what the LONG range forecast may bring. Because climate change doesn't hit home until it (literally) hits home.
November 21 To 27 Temperature Anomalies. NOAA's NAEFS extended model shows a mild bias from eastern Minnesota into much of northern and eastern Canada, temperatures across most of America close to average for mid/late November.
Why Was Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda So Powerful, And Is This A Trend? Climate scientist Greg Laden takes a look at scienceblogs.com; here's an excerpt: "...But here I want to look at one single factor that almost certainly contributed to the growth of Haiyan/Yolanda into a very powerful storm, a factor that probably doesn’t usually play into a storm’s strength. I refer to an anomaly in sea surface temperatures that was almost certainly caused by global warming, as part of a general warming of the ocean. But first a bit of background on the link between sea surface temperature and hurricanes. This is one of several factors that may be involved in climate change related effects on tropical storm intensity, a situation with which we should be concerned. Tropical cyclones run on heat, and much of that heat comes from the sea surface..."
Graphic above: Dr. Jeff Masters, Weather Underground. Graphic credit: "Departure of temperature from average at a depth of 100 meters in the West Pacific Ocean during October 2013, compared to a 1986 - 2008 average. The track and intensity of Super Typhoon Haiyan are overlaid. Haiyan passed directly over large areas of sub-surface water that were 4 - 5°C above average in temperature, which likely contributed to the storm's explosive deepening." Image credit: Japan Meteorological Agency.
1. The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Philippine Red Cross are accepting donations and coordinating disaster relief on location. Follow the Philippine Red Cross on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
2. World Food Program, which delivers emergency food aid, is accepting donations online and through PayPal.
3. UNICEF Philippines is accepting donations online to provide children affected by the typhoon with drinkable water, hygiene supplies, food and shelter.
Image credit above: "Radar showing northern eyewall of Super Typhoon Haiyan passing through Tacloban at 7 a.m. local time on November 8." (iCyclone).
NASA Study May Help Predict Major West Coast Snow Falls. Climatescience.com has an interesting story - here's the intro: "Atmospheric rivers - short-lived wind tunnels that carry water vapor from tropical oceans to mid-latitude land areas - are prolific producers of rain and snow on California's Sierra Nevada mountains. The finding, published in the journal Water Resources Research, has major implications for water management in the West, where Sierra runoff is used for drinking water, agriculture and hydropower. The research team studied how two of the most common atmospheric circulation patterns in the Northern Hemisphere interact with atmospheric rivers. They found when those patterns line up in a certain way, they create a virtual freeway that leads the moisture-laden winds straight to the Sierras..."
Image credit above: "Launched into Earth-orbit on May 4, 2002, on board the Aqua satellite (pictured), the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder, AIRS, moves climate research and weather prediction into the 21st century. AIRS is one of six instruments on board the Aqua satellite, part of the NASA Earth Observing System. AIRS along with its partner microwave instrument, Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU-A), represents the most advanced atmospheric sounding system ever deployed in space. Together these instruments observe the global water and energy cycles, climate variation and trends, and the response of the climate system to increased greenhouse gases."
* The Guardian has more details here.
Solar Power Begins To Shine As Environmental Benefits Pay Off. The New York Times has the story; here's a clip: "...Solar photovoltaic generation, known as PV, like wind power before it, is coming into the mainstream — at great environmental benefit. Based on comparative life-cycle analyses of power sources, “PV electricity contributes 96 percent to 98 percent less greenhouse gases than electricity generated from 100 percent coal and 92 percent to 96 percent less greenhouse gases than the European electricity mix,” said Carol Olson, a researcher at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands..."
Photo credit above: Mike Baker via Creative Commons.
Nuclear Power Can Save America From An "Energy Cliff". Here's the intro to an Op-Ed at CNN: "...America is heading toward an energy cliff in the next 20 years, and the impacts could be much worse than those of the recent recession. Simply put, we cannot keep out of economic downturn without a readily available supply of clean and abundant energy -- from sources that are affordable, scalable to meet long-term demand and that do not compound the problem of global climate change. CNN Films' documentary "Pandora's Promise" correctly suggests that nuclear power is the safest, most stable and most secure option for achieving that goal..."
Photo credit: CNN. "Roderick: While the building of U.S. nuclear reactors slowed, the world increased its nuclear fleet to more than 430 reactors."
A Giant Inflatable Plug To Keep Our Subways Dry During Storms. Fast Company Co.Exist/Ideas has the remarkable story out of New York City (in light of Sandy's destruction). Here's an excerpt: "...The MTA is now looking at a more robust and deployable solution: An enormous tunnel-engorging plug. The Resilient Tunnel Plug (RTP), to give it its formal title, is being developed by the firm ILC Dover in Delaware, with help from the Department of Homeland Security. ILC demonstrated it twice this year at New York's South Ferry station (see images). And it's now making its first full installation (though the location is secret "for security reasons"). The RTF, which is taller than a double-decker bus, has three layers. On the outside is a woven fabric layer composed of strips roughly the width of a seatbelt..."
Photo credit above: "The Resilient Tunnel Plug fills up a subway tunnel to prevent water from getting in."
A 100 Year Forecast Is Harder Than It Looks. Here's a clip from a fascinating story at Gizmodo: "...The January 6, 1910 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette in Iowa published a list of things that they believed humanity would achieve during the century...The complete list from the Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette appears below, strange grammar and all.
- Cure for cancer.
- Discovery south pole.
- Prevent or cure insanity.
- Influence sex by parental treatment.
- Create living organisms by artificial means.
- Phonograph records substitute for letter..."
NBC To Televise First Virgin Galactic Commercial Flight. Have an extra 250K sitting around burning a hole in your pocket? Prices will come down, but yes, this is definitely on my bucket list. Details from Gizmag: "NBCUniversal has signed an exclusive partnership with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to televise the space tourism company's first commercial passenger flight. Expected to take place next August, the flight will covered in a special three-hour edition of the US NBC network's Today program. Aboard the VSS Enterprise, will be Sir Richard, age 63, and his children, Holly, 31, and Sam, 28. The other passengers and crew have not yet been named..."
Video: The First Flying Car Goes On Sale In 2015 - Can Take Off Vertically In Traffic Jam! One word response. Damn. Shock Mansion and Reuters have the must-see video; here's an excerpt: "The first flying cars are set to go on sale to the public as early as 2015. Terrafugia has announced its Transition design, which is part sedan, part private jet with two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car, will be on sale in less than two years. The Massachusetts-based firm has also unveiled plans for a TF-X model that will be small enough to fit in a garage, and won’t need a runway to take off. Would you buy one?"
* photo above: Steve Burns.
While short term trends are generally treated with a suitable level of caution by specialists in the field, they feature significantly in the public discourse on climate change.There’s another aspect to this, though, and it may be a bigger deal than might at first be apparent. It adds up to a pretty scary situation. That’s because the “slowdown” or “hiatus” has also had a number of alternative explanations. Decreased solar activity. Increased volcanic activity. A prevalence of cool-phase El Nino oscillations. Increase in aerosol loading from rapid and dirty Chinese industrial expansion. Heat export to deeper ocean layers..."
Photo credit above: "A survivor sits among debris in the typhoon ravaged city of Tacloban, Leyte province, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms on record, slammed into several central Philippine provinces Friday, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead." (AP Photo/Vincent Yu).
“Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger on average, with a 30-year trend that has been related to an increase in ocean temperatures over the Atlantic Ocean and elsewhere.”
Photo credit above: "Typhoon Haiyan" survivors walk through the ruins of their neighborhood on the outskirts of Tacloban, central Philippines on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms on record, hit the country's eastern seaboard on Friday, destroying tens of thousands of buildings and displacing hundreds of thousands of people." (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder).
Illustration above: John Shakespeare.
Image credit: NASA.
Image credit above: "UK researchers will closely monitor the movement of the iceberg as it travels through the Southern Ocean."
Image credit above: "
Photo credit above: "The changing climate upsets can leave trees vulnerable to harmful insects like the pine beetle." Photo: USDA Forest Service.
Peru Uses Climate Twist To Lure Tourists To Shrinking Glacier. Here's an excerpt of a story from Reuters: "In its heyday, the Pastoruri glacier in central Peru, drew daily throngs of tourists packed into dozens of double-decker buses 16,000-feet (5,0000-meters) high into the Andes to ski, build snowmen and scale its dizzying peaks. It was so bright with ice and snow that sunglasses were mandatory. But in less than 20 years, including at least 10 of the hottest on record, Pastoruri has shrunk in half, and now spans just a third of a square mile (0.9 square km)..."