Heat Waves Kill. From 2000 to 2010 at least 35 deaths were directly attributable to extreme heat in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety explains the different criteria involved in setting expectations for heat-related problems: "The National Weather Service issues the following heat-related products as conditions warrant:
Excessive Heat Outlooks:: are issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days. An Outlook provides information to those who need considerable lead time to prepare for the event, such as public utility staff, emergency managers and public health officials.
Greensburg To Remember Tornado. The tornado that hit Greensburg, Kansas was a monster, a huge, violent wedge torando. Dodge City Daily Globe has a story on efforts to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of that horrible day: "Greensburg was destroyed almost 10 years ago by a deadly tornado. Since then the community has embraced the green in Greensburg. The community will hold several 10th anniversary events beginning May 4 and concluding May 7. City officials are currently trying to finish a sidewalk as part of Starlight Public Art Park, located kitty-corner from city hall..."
Photo credit: "The center of Greensburg is shown on May 17, 2007, in this FEMA photo. the town resembles a bomb site 12 days after it was hit by an EF-5 torando. The community will hold a 10th anniversary event which remembers the night of the tornando, but also the spirit of the community." Photo by Greg Marshall/FEMA.
Record Tornado Damage Shows Rising Cost of Climate for Travelers. I thought this story at Bloomberg focused on an already-busy and destructive year for tornadoes in the USA was interesting: "Travelers Cos. was burned again by Mother Nature. Alan Schnitzer has been contending with volatile weather since becoming chief executive officer in late 2015, extending a trend of recent years in which storm seasons last longer than usual and strike regions that previously weren’t considered vulnerable. There were more than 400 tornadoes in the first quarter in the U.S., quadruple the three-year average, according to National Weather Service data. The causes for the rising costs are in dispute. Some blame climate change. Increased development along coastlines or near forests have added to risks from hurricanes and wildfires. Whatever the reason, the industry is seeking to raises prices as companies from American International Group Inc. to XL Group Ltd. encounter unusually high costs..."
Climate and the Weather-Sensitive U.S. Economy. Buffalo meteorologist Don Paul has an informative post at The Buffalo News: "...Most people are unaware of just how weather-sensitive our economy is. The insurance industry has some of the numbers. According to the Reinsurance Association of America, an insurance trade association, extreme weather-related losses have gone up 350 percent since 1980. That’s $1.1 trillion in losses. In a study published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, data shows U.S. businesses sustaining about $500 billion in weather-related losses annually, as of 2011. In just one example, NASA’s Langley Research Center reports the airline industry loses at least $100 million annually due to turbulence, which causes flight delays and injuries. Weather is the root cause tied to more than half of all insurance claims, according to the industry. Those costs will inevitably continue to climb because so many are choosing to live in areas prone to more frequent extreme weather..."
Take That Europe. Computer Modelers Aims to Give U.S. Lead in Weather Predictions. Science AAAS has a fascinating story: "...Recently, NWS has suffered some prominent embarrassments, such as in 2012, when it predicted Hurricane Sandy would sputter out over the ocean while a leading European center accurately forecast the direct hit on New York City. Fed up with the country’s second-place status, Congress in 2013 poured $48 million into NWS weather modeling. The message for NOAA was clear: Get America on top. This drive has opened up an opportunity. For a long time, meteorologists and climate scientists operated in separate domains. Meteorologists focused on speed: ingesting as many data as possible from satellites, balloons, and buoys and quickly spinning it into a forecast. Climate scientists focused on the fussy physics of their models to produce plausible simulations over decades. But now, the two groups are discovering common ground, in “subseasonal to seasonal” predictions—from a month to 2 years out. In order to push forecasts beyond 10 days or so, meteorologists need the superior physics of the climate models..."
Image credit: "Shian-Jiann “S. J.” Lin’s program will power short-term weather forecasts and long-term climate simulations." JEFF FUSCO.
Realtors Sound Alarm Over Expiring Flood Insurance Program. Consumer Affairs has the story; here are a couple of excerpts that got my attention: "...The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, is supposed to make flood insurance more affordable for homeowners, but the program is scheduled to expire at the end of September. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) worries that there will be nothing to replace it..."Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes," he said. "When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can't issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected..."
The State of the Air, 2017. Here's an update that caught my eye from The American Lung Association: "...Overall, the best progress came in the continued reduction of ozone and year-round particle pollution, thanks to cleaner power plants and increased use of cleaner vehicles and engines. Continued progress to cleaner air remains crucial to reduce the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and lung cancer. However, a changing climate is making it harder to protect human health. Nearly 4 in 10 people (38.9 percent) in the United States live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution. More than 125 million Americans live in 204 counties where they are exposed to unhealthful levels of air pollution in the form of either ozone or short-term or year-round levels of particles..."
See The Best and Worst Places for Breathable Air in the U.S. It turns out the cleanest air isn't always in rural areas, according to new research highlighted at National Geographic: "The air Americans breathe is cleaner than ever, thanks to cleaner power plants and cleaner vehicles. That milestone is all the more impressive when considering progress has been achieved in spite of increases in population, energy use, and miles driven. Yet nearly 40 percent of Americans—125 million people—still live where the air is unhealthy to breathe. Those findings are contained in the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report, released Wednesday...Six cities ranked on all three pollutant lists for cleanest cities. They had no high ozone or high particle pollution days, and were among the 25 cities with the lowest year-round particle levels. Five cities are repeaters: Burlington, Vermont, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida, Elmira-Corning, New York, Honolulu, Hawaii, and Melbourne-Titusville-Palm Bay on Florida’s Space Coast..."
Photo credit: Fidel L Soto.
What Would a Mile-Wide Asteroid Do To Earth? Angela Fritz speculates on something we hope we never have to report at Capital Weather Gang: "...Let us, for a moment, consider a scenario in which a 0.8-mile-wide asteroid strikes Earth. First, the magic number for total apocalypse is 60 miles. That’s how big an asteroid would need to be to wipe out human life. This asteroid is far from that number, but if it hits, let’s say, Washington, D.C., it’s large enough to destroy everything and everyone from New York City to Raleigh, N.C. (I apologize to the people of Raleigh for dragging you into Washington’s apocalypse.) The thermal radiation radius would be much larger. At six miles wide, even the asteroid that led to dinosaur extinction was much smaller than the Earth-obliterating scenario. It leveled everything within a couple thousand miles and tossed giant debris into near-space, which then fell back into the atmosphere as giant fireballs..."
The Pristine Arctic Has Become a Garbage Trap for 300 Billion Pieces of Plastic. The Washington Post reports: "Drifts of floating plastic that humans have dumped into the world’s oceans are flowing into the pristine waters of the Arctic as a result of a powerful system of currents that deposits waste in the icy seas east of Greenland and north of Scandinavia. In 2013, as part of a seven-month circumnavigation of the Arctic Ocean, scientists aboard the research vessel Tara documented a profusion of tiny pieces of plastic in the Greenland and Barents seas, where the final limb of the Gulf Stream system delivers Atlantic waters northward. The researchers dub this region the “dead end for floating plastics” after their long surf of the world’s oceans. The researchers say this is just the beginning of the plastic migration to Arctic waters..."
Map credit: "
Once a Strip Mine, This Land Could Become a "History-Making" Solar Energy Farm. Now here's a novel idea, highlighted at Lexington Herald Leader: "Developers are studying the potential to install tens of thousands of solar panels on a reclaimed surface mine in Pike County. If the project becomes reality, it would bolster the economy in a place desperate for jobs and make the county — which long topped the state in mining coal — a key producer of renewable energy. “This is really a history-making project for the region,” said Ryan Johns, an executive with Berkeley Energy Group, a Pike County company involved in the idea..."
Photo credit: "Berkeley Energy Group.
To Build a More Resilient Electric Grid, Many Believe The Answer Is Going Small. Bostonomix at WBUR.org reports: "Today, nearly half a million miles of high-voltage transmission lines crisscross the country, but the people planning the future of America's electric grid are thinking small. They say we should build microgrids — small, local systems that could connect and disconnect. Advocates say the microgrid transformation of our electric infrastructure would make it more resilient to cyberattacks, the effects of nuclear weapons and climate change, and better able to handle electricity generated by renewable resources, such as wind and solar..."
Image credit: North American Energy Advisory.
52 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.
60 F. average high on April 20.
67 F. high on April 20, 2016.
April 21, 1910: A snowstorm hits northeastern Minnesota. Duluth picks up 6.5 inches.
Saturday Book Signing. I'm looking forward to my vist at the Ridgehaven Barnes and Noble in Minnetonka this Saturday, April 22, from 1-3 pm. Stop by and say hi, even if you have zero interest in my latest book, "Caring for Creation: The Evangelical's Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment." Details here.
TODAY: Much-need sunshine. Winds: N 5-10. High: 61
FRIDAY NIGHT: Clear and cool. Low: 39
SATURDAY: Plenty of sunshine, nicer day of the weekend. Winds: W 7-12. High: 66
SUNDAY: Clouds increase, spotty shower or sprinkle. Winds: E 8-13. Wake-up: 45. High: 62
MONDAY: Heavier, more widespread showers, possible T-storms. Winds: S 15-25. Wake-up: 50. High: 65
TUESDAY: Partial clearing, showers linger southern Minnesota. Winds: NW 10-15. Wake-up: 46. High: 57
WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and some sun, cooler than average. Winds: NW 5-10. Wake-up: 40. High: 56
THURSDAY: Chance of steadier, heavier rain again. Winds: E 10-15. Wake-up: 43. High: 53
Minnesota March for Science. Here are details on Saturday's march and rally at the Minnesota Capitol in St. Paul: "The Start Point of the March for Science Minnesota will be Cathedral Hill Park in St. Paul. The march will begin at 11:00 AM on Earth Day, April 22. Participants will march from the Start Point to the Minnesota State Capitol, where the Rally will start at 12 PM. Please plan to arrive at the Start Point 30 to 45 minutes in advance to account for the increased traffic and public transportation congestion which may be caused by this event..."
"Denigration of Science Is Like a Rot". Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Baltimore Sun: "...Our country is our home, and denigration of science is like a rot. When it takes hold, it puts the entire foundation at risk. Normalizing the idea that some science is a hoax allows other inconvenient conclusions to be more easily criticized, especially those opposed by special interests. This type of denial traces back to the tobacco industry's efforts to downplay the link between smoking and cancer, but a pivotal moment occurred in 2003. Republican pollster Frank Lunz wrote a talking points memo regarding climate change — which eventually became the core of the Bush administration's disinformation campaign — arguing, "The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." The strategy was remarkably successful. Once learned, erroneous information is difficult, if not impossible to correct. This is one reason why today only about one in 7 Americans understands that over 90 percent of climate scientists are in agreement on the issue..."
Minnesota Eco Events has a detailed list of events related to Earth Day here.
The Nightmare Scenario For Florida's Coastal Homeowners. At some point the real estate bubble will burst. I hadn't thought of this, but boats (yachts) may be the canary in the watery coal mine, according to research highlighted at Bloomberg and MSN: "...He also told them to find out how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302). What matters, he guessed, will be the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far. “These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason, who became mayor in 2011 after retiring from the U.S. foreign service. “When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.” If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still. Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide the services that make it such a desirable place to live, causing more sales and another drop in revenue..."
Photo credit: investinmiami.com.
The Word on Global Warming: "It's Happening, It's Arrived." We've gone from theory to reality; we can measure rising seas. Here's an excerpt from The Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "For those who think climate change is a myth or a product of normal cyclical changes in the environment, University of Miami geological sciences professor Harold Wanless has a message: It’s already here. “The important thing to understand about global warming is: It’s happening, it’s arrived,” Wanless told about 150 people at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium Tuesday evening. “That’s where we are.” Wanless was the keynote speaker at the Suncoast Climate Change Symposium, which also featured the city of Sarasota’s sustainability manager, Stevie Freeman-Montes. The academic focused most of his talk on ocean warming and sea-level rise, two topics that are at the forefront of many Floridians’ minds. According to Wanless, 93.4 percent of global warming heat is accumulating in the oceans. By 2100, the world could see between 4.1 and 6.6 feet of sea-level rise, according to a model cited by Wanless developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with other organizations..." (File image: NASA).
Was That Climate Change Too? Short Answer: Yes. Eric Roston takes a look at recent studies related to "attribution", and answering the question: how did a warmer (wetter) climate impact a specific weather event? Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg: "Among the findings:
- The deadly 2003 European heat wave, which killed more than 20,000 people, was the first major focus of an attribution study. The lead scientist reanalyzed the data in 2011. The heat wave is now thought to have been responsible for about 64 deaths in London and 506 in Paris.
- Heavy rain in southern Louisiana last August was studied by the World Weather Attribution project, which concluded that global warming had upped the odds considerably. By contrast, the central European flooding of May and June 2013 showed no such human fingerprints [see page S69 here: pdf].
- An April 2015 study in Nature Climate Change found that about 75 percent of major heat events and 18 percent of heavy precipitation events are attributable to global warming..."
Changing Minds on a Changing Climate. It turns out science is the biggest factor in changing mindsets. Here's an excerpt from Yale Climate Connections: "...Nearly half of those previously hell-bent on rejecting climate science actually credited science for updating their views on climate change. The most common rationale was that they simply learned the scientific basis for how human activities and greenhouse gas emissions are principal factors behind the changing climate over the past several decades.
… I reali[z]ed that co2 has an extremely long lifespan in the atmosphere compared to these other gases, and it’s the only one that we are directly responsible for producing via fossil fuels etc.
Another prevalent science-assisted conclusion was the ever-increasing evidence that the climate is changing. "The relentless accumulation of data finally became inescapable. The amount of measurable, observable proof was just too much to ignore. For me it was when I saw a simple chart – world temp and world CO2 levels, on [a] marked timeline..."
Antarctica Meltwater Rivers Raise Concerns About the Fate of the Continent. We still don't know what we don't know. But getting a handle on melting is critically important when it comes to predicting the rate of future sea level rise. Here's an excerpt from Nexus Media: "...Recently, however, Greenland has started melting from the middle. Pools of water are forming atop the ice sheet in the warmer months and then draining out to sea. Scientists have now discovered the same thing is happening in Antarctica. Two new studies published in the journal Nature catalogue the melting and explain what it could mean for sea-level rise. In the first study, researchers examined decades of photos from satellites and military aircraft. They documented hundreds of meltwater channels around the perimeter of the continent. They traced some streams deep into Antarctica’s frozen interior and discovered ponds of meltwater more than 4,000 feet above sea level, where no one expected to find liquid H2O..."
Image credit: "The Nansen Ice Shelf in Antarctica." Source: C. Yakiwchuck/European Space Agency
How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything. Bloomberg has an effective info-graphic and explainer on why we should all be paying close attention to changes in the Arctic: "...Sea ice has diminished much faster than scientists and climate models anticipated. Last month set a new low for March, out-melting 2015 by 23,000 square miles. Compared with the 1981-2010 baseline, the average September sea-ice minimum has been dropping by more than 13 percent per decade. A recent study in Nature Climate Change estimated that from 30-50 percent of sea ice loss is due to climate variability, while the rest occurs because of human activity. Receding ice decreases the Earth’s overall reflectivity, making the Arctic darker and therefore absorbing even more heat..."
How Will Climate Change Affect Colorado? Mike Nelson Interviews Dr. Kevin Trenberth. My friend, TV meteorologist Mike Nelson, conducted an eye-opening interview with the noted NCAR scientist at thedenverchannel.com: "Climate change has been a hot button issue for several decades now, but scientists around the world -- including here in Colorado -- are hoping more awareness of the issue will get people and politicians alike to act in order to mitigate some of the coming changes. First Alert Weather Chief Meteorologist Mike Nelson welcomed Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished Senior Scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, to the Denver7 studios to talk about climate change and the science behind it. They also talk about what you can start doing now to mitigate the effects climate change will have across the world..."
Why the Menace of Mosquitoes Will Only Get Worse. The New York Times Magazine explains how climate change is already altering the environment in ways that increase the potential for viruses like Zika.
I'm a Tea Party Conservative. Here's How to Win Over Republicans on Renewable Energy. Vox has a terrific interview with Debbie Dooley: "...Dooley is a conservative, gun-owning Trump supporter who also happens to be a co-founder of the Tea Party. Dooley runs Conservatives for Energy Freedom, where she advocates for the expansion of renewable energy and for cuts to government regulations she believes hinder that growth. Through her efforts, she has even won over unlikely allies such as Al Gore. According to Dooley, the problem with her fellow conservatives is that “they've been brainwashed for decades into believing we're not damaging the environment.” As a result, Dooley speaks with them about renewable energy in a political language conservatives respect, using phrases like energy freedom, energy choice, and national security..."
Weather Disasters from Climate Change Are Pushing Some Companies to Amazon's Cloud, Says CTO. Here's an excerpt of a story at CNBC: "Amazon Web Services has been winning business worldwide from companies that are stripping down their data centers and taking advantage of emerging cloud technologies. Some clients are signing on for a different reason: climate change. From New Jersey to Japan, massive storms and earthquakes in recent years have instantly wiped out technical infrastructures, leaving businesses unable to retrieve critical data. Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels told CNBC on Tuesday that companies are turning to the cloud to make sure their data is backed up and always accessible..."
When Rising Seas Transform Risk Into Uncertainty. We've gone from theory to reality. The water is rising (at the same time land is subsiding in many areas) and the result is a greater frequency of coastal flooding, even when no storms are present. Here's an excerpt from The New York Times: "...Insurance serves as a bulwark, both financial and mental, against the fact that we live in a fundamentally uncertain and dangerous world. "The revolutionary idea that defines the boundary between modern times and the past," the financial historian Peter L. Bernstein wrote in his 1996 book, "Against the Gods," "is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the gods and that men and women are not passive before nature." Calamity can come for us all, but by bundling enough separate peril together we manage to form a general stability, a collective hedge against helplessness. As climate insecurity mounts, though, that math will get harder..."
Photo credit: "Larchmont-Edgewater, a Norfolk, Va. neighborhood frequently plagued by floods. The house in the center has been raised above flood levels, the one at left has not." Benjamin Lowy for The New York Times.