Minnesota Winters: The Bark Is Worse Than The Bite

We've all had the conversation - the weather intervention. "How do you people LIVE up there with the winters being SO BAD?" I don't know, how do you live with hurricanes, scorching heat and the ever-present threat of earthquakes? We get by.

Based on snowfall & temperatures this has been yet another mild winter, according to the Minnesota DNR's Winter Misery Index. If anyone asks, the Twin Cities have only seen 2 severe winters since 2000. There were 2 severe winters in the 90s, 3 in the 80s, 4 in the 70s and 5 in the 1960s. At the rate we're going snowbirds may move back.

A good thing? Please discuss amongst yourselves.

10 of the next 15 days are forecast to see highs in the 40s, according to the ECMWF (European) model. A week from now highs may top 50F as far north as Brainerd. No accumulating snow to speak of, but plenty of mud in the coming weeks. Gloriously unsettling.

Meanwhile the northeast is digging out from the biggest blizzard of the winter. The EF-3 tornado that hit New Orleans was the strongest they've ever seen.

Minnesota? We seem to have skipped a month. 

Winter Misery Index courtesy of the Minnesota DNR. Click here for details on how the index is calculated.

Half a Winter. So - is this a good thing? There are exceptions to every rule, but MOST Minnesota winters are a pale imitation of what our parents muddled through back in the 60s and 70s. It doesn't get down to -25F or -30F in the metro anymore. Now 0F is a big deal and potentially headline-generating. Really? Our winters are no longer (consistently) cold enough for mostly-snow. 22 days with rain or glaze ice since November 1 in the MSP metro. The longest January Thaw since 1944. No wonder winter weather lovers are in a funk. A lot of people like the additional warmth and lack of persistently frigid air. Others lament the loss of something fundamental, part of Minnesota's identity. I see both sides - I'm just the messenger. But no, our winters aren't nearly as forbidding, on average, as they were a generation ago. That's our new reality.

Leap-Frogging into March Early. There's a lot of green (rain) on the Future Radar animation (NAM data) for February. Guidance shows a few more inches of snow spreading into New England by the weekend; more heavy snow for the Rockies with rain for most of Texas and the Mid South. 84-hour loop: NOAA and Tropicaltidbits.com

Too Warm for Snow - in Mid February. At least according to ECMWF model guidance, and NOAA models are in the same ballpark. I doubt the immediate metro will hit 50F today, but 40s are likely much of the next 1-2 weeks; a better chance of a few 50s the weekend of February 18-19. By the way, 50F is the average high on April 1.

84-Hour Snowfall Potential. 12 KM NAM numbers show another plowable snow for much of New England and upstate New York by Saturday; heavy snow piling up over the Rockies, with some accumulation as far south as the Texas Panhandle by Monday morning.

A March-Like Pacific Breeze for Most of America. GFS model guidance continues to show a strong subtropical jet stream blowing from California to Texas and Florida, but the flow is still zonal, west-to-east, with little chance of any punishing Canadian cold reaching the Lower 48 states anytime soon. We'll see more spasms of winter into March, for winter is already winding down for much of the nation.

A Few Good Reasons Not to Warm Up Your Car in the Cold. Blasphemy? Here's a video link and story excerpt at Esquire that made me do a double-take: "...Jason goes thorugh the details of what happens in a cold engine, and points out the hidden damage of letting your car idle for a long time on a cold day: Engine oil dilution. It turns out, while you might have thought that letting your car slowly warm up was reducing wear and tear, all that idling time leads to raw gasoline seeping into the oil, breaking down the oil's lubrication properties and increasing the wear. so what should you do? Start it up, make sure all your windows are clear of ice/snow/fog, and just drive the thing! The engine will warm up faster, and therefore you'll get nice warm heat coming out of the vents sooner, which is what you want anyway..."

File photo: AP.

La Nina Is Out and El Nino May Be Coming, And Here's What That Means For Our Weather. Here's an excerpt from Brian McNoldy and Phil Klotzbach writing for Capital Weather Gang: "...If El Niño were to develop quickly this year, it could potentially reduce levels of Atlantic hurricane activity this summer. While El Niño’s impacts on summer weather in the United States are not particularly strong, it has significant impacts on winter weather. In general, El Niño winters are characterized by enhanced moisture across the southern tier because of a stronger-than-normal subtropical jet stream. The northern states experience warmer-than-normal temperatures in El Niño, with anomalously dry conditions experienced across the Ohio Valley. Of course, all of these potential impacts hinge on whether El Niño actually develops. At this point, it is a possibility by the end of 2017."

Graphic credit: "Forecast of future tropical Pacific SST conditions from 25 different models." (NOAA).

Remember "Snow"? I have a troubling urge to ski New Jersey. Thanks to Connor Doyle, age 14, for sending me a cold, crystalline reminder of what snow looked like yesterday in Bridgewater, New Jersey. Thanks Connor.

Snowfall totals around the northeast Thursday, courtesy of NOAA:

California Conservation Corp Tackles Snow Removal in Mammoth Lakes. They prayed for snow - and it came. Now they can't make the snow in Sierra Nevada mountains of California stop. Now there's a threat to 20 propane tanks buried under 20 feet of snow, and flat or low-pitch roofs collapsing under the weight of snow. And potentially serious river flooding. Details here.

National Weather Service Confirms EF-3 Damage in New Orleans East Tornado, Largest Twister in Orleans History. Click here for more details via The New Orleans Advocate.

Photo credit: Patrick Dennis.

Details on the tornadoes that hit Louisiana here, courtesy of the New Orleans National Weather Service.

Imagery of Louisiana Tornado Outbreak from GOES-16. NOAA NESDIS has more details: "This visible animation from GOES-16 shows the tornadic storms that swept through  Louisiana yesterday, February 7, 2017. According to several news outlets, Louisiana remains in a state of emergency after the storms destroyed homes and businesses, disrupted power, and injured dozens of people in the southeastern part of the state. As this imagery illustrates, the high-resolution offered by GOES-16's Advanced Baseline Imager will allow meteorologists to see meteorological phenomena in vivid detail. For example, in this loop, note how the top of the tornadic storm can be seen passing along the southern coast of Lake Pontchartrain..."

Here's What Climate Scientists Told Us About the Louisiana Tornadoes. Here's an excerpt of an interview at ATTN: "...Whether global warming is having an impact, it's certainly possible. It's plausible," said Keim. "It's hard to give attribution directly to global warming, but certainly it's possible and it makes sense, but right now it's just kind of speculation." Keim said that high humidity levels do affect the development of tornadoes and that is tied to warmer sea temperatures. "Global warming would lead to warmer temperatures and that would lead to warmer sea temperatures, so you could maybe say that the high humidity levels were party due to global warming, but it's just too hard to say," he said..."

Broader Updrafts in Severe Storms May Increase Chance of Damaging Hail. ScienceDaily has the results of new research from Penn State: "...New research that Kumjian and Eli Dennis, graduate student in meteorology, published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, suggests that changes in environmental vertical wind shear influence the growth of "significant" hail -- bigger than two inches in diameter. Vertical wind shear is the variation in wind speed or direction from the bottom to the top of a layer in the atmosphere. The greater the difference in speed and/or directionality, the greater the shear. Hail forms when small particles like frozen raindrops -- hail embryos -- are ingested into a storm's updraft. Once they rise in the updraft, the embryos grow as additional liquid water freezes onto them..."

Photo credit: "A supercell thunderstorm passes near Elm Creek, Nebraska, in July 2014. Penn State meteorologists have been examining the widths of storms' updrafts to predict the likelihood of dangerous hail." Credit: NOAA.

Coastal Cities Could Flood Three Times a Week by 2045. Climate Central explains that the Mid Atlantic region is most vulnerable to flooding from rising seas: "...Washington and Annapolis, Md. could see more than 120 high tide floods every year by 2045, or one flood every three days, according to the study, published last week in the journal PLOS ONE. That’s up from once-a-month flooding in mid-Atlantic regions now, which blocks roads and damages homes. “The flooding would generally cluster around the new and full moons,” said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, a Union of Concerned Scientists analysts who helped produce the new study. “Many tide cycles in a row would bring flooding, this would peter out, and would then be followed by a string of tides without flooding.” The analysis echoed findings from previous studies, though it stood out in part because of its focus on impacts that are expected within a generation — instead of, say, by the end of the century. It showed high tide floods along southeastern shorelines are expected to strike nearly as often as they will in the mid-Atlantic, portending a fast-looming crisis for more than 1,000 miles of coastal America...."

California Could Be Overdue for a 100-Year Mega-Flood. Details via SFist.com: "It may not be in the cards this year, but California has an extended history of mega-floods — the likes of which the state has not seen since 1862, when about 40 days of straight rain turned the Central Valley and much of Sacramento into a lake, killing countless people and thousands of livestock and leveling a number of barely decade-old west coast towns. Hydrology researcher Dave Reynolds argued in a 2012 paper that despite the lack of weather records for the state prior to the 1850s, the Great Flood of 1862 should be considered a 200-year event that could be expected to repeat itself with much more disastrous effects now that the west coast is so much more densely populated. But now KPIX/CBS 5 picked up on this historic flood narrative, noting that the "atmospheric river" effects we're seeing this season from the colloquially named Pineapple Express could lead to a mega-flood catastrophe sooner than we think..."

Image credit: "An illustration of K Street in Sacramento in January 1862."

A Warm and Wet January, 2017. Meteorologist D.J. Kayser reports at AerisWeather: "January ended up being a very warm month from the Southern Plains into the Northeast, with 61 long-term NWS climate locations recording one of their top ten warmest January’s on record. Only one of those locations, though, ended up having their warmest January on record – Bridgeport, CT. January 2017 beat the previous warmest January in Bridgeport by a whole 0.1°, which had been set in 1950. While records only go back to 1948, two days (both the 12th and 13th) set new record highs. Here’s a list of select locations that saw a top ten warmest January last month:

  • Bridgeport, CT: 36.9 (Warmest)
  • Oak Ridge, TN: 46.8 (2nd warmest)
  • Sault Ste Marie, MI: 24.8 (2nd warmest)
  • Tupelo, MS: 50.8 (2nd warmest)
  • Huntsville, AL: 50.9 (3rd warmest)
  • Charleston, SC: 56.6 (4th warmest)
  • Paducah, KY: 42.4 (4th warmest)
  • Caribou, ME: 18 (5th warmest)
  • Nashville, TN: 47 (5th warmest)
  • Birmingham, AL: 52.5 (5th warmest)
  • Atlanta, GA: 52 (6th warmest)..."

January: Warmer and Wetter Than Average Across the USA.  Here's an excerpt from NOAA: "Last month, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 33.6 degrees F, 3.5 degrees above the 20th-century average. January 2017 ranked as the 18th warmest January in the 123-year period of record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. Most locations from the Rockies to the East Coast were warmer than average with 24 states across the Southeast, Midwest and Northeast much warmer than average. The Northwest and Northern Rockies proved cooler than average..."

Minnesota Trending Warmer and Wetter. If there was any doubt in your mind a time series from The University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water and Climate shows the actual trends since 1891.

55 Year Anniversary of TIROS-4. OK, the onboard black and white TV cameras lasted about 4 months, but we suddenly had imagery from space, an entirely new perspective on weather and the planet - and it set a benchmark for everything that has come since. Details via NASA: "TIROS 4 (Television and InfraRed Observation Satellite) was a spin-stabilized meteorological spacecraft designed to test experimental television techniques and infrared equipment. The satellite was in the form of an 18-sided right prism, 107 cm in diameter and 56 cm high. The top and sides of the spacecraft were covered with approximately 9000 1- by 2-cm silicon solar cells. It was equipped with two independent television camera subsystems for taking cloudcover pictures and three radiometers (two-channel low-resolution, omnidirectional, and five-channel scanning) for measuring radiation from the earth and its atmosphere..."

Wind Power Becomes the Top Renewable Energy Source. The New York Times reports: "The wind industry crossed an important threshold last year, according to its main trade group, the American Wind Energy Association, surpassing hydroelectric power to become the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. The nation’s fleet of dams has long stood as the top renewable energy source, but there has been little market interest in building more big hydroelectric generating stations. In the meantime, wind has rapidly expanded — more than tripling in capacity since 2008 — with many more installations on the way..."

File photo credit: Nati Harnik, Associated Press.

The "New Normal" in America: Renewables Boom, Emissions Plunge and Consumers Save More Than Ever. Here's the intro to a summary at Greentech Media: "After decades of technology development, business model innovation and policy progress, the U.S. economy is now decisively growing -- independent of energy consumption and carbon emissions. Since 2007, U.S. GDP has grown by 12 percent, while energy consumption has fallen by 3.6 percent, according to the new 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, compiled by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). This year’s fifth edition report builds on last year’s Factbook findings that show the U.S. economy grew by 10 percent since 2007, while energy consumption fell by 2.4 percent. “In other words, energy productivity continues to improve as less and less energy is needed to fuel growth,” the authors wrote..."

Renewable Energy Continues to Beat Fossil Fuels. TIME has the details: "Clean energy grew at a record pace as the United States added 22GW of capacity — the equivalent of 11 Hoover Dams — to the grid from renewable sources last year, significantly trumping new fossil fuel additions, according to a new report.The report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) cites the declining cost of wind and solar power, largely due to advances in technology, as prime reasons for the rapid adoption of renewables. The cost of building large utility-scale solar photovoltaic power plants for example has been fallen by 50% in just five years..."

Support for a Clean Energy Economy is Higher Than You Might Think. Only 9% of Americans believe climate change is a hoax or not happening at all, according to new polling highlighted by Dan Satterfield at AGU Blogosphere.

Carter: Renewable Energy Can Help Trump Create Jobs. The AP reports: "...Sometimes there's a philosophical objection to this by some - I'll say right-wing Republicans - but he has a high priority of job creation," Carter said in an interview with The Associated Press. "If they just remember the tremendous potential of creating millions of jobs in America just from renewable energy sources, that would be a very good counter-argument to those who oppose the concept of global warming being caused by human activity..."

File photo: Michael Nagle, Bloomberg.

Exclusive: Tesla Pausing Factory for Model 3 Preparation This Month. Reuters has an update: "Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) said on Wednesday it will shut down production at its California assembly plant for a week this month to prepare for production of its high-volume Model 3 sedan, moving the company closer to meeting its target to start production in July. Tesla said the "brief, planned" pause would allow the company to add capacity to the existing paint shop to prepare it for the Model 3, and other general maintenance. "This will allow Tesla to begin Model 3 production later this year as planned and enable us to start the ramp towards 500,000 vehicles annually in 2018," said a Tesla spokesman..."

Photo credit: "Tesla Motors' mass-market Model 3 electric cars are seen in this handout picture from Tesla Motors on March 31, 2016." Tesla Motors/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo.

Of Thousands of Apps Tested, These Endured. Most of us use less than 5% of the apps on our smart phones. Here's a list of apps that The New York Times says pass the long-term smell test: "...The TED app (free on iOS and Android) has also stayed on my phone for years, always ready to serve up a fascinating and educational TED Talks video when I have a free half-hour. Sleep Cycle (free on iOS) has been a longtime companion, too, waking me at a more comfortable moment in my sleep cycle and helping me avoid the horrid lurch one sometimes gets with a timed alarm. Even though Apple has now built in some sleep systems into iOS, I still use Sleep Cycle because it has more features and has stored my sleep history. Last, because I have a terrible memory for music, Shazam (free on iOS and Android) has been prominent on my phone's home page for years, always ready to identify a song..."

Best All-Inclusive Resorts in the Caribbean. If you need a mental health break check out the list from U.S. News: "U.S. News ranks the best resorts by taking into account reputation among professional travel experts, guest reviews and hotel class ratings. Use the filters and settings below to help find the best resort for you. Read the Best Hotels Methodology."

20 Metro Areas Are Home to 6 in10 Unauthorized Immigrants in U.S. Pew Research Center has the details: "Most of the United States’ 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants live in just 20 major metropolitan areas, with the largest populations in New York, Los Angeles and Houston, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on government data. The analysis shows that the nation’s unauthorized immigrant population is highly concentrated, more so than the U.S. population overall. In 2014, the 20 metro areas with most unauthorized immigrants were home to 6.8 million of them, or 61% of the estimated nationwide total. By contrast, only 36% of the total U.S. population lived in those metro areas..."

Map credit: Pew Research Center.

U.S. Presidents Do Have Spending Limits for Securing Private Homes. Atlas Obscura has the details: "Franklin D. Roosevelt had Hyde Park. Lyndon Johnson had his ranches. The first President Bush had a house in Kennebunkport, Maine, and the second a ranch in Crawford, Texas. Even after they’re elected, U.S. presidents often keep their private homes as retreats from the White House; America’s newest president, Donald Trump, has at least two. Since his election in November, President Trump and his family have spent time at his Fifth Avenue apartment, where the First Lady and their son continue to live, and Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida resort. In the decades since the Kennedy assassination, when presidential protection became more rigorous, no president has kept a home in the thick of a city as big as New York, and critics have questioned the millions of dollars being spent on securing the president’s apartment in Trump Tower..."

Photo credit: "New York City is spending millions of dollars securing President Trump’s private residence." nestor ferraro/CC BY 2.0

“Encouragement is food for the heart, and every heart is a hungry heart.” – Pat Morley

1 hour and 26 minutes of additional daylight since December 21.

21 F. high yesterday in the Twin Cities.

27 F. average high on February 9.

17 F. high on February 9, 2016.

Trace of snow on the ground at MSP International Airport.

February 10,  1965: A snowstorm dumps 15 inches of snow at Duluth over two days.

February 10, 1861: An ice storm impacts Elk River. Coatings of 1/2 inch of ice are reported. The ice broke off many large branches and saplings were bent to the ground.

February 10, 1857: Extreme cold at Fort Ripley. E.J. Baily, Assistant Surgeon notes: 'Spirit thermometer -50 at 6am. Mercury frozen in charcoal cup. Spirit thermometer at Little Falls 16 miles from the fort -56 at 6am. The lowest degree of cold on record in the territory'.

TODAY: Partly sunny, milder. Winds: SW: 10-15. High: 46 (50 possible south/west of MSP)

FRIDAY NIGHT: Partly to mostly cloudy. Low: 31

SATURDAY: More clouds, chance of light rain, especially southern MN. Winds: NW 5-10. High: 41

SUNDAY: More clouds than sun, drying out. Winds: NW 10-20.  Wake-up: 28. High: 39

MONDAY: Plenty of sun, March-like. Winds: S 10-15. Wake-up: 26. High: 45

TUESDAY: Intervals of sun, what February? Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 25. High: 43

WEDNESDAY: Mix of clouds and sun, tranquil. Winds: N 8-13. Wake-up: 23. High: 38

THURSDAY: Blue sky, warming up again. Winds: S 7-12. Wake-up: 22. High: 43

Model guidance is hinting at 50F close to home the end of next week.

Climate Stories...

How Climate Change May Lead to Bigger Blizzards. Here's an excerpt from PBS Frontline: "...You have to remember that there are two factors that result in heavy snow: It has to be cold enough to snow, and the atmosphere has to be moist,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of Geosciences and International Affairs at Princeton University. Winters will likely get shorter as a result of climate change, Oppenheimer said. “On the other hand,” he said, “during the period when it is cold enough to snow, if you’ve got enough moisture in the air, you can get some wicked big snowstorms.” Why does climate change lead to more moisture? “The maximum amount of water vapor that can be present increases with increasing temperatures. That’s just a consequence of the laws of physics,” Broccoli said..."

The Republican Carbon Tax is Republican, Say Republicans. You don't say. Here's an excerpt from The Atlantic: "...You create a Pigovian tax—a simple tax on an economic externality—that you impose at the places where potential carbon emissions enter the economy: the ports, the refineries, the coal mines. For every ton of carbon dioxide emitted, you charge the emitter $40 to account for the warming caused by the gas. Then, to keep from depressing the economy, you rebate the money from that tax back to Americans in the form of a quarterly check. The tax makes emitting carbon dioxide costly, but it also does not expand the size of the government. And because Americans love getting their quarterly rebate check, they approve as the government increases the tax over time. A higher tax means more money in their pocket (at least at first)..."

Photo credit: Reuters. "James Baker III, the former secretary of state under George H.W. Bush, tours parts of Florida affected by Hurricane Ike in October 2008."

Not All Republicans Are Against Global Warming Action. Here's an excerpt from Mother Jones and Newsweek: "...They see the tax as a replacement for the EPA's regulations on greenhouse gasses, including the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. The proposal would also include a border adjustment designed to tax products from countries that do not have a similar carbon price. For these conservatives, a carbon tax would be like insuring against the worst risks of climate change—and they see it as a more efficient solution than EPA regulations. They describe their plan as "win-win"—even if some of them still claim to quibble with the science..."

Photo credit: "House Republicans are obsessed with finding a smoking gun that will expose global warming as a myth. But a group of Republicans who don't hold public office and believe that the risks of climate change are too great to ignore have released a report in which they advocated a tax on carbon emissions." Noah Berger/Reuters

The Big Melt: Global Sea Ice at Record Low. USA TODAY has the latest stats: "There is now less sea ice on Earth than at any time on record. Ice in the Arctic and Antarctic melted to record low levels in January, scientists reported this week. Sea ice is frozen ocean water that melts during the summer and refreezes in winter. It floats on top of the ocean. Arctic sea ice this January averaged 5.17 million square miles, the lowest for the month in the 38-year sea ice record, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said. That is 100,000 square miles less than the previous January record low set just last year..."

Something is Very, Very Wrong with the Arctic Climate. Are we at a tipping point at the top of the Earth? Andrew Freedman provides perspective at Mashable.

Massive Ice Shelf Break Forces Antarctic Researchers to Evacuate. The PBS NEWSHOUR has details and video: "Now to our NewsHour Shares, something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too. For more than 60 years, British researchers have monitored changes in the world’s atmosphere from a remote lab in Antarctica. Now, for the first time ever, this facility will close, at least temporarily, to protect the safety of its residents. The NewsHour’s Julia Griffin explains..."

NOAA Scientists Falsely Accused of Manipulating Climate Change Data. Snopes.com takes the latest conspiracy theory apart: "...While Karl et al might reasonably be criticized for having been less than rigorous in their data documentation, their findings have been independently verified, contrary to allegations that the authors manipulated data to reach a desired conclusion:

What David Rose fails to mention is that the new NOAA results have been validated by independent data from satellites, buoys and Argo floats and that many other independent groups, including Berkeley Earth and the UK’s Met Office Hadley Centre, get effectively the same results.

Rose’s claim that NOAA’s results “can never be verified” is patently incorrect, as we just published a paper independently verifying the most important part of NOAA’s results."

How a Culture Clash at NOAA Led to a Flap Over a High Profile Warming Pause Study. Science AAAS takes a look at the latest scuffle over data and trends: "...If there’s a dirty secret to the 2015 paper, it’s that “there wasn't a lot of new science in it,” says Karl, who retired in August 2016. It simply assembled the updated, already published NOAA ocean temperature record that their center had been assembling since 2011, and paired it with a published, nonoperational data set of land surface temperatures that included much more coverage around the world. “We said, let’s just put it together, and that’s what made it newsworthy and important.” At its heart, Bates’s concerns amount to a desire for Karl and his team to have more clearly stated that one data set used for their study was not defined by NOAA to have been in a final, “operational” form. One focus is the handling of a new approach to estimating temperatures on land around the globe. The agency’s monthly temperature estimates—which it uses to track climate trends—are drawn from 7000 stations scattered around the world..."

Photo credit: NOAA. "Data collected by satellites, land-based sensors, and NOAA ocean buoys like this are at the heart of the dispute."

Judge has Advice for Oregon Kids Suing Government Over Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from a post at komonews.com: "A federal judge says lawyers representing a group of youths arguing over climate policy should simplify their case if they want to make it to trial later this year in Eugene.The Register-Guard reports that during a U.S. District Court hearing on Tuesday, Magistrate Judge Tom Coffin told the plaintiffs they should narrow the scope of the case, which seeks a court order requiring the government to quickly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which many scientists have linked to global warming...

Photo credit: "Petitioners Gabe Mandell, 14, center, and Adonis Williams, 12, look on as state Department of Ecology attorney Katharine G. Shirey speaks at a court hearing Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in Seattle. Eight children are asking a Seattle judge to find Washington state in contempt for failing to adequately protect them and future generations from the harmful effects of climate change, part of a nationwide effort by young people to try to force action on global warming." (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

A Conservative Case for Climate Action. Here are a couple of excerpts of an Op-Ed from a group of Republicans pushing for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, courtesy of The New York Times: "...By contrast, an ideal climate policy would reduce carbon emissions, limit regulatory intrusion, promote economic growth, help working-class Americans and prove durable when the political winds change. We have laid out such a plan in a paper to be released Wednesday by the Climate Leadership Council...First, the federal government would impose a gradually increasing tax on carbon dioxide emissions. It might begin at $40 per ton and increase steadily. This tax would send a powerful signal to businesses and consumers to reduce their carbon footprints. Second, the proceeds would be returned to the American people on an equal basis via quarterly dividend checks..."

The Plan referenced above is here.

A Conservative Answer to Climate Change. The same group of conservatives pushing for a revenue-neutral carbon tax wrote an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal: "Thirty years ago, as the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer was dwindling at alarming rates, we were serving proudly under President Ronald Reagan. We remember his leading role in negotiating the Montreal Protocol, which continues to protect and restore the delicate ozone layer. Today the world faces a similar challenge: the threat of climate change. Just as in the 1980s, there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore. And, once again, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. The extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned. But the risks associated with future warming are so severe that they should be hedged. The responsible and conservative response should be to take out an insurance policy..." (Image credit: NASA).

Republican Statesmen Propose Replacing Obama's Climate Plans with a Carbon Tax. A more elegant and potenntially effective solution than regulation, but in this political climate will the administration see the light? Here's an excerpt from The Washington Post: "...Despite the group’s impeccable Republican credentials — Baker, Paulson and Schultz served as treasury secretaries and Feldstein and Mankiw as CEA chairs, under GOP presidents — the proposal faces long odds. Many congressional Republicans are adamantly against a tax increase of any kind, and President Trump repeatedly emphasized he is far more interested in promoting the extraction of fossil fuels in United States than curbing the nation’s carbon emissions. A proposed carbon tax also failed recently in a ballot initiative in Washington state, in part because it divided the environmental and social left — with many liberals wanting to use any revenue to invest in clean energy and other social causes rather than to return it to the public..."

Photo credit: "James A. Baker, seen here at former first lady Nancy Reagan’s funeral in March 2016, is a member of the Climate Leadership Council. Despite its impeccable Republican credentials, the group faces long odds with its carbon-tax idea." (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press).

Who Is Still Fighting Climate Change? The U.S. Military. Here's an excerpt from National Geographic: "...The Defense Department has been planning for climate change for more than a decade, often in the face of roadblocks set up by climate science skeptics in Congress. In 2014 and again last year, Republicans in the House of Representatives added language to Defense Department spending bills prohibiting funds from being spent to plan or prepare for climate change. Terrorism is the greater threat, the authors of those prohibitions declared, and federal funding should be steered towards snuffing out ISIS instead. Both times, the restrictions were nullified by the Senate. It is too early to say whether efforts to bar defense spending on climate change will be tried again..."

Photo credit: "Tests of the Orion spacecraft were made at Naval Station Norfolk in August 2013. The low-lying base is at risk from rising seas." Photograph by NASA, eyevine, Redux.

Good Luck Killing the EPA. Eric Roston has an Op-Ed at Bloomberg: "...Rule-of-thumb holds that once countries pollute their way into economic progress, they’ll pause for a second and check to see if they can still breathe the air and swim in the water. If not, they fix it. China is currently the leading example, with India coming up behind. There are fewer examples of nations unwinding national environmental efforts.  Internationally, the U.S. does pretty well when it comes to protecting its environment and doing its part to combat global climate change. It ranks 26 among 180 nations in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, a collaboration of the World Economic Forum and Yale University and Columbia University researchers. That’s just worse than Canada and a bit better than the Czech Republic..."

A Crack in an Antarctic Ice Shelf Grew 17 Miles in the Last Two Months. The New York Times reports: "A rapidly advancing crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf has scientists concerned that it is getting close to a full break. The rift has accelerated this year in an area already vulnerable to warming temperatures. Since December, the crack has grown by the length of about five football fields each day. The crack in Larsen C now reaches over 100 miles in length, and some parts of it are as wide as two miles. The tip of the rift is currently only about 20 miles from reaching the other end of the ice shelf. Once the crack reaches all the way across the ice shelf, the break will create one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, according to Project Midas, a research team that has been monitoring the rift since 2014..."

Image credit: 2016 Microsoft Corporation Earthstar Geographics.

Climate Change Could Open Up Another Arctic Shipping Route. Pacific Standard reports: "...The team found that, under the climate scenario in which temperatures rise one to two degrees Celsius, the route will be navigable for a full four months out of the year. In a worst-case climate scenario, where temperatures climb by as much as four or five degrees Celsius, the route could be open for more than six months at a time. (It’s worth noting here that the latter scenario becomes far more likely should global leaders renege on their pledges under the Paris Agreement—the global climate accord that aims to limit warming to two degrees—as President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to do.) But an iceless Arctic doesn’t necessarily mean smooth sailing. The authors point out that extreme winds and bigger waves will also become more likely along the Northern Sea Route..."

Image credit: The Arctic Institute.

3 Ways You Can Help the World's Climate Scientists Right Now. Dr. Marshall Shepherd has some good suggestions at Forbes: "I often sit back and watch certain things quietly. This past week has been one of those moments. An article this weekend in the British media brought up the old and oft disproven argument about the"warming pause." However, as scientists dug into this latest desperate "Hail Mary" pass, it was apparent that there was more to this latest saga. My colleagues Phil Plait at Blastr and Andrew Freedman at Mashable have written excellent pieces laying out how scientists debunked these latest claims. They also fill in other pieces to this rather odd story. This latest drama just highlights the level of innuendo and confirmation bias that still can rear its head in the climate discussion. However, my focus herein is different. This week I saw three opportunities that I wanted to share with the broader public that can actually help climate scientists rather than continually distracting them..." (Image credit: NOAA).

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