As we all enjoy a little sweaty thunder in the coming days, savor the relative warmth. Our first flurries are probably a month away (give or take a week). 101 days until Christmas, if anyone asks.
I'd bet a stale State Fair corn dog we'll have a somewhat tougher winter. Not necessarily a Pioneer Winter complete with a Polar Vortex parked nearby, but a little more Minnesotan than last winter.
Why? A La Nina Watch has been posted by NOAA, calling for a 55-60 percent chance of colder waters in the Pacific this fall and winter. A chilly bias west of California often correlates with colder and snowier winters for much of the USA.
More T-storms flare up later today and the PM hours Saturday, but a push of Canadian air will dry us out and sunny us up on Sunday; the nicer day of the weekend. After a couple of cool days 80s return again next week.
Too Good to Ignore. The problem with weather forecasts? They're too good to ignore, but not quite good enough to rely on. Research shows a one-day improvement in accuracy each decade. In other words, today's 7-Day forecast is as accurate as a 6-Day outlook, back in 2007. Weather models will continue to improve over time. What's harder to model is human behavior. Will people do the right thing the next time an Irma-level "atmospheric bomb" approaches? It's a fine line between over-hyping a storm, and using language that doesn't convey the urgency of a life-threatening situation.
* ECMWF forecast above valid next Wednesday evening, September 20, courtesy of WSI.
La Nina Watch Issued. A cooling trend in the equatorial Pacific could tilt the odds in favor a colder winter for much of the USA, certainly colder than last winter. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says there's a 55-60% probability of a La Nina during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter months. Stay tuned.
Irma: A Storm Like No Other. Check out some of the records broken by Hurricane Irma, courtesy of Philip Klotzbach, a tropical meteorologist at Colorado State University. You can follow him on Twitter.
How Powerful Can a Hurricane Get? Is there an upper speed limit? Turns out it's a function of water temperature, and the depth of that warm layer of water. Here's an excerpt from IFLScience: "...Based on this mechanism then, it’s reasonable to assume that the warmer the surface water is, the stronger the peak winds will be. Although there are plenty of complicating factors, and the datasets before 1970 are somewhat unreliable, it appears that the scientific basis for windier hurricanes is there. There is a link between sea surface temperatures and wind speeds, but the exact numbers have yet to be nailed down. Theoretically though, as long as the oceans warm, then there is once again no upper limit on the peak wind strength of hurricanes. Hurricanes have already pointed this out to us: Although not sustained wind, a single gust generated by 1996’s Tropical Cyclone Olivia clocked in at 407 km/h (253 mph), almost the same as those at the fringes of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot..."
Image credit: "The eye of Hurricane Jose from space." Copernicus/Antti Lipponen.
The Top American Weather Model Struggled to Forecast Hurricane Irma. Overall ECMWF still did a better job. I'm rooting for the home team, but we need more research/funding and a new approach to catch up and exceed the model accuracy of the "Euro" Here's an excerpt from Andrew Freedman at Mashable: "...But in general, the European model, which is run by the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF), performed far better than the premiere U.S. model, known as the Global Forecast System (GFS). Hurricane Irma is one more in a long line of storms to shine a spotlight on problems with the GFS, particularly at intermediate to longer timescales. The issue gained prominence after Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey in October 2012, which the European model hinted at at least a week in advance. The GFS model, however, didn't catch on to the storm's unusual track until about 5 days in advance..."
Raiders of the Storm: The Data Science Behind Weather Prediction. ZDNet has an interesting article: "...Atmospheric science relies on a combination of data, but Capps explains that today the primary source is satellite imagery. That does not mean pretty pictures though. Satellite imagery comes in different sizes and shapes: some satellites operate in the black and white spectrum, others in infrared, some imagery can be useful to identify and measure clouds, others to measure winds over the oceans or convection. And what about sensor data; are they used as well? It depends. Capps says they are mostly used when doing predictions at a local, granular level to ground truth weather models, when using reliable equipment. Ingesting live data into weather models is another use case, but for Capps this has not proven to be that useful..."
Our Weather-Prediction Models Keep Getting Better, and Hurricane Irma is the Proof. Still far from perfect, but getting better with every passing year. Here's a clip from The New Yorker: "...In 2015, a paper in Nature titled “The Quiet Revolution of Numerical Weather Prediction” noted that, in the past forty years, the accuracy of three- to ten-day forecasts has been increasing by about one day per decade. “Today’s six-day forecast is as accurate as the five-day forecast ten years ago,” the authors, led by Peter Bauer, a scientist with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, noted. The growth and path of Hurricane Sandy, in October of 2012, were accurately predicted eight days in advance, and both the 2010 Russian heat wave and the 2013 U.S. cold spell were foretold at least a week ahead of time. Last Tuesday, much was made of the fact that a satellite map of rainfall estimates in the Houston area required two new colors to represent the tremendous amount of rain—between forty and sixty inches—that was expected. But no less astonishing, in the end, was the map’s pinpoint accuracy...."
The Increasing Intensity of the Strongest Tropical Cyclones. It's not exactly light-reading, but there is emerging science suggesting the hurricanes that do spin up (naturally) may be getting stronger. Here's a link to one of many abstracts tracking the trends.
The National Weather Service's New Philosophy. Going on offense, not being content to play defense. The Atlantic explains: "...Agency leadership fell into a series of meetings with politicians, emergency planners, and social scientists to figure it out. “The expression in that meeting was ‘You’ve got to go the last mile with your forecasts,’” Uccellini said. “We needed—with a sense of urgency—to move beyond forecast warnings and connect with decision makers.” After months of meetings (which Uccellini led), the agency settled on a new guiding philosophy in late 2011: “Building a Weather-Ready Nation.” Instead of merely publicizing changes to the weather and hoping people noticed, it would take responsibility for getting sound science to officials. It embraced resilience and responsiveness as worthwhile goals, and it recruited “Weather-Ready Ambassadors” to communicate the dangers of impending natural disasters..."
Photo credit: Mark Makela / Reuters.
A Devastating Hurricane Season Exposed America's Flood Insurance Problem. TIME has perspective on how we're encouraging bad behavior and more flood damage down the road: "...The program's financial troubles come from its antiquated way of considering flood risk, policy experts say. The program sets standards for insured properties based on historical flooding data. Under the program, insured homes must be built to withstand what is known as a 100-year storm, or a storm that had a 1% chance of occurring in a given year at the time FEMA mapped the data. The approach makes sense on the surface, but a slew of changes — including sea-level rise, warmer ocean temperatures and new construction that has affected the likelihood of flooding in a given area — have made past risk an uncertain predictor of the future...."
The Deadliest Period of a Hurricane? After It's Over. More people are killed in the aftermath of a storm, especially the clean-up? I didn't know that - thanks to The Washington Post for enlightening me: "...From 2000 to 2014, Atlantic hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions have killed 1,853 people in the United States, according to Edward N. Rappaport, acting director of the National Hurricane Center. (This number would increase significantly if deaths discovered after Katrina but of uncertain association with the hurricane were included.) More than half of these deaths were caused not by wind, water or falling debris, but by “indirect” factors, including fatalities during cleanup. Direct deaths, as defined by the National Weather Service, result from a product of the storm such as flooding, rip currents or the storm surge, and they tend to draw the big headlines during storm coverage. Far more numerous, though, are the indirect deaths not caused by meteorological events..."
Photo credit: "
How to Build Hurricane-Proof Cities. I thought a story at The Atlantic was timely - here's a link and story excerpt: "...One solution of course is to simply stop draining wetlands. But cities will also have to find out ways to reverse the existing degradation of wetlands, and to scale back roads and suburbs that are already built. Perhaps the latter goal is not feasible, but cities can use better planning to create more purposeful density inside their built boundaries and slow geographic growth, while at the same time restoring wetlands and even encouraging their growth and incorporation within existing areas. At any rate, American cities will have to be built in a way that goes against what appears to be their nature, using the fullness of human ingenuity not to trample the earth and replace natural with the artificial, but to engineer both nature and the city in a way that emphasizes their codependence..."
How do Cities Rebuild After Hurricanes Like Harvey and Irma? The Guardian ran a story that highlighted how the Netherlands stepped up to help New Orleans after Katrina, and what every coastal city can do to lower risk: "...A year after Katrina hit, the Netherlands returned the favour by briefing officials from the Louisiana metropolis about the Dutch mantra of “living with the water”. This principle involves huge fortifications in key areas against flood waters – New Orleans now has the largest flood barrier in the world – but also emphasizes the need for green, or natural, infrastructure such as grass, woodland and wetlands to soak up water. Innovations such as green rooftops, where plants absorb some rainwater before it’s funneled to barrels rather than on to the street, and permeable pavements are also being embraced. There are now seven “rain gardens” in New Orleans – essentially parks where water pools and is absorbed – and the city is spending a further $220m on new green areas that will draw away water that would otherwise end up in the streets or in people’s homes. Building codes have been tightened up to focus more heavily on flooding..."
Photo credit: "A local resident and her dog walk home in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the strongest to hit the US since 2005." Photograph: Darren Abate/EPA.
Businesses Call on Trump to Reverse Decison on Federal Flood Risk Management Rule. Here's an excerpt from Ceres: "As the devastating climate change-fueled impacts of Hurricane Irma continue to unfold, and the financial costs of Hurricane Harvey continue to escalate, a network of businesses is calling on the Trump administration to reinstate the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, known as FFRMS. The standard requires federal agencies to take into account current and future flood risks in investment decisions related to federally-funded buildings and infrastructure, ensuring they are built to withstand growing flooding threats. “Models show that extreme weather events will increase in frequency and severity in the coming decades,” the businesses wrote in a letter delivered today. “We must, as businesses, pursue long-term preparation to lessen the costly climate change-fueled impacts on our economy and communities. The FFRMS is essential to adequately protect our nation's investments in buildings and infrastructure and improve the resilience of our nation’s roads and bridges...”
Abandon Florida? Not Quite. But It's Time for a Retreat From Flood Zones. Asked a different way, how long do you want to keep subsidizing people to keep rebuilding in perpetual flood zones? Vox reports: "...But the potential of strategic retreat remains largely untapped, even though sea level rise threatens to inundate 4 million to 13 million Americans this century. Florida alone is home to 1,601 “severe repetitive loss properties” — properties that, on average, flood every two to three years and have been rebuilt five times with the help of taxpayer money. Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, has close to 2,000 such properties. Analysts have already called for the government to purchase homes flooded by Harvey and Irma and restore those properties to open space. Moving to safer ground will be just one strategy among many: We’ll need sea walls in some places, stricter building codes in others, and a change in where new subdivisions, highways, and hospitals are built. Attacking global warming must be part of the solution: Continued emissions of heat-trapping gases drive up the risk of rising seas..."
File photo: NOAA.
A Requiem for Florida, The Paradise That Should Never Have Been. Hey, I love Florida as much as the next guy. I prefer to rent, not own - just in case. Here's an excerpt from Politico: "...There was really just one reason South Florida remained so unpleasant and so empty for so long: water. The region was simply too soggy and swampy for development. Its low-lying flatlands were too vulnerable to storms and floods. As a colorful governor with the colorful name of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward put it: “Water is the common enemy of the people of Florida.” So in the 20th century, Florida declared war on its common enemy, vowing to subdue Mother Nature, eventually making vast swaths of floodplains safe for the president to build golf courses and Vanilla Ice to flip houses and my kids to grow up in the sunshine. Water control—even more than air conditioning or bug spray or Social Security—enabled the spectacular growth of South Florida..."
Real Estate Industry Blocks Sea-Level Warnings That Could Crimp Profits on Coastal Properties. The State has a timely article on the state regulators and realtors with their fingers in the dike: "...These studies warn that Florida, the Carolinas and other southeastern states face the nation’s fastest-growing rates of sea level rise and coastal erosion — as much as 3 feet by the year 2100, depending on how quickly Antarctic ice sheets melt. In a recent report, researchers for Zillow estimated that nearly 2 million U.S. homes could be literally underwater by 2100, if worst-case projections become reality. This is not good news for people who market and build waterfront houses. But real estate lobbyists aren’t going down without a fight. Some are teaming up with climate change skeptics and small government advocates to block public release of sea-level rise predictions and ensure that coastal planning is not based on them..."
Photo credit: "John D. Simmons Charlotte Observer.
Hurricane Irma: Florida's Overdevelopment Has Created a Ticking Time Bomb. Hype? Wait 'til the next one. Here's an excerpt from Scientific American: "Millions are without power in Florida after Irma—one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record—swept through the state this weekend before weakening to a tropical storm. It caused its fair share of damage, but Florida’s most ominous fears did not play out; extremely vulnerable eastern coastal areas, including Miami, were spared the worst. But meteorologist and disaster risk expert Stephen Strader says the state is still in a very dangerous position, due to intense population growth and overdevelopment of its low-lying coastal zones. He predicts it is only a matter of time before another storm devastates the Sunshine State and some of its major cities. And he adds that it is not the only state facing this threat: Overdevelopment and expanding populations across the U.S. mean natural disasters now pose a greater risk to many other places, such as Houston and Oklahoma City..."
Elegy for the Sunshine State. I think rumors/predictions of Florida's imminent demise are being greatly over-exaggerated, but there's little doubt that there will have to be a managed retreat from the most vulnerable coastal communities in the years/decades ahead. I predict it'll be a mess. Here's an excerpt from The New Yorker: "...In the nineteen-nineties, I covered the Miami-Dade county commissioners as a reporter for the Miami Herald. Miami is a vibrant, tumultuous city, remade every few years by the energy of its new arrivals. But, in the time I worked there, one thing never changed: the enthusiasm with which the elected commissioners greeted every new housing or commercial development unveiled before them. It was a kind of sad ritual: A new housing development would come up for a vote, and an earnest member of the county’s planning-and-zoning staff would warn about the development’s impact on the quality of the schools, on the phlegmatic pace of rush-hour traffic, on the erosion of beaches. Almost always, the pleas were ignored; the economy of modern Florida is a kind of Ponzi scheme, where tomorrow’s growth pays for today’s needs, and real estate is the largest employer. It was a confidence game, and the commissioners were only too happy to go along..."
File image: Trip Advisor.
How FEMA Uses Waffle Houses in Disasters. Yes, this is a real thing, and it turns out to be very accurate and helpful during an emergency. USA TODAY reports: "...It's called the Waffle House Index, or test, which uses the operating conditions of the resilient Southern restaurants as a barometer for how well an area will recover from a hurricane, tornado or other hazard. "The Waffle House test just doesn't tell us how quickly a business might rebound — it also tells how the larger community is faring," said a FEMA blog post from 2011, when Craig Fugate was administrator under former president Obama. "The sooner restaurants, grocery and corner stores, or banks can re-open, the sooner local economies will start generating revenue again — signaling a strong recovery for that community..."
The Race Against Heat. The Verge asks an important question: how do you cool a warming planet of 7.5 billion people without making the warming worse? Here's an excerpt: "...The world is on track to add 700 million new ACs by 2030, and 1.6 billion by 2050, largely in hot, developing countries like India and Indonesia. But the AC boom threatens to worsen the crisis it’s responding to, and widen the divide between those who can afford to stay cool and those left out in the heat. Air conditioners use refrigerants, and some of the most common types — hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — are powerful greenhouse gases, with thousands of times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. If HFC use continues to grow at its current pace, these chemicals could make up as much as 19 percent of emissions by 2050. International initiatives are set to phase down the worst offenders, but air conditioners contribute to climate change in a second way: they consume a tremendous amount of electricity. Handling the growing load will require adding thousands of new power plants to the grid..."
All Roads Paved with Asphalt Trap 90% of the Sun's Heat - That's a Problem. The solution? Paint it white, according to Big Think: "...For cities the problem is even bigger. On top of the rising temperatures, the urban heat island effect results in an additional 1.8 to 5.4°F burden for urban dwellers during the day and up to 22°F in the evenings. Concrete buildings, asphalt paved roads radiating accumulated heat throughout the night, and lack of trees contribute to the making of scorching cities. Active measures will be needed to reduce the risk of heat-related health problems. It is no surprise that LA is one of the first cities to take such measures. The urban heat island effect makes LA almost six degrees hotter than the surrounding desert, and the heat causes 60 to 70 deaths every summer. Mayor Eric Garcetti has an ambitious plan to reduce the city’s average temperature by 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 20 years..."
Graphic credit: "On a sunny summer afternoon, urban air can be 1-3C (2-5F) warmer than nearby rural air." Berkeley Lab
China Wants to Ban Gas and Diesel Vehicles. CNN Money has the report: "...China is preparing to put the brakes on gasoline and diesel cars. The country, home to the world's largest auto market, is working on a plan to ban the production and sale of vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels, officials say. The Chinese government is following in the footsteps of countries like India, France, Britain and Norway, which have already announced plans to ditch gas and diesel cars in favor of cleaner vehicles in the coming years. Regulators haven't decided yet when the Chinese ban would take effect, but work has begun on a timetable, according to China's vice minister of industry, Xin Guobin..."
Living in China Takes 3 1/2 Years Off Your Life. Spending a week in Beijing last December I don't find this hard to believe at all. The smog was otherworldly. Here's an excerpt from The Wall Street Journal: "China’s failure to bring air quality up to global standards is shaving years off the lives of its citizens: 3½ years on average, to be precise. That is according to a new analysis by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, which also finds that in northeastern cities like Harbin, which are located in the country’s industrial heartland, that figure is as high as 6.9 years. Greater levels of particulate-matter pollution have been linked to higher risks of heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. “Particulate matter is the greatest environmental risk to human health around the world, and most of the damages are occurring in China and India,” said Michael Greenstone, Energy Policy Institute’s director..."
There's Blood in the Water in Silicon Valley. Are the Googles, Apples and Facebooks of the world getting too big and dominant - are they monopolies that need to be broken up? Here's an excerpt from BuzzFeed News: "...The new spotlight on these companies doesn’t come out of nowhere. They sit, substantively, at the heart of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the United States, and often stand on the less popular side of those: automation and inequality, trust in public life, privacy and security. They make the case that growth and transformation are public goods — but the public may not agree. The tech industry has also benefited for years from its enemies, who it cast — often accurately — as Luddites who genuinely didn’t understand the series of tubes they were ranting about, or protectionist industries that didn’t want the best for consumers. That, too, is over. Opportunists and ideologues have assembled the beginnings of a real coalition against these companies, with a policy core consisting of refugees from Google boss Eric Schmidt’s least favorite think tank unit..." (Image: Business Insider).
Will We Be Hailing Flyinig Taxis Within a Decade? A story at Quartz made me almost excited for commuting down the road: "...Lilium, founded in 2014, has demonstrated a two-passenger, electric VTOL and says it plans to develop a five-passenger jet capable of achieving 300 km per hour (186 mph) speeds and one-hour of flight time before needing a battery recharge. The initial two-seater prototype, which had an unmanned maiden flight in April, was said to be the first electric jet that could successfully take off vertically, then make a smooth transition to forward flight. The vehicle relies on a series of engine flaps that tilt from a vertical to a horizontal position as the jet shifts from takeoff into horizontal flight..."
Image credit: "Concept image of the Volocopter 2x flying through a city." (Volocopter)
No, The Government Didn't Cause Hurricane Irma with a Secret Weather Machine. Cue the conspiracy theories - Daily Beast has the latest: "...Internet conspiracy theorists are claiming that a former U.S. military ionospheric research facility in Alaska is to blame for the back-to-back hurricanes that have flooded Houston, ravaged the Caribbean and Florida, and killed scores of people. The conspiracy theorists believe the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program site is a weather-altering weapon in disguise. They claim that HAARP’s radio waves can somehow cause, or worsen, storms—and that the government is behind it all. (That is, when HAARP isn’t controlling minds, conducting long-range spying operations, or threatening to “capsize” the planet.) That, of course, is untrue. HAARP is a science facility that’s no longer under military control—and nothing that HAARP does has any bearing at all on the weather..."
Snopes.com weighs in here.
91 F. high in the Twin Cities Thursday, the 11th 90-degree day of 2017.
73 F. average high on September 14.
70 F. high on September 14, 2016.
September 15, 1939: Minneapolis experiences a daily record high of 98.
September 15, 1916: St. Paul receives their earliest recorded snowfall.
TODAY: Warm and sticky, few T-storms. Winds: S 8-13. High: 86
FRIDAY NIGHT: T-storms likely, locally heavy rain. Low: 69
SATURDAY: Humid, few waves of T-storms. Winds: SW 8-13. High: 83
SUNDAY: Partly sunny, cooler and drier - the nicer day. Winds: NW 8-13. Wake-up: 58. High: 73
MONDAY: Mostly cloudy, cooler breeze. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 54. High: 72
TUESDAY: More sun, trending warmer. Winds: SE 7-12. Wake-up: 58. High: 82
WEDNESDAY: Partly sunny, summer is back! Winds: SE 10-15. Wake-up: 65. High: 86
THURSDAY: Warm and humid, T-storms develop. Winds: S 10-20. Wake-up: 70. High: 87
Monster Storms Change Coastlines, Not Minds on Climate Change. Here's an excerpt of a particularly insightful story at Bloomberg: "...Research shows monster storms may only harden people’s position, underscoring already entrenched beliefs about the role humans play in warming the planet. "The climate movement can’t depend on the weather to make its political case," said Robert Brulle, a sociologist at Drexel University who studies environmental activism. "We have a window of opportunity to draw attention to the issue -- and then three weeks from now we’ll be talking about something else." Environmental disasters, including an oil spill off the California coast, toxic pollution emanating from New York’s Love Canal and Ohio’s Cuyahoga River bursting into flames, helped catalyze the modern-day ecological movement, shifting public views. But unlike climate change, the causes were clearer; there was no need for scientists to interpret data or model scenarios..."
Photo credit: "A resident outside his flooded home in Bonita Springs, Florida, on Sept. 12." Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg.
Harvey, Irma Show the Skyrocketing Costs of Climate Change. Here's an excerpt from TheHill: "...Harvey and Irma are just glimpses of the massive extra costs climate change is already extracting from U.S. taxpayers, a price tag that will only grow exponentially in coming years. In December, the Office of Management and Budget released a report warning of tens of billions in additional costs from wildfires, crop insurance, flood insurance, health-care spending and other impacts related to climate change. As much as “15 percent of total federal discretionary spending by late-century," could be caused by climate change, the OMB said. Yet, tens of billions in taxpayer costs from climate change are already evident now..."
The Great Nutrient Collapse. CO2 is "plant-food", but are we trading increased quantity for reduced quality - is nutrition suffering? Here's an excerpt of a must-read story at POLITICO: "...For the next 17 years, as he pursued his math career, Loladze scoured the scientific literature for any studies and data he could find. The results, as he collected them, all seemed to point in the same direction: The junk-food effect he had learned about in that Arizona lab also appeared to be occurring in fields and forests around the world. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising,” Loladze said. “We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human historyâ[an] injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply.”He published those findings just a few years ago, adding to the concerns of a small but increasingly worried group of researchers who are raising unsettling questions about the future of our food supply. Could carbon dioxide have an effect on human health we haven’t accounted for yet?..."
Photo credit: Geoff Johnson for POLITICO.
How Climate Change Can Hit Your Small Business. A post at USA TODAY resonated: "...Here’s how disasters caused or exacerbated by climate change are likely to hit your own small business:
1. Higher insurance rates. Wherever you live, you may now find yourself in a disaster-prone area with higher insurance rates. As I write this, tropical storms are now hitting inland areas never before hit by such weather.
2. Loss of business. When a disaster hits, even if your business is thousands of miles away, your suppliers or customers may suffer. Your cash flow and credit will take a hit.
3. Loss of tourist dollars. Tourist areas, such as coastal areas, mountains (think ski areas), forests, are all particularly susceptible to climate-related events. If your business depends on tourists, you’re very vulnerable.
4. Fewer resources. Americans pull together after natural disasters, providing both government and private relief. But dollars spent on disaster recovery aren’t available to you for small business loans, economic development in your community, purchases in your business..."
Photo credit: NOAA.
What We Know About the Climate Change - Hurricane Connection. Scientific American reports: "...Whether or not we see more tropical storms (a matter of continuing research by the scientific community), we know that the strongest storms are getting stronger, with roughly eight meters per second increase in wind speed per degree Celsius of warming. And so it is not likely to be a coincidence that almost all of the strongest hurricanes on record (as measured by sustained wind speeds) for the globe, the Northern Hemisphere, the Southern Hemisphere, the Pacific, and now, with Irma, in the open Atlantic, have occurred over the past two years. A stronger storm means not only more damaging winds, but a bigger storm surge as well, adding to the coastal flooding impact of sea level rise. Furthermore, a warmer ocean surface means more moisture in the atmosphere. A fundamental rule of atmospheric thermodynamics known as the Clausius-Clapeyron equation indicates an increase of roughly 7 percent more moisture in the air for each degree Celsius of increase in sea surface temperature (SST)..."
Leading Scientist on Irma: "Climate Change Effects Are No Longer Subtle". Observer has the story; here's an excerpt: "...Dr. Mann stated that the frequency of hurricanes this season isn’t as much cause for alarm as their rapid intensification. “Harvey was the wettest storm on record in the U.S. as a result, in part, of very warm Gulf ocean surface temperatures, which meant there was more moisture in the atmosphere available to be turned into record flooding rainfall. And Irma is now the longest-lived category 5 storm in history for the Atlantic. That is due to the very favorable environment it has found in the form of very warm ocean surface temperatures,” he said. “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We see them playing out in real time, and this last couple weeks is a stunning example of that...”
Harvey and Irma Aren't Natural Disasters - They're Climate Disasters. The storms would have formed anyway, but did (consistently) warmer ocean water amp them up and make them stronger and wetter? Eric Holthaus reports for Grist: "...Back-to-back hurricane catastrophes have plunged the United States into a state of national crisis. We’ve already seen one worst-case scenario in Texas: For the moment, Hurricane Harvey stands as the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. And now there’s Irma, which has wreaked havoc across the entirety of Florida, America’s most vulnerable state. In just two weeks, the U.S. could rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in losses. Make no mistake: These storms weren’t natural. A warmer, more violent atmosphere — heated up by our collective desire to ignore the fact that we live on a planet where such devastation is possible — juiced Harvey and Irma’s destruction..."
Evacuating Millions is not an "Effective or Sustainable" Response to Hurricane Threats. Here's a Better Response. An estimated $290 billion in damage between Harvey and Irma? An Op-Ed at CNBC.com caught my eye: "...If Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taught us anything, it's that climate change is here—and it's coming at a real cost to human lives and property. It's clear that continually evacuating millions of people from our coastal cities is not an effective or sustainable way to protect Americans from record-breaking storms. Instead, we need to attack the root causes of climate change while also adapting to its impacts. American taxpayers, businesses, and communities simply cannot afford for our elected leaders to spend scarce public dollars and make critical planning decisions that deny the basic reality of climate change..."
The Military's Warning on Global Warming. Here's a clip from Consortiumnews: "...We have had 378 months of above average temperatures. That’s no hoax. Scientists say Arctic ice is in “a death spiral.” That’s no hoax. People fish off Bangladesh in what was once a busy market before rising seas claimed it. That’s no hoax. Temperatures rose in Iraq and Kuwait to 129 F in July 2016 and to 112 F in parts of France and Italy in August 2017. That’s no hoax. “For every degree Celsius that temperature rises, agricultural scientists calculate, wheat yields drop 10 percent in the Earth’s hotter midriff,” as Alan Weisman reports in his tellingly entitled book Countdown. That’s no hoax. Environmental refugees no longer come only from Island states like the Maldives and Tuvalu and from Bangladesh. They come from Houston and Florida and will be coming from inundated cities on our coasts..."
McCain Baffled About GOP Climate Denial: "I Can't Divine Their Motives". Follow the money. Here's an excerpt at ThinkProgress: "...Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he has no idea why his GOP colleagues deny basic climate science. But the former GOP nominee for president — who campaigned on climate action during the 2008 election — knows that climate change is real, its effects are “unprecedented,” and solar energy is one of the cheap solutions. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked McCain a long question about Hurricane Irma and global warming and GOP climate denial, noting “the storm is more intense, experts say, because of climate change..."
Map credit: Paul Horn, InsideClimate New.
Hurricane Irma: Pope Francis Condemns Climate Change Skeptics. BBC News reports: "...His most recent comments could also be seen as a thinly veiled dig at the president. "If we don't go back we will go down," he warned reporters on Monday. "That is true. You can see the effects of climate change with your own eyes and scientists tell us clearly the way forward. "All of us have a responsibility. All of us. Some small, some big. A moral responsibility, to accept opinions, or make decisions. I think it is not something to joke about." He then quoted a phrase from the Old Testament: "Man is stupid, a stubborn, blind man." "Those who deny it (climate change) should go to the scientists and ask them," the Pope said. "They are very clear, very precise..."
File photo: AP.