Paul Douglas is a nationally respected meteorologist with 33 years of television and radio experience. A serial entrepreneur, Douglas is Senior Meteorologist for WeatherNation TV, a new, national 24/7 weather channel with studios in Denver and Minneapolis. Founder of Media Logic Group, Douglas and a team of meteorologists provide weather services for media at Broadcast Weather, and high-tech alerting and briefing services for companies via Alerts Broadcaster. His speaking engagements take him around the Midwest with a message of continuous experimentation and reinvention, no matter what business you’re in. He is the public face of “SAVE”, Suicide Awareness, Voices of Education, based in Bloomington. | Send Paul a question.

Soggy Start to Friday, Lingering Storms

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 28, 2014 - 10:11 PM

Alter Ego
By Todd Nelson

Most of the time I feel like Dopey from the Seven Dwarves, but lately I'm feeling a little more like Sneezy. AAACHOOO!

It never fails; right around State Fair time, I get bit by the allergy bug. I don't want to wish ill will on anything, but I hope that ragweed gets blasted by a big cold front in September... not sure how much longer I can take this.

Meteorological Summer will conclude this Sunday, meaning the 3 warmest months (on average) will be behind us. Keep in mind that we've only seen two 90 degree days this summer, which is nearly 8 to 9 days below average! Despite the recent EF-O tornado near Gilman, MN on Sunday, we've only seen 23 tornadoes this year. According to NOAA's NCDC, the annual average number of tornadoes in Minnesota is 45.

Looking ahead, the severe threat may be increasing as a stronger cold front pushes through the state on Sunday. This will bring another round of heavy rain to parts of the Midwest, but drier weather moves in quickly for Labor Day. The early part of September looks to start off on a cooler note with highs in the mid/upper 70s. In a few months we'll all likely forget what 70s felt like, so enjoy it now!

AAACHOO!!

=================

THURSDAY NIGHT: More showers, possible thunder. Low: 65

FRIDAY: Lingering showers. Partly soggy. Skies dry out late. High: 80 Winds: SW 5mph.

FRIDAY NIGHT: Rain/thunder threat continues. Low: 64

SATURDAY: Best day? Patchy fog, then intervals of sun. Dew point: 62. High: 80

SUNDAY: Sticky sun, severe T-storms late? Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 64. High: 84

LABOR DAY: Clearing trend, not as muggy. Wake-up: 66. High: 79

TUESDAY: Back to school. Spotty PM T-Shower. Wake-up: 58. High: 77

WEDNESDAY: Quiet. Cool breeze. Wake-up: 58. High: 78

THURSDAY: Warmer, slightly more humid. Wake-up: 59. High: 80

=================

This Day in Weather History
August 29th

1948: An airliner crashed during a thunderstorm near Winona, killing 37 people on board.

1863: A devastating killing frost affected most of Minnesota, killing vines and damaging corn.

===================

Average High/Low for MSP
August 29th

Average High: 78F (Record: 96F set in 1969)
Average Low: 60F (Record: 45F set in 1946)

====================

Sunrise/Sunset Times for MSP
August 29th

Sunrise: 6:31am
Sunset: 7:55pm

=====================

Moon Phase for August 29th at Midnight
3.2 Days Before First Quarter

======================

Minneapolis Temperature Trend

Waves of cooler air appear to be rolling in with a little more frequency as we approach September. Note the 2 dips over the next 15 days. 1 occurs early next week with a potentially bigger temperature drop by the first weekend in September. Keep in mind that extended model runs are always as reliable, but if this were to pan out, we could be looking at highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s by the first weekend of September!

Allergy Alert!!

AAAAACHOOOOOO!! UGH! Not sure about you, but I've been battling the seasonal allergy bug like many others out there. It seems to really set in around the Minnesota State Fair, when ragweed seems to be at it's peak. I generally don't wish any cold spells upon us, but not sure how much longer I can take this sneezing, itching and watering eyes. According to Pollen.com - we're in for a fairly high pollen weekend, especially Sunday.

Get the latest pollen forecast HERE:

Friday: Wetter Weather Keeps Pollen Levels Low

Thanks to an impulse of energy moving through the Midwest on Friday, cloudy and soggy weather will help to keep pollen levels lower. The image below suggests the weather conditions at 5pm Friday.

Somewhat Soggy...

A big blob of moisture on a northeast heading toward the U.P. of Michigan through Friday will be responsible for several inches of precipitation, which could lead to some localized areas of flooding.

Sunday Severe Threat?

A strong cold front will arrive on Sunday and bring strong to severe thunderstorm chances back to the Upper Midwest. As of now, NOAA's SPC has parts of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities under an enhanced risk of stronger storms. Keep up to date with the latest storm chances for Sunday.

Northern Lights

Thanks to @WIStrmChaser for the picture below out of Aurora, WI !! Amazing colors in the northern lights display from earlier this week thanks to a geomagnetic storm on the sun a few days ago.

"The CMEs that instigated the display were launched toward Earth on Aug. 22nd. As NOAA analysts predicted, the solar wind speed did not change much when the slow-moving CMEs arrived. However, the storm clouds were still effective because they contained a south-pointing magnetic field that opened a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind poured in to fuel the show."

Read more from www.SpaceWeather.com HERE:

Weather Outlook

2 Different weather features will keep somewhat soggy weather conditions in place through the early weekend. By Saturday, most of the 'heavy' precipitation will shift into the Great Lakes/Ohio Valley Region.

Precipitation Outlook

According to NOAA's HPC, the 5 day rainfall forecast suggests quite a bit of heavy rain potential over parts of the Midwest/Great Lakes through early next week. Note also the heavy rain potential across the Mississippi River Valley, while the Western U.S. looks to remain still very dry.

Remembering Katrina

9 years ago (Monday, August 29th) Hurricane Katrina plowed ashore in southeastern Louisiana as a major category 3 storm. A catastrophic levee failure in New Orleans caused much of city to flood. The image below is from August, 28th when Katrina was at it's strongest intensity; Category 5 with 175mph sustained winds!!

Ski Season Approaches...

Hopefully it'll be a while before we start seeing our first flakes here in Minnesota, but ski season is nearing quickly in the mountains. Thanks to the Telluride Ski Resort for the picture below - they documented snow on the back of this car window earlier this week!

Big Surf Across Southwest California

Southwest California was a buzz earlier this week a huge waves moved into the Wedge. There were reports of near +20ft waves that caught the attention of quite a few surfers. These massive breakers were caused by Hurricane Marie in the East Pacific, which was a category 4 storms on Monday with near 150mph winds!

Hurricane Marie Fades...

Hurricane Marie in the East Pacific was a major category 4 hurricane earlier this week with near 150mph winds.  The imagery that NASA satellite captured was amazing! The Capital Weather Gang has a nice write-up about it... See more HERE:

Active East Pacific

The Eastern Pacific has been very active this season with Marie being the 13th named storm of the 2014 season!

Somewhat Quiet Atlantic

The Atlantic basin has been a lot quieter by comparison... Our latest storm, Cristobal, became the 3rd named storm and 3rd hurricane of the 2014 season. The only storm that made landfall with the U.S. was Arthur, which was briefly a category 2 storm as it made landfall with the Outer Banks of North Carolina on July 3rd. Bertha and Cristobal made similar paths, curving east of the Eastern Seaboard during their life-cycle.

Atlantic Acting Up

The image below from the National Hurricane Center showed 4 different areas of interest as of Thursday with Hurricane Cristobal on a northeast heading toward Iceland by Labor Day Monday. The 3 " X's " indicate disturbances that the NHC is keeping an eye on.

Atlantic Forecast

According to NOAA's NHC, there are 2 disturbances that will have to be monitored over the next 5 days for further development. #1 in the Caribbean heading west towards the Yucatan Peninsula has a LOW chance of development, while the disturbance moving west off the western tip of Africa has a medium chance of development.

Thanks for checking in and have a great rest of your week! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @TNelsonWX

Greener Gardens - Rain Arrives - Sunday Severe Risk?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 27, 2014 - 5:28 PM

Forecast Challenge

During a presentation of weather and climate trends at General Mills Tuesday a question came up. "Paul, with more volatility in the system has that made weather forecasting more difficult?"

Short answer: yes.

Weather has always been erratic, severe and generally unpredictable, but I've noticed distinct changes in Minnesota's weather patterns since the late 90s. More rainfall extremes, higher dew points in the summer, wetter springs and milder autumns, on average. And the normal rhythm of fronts and storms seems...off. Like a band playing slightly out of tune. Much of the year our weather seems to be moving in slow-motion.

Maybe I've just been standing too close to the Doppler.

A wave of low pressure rippling north pushes showers and a few T-showers into town later today & Friday. Skies dry out with some sun on Saturday, which may be the best day of the 3-day holiday weekend. T-storms flare up north Sunday; a few severe storms may rumble into the metro late Sunday - some heavy rain spilling into Monday morning. Of course. It's a holiday. Keep your expectations low - you'll never be disappointed.

A cooler, drier front Tuesday gives way to a slow warming trend next week.


Wet Stain For Upper Midwest; Tracking Cristobal and Marie. It sounds like a new comedy series on FOX, but Cristobal is veering out to sea (pushing larger breakers and rip tides all up and down the eastern seaboard), and Marie is weakening over colder water, but capable of large swells along the California coast. Meanwhile the next surge of southern moisture and warmth sparks locally heavy rain from Nebraska into Iowa, southern Minnesota and Wisconsin. 4 KM NAM accumulated precipitation: NOAA and HAMweather.


Sunday Severe Risk? SPC is already tracking an enhanced threat of severe storms Sunday over central and southern Minnesota. Here in the metro storms may not arrive until late afternoon or evening, but you'll want to stay alert for possible warnings close to home.


Hurricane Katrina Then and Now: Lifting The Fog of Memory. Photographs can be powerful tools, and this photo essay at National Geographic brings that fact home, showing the immediate aftermath of Katrina, and those same locations today. It's hard to believe it's the same city. Here's an excerpt: "...According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Katrina was the deadliest storm since 1928 responsible for 1,200 deaths. It was the costliest U.S. hurricane on record with $75 billion in damages to the Gulf Coast. This is a storm worth remembering..."

Photo credit: Eliot Kamenitz/The Times-Picayune.


Groundwater Depletion is Destabilizing the San Andreas Fault and Increasing Earthquake Risk. If fracking, injecting chemically-laden water deep underground, may be a factor in sparking small earthquakes maybe it's not much of a stretch that depleting underground aquifers is impacting stress on earthquake faults. Here's an excerpt of a story at San Francisco Public Press that caught my eye: "Depletion of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley is having wide-ranging effects not just on the agricultural industry and the environment, but also on the very earth beneath our feet. Massive changes in groundwater levels in the southern Central Valley are changing the stresses on the San Andreas Fault, according to research published today..."

Photo credit above: "In a newly published scientific paper, researchers attributed modest uplift in areas of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges across central California to human-caused groundwater depletion in the adjacent San Joaquin Valley. GPS stations such as this one, P311 in the eastern Sierra Nevada, are administered by the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory." Photo courtesy of UNAVCO.


Depletion of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley is having wide-ranging effects not just on the agricultural industry and the environment, but also on the very earth beneath our feet. Massive changes in groundwater levels in the southern Central Valley are changing the stresses on the San Andreas Fault, according to research published today.

Researchers have known for some time that human activity can be linked to localized seismic effects. In particular, much of the debate about fracking in California in the past few years has centered on evidence that the process of injecting large volumes of liquid underground can lubricate fault lines and increase local earthquake risk.

- See more at: http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2014-05/groundwater-depletion-is-destabilizing-the-san-andreas-fault-and-increasing-earthquake-risk#sthash.S1I1Q4xa.dpuf

Visualize It: Old Weather Data Feeds New Climate Models. How do you get old, relatively crude, hand-drawn weather maps into the climate models? Crowd-sourcing. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at Climate Central: "In the 1930s, there were no computers to run climate models or record weather observations. Instead, weather reports were written or typed on typewriters and forecast maps were drawn by hand. Those observations from the past contain valuable data that can help scientists better understand what the climate may look like in the future. But gathering that data and making it usable is a tall task involving scanning millions of sheets of paper and transcribing them into formats that scientists can use..."


Choking The Oceans With Plastic. Here's an excerpt of a Charles Moore Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth. No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea..."

File photo credit: Marine debris washing up onto the coast of Hawaii courtesy of Wikipedia.


Brazil Coffee Output Set For Longest Decline Since 1965. The world may go down the tubes, but please don't take away my coffee. Here's an excerpt from Bloomberg: "...Production in Brazil, the world’s top grower, may drop as much as 18 percent to 40.1 million bags when the harvest ends next month, the National Coffee Council estimates, after a 3.1 percent slide last year. With damage worsening before the start of spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the council said farmers may collect less than 40 million bags in 2015, creating the longest slump in five decades..."


A Gut Microbe That Stops Food Allergies. Science Magazine has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Food allergies have increased about 50% in children since 1997. There are various theories explaining why. One is that the 21st century lifestyle, which includes a diet very different from our ancestors’, lots of antibiotic use, and even a rise in cesarean section deliveries, has profoundly changed the makeup of microbes in the gut of many people in developed countries...."

Image credit above: Kenya Honda, Science/AAAS (21 January 2011). "A new study finds that members of a common class of gut bacteria, Clostridia, can counter sensitivity to peanuts."


Robot Bartenders Serve Your Drinks on the Cruise Ship of the Future. Because no cruise would be complete without robots. Here's a clip from Gizmag: "Cruise ships can be pretty palatial places. Now, Royal Caribbean has unveiled some of the technologies that will make its newest ship even more luxurious. The Quantum of the Seas will feature high-speed internet, RFID navigation for guests, and robot bartenders..."


TODAY: Rain develops. Cool and damp. Winds: SE 10. High: 68

THURSDAY NIGHT: More showers, possible thunder. Low: 61

FRIDAY: Lingering showers. Partly soggy. Skies dry out late. High: 74

SATURDAY: Best day? Patchy fog, then intervals of sun. Dew point: 62. Wake-up: 62. High: 79

SUNDAY: Sticky sun, severe T-storms late? Dew point: 67. Wake-up: 63. High: 81

LABOR DAY: Stormy start. Showers taper. Wake-up: 68. High: 76

TUESDAY: Some sun, PM shower risk. Wake-up: 57. High: 75

WEDNESDAY: Plenty of sun, milder. Wake-up: 55. High: near 80


Climate Stories...

Ken Burns: Glaciers National Park in Trouble. We've gone from nearly 150 glaciers at Glacier National Park in the mid-1800s to fewer than 30 today. Here's an excerpt of an interview iwth Ken Burns by USA TODAY: "...If you're interested in seeing the namesake glaciers of Glacier National Park, Ken Burns has a piece of advice: hurry. "The great sadness of Glacier National Park is that it's probably going to be true that fairly soon, we're going to call it 'The National Park Formerly Known as Glacier'," Burns says. With current global warming trends, the United States Geological Survey warns that Glacier National Park's glaciers could disappear within the next several decades..."

Photo credit above: "Going-to-the-Sun Road is Glacier's most scenic drive, providing views of flowering valleys and mountain peaks." (Photo: David Restivo, NPS).


Russia Is Feeling The Heat. Will warming be a good thing for Russia? So far the jury is out, but warming is coming with some unpleasant symptoms, as reported by Quartz; here's an excerpt: "When Vladimir Putin declined to support the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty to limit carbon emissions, he famously quipped that higher temperatures might actually benefit Russia since its people would have to spend less on fur coats. Well, he’s getting his wish. Changes in wind and ocean currents caused by global warming shift heat around unevenly, causing some areas to heat up dramatically even as other regions cool. Russia, it turns out, is in the unusually hot category..."

Graphic credit above: "Trends in Russia’s average temperatures." Russian Hydrometeorological Service.


If You Have Allergies Talk To Your Doctor About Cap and Trade. Here's a clip from a story at The Atlantic: "...For one, when there is more carbon dioxide in the environment, plants produce more pollen, which is no good for allergies and asthma. Rutgers allergist Leonard Bielory recently warned that pollen counts are projected to double by 2040. Likewise, U.S. foresters recently calculated that trees seem to be averting around $6.8 billion in human health costs annually, largely due to mitigating effects of air pollution (even if they do produce pollen). And already the World Health Organization is warning that air pollution is responsible for one out of every eight human deaths, largely because combustion of fossil fuels results in invisible airborne particles that get lodged in our lungs and suspended in our blood..."

Image credit: AP/Shutterstock/The Atlantic.


Why Investors' Fossil Fuel Addiction is Hard to Kick. This may come as a shock, but it's all about the money. Here's an excerpt from National Journal: "...A new report explains why getting big money out of fossil fuels, especially big oil, is a tall order, even if a growing number of universities, cities, and churches have agreed to shift their investments in recent years. "Fossil fuels are investor favourites for a reason. Few sectors offer the scale, liquidity, growth, and yield of these century-old businesses vital to today's economy," states the report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a London-based research and analysis company..."

Photo credit above: "Oil and natural-gas companies are very attractive for investors." (Repsol).


Ocean Acidification Could Cause Many Species To Go Extinct. Here's a clip from an article at the San Diego Free Press: "...If business continues as usual, the surface ocean pH will drop to 8.0 by 2050 and to 7.8 by century’s end. At that point the oceans will be 150% more acidic than they were at the start of the industrial revolution. Marine biologists like Jason Hall-Spencer have warned about the catastrophic consequences to marine life if the oceans’ pH reaches 7.8. According to him this represents a tipping point at which the ocean’s ecosystems start to crash. The ones most at risk are the calcifiers. The term calcifier refers to an organism that builds a shell or external skeleton or, in the case of a plant, an internal scaffolding out of the mineral calcium carbonate. Some examples of calcifiers are starfish, sea urchins, clams, oysters and barnicles..."


Irreversible Damage Seen From Climate Change in UN Leak. Bloomberg obtained a leak draft of the next IPCC report; here's an excerpt of their reporting: "...Possible permanent changes include the melting of the ice sheet covering Greenland. That would boost sea levels by as much as 7 meters (23 feet) and threaten coastal cities from Miami to Bangkok along with island nations such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu. The scientists said they have “medium confidence” that warming of less than 4 degrees Celsius would be enough to trigger such a melt, which would take at least a millennium. Other impacts the report flags include reduced food security such as crops such as production of wheat, rice and maize in the tropics are damaged, the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the acidification of the oceans..." (Image: NASA).


Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Growing, and Growing More Dangerous, Draft of U.N. Report Says. Here's a snippet of a Justin Gillis article at The New York Times: "Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report. Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control....."


A Climate For Change: America Should Not Wait While The World Warms. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...Between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of U.S. property will likely be below sea level by mid-century. The federal government will probably have to spend billions more in disaster relief. Waiting to deal with carbon emissions until the effects are clearer or technology improves is not a wise strategy. The emissions humans put into the atmosphere now will affect the climate in the middle of the century and onward. Technological change, meanwhile, could make a future transition away from fossil fuels cheap — or it might not, leaving the world with a terrible choice between sharply reducing emissions at huge cost or suffering through the effects of unabated warming."


Why The Washington Post is Running a Series Of Editorials on "The Existential Threat of Climate Change". Media Matters reports; here's a clip: "..Over the long run it is an existential threat to the planet, I believe that, so you don't get much bigger than that," Hiatt said about the decision to run the week of editorials. "That doesn't mean that you can set aside other really big problems that are facing us today, but over time ... the longer we wait to do something about it, the greater the damage is likely to be and the more disruptive the response will be." Monday's first editorial lamented the faltering national debate on this issue, while today's offering explained why the country can't afford to "wait while the world warms..."


Old School Farming Methods Could Save The Planet. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways, especially when it comes to agriculture? Here's an excerpt of a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "...The soil has been playing a mighty role in our climate ever since we've been a planet,” Ohlson says. It's full of carbon fuel that helps plants and microorganisms thrive, but today's industrial farming methods rip up the soil and release huge amounts of that carbon into the air. Ohlson argues that returning to no-till farming practices, which leave the soil undisturbed and carbon trapped underground, will help reverse climate change and solve other pressing environmental issues at the same time. "Everything we want for our planet above the soil line depends on the activity of those microorganisms below," she says..."

Photo credit above: Tim McCabe/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. "No-till planting is under way at an alfalfa field on a farm in Montgomery County, Iowa."

Thursday Soaking - Farmers' Almanac Winter Outlook: Worth Worrying About?

Posted by: Paul Douglas Updated: August 26, 2014 - 11:55 PM

Winter Trepidations

The good news: we're all going on a date. The bad news: the guest of honor is Old Man Winter! After the polar pain of last winter, the toughest in a generation, factoring relentless cold and snow, we can be excused for premature pangs of paranoia.

Betty Magnuson wrote me an e-mail, confused and curious about who was right: Dr. Mark Seeley, predicting a milder winter thanks to El Nino, or The Farmers' Almanac, forecasting another severe winter east of the Rockies?

Personally, I'd err on the side of listening to Dr. Seeley. Our harshest winters often come during ENSO-neutral winters (no El Nino or La Nina). Models still point to a mild to moderate warming phase of the Pacific, which SHOULD tilt the odds in favor of a more forgiving winter.

Then again I bought ENRON stock, so hedge your bets.

Lukewarm sun today gives way to a soaking rain Thursday; over an inch may perk up your lawn with temperatures stuck in the 60s. We dry out Friday but showers may brush MSP again Saturday. Sunday looks like the nicest, driest, sunniest day of the holiday weekend. Storms rumble in on Labor Day so have a Plan B.

As for next winter let me go out on a limb. Ready? Here goes:

"Colder with some snow."


Fine Wednesday - Free Watering Thursday. Thursday still appears to be the wettest day of the week (latest NAM model predicts 1.38" for MSP Thursday PM into Friday AM). A leftover shower may spill over into Saturday; Sunday appears to be the sunnier, driest (mildest) day with highs near 80F. An approaching cool front shoves a few showers and T-showers across the state on Labor Day. Graphic: Weatherspark.


Tracking Cristobal, and a Thursday Soaker? 4 KM NAM guidance shows the projected track of Cristobal (heaviest 6"+ rains in bright green), veering away from the Carolina coast, but whipping up strong rip currents and minor beach erosion at high tide for the Outer Banks. The next surge of warm air sparks heavy showers and T-storms from Colorado's Front Range into Iowa and southern Minnesota by Thursday. NOAA guidace: HAMweather.


Groundwater Depletion is Destabilizing the San Andreas Fault and Increasing Earthquake Risk. If fracking, injecting chemically-laden water deep underground, may be a factor in sparking small earthquakes maybe it's not much of a stretch that depleting underground aquifers is impacting stress on earthquake faults. Here's an excerpt of a story at San Francisco Public Press that caught my eye: "Depletion of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley is having wide-ranging effects not just on the agricultural industry and the environment, but also on the very earth beneath our feet. Massive changes in groundwater levels in the southern Central Valley are changing the stresses on the San Andreas Fault, according to research published today..."

Photo credit above: "In a newly published scientific paper, researchers attributed modest uplift in areas of the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges across central California to human-caused groundwater depletion in the adjacent San Joaquin Valley. GPS stations such as this one, P311 in the eastern Sierra Nevada, are administered by the EarthScope Plate Boundary Observatory." Photo courtesy of UNAVCO.


Depletion of groundwater in the San Joaquin Valley is having wide-ranging effects not just on the agricultural industry and the environment, but also on the very earth beneath our feet. Massive changes in groundwater levels in the southern Central Valley are changing the stresses on the San Andreas Fault, according to research published today.

Researchers have known for some time that human activity can be linked to localized seismic effects. In particular, much of the debate about fracking in California in the past few years has centered on evidence that the process of injecting large volumes of liquid underground can lubricate fault lines and increase local earthquake risk.

- See more at: http://sfpublicpress.org/news/2014-05/groundwater-depletion-is-destabilizing-the-san-andreas-fault-and-increasing-earthquake-risk#sthash.S1I1Q4xa.dpuf

Visualize It: Old Weather Data Feeds New Climate Models. How do you get old, relatively crude, hand-drawn weather maps into the climate models? Crowd-sourcing. Here's an excerpt of a fascinating story at Climate Central: "In the 1930s, there were no computers to run climate models or record weather observations. Instead, weather reports were written or typed on typewriters and forecast maps were drawn by hand. Those observations from the past contain valuable data that can help scientists better understand what the climate may look like in the future. But gathering that data and making it usable is a tall task involving scanning millions of sheets of paper and transcribing them into formats that scientists can use..."


Choking The Oceans With Plastic. Here's an excerpt of a Charles Moore Op-Ed at The New York Times: "...Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet’s ocean surface — roughly 25 percent of the entire earth. No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea..."

File photo credit: Marine debris washing up onto the coast of Hawaii courtesy of Wikipedia.


Murdoch on the Rocks. How A Lone Reporter Revealed the Mogul's Tabloid Terror Machine. You think you have a rough newsroom? Here's a clip from an amazing story at The Daily Beast: "...What Murdoch understood and wanted was news in a form that excited and appealed to the emotions. McKenzie’s formula of the basest of emotions, bigotry, is too crude to define the contours of Murdoch’s own formula. Murdoch does understand the power of fear in the delivery of news—particularly fear of the future in all its forms, which has become part of his conservative creed and is so much trafficked on Fox News. Better than anyone though, Murdoch saw and exploited the emotional needs satisfied by the pursuit of celebrity. It was the pursuit of celebrities, right down to the knickers in the garbage, that finally led to the disgrace of phone hacking and forced Murdoch to close the News of the World..."

Image credit: Vintage Publishing.


A Gut Microbe That Stops Food Allergies. Science Magazine has an interesting article; here's an excerpt: "...Food allergies have increased about 50% in children since 1997. There are various theories explaining why. One is that the 21st century lifestyle, which includes a diet very different from our ancestors’, lots of antibiotic use, and even a rise in cesarean section deliveries, has profoundly changed the makeup of microbes in the gut of many people in developed countries...."

Image credit above: Kenya Honda, Science/AAAS (21 January 2011). "A new study finds that members of a common class of gut bacteria, Clostridia, can counter sensitivity to peanuts."


Ralph Lauren Polo Tech Shirt Reads Wearer's Biological and Physiological Information. Great, now my shirt can judge me. "Put the brownie down now!" Gizmag has details; here's an excerpt: "Ralph Lauren clothing has been helping people look slick since 1967, but in the future it may also help you to keep fit. The company has announced a new Polo Tech shirt that monitors biological and physiological information of its wearer. It will be tested out at this year's US Open. Lots of people use mobile apps to help track and improve their fitness, but fewer will be familiar the concept of T-shirts that can do the same. The Hexoskin shirt is one such garment that analyzes movement, breathing and heart activity..."


Being A Couch Potato: Not So Bad After All? Pacific Standard Magazine has an article that explains why we shouldn't feel so guilty about rewarding ourselves with time in front of the boob-tube; here's a clip: "...It turns out that the people who feel guiltiest about indulging in TV were also the most ego-depleted. The study—whose title, “The Guilty Couch Potato,” is among the better ones we’ve seen—found that people who have a negative perception of media consumption derive fewer recovery benefits from watching TV and playing video games. “Rather than seeing it as a guilty pleasure, a waste of time, and a proof of one’s own self-regulatory failure, it makes sense to also look at the bright side and think of media use as a deserved treat after a long working day and an effective recovery strategy that may help us to be more productive afterwards,” says Leonard Reinecke, one of the paper’s authors..."


Using Google Earth and Goats to Combat Wildfires. This is my favorite headline of the week, to date. More details (because I suspect you're just as curious as I was) at the Google Earth Blog: "...Using historical data of fire paths, they map out the ideal places to graze the goats so as to stop wildfires from spreading. They use the Google Earth plugin to display the map on their website and use GPS and the map to decide where to place electric fencing which is moved around to control where the goats graze. The electric fencing also helps to keep mountain lions from eating the goats, but despite this they have lost 5 goats to a local mountain lion over the last 2 years..."



76 F. high in the Twin Cities Tuesday.

79 F. average high on August 26.

96 F. high on August 26, 2013.

August 26, 1992: A chilly night in Embarrass. The temperature dipped to 28 degrees.


TODAY: Plenty of sun, still pleasant. Dew point: 56. Winds: East 5. High: 77

WEDNESDAY NIGHT: Clouds increase, showers possible late. Low: 63

THURSDAY: Cool, soaking rain. Over 1 inch possible, especially south of MSP. High: 68

FRIDAY: More clouds than sun, a drier day. Wake-up: 62. High: 75

SATURDAY: Risk of showers, possible thunder, especially southern/eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Wake-up: 63. High: 74

SUNDAY: Best day.Warm sun, pleasant. Dew point: 58. Wake-up: 61. High: 81

LABOR DAY: Unsettled, few T-storms. Dew point: 66. Wake-up: 65. High: 79

TUESDAY: Sunny, less humid. Dew point: 55. Wake-up: 62. High: 76


Climate Stories...

Irreversible Damage Seen From Climate Change in UN Leak. Bloomberg obtained a leak draft of the next IPCC report; here's an excerpt of their reporting: "...Possible permanent changes include the melting of the ice sheet covering Greenland. That would boost sea levels by as much as 7 meters (23 feet) and threaten coastal cities from Miami to Bangkok along with island nations such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu. The scientists said they have “medium confidence” that warming of less than 4 degrees Celsius would be enough to trigger such a melt, which would take at least a millennium. Other impacts the report flags include reduced food security such as crops such as production of wheat, rice and maize in the tropics are damaged, the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the acidification of the oceans..." (Image: NASA).


Greenhouse Gas Emissions are Growing, and Growing More Dangerous, Draft of U.N. Report Says. Here's a snippet of a Justin Gillis article at The New York Times: "Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report. Global warming is already cutting grain production by several percentage points, the report found, and that could grow much worse if emissions continue unchecked. Higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are also being felt around the world as a result of human emissions, the draft report said, and those problems are likely to intensify unless the gases are brought under control....."


A Climate For Change: America Should Not Wait While The World Warms. Here's an excerpt of an Op-Ed at The Washington Post: "...Between $66 billion and $106 billion worth of U.S. property will likely be below sea level by mid-century. The federal government will probably have to spend billions more in disaster relief. Waiting to deal with carbon emissions until the effects are clearer or technology improves is not a wise strategy. The emissions humans put into the atmosphere now will affect the climate in the middle of the century and onward. Technological change, meanwhile, could make a future transition away from fossil fuels cheap — or it might not, leaving the world with a terrible choice between sharply reducing emissions at huge cost or suffering through the effects of unabated warming."


Why The Washington Post is Running a Series Of Editorials on "The Existential Threat of Climate Change". Media Matters reports; here's a clip: "..Over the long run it is an existential threat to the planet, I believe that, so you don't get much bigger than that," Hiatt said about the decision to run the week of editorials. "That doesn't mean that you can set aside other really big problems that are facing us today, but over time ... the longer we wait to do something about it, the greater the damage is likely to be and the more disruptive the response will be." Monday's first editorial lamented the faltering national debate on this issue, while today's offering explained why the country can't afford to "wait while the world warms..."


Old School Farming Methods Could Save The Planet. Sometimes the old ways are still the best ways, especially when it comes to agriculture? Here's an excerpt of a story at PRI, Public Radio International: "...The soil has been playing a mighty role in our climate ever since we've been a planet,” Ohlson says. It's full of carbon fuel that helps plants and microorganisms thrive, but today's industrial farming methods rip up the soil and release huge amounts of that carbon into the air. Ohlson argues that returning to no-till farming practices, which leave the soil undisturbed and carbon trapped underground, will help reverse climate change and solve other pressing environmental issues at the same time. "Everything we want for our planet above the soil line depends on the activity of those microorganisms below," she says..."

Photo credit above: Tim McCabe/USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. "No-till planting is under way at an alfalfa field on a farm in Montgomery County, Iowa."


The Climate Scientist Who Pioneered Geoengineering Fears It's About to Blow Up. So we sit on our hands, collectively, for another decade or two, "waiting for more data", and then realize we do, in fact, have a huge problem on our hands? There may be strong pressure for a quick fix, an attempt to cool the atmosphere by seeding the stratosphere with sulfate aerosols, basically conduct yet another grand experiment. Let's hack the climate and see what happens. Here's a clip from an interview at Motherboard: "...So the idea that huge swaths of the tropics might not be suitable for growing crops," he went on, "is plausible. And if you're unable to grow crops in huge swaths of the tropics, is that going to create political turmoil and migration? It could be a major disruption." That, he says, is the likeliest reason we would see geoengineering attempted, and why we have to be prepared if politicians and increasingly desperate nations look for a quick climate fix..."


Italian Explorer Plans To Live on an Iceberg for Up To A Year. Where can I sign up for this? No e-mails (or bills) for a full year? I'm there. Here's an excerpt of a story at Gizmag: "Italian explorer Alex Bellini has conceived an extraordinary plan to live alone on a drifting iceberg in northwest Greenland for up to a year, or until it melts away – whichever happens first. He aims to stay alive during this time in a tiny survival pod, and hopes his experience will encourage further discourse on climate change and the environment in general..."

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